Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Easy Slow Cooker Potato Soup

We are getting into fall and winter weather around here and I am craving some delicious soup! One of my favorite things about the colder weather is making soup. My kids also love soup, so I am always on the lookout for new and easy soups to throw together.

I found this one on Pinterest (I know, you're shocked) and it seriously is a throw-it-all-in-the-crock-pot kind of recipe. And it was yummy! We like to serve it with some green onions, shredded cheese and crumbled bacon on top and had some warm rolls on the side.

Easy Slow Cooker Potato Soup

1 (30 oz.) bag frozen hash-brown potatoes (I used the square/Southern style)

2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth

1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of chicken soup (don't judge!)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/3 tsp. black pepper

1 (8oz) package cream cheese (softened to room temperature)

Garnish: minced green onion, cheese, crumbled bacon, etc)

In your slow cooker, combine potatoes, broth, soup, onion, and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

Stir in cream cheese and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until combined. As you stir you'll see the potatoes breaking up and the soup will thicken. You can thin it out with a little milk if it is too thick for you (but I liked it thick!). Garnish with whatever you choose.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

BBQ Quinoa Chili

One of my favorite things about fall and winter is, of course, the food! I mean, isn't Thanksgiving about the food?? I know, I know...it's about being grateful. For food. Anyway, soups, stews, chowders, chilis, hot chocolate, ciders...all things that seem silly to eat in the summer, right?

This recipe is my favorite chili recipe. I made it this year for our church's chili cookoff and Halloween party. I've never added quinoa to it before, but while I was cooking it up I was looking through my pantry for another can of beans and my bag of quinoa like *jumped* at me. Literally. It was kinda scary but hey! It is Halloween, right? My husband, who is the unofficial official taste tester said it was a fabulous addition, so I'll be keeping it as part of the recipe from now on.

If you haven't tried quinoa before, you are missing out! I love the texture it adds to food, and it's so much healthier than rice or potatoes. Once you use it a few times, you start realizing you can add it to so many things - salads, soups, stews, sauces, etc. I actually crave it. Weird, I know.

Feel free to change things up! Omit the beef for a vegetarian option! Add more beans, less beans, different kinds of beans. Add more spice. Whatever! It's all up to your palette. I have little kids, so I have to hold back on the spice, and we use the beans we prefer, but in the end it's your chili. So do what you want!
BBQ Quinoa Chili
Girls in Aprons

1 pound hamburger
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 15 oz can black beans, mostly drained
2 15 oz cans kidney beans, mostly drained
1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes (I used petite diced tomatoes with garlic)
1 28 oz can tomato sauce (I actually really like Progresso Recipe Starters Fire Roasted Tomato, so if   you have that on hand you can use that)
1 T chili powder (you can omit the chili powder and cumin and use a chili seasoning packet too)
1 tsp cumin
Salt to taste
1/3 cup bbq sauce (I recommend Sweet Baby Ray's Original)
1/2 cup quinoa

Brown the hamburger in a large sauce pan. About halfway through the browning, add the pepper and onion. Cook until hamburger is done and peppers and onions are no longer crunchy, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Stir to combine. Add spices and BBQ sauce. Let simmer for about 30 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook 1/2 cup quinoa according to your package directions. Make sure to rinse your quinoa or it will clump together! Once it is cooked, add it to your chili. Serve chili with sour cream, green onions, avocado, shredded cheese, or chips!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Salted Caramel Shortbread

I have to admit...this recipe is right up my alley. It's made of mostly butter, which is one of my favorite foods (yes, when people ask me what my favorite food is I have been known to say "butter") and it's pretty easy to whip up yet looks amazingly difficult and fancy. I like to look fancy. Don't we all??

Did I also mention that salted caramel is trendy? Yup...like quinoa and gorgonzola, salted caramel is a trendy flavor. But really, the salty sweet idea has been around forever! Chocolate covered pretzels!! Kettle popcorn! All yummy because of the sweet and salty flavors. Whatever the reason, I'm not complaining. These are to die for. I mean, seriously, I made another batch because I was craving them so bad!!

I wish I craved healthy food, but I don't.

Anyway, I came across this recipe on Pinterest (the original recipe is found here at Erica's Sweet Tooth). It's funny, because I have a bajillion recipes on Pinterest, but only the special ones actually get made. These are special. Times a lot.

Oh, and I find it ironic that I pinned these to my "Gift Ideas" board, and I've made them twice and eaten them all myself. Maybe third times a charm??

Don't let the caramel part scare you. You really just dump the ingredients in the pot, stir and watch your candy thermometer until it gets to 230. You can get a candy thermometer anywhere for a few bucks and I've used mine several times over the past couple of years. But really, if you only use it for this recipe it's worth it.
You can see here the parchment paper hanging over the edge just a bit. It allows me to pull the entire batch out and cut it easier.

I cut mine into 1 inch squares. You know, bite size. For me.

Salted Caramel Shortbread

for the shortbread layer:

10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1-2/3 cups flour

for the caramel:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Line an 8×8″ pan with parchment paper (not wax paper!!). Leave some hanging over the sides so you can remove the shortbread caramel goodness later. Oh, and as a precaution, don't let too much hang over and then let that too much touch the heating element of your oven. It may cause a small fire (um...I know this from experience, but that's another story for later...)

In a large bowl combine the butter, sugar, and salt with a fork or pastry cutter and then add the egg yolk and continue mixing.  Add the flour and use your hands to combine the dough until it has formed coarse crumbs. Transfer the dough into the prepared pan and press it down into one even layer. I try to made the sides a teensy bit higher for the caramel, but that's just me. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. This let's the butter cool a bit so it cooks better, so don't skip this step!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Set aside to cool. 

For the caramel, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, sugar, and heavy cream. Bring to a boil and stir for about 5-10 minutes until caramel reaches the “soft ball stage” at around 230 degrees. I actually let mine go a minute or so longer after it has reached the 230 degrees. I find it makes the caramel a tad stiffer later.

Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and carefully pour caramel over the shortbread.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, then sprinkle with sea salt and cut into squares. Store caramels in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them. Don't leave them out to room temperature. The caramel will turn soft and then it's not pretty anymore. Seriously, leave them in the fridge when not eating them!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Easy Homemade Pizza Dough

I think it's safe to say I've come a LONG way since I was first married. I don't think I tried baking with yeast until a few years ago, and I've been married over 11 years! Now I think I'd try almost anything that required the use of yeast...bring it on!

One of my most favorite traditions we have in my cute little family is Friday Night Pizza Night. We are all home together, we plan our favorite pizza recipe, and we rent a Redbox or buy the newest family flick that is out. We snuggle together, eat our pizza, and enjoy each other's company. My kids look forward to Friday night every week!

I want to share my dough recipe with you. I've tried a LOT of recipes, and this one has been tweaked to what our family likes best. Of course, everyone likes different styles - deep dish, crunchy, thick, whatever. I like a doughy crust with thick, chewy bread and garlic. And the best part is that this recipe is so easy. I've never failed at an attempt to make pizza dough with it!!

Keep up with Girls in Aprons as we share our favorite pizza recipes with you in the following months!

Easy Homemade Pizza Dough
Girls in Aprons

2 T active dry yeast (or 2 packets, I just buy mine in bulk at Costco)
2 T sugar
1/4 cup oil (olive oil is preferred, but you can use vegetable oil in a pinch)
2-3 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder (you can adjust this to your liking, or omit it)
4 cups flour 

In a mixing bowl, pour 1 1/2 cups warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let it stand until foamy (about 4-5 minutes).

With dough hook attachment, stir together the sugar, oil, salt, and garlic powder into the yeast mixture. Add flour and stir until mixed in completely. Dough will be sticky. Don't add more flour!! You will add a bit more as you roll it out later. Remove dough hook and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Set aside until doubled in size (about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the temperature of your kitchen). Lightly flour your work surface. Place dough on work surface and roll out into the shape desired. I use a 12 inch pizza stone, and can get two pizzas from this recipe.

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. (If using a pizza stone, place in oven before preheating, then remove carefully and place dough on hot stone). Put dough on pan or stone. Add sauce and topping and bake for 8-10 minutes.

* You can make this dough ahead of time. Just place in fridge and cover. Remove and let come to room temperature and rise before using. I would use it the same day you make it.
* To freeze, place dough in a freezer safe plastic bag for up to 3 months. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dill Pickle Dip

It's football season, and you know what that means- dips, buffalo wings and burgers.

(Goooo Seahawks!!)

This Dill Pickle Dip is ah-mazing. I was in charge of a dip for a family party and I know how much some of my family members loooove dill pickles. My dad is known to dip dill pickle potato chips into store-bought dill pickle dip. My 4-year-old gets extra pickles on her cheeseburgers (she calls them pickleburgers). So I surprised them with this gem. And yes, I found it on Pinterest- seriously addicted, folks.
So easy to put this together, and it is addicting!!

I diiiiiieee. My mouth is watering just looking at this!
Dill Pickle Dip

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1- 1 1/2 cups chopped dill pickles
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2- 4 tablespoons pickle juice (more or less for thicker or thinner dip)
1 teaspoon dried dill weed (I used fresh dill to taste)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Use a wooden spoon to stir the softened cream cheese until loosened up and smooth. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients until well blended. Transfer to a serving dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. We served this with chips, but it would be yummy with pretzels too.

This dip is good for up to a week when stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. It may become thinner as the week draws to an end.

Recipe courtesy The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spicy Cashew Chicken

I love going out to eat as much as the next guy, but sometimes it's nice to have restaurant-quality food at home. I love cashew chicken, so when I ran across this recipe I had to give it a try. It was sooo good, almost as good as eating out (except I had to make it and then do the dishes!) and I will be keeping this one in rotation for the fam. Even the kids liked it (note: I did not add as much "kick" to it as my husband would have liked to make it kid friendly).

Spicy Cashew Chicken

2 chicken breasts, cubed bite-sized
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup oil (I used vegetable oil)
½-1 tsp red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you want it
3 green onions, sliced diagonally
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup cashews, unsalted
toasted sesame seeds

4 tbsp soy sauce
1½ tbsp cornstarch
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp white vinegar

Combine 3 tablespoons soy sauce with chicken cut into bite-sized pieces in medium sized bowl. Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 1/2 tbsp corn starch, 4 tsp sugar, and 2 tsp vinegar. Set aside. Slice the green onions, and measure out the red pepper flakes and minced garlic.

Drain chicken in strainer to get the marinade off as much a possible. Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add red pepper flakes to oil,stir a couple times. Add chicken all at once, let sit for a minute or two till golden,then turn chicken. Add garlic to chicken. Cook chicken till golden on all sides and cooked through. drain oil if there is still an excessive amount. Add cashews. Move wok off hot stove and immediately pour in sauce while constantly turning chicken over to cover everything in sauce. Sauce should thicken quite a bit, if you want it thicker put it back on medium heat for about 5-10 seconds, and stir, stir, stir (seriously, this thickens really fast if you put it back on the heat so watch it!). To serve, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and add sliced green onions. Serve over Rice.

recipe courtesy keyingredient.com

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Restaurant-Style Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles

Pinterest and I are close. Like super tight. I'd even say maybe BFFs??

And I didn't know HOW close we were until I stumbled upon this recipe. OMGosh it is amazing. Even my picky two-year-old was devouring it. It's pretty simple to make, and don't let the amount of ingredients scare you! Ginger, garlic, and jalapeno are all uber-cheap to buy (like pennies, seriously) and it's worth every penny!!

For the pork I used thin cut pork chops and sliced them into strips and marinated it over night. The original recipe said I could add whatever veggies and toppings I wanted...so I did. I used chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, snow peas, carrots, and green onions. But whatever you like in your stir-fry type dishes go for it! If I would have had sesame seeds I would have totally added those too! I would TOTALLY buy this dish at a restaurant, but why do that when I can make it healthier and cheaper at home!
Restaurant-Style Hoisin Pork with Rice Noodles
Girls in Aprons


1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 1/2 T sesame oil or canola oil (I recommend the sesame oil!)
2 T honey
1 T sugar
3 T vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
3-5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-inch piece of ginger, freshly grated
1 hot pepper, minced (I used a jalapeno)
3 T hoisin sauce (found in the Asian aisle of your grocery store)
3 T peanut butter (optional)
1 1/2 pounds pork cut into thin strips
14 oz rice noodles
Toppings: carrots, green onions, red peppers, chopped peanuts, cilantro, snow peas, etc


1. First you are going to whisk all the sauce ingredients together to make a marinade. Whisk together the soy sauce, water, oil, honey, vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper, hoisin sauce, and peanut butter. Add pork and marinate in fridge for about 12 hours. (I marinated mine overnight).
2. Heat your pan over medium high heat and stir-fry the pork for a couple minutes. Add your carrots, green onions, peppers, and snow peas and cook with pork until browned the and the veggies are softened.
3. While the pork is cooking, make another batch of the marinade sauce. You will need this for the noodles because they tend to become dry if there is no sauce, and they soak up any remaining sauce from the pork.
4. Cook rice noodles according to your package directions. Mix with your pork and veggies and add extra sauce as needed. Each person can add more sauce, green onions, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, sriracha sauce or whatever else you like!

**Chef's Notes: The peanut butter is optional, so if you don't have on hand, don't like it, or have an allergy, then just omit it. I used chunky peanut butter, so you can use whatever you like. Also, I used thin sliced pork chops and just sliced them into bite size pieces. I found that to be the cheapest option at my grocery store. Also, I preferred to eat my noodles at room temperature or even cold, while my husband liked his warm.

Original recipe from www.pinchofyum.com