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Monday
Dec302013

Green salad with lemon vinaigrette

For the second time in the past six months, I am in Indiana. Prior to July, I had never been here in my life! We are staying in a rented house for a few days with my side of the family, celebrating Christmas. This morning we celebrated with a pancake breakfast and presents. This afternoon we slid around on the lake in our snow boots, built a teeny-tiny snowman and took naps. This evening brought enchiladas for dinner and Despicable Me 2, while Elijah does play-by-play commentary so that nothing is a surprise to anyone. We are cherishing our time. I love my family!

2014 is only a few days away, isn't that crazy?! You just have to add this salad to your list of recipes to make in the new year in order to fulfill your resolutions. It is one of my faves!

 

In a large bowl, combine:

4 cups each of romaine lettuce and iceberg lettuce, rinsed and broken into small pieces

3 stalks celery, sliced

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped

1 cup green olives, chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

2 avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped

1 bunch green onions, sliced

Toss, cover and refrigerate.

 

In a small bowl, whisk together:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

Juice from 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons sugar

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, pour the dressing into the salad bowl and toss until coated.

Have a great week, everyone, and HAPPY 2014!

Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Nothing but good stuff in this green-themed salad!

Serves: 10

Total time: 25 min

Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette



Ingredients:

  • 4 cups each romaine lettuce and iceberg lettuce, rinsed and broken into small pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup green olives, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, celery, apples, green olives, cucumbers, avocados and green onions. Toss.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate both bowls until ready to serve. Just before serving, pour the dressing into the salad bowl and toss until coated.

 

 

Tuesday
Dec242013

Taco soup

Most of my holiday "work" is done, so I am feeling relaxed and relieved this morning. We have only a few items on our agenda today, all of which we are looking forward to. To balance out all of the gifts this time of year brings, we are taking our boys to the store to pick out toys/books for kids who will be spending their Christmas in the hospital. Then we'll drive to Children's and deliver the goodies. After that is family naptime, then church to celebrate Jesus' birth and dinner (homemade raviolis...mmmm) with family. 

Here's wishing you all a day filled with good things, as well! Merry Christmas!

This soup is so delicious and it has warmed our bellies on this very frigid holiday week. Make it as spicy or mild as you'd like!

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in an extra-large skillet over medium heat. 

Add:

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 red or green bell pepper, chopped

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. 

Add:

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

Cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Add:

32-oz. container chicken stock

Two 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes

15-oz. can whole kernel corn, drained

15-oz. can black beans, drained

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Five minutes before the soup is finished, add 2 cups of shredded chicken.

Ladle into serving bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla strips!

Taco Soup

Warm up with this spicy, yummy soup!

Serves: 8

Total time: 50 min

Taco Soup



Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 32-oz. container chicken stock
  • Two 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 15-oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 15-oz. can black beans, drained
  • Meat from one Rotisserie chicken (~2 cups), shredded
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla strips, for topping
Instructions:
  1. Heat olive oil in an extra-large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, bell pepper, green onions, jalapeño peppers, salt and pepper. Cook until soft and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add parsley and cilantro and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, corn and beans to the skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Five minutes before the soup is finished, add the chicken.
  3. Ladle into serving bowls and top with cheese, sour cream and tortilla strips.

 


Tuesday
Dec172013

Pumpkin pie pull-apart bread

I am writing from Orlando, where my family and I are enjoying the tail end of a very cherished vacation. Our 6-year-old son was granted a wish from the Make-a-Wish Foundation and we have been spoiled beyond words since we arrived last Friday. We are in awe about the treatment we have received the past few days. It has been a magical dream come true that I could never explain to anyone in words. We are grateful and blessed and thankful and happy! It will be so sad to go home to snow-covered Minnesota on Thursday. Tomorrow is our last full day here, and we are hoping to hit two of the Disney parks for a few hours each before crashing into our Villa beds for the last time. 

I made a few loaves of this bread way back, oh, a few weeks ago (time outside this place seems impossible to gauge). It was an alternate option for pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Or a dessert-izer, for some (me). I hope you enjoy it. It is incredible and VERY hard to stop eating. 

(recipe inspired by this recipe from Pillsbury!) 

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9x5(ish) loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.

Remove the refrigerated buttermilk biscuits from two 16.3-oz. containers (8 count each - I used Grands! biscuits). Slice each biscuit lengthwise to create 32 total rounds (16 for each loaf pan) and place them on a flat work surface.

In a large bowl, combine:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin pie mix

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 tablespoons butter, melted

Stir until combined.

Using a spoon, divide the mixture between the biscuits.

Carefully stack 8 of the biscuits on top of one another. Turn them sideways and add to one of the prepared pans (you will be adding more, so leave room). Warning: THIS IS MESSY. That's ok. Messy = tasty.

Stack 8 more biscuits, making sure the top biscuit is filling-side down (the filling should not touch the pan). Turn sideways and add to the same loaf pan. Spread the pieces out to fit. They should look something like this..

Repeat process with the remaining loaf pan and biscuits. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the dough is cooked through. My loaves were done at 40 minutes on the nose.

Make the frosting just before the loaves are pulled from the oven! In a medium bowl, combine:

1 cup confectioners' sugar

1/8 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir until the mixture is smooth. Drizzle over the bread, dividing between the two loaves. Serve warm!

Back to my last morsels of vacation! Enjoy your week, everyone. Thank you so much for reading.

Pumpkin Pie Pull-Apart Bread

Enjoy pumpkin pie in a loaf of bread! Knives not needed.

Serves: 16 (2 loaves)

Total time: 55 min

Pumpkin Pie Pull-Apart Bread



Ingredients:

  • Two 16.3-oz. containers refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (8 count), each biscuit cut in half length-wise
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin pie mix
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9x5(ish) loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside. Place biscuit halves on a flat work surface.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin pie mix, pumpkin pie spice and butter. Stir until combined. Using a spoon, divide the mixture between the biscuits. Carefully stack 8 of the biscuits on top of each other, turn sideways and add to one of the prepared pans (you will be adding more, so leave room). Stack 8 more biscuits, making sure the top biscuit is filling-side down (filling should not touch pan). Turn sideways and add to the same loaf pan. Spread the pieces out to fit. Repeat process with remaining loaf pan and biscuits. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until dough is cooked through.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Divide the frosting between the loaves, pouring over the top. Serve warm!




Monday
Dec092013

Candy bar fruit salad

Today was a doozy. Dan is out of town for a few days, so I got one boy off to daycare and the other onto the school bus. The super-duper-ridiculously-freezing-cold temps formed black ice upon the roads on which I drove to get to work, giving me over 1.5 hours in Dan's old-man Buick. We have some big deadlines at work this week, but I was only able to stay for a few hours in order to get back in time to get Elijah off the bus. On my drive home, I got not one but TWO phone calls from E's school principal. He had a rough day. To say the least. The rest of the evening was a blur. Let's just say that I was not Elijah's favorite person. Tomorrow is a new day.

Here's some great news before I dive into the recipe! This coming Friday, as in...FOUR DAYS FROM NOW...my little family and I are leaving for Florida! Elijah got a Make-a-Wish granted and he chose to go to a super cool waterpark in Florida. While we're there, we'll hit Disney, Sea World and all of the other Orlando pit-stops. We are excited, but it doesn't quite yet seem real yet. As crazy as that boy made me today, Elijah is so deserving of this trip.

Ok ok, onto the recipe!

If you have a craving for some sinful fruit salad loaded with candy bars and marshmallows and even cream cheese, you have come to the right place! 

In a large bowl, combine:

8-oz. container frozen whipped cream topping, thawed according to package directions

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

Mix until smooth. 

In a medium bowl, combine:

15-oz. can fruit cocktail, drained

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped

Five 1.86-oz. Snickers candy bars, coarsely chopped

1 cup miniature marshmallows

Stir until combined and add to the whipped cream-cream cheese mixture.

Stir gently until combined. Cover and refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Here's to making memories and having a fresh start every day. Enjoy the rest of your week, and the recipe, too!

Candy Bar Fruit Salad

You can't beat a salad with Snickers!

Serves: 8

Total time: 20 min, plus 1 hr chilling time

Candy Bar Fruit Salad



Ingredients:

  • 8-oz. container frozen whipped cream topping, thawed according to package directions
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 15-oz. can fruit cocktail, drained
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
  • Five 1.86-oz. Snickers candy bars, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the whipped cream topping and cream cheese and mix until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine the fruit cocktail, apples, candy bar pieces and marshmallows. Stir until combined and add to the whipped cream-cream cheese mixture.
  2. Stir gently until combined. Cover and refrigerate for one hour before serving.



Monday
Dec022013

Cookies and cream fudge

You will have three reasons to love me after reading this post.

Reason #1 -- ONE OF YOU IS GOING TO RECEIVE A $100 VISA GIFT CARD! Read on..

Reason #2 -- The following PAM Holiday Tip is going to help make your life easier this holiday season! The time of year is upon us when we become stretched and stressed. Gifts, parties, entertaining, cooking, baking, wrapping, spending money and on and on. It gets to be so much, doesn't it?! Well I am here to help! I can offer one little tidbit that will help you immensely in the kitchen. Next time you run to the store to stock up on holiday ingredients, throw a can of PAM Cooking Spray into your cart! It will make your clean-up easier, leaving 99% LESS residue than bargain sprays/margarine on your pans (I do NOT like that gross residue that can build up from other brands) and the improved formula contains ZERO calories. The "99% less residue" product line (it comes in Original, Baking and Butter) will almost completely eliminate residue from your life this holiday season. As you will see in the instructions for the below recipe, aluminum foil can be effortlessly peeled away from a block of fudge with the help of PAM Cooking Spray, which means one less dish to clean!  

Reason #3 -- The most obvious reason of all, which is that you will now know the recipe for the BEST FUDGE EVER. Can sinful and heavenly be used in the same sentence? You absolutely must put this recipe on your holiday baking list. Except, please don't bake it and leave me a nasty comment because it turned into an inedible brick of sugar.

ONTO THE RECIPE! (Keep reading for giveaway info!)

Line an 8x8-inch pan with aluminum foil, making sure there is overhang on at least two sides. Smooth out the wrinkles on the bottoms and sides with your hands. Coat the foil generously with PAM Cooking Spray. Set the pan aside.

 

One of the most enjoyable parts of making this recipe was choosing a festive package of Oreo cookies (15.25 oz.). Have you seen the plethora of filling options that are available these days? I chose the Birthday Cake variety and it was a solid choice. Any of them will work well, I am confident. Coarsely chop the entire package and set the irresistable pieces of cookie aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine:

1 stick salted butter

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring so the mixture is smooth and does not burn. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly, and remove the pan from the heat.

Add:

7-oz. container marshmallow creme

11-oz. bag white chocolate chips

1 teaspoon almond extract 

Stir until the mixture is smooth.

Fold in 2/3 of the chopped cookies (you will need the other 1/3 in a bit, so don't eat them!).

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and top with the remaining cookie pieces.

Place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for 4 to 6 hours, or until the fudge is completely set.  

Holding onto the foil, remove the block of fudge from the pan and place it onto a flat surface. The foil will easily peel off the fudge on the sides and bottom, thanks to PAM Cooking Spray! I was able to immediately place the pan back into my cupboard, as there was not a bit of food on it! 

Place the fudge onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

See? BEST FUDGE EVER. You're welcome!

Printable recipe: Cookies and cream fudge

 

ONTO THE GIVEAWAY!

A $100 Visa gift card will be sent to one lucky commenter! To be eligible, leave a comment on this post answering the following question:

What is your favorite holiday kitchen/cooking/baking tip?

One commenter will be chosen to receive the gift card in their very own mailbox! Good luck! I can't wait to hear all of your tips!

 

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner  will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 12/2/13 – 12/29/13.

Be sure to visit the PAM Cooking Spray page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!