Thursday, December 17, 2009

a new website!!!

From now on you can find me at The Red Bird Life. Here's the story:

Thanks to my rockstar of a husband, I have a brand-new website for my cooking blog, now called The Red Bird Life. He surprised me with it for my birthday this year and I am so excited to bring you recipes from this new place that he made for me, and, hey, you too, really! For those of you who have been following me over at EatingFoodNetwork this is where you will find me and my crazy kitchen starting this Christmas. He picked out a new name so it’d allow for more topics if I ever decide to tell you about my adventures outside of the kitchen too. As some of you may know, I have a soft spot for the St. Louis Cardinals and I even have another site called that describes my services for making invitations/announcements/cards and creative scrapbook gifts. So The Red Bird Life seems to fit.

This website will allow for some new features that I didn’t have over on the hosted blogger account. You will see changes in the formats of posts, the recipes will be better formatted and hopefully easier to copy and print. As we get used to the new site my husband will be tweaking the layout here and there to make sure everything works just right. And, maybe, just maybe, if you’ve been good this year, someday we’ll have a print function directly on the site. …or maybe it’s if I’ve been good… so I can’t make any promises. You’ll have to take that up with my husband. I’ve got no skills to bake up a printer button.

AND, as if all this wasn’t awesome enough, my husband got me a new camera so I can attempt to take pictures that aren’t blurry for you. Ahhhh!!!! I can hardly believe it!! He sure spoils me rotten. Thanks, Mr. Anderson, you absolutely made this birthday extra, extra special.

And thanks to all of you for reading my blog. It sure is fun sharing my food with you. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

fast, easy german chocolate fudge

We're doing fun activities every day this December leading up to Christmas to celebrate advent and today's excitement was all about fudge. And my husband even got in on the action because the baby needed fed when my daughter and I were in the middle of prepping. Might I say he is one mighty good-lookin' whisker. And I bet we have the smoothest fudge ever. Good job, honey.

This fudge recipe is delicious. Seriously. And sooooo easy. It takes no more than 15 minutes to prepare, including chopping the chocolate. Anyone can do it, and you can even get a little arm workout in the process. That'll be your excuse for eating many, many pieces of fudge. Because I promise you're going to want to.

German Chocolate Fudge
recipe adapted from The Mother Huddle

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
4 oz German chocolate, chopped
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup marshmallow cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter an 8 x 8 square baking dish. Set aside.

Cook sugar and milk at a medium boil, whisking constantly, for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Whisk like a pro until you have it blended well. Pour into your buttered dish. ***Do not scrape the sides or bottom of your saucepan, just pour into your dish. Then you can scrape the sides and bottom into a separate bowl and, well, just see how long that lasts. We went ahead and ate the extras with spoons while it was still warm. Merry Christmas, tummies. Your welcome.

Cut fudge into squares once it's cooled and enjoy or give it away and really make someone's day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

baked potato soup with bacon

In the midst of the chill in the air and the neverending cold season in our home, I was in the mood for a potato soup and saw I recipe I just had to try. Usually I'm more of a fan of runnier soups (wow, that doesn't sound appetizing, but you get the picture). Heartier soups tend to be too heavy for my tastes, but nonetheless, I decided to give Idaho Baked Potato Soup with Bacon a whirl.

I'm so glad I did. This soup is wonderful on a cold winter day and, dare I say, even better the second and third days reheated. My daughter and I gobbled it up for lunch this week. only took me about 30 minutes to put together, start to finish. I consider that pretty good for a soup. (I cooked my potatoes in the microwave instead of the oven, because I was hungry.)

Idaho Baked Potato Soup with Bacon
recipe from The Cooking Photographer

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
7 cups milk
4 large baking potatoes, microwaved and cubed (about 4 cups) - or baked in the oven if you have the time
4 green onions, sliced
12 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
garlic powder
onion powder

In my favorite kitchen cooking dish, the dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and whisk continuously until smooth and then for about a minute or so. Gradually add milk and whisk until thickened. (This will take a few minutes. I cooked my potatoes while I was assembling this first part of the soup.) Add potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly (lose the whisk for this step). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and stir until the cheese is completely melted. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

cheesy chicken nacho dip

One night this week, I had no idea what to make for dinner. Ever been there? :-) I had a few ideas of some ingredients in my fridge that I wanted to use, so I decided to consult with for some inspiration. Have you checked out that site? If not, you totally should. What a resource and I love that you can search by ingredients.

Here's what caught my eye: Outrageous Warm Chicken Nacho Dip

Now, if you know my husband, you'd know this sounds like something he probably wouldn't care for, but I was out of ideas and he didn't have any either, so I just went with it without mentioning my plan. I thought I'd go for the "surprise" factor tonight, and honestly, I was in a mood where I didn't care much if anyone liked it or not, I just wanted to get something on the table.

It had been one of those days.

And then as it turned out, when dinner was ready, I had to go take care of the baby so I left my husband to serve himself and our daughter and I told them I'd just eat later. When I came back downstairs, I was expecting some negative comments and I was trying to avoid eye contact so just maybe he wouldn't tell me what he thought after I'd just finished listened to my baby cry for 20 minutes, poor guy was sick and fighting sleep. Not tonight, Matty, not tonight. Just keep those thoughts to yourself and I'll make you whatever you want tomorrow.

But this is what he said (I kid you not), "I don't know how much merit this has as a dinner, but, WOW, this is good. You better get what you want so I can dig into the rest."

And he was serious.

I was stunned. And suddenly rejuvenated. For a recipe I didn't think I'd ever make again, let alone blog about and therefore didn't bother taking pictures of, I'm still thinking about his reaction days later so I had to share this with you.

Try it. It just might knock your socks off too.

Outrageous Warm Chicken Nacho Dip
recipe adapted from
note : the original recipe says it serves 12. I halved it (for some items), but my version only served 3.

1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
8 oz Velveeta, cubed
1/2 pound chicken breast, cooked and diced or shredded
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 scallions, diced
2 teaspoons taco seasoning mix
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
flour tortillas

Put Rotel, Velveeta, chicken, sour cream, scallions and taco seasoning mix in a slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook on high for 1 to 2 hours until cheese is melted and dip is hot. Add black beans to mixture 15 minutes before you're ready to serve.

Cut tortillas into wedges and bake on a cookie sheet for 5-8 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until crisp. Serve alongside dip as the "spoons".

Friday, December 4, 2009

ice cream sandwich - nutella style

Last night I happened upon a pretty amazing snack. And I couldn't not share it with you.

Two chocolate hazelnut smooches, minus the smooches.
One scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Yummy goodness. Thank you, God, that we still had nutella cookies in the freezer left over from Thanksgiving. My tummy is so happy right now.

Oh, and while I was writing this I was thinking, why not spread some nutella on the inside of the cookies before smooshing them together with the ice cream...

Gotta go. I've got an ice cream sandwich, the sequel, to make with only 8 minutes left until the last episode of Monk. Ever.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

enchiladas verdes with mexican rice

Let's break up all this Thanksgiving recap with a dinner you might actually want to make this week. How about it? I really can be helpful. I bet you were starting to doubt that, but I'm here today to prove you wrong. Try this one out. Your family will thank you for it. Or at least I sure hope so. Otherwise, I'm going to feel really bad. My guys liked it. In fact, my daughter and I ate it for leftovers at least 3 different times. (That's a lot for us. We usually tire of things much quicker than that.)

And this rice was awesome. From this point on, anytime I make a Mexican-inspired main dish, this rice will serve as it's accompaniment.

Enchiladas Verdes
recipe from Taste of Home magazine

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 can chopped green chilies, drained
12 flour or corn tortillas (6 inch), your choice
1/4 cup canola oil

In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion, garlic and salt over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Stir in cheddar cheese; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook and stir the soup, Velveeta, and milk over medium heat until cheese is melted. Stir in chilies.

If using corn tortillas, in a large skillet, fry tortillas, one at a time, in oil for 5 seconds on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Skip this step if you're using flour tortillas.

Place a scant 1/4 cup of meat mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over the top.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

Mexican Rice
recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman
Serves 8

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups rice
1 can Rotel
1 can petite diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
2 cups chicken broth (maybe a little more)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions and garlic, then cook for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add rice. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn't burn. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes.

Add Rotel and tomatoes. Stir to combine and let cook for 2 minutes.

Finally, add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until rice is done. Add more liquid as needed; rice shouldn't be sticky. I left the rice with a bit of a bite still to it, al dente, if you will, and we loved it like that.

Just before serving, sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro over the top.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

traditional green bean casserole

Please don't take it as an insult that I'm posting about this. It's just that, well, this is my husband's favorite holiday dish. The only thing he asks for. He just can't get enough of those crispy onions. And I can't really blame him. Those things are pretty good. Really, I just didn't think it'd showcase our family well if I left this out. Even if the recipe is plastered all over ever can of fried onions in every grocery store in the country. It makes my husband happy so I hope it makes you happy too.

Classic Green Bean Casserole
recipe courtesy of Campbell's Kitchen

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
dash of black pepper
2 cans cut green beans, drained
1 large can french fried onions

Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, green beans and 2/3 cup onions in a 1 1/2 quart casserole baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbling. Stir. Then sprinkle with remaining onions and bake for 5 minutes more or until the onions are golden brown.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

make ahead creamy mashed potatoes

Here's another tested and approved recipe for something else you can make ahead of time if you're cooking a big dinner. The recipe had most of the ingredients I use to make mashed potatoes on any ol' know, cream cheese, butter, milk...all the goodies, and I was stoked to find out they were good even made a day in advance too. I love that. Especially with two young ones in the house. Anything I can do ahead is always, always my friend. Although I will say, my short-little-nap-taker-of-a-baby took no short of miraculous, LONG naps while I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner, so really, I can't complain. He sure knows how to show his momma some love.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman (yes, I know, I've been making a ton of her recipes lately. Once you try them, though, you'll know why.)

5 pounds russet potatoes
3/4 cup butter, plus a little more...
1 package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (maybe, make that, probably, more) milk
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Peel and cut potatoes into roughly the same size. Put them all in a big pot and cover potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes or so, until they are fork tender.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander and then put them back in the same pot you cooked them in and back on the stove. Mash the potatoes using a potato masher over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape.

Add the butter, cream cheese, and milk to the potatoes and mash til your heart's content. Next, add the seasoned salt and pepper and stir to combine. Taste and add more of whatever you think it's missing. I ended up adding more butter and milk and could have probably added more cream cheese too, if I'd have had some. Make sure they're just the way you like 'em.

Put the perfect mashed potatoes into a medium baking dish and put a couple small pats of butter on top. (Because we don't have enough butter already.) :-)

Now, you can either bake them in a 350 degree oven now until the butter is melted and the potatoes are warm or you can cover them and stick 'em in the fridge to eat the next day.

If you put the potatoes in the fridge, make sure you take them out of there about 2 to 3 hours before serving time and place on the counter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until warmed through.