Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's been a while...

The title says it all really.  It has been a long time since I've updated this blog.  There has been a lot going on outside of the Littlefield kitchen.  I'm still working full time, while trying to start a Professional Photography and Video business with my husband, as well as taking care of our now 3 pets, 2 cats and a small dog.  I'm still cooking and trying new recipes, I just forget to take photos and post them here.  Things get very busy and there just aren't enough hours in the day!  Even my couponing has taken a back seat to everything else. 

To tide you over, Pinterest has been a great discovery and I have a few boards on there.  If you have an account you can check out my "Recipes I've Made" board.  They are recipes I've tried, and most likely modified to my liking. I am going to try REALLY hard to start taking photos and writing down my version of the recipes to post on the blog here.  I also may switch this blog over to Wordpress, like I did my photo blog, but at the moment, I will probably keep it here, unless I decide to make it a standalone website.

In other news, I actually discovered that I have a food allergy!  Of all things to be allergic to, I have an allergy to red onions.  Yes, just the red ones.  I ate some in a salsa/salad type thing I made over the summer, and my throat got scratchy.  The only ingredient in the salad that I hadn't really eaten before were the onions.  I didn't think much of it, but then ate some potato salad a couple weeks later with them in it.  Needless to say, I felt extremely ill for a few hours, and my throat was swollen half shut and scratchy.  Allergy confirmed!  I have not yet been to my doctor or undergone allergy testing, but I'd say it's true.

This brings me to my next point.  When you go to restaurants, ALWAYS remember to inform them or ask about the contents of food if you or one of your kids has an allergy!  I get a lot of funny looks when I say I'm allergic to red onions, and it is really annoying to ask every time we go out, but I don't feel like being sick for the rest of the night.  The worst was going to a work conference at Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots, and having to find the catering staff to ask whats in the food.  Talk about getting strange looks.  It turns out there were red onions in just about everything, including the pasta salad I almost ate.  I found a few safe items so I was alright, but I'm glad I asked.  You never know what is in food, or if the chefs have prepared your food around any allergens.  

That is all for an update for now.  Hopefully I can get some new recipes up soon!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

I actually found this recipe in a circular for a local supermarket.  They looked easy to make and sounded great so I went for it.  They were a hit on Superbowl Sunday and the next day at work!

1 Pouch Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix
Water, Vegetable Oil, and egg called for on cookie mix pouch
6 Nature Valley pecan crunch or oats 'n honey granola bars finely crushed (3 pouches from box)
1 bag of chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini M&Ms

Heat oven to 350. Spray the bottom only of a 13x9 in. pan.  In a large bowl or mixer, stir cookie mix, water, oil, egg, and crushed granola bars until soft dough forms.  Press dough into the bottom of the pan.  Bake 15 minutes or so or until the edges are light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the bars.  Let stand 2 minutes or so to soften chocolate.  Spread chocolate over bars.  Sprinkle on the M&Ms.  Refrigerate until the chocolate is set.  Cut and serve.

These were very tasty, and a huge hit!  The only thing I will change when I make them is to cook them a little less.  I have a gas stove that cooks very quickly, and even at 15 minutes, the cookie part came out a tiny bit dry for my taste, but over all they were great!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Potato and Corn Chowder

Hey everyone!  I know it's been a while (since October!) but I'm back, and trying to multitask so I can get back on track with this blog.  My photography has been taking off, and I've been very busy with it, especially through November and December, so I was making a lot of repeat recipes, and any new ones, I forgot to take pictures.  I have challenged myself to a photo a day project, so when I make a new recipe, I'm going to try to make my photo for that day of the recipe I make.  Multitasking at it's best!  Anyway, onto this awesome soup recipe.  I found this one on another blog through Pinterest, and modified it to my liking.

8 oz (1/2 lb) bacon, cooked until crispy.  I used Turkey Bacon.
2 1/2 lbs Russet Potatoes, rinsed, NOT peeled, and diced into 1/4 inch cubes
8 cups kernel corn (frozen is fine)
1 medium-large yellow onion, finely chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
32 oz Chicken stock or broth
16 oz half & half or heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
salt & pepper to taste

Vegetarian Substitutions:
Veggie Broth instead of Chicken Broth
Veggie Bacon (yes this does exist, I Googled!)

This was originally a crock pot recipe but I modified it for the stovetop.  Simmer garlic and onions in a small amount of the chicken broth until tender.  Add in the rest of the broth, potatoes, and corn, and seasoned salt.  Turn up the heat, bring to a boil and let cook until the potatoes start to get tender, 10-15 minutes or so depending on your stove.  While that is cooking, chop up the bacon into whatever size pieces you like.  I like them a bit smaller.  When the potatoes are tender, add in the bacon.  If you have a hand blender, remove soup from the heat and blend about half of it.  If you don't, take out half the soup and blend in a blender.  Return to pot/heat.  Add cream, and salt & pepper to taste.  I added in a little more seasoned salt too.  Cook until blended and heated through, and serve.

The Verdict:
We loved this the first time I made it, and I decided to make it again since it's pretty simple.  Very tasty.  It can be made vegetarian with the substitutions I listed above.  It came out a bit thicker the first time I made, it and it was really good.  I didn't weigh my potatoes this time around, so I think I didn't have as much.  If you like a thicker soup, use more potato.  If you like it a bit thinner, use less.  Simple as that!  Enjoy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings Soup

I recently picked up another Taste of Home magazine, and this one was all soups.  One of the first ones I noticed was a Chicken and Dumpling recipe.  I've wanted to make one for a while.  It turns out this magazine has 2 recipes in it, so I took the parts I liked from each one and combined them into my own.  It came out great!

Sorry for the low quality photo.  I seem to have forgotten to take a pic, so I had to use one from my phone!
1 medium onion, chopped
Olive Oil
1/2 cup flour
10 cups water
1/3 cup chicken bouillon granules
1 16oz package of frozen peas and carrots
1 1/2 to 2 lbs chicken breast, chopped or cubed
1 can Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup, undiluted
Black Pepper to taste
All purpose biscuit/baking mix

In a stock pot, saute onion in olive oil until tender.  Stir in flour until blended.  Add water (or broth if you decide to go that route, see my recommendations), bouillon, chicken, and pepper.  Bring to a boil and let chicken cook a little bit.  Add in the cans of soup and mix well.  Let this mixture cook for a few minutes at a simmer.  While this is cooking, follow the directions on the back of the biscuit mix box to make dumplings.  I honestly just mixed the baking mix and milk until it looked good enough!  As far as an amount, if you want a lot of dumplings, make a double or triple batch of the portion on the box.  The original recipe I pulled this from used 5 cups of mix with 1 1/3 cup milk, but that seemed like a lot, so I used a little more than half that and it was a pretty good amount. Once the mix is blended, drop rounded tablespoonfuls (or whatever size you prefer) into the simmering soup.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a dumpling comes out clean.  Do not lift the cover while simmering!

My Recommendations:
As I said, I pulled this from 2 different Chicken and Dumpling recipes in the magazine.  Next time I think I will just buy chicken broth instead of going with the bouillon.  It will probably be a lot less salty, and therefore, more healthy.  Also, I kind of guessed on the dumplings but they still turned out great, a little bit doughy, just like I like.  Next time I think I will do a little bit smaller pieces of dumpling, but that's all personal preference.

The Verdict:
Love this one!  I had actually had the Chicken and Dumplings soup by Campbell's Chunky a while back, and thought about trying to make it. I kind of forgot about it until now.  This soup is exactly what I was looking for, but way better than the canned version!  I will definitely be making this again, especially over the winter.  I'm sure it will be great for freezing too.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

I have been making these cookies for many years now, but I hadn't made them for quite a while.  I always had to re-print the recipe because I could never remember it!  I went searching for it again because I hadn't made these in a long time, and I couldn't find the one I always seemed to go to.  So I took the numbers from a few different recipes and from what I remembered, came up with this one.  There is a trick to boiling it long enough though, or your cookies won't turn out!  I actually botched my first batch and ended up tossing them, thinking I used a wrong ingredient.  After searching online, I actually discovered I hadn't boiled the mixture long enough for the milk to set.  Now that I've figured that out, I won't forget again!

2 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup baking cocoa (powder)
1/2 -1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy, your choice)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
3 cups QUICK COOKING oats (not old fashioned!)

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter, and and cocoa.  Bring to a rolling boil, and let boil for 2-3 minutes.  Do not go over or under that time, pay attention!!  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in peanut butter, oats, and vanilla. Combine well.  Drop by spoonfuls on to wax paper.  Let cool until hardened.

My Recommendations:
I kind of put this recipe together from one I found and what I remembered.  If you go online and google, you'll see many variations.  The first batch I did this time around never hardened.  After reading online, I discovered I hadn't boiled it long enough.  I didn't let it get to a rolling boil before I timed it.  I did so for the second batch and they came out perfect.  As far as size goes, that's up to you.  I make them slightly on the larger side.  Also, remember to use the quick cooking oats, NOT the old fashioned oats!  You can use the old fashioned but the recipe is different and you'll have to look that one up! 

The Verdict:
These are always a hit.  I end up eating most of them because they are addicting.  They are extremely fast and easy to make.  Just make sure to let them cool and harden!  If you need a lot, make 2 batches and make the cookies slightly smaller.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Sneak Peek into the Littlefield kitchen!

This is a quick post to give you all a peek inside my kitchen.  A lot goes into making some of the foods I cook, and I'm not afraid to make a mess (much to hubby's dismay), especially in my new, awesomely huge kitchen!  As soon as we walked into this apartment and saw the kitchen, I knew I had to live here.  The rest of the place is great too, of course.  I am learning to cook on a gas stove, and actually really enjoying it.  Food cooks a LOT faster and more even, as I've heard many times.  It took some getting used to after using electric stoves all my life, but I don't know if I could ever go back now!

So here are a couple photos I snapped while in the process of making the tomato cream sauce in my previous post.  Note that it's still in the food processor at this point.  I was probably waiting for hubby to finish the chicken on the grill.

The counter is notorious for being a collector of our random things as we come in the house, 
so along with all the cooking things, there's wallets, phones, chargers, etc... 
I love the amount of counter space, and the fact that I can spread out so much to cook now
If you're bored, you could probably play a pretty rousing game of "I Spy" with all the random things.

Another view from the other side of the counter.
  Notice the hubby is outside by the grill that was donated to us by my Dad.  We love having it!

Tomato Cream Sauce with Grilled Chicken over Linguini

I've been perusing AllRecipes.com a lot lately in search of inspiration for new cooking ideas.  I stumbled across this sauce recipe and it sounded pretty tasty, so I decided to go for it.  I'm at a point now where I don't really follow recipes as much as I used to, but I use them as a basis and work forward from them to make what I think sounds good.  It has taken some time to get to this point, but now it comes easily to me to modify recipes without royally screwing them up!  If you're interested in cooking, stick with it, and you will eventually get to the point where you don't feel the need to follow every recipe to the tee.  With that being said, onto the food!

This ingredient list came from the website, but I modified a few things in the list.  The original is here if you want to see it.  The measurements are per the website, I actually just tossed what I thought was a good amount of most things in.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped or diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
a handful of fresh chopped basil
3/4 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup Philadelphia cooking cream
1 tablespoon butter

In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Make sure it doesn't burn. Add tomatoes, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and continue to boil 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in cream and butter. Reduce heat and simmer a few more minutes.  Remove from heat and cool a tiny bit.  If you like the sauce chunkier, leave it as is.  Otherwise, move sauce to food processor, and add fresh basil.  Blend until it's at a consistency that you like.

My Recommendations and Changes:
The original recipe called for heavy cream.  I didn't want to use that or half and half, so I ended up grabbing the Philadelphia brand cooking cream.  It actually worked out pretty well.  It came out a bit rich though, so next time I'm going to try using part cream and part plain greek yogurt.  The original also didn't call for the sauce to be pureed, but after suggestions in the comments section on the website, and the sauce itself not looking very appetizing while chunky, I decided to put it through the food processor.  It was definitely the way to go for us.  Also, the fresh basil was a change that I made.  I have a basil plant that needed a harvesting.  If you're using dried basil, you can add it in with the other spices when the sauce is cooking.  If you are using fresh, add at the end, or before you run the sauce through the food processor.

This sauce came out exactly as I'd hoped it would, which is a big confidence booster for me since it was one of my first times kind of winging it based off a recipe.  I'll definitely be making it again.  I'll probably make some and freeze to have on hand since I have some left over cream.  I also decided to have the hubby grill up some chicken breast to top it with to fill the meal out a bit.  Otherwise, the sauce is vegetarian.  I served some garlic bread on the side.  If I was making a full on meal I probably would have also had a salad as well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Easy Peasy Pulled Pork

The title says it all!  This has been a go to meal the last couple of weeks because I've been pressed for time after moving, and working long hours, and hubby keeps asking for it!  Can't go wrong there.

The ingredients are so simple, I don't even need a list!  All you need is a boneless pork roast, the larger the better (as long as it fits in your slow cooker, I have a large one), and a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce.  

If there is some fat on the roast, go ahead and trim it off.  The one I bought this week didn't have much so I didn't bother.  Place the roast in the slow cooker and cover it with the sauce.  I leave a bit left in the bottle for later.  Cook the roast on low for 4-6 hours (for a newer slow cooker, longer for an older one).  Once it has cooked, pull it out and place it on a cutting board.  Take 2 forks and shred the meat.  If there is a gadget for this part, I'd love to find it!  Once it's shredded well, return to the pot and mix in well with the left over BBQ sauce/juices.  Add a bit more of the fresh sauce and cook for a bit longer on low, maybe half an hour to an hour.  If you don't have the time, toss it on high for a half hour.  There's really no rule or set time, so use your judgement.  Serve on hamburger buns or bread of your choice!  It's as simple as that.

This is a staple go to in our house.  It's easy to cook overnight with my programmable slow cooker, or all day while you're at work, and it doesn't require much in the way of prepping.  You can also add your own variations with some chopped onion or peppers, or other veggies, and I've also made a version with an Enchilada Sauce instead of BBQ, from a slow cooker magazine I have, which I'll post the next time I make!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Parmesan Garlic Quinoa Salad

This is my own twist that I put on the quinoa salad idea.  Hubby prefers this one over the other one. For me, it depends on my mood!

2 cups cooked white quinoa (1 cup dry quinoa = 2 cups cooked)
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely minced or you could use garlic powder, maybe a teaspoon or two
1/2 cup or so Olive Oil
Ground black pepper
Sea Salt
1/2 - 3/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

The amounts on this aren't quite exact since I threw it together on a whim, but you can use your judgement and preferences.  If you like a lot of garlic, use more.  If not so much, use less.  Again, cook the quinoa according to the package.  Usually one cup dry will equal 2 cups when it's cooked.  Mince the garlic as finely as you can, or use the already minced kind in a jar if you want to make it easier.  Mix the garlic in a small bowl with the olive oil.  Once the quinoa is cooled, pour in the garlic and olive oil mixture and combine well.  Add in the parmesan.  You can add more if you taste it and decide it needs more.  Next, add in ground black pepper and sea salt to taste.  Add more Olive Oil as you feel you need to make it more salad-y.  Mix all ingredients well and chill.

The Verdict:
This is another great cold appetizer or snack.  I like to serve it with the Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil flavored Triscuits.  The pepper from the crackers can have a lot of bite, so if you make the quinoa salad a bit on the mild side, the crackers will definitely compliment it well.  It would probably also go well with the plain variety or the Rosemary and Olive Oil, or Garlic and Olive oil varieties.

Printable Recipe Page

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dad's Spicy Roasted Red Potatoes

This is another recipe courtesy of my Dad.  It's a great easy side dish that can replace mashed potatoes or fries.

Red Potatoes - baby or regular
Olive Oil
McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning

Cook's Note:
Use your judgement on the amount of potatoes you think you'll need.  Usually 3-4 regular sized ones make enough for hubby and I for dinner.  They reheat well so if you make more, then you can snack on them later.  Baby reds work best, you can quarter them a little easier.  They are more expensive though, at least in my experience, so regular sized reds work just fine, they just take a little longer to cut to size.  I try to find the smallest ones I can. 

Dice up potatoes into 1 inch size pieces or so, maybe a little smaller.  Place in a casserole dish that will fit them all laying on the bottom.  Drizzle with olive oil, and toss until all of the potatoes are lightly coated.  Sprinkle with your desired amount of the steak seasoning.  If you don't like a whole lot of spice, only use a little bit. If you like a lot of spice, use a bit more.  If you REALLY like spice, get the "spicy" version of the steak seasoning.   However, you may not be able to feel your mouth for a bit as it burns from the spice, and I can personally attest to that!

Preheat oven to 350 or so.  Put the potatoes in for around half an hour, or until you see the white parts starting to look wilted, and a fork splits through them easily.  If you need them cooked a little more quickly, you can put the oven up to 360-375.  Let sit for a few minutes after cooking since the insides get really hot.

The Verdict:
I have loved these since the first time I had them.  I make them quite often since they are so easy.  You can always change it up and leave them plain, or try different spices.  I enjoy the bit of bite from the Montreal seasoning.  I eat mine with ketchup on them, but feel free to eat them as they are or put your own favorite toppings on them.  You can also modify this by using sweet potatoes.  I've never liked them, so I don't use them, but my family does and they say it's good!