Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Delicata Squash Bisque

I found this recipe at Vegan Yum Yum and it looked so easy and I had a squash just sitting there so I had to try it. I made foccacia to go with it (see previous post) and guess what folks--it was easy and delish! It calls for Delicata Squash, but you can use any kind of fall squash that you have. My only problem was that one of my sons broke out in hives, allergic to cashews. UUUUGGGGHHHHHHHH. Will I make it again? Most likely, the allergic child just won't get any cashew cream in his...

Serves 4 large bowls, 6-8 Cups

3 Pounds Delicata Squash, (2 pounds after prepping)

Oil for roasting

1 tsp Thyme (or another herb if you prefer)

Lots of Black Pepper

1 1/2 tsp Salt, more or less to taste

Cashew Cream

1 Cup Raw, Unsalted Cashews

1 Cup Rich Vegetable Broth, divided

Preheat oven to 400º F.
Peel squash and chop off the ends. Halve the squash and scrape out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet cut-side down and brush lightly with oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender and beginning to brown. Flip squash before the baking is finished if needed to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, add the cashews to your blender and 1/2 cup of veggie broth. Begin pulsing to incorporate, eventually turning the blender all the way on while slowly adding the other 1/2 cup of broth. Once all the broth is added (1 cup total), let the blender run for 1-2 minutes until very, very smooth. Set cream aside. If your blender can’t get the cream completely smooth, strain before adding it to the soup.

Remove squash from the oven. Using a spatula, transfer it into a large soup pot. Break up the squash into chunks with a spoon or your spatula and add 4 cups of veggie broth, thyme, and black pepper. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, covered.
Working in batches if needed, blend the soup until very smooth, being careful not to overfill your blender. My 64 oz blender fit the entire batch of soup.

Return the blended soup to the pot and add all but 1/4 cup of the cashew cream. Season with salt and more pepper. How much salt you add with depend on how salty your broth is to begin with. I thought 1 1/2 tsp salt was perfect for my batch, but yours might differ.
Remove soup to bowls (or mugs!) and garnish with extra cashew cream drizzled on the top and some fresh black pepper. Little squigglies of cream look nice, but you can also draw hearts or stars or swirls, whatever!

Sunday, November 2, 2008



This recipe is so good and it's fast and easy. I did find my pic online, because lets face it, I'm not a good photographer, my phone camera can only do so much... I got this out of a recipe book from my old ward and tweaked it just a little to suit my taste.

Mix 1 c. warm (not hot) water, 1/2 tsp sugar and 1 pkg fast acting yeast (1 Tbs).

Let sit 5 mins.

Meanwhile, mix 1 tsp.(each) dried rosemary, basil, oregano, onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder & 1/4 tsp thyme.

Mix the yeast with about 2 c. flour ( I usually end up using about 2 1/2 c.) and 1 tsp salt.

Add in about half of the herb mixture. Reserve the rest to go on top.

Knead by hand or machine to form a soft dough.

Let rest for 10-15 mins.

Spray bottom only of 9x13 cake pan (or for thicker bread a 9x9 pan). Press the dough in to pan. Cover and let rise for 30 mins. When dough is done rising, press fingertips into dough to make inentaitions all over it. Drizzle with 3-4 Tbs evoo. Sprinkle herb mix on top. (Sometimes it's easier for me just to mix the oil in the bowl with the herb mix and brush the mix on top with a pastry brush.) Grate parmesan cheese over the top (optional).

Bake at 400 F for about 20 mins. Let cool in pan. Serve as bread with Balsamic Vinegar & Olive Oil or slice horizontally for sandwiches.

Warning: your kitchen may smell heavenly after making this aromatic bread. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Super Easy Potato-Onion Gratin

I found this recipe in a magazine and it looked interesting and had few ingredients so I thought I'd try it. It's from Gordon Ramsay (Hell's Kitchen guy). I have to admit, it's a little different than most Potato Gratins but it was good and so easy. I just grated (sliced) the potatoes, fried up some onions, put it all in a pan together, poured over the broth and viola! So here it is, and I'm sorry the pics aren't so great. :)

Potato-Onion Gratin
6 servings

3 Tbs Olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
4 cups thinly sliced onions
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1/8 in-thick-rounds
3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1&1/4 cups low-salt chicken (I use vegetable) broth.
Heat 2 Tbs oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until onions are golden, about 8 mins. Add thyme and rosemary; saute 2 mins. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hous ahead let stand at room temp.
Prehead oven to 425 F. Brush 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish with oil. Arrange 1/3 of potatoes in dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Top potatoes with half of onion mixture. Repeat, top with potatoes. Pour broth over. Drizzle with 1 Tbs oil.

Cover dish with foil. Bake potatoes 30 mins. Uncover and continue to bake until potatoes are tender and top is golden, about 25 mins longer. Let stand 10 mins and serve.
*If you don't have fresh herbs you can still use dried, just don't use as much (dried is stronger than fresh.)

We had a Cesar salad, the potato-onion gratin, peas&corn and garlic bread.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pasta Arribiata!

Okay, I've been meaning to post this forever.....Anyway, this is our favorite summer-time meal, especially if you have lots of parsley growing in your garden as I do. It is yummy, yummy, yummy and extra easy! Enjoy. Sorry the picture is NO good, but I never claimed to be a photographer. In case you're wondering, the drink is Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade--also a favorite at our house!

Pasta Arrabiata

¼ c. olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, diced
2 cans diced tomatoes
sea salt to taste
½ tsp. crushed red peppers
1-2 cups chopped Italian parsley
Fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 lb. penne pasta

1. Sauté garlic in oil until golden (not brown) add tomatoes and simmer till thickens (about 15 minutes). While simmering, add salt and red peppers.
2. Cook pasta, add to sauce and let sit three minutes
3. Stir in chopped parsley and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Menu Plan

Over at Simple Mom today she posted her ENITRE menu plan for the month of August! Incredible! I guess I know what I'll be making this month.

See you in September!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

summer pasta and grilled veggies

Last night I made this pasta dish just kind of on the fly. It's super easy and you can use whatever you have in the house. This is what I did:

boil 1 pound of pasta (I found these cute "sun" shaped pastas in a local grocery store
grill one or more chicken breasts
toss veggies of choice with olive oil, salt, and pepper (I used zucchini, asparagus, and tomatoes)
grill those veggies
cut up the chicken breast
toss all together with a little balsamic salad dressing
top with a little shredded cheese of your liking

My 5 yr old ate the pasta plain (I pulled out some for her before I added the dressing), the chicken, and asparagus. It was a healthy meal all around!
Enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tilapia, shrimp, & green beans

This is for all of you who love the Costco frozen food section and for all of you who are not fortunate to live by a Costco, yet make fun of us who buy EVERYTHING there. This meal takes about 10 minutes!

First I pulled out a Tilapia Fillet and rubbed olive oil over it and seasoned with Mrs. Dash . Bake this for 10 minutes @ 425 degrees. While this is cooking, pull out the frozen shrimp and defrost in cool water. Next, grab your frozen green beans and a couple of garlic cloves (Costco fresh foods) and saute in a little olive oil adding salt and pepper to taste. My kids will actually eat this up!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I got this recipe off Rachael Ray's website, it was fun to make and something different. It turned out better and wasn't as time consuming as I expected it to be!

This is the dish Remy whipped up in the hit movie Ratatouille! In order to make this one look as beautiful as it did on screen, look for veggies that are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. If you have one available and are feeling extra fancy, use a mandoline to slice the vegetables, but don't sweat it if you don't have one, your knife will work just fine.

· 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus additional for drizzling
· 1 medium onion, chopped
· 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
· 2 jarred whole roasted red peppers, chopped
· 1 small (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
· Salt and ground black pepper
· 2 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
· 2 small green squash, thinly sliced
· 2 small eggplant, thinly sliced
· 2 to 3 small Yukon Gold potatoes or a handful of baby Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
· 3 to 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed

Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the onion, garlic and roasted peppers to the pan and cook until the onions begin to get tender, 4-5 minutes.

Set up a food processor or blender and add the contents of the pan to the machine. Add in the tomato sauce and puree everything up (it should be about the consistency of thin tomato sauce). Season with salt and pepper and pour it out into the bottom of a casserole dish or sauté pan.
Swirl your dish around so that the bottom is evenly coated with sauce then arrange your veggies on top in a spiral pattern, alternating each veggie type, until you've filled the pan (like he did in the movie!).

Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the top along with some salt, pepper, and a drizzle of EVOO. Cut a piece of parchment paper (I used tin foil) into a round the size of the pan (if you're not feeling artsy-craftsy, you can also use a square sheet of paper: Cut four slits in from the corners towards the center of the sheet – this will lay over the top of the dish just fine too). Lay it over the top and place the whole pan into the oven. Bake the ratatouille until the veggies are tender, about 45 minutes. Yields: 4-6 servings

Serve the ratatouille with some crusty bread alongside.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

BBQ Chicken Salad

Okay, I know, I started this blog and I am just barely posting a dinner recipe. Sorry, but I am sure enjoying all of your ideas! This is brought to you by Jessica. She's been here visiting this week and we made this for dinner one night. It's her spin-off of restaurant BBQ chicken salads and I tell ya, it's better than the ones I've had! She shot this picture too.

Here's the ingredients and you can add as little or lot of each as you prefer...




Black beans



Tortilla chips (crumbled)

Dressing: Add a little bbq sauce to ranch dressing. Ours ended up kind of pinkish but just keep adding until you like the taste-SO YUMMY!

We served it with a sliced baguette and oil and balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chilcken & Salmon Duet with Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto and Vegetables

Don't be intimidated at all by the name of this meal! I wanted to come up with a fancy name for the fun of it. Here's the story . . . we got doubly lucky tonight because my sister and brother-in-law called and wanted to come over to (1) play with the kids, and (2) cook us dinner. How could you turn down an offer like that! So I didn't actually cook tonight, but this dinner was so delicious and pretty that I had to take a picture of it and share it. My sister calls it one of her 'semi-homemade' meals. It looked easy enough to cook that even I will have to try it myself one of these days.

INGREDIENTS (so simple!):
1 pkg Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Vegetables (or any other store brand pre-packaged veggies)
1 pkg Trader Joe's Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto (or another store brand risotto)
Chicken breast fillets
salmon fillet
salt & pepper
garlic powder

(1) Prepare the vegetables per package instructions.
(2) Prepare the risotto per package instructions.
(3) CHICKEN: Season chicken breast fillets on both sides with salt & pepper. Season only one side of the fillet with garlic powder. Cook on a non-stick griddle, careful not to overcook chicken and make too dry and tough.
(4) SALMON: Prepare the same way as the chicken . . . season whole salmon fillet with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sprinkle with thyme. Cook on a non-stick griddle until moist and flaky. Cut into serving portions.
(5) PLATING: Spoon a generous mound of risotto in the middle of the plate. Place chicken breast down one side of the risotto and salmon on the other. Arrange the veggies around the plate.

Bon apetit!

Monday, July 7, 2008

chicken salad

i made this for lunch today for the first time and really liked the new twist on chicken salad. i halved the recipe since it's just the two of us (but i'll include the original recipe).

4 c. cubed, cooked chicken (i use the tyson frozen grilled chicken strips and cube them - way easier!)
1 c. mayo
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 c. craisins
1 c. chopped celery
2 green onions chopped
1/2 c. minced green pepper
1 c. chopped pecans
1 tsp seasoning salt
ground black pepper to taste

you could also add chopped apples, grapes, or pineapple tidbits as well.

i just served it on regular wheat bread, but my favorite with chicken salad is croissants. mmm. yummy.

banana muffins

so it's not exactly what's for dinner, but they may spoil your dinner you'll want to eat so many of them!

1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large bananas, mashed coarsely
3/4 c white sugar
1 egg
1/3 c butter, melted
(1 tsp vanilla optional)

1. preheat oven to 350. grease muffin tin or line with paper liners
2. sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. set aside
3. mash bananas coarsely (so they are chunky, not smooth- this is key to really moist muffins)
4. in a large bowl, combine bananas with melted butter, sugar, egg (and vanilla)
5. fold in flour mixture and mix until combined. scoop into muffin pan
6. bake in preheated oven. mini muffins: 10-15 min, large: 25-30 (high altitude, like me: 20 min)

makes 12 large muffins

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Orange-Sesame Glazed Salmon with Tangiers Couscous

Here's what my family had for dinner last night. I have to admit, although this is often the way we eat (a protein, a starch, and a vegetable) this particular meal, minus the green beans, came from a meal-prep place. One of those places where you go in and prepare your meals, freeze them, and then defrost and cook. My favorite one in our area is going out of business so they actually put this meal together for me and I just picked it up but I cooked it!

The salmon was marinated in something (not sure what). Then I grilled it on my George Foreman Grill (LOVE that thing!) for 6 minutes. There was a citrus glaze that came with it that I brushed on a couple of times during the grilling process. If doing this from scratch I probably would have skipped the marinade and maybe brushed on a Teriyaki glaze or even pineapple juice.

The Couscous was a little spicy. If doing it from scratch I would have just made plain, or flavored, couscous and thrown in about 1/4 cup of raisins (that's what this dish had). Couscous is EXTREMELY easy to make and really fast! Then I just steamed the green beans.

And for dessert I made this delectable little number!...

I got it from The Pioneer Woman. I just happened to have a big container of blueberries on hand when I read her post about Yogurt Cream and Berries. I had to try it! I used Organic Plain Yogurt and because of that my cream came out a lot runnier than hers but it was still divine!


Pot Roast . . . Filipino Style!

My family loves to eat and eat a lot, that's the Filipino in us! With both a newborn and a toddler in demand of my time, meals at the Villa household these days have to be quick and simple without skimping on quality or flavor. So last night's menu was pot roast and vegetables. Served with Jasmine white rice, it gets a little Filipino twist! Here's what you need for a meal that takes little time to prep but delivers a whole lot of yum and satisfaction . . .

20 minutes prep time
4 hrs of "set it and forget it" cooking time

1 chunk (2.5 pounds) beef chuck roast
salt & pepper
olive oil
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1.5 cups water
2 yellow onions, halved
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 pkg ready-to-eat mini carrots
4 celery stalks, sliced
2 cups mushrooms, halved
3 bay leaves
2 cups Jasmine rice (serves about 6), prepared per pkg instructions

(1) Prep onions, garlic, celery, and mushrooms. Set aside.
(2) In a large heavy pot (or if you have a dutch oven), heat some olive oil over medium-high heat.
(3) Trim exess fat off the beef. Salt and pepper the meat on all sides.
(4) Brown the beef on all sides, trying to get a nice crust on the outside.
(5) Pour in the water, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce; then throw in all the veggies and scatter them around the roast.
(6) Put in the bay leaves, and season with rosemary, thyme, salt & pepper.
Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, then "Set it and forget it!"

Let the roast sit for 4 hours, basting it every now-and-then with the sauce & veggies. The roast becomes very fork tender . . . mmmm! Serve with the veggies, and drizzle the pot juices over the roast to keep the meat moist. Plate with a side of white rice and dinner is served!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

veggie pizza

this is definitely a family fav and really very easy. i love that i can just take whatever leftover veggies i have from other meals or kind of clean out my crisper with this pizza. and, you can make it any way you like it! I just make it up as I go along, so sorry if the instructions seem vague:

1 store-bought pizza crust (i like just pilsbury in a can - but you can get fancy if you want)
2 tbs cornmeal (makes it so you don't have to grease the pan, and makes it feel like the real deal)
1/2 jar of pizza sauce, or make your own (i just use about 2 c. tomato sauce, some crushed garlic, salt, oregano and basil all mixed together) you could use pasta sauce if you don't have anything else.
2ish cups of mozzarella
1/2 cup of shredded parmesan
1/2 to 1 cup steamed broccoli (cut in thin slices and then steam in the microwave for 2-3 min)
1 tomato (on the vine tastes the best) thinly sliced
1/2 cup of thinly sliced carrots (i use a potato peeler)
1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
and anything else you have or want to add! really - i have made this with anything under the sun... you can add zuchini, pineapple, meat obviously, whatever!

preheat the oven to 425 (or whatever the instructions for your crust say). if you have a pizza stone, that works the best (leave it in the oven while it is preheating), but if not, a cookie sheet works too.
sprinkle the cornmeal on the stone or cookie sheet in an even, thin layer
place the dough on the sheet and then top with all of your toppings!
with the pilsbury dough, you don't have to cook the dough first and it comes out perfect. we have tried other doughs that end up really raw in the center if you don't cook them first, so experiment as you will.
i like to put a layer of mozzarella first (about half of it) and then add the vegetables with the carrots on top. I then sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella and the parmesan on top. really, i'm sure it would taste good in any order, that's just how i like it!
hope you like it!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shepherds Pie

Here is my easy Sunday dinner tonight!

I'm a 5 ingredients or less kinda gal and this is one of my families favorites. I started making this when my boys were little and I wanted to sneak a few extra greens into their diet. I did not expect that they would love it so much! My girls now request this often and since it is sooooo easy, I don't mind.

Shepherds Pie

1 pound ground turkey, cooked with 1/2 cup chopped onion and salt and pepper to taste.
2 cans cambell's tomato soup
2 cans french green beans, drained (can use cooked frozen)
3 cups mashed potatoes (I usually mix up potato pearls from my food storage)
Shredded cheese to taste

Brown the ground turkey with the onion. Add the tomato soup. Let this simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes. While this is simmering, heat oven to 350. Open the green beans and drain well, then prepare the potatoes. If using potato pearls, boil 4 cups of water and add to about 2 cups of potato pearls. Set beans and potatoes aside.

Pour 1/2 of the tomato mixture into a casserole dish. Then add the green beans, followed by the remaining tomato mixture. Spread the mashed potatoes on top and sprinkle with cheese to taste.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it bubbles. Remove from oven and cool before serving.

Thanks for sharing Cori!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Red Pepper Gouda Soup

This is one of my favorite recipes. We ate this soup at Gardner Village, and found a similar recipe online and tweaked it until we got it right. It is a little time consuming, but well worth the effort. Goes well with a baguette. Serves 4-6.

2 tablespoons butter
4 red bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
24 fluid ounces chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups shredded gouda cheese

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Place the red bell pepper, onion and garlic in the saucepan and sauté for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
Pour in the chicken broth, stirring well, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
Return the liquid to the saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in the heavy cream, the ground black pepper and cheese, and allow to heat through, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Creamy Chicken Tacos

I know, the picture is crap. But the dinner was delicious!!! This is a favorite crock pot recipe that I have adapted. Jeff and I both love these tacos and today, the kids even ate them! How do you like my fine china? You can get that lovely Corell pattern still at Shopko. I got it when I went to college 10 years ago, and somehow it is still in my cupboard.


4 frozen chicken breasts
1 jar of salsa
1 cup sour cream
1 can of corn, drained
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed



Place frozen chicken breasts in greased crock pot. Mix sour cream and salsa and pour over the top. Add corn and beans. Cook on high for 5 - 6 hours. I like to take chicken out and cut into strips about 3 - 4 hours into it, otherwise, you can just shred chicken at the end. Serve in tortillas and top with your favorite toppings. These are really creamy, so you don't really need sour cream or guacamole, but add it if you want.

Like any Mexican dish, they are yummy with a side of refried beans and Spanish rice, but I thought I would be healthy today and go with broccoli. You can experiment with different types of salsa to give it different flavors. Today I used a peach pineapple chipotle salsa. It gave it a little bit of sweetness.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Okay, So It Wasn't Dinner...

It was dessert! Jeff is out of town so we had hot dogs for dinner but a great dessert. Michael is leaving tomorrow in his mission so the fam came over for homemade ice cream. I have to tell you this was the first time I have made it by myself and it turned out pretty good (it was a little runny). I got the recipe from one of my favorite fabric designers and bloggers, Heather Bailey. Click here for the recipe (on cute little cards). This is a picture of her ice cream, not mine!

The best part (which you can kinda see) was the sugared pretzels. I think they would be great for salads too!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Welcome Everyone!

I hope you all join me in the daily quest to answer the inevitable...what's for dinner? Some couples fight about money, in-laws, _ _ _...not in this house. We fight about what to eat! With 17 different food allergies and a lot of fussy eaters, it seems to be the hardest thing for me to figure out. Usually I give up and don't cook. I really want to stop this awful habit. I want to have a plan and cook a meal each night (even when my husband isn't home to enjoy it).

So I hope you will post and share pictures of your favorite meals, your everyday meals, easy and hard meals and the meals that you think are so basic that they aren't worth posting!

Hopefully you can all help me be a better cook and get some ideas for your own family!

Invite your friends to join us. send me an email to join and be able to post (carlie(at)

Here's why I am starting this:

Dinner tonight w/husband was out of town: Mac and Cheese for the kids, Cafe Rio for me! Ya, I need help!