Chicken Curry

This is Alan’s new favorite recipe. I’ve made it for him a bunch of times and he loves it. It’s modified from a recipe book I got at DHMC when Lex was born. It’s a cute little book. Mandy was here for dinner and asked for the recipe, so I figured I’d post it here for easy access :) Enjoy!

Chicken Curry Casserole
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, quartered
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 (10.75oz) cans of chicken broth
2 (10.75oz) cans of cream of chicken soup
1 c. of mayonnaise
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp curry powder
1 bag of frozen broccoli, cooked
bread crumbs
sharp cheddar, grated

Cook chicken, onion, and celery in chicken broth until tender. Shred meat. Combine cream of chicken soup, mayo, lemon juice, 2 Tbsp broth (from cooking chicken), and curry powder. Mix well. Arrange broccoli in a 9×13″ baking dish. Add chicken and cover with sauce. Top casserole with bread crumbs and cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

I save the chicken broth and use it to cook rice as a side dish for him.

The book says this is also a good recipe for using up leftover turkey or chicken.

Pineapple Sunshine Muffins

I blogged about these over a year ago, but I’m going to do it again. We make these muffins a lot. I’ve made a few modifications to make them a touch healthier and yummier. I like to pretend I make these for the kids, but really if I wasn’t fully on the WW wagon right now I would have eaten the whole batch already.

They last awhile and freeze well, so this is a doubled and slightly modified version of what I posted before.

Pineapple Sunshine Muffins
pineapple sunshine muffins
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
4 eggs
1 cup butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 can (20oz) crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup sunflower kernels
1 cup dried cranberries

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In another bowl, mix the eggs, butter, and vanilla; stir in pineapple. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in carrot, sunflower kernels, and cranberries. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups until 3/4 full. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack.

I want to give a shout out to the Pampered Chef Stoneware muffin pan here. Check out the difference between muffins baked in that pan and muffins baked in silicone muffin cups. The Pampered Chef ones are so much more beautiful!

muffin comparison

Pampered Chef Stoneware on the left, silicone baking cups on the right.

Gumdrops and kisses

I started my holiday goody making today! Yum! (already ate too many) There will be more to come, but these are by far my favorite.

Peanut butter blossoms

Peanut butter blossoms. Yum! The kids were really helpful this year too.

While Lex was in school and Eve was napping I tried my hand at homemade gumdrops. I was flipping through a Better Homes and Gardens book called Christmas Comfort and Joy at the library a few weeks ago and this gumdrop recipe jumped out at me. It took me awhile to work up the courage to try it, but I finally did and they came out pretty good!


Orange and Lemon gumdrops

Christmas Gumdrops

1 c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
3/4 c. water
1 3/4 oz package powdered fruit pectin
1/2 t. baking soda

1. Line a 9x5x3″ loaf pan with foil, extending foil over edges. Butter foil. Set aside.
2. Butter sides of a heavy 1 1/2-quart saucepan. In saucepan combine sugar and corn syrup. Cook over medium-high heat to boiling, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves (about 10 minutes). Avoid splashing mixture on sides of pan. Carefully clip candy thermometer to side of pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thermometer registers 280° F, soft-crack stage (about 10 minutes). Mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over the entire surface.
3. Meanwhile, in a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine water, pectin, and baking soda. Mixture will be foamy. Cook over high heat to boiling, stirring constantly (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat, set aside.
4. When sugar mixture reaches soft-crack state, remove from heat; remove thermometer. Return pectin mixture to high heat; cook until mixture just begins to simmer. Gradually pour hot sugar mixture in thin stream (slightly less than 1/8″ diameter) into boiling pectin mixture, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute more.
5. Remove saucepan from heat. Add desired flavoring and coloring (see below). Pour mixture into prepared pan. Let stand 2 hours or until firm. Use foil to lift candy out of pan. Using a buttered knife, cut candy into 3/4″ squares. Roll in sugar. Store loosely covered. Makes about 72 pieces.

Orange Gumdrops: Add 1 1/2 t. orange extract, 1 t. finely shredded orange peel, 4 drops of yellow food coloring, and 1 drop red food coloring.

Cinnamon Gumdrops: Add 3 drops oil of cinnamon and 7 drops red food coloring.

Mint Gumdrops: Add 3/4 t. mint extract and 7 drops green food coloring.

Lemon Gumdrops: Add 1 1/2. lemon extract, 1 t. finely shredded lemon peel, and 7 drops yellow food coloring.

Birthday cookies

The other day Lex asked if we could make birthday cookies for my birthday. Hmm… OK! We are making cake tomorrow to share with Julie (her birthday is Monday and we like to celebrate together), so I thought cookies today would be perfect. Apparently by “birthday cookies” Lex meant Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies. Yum! I found a good recipe on and whipped up some cookies while Eve napped and Lex was at school. I forgot how quick it is to bake without interruptions :)

Ingredientsbirthday cookies
* 1 cup butter, softened
* 1 1/2 cups white sugar
* 2 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2/3 cup cocoa powder
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

* In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
* Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended.
* Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
* Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. (I used a small cookie scoop and they are the perfect size!)
* Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a 350° preheated oven, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole

For those of you who think I do nothing but bake all day, here is a healthier recipe.  I rejoined Weight Watchers this week so the baking has been put on hold for awhile (but with the holidays so near I don’t think it will be too long!)  This recipe is adapted from a WW magazine.  I’ve made it a few times and I think it is yummy.  Alan mostly agrees, though I think he’d take something full-fat and loaded with chicken over this :)

Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole

1 c. shredded Swiss cheese (divided in half)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
6 c. steamed cauliflower florets
3 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. fat-free half-and-half
3 Tbsp chopped parsley (I used the freeze dried variety)

Mix 1/2 cup of Swiss cheese with the Parmesan and set aside.

Put the steamed cauliflower into a 2qt baking dish.

Heat the half-and-half over a low heat, add flour, salt, cayenne, and garlic. Cook until it thickens, whisking frequently, about 4 minutes. Add the other 1/2 cup of Swiss cheese and parsley.

Pour over the cauliflower and top with mixed cheeses.

Broil 3-5 minutes, until golden brown on top.

3 POINTS per 1 cup serving. Variations: use low-fat Swiss cheese to reduce points to 2 per 1 cup serving. The original recipe also said to added 3 oz. Canadian bacon strips at the end with the cheese and parsley. I skipped that step, obviously. It will also increase the points value.

PS. Sorry no fancy photo! I didn’t think about posting the recipe until after the leftovers were tucked nicely (and messily!) away in the fridge.

My current favorite apple treat

I came across a recipe for Baked Apple “Donut” Muffins the other day and despite my hesitation to bake these days… well, I had to make these!  They are sooo delicious!!


Pure yumminess!

This recipe is based on the one I found at Frugality and Crunchiness with Christy.  I made some modifications below.

Baked Apple “Donut” Muffins
(makes about 24)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs – beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups cored and finely diced apples

1/2 cup (1 stick of butter) – I used about 3/4 of the stick
1 cup sugar – I used about 3/4 c
2 tsp ground cinnamon – I just threw a bunch in! Tired of measuring by this point :)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin tin. (I made mini muffins and ended up with 48 of them, plus 6 regular sized muffins)
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg using a fork. Add the oil and work into the mixture using a fork or pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
3. Combine eggs, milk, and apples. Add to the flour mixture, stir just until blended.
4. Spoon batter into the muffin cups (The KAF cookie scoop is super handy here!)
5. While the donuts are baking, melt the butter in a small bowl. Mix the cinnamon/sugar combo into another bowl.
6. Let the muffins cool slightly then dunk them first in the melted butter and then in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

So yummy! Lex requested some without topping (he doesn’t generally like toppings, even if it’s just cinnamon and sugar!) so we have some topped and some plain. Both are yummy, but of course the cinnamon sugar adds a nice sweetness :)

Pop Tarts!

I saw a recipe for Pop Tarts on Smitten Kitchen and thought it would be fun to try. Lex was oddly excited about, considering he’s never had Pop Tarts (as far as I know!) We made the dough yesterday, but while it was chilling in the fridge he decided he wanted to make blueberry muffins instead. So we did that, but when we got to the “add the blueberries” step I discovered we didn’t have enough blueberries, so we added frozen strawberries as well. Yum! Went to bed last night with blueberry/strawberry muffins in our bellies and Pop Tart dough in the fridge.

After school today Lex reminded me of the dough and asked if we could make them. I asked if he’s ever had Pop Tarts and he said no, but a kid in his class brings them for snack and they look delicious. He also reminded me of an ad in Parents magazine for Pop Tarts with sprinkles. So he was eager to try some. I love that he’s eager to bake them and not insisting on buying them. In fact, despite the friend and the ad, he has never even asked me to buy them. I love him! Anyway, we made Pop Tarts this afternoon. I followed the King Arthur Flour recipe (though it was a bit different in the cook book I used!) instead of SK, but I’m sure all are both equally delish! By the time they were cool enough to eat it was pretty late so we all had a few little bites and Lex went to bed excited to eat a Pop Tart after breakfast. Yep, that was his idea. I told him he could have one for breakfast, but he decided he needed breakfast first. Smart boy! I think I’ll be quartering them before serving.

Making Pop Tarts

They did a great job helping, rolling the dough, mixing the filling, lining things up and making the layers. It was fun.

Finished Pop Tarts

Not exactly beautiful, but not too bad considering how much of it the kids did.

With sprinkles

Lex was really set on sprinkles, which require icing to stick. He isn't usually a big fan of sweets, so I frosted and sprinkled two and we will see tomorrow which way he prefers them. Important things to know, right?

Yummy granola bars

Eve and I made some delicious granola bars this afternoon from Smitten Kitchen, a blog Rosy sent me. You can pretty much add any “dry” stuff you want (dried fruits, nuts, etc.) and choose your “wet” ingredients (honey, syrup, etc.) I’ve tried several other granola bar recipes in the past and none came out quite right. A trick I learned here though, that I didn’t know before, is that if the granola bars are crumbly when you try to cut the, stick them in the fridge for awhile to let the “glue” harden. I have been trying to bake bars longer and longer to get them to harden. Oops. We cut these pretty quickly (we have no patience for baked goods around here!) and they crumbled a bit, so I put the rest in the fridge and finished cutting them later. Perfect! And oh-so-yummy!

Read the Smitten Kitchen post for the whole details, but here is the basic recipe:

Granola Bars

  • 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used 2/3c.)
  • 1/3 cup oat flour (I don’t have oat flour so I used whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 cups fruits and nuts (I raided the cabinet and found 1c. dried cranberries, 1/4c sesame seeds, 1/4c crushed hazelnuts, 1/2c cinnamon bits and 2/3c. shredded coconut)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used sunflower seed butter) (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup (I used maple syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)

Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. [Updating to note, as many had crumbling issues:] If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

Pumpkin waffles

On Eve’s request, we had pumpkin waffles for dinner last night. They were super yummy! When we first made waffles (after hubby got me a waffle iron for Christmas!) Lex ate too much and got a stomachache. He hasn’t tried them since. Silly boy. Last night I got him to try the “special orange waffles” without syrup. He liked them, but then asked for syrup. I was careful to give him only small amounts (of syrup and waffles!) to avoid stomachaches. He seemed pretty happy. Eve and I, of course, ate them all up. I got the recipe from weelicious, a cool blog with healthy food ideas. She suggested making cream cheese sandwiches with them. That may be lunch in the near future!

Weelicious Pumpkin Waffles
Pumpkin Waffles
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
2 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Ground Ginger
4 Eggs
1 Cup Milk (I used rice milk)
1 Cup Buttermilk (I used low fat)
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
6 Tbsp Butter, melted

1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. Sift first 7 ingredients into a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl whisk the remaining ingredients.
4. Whisk the dry ingredients into the liquid mixture and whisk until smooth.
5. Pour about 1/2 cup of the pumpkin batter into a waffle iron that’s been buttered or greased and cook according to manufacturer’s directions.
6. Serve with maple syrup or make into sandwiches filling with cream cheese and whatever other fillings you desire.

Valentine’s “Treats” (or “why I stopped baking”)

I stopped baking awhile back. Did I mention that? After the baking bonanza that was the holiday season my gut was full, my Weight Watchers efforts floundering, and my children bored of the whole thing, so I decided to give it up. Excluding Alan’s last-minute-throw-together birthday cake, my oven hasn’t seen anything but wholesome homemade bread since January. I tell you this as a prelude to today’s crazy afternoon.

In a thoughtless moment I volunteered to bake goodies for Lex’s preschool Valentine’s Day party tomorrow. I volunteered a few weeks ago and ever since have been thinking of creative, healthy(ish) treats. I had settled on heart-shaped sugar cookies with diced, dried cranberries. I thought that would be festive and not too over the top sweet. I was happy and eager to bake. Lex has been very happy and excited about this party and in the car yesterday he asked what kind of cookies we would be baking. I told him and, in his very sweet polite voice, he said “but mom, I don’t like sugar cookies.” Crap. I had forgotten that small fact. He suggested chocolate chip cookies, I said I wanted them to be a bit healthier and he so suggested oatmeal raisin cookies. Hmmm…. ok. So I spent a quick 24hrs trying to decide how to make them tasty and festive. We decided to make bar cookies and cut them with heart cookie cutters. Eve and I bought “Cupid M&Ms” and red gummy candies (why? well, because I wanted to eat them!) at the store today. I was planning to bake the M&Ms into the cookies, but Lex said he wanted to put them on top. Ok, umm, I guess we need frosting to make the candies stick. Baking by committee… So we made Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin cookies (tasty recipe under the lid of the oatmeal container) with whole wheat flour and reduced sugar, and I made cream cheese frosting with cauliflower puree (shhh.. don’t let Lex read this!), and I let the kids decorate with candies. We had discussed nice little Xs and Os or small hearts, but they chose to PILE on the candy! Ugh.

While all of this baking was going on, Eve was trying to help, but not really very helpful, and Lex was at the table making Valentine’s Day cards. It seemed like a nice enough afternoon, until it occurred to me that they both ate a fair amount of sugar (sneaking M&Ms here and there) and NO exercise. By the end of the evening Lex was bouncing, BOUNCING around the kitchen, crashing into things, making me crazy. Eve was whining and bouncing. I was feeling ill mentally and physically (so much for WW this week!) and cranky. Fortunately I got control (of myself, anyway) and accepted the fact that their craziness was entirely my fault. We ran around the living room for awhile, did some jumping jacks, somersaults, bear walks, etc. and then went up for bath. Bath went well and things were smooth until it was time to pick out clothes for tomorrow (part of our smooth evening routine that normally goes very well).

Lex currently wears only three shirts. He has 11 (yes, we counted tonight) plus several t-shirts and sweaters/sweatshirts, but will only wear three of them. One is too small and has holes in the arms, so it will be going away soon. This evening his three shirts were all dirty. He had a complete and total meltdown! It was sweet though, for a meltdown, and he just cried and cried about how he couldn’t possibly wear any of those other eight shirts. He even went so far as to say he didn’t want to go to school tomorrow because he wanted to stay home and wait until his shirts were clean. He has been excited about his Valentine’s Day party for a week now and he decided to skip it because he didn’t want to wear a different shirt. Crazy kid! We decided to go to bed instead and discuss in the morning. Later I remembered that I have a load of laundry in the dryer, so I think I’ll let him “find” a shirt in the dryer tomorrow. I really don’t want to fight in the morning and skipping school isn’t really an option, especially since I have the party food!! He fell asleep in my arms, which was sweet, and I apologized to him for sugaring him up and not giving him an outlet to burn it off.

Whew! After all that I came downstairs to face an hour and a half of kitchen clean-up (I also made Alan some awesome, to him, chili today, so there was dinner clean-up too). Alan and I also agreed that the cookies had too much candy on them, so I removed the candy, swirled around the pink and red colors from M&Ms that “melt in your mouth” or on cookies! I had such beautiful cookie treats in my head and these are A FAR CRY from them, but hopefully kids like them. Hopefully. If not, well…. I have a sneaking suspicion that Lex may not actually eat one. He isn’t really a big cookie fan and when I offered him a cookie this evening, before they were decorated, he said “No thank you. I’ll just have one tomorrow.” I’m curious if he actually does. Especially since I made them to his specs!

Tomorrow will be devoted to the kids.

And I now remember why I quit baking.

Cookie bars

Two pans of cookie bars. I should have stopped here.

Cookie bars with frosting

Cookie bars with frosting, though clearly not enough frosting. I was expecting white frosting, but this is more vanilla colored.

Kids decorating cookies

The kids hard at work decorating the cookies.

Cookie scraps

Cookie scraps anyone?

Decorated cookies

Decorated cookies. So much for healthy!

Undecorated cookies

My undecorated version. Not pretty. I hope the kids like them!

Cookie close-ups

Cookie close-ups. I want to be a food photographer. Yes, I know I need more practice!