Saturday, December 17, 2011

Peppermint Candy Cake

The holidays are fast approaching and I don't know about you, but I am getting tired already.  This recipe is super easy and soooo yummy!  So, if you need to take the dessert this year, you cannot fail with this one!
1 package (18-1/4 ounces) white cake mix
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons crushed peppermint candies, divided
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon 2% milk

Prepare cake batter according to package directions. Transfer 1 cup to a small bowl; stir in the extract, food coloring and 1/2 cup crushed candies.   Spoon 2 cups of remaining batter into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Carefully top with peppermint batter; do not swirl. Top with remaining plain batter.

Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.   Combine confectioners' sugar and milk; drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with remaining crushed candies.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Salted Caramel Candies

Caramel candies are my favorite and these are super easy!  Have fun!
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt
4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Line 9x5-inch loaf pan with foil; spray foil with cooking spray.   In 1-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream, vanilla, kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until mixture just begins to simmer. Remove from heat; cover with lid. Set aside.

In 2-quart heavy saucepan, mix sugar and corn syrup; add candy thermometer. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until sugar is dissolved. If granules of sugar become stuck to sides of saucepan, use wet pastry brush to brush granules down towards syrup. Cook syrup, without stirring, until thermometer reads 310°F. If hot spots or darker areas occur while cooking, gently roll saucepan around to evenly disperse syrup.

Remove saucepan from heat. Slowly pour cream mixture into syrup. Syrup will bubble violently so be careful to add cream slowly to ensure syrup does not bubble over edge of saucepan. Stir until smooth.

Return saucepan to medium heat. Cook caramel until thermometer reads 260°F.
Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until caramel is smooth.   Pour caramel into loaf pan. Cool 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle coarse sea salt evenly over top. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack.

When caramel is cool, remove from pan by lifting foil. Peel foil from caramel. Using sharp long knife, cut into 35 to 40 squares. Wrap each caramel individually with waxed paper or cellophane.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuscan Bread Soup

I love a good soup in the winter and this is just that!  So yummy!  I have also added a rostisserie chicken with it as well.  ENJOY!
(Picture from

6 ounces country bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (3 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
2 celery stalks, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 head green cabbage, quartered, thinly sliced crosswise (6 cups)
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup fresh parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pieces are dry, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add cabbage, broth, 2 cups water, and toasted bread. Simmer over medium heat until soup is thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Pot Pie

Do you have left over turkey still?  This is a great and easy recipe!
2 cups frozen peas and carrots
2 cups frozen green beans
1 cup sliced celery
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/3 cups milk
4 cups cubed cooked turkey meat - light and dark meat mixed
4 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Place the peas and carrots, green beans, and celery into a saucepan; cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer over medium-low heat until the celery is tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander set in the sink, and set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup of flour, salt, black pepper, celery seed, onion powder, and Italian seasoning; slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens. Remove from heat; stir the cooked vegetables and turkey meat into the filling until well combined.

Fit 2 pie crusts into the bottom of 2 9-inch pie dishes. Spoon half the filling into each pie crust, then top each pie with another crust. Pinch and roll the top and bottom crusts together at the edge of each pie to seal, and cut several small slits into the top of the pies with a sharp knife to release steam.
Bake in the preheated oven until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. If the crusts are browning too quickly, cover the pies with aluminum foil after about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Apple Crisp Muffins

My kids love muffins.  Blueberry being their favorite, or should I say, used to be their favorite!  Here are some that we tried the other day and they are wonderful!  ENJOY!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups finely chopped peeled apples
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine the egg, milk and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in apples. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.

In a small bowl, beat the filling ingredients until smooth. Drop by tablespoonfuls into centers of muffins.

For topping, in a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over filling. Bake at 400° for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack. Yield: 1 dozen. (recipe and picture from )

Monday, November 14, 2011

Better Than Pumpkin Pie... Cake

I love the concept of pumpkin pie, only because I love pumpkin!  But I have to say... I'm not a huge fan of the traditional pie!  So non-American, I know!  BUT this cake, I can handle!  Same concept, just different! TRY it!  You'll thank me!
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (12 fluid ounce) can nonfat evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Stir in the milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Pour pumpkin mixture into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle the yellow cake mix over the pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle on the pecans. Drizzle melted butter over all. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Pasta Soup

I don't know about you, but I am always using my crockpot and this is the perfect time to just add some ingredients for the perfect soup.  This is an easy, fast soup that makes your house smell good!
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)
1/2 cup halved pitted ripe olives
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 carton (32 ounces) chicken broth
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup uncooked small shell pasta

Mix all ingredients except pasta in 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker.
Cover and cook on Low heat setting 8 to 10 hours.
About 30 minutes before serving, stir in pasta. Increase heat setting to High. Cover and cook 20 to 30 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Fondue

HELLO!!! It has been a very long time!  I'll be honest, I have been on a health food kick and haven't been cooking as much as I ususally do! BUT, this beautiful fall weather we are having is making me feel like I need to cook and bake everything in sight!!! So, here we go again!
I went to a party the other night where they were serving fondue. I LOVE fondue in everyway, but this recipe made me happy!  I hope you enjoy it too!  I also have a ton of new recipes coming your way just in time for the holidays!  Happy cooking!

1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups chocolate chips
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup half-and-half or light cream or almond milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons honey
15–20 small cookies
3 cups pineapple or orange slices
If using canned pineapple slices, pat dry on a paper towel. Refrigerate the slices.
Combine the chocolate chips and cream in a metal bowl and place on top of a saucepan half-filled with simmering water. Add the honey.
Melt the chocolate on low to medium-low heat, making sure that it doesn't boil.
When the chocolate is melted, stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. .Serve with the pineapple slices and cookies for dipping.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reduced Sugar Freezer Jam

Hello friends! It's been awhile! Ok, so I have to admit, I have been in a cooking slump.... UNTIL, I found this amazing product! My sister in law introduced me to it while we were slaving over making our annual batches of raspberry freezer jam! THIS WAS THE EASIEST recipe EVER and good news, there is really no stirring or waiting required!
( I bought it at Harmon's grocery store in Utah for $8.00.  It can also be found at all Whole Food Stores and specialty grocery stores.  Walmart DOES NOT carry it.)

4 cups finely chopped or crushed fruit or berries
2 cups sugar or sweetener equivalent
2 TBS. lemon juice
1/2 cup of Ultra Gel

Combine crushed fruit, sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl.  Gradually add Ultra Gel, stirring constantly.  Let stand for 5 minutes to thicken and stir until smooth.  Package in jars, label, date and freeze!
Yields 5 cups. ( I was able to make 12 jars from doing this recipe 2 times!)
(Recipe from label on the above product.)

 And of course... I HAD HELP!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Strawberry Fruit Leather

My kids LOVE fruit leather and I found this really great recipe!  It was fun and really good!  ENJOY!
1 1/2 lb strawberries, halved (4 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
17- by 12-inch nonstick bakeware liner such as a Silpat; a large offset spatula

Purée strawberries with sugar in a blender until smooth, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heavy saucepan.
Bring purée to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally (more frequently toward end), until thick enough to mound slightly and reduced to 1 to 11/4 cups, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 200°F with rack in middle. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick liner.
Pour hot purée onto liner and spread thinly (as evenly as possible) into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle using spatula. Dry purée in oven until it feels drier (it shouldn't stick to your fingers) but is still slightly tacky, 2 to 3 hours.
Cool on liner on a rack until completely dry, at least 3 hours and up to 24.
Place a sheet of parchment paper over leather, then peel leather off liner and roll up in parchment.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pasta with Roasted Summer Veggies and Basil

In mind there is no better herb than basil.  I love it!  LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!  This recipe is so full of flavor and is perfect for summer time. I hope you enjoy it!
4 summer squash (about 2 pounds), halved lengthwise if large, sliced crosswise 1 inch thick

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
2 red onions, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces short pasta shape, such as campanelle or fusilli
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup firmly packed torn fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide squash, tomatoes, onions, and garlic between two large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat and then spread evenly. Roast (without tossing) until tender and starting to brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, and return to pot.

Add roasted vegetables, butter, parmesan, and basil to pot; season with salt and pepper, and toss gently with pasta to combine. Reheat over medium-low if necessary before serving.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grilled Green Tomatoes with Creamy Basil Sauce

Ok so this is totally random, but one of my all time favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes."  To be honest, when I used to watch the movie, I didn't really think it looked appetizing.  However, I was totally wrong.  I went to the Farmers Market and bought some green tomatoes and made this!  I hope you enjoy!

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 green tomatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. In a food processor, combine mayonnaise, basil, garlic, and lemon juice, and process until basil is finely chopped and sauce is smooth (add 1 to 2 teaspoons water if needed). Cut green tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices, brush with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly charred and softened, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and spoon sauce over top.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fresh Peach Salsa

Have you tried the mango salsa from Costco?!  I L.O.V.E. IT!  So much so, that I have to go back often to get some.  Until I fould this recipe!  It's not mango, but the peaches in it are AWESOME!  So, enjoy!
4 medium peaches, peeled and pitted
2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges and seeded
1/2 sweet onion, cut into wedges
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Baked tortilla chip scoops

In a food processor, combine the first five ingredients; cover and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the chilies, vinegar, lime juice and pepper; cover and pulse just until blended. Transfer to a serving bowl; chill until serving. Serve with chips.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Ok, so I know I posted an ice cream recipe last time, BUT this is the BEST homemade ice cream I have EVER tasted!  Oh My YUMMY GOODNESS!  ENJOY!
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1-1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice

2-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 36 squares)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted

1-1/2 cups sugar
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant cheesecake or vanilla pudding mix
1 quart heavy whipping cream
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in water until smooth. Stir in blueberries and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

In a large bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in butter. Pat into an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the ice cream ingredients. Fill ice cream freezer cylinder two-thirds full; freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Refrigerate remaining mixture until ready to freeze. Whisk before adding to ice cream freezer (mixture will have some lumps).

Crumble the graham cracker mixture. In a large container, layer the ice cream, graham cracker mixture and blueberry sauce three times; swirl. Freeze.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I love homemade ice cream! This recipe is great!  ENJOY!
2 cups 2% milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 drops green food coloring (optional)
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and peppermint extract until the sugar has dissolved. Color to your liking with the green food coloring.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. After about 10 minutes into the freezing, add the chocolate chips. After the ice cream has thickened, about 30 minutes later, spoon into a container, and freeze for 2 hours.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

4th of July Cake Pops

Am I the ONLY one that thinks it's crazy that the 4th of July is next weekend?!?! Well, I have been seeing these cake pops all over the place and I think they are darling.  But you do have to be careful!  It's like buying the "bite size" candies.  You think they are little, so you end up eating more than a king size candy bar!  ENJOY!
1 box Betty Crocker® cake mix (any flavor)

Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 container (12 oz) Betty Crocker® Whipped frosting (any flavor)
1 bag (14 oz) candy melts (any flavor)
1 teaspoon shortening
Craft sticks (flat wooden sticks with round ends)
Assorted candy sprinkles
Block of white plastic foam
Line several cookie sheets with waxed paper. Make and bake cake mix as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan, using water, oil and eggs. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

With fingers, crumble cake into large bowl. Add frosting; mix well with fingers until dough forms. Shape into quarter-size balls; place on cookie sheets. Freeze about 15 minutes.

When ready to assemble, in small microwavable bowl, microwave candy melts uncovered as directed on bag. Stir in shortening until smooth and mixture runs off spoon.

Remove cake pop balls from freezer. Dip tip of each craft stick into melted candy, then halfway into 1 cake ball; place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.

When all cake balls have sticks, gently swirl 1 cake ball in melted candy to coat well; allow candy to drip back into bowl. Dip ball into candy sprinkles to decorate; place in plastic foam to allow candy to harden. Repeat with remaining cake balls and melted candy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grilled Corn with Lime and Cheese

Corn on the cob is a staple at our house in the summer months.  My kids and I love it!  This recipe is a wonderful way to change it up and might I add, IT IS AWESOME!!  Enjoy!
4 ears of corn
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
2 ounces finely grated feta cheese

Heat grill to high. Soak corn in cold water, turning occasionally, 10 minutes. Transfer to grill. Cover; cook, turning, until husks are charred, 10 minutes. Remove.

Using a kitchen towel, pull back husks; remove and discard corn silks. Return corn to grill (with husks pulled back and off heat). Cover; cook, turning, until kernels are charred in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.

Combine reduced-fat mayonnaise, lime juice, and chili powder; brush on cooked corn. Dust with finely grated feta cheese. Season with coarse salt; serve with lime wedges.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Easy Chicken Tostada Salad

This is a very fast and very easy dinner to both prepare and clean up and who doesn't like that?!  ENJOY!
6-8 tostada shells
4 cups shredded lettuce
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained, rinsed
2- 3chicken breasts, cooked, cut into 1/2-inch slices ( I use a Rotisserie chicken)
1 cup of your favorite salsa
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
1/2 cup shredded taco-seasoned cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place 2 tostada shells, slightly overlapping.
Top tostada shells with remaining ingredients. Serve with additional salsa or your favorite dressing if desired.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Buffalo Blue Cheese Grilled Chicken Burger

Our family LOVES to use the grill during these summer months.  This burger is a wonderful alternative to just a plain BBQ grilled burger.  ENJOY!
1 3/4 lb ground chicken
1/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 3 drops red pepper sauce
6 burger buns, split
6 leaves green leaf lettuce
1/4 cup refrigerated chunky blue cheese dressing
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Heat gas or charcoal grill. Carefully brush oil on grill rack. In large bowl, mix chicken, wing sauce, salt and pepper sauce.

Shape mixture into six 1/2-inch patties, each about 4 inches in diameter. Place on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 10 to 12 minutes or until thermometer inserted in center of patty reads 165°F.

Place buns on grill, cut sides down. Cover grill; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted. Place lettuce and patty on bottom of each bun. In small bowl, stir together dressing and blue cheese. Top patties with dressing mixture and tops of buns.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Banana Boats

I LOVE SUMMER!  Especially since we can grill almost everything!  This is a great camping recipe, but we had it last night after we grilled some burgers and dogs!  AHHH.... summer!  ENJOY!
4-6 medium unpeeled ripe bananas
1/2 cup of miniature chocolate chips ( we used semi sweet)
1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers

Cut banana peel lengthwise about 1/2 in. deep, leaving 1/2 in. at both ends. Open peel wider to form a pocket. Fill each with 1 teaspoon chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon marshmallows.  Sprinkle the crushed graham crakers. Crimp and shape four pieces of heavy-duty foil (about 12 in. square) around bananas, forming boats.

Grill, covered, over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until marshmallows melt and are golden brown.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I'm back... AND Strawberry Bread!

I have been gone for so long, I think I almost forgot how to blog!! I have had no computer for almost 2 months!  What a process!  BUT, I'm back and ready to get rolling for the summer!
I have been dying to add this new recipe to my list.  As much as I love strawberries, we never seem to get through a whole case from Costco as fast as we need to.  So after they turn a little old and soft, do this and you won't regret!
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan

1 pint strawberries, rinsed, hulled, quartered, and mashed with a fork
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan. In a small saucepan, bring strawberries to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, and eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture alternately with 1/3 cup water, beginning and ending with flour. Fold in reserved strawberries.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour (tent with foil after 45 minutes if top is getting too dark). Cool in pan 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges; invert onto a rack. Reinvert; cool completely.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chipotle Chicken and Rice

Oh my goodness.... I haven't had a computer now for about 2 1/2 weeks, thus no posts!  I am dying!  Hopefully it will be back soon.  I tried this recipe last week and really enjoyed it, so I hope you do as well!
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds total)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
2 large tomatoes, diced large
1 cup long-grain white rice
Lime wedges, for serving
Chopped cilantro leaves, for serving (optional)

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Working in batches, brown chicken on both sides, about 6 minutes total; transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot (if necessary, add a bit of water to release browned bits).

Add garlic, cumin, and chiles; cook until garlic is soft and fragrant, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until tomatoes begin to break down and release their juices, 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup water and return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook 25 minutes.

Remove several pieces of chicken and stir in rice, making sure it is completely submerged in liquid. Replace chicken, cover, and cook until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes more. Serve with lime wedges and cilantro if desired.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fudgy Banana Pudding Pops- Gluten Free

With warmer weather I am always looking for easy and healthy snacks for my kids.  This is a great GLUTEN FREE, fat free and low sugar snack for the kiddos and the kid in you!  ENJOY!
1 box (4-serving size) chocolate fudge sugar-free fat-free instant pudding mix
2 cups fat-free (skim) milk
1 medium ripe banana
1 container Yoplait® Light very vanilla yogurt
8 waxed paper cups (5-oz size)
8 craft sticks (flat wooden sticks with round ends)

In medium bowl, beat pudding mix and milk with wire whisk about 2 minutes or until well blended. Let stand 5 minutes or until thickened.   Meanwhile, in small bowl, mash banana with fork. Stir in yogurt.
Place paper cups in 8-inch pan for easier handling. Spoon 2 tablespoons pudding into each cup. Divide yogurt mixture evenly among cups. Top with remaining pudding mixture. Tap cups on work surface to level top. Insert wooden stick into center of each pop.
Freeze pops about 2 hours or until solid. Store frozen pops in plastic freezer bag in freezer. Peel off paper cups before serving.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

I love using my slow cooker.  It is a wonderful feeling to get up and get dinner in the crockpot in the morning and not have to worry about it the rest of the day!  This recipe is a wonderful, kid friendly recipe.  You can use any spices that you like to make it your own! 
(Image from here.)

4-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I would NOT reccommend Ragu.  It makes this too watery.  I use Classico sauces.  If Ragu is all you have, add a small jar of tomato sauce.)
1 green bell pepper
1 cup of fresh mushrooms
2 TBS. chopped fresh garlic
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil

Place chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker.  In a small bowl mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over chicken covering it completely. 
Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5.
Serve over your favorite cooked pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easy Cake Mix Banana Bread

I've said it before...  When you say cake mix, I listen  and when I say banana bread, my kids come running!!  This banana bread is like a mixture of good old fashion banana bread and cupcakes!  Oh my goodness!  Enjoy!
1 box Betty Crocker® cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
4 mashed bananas

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease and flour 2 (9x5-inch) loaf pans. Select your favorite banana bread recipe from the list below. In large bowl, beat all ingredients together (including those specific add-ins mentioned in the ingredient descriptions below) until well mixed. Pour batter loaf pans. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center, comes out clean.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whole Wheat Brownies

When you say the word brownie, I come running!  I love them!  Even from the box, but there is nothing better than a made from scratch brownie.  Escepically ones that are healthy! (for the most part anyway!) ENJOY!
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish; line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
In a large bowl, stir together sugar, applesauce, and egg. Place butter and 6 ounces chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pot of simmering water; stir until melted. Stir chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir in flour mixture. Pour into pan and top with 2 ounces chocolate.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Use parchment to lift cake from pan and cut into 16 squares.
(recipe and pic from here.)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Penne with Mushroom Tomato Sauce

I have been in a SERIOUS recipe slump!  So I apologize for not posting anything for awhile!  We had this recipe the other night for dinner and it was super yummy!  I hope you enjoy!  Happy thursday!
2 2/3 cups uncooked penne pasta (8 oz)
4 strips bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
8 oz mushrooms, sliced, (I used fresh) 
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes with basil, undrained
1/2 cup whipping cream (You can also use Almond Milk. It is a healthier low fat option and tastes fantastic!)
2 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves

Cook and drain pasta as directed on box. Return to saucepan; keep warm.
Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet or Dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until crisp. Remove pancetta to paper towels to drain. In same skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook garlic and mushrooms in oil 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender. Stir in tomatoes. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in whipping cream; heat just until hot. Stir in pasta.
Add spinach; toss until spinach is wilted. Sprinkle individual servings with bacon.
(Recipe and picture from

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cheesecake Lemon Bars

Call me crazy, but when I see a recipe that calls for a cake mix of some kind, I read on!  Thus the reason for this recipe.  It is wonderful and sooooo easy and it was gone within the hour!  So, I hope you enjoy!
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 eggs
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). In large bowl, beat dry cake mix, butter and 1 of the eggs with electric mixer on low speed until crumbly. Press in bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch pan.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar on low speed. Stir in lemon peel and lemon juice until smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup; refrigerate. Beat remaining 2 eggs into remaining cream cheese mixture on medium speed until blended. Spread over cake mixture.

Bake bars 23 to 28 minutes or until set. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Spread with reserved cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate about 3 hours or until firm. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 6 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Great Green Smoothie!

I am pretty sure that when I say I have a hard time getting my kids to eat their green vegetables, I am not alone!  Am I right?  Heck, I have a hard time eating mine!  So, what is the answer? Maybe a green smoothie?!  That is the answer in this house!  My kids LOVE these smoothies! Not only are they getting great benefits from the veggies, but the protein in the shake and vitamins are priceless!  There are a lot of 'green' recipes out there, but this one that we can't live without at our house!  ENJOY!
2 huge handfuls of spinach (the more the better)
1 banana
1/2 cup blueberries
1 green apple
3 stalks of celery
1 cup of Greek nonfat yogurt
1/2- 1 cup of your favorite flavor of Crystal light (we like orange sunrise)
1/2 cup ice
OR... Add or subtract whatever your heart desires!
Place everything in a blender and mix until you reach your perfect smoothie! 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Maple Topped Oven Pancake

My kids LOVE breakfast for dinner.  Who doesn't?  But I have grown weary of just making pancakes and waffles!  So here is a new recipe that is just perfect for the cause!  I hope you ENJOY!
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup maple-flavored syrup
1 1/2 cups Bisquick® Original baking mix
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
Maple-flavored syrup, if desired

Heat oven to 350º. Heat 1/2 cup brown sugar, the margarine and syrup in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Pour into ungreased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.
Beat remaining ingredients in medium bowl, using wire whisk or fork, until blended. Carefully pour over syrup mixture.
Bake uncovered 30 to 35 minutes or until top springs back when touched in center. Cut into 3-inch squares; turn each square upside down onto plate. Serve immediately, with maple-flavored syrup.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mediterranean Tuna Noodle Casserole

I'm not big into casseroles.  I don't know why, I'm just not.  Never have been, until now.  This casserole is so good and now a family favorite. You can also substitute the tuna for chicken.  I have used a rotisserie chicken to make it fast and easy!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for baking dishes
1 bag extra wide egg noodles
2 red bell peppers, diced and cleaned
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk or 5 cups of almond milk (great non fat alternative to whole milk)
4 small cans or 2 large tuna, drained
1 small can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 13x9 baking dish and set aside. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until almost done; drain, and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add bell peppers; season with salt and pepper. Cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer.

Remove from heat; add mixture to noodles in pot, along with tuna and artichoke hearts. Season with salt and pepper, and toss. Put into baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Slow Cooker Chili Chicken Tacos

One of my favorite types of food is mexican.  I love the taste and the textures, but I don't love the calories!  This recipe is not only low in fat, but a great source of protein.  You can change it up by using pork or beeg as well! Not to mention, the kids will eat it too! Enjoy!
4- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 cup your favorite salsa
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 tablespoon chili powder
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 hard corn taco shells
Cilantro, shredded cheese, lime wedges, and sour cream, for serving (optional)

In slow cooker, combine chicken, garlic, salsa, chiles, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and teaspoon pepper. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours (or on low, 8 hours).

Transfer chicken to a serving bowl, and shred, using two forks; moisten with cooking juices. Serve in taco shells, with toppings, if desired.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parmesan Rice

Need a good side?  I always have a great idea for the main dish, but it usually is not enough!  This recipe is a great side to most dishes!  Not to mention is really fast, easy and good! 
1 cup long-grain white rice

coarse salt
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan with a lid, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and teaspoon salt. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Greek Chicken Cutlets

I love a good chicken recipe and I really love Greek Food.  This recipe is so easy and really yummy.  My kids loved it and I will for sure be making it again! 
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
4 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled (1 cup)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds thin chicken cutlets (about 8)

In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, feta, mint, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
Heat a grill pan over high; brush lightly with oil. Season cutlets with salt and pepper. Cook, working in batches as necessary, until chicken is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Top chicken with tomato mixture, and serve.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Muffin Tin Meatloaf

When I think of Meat Loaf, I think of the classic movie "A Christmas Story".  The kid brother won't eat anything at the dinner table and sits in his chair chanting " Meatloaf, meatloaf, double beet loaf!  I HATE meatloaf!"  Well long story short, the mother finally gets him to eat his meatloaf by having him pretending  to be a pig.  It's hystarical mostly because I remember not eating meatloaf as a kid.  I hated it!  But, let's face it!  Most meatloaf really is kind of gross! Isn't it? Well, here is an easy and YES yummy version of meatloaf.  My kids escpecailly love it because it's made in muffin tins.
1 1/2 - 2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced into small pieces
1 large egg
1/8 cup of milk
1 cup plain or italian bread crumbs
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
sprinkle of salt
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I use Famous Daves) 
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoonS Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Put ground beef and diced green peppers into a big bowl. Beat egg with milk and add to meat. Then add bread crumbs and all seasonings.  In a small bowl mix BBQ sauce, tomatoes and the Worcestershire sauce together. Pour half of the BBQ sauce mix into the bowl with the meat mixture. Mix the meatloaf together with your hands. Wash your hands. In a greased muffin tin, fill each cup with meatloaf mixture. You can use an ice cream scoop to help you fill each tin. Take the rest of the BBQ mixture and spoon some on top of each meat loaf. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Too Cute Valentine Chex Mix

Here is yet another darling but very easy Valentine Day idea!  Not to mention, it's really yummy!
9 cups Rice Chex® cereal (gluten free)
1 cup white vanilla baking chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup red, white and pink candy-coated chocolate candies
1/4 cup red or pink jimmies sprinkles

In large bowl, place cereal. In small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
Place 1/2 of the cereal mixture in 1-gallon food-storage plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir candies and sprinkles into remaining cereal mixture. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes. In serving bowl, mix both cereal mixtures. Store in airtight container.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

For your Valentine Dessert Wontons

Wondering what to do for friends and family at Valenines? Show them you LOVE them by making these Dessert Wontons. I have seen a couple of I versions and thought that I could whip them up and give them away, but alas, I ate them!  So I guess I will be making them again!
Fresh banana slices, sliced thin
White Chocolate, shaved
1/2 teaspoon of coconut 
1 dab of store bought caramel sauce
Softened cream cheese
Wonton wrappers
Gala or Fuji Apple slices, sliced small and thin
White Chocolate, shaved
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon and sugar
1/2 teaspoon of store bought caramel sauce 
Softened cream cheese
Wonton wrappers
use whatever sounds good to you!

Place about a half tablespoon of cream cheese in the middle of the wonton wrapper.  Place the rest of ingredients on the cream cheese.  Do not stack too high or the wrappers will tear.  Fold the wonton wrappers in half making a triangle.  Get your fingers damp in luke warm water and brush along the edges to seal the wrapper.
Place in a preheated deep fryer or heat oil to 400 degrees in a shallow pan on the stove top.
Fry the wontons until slightly browned on both sides.
Remove from  fryer and let cool down for about a minute each.   Sprinkle cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar on the wonton and enjoy!  You can also make dipping sauces with caramel, chocolate or raspberry sauces!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

You'll LOVE it, Guacomole

Everyone has their favorite Guacomole recipe.  This is one that I made up from a combination of others that I have had and I LOVE it! I would love to have you share your guacomole recipes with me!  How do you make it?
2-3 avocados - peeled, pitted and mashed (the more ripe an avocado is, the better)
1 large tomato, diced small
1/2 cup of red onion, diced
1/2 cup jalapeno peppers, chopped
chopped fresh cilantro as much to your liking
1 cup of any Italian dressing
dash of salt

Stir above ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  The longer it sits, the hotter it gets!  ENJOY!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Little Smokies

So, I NEVER... EVER thought I would post a recipe for these little bad boys, but here it is. Just  in time for the BIG game!  My kids are going to LOVE me!  Oh ya and ok, I will admit, they ARE pretty darn good!  Really!  There I said it!
2 large bags little smokies
1 bottle your favorite bbq sauce ( I used Famous Daves)
1 small jar grape or apricot jelly
Mix well all ingrdients.
Cook in crock pot on low heat, stir occasionally.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Game Day Hot Wings

In my mind, the hotter the better! That's why I love this sauce that I found. The recipe below is as close to Winger's wings that I could do. So, come Sunday, we will have these, nacho's and a TON of junk food! Enjoy!

2- 2 1/2 pounds of chicken wing pieces
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Frank's Red Hot Wing sauce (You can buy this by the BBQ sauce at any grocer.)

Place the chicken wings in rows onto a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake at 450 degress for 25 minutes or until crispy on the outside and cooked through.
While the wings are baking, mix the brown sugar and hot sauce together in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissoloved and sauce is warmed through.
When wings are done, throw them into a large bowl and pour the sauce over them. Return them to the cookie sheet and bake them for about 5 minutes or so!
Serve warm.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Amazing Killer Nachos

Ok, so I know there are 2 nacho recipes up, but one is a true all american recipe, the other is what I call a show off recipe!  So, just as promised... the most amazing Nachos I have ever had!  Takes a little bit longer to make, but if you are willing, they are worth it!  Happy nachos day!
Tortilla Chips with a hint of lime

4 cups Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork (any recipe will do, but here is one if you need it,  Or for those of you who have Cafe Rio in your area, you can purchase some from them!)
2 1/2 cups shredded Monterey jack or pepper jack cheese
2/3 cup thinly sliced banana peppers and jalapeno peppers
Your favorite queso dip, warmed (here is my favorite)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Salsa, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Layer half of the chips, pork, cheese, and peppers in a 13x9 pan.  Cover with a second layer.  Placne in oven and bake until cheese is melted and pork is warm, about 10-15 minutes

Remove from oven and top with warmed queso. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve immediately with salsa.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Game Day Nachos

Game Day is coming... And can I be honest?  I don't care for football, but I do enjoy the food!  I love all american junk food and that includes Nachos!  This is a basic nachos recipe, but tomorrows will have the BEST nacho recipe ever! So make sure you come back tomorrow!
1 (13 1/2-ounce) bag of your favorite store-bought large tortilla chips
1 cup refried beans (I like is it spicy, so I use the Spicy Refried Beans)
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped jalapeno chiles
1 small can of chopped chilies
1/2 cup sliced black olives
Fresh cilantro leaves
Chili sauce or hot-pepper sauce
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
Sour cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Top each chip with about 1 teaspoon beans and 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese; evenly divide chiles and olives among tortilla chips. Transfer to an ovenproof serving platter, forming layers; add chili sauce.
Bake until heated through and cheese melts, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove, and garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve immediately topped with tomatoes and sour cream, if desired.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Oatmeal and Brown Sugar Cookies

So, I know I said that I was going to try and only put up recipes that are good for you, but I couldn't resist this one!  Sorry about that, I really am! BUT, they are so good and super easy.  ENJOY!
1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 cup Gold Medal® whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups old-fashioned oats

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs until well blended.
On low speed, beat in all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour and baking powder, scraping bowl occasionally, until well combined. Stir in oats.
On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies to about 1/2-inch thickness.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

It's been a couple of days since my last post.  A lot has happened and I have to admit, that I really have not been cooking!  YIKES!  I do have a good excuse!  A broken foot! 
BUT, broken or not, I want to start cooking again and this is what's for dinner!  It is easy and really good.  Play around with the spices or things that you like in the soup.  Black bean soup generally has bacon or ham chunks in as well.  You can them cooked at the end of the process or you can put the cooked ham in with the soup as it cooks!  ENJOY!
2 cups dried black beans (1 pound), sorted and rinsed
10 cups water
8 cups vegetable broth
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped (1 cup)  
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
Sour cream, if desired
Chopped fresh cilantro, if desired

Heat beans and water to boiling in 4-quart Dutch oven; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour.
Drain beans. Place beans and remaining ingredients except sour cream and cilantro in 6-quart slow cooker.
Cover and cook on Low heat setting 10 to 12 hours.
Serve soup topped with sour cream and cilantro.
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