Bacon and Dill Potato Salad

potato salad

It’s officially barbeque season! And I’m happy to admit that I look forward to the side dishes more than the brats and burgers. I’ve always been a grazer…and there is nothing better than trying out all of the delicious treats people bring to a barbeque.

potato salad 2

This Potato salad is a creation I came up with after tinkering with several other recipes over the years. As I seem to mention weekly, everything is better with bacon! Add a little dill and you have a masterpiece. It’s really a quick dish to make and tastes about 1000 times better than store bought potato salad.

potato salad 1

The key to this salad– make sure to use red potatoes and keep the skin on…that’s the healthy part. After cooking the potatoes, just set aside and make the dressing.

potato salad 3

The dressing is not your typical one. Most call for a whole lot of mayo or buttermilk, but I like this “lighter” version. It really tastes like a salad dressing, not a heavy creamy paste.

potato salad 4

After mixing all of the ingredients, you get an amazing combination of flavors–a sort of party in your mouth! The tart vinaigrette, crunchy celery and onions, and the perfect amount of dill. It really is good served warm, or you can always make ahead and serve it cold. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cubed red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • Salt
  • 6 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup green or red onions, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  • Put the potatoes in a large pot; add water just to cover and season with  salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes, then drain.

  • Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels and chop.

  • In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, chopped bacon, celery, dill and onions.

  • In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Pour over the potato mixture, tossing gently to coat. Serve right away (you can also cover and refrigerate).

 

Print Friendly

Texas Two-Step Coleslaw

coleslaw 6

I’m not lying when I say this is the BEST side dish ever!!! It’s a Southwestern take on a typical coleslaw.  I can’t take credit for creating this masterpiece. I got this recipe from a viewer in Nebraska. I used to do cooking segments on the news years ago and she was a guest of mine.  This is probably my most requested recipe!

coleslaw 3

It’s so easy to make and doesn’t have that sweet dressing (my big pet peeve with coleslaw!). Just buy a package of coleslaw mix ans buy a package of red cabbage shredded (should be right next to the coleslaw mix in the produce section).

coleslaw 2

Add a can of  “fiesta corn”. That’s just corn with peppers in it. You can also go the fresh corn route, but sometimes I find that the fresh corn is too sweet for the dish. Add  cilantro, red onion and a jalapeno pepper and mix. It’s that easy!

coleslaw 5

The dressing is even easier. You only need four ingredients: Ranch dressing, cayenne pepper, lime juice and cumin powder. The spices give it a nice southwest flavor. Just mix together and add to to the veggies. I make this dish just about every week during the summer. It’s perfect for a barbeque or potluck party.

Texas Two-Step Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cole slaw mix
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 2 11 oz cans mexi-corn, drained
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Dressing:

  • 3/4 bottle of ranch dressing
  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions

  • Mix together the coleslaw ingredients.

  • In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients. Pour over coleslaw mixture and refrigerate before serving.

Print Friendly

Bacon Grease Be Gone!

BACON

I don’t know about you, but I think the saying is spot on– “Everything’s better with bacon”! While I’ve grown accustomed to the not as tasty turkey bacon, my husband loves to make the real thing. The biggest problem besides the grease splattering on the stove is getting rid of it. Growing up, we used a big coffee can. But I have found the easiest “no hassle” solution–tin foil!

BACON GREASE

Now I can’t take credit for this genius idea. I found the on Pinterest and gave it a try. All you have to do is take some tin foil and layer it in a bowl. Poor the bacon grease in the bowl, then let it sit.

BACON GREASE 2

After it cools off and hardens a bit, you just grab the tin foil and toss it in the trash. No dripping or grease everything…the bowl remains clean! This has to be the BEST tip I’ve found on Pinterest!

Print Friendly

Simple Quiche

quiche 5

I’m a huge fan of breakfast. I’m the type that can eat breakfast all day, everyday. That why I love baking and creating tasty brunch dishes. Quiche has always been a favorite of mine because it’s SO simple to make. Here’s my secret: I use a ready made pie crust! I find that the Pillsbury brand at the store is just as good as a homemade…so I admit it, I cheat. I buy the crust that’s rolled up in the refrigerator section, so that you can still use your own pie dish. I often get lots of compliments for my pie crust (haha!).

quiche 6

The best thing about quiche is that you can really make it your own. If you like bacon, go with meat. If you want veggies, try spinach and swiss cheese. I included my recipe for “Quiche Lorraine”, which is a bacon quiche. But, I use this recipe as a great base. The amount of eggs, cream and cheese is perfect….just add whatever else you want.

quiche 3

After cooking the bacon, just crumble and sprinkle and add the cheese and onion.

quiche 4

Then, just whisk together the eggs, cream and seasoning and pour into the pan.

quiche 7

Bake it and you have a beautiful quiche! Seriously, it’s THAT easy! By the way–As you can see, I’m terrible at getting the first slice of quiche or pie out of the dish! It may not look pretty, but it sure tasted great.

 

Quiche Lorraine

Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust
  • 10-12 slices bacon
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss or Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • dash of pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  • Place bacon in skill and cook until crisp. Drain, then chop. Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion into pastry shell.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, salt and cayenne. Pour into pastry shell.

  • Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until egg is set. Allow quiche to cook for 10 minutes before serving.

Print Friendly

Overnight Pecan French Toast

FRENCH TOAST FINISH

YUM!!! That about sums up this recipe. I adapted it from the Food Network. A simple overnight french toast that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. I have made this dish for just about every occasion possible…Easter, Baby Showers, Bridal Showers.

FRENCH TOAST 1

The ingredients make this recipe look deceiving. There is a lot that goes into it, but it’s extremely easy to make. To start, I opt for Challah bread. I usually can find it in the grocery store. It’s a Jewish egg bread that comes braided. You can also use a loaf of bread from the bread aisle– something like a potato bread or a thicker sliced bread.

FRENCH TOAST 2

After you whisk the egg and cream mixture (yes, you can easily cut calories by going with milk instead. But I’m a big fan of Half & Half!), pour it over the bread. Make sure that every slice is soaked. Then, just plop it in the fridge for the night.

FRENCH TOAST 4

After a night of soaking, you will end up with an amazingly rich french toast. All you have to do in the morning is make the pecan praline mixture. One word of wisdom, soften the butter. Don’t melt it, but soften it enough that you can mix the ingredients with a spatula.

FRENCH TOAST FINAL 2

Isn’t the finished product gorgeous?!?! (just ignore the messy cook with the baked sugar all around the dish) It’s so rich and sweet that you can serve it plain…or drizzle a little maple syrup over it. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf bread (Challah or Egg Bread in the bread aisle)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Praline Topping:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

Praline Topping:

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.  Set aside.

French Toast:

  • Slice bread and arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices.

  • In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and beat with whisk. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

  • The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Print Friendly

The Hard Boiled Egg Timer…A Must-Have In the Kitchen!

 

EGGS

A lot of you are busy boiling eggs for Easter. My biggest problem–When do you know if they are hard? A friend of mine gave me this timer and I use it ALL THE TIME. It looks like an egg and takes any guesswork out of the boiling.  It starts out red and changes color as it cooks. So, you could plan for soft, medium or hard-boiled eggs.

EGGS 2

It’s really the greatest invention (why can’t I come up with something like this! I could use some extra money!). The best part, it’s cheap! I found it at Crate & Barrel for about $5. Several other stores have it for about the same price. A great kitchen accessory that you’ll put to good use!

Print Friendly

Sour Cream Coffee Cake…The BEST Brunch Recipe!

cake 10

It’s no secret that I love baking and this recipe is my “go-to”! I make it for Easter brunch, babies showers, just about any occasion.  It’s a recipe that you can make ahead and the leftovers are delicious days later with a cup of coffee.

cake 2
It’s a fairly easy and standard recipe. Make the streusel ahead…and my biggest advice: make double! The key to the perfect coffee cake is enough of that crumbly sugar and nut mixture, seeping out of every nook and cranny.

cake 6

Set aside the streusel concoction and make the cake. The difference you’ll notice in this cake is the sour cream…and yes, it seems like I put sour cream in everything! The sour cream makes it super moist and rich, a good combination for a dense cake.

cake 8

As you get the bundt pan ready, make sure to grease it well. I have a tendency to end up with a chunk of cake stuck when I go to take it out. So, I use butter or Pam spray. You start with cake batter, using about half of the bowl. Then layer about 3/4 of the streusel, then the batter again. Finish with the remaining streusel and bake.

cake 9

After drizzling the glaze with a spoon, you end up with a gorgeous cake that is equally as tasty!

cake 11

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For The Streusel

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

For The Glaze

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

  • Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

  • For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.

  • Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

  • Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

    **I often double the streusel portion!

Adapted from the Food Network

Print Friendly

Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cupcakes–The BEST cupcake around!

     cupcake
     I don’t know about you, but I love St. Patty’s day food! Not just the corned beef and cabbage, but because of these to-die-for cupcakes!  I can’t take credit for this one. A former coworker would bring them in to the news station each year on St. Patrick’s Day. I continued the tradition once I moved to  Illinois. They were a huge hit last year…just ask my coworkers! It’s a rich chocolate and Guinness cupcake with a Bailey’s Irish Cream ganache and Irish Cream frosting. It’s a little labor intensive (not for the beginner baker), but it’s worth it in the end.
Let me know if you try it out and what you think!

Guinness and Baileys Irish cupcakes

Ingredients

Serving: 24 cupcakes

1 cup stout (Guinness)

16 tbsp. unsalted butter

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1½ tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

 

For the Baileys ganache filling:

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature

2 tsp. Baileys Irish cream

 

For the Baileys butter cream frosting:

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

4-8 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

Directions

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend.

Add the stout-butter mixture and beat just to combine.  Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to ¾ full.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate.  Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth.  If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short burst in the microwave (15-20 seconds).  Add the butter and Baileys and stir until combined.

Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped.  (You can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.)

Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake using the cone method (a small paring knife works best for this). Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe it into the cupcakes.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated.  Mix in the Baileys until smooth.

Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading.  Frost the cupcakes as desired. Bon appetite!

Print Friendly

White Chicken Chili…A Quick One Pot Dinner

chili final product

For those of you not in Central Illinois, I do a cooking segment on the news called “Stirring It Up”. I share my favorite family recipes, but I also try out recipes from our viewers. This winter dish comes from Martin Flemming, a loyal viewer of WAND and an awesome cook! I love checking out his recipes that he passes on. The white chicken chili is a simple recipe that can stand alone, but is easy to spice up too.

chili1

The only veggies you’ll have to dice up– onions and garlic. I opted to also add some fresh jalapenos.

chili 4

After you saute them, you simply add the other ingredients and let it simmer. I was in a time crunch, so I went with a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, instead of cooking a chicken breast…turned out great! What I like about this recipe is that you can make it heartier if you want. I added extra green chilies and I I’ll add some corn the next time I make it. If you want to add a smoky flavor, try out the chipotle peppers….Mmm!

chili 5

One other note– Like I’ve said in other recipes, it’s easy to cut down on the fat. I skipped the heavy cream and went with low fat sour cream. You can also go for half & half instead of heavy cream.

Make sure to share your recipes with me, it could end up on the news next month!

 

White Chicken Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 (15.5 ounce) cans great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth

2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chiles

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

*Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir chicken, onion, and garlic into the hot oil until chicken is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, 10 to 15 minutes.

*Mix Great Northern beans, chicken broth, green chiles, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne pepper into chicken mixture; bring to a boil.

*Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have blended, about 30 minutes.
Remove chili from heat; stir in sour cream and whipping cream until incorporated.

Print Friendly

Spanish Rice…you’ll never buy boxed rice again!

I had to share my favorite rice recipe. My husband, Mr. Skry, discovered this gem. The surprising thing– for as much as I cook and bake on television, my husband does more of it at home. I like to chalk that up to my laziness and the fact that he gets home from work earlier than me! Anyway, this is SO simple and delicious. Plus, once you get all of the ingredients cooking in the pan, you can leave it and make the rest of you dinner!

rice

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (also can use smaller portion of tomato paste)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced (or 1 can of Rotel tomatoes w/out juice)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • lime juice (optional)

Directions

  • Put the oil into a medium saucepan and heat to medium. Add the rice and brown while stirring.
  • Add the garlic when the rice is nearly browned. Add water and rest of ingredients. Mix well. Cover and turn heat down to medium low.
  • Cook rice for 20-30 minutes, service warm with tacos.

    *Optional– squeeze a little lime juice on the rice before you serve. Adds a little tang!

Print Friendly

We Won! We Won!

cooking contest

It’s no secret, I love to cook! And it is very obvious at the tv station I work for. I love trying new recipes on my coworkers, which has led to some cooking contests over the years. Well, I’m proud to say I’m now “3 for 3″ in that field! Yesterday, we took home the top award in an egg cooking contest through the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

cooking contest 1

But I didn’t do it alone. My coworkers Ed Cross and Kevin Chierek were part of the team, creating a simple egg dish promoting Illinois products. Our finished product: “The Lincoln Egg-sperience”. We call it that because all of the products were found in Springfield, home of President Abraham Lincoln. It was a Southwestern take on a skillet breakfast. We stacked red potatoes with peppers to add colors. Topped that off with black beans, cheese and sausage. Then of course, the egg (has to be over easy…the oozing yolk is the best part!). We finished it off with salsa, chives and avocado. It was DELICIOUS and simple! We beat out several other teams from radio stations. My favorite part–the fact that we beat a culinary student who was helping out another team. I had to chuckle at that…no need for gourmet, go for simple and flavorful. I posted our winning recipe below. Oh! Because of our victory, we get 40 dozen eggs to donate to charity.

cooking contest 2

As I mentioned, I’m 3 for 3. In the last two years I’ve brought home the gold in two other cooking contests. Last year in Boise, I won a potato cooking contest. Yes, very fitting for the great state of Idaho! I created a potato pie. Sort of a scalloped potato and cheese dish, in a pie shell. Yum!

cooking contest 3

And before that, came the most unusual cooking contest for me. It was a steak cooking contest in Boise. The funny thing– I had never grilled in my life! My husband is the master griller, I stick to the side dishes. I had to come up with a marinade and leave it up to the public to choose the best steak. I’m not sure how, but my simple marinade did the trick. I can’t believe I’m admitting it, but it had a tablespoon of ketchup (GASP!). This was such a rewarding contest–I was able to donate $5,000 to a charity of my choice for winning. I went with the YMCA. I’ve got to admit, I have a cool job. I’m given some rare opportunities to do fun things like cooking and it’s so rewarding when a charity wins because of it!

The Lincoln “Egg-sperience”

2 TBSP butter

4 small red potatoes, diced

1/2 cup bell pepper, diced

1 avocado, diced

2-3 green onions, chopped

w cup black beans

sausage and/or bacon, cooked and crumbled (as much as you want!)

Southwestern Seasoning (Found mine in Illinois)

Salsa

Shredded cheese

4 eggs

Directions

*Melt the butter in the skillet or pan. Add potatoes and bell peppers. Saute until cooked. Add black beans. Season with southwestern seasoning and add diced avocado. Sprinkle with cheese.

*Add cooked pork and remove from heat. Serve on dishes, set aside.

*Cook egg, over easy. Add to the top of the potato mixture. Top with salsa and sprinkle with chives and more avocado.

ENJOY!

Print Friendly

Tomato Soup…Everything’s Better With Bacon!

It’s the dead of winter, with a windchill in the single digits as I type.  So what do I crave when it’s freezing outside? Tomato soup! I’m not talking about the ketchup looking, watery soup….my recipe is a hearty meal that goes perfectly with a grilled cheese sandwich! There’s something about grilled cheese and tomato soup that brings me back to being a child. Of course, I’ve traded the American cheese for a more “adult” sandwich of tomato, basil and mozzarella. (Although Mr. Skrysak always opts for good old Kraft American cheese!)

Soup finished product

So what makes this tomato soup better than others? BACON! Not a whole slab of pork, but a few slices of bacon really add a nice salty flavor to the soup. After cooking the bacon, I often skip the butter in the recipe and use the bacon grease to saute the vegetables. (You can either leave the bacon in the soup, or discard it until you are ready to blend, then add it back in)

Soup 1

You may look at this recipe and think, “This is way too difficult”, but I promise, it’s not! The hardest part is dicing up all of the  veggies. Once you saute, you simply pour in the broth and add the tomatoes and spices. The key to this soup– let the veggies breathe and softened so they are easy to blend.

Soup 4

Soup 3

For years, I made this soup using a food processor….ladling the soup a little at a time and blending. That was until last year, when I bought an immersion blender. Why didn’t I invest in one sooner?!?!? It’s a fairly inexpensive kitchen gadget and it makes creamy soup in an instant. After the soup is cooked, discard the herbs and start blending the soup right in the pot.

soup 2

The recipe calls for heavy cream, but I often go for low fat milk. It’s a pretty thick soup thanks to the veggies, so the lighter milk doesn’t seem to thin it out. I hope you enjoy this soup and much as I do. This has turned into one of my favorite winter meals! Would love to hear your thoughts…let me know if you try it!

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3-4 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup heavy cream or low fat milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  • Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp and most of the fat has rendered, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Pour in the broth and add tomatoes. Bring to a boil Add herbs to the pot. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Crumble bacon and add back into soup. Remove from the heat and let cool.

  • Remove and discard the herbs. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the pot and reheat over medium heat.

  • Whisk in the heavy cream, salt, and pepper, to taste. Divide among warm soup bowls and serve immediately.

    *Adapted from the Food Network

Print Friendly

From Granite Countertops to Paper Plates

Good cooking doesn’t have to be done in a gourmet kitchen…but it sure would help! Imagine whipping up a huge Thanksgiving feast without a dishwasher to do all of the dirty work. Yep, that’s me. But to get where I am today, I should give you a little glimpse of what I was working with a year ago.

BOISE KITCHEN

This is my favorite kitchen, in my favorite house. My husband and I bought our first house 3 years ago in Boise, ID. It was brand new (if only homes came with the new car scent!) and I loved it. The kitchen was the selling point–dark cabinets with granite countertops and a HUGE walk in pantry. Needless to say, I was always volunteering to host brunch and holiday meals.

THANKSGIVING KITCHEN

Don’t we look like a happy family?!? Fast forward to today…here is what I’m cooking in today.

KITCHEN

Yes, that is a 1940′s kitchen, complete with brown cabinets and faux wood countertops. So why did I trade for this kitchen? At the end of 2011, my company transferred me from Boise to their TV station in Illinois. My husband and I made the cross country trek to Springfield, which is where we now call home. When it came down to finding a rental, we found it next to impossible! We lucked out finding a darling home on the lake. While it has a gorgeous view, it lacks a decent kitchen. I have to be the only person to have a camouflage floor surrounding the hideous cabinets!

KITCHEN FLOOR

And check out my “dishwasher”… isn’t it lovely?

KITCHEN DISHWASHER

Making the transition from a huge kitchen to a tiny one has been a challenge. At first, I was barely cooking. The agreement my husband and I made was that I would live in the house, but he had to do dishes. I literally stuck to that plan for six months….bless his heart, I can be such a pain! So with little space, we got creative. We mainly eat on paper plates. Our fine china (oh how I miss my Kate Spade dishes) is still in the box in storage. Our serving dishes are getting some vitamin D in the sunroom. And my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer is relaxing in the linen closet with it’s cousins–the food processor, blender and baking dishes.

KITCHEN LINEN

We’ve really made the most of our time in the little kitchen. Sure it gets cramped, but it hasn’t stopped me from cooking up a storm. Next week, we’ll be leaving behind the lake house for a different home in Springfield. But I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter the size of the kitchen. Delicious food comes from the cook, not the space.

Print Friendly

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread (Yes, It’s Sinful…But Healthy?)

It’s time to Nosh! My first recipe I’m sharing with you is my absolute FAVORITE. I have been making Banana Chocolate Chip bread since my childhood growing up in San Diego. It’s become my “go-to” dish…just ask my coworkers! I bring this bread in at least once a month and it’s gone within minutes. You can watch the cooking segment that aired on the news. Just click the link: “Stirring It Up With Stacey”. You’ll hear me say, “It’s healthy”.  That’s because it has bananas, dairy, chocolate…ok, maybe not quite healthy, but I can justify anything!!!

banana choco  bread

It’s a really simple bread to make, as long as you follow the directions. The key: sour cream. I use a few tablespoons of it and then mix in the baking soda and baking powder. As you can see, the mixture will foam.

bread2

That’s the first thing I do before creaming the butter and sugar. Just set it aside and continue with the recipe. You’ll add the eggs and vanilla, then the bananas. I like to use really brown ones, they are the most flavorful and easier to mix. Here’s a tip: Anytime you have brown bananas you aren’t using, just throw them in the freezer. Then it doesn’t go to waste. I use them for bread or smoothies.

bread3

This will make two large loaves. I will say that the cooking time varies. It might take one hour, or it could take 1 hour 15 minutes. Just make sure to keep an eye on it at about an hour.  Enjoy and let me know what you think!

bread4

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 TBSP sour cream
  • 1 cup bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Less than 2 cups flour
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips (12 oz)

Directions

  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  •  Combine the baking powder and baking soda with sour cream. Let sit, mixture should “foam”.
  •  In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time. Add bananas and vanilla. Add sour cream mixture. Slowly add flour. Once mixed, add chocolate chips.
  •  Pour into two bread pans (make sure to first coat with non-stick cooking spray). Bake for 1 hour. Check batter, may need to cook for an addition 15 minutes.

 

Print Friendly

Greetings! You Can Find Me In The Kitchen…

After months of talking about it, I finally got my act together and created a cooking blog. You see, I’m not new to the blogging world. In my day job, I’m a news anchor for a television station in Illinois. When I’m not piling on a pound of makeup and hairspray, I love to give the viewers updates on my life. Check out the blog: Skry’s The Limit…and yes, I post a lot about food and my dog (aka child)! But, I can’t take credit for creating this new blog, I have to give that to the viewers. I’m always whipping something up on my weekends and I tend to talk about it come Monday. Several people requested recipes over time and told me to start a cooking blog. So here it is! I will no longer have to email out dozens of recipes…people can find them all in one place: News & Nosh.

young stacey

So how long have I been cooking for? Well, I had to share this childhood picture with you. I think I was about 4 years old. I obviously was obsessed with food 30 years ago, so it’s no surprise that I love cooking decades later. I have to admit–I think I was more into eating the chocolate back then, rather than baking it. There’s something about licking the batter off of the beater…mmm! It was a guarantee that I would be wearing chocolate on the corners of my mouth. The funny thing is, it still happens today!

I hope you enjoy News & Nosh. I’m so excited to share my favorite recipes with you and I sure hope you’ll send me yours to try. I’ve done cooking segments on TV for years (I’ll save the story for another time), and some of my all-time favorite recipes are from the viewers! I’ll make sure to sprinkle in plenty of humor and humiliating cooking stories along the way.

Thanks for stopping by… get ready to “Nosh”!

Print Friendly

Hit Counter provided by Curio cabinets