Author Archives: nancyc

Creamy Navy Bean Soup

Creamy Navy Bean Soup @ NancyCRosemary is one of my favorite herbs. Unfortunately, my big outdoor rosemary plant did not make it through the winter, so I have a new small one growing inside right now. I’ll put it outside soon, hoping it will grow into another big plant! I used some of the rosemary from this little plant in this Creamy Navy Bean Soup recipe.

I made this soup several weeks ago on a chilly day. Even though the weather has warmed up, this is still a great recipe for any time of year if you are a soup-lover! Creamy soups usually call for heavy cream as an ingredient, but I used plain Greek yogurt in this soup–I thought the tangy yogurt would give the soup a nice flavor, and it really did! The rosemary gives it a great flavor, too. You’ll want to use fresh rosemary if you have it, but dried rosemary also works.

CREAMY NAVY BEAN SOUP by NancyC

Makes about four servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans Navy Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Additional fresh or dried rosemary for garnish

In a  4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and heat for 1-2 minutes, then add garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, and onions; cook until onions start to get tender and a little translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add in the broth and beans, heat to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let soup cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place half of the soup mixture in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour this mixture into a large bowl, then blend the remaining soup mixture and add to the large bowl.

Stir the plain Greek yogurt into the pureed soup mixture, blending well (if the yogurt is lumpy, use a hand better or immersion blender to smooth the mixture). Pour the soup mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat for 5 additional minutes.

Pour into 4 serving bowls and top with a garnish of fresh or dried rosemary, if desired, and serve.

In addition to rosemary, I also like to grow basil in a pot every summer–that’s another favorite herb of mine. Do you grow your own herbs, too, and what are your favorites?

Linked to Fiesta Friday. Weekend Potluck.

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Spa Spring Gift Basket

Happy first day of spring! I hope you had a beautiful day! I’m not a big fan of cold winter weather, but I love the warmer days of spring! I love seeing the flowers outside begin to bloom and the longer, sunnier days. I’m really glad spring has arrived!

Something else arrived at my doorstep recently–this Premium Spa Gift Basket, compliments of GourmetGiftBaskets.com. It was just what I needed–a farmhouse-style wire basket filled with lots of pampering spa products like scented lotion, triple milled bath soap, body wash, comfy terry cloth slippers, a 4 points massager, pumice brush, skin smoothing brush, massaging bath brush, wooden foot brush, sea sponge, and loofah. It was such a treat to receive this basket, and I’m enjoying using all the spa items so much! With Easter coming up, this basket would be a great gift for a mom, sister, or friend who needs and would enjoy some pampering. It also makes a great springtime birthday gift. There are several other spa-themed baskets you can choose from at the Gourmet Gift Baskets site, including the Classic Spa Gift Basket and Bath & Snack Gift Basket.

If you’re looking for other Easter gift basket ideas, you’ll find a large selection to choose from at GourmetGiftBaskets.com. They offer baskets filled with candy and toys for the kids. Or Easter cakes, cake pops, popcorn tins, chocolate dipped strawberries, cheesecakes, and other treats for anyone who loves sweets. For healthier eaters, there are baskets of fresh fruits, dried fruits, and nuts. And there are also baskets filled with gourmet meats, cheeses, and crackers–so there’s quite a selection! You’ll have to visit the site to see all that Gourmet Gift Baskets has to offer.

Are you excited spring is here too? And what’s your favorite way to pamper yourself?

Rest

I tried to get some hand lettering practice in this week! I know so many talented designers who do great hand lettering, and seeing what they do is so inspiring! I thought I’d start practicing by doing a word every week.

This past week has been super busy, so I’m thankful to have a chance to rest this weekend! Hope you all are having a relaxing and restful Sunday. After a busy week, we all need a day of rest, don’t we?

 On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so He rested from all His work. GENESIS 2:2 NLT

Chocolate Chip Toffee Brownies

I wish I could tell you that these Chocolate Chip Toffee Brownies are healthy and low-calorie…but they are definitely not! What they are is dense and very, very rich. Probably the only healthy ingredient is the unsweetened cocoa powder, which gives them a great chocolate flavor. Then there’s the chocolate chips, which make them extra chocolatey. And finally, the toffee bits which bake into the batter and give these brownies a subtle caramel flavor.

When you are craving something sweet and chocolatey, these brownies are a great thing to make. Just make sure you have lots of people to share them with so you’re not tempted to eat the whole pan yourself! But, they do freeze well so you can always save the extras for later if you don’t want to share…I’m just sayin’ 🙂

CHOCOLATE CHIP TOFFEE BROWNIES by NancyC

Makes a 9×13″ pan

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Half & Half (light cream)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 (8-ounce) package toffee bits, divided (use 1 1/4 cups for the batter; save 1/3 cup for topping)
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (use 1 2/3 cups for the batter; save 1/3 cup for topping)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray); set aside.

In large bowl, cream softened butter and sugars. Then blend in eggs, vanilla, and Half & Half, mixing until smooth.

In medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, and cocoa powder together. Add this dry mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, half at a time, mixing until everything is combined.

Fold in the toffee bits and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, stirring to distribute evenly in batter. Pour or spoon batter into prepared 9×13″ pan, spreading batter evenly in pan. Sprinkle 1/3 cup each of the remaining chocolate chips and toffee bits over the batter.

Bake at 350˚F for 42 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let brownies cool completely in pan before cutting into squares. If using parchment paper, after brownies have cooled completely, lift the uncut brownies out of the pan with the parchment paper edges, then cut into squares.

It’s hard to resist a good brownie! Thankfully, the weather is getting nicer and I’m hoping to get outside more and exercise these brownies off! Do you have a weakness for brownies like I do?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Coconut Date Granola

Coconut Date Granola @NancyC

It was time for me to make some homemade granola–I make it every few months and this Coconut Date Granola is a sweeter granola than I usually make, because in addition to honey and maple syrup (I usually use one or the other, or some of both) this also is sweetened with light brown sugar. It also has the natural sweetness of chopped dates, which are really good for you. Some other healthy ingredients in this recipe include pepitas, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, and chopped pecans. And some light olive oil, too.

I shared this granola with some friends and co-workers, and they all really liked it. So if you’re a granola-lover, you’ll have to keep this recipe in mind!

COCONUT DATE GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 13 cups (halve the recipe to make a smaller amount)

  • 6 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ or ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 cups raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds-you can use roasted pepitas, but add those in after baking)
  • 1 1/2 cups hulled, raw sunflower kernels (you can use roasted kernels, but add those in after baking)
  • 2 cups sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup light olive oil
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dates

Preheat oven to 300˚F. Line 2 rimmed baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the oats, wheat germ or ground flaxseed, pepitas, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, and chopped pecans; set aside.

In a small microwaveable bowl, heat honey for 20 to 30 seconds to make the consistency thinner. Then, in a medium size bowl, blend honey, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, and salt, blending everything well. Pour honey/maple syrup/sugar mixture over oat mixture and toss until the oat mixture is well coated.

Spread granola mixture on prepared baking sheets and bake at 300˚F for 48 to 55 minutes, until mixture is golden, stirring mixture every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in the chopped dates (half of the dates for each baking sheet), and let granola cool completely (the mixture will get crunchier as it cools). Some of the granola may dry in larger clumps, so you may need to break those into smaller pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

This granola makes a great breakfast with milk. It also makes a great breakfast parfait with yogurt. And it also makes a yummy snack to munch on later in the day! Do you make homemade granola, and what is your favorite kind?

Sharing this recipe at Weekend Potluck, Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Inspire Me Monday.

 

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Whole Wheat Banana Bread @NancyCUsually when I bake things I use unbleached all-purpose flour. But I had purchased some organic whole wheat flour and was wanting to try making something with it. I like baking quick breads and I hadn’t made any banana bread lately, so I decided to try making a loaf of Whole Wheat Banana Bread. I thought it turned out really well! It’s a good, hearty banana bread with lots of chopped nuts and healthy ingredients like honey and light olive oil (although it does have some brown sugar in it). The mashed bananas and plain Greek yogurt make this loaf moist and It doesn’t have a strong wheaty taste, so it should appeal to anyone who likes banana bread.

WHOLE WHEAT BANANA BREAD by NancyC

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1/3 cup light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 1/2 medium)
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan; set aside.

In large bowl, blend oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla, then add in eggs, mixing well. Stir in yogurt, then add in the mashed bananas, mixing everything together.

In medium bowl, blend flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix just until ingredients are combined–do not overtax! Fold in chopped nuts.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake at 325˚F for 48 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let loaf cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove and cool on completely on wire rack.

I baked this loaf on a chilly morning and it was the perfect snack for later in the day! I want to make more things with this organic whole wheat flour that I have. What do you like making with whole wheat flour?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday. Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Zucchini Vegetable Soup

Zucchini Vegetable Soup @ NancyCSoup is a favorite winter meal of mine–a big hot bowl of soup on a cold day is just so warm and comforting! This winter has actually been on the milder side where I live, but we’ve had some chilly days and I’ve been making homemade soup every so often.

anysharpIf you like veggies, this Zucchini Vegetable Soup is a good one to try. In addition to zucchini, it’s also made with green beans, chopped onion, and sliced carrots, all cooked until tender in a tomato–vegetable broth (or you can also substitute chicken broth if you like).

So there’s some chopping and slicing involved, but it’s worth it! And it gave me a chance to try my new complimentary AnySharp  knife sharpener that I received in the mail. It’s safe and easy to use and comes in a convenient small size for easy storage. It really helps make chopping and slicing veggies so much easier! You can visit AnySharp.com to learn more about it.

You can seed your zucchini before slicing it if you want, but if you don’t mind having some seeds in your soup, you can just slice it without seeding like I did.

ZUCCHINI VEGETABLE SOUP by NancyC

Makes 6-8 servings

  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or substitute chicken broth)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 6 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 medium)–cut slices into halves or fourths
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (and thawed) green beans, sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 2 cups sliced carrots (about 2 medium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Tablespoon Italian seasoning, depending on how seasoned you want it
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • additional salt and pepper to taste

In large pot, over medium heat, stir together the broth and tomato paste. Add the zucchini, green beans, onions, carrots, salt, dried parsley flakes, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic. Heat mixture to boiling, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 35 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste if desired, then serve.

The Italian seasoning adds a great flavor to this soup, along with the garlic and onion. If you’re trying to get more veggies in your diet, this is a great recipe to try! What kinds of soup have you been making this winter?

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Cheesy Mixed Vegetable Casserole

Cheesy Mixed Vegetable Casserole @NancyC

This past holiday season, I went to a special Christmas lunch where one of the items they served was a vegetable casserole side dish. It was really, really good. One of my co-workers decided to try making one herself and she talked about how good it was. So I finally decided to try my own version of a mixed vegetable casserole and if you like comfort food and cheesy side dishes, then you’ll really like this recipe! I added lots of cheddar cheese and made a crunchy topping that includes crumbled Ritz crackers and those yummy french fried onions. This is a great potluck dish or something your whole family would probably eat up in no time!

CHEESY MIXED VEGETABLE CASSEROLE by NancyC

Makes about 10 servings

  • 1 (19-ounce) bag of frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained (I used Birds Eye Steamfresh® Fresh Frozen Mixed Vegetables)
  • 1 cup frozen, thawed, and drained chopped broccoli (or substitute more corn, peas, or carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced celery ribs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup, undiluted
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
  • 1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup french fried onions (or you can use 2 cups of french fried onions or 2 cups of Ritz crackers)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray a 9×13″ pan or baking dish; set aside.

In large bowl, combine the thawed mixed vegetables, broccoli, onion, celery, mayonnaise, plain Greek yogurt, mushroom soup and 2 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese, blending everything together. Spoon into your 9×13″ pan.

Sprinkle the last cup of shredded cheddar cheese evenly over the top of the vegetable mixture. Then combine the crushed Ritz crackers with melted butter, mixing until crumbly, and sprinkle that evenly over the cheese. Last, sprinkle the french fried onions evenly over everything.

Bake at 350˚F, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes, and serve.

This casserole is so tasty it really is hard to stop eating it! With all the cheese and toppings, it’s not low-calorie, but it’s nice to indulge in when you’re craving comfort food on a chilly day. And it makes a great side dish for the holidays or any time of the year for that matter. Have you made any comfort-food type dishes this winter?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Dark Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cookies

Dark Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cookies @ NancyCThis is the first time I’ve used instant pudding mix in a cookie. I’ve heard that adding pudding mix to cookie dough keeps the cookies soft, but I wasn’t crazy about the idea of adding pudding mix with artificial flavors, dyes, and other things.

jell_osimplygoodI decided to try adding pudding mix this time because JELL-O recently came out with a new line of instant pudding mixes (and Jell-O mixes) called JELL–O SIMPLY GOOD.  They’re made and flavored with real ingredients like banana, cocoa, vanilla bean, and fruit juices–and they have no artificial flavors, dyes, or preservatives. JELL-O sent me some complimentary samples to try and I used their Simply Good Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix in this recipe. The pudding mix really does make the cookies soft and chewy. These cookies also have a rich chocolate flavor with just a hint of coffee, which pairs well with the dark chocolate chips. And if you want to make them more of a holiday treat, you can add sprinkles on top!

DARK CHOCOLATE MOCHA PUDDING COOKIES by NancyC

Makes 20 to 21 large cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons strong brewed coffee
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 (3.9-ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix (I used JELL–O Simply Good Chocolate)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups dark chocolate chips (you’ll need 2 packages of chips–1 whole package plus most of another package)
  • Optional: assorted sprinkles–chocolate or holiday sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, eggs, and coffee; blend everything well.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, dry instant pudding mix, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add this flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, mixing until everything is blended. Then fold in the dark chocolate chips, stirring until evenly incorporated in batter.

Use a 1/4 cup size measuring cup to scoop dough and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets, 2″ apart (you should be able to fit 6 cookies per sheet). Flatten cookies just slightly and sprinkle with assorted sprinkles, if desired.

Bake at 350˚F for 12 to 13 minutes or until tops are set. Be careful not to overbake! Cool cookies on pan for 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

If you happen to have any cookies left over, you can store them in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days. Or if you want to make a batch ahead of time, you can freeze them for 2 to 3 months.

If you like your cookies on the soft and chewy side, you’ll have to try this recipe! I’m glad I finally tried adding the pudding! Do you add pudding mix to any of your cookie recipes?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday, Inspire Me Monday.

Dark Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies

Dark Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies @ NancyC

I’ve been in a chocolate chip mood lately! I recently posted a recipe for some Chocolate Chip Scones and then I thought I’d make some breakfast-type cookies, but with chocolate chips in them, too–I call them Dark Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies. A cookie made with ingredients that I usually put in granola, like honey, coconut flakes, old-fashioned oats, wheat germ, ground flaxseed, chopped nuts, raisins or dried cranberries, and a good amount of dark chocolate chips!

These cookies brown a little more around the edges because of the honey, I think. I read somewhere that baked goods made with honey brown faster, so that’s true of these cookies. They’re a good, slightly chewy cookies that make a great snack or quick breakfast if you like sweet things for breakfast!

DARK CHOCOLATE CHIP GRANOLA COOKIES by NancyC

Makes about 26 cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed (you can substitute wheat bran or oat bran for the wheat germ or flaxseed)
  • 1 cup golden raisins, dark raisins, or dried cranberries (or a mix of 2 or 3 of these)
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar, until smooth, then add honey, vanilla, and eggs, blending well.

In medium size bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add this mixture, half of it at a time, to the butter/sugar mixture; mix until everything is blended, but don’t overmix.

Fold in, a few ingredients at a time, the coconut flakes, oats, wheat germ, flaxseed, raisins or cranberries, chocolate chips, and nuts, stirring to blend everything evenly into the batter (batter will be thick).

Using a measuring cup, drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 2 inches apart, onto parchment-lined cookie sheets (you should be able to fit 6 cookies per sheet). Bake at 350˚F for 12 to 13 minutes or until edges are browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely.

It’s nice eating cookies that have some healthy ingredients in them–I guess it helps justify eating cookies, right? 🙂 Do you have any healthier cookie recipes you like to make?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck.