Dec 09

2 Liqueurs for Gifts

Who doesn’t love receiving liqueurs for gifts?  These two treats are quick and easy to make and are beautiful and delicious to give.


Candy Cane Vodka

  • 1 750ml bottle Vodka
  • 1 package candy canes (12 regular size)

Break candy canes into pieces then put in a food processor. Grind the candy canes until most are a fine dust – a few pieces smaller than a kernel of corn are OK, but not too many.  Use a funnel to add the candy cane dust to the bottle of vodka.  Place cap on and shake to mix it up.  Set aside for 24 to 48 hours, shaking occasionally, until candy canes are completely dissolved in vodka. Pour into individual bottles to give away.  This recipe makes about 4 8-oz bottles.

Alternative Steps:

  1. If you don’t have a food processor, put the candy canes in a large, resealable bag.  Use a rolling pin or meat hammer to break and grind the candy canes into dust.
  2. Rather than using the vodka bottle, you can use a large jar or pitcher to mix the candy canes and vodka.

Caramel Liqueur

  • 4 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 to 4 cups rum

Remove paper label from cans and place them in a large stock pot.  Cover with water by 2 or 3 inches.  Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 4 hours.  Check every hour or so to make sure the water still covers the cans and add more as needed.  Allow the cans to cool, then open and spoon the caramel into a blender or stand mixer.  Add rum to taste.  Pour into individual bottles for gifting.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Don’t use a pan with non-stick or porcelain lining.  The cans will move around in the water and could scratch the bottom and sides of your pan.
  • Mix the caramel with rum in batches if your blender or mixer isn’t large enough to handle all of it.
  • Spiced rum adds a delicious twist to the flavor.


I made these last year for gifts and all were big hits.  Either can be served straight up or on the rocks.  I preferred the vodka mixed in hot cocoa and caramel liqueur is awesome as an ice cream topper.  I don’t remember what brands of liquor I used, but both were mid-range.  The vodka especially shouldn’t be the cheapest one in the store, but the most expensive would be over kill.

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Nov 11

Even Easier Tomato Soup

Basically the same as opening a can of condensed soup, but healthier and tastier.

Tomato Soup

  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried basil (optional)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)

Whisk together all ingredients together in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until hot.

That’s it.


2 servings
(calculated at
Calories: 330
Carbs: 37g
Fat: 14g
Protein: 17g
Sodium: 246mg
Sugar: 28g


So, I’ve posted several tomato soup recipe variations over the years.  This is the second quick and easy version.  We eat a lot of tomato soup.  If Mr. Ish or I are craving comfort, cold–weather food, grilled cheese totally hits the spot.  And you can’t have grilled cheese without tomato soup.

And then there are the kids.  They request tomato soup at least once a week.  They don’t always get it, but they do always request it,.  So, something this quick and easy fits right into our lives.  It’s actually done before the grilled cheese sometimes.

This is a very creamy soup, so if you prefer, you can substitute water for some of the milk (which would decrease the overall calories if that is a concern).  I wouldn’t do more than half water, though.  Also, if I’m cooking just for my three small children, I make a single recipe.  When it’s for the whole family – three small children plus two adults – I double it.

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Nov 07

Baked Chicken Teriyaki

A grilled classic brought indoors for cold and rainy weather.

Baked Chicken Teriyaki

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (apple cider or rice wine vinegars work best)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Mirin (optional)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease 9x13x2 baking pan.

Whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, Worcestershire sauce and Mirin in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Continue cooking until thickened, about 5 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes.

While the sauce is cooling, arrange chicken thighs in a single layer in pan.  Cover chicken with about half of sauce.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Cover with remaining sauce and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165.

8 servings
(calculated at
Calories: 375
Carbs: 11g
Fat: 24g
Protein: 28g
Sodium: 1098mg
Sugar: 8g


During the summer, we grill teriyaki chicken all the time.  It’s so easy – marinate chicken in teriyaki sauce for a few hours, throw on the grill for a while, done.   So easy, so delicious.  But once the weather turns cold, the grill is put away and it’s good-bye yummy chicken.  So then I decided to figure out how to get the yummy flavors of my summer recipe using the oven.  After looking at several recipes, I decided I liked the process used at Life in the Lofthouse.  So using my own teriyaki recipe (because every one likes a slightly different balance of sweet and salty) and her process for baking, I created this delicious meal.  The rice and the chicken cooked at the same time, veggies steamed and dinner was on the table in no time.  Bonus:  The kids loved it and ate multiple servings.  This pretty much never happens.  Most evening, I have one child love it, one child hate and the third is just “meh” about it.  The teriyaki chicken was loved by all.

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Nov 04

Potato-Cauliflower Soup

Surprisingly delicious soup using simple ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

Potato Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut in large pieces
  • 2 small yellow onions, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 oz)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put cauliflower, potatoes, onions and garlic in a medium (4-quart) slow cooker.  Pour broth over the top.  Cut butter into pieces and scatter over the top.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (or high for 3 to 4 hours).

Stir in cheddar cheese until melted.  Use an immersion blender to puree to desired consistency.  (Alternatively, let the soup cool a bit then use a traditional blender to puree in batches.)  Adjust to taste with salt and pepper.

8 servings
(calculated at
Calories: 324
Carbs: 24g
Fat: 21g
Protein: 11g
Sodium: 411mg
Sugar: 4g


This recipe almost didn’t get posted.  I was just throwing things together, roughly following my potato soup recipe, making mental notes of any changes.  After my first bite, I knew I needed to share. So I sat down to write the mental notes before I forgot them.  And now, here they are for you.

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Oct 24

Chicken & Quinoa Stew

Quick and delicious, this healthy stew only uses one pan and ingredients you (probably) already have in your kitchen!

Quinoa & Chicken Stew

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite-size piece
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup whole milk, slightly warmed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

In a dutch oven or large pot, heat olive oil over medium until hot.  Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until translucent.  Add garlic, thyme and chicken.  Continue cooking until the chicken is white.

Whisk together flour and broth.  Add to pan, along with quinoa, milk and tomatoes (with juices).  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until quinoa is cooked, about 20 minutes.  Add peas and corn and heat through.

Stir in parmesan.  Adjust to taste with salt and pepper.

Modified from Dairy Goodness


6 servings
(calculated at
Calories: 422
Carbs: 44g
Fat: 11g
Protein: 38g
Sodium: 517mg
Sugar: 6g


This recipe is not quite fast enough to make it on my Quick & Easy Meals Index, but it’s close.  Quinoa has a minimum cooking time no matter what I do.  This recipe does use only one pan and can quickly be thrown together after work – plan on eating about 45 minutes after going into the kitchen.  It’s also a fairly hands-off recipe, so you can help with homework during that quinoa cooking time.

Speaking of homework, all three of my kids liked this stew.  They can be hit or miss with soups and stews, but this was a winner.  Well, mostly a winner.  Little A picked out her tomatoes and The Big One removed any visible sign of onion, but really that’s just any meal, any time at our house.



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