Thursday, December 22, 2016

Italian Cherry Almond Cookies

ACK!  The holidays are almost here!  Are you ready?  Shopping done?  House cleaned? Tree up?  Christmas cards sent?  Guest bedrooms cleaned? BAKING done?

I have done a couple days worth of baking.  My daughter in law and I did a major baking session yesterday.  This year, seeing as it has been a hard year, I just remade some of my favorites, all of which can be found here on the website.

Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies
Vanilla Snicker Doodles
Elf Hats

We also made some Rolo's melted in pretzels, peanut butter blossoms, for that I use the ol' Betty Crocker standby recipe, and tweak it just a bit!  We also made these Italian Cherry Almond Cookies my husband requested this year!

I am not going to spend to much time with chitter chatter, time is growing short, and you must make these.  Like...MUST.  Let me assure you (or warn you) this recipe makes a TON!

Here we go!

1 cup shortening
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tsp almond extract
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
5 tsp baking soda
red food coloring
16 oz maraschino cherries (drained and roughly chopped)
1 cup chopped almonds
2 lbs all purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer add in shortening, eggs and sugar.  Mix until smooth.  Add in extracts, half of your milk, baking powder and your desired amount of red food coloring  I chose for mine to be just a nice pink color.   Mix again until combined.  Now mix in your cherries, and your nuts.  Start adding your flour just until combined for each addition.  Mine took all 2 lbs, yours may not.  You want a nice soft dough.

Roll your cookies into balls, and place on a parchment lines cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove to a cooking rack after 5 minutes of cooling on the cookie sheet.

IDEA!  You can use some of the maraschino cherry juice, add some powdered sugar, and a little butter and make a drizzle for these cookies as well.  I did not do that but last night, while laying in bed, I thought it would have been cool!  Let me know if you do it and post your photos on FB or Instagram and tag @ftchefwannabe.

Wishing you a blessed, happy, peace filled holiday season my dear friends!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Tis the season for sniffles, allergies and colds!  WOOHOOO!

Actually I am not excited for sickness, for me or anyone of you, but IF it happens, I have the soup for you! 

This happy accident (long ago) soup is delicious.  I am a soup fanatic, and personally can NOT have to many soup recipes on hand.  Soup is always my first choice, year round actually.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!  Shouldn't be to hard to remember the recipe, eh?!

1 T. olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 small bell pepper chopped
1 cup fresh green beans chopped (use canned if needed)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 T. minced garlic
1  14.5  oz. diced tomatoes (add juice, more flavor!)
1 T. dehydrated onion (feel free to grate 1T fresh into the pot)
1 T. dried parsley
1 T. Italian Seasoning
5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a large pot, add in olive oil and ground chicken.  Cook chicken until it is halfway done and then add in carrots, celery, bell pepper, green beans, frozen peas and corn.

Stir until completely combined, then add in garlic and let cook for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.  Now add in the tomatoes, onion, parsley, Italian seasoning, and chicken stock.  I use low sodium chicken stock so I add in 1 tsp salt to start, you may need more, I did.  Also add in pepper.  Cover and simmer on medium for 20 minutes.

I think this soup is perfect for those sniffly days!  Add in some red pepper flakes, or a little hot sauce and feel the nose run, and run, and run!  It is perfect for healthy eaters and full of vitamin goodness!  I make this soup and keep it in the fridge, and eat on it for lunches or a snack.  Why not?!


Monday, December 5, 2016


Good evening friends!  I know it is a busy time of year for everyone!  I hope you are taking time to enjoy it, taking in the laughter, the conversation and the good food!

This is an old family favorite.  We always called in cavatini, not sure why, we just did.  Give me enough time and it will come back to me but as of now, it is what it is.....cavatini!  We make this with mushrooms, without them, it is not cavatini!  We also must have the radiatore pasta  You just use any short cut pasta and you will be fine!

Don't slaughter me over the canned mushrooms, they are actually my husbands favorite and some people have VERY strong opinions about them for sure! Feel free to use fresh, no biggie, your cavatini, your decision!  The red pepper flakes are a must, this is spicy, and sweet, and has beefy mushrooms and ground beef, it is so hearty and ABOVE NOT skimp on the massive amount of cheese, I won't be able to forgive myself for failing you, if you do!

16 oz pasta, cooked and drained (we MUST use radiatore)
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2, 7 oz cans of mushrooms or (16 oz fresh, sliced mushrooms)
1 lb hamburger (lean)
1  10.75 oz can tomato soup
1 16 oz jar pasta sauce
2 T sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Get your pasta cooked according to package directions and drained.  Preheat your oven to 375 while it is groovin'.

Drain your pasta and add in your butter and olive oil.  Let it begin to sizzle and add in your drained mushrooms.  Saute for a couple of minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl.  Set aside.

Add in your hamburger and cook until browned.  Toss in your tomato soup and pasta sauce, and RINSE that pasta sauce jar, you need that bit of extra liquid anyway!  Dump it into the pot and stir.  Now for the red pepper flakes, I use usually 1.5 tsp, but start with one, or even half.  Toss them in and stir to combine and heat those babies up!  Add in your sugar, salt and pepper to taste.  Add your mushrooms and pasta in and stir until completely combined.

Pour into a buttered 9x13 casserole and smooth out the top.   Let it rain cheese and in the oven you go!  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve bubbling hot! (with crusty bread)