Quick Holiday Meals–Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup1

When I was young my mother always prepared big pots of soup during winter storms. I could always count on a steaming bowl of soup to warm me when I came in from the cold on rainy, icy, or snowy days. So when the cold wind is blowing and sleet is falling like it did several times this week, I whip of a batch of chicken noodle soup for my family. I want to pass on the goodness that my mother shared with me onto my daughter. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make quick chicken noodle soup:

Chicken Noodle Soup Ingredients

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed, trimmed of fat, and cut into thirds
1 box (12 oz.) bow tie pasta
4 cans (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 can (15 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into bite-size pieces
6-8 honey gold fingerling potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan cook the bow tie pasta in rapidly boiling water until its al dente (12-14 minutes). Drain and set aside. Meanwhile combine the chicken, chicken broth, bouillon cubes, corn, diced onion, carrots, and potatoes in a large soup pot over medium heat. Watch the chicken carefully and remove it to a platter when it’s no longer pink in the center; set aside, cool slightly, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Cook the vegetables until fork tender (about 30 minutes). Add the pasta and cubed chicken. Season with salt and pepper. I like to serve this soup with biscuits topped with butter and honey.

Chicken Noodle Soup2

Christmas Day Brunch–Eggs in Cream Sauce and Candied Bacon

Christmas Brunch Eggs and Candied Bacon

I’ve been preparing this super quick combination of Canadian bacon, eggs, and cheese in a rich cream sauce and candied bacon for Christmas brunch for several years now. Each dish takes less than five minutes to assemble, and the results are so impressive that it’s no wonder this breakfast combination has become a Christmas tradition in my house. If you can crack an egg and open a package of bacon, you can pull off an impressive breakfast that your family and friends will remember long after the holidays are over.

I found the recipe for Sunday Brunch eggs in one of my volumes of Taste of Home Annual Recipes, but I’ve substituted cheddar cheese for the Swiss cheese and added parsley flakes as a garnish. You can view the original recipe plus many other delicious offerings at TasteofHome.com.

I found the recipe for Special Oven Bacon in Cooking with Heart and Hand by Suzanne Winningham Worsham. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make Sunday brunch eggs:

Christmas Brunch Eggs Ingredients

Ingredients for Sunday Brunch Eggs:

12 slices Canadian bacon
12 slices cheddar cheese
12 eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Parsley flakes for garnish (optional)
12 slices buttered toast

Place the Canadian bacon in a greased 13 x 9-in. baking dish; top with cheddar cheese. Carefully break an egg over each piece of cheese. Pour cream over eggs and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the sauce is lightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut between each egg; sprinkle with minced parsley and serve on buttered toast.

The completed dish:

Christmas Brunch Eggs

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make candied bacon:

Candied Bacon Ingredients

Ingredients for Candied Bacon:

1 lb. thick-cut bacon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Lay the bacon side by side on a broiler pan with a bottom (to catch the grease). Mix flour and brown sugar. Sprinkle on top of the bacon. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The completed dish:

Candied Bacon1

Goodness, this was good! Give it a try when you need a quick holiday breakfast or have guests in town.

Christmas Brunch Eggs and Candied Bacon

Quick Holiday Meals–Chicken in Peanut Sauce

Chicken in Peanut Sauce

My daughter loves Asian food so I’ve served her a variety of Asian-inspired meals over the years. But this recipe for quick chicken in peanut sauce (it’s ready in just 30 minutes) is hands-down her favorite meal. She would eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if she could–and, in fact, she has! You can prepare this recipe the night before, take it to a work or holiday function, and warm it in the microwave. It’s just as delicious the next day and always receives rave reviews. I clipped the original recipe from a magazine (I believe it was Better Homes and Gardens) but made a few changes along the way. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make chicken in peanut sauce.

Chicken in Peanut Sauce Ingredients

Ingredients:

1 package boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cubed
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 drops of sesame oil (use sparingly–a little goes a long way)
1 package Chineese noodles (I used Tyling)
1 bottle (11.5 oz) peanut sauce (I used House of Tsang)
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 package frozen Asian vegetables (I used Birds Eye Steam Fresh)
1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained
Salted peanuts and sliced green onions for garnish

In a large pot boil water for the noodles. Meanwhile, trim the fat from the chicken, dice it, and place it in a skillet with a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil and a few drops of sesame oil. Cook the chicken over medium heat until it’s lightly browned and no longer pink in the middle. While the chicken is cooking, combine the peanut sauce, honey, and lime juice in a small bowl then microwave the frozen Asian vegetables according to package directions. When the water is boiling, add the Chinese noodles and cook for 3 minutes (or until tender). Drain. In a large pot combine the cooked chicken, water chestnuts, noodles, vegetables, and peanut sauce. Stir to combine. Garnish with salted peanuts (the more the merrier) and sliced green onions.

I made this dish last night after a long painting session (new paintings coming up next), so I took the easy way out and purchased the egg rolls at a nearby Chinese restaurant. This dish is so colorful and delicious.

Chicken in Peanut Sauce Close Up

Quick Holiday Meals–Caesar Salad with Homemade Garlic Croutons

Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons

My sister found this Caesar salad recipe in the New York Times years ago and has been serving it on Christmas eve paired with homemade tomato bisque soup and marinated mini ham and cheese sandwiches (recipes provided below) ever since. I love the crisp romaine lettuce paired with the classic Caesar salad dressing and generous sprinkling of crisp, garlic croutons. Be sure to make plenty of croutons because they’re seriously delicious. The original recipe was called “Simple Scrumptious Caesar Salad with Quick Garlic Croutons,” but my sister has made a few changes to the original recipe over the years to speed preparation without sacrificing flavor. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this Caesar salad:

Caesar Salad Ingredients

Ingredients:

2 cups of tightly packed bread cubes (use day-old French bread or a baguette)
4 cloves of garlic, minced (I used minced garlic in a jar)
1/2 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt
3 heads of romaine lettuce hearts, chopped (I used two bags of chopped romaine)
Olive oil cooking spray
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice (I used bottled lemon juice but fresh is better)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

To make the croutons, combine the garlic, oil, and salt in a blender and pulse until creamy. Pour over bread crumbs and toss thoroughly. Brown the breadcrumbs in a skillet over low heat, stirring frequently so they don’t burn. Set aside. Place the romaine lettuce in a large bowl, spray generously with olive oil cooking spray. Add the croutons plus all the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet (this is the best part) and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce; blend with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour on top of salad. Toss thoroughly. This salad is crispy, crunchy, and garlicky. Give it a try this holiday season.

Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons

The Perfect Holiday Appetizer–Mini Marinated Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Marinated Ham & Cheese Sandwiches1

Don’t let the size of these mini marinated ham and cheese sandwiches fool you. This quick and delicious holiday appetizer packs a wallop of flavor in a tiny bite–I’m talking about a party in your mouth. Yeah baby! My sister has been serving these delicious sandwiches on Christmas Eve–paired with tomato bisque soup and a Caesar salad–for years. It’s become one of my most requested recipes. Coworkers frequently ask me to bring this dish to potluck lunches and I’m always happy to oblige because I can whip up a batch of these sandwiches in a snap, they can be cooked in a microwave if necessary, and I always get rave reviews.

Marinated Ham & Cheese Sandwiches & Tomato Bisque Soup

You may want to double the recipe because these sandwiches always disappear fast. As usual, I’ve tweaked the recipe to suit my taste, but you can find the original recipe here. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make these tasty ham and cheese appetizers:

Marinated Ham & Cheese Sandwich Ingredients

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used Duke’s mayonnaise)
4 tablespoons creamy horseradish sauce (I used Kraft)
1 package of sliced deli ham, cut to fit buns
1 package of sliced Swiss cheese, cut to fit buns
1 package party rolls or small dinner rolls (I used Martin’s potato rolls)

Saute the onions in butter over low heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the brown sugar, mustard, poppy seeds, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and parsley. Stir and cook until the brown sugar is melted. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, assemble the sandwiches. Cut sandwiches in half (it’s faster to cut the entire sheet of buns at one time instead of cutting each bun individually). Place the bottom half of the buns in a 9 x 13″ pan. Combine the mayonnaise and horseradish sauce in a small bowl. Spread a thin layer of the mayonnaise mixture on the buns. Top with ham and cheese slices and the top half of the buns. Spoon marinade on top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops of the sandwiches are browned and the cheese is melted.

Marinated Ham & Cheese Sandwiches7

Serve these mini sandwiches for a quick holiday meal, an office potluck luncheon, a superbowl party, or a church supper. They’ll be a hit.

Quick Holiday Meals–Tomato Bisque Soup

Tomato Bisque Soup1

Here’s a holiday gem to warm your heart. My sister has been serving this delicious, creamy tomato bisque soup on Christmas Eve for many years. It’s become a holiday tradition in our family–it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without it. The best thing about this tomato soup–besides the amazing taste–is that you can whip it up from start to finish in just 15 minutes. You can find this recipe plus many more delicious offerings in the Heart and Hand cookbook by Suzanne Winningham Worsham.

For a truly memorable and quick holiday meal I often serve this tomato bisque soup with mini marinated ham and cheese sandwiches (recipe coming up next) and a crisp Caesar salad with homemade garlic croutons.

Tomato Bisque Soup & Marinated Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

Doesn’t this look tasty? What a great combination. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this tomato bisque soup:

Tomato Bisque Soup Ingredients

Ingredients:

1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 1/2 cups prepared bloody Mary mix (I used Mrs. T’s bloody Mary mix)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream

Make a roux in large pot using the butter and flour, stirring continuously so the mixture doesn’t brown. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. Garnish with garlic croutons, a dollop of sour cream, or chopped chives.

I hope you’ll give this super fast and delicious soup a try and make it a holiday tradition in your home, too.

Quick Holiday Meals–Au Gratin Potato Soup

Au Gratin Potato Soup1

Christmas is only three weeks away and there’s still so much to do to get ready for the big day. During this hectic time of year it can be hard to find time to cook a good meal for your family. So I rely on recipes like this super quick au gratin potato soup featured¬† in Gooseberry Patch’s “Almost Homemade” cookbook. This hearty soup starts with a box of au gratin potatoes–something just about everyone has in their pantry.Toss in a few fresh vegetables, some chicken broth, and cream and you’ll have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. You can order a copy of the cookbook here. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this soup:

Au Gratin Potato Soup Ingredients

Ingredients:

1 9-oz. box au gratin potato mix
1 10-oz. can chicken broth
3 cups water
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1-2 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the first six ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat. Stir in cream. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Garnish with sour cream, chopped chives, and bacon bits, if desired.

Doesn’t this look fabulous? This recipe was so quick, easy, and delicious that I made it twice in one week.

Au Gratin Potato Soup2