Friday, October 29, 2010
Now that the boys are all teenagers, our two girls are the only ones to trick or treat...this year, they're sportin' matching vampire threads. Oh yeah!! And even Scott is gettin' into the spirit by accompanying them in a traditional cape and fangs :)
Halloween always brings back memories of when I was a kid. I would decorate the porch with cobwebs and spiders. We'd carve the pumpkin on Halloween afternoon and every year, my mom would make a pot of stew, because, after all, we did have to eat REAL food before we could trick or treat. I dressed as a Barbie one year, that was when costumes had the plastic face mask with pin holes for breathing and a tiny elastic strap that went around the back of the head. I'm sure you remember. Then there was the year of the punk rocker, the bride, the witch, the clown. Halloween always meant possibilities. Endless possibilities. And whatever you could make. cheap.
As I became an adult and moved into my first apartment, married, and had children, I would dressed the house in mums, pumpkins and continued my mother's tradition to make a pot of stew on Halloween night. Life changed and with it, came new traditions.
One interesting thing about a blended family is that there are lots of traditions from different families and needs that must be met. For us, that means, on a weekend before Halloween when we have all the kids, we have a Monstrously Spooktacular Movie weekend. This year...that happens this weekend.
Saturday evening, I have prepared a fun menu for the kids. Not, "cute to look at, but not good to eat" food, but fun movie munchies while we enjoy our family time.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
We were all wiped out after a long morning at the field. On game days, it's so nice to come home to a simmering crock of stew with some nice crusty bread.
Here's a recipe for a hearty stew with great flavor and it's so simple. A hot stew in the fall is just the ticket whether it's soccer day, a football party, or just family night.
1.5 pounds of beef stew meat
4 potatoes peeled and cut into chunky pieces
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper
1 can (28 oz) of bbq baked beans
1 cup of bbq sauce
Place beef, potatoes, onion, and water in the bottom of your slow cooker, season with salt and pepper, top with beans and bbq sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours or until beef is tender.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
What you need:
1 can of pumpkin
1 box of vanilla pudding (instant)
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
In a bowl, mix together milk and pudding mix on low. Chill for 5 minutes. Add pumpkin and spices. Mix well. Spoon in dessert dishes, top with sweet whipped cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Quick, easy, and satisfying!! This pudding would be perfect in a tart shell or puff pastry shells topped with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.
We are all crazy about hot chocolate in the fall and winter....typically when it's less than 50 degrees out, although today it's 75 degrees and sunny, I was still begged to make some this afternoon. Marshmallows or not, my 7 year old was determined to have it.
One thing I don't like about cocoa mixes is their grainy texture. It takes a lot of stirs before you can really dissolve a package of Swiss Miss. Just sayin'. I prefer a nice smooth texture with rich flavor when it comes to milky cocoa in it's hot drinkable form.
In years past, after a group would go caroling or just for the fun of a good old fashioned get together, bonfire, or weenie roast, it was nice to have a pot of this creamy rich cocoa waiting for everyone to share.
You won't believe something this good could be this easy.....I highly recommend it.
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk (you can use the lowfat or fat free)
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
dash of salt
6 1/2 cups of water
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, combine the first 4 ingredients and mix well. Gradually add the water, stirring slowly and warm over low-medium heat, but do NOT allow it to boil. Serve hot.
This recipe makes 8 cups. You can store leftovers (if you have any) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Just mix well and reheat.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Much of our summertime was spent outside. We'd lay in the grass to look at cloud shapes, play swinging statues, and had fun tumbling and doing cartwheels. We'd ride bikes down the street and climb trees. Pretty much a typical summer for any kid in Arkansas. After Dani's family moved, I wasn't able to keep in touch with them, but thanks to modern technology and the power of Facebook, we reconnected. It’s exciting to see the wonderful, beautiful, successful young woman she has become. I'm so proud of her achievements.
Dani and her husband Justin, married just this past October. What a precious couple. Dani and Justin, I wish you both a lifetime of happiness and wonderful memories. May you enjoy new traditions as you begin your life together and may your journey take you to places far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined.
~The Happy Couple~ As a newly married couple, cooking can sometimes be a challenge. So many leftovers, too much of this, not enough of that. So, here are some great dinner recipes when cooking for two.
1/2 pound boneless beef chuck roast, cubed
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chilies
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 to 2 cups water
2 tomatillos, husks removed, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 teaspoons canned chopped green chilies
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
4 garlic cloves, minced
Dash salt and pepper
2 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
Oil for deep-fat frying
In a small saucepan, combine the first seven ingredients; add enough water just to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 55 minutes or until meat is tender.
Meanwhile, in a small nonstick skillet, saute tomatillos and onion in oil until tender. Remove from the heat; stir in the chilies, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper. Cool slightly. Process in a food processor or blender until pureed. Transfer to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving.
Remove meat from saucepan. Strain liquid, reserving onion mixture. When meat is cool enough to handle, shred with two forks. Combine onion mixture and meat; divide between tortillas. Fold sides and ends over filling and roll up; secure with toothpicks.
In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°. Cook chimichangas until golden brown, turning to cook all sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve with salsa verde.
1/2 medium onion, sliced and separated into rings
1/2 medium green pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
3/4 cup canned stewed tomatoes
2 tablespoons white wine or Chicken Broth
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
In a large skillet, saute onion and green pepper in oil until crisp-tender. Remove and keep warm. Cook chicken over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.
Add the tomatoes, wine, garlic salt, rosemary and pepper to the skillet; cook and stir until heated through. Add onion mixture. Serve with chicken.
Cajun Chicken Pasta
2 ounces uncooked fettuccine
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 to 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Tbl cornstarch
1 cup half and half cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese
Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with Cajun seasoning. In a large skillet, cook chicken in 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat until no longer pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Add remaining oil to the drippings; saute the mushrooms, onions, green pepper and garlic until crisp-tender.
Combine cornstarch and cream until smooth; stir into vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Add salt if desired and pepper. Return chicken to the pan. Drain fettuccine and add to pan; toss gently. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Sesame Tuna Steaks
2 tuna steaks (1 inch thick and 6 ounces each)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Sprinkle both sides of tuna steaks with salt; rub with sesame seeds. In a large skillet, cook tuna in oil over medium heat for 2-4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Garlic Almond Shrimp
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 package (6 ounces) frozen snow peas, thawed
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 small garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
Hot cooked rice, optional
Drain oranges, reserving juice; set oranges aside. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, salt, ginger and reserved juice until smooth. Stir in soy sauce; set aside.
In a large nonstick skillet or wok, stir-fry the peas, mushrooms and onion in oil for 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add shrimp and garlic; stir-fry 3 minutes longer.
Stir cornstarch mixture and add to the pan. Add oranges. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Sprinkle with almonds. Serve with rice if desired.
Honey Pecan Pork Chops
2 boneless pork loin chops (about 1/2 inch thick and 4 ounces each)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 to 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans
Flatten pork chops slightly. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Coat chops with flour mixture. In a large skillet, cook pork chops in butter over medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm. Add honey and pecans to the skillet, scraping to loosen browned bits; heat through. Pour over pork chops.
16 frozen cheese ravioli, cooked and drained
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet yellow pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup pizza sauce
12 slices pepperoni, cut into quarters
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Divide ravioli between two microwave-safe bowls; dot with butter. Top with peppers, onion, pizza sauce, pepperoni and cheese.
Microwave, uncovered, on high for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
My mom makes the BEST homemade chocolate chip cookies. After a long day at school, it was so nice to come home to the sight of fresh from the oven gooey chocolatey cookies...cooling on a paper towel.
Well, these ain't momma's cookies. This recipe for pumpkin white chocolate doodles comes from my weakness for pumpkin and the need to satisfy my craving for chocolate, well, white chocolate. These cookies have a light and fluffy texture with a nice balance of flavor.
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups white chocolate chips
Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and add to the flour. Stir well. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
Add vanilla and chocolate chips.
Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.
So, I dumped an entire dinner in the trash, because let's face it....chicken that sat in a crock all day is just uncool.
My emergency substitution is Chili and cornbread. Eh, it'll do.
I still wanted to share it with you, even if it's not tonight's dinner!!
1 package of boneless Chicken Thighs (You can use breast meat or a mixture, whatever your family likes.)
1 can Rotel tomatoes and chilis
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can of black beans (drained)
2 cups of shredded cheese
1 cup of sour cream
Place everything in crock pot except for the sour cream. Cook on low for 6 hours. Stir in sour cream. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. This is a great filling for tortillas if you shred the chicken, you can serve it with Spanish rice and a salad for a great meal.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 whole-wheat pitas, cut into 1/8's
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine olive oil and spices in a large bowl. Add pita wedges and toss to coat, Spread in 1 layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, tossing once, or until pita is brown and crispy. Cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread, but I wanted to make one loaf and a dozen muffins, so I could share with the office.
Here's what you do....
Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounce package softened cream cheese
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 large eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter two 9" loaf pans.
Cream Cheese Filling: Mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and mix slightly. Stir in the flour. Set aside.
Pumpkin Bread: In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Add the sugar and melted butter and whisk until blended. Stir in the pumpkin, water, vanilla, and walnuts.
Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix, the bread will come out too tough.
Divide the batter in half. Take one half and divide it evenly between the two prepared pans. Divide the cream cheese filling in half and place each half of filling on top the two pans of batter, smoothing the tops. Top with the remaining half of batter. Bake the breads for about 50 minutes, or until cooked through.
Allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Here's a couple of recipes for fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes that are irresistible! IHOP has nothing on me!! The pumpkin flavor is very subtle and the cinnamon is the perfect addition. Pair this with your favorite maple syrup, sausage and a cup of coffee and you'll be craving these throughout the autumn months!!
I made them for breakfast and heard, "These are really delicious!" Even my pickiest eaters loved them. The plate was wiped out within a few minutes. Try them, you'll be glad you did!!
Quick and Easy:
2 cups complete pancake mix (the ones where only water is added)
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup pumpkin
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Combine pancake mix, water and pumpkin in medium bowl. Stir just until moistened. Don't overmix, batter should be smooth, but some lumps are okay. Spray griddle with nonstick spray or you can use melted butter. Heat over medium heat.
Cook on each side 1-2 minutes...until golden on each side. They'll have just a slight orangey color and will be very fluffy.
From Scratch recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1-3/4 cups milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup cooking oil
Heat a lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook until golden on each side.
*For some extra spice, add 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
Friday, October 15, 2010
I'm not even sure why it struck me to combine the two and make a delicious fudgy brownie with a velvety pumpkin filling. I mean, I had heard of the WW recipe for mixing a box of cake mix with a can of pumpkin for a light dessert, but I wanted something to really make a flavor statement with the distinct separation of flavors. And one can never have too many brownie recipes...I mean, come on!!
This pumpkin brownie recipe is the perfect way to blend the savory essence of pumpkin with the richness of chocolate.
Here's how I start....Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix 4 oz of softened cream cheese and 3 Tbl white sugar until well blended, add 3/4 of a cup of pumpkin, 1 egg,1/2 Tbl cinnamon, & 1 tsp. nutmeg and mix until smooth.
In another bowl, mix together 1 box of your favorite fudge brownie mix. (You can easily substitute your "from scratch" recipe here). I mix the brownie mix, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup of applesauce and 2 eggs just until blended.I used a disposable baking pan, because I had planned to share these with the office. *Note: they didn't make it to the office, because I couldn't keep the kids out of it!!
Pour the brownie batter evenly in the bottom of your baking dish. Drop spoonfuls of the pumpkin mixture into the brownies and using a knife, cut through the batter several times to marble it. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the brownies are set.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
You want something to wow them, but still be a little traditional? This is definitely a winner!!
A cookie base creates the perfect balance for the sweet creamy filling. You'll even be amazed at just how easy this recipe is, which already meets my criteria for cooking.
Cheesecake in under an hour?? Oh, yeah! It's possible!!
1 pouch of oatmeal cookie mix
1/2 cup of chopped nuts (I prefer pecans for this, but walnuts would be good too)
1 stick of cold butter (must be cold to achieve the crumbly consistency you'll need)
For your filling:
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup of canned pumpkin (not pie mix, I always like just a little bit extra pumpkin, so you can add another 1/4 cup)
2 Tbl. all purpose flour
1 Tbl ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbl whipping cream
In a large bowl, stir together cookie mix and nuts and cut in butter (you can use a fork) until crumbly.
Press in the bottom of an ungreased pie plate (you'll have a lot of cookie base, so definitely recommend a 9", you can always make this into squares using a 13x9 dish too)
Bake for 10 minutes, then cool slightly.
In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the other ingredients until everything is well blended. Pour over the warm cookie base. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until set. Cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours.
Aside from the traditional pumpkin pie, pumpkin can make some of the most decadent desserts, but can also be used in soups, stews, and as a base for all kinds of recipes.
Here's a great recipe from BHG for Pumpkin Barley soup with Andouille Sausage.8 oz. cooked andouille or smoked sausage links, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon snipped fresh sage
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup quick-cooking barley
1 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon granules
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
In a 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven cook sausage, onion and sage in hot oil over medium heat 3 minutes, stirring often. Add barley, 4 cups water and bouillon granules. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in pumpkin, maple syrup and vinegar; heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. garnish with apple and more sage.
*I omit the maple syrup.
*Instead of water, you can substitute chicken stock.
*Barley will cook up, be sure you have enough liquid to even out the soup.