Sunday, October 30, 2011

Never too old for Halloween

We make Halloween a month long celebration! The fun of watching spooky flix, eating cauldrons full of holiday inspired treats, and partying with zombies fills the air with excitement.

The kiddos scuffle in their costumes down each street, the air heavy with the scent of sugary sweets and freshly carved pumpkin.

Front porches are layered in a canvas of mums and the grinning face of a Jack-o-lantern beams behind the flickering candlelight.

The crunching of every leaf fills my heart with joy, because Autumn is happening NOW.

As you enjoy the holiday with your family and friends,
exploring old traditions and starting new ones,
Pour yourself a goblet of witch's brew and drink a toast to this magical time of year.

You're never too old to celebrate your favorite holiday!

Witch's Brew
1 can (12 ounce size) frozen orange juice concentrate
1 can (12 ounce size) frozen white grape juice
2 light 7-Up
1 pint sherbet, lemon or lime

Mix all ingredients together in a large punch bowl and serve immediately.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pepperoni Crescents

So, we spent the day FREEZING our tails off at a soccer match in the middle of Nowhere, North Carolina. Rain, dark skies, wet grass, 35 mph wind, 50 degrees. Yeah, it was a great day. *Insert sarcasm here*

I was ready to curl up on the couch and warm my toes under the blanket with munchies and zombie flix.

This is one of those fabulous simple appetizer recipes or a quick snacky supper.

1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (or my roll dough)
32 Pepperoni slices
4 cheese sticks (sliced in half to total 8)
Prepared marinara sauce

Slice each cheese stick in half. Unroll crescent rolls.

Place 4 slices of pepperoni on each crescent and then 1 cheese stick.
Roll up, starting with large end first, like a crescent, and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
Serve with marinara.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tuscan Tomato Basil Tortellini with Chicken

This Tortellini is so easy and delicious and a perfect supper for a cool fall night.

1 package three-cheese tortellini (you can use refrigerated or dry)
1 batch of Natasha's Alfredo sauce
2 tablespoons white wine
2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
fresh basil strips for garnish
Chopped cooked chicken

Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, prepare Alfredo sauce in a medium saucepan. Stir wine into alfredo sauce.

Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish, if desired and serve with coked chicken.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Popcorn

Oh my word, this little treat is so decadent and perfect for the pumpkin lover. I found this treat on Pinterest and had to share. If you must eat the entire batch, just eat it on a Sunday. Calories don't count on Sundays.

1 3.3oz bag Kettle Corn popcorn, popped remove all unpopped kernels
1 Cup dry roasted peanuts
2 Cups unwrapped pumpkin spice hershey kisses (If you cannot find the kisses, substitute 1 Cup of butterscotch chips)
4 Tablespoons butter
3/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1/3 Cup corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place popped popcorn and peanuts onto a large rimmed baking sheet that has been sprayed lightly with non stick cooking spray.

Place kisses, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a light boil. Remove from heat and pour evenly over popcorn and nuts. Gently stir to coat mixture over popcorn. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and pour onto parchment paper to cool. Break into pieces and serve. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cherry Mice Treats

This is one of the cutest spooky treat ideas that I've seen. My wonderful friend Melissa handed me this recipe for her Chocolate Cherry Mice Treats and it's perfect for a Halloween party or a little snack-a-roo.

Here's her photo of these tasty little critters.
Amounts will vary depending on how many mice you want to make.

Maraschino cherries with stem
Hershey kisses
semi-sweet chocolate chips
sliced almonds
icing for eyes ( I usually just get a red or orange gel tube)

1. Drain the cherries and pat them dry with paper towels. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper.

2. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat them until smooth, working in 15-second intervals, stirring between each.

3. Holding a cherry by its stem, dip it into the chocolate and swirl it around to completely cover the fruit. Set it on its side on the waxed paper and immediately press a Hershey's Kiss onto the cherry for the head. For the ears, gently wedge two almond slices between the Kiss and the cherry.

4. Using icing, decorate eyes. Can do a pink tip for a nose, just depends what you like.

Now, I'd better get back to watching "The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" Happy Halloween. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Easy Taco Pockets

Halloween finger foods are so fun to make for those nighttime spooky movie marathons. Forget vamps, I'm all about the zombies.

In fact, we have plans to be a part of the 2nd Annual Survive Norfolk Zombie Tag this year. Basically it's a huge game of tag....zombie style. AND it's RIGHT in my 'hood. Literally all around my house!!! Thousands of participants will flood the area . I can already hear the screams now. Each participant has 2 hours to check in at 4 checkpoints along the way. You must outrun the zombies. How you survive is up to you. If you're tagged, you turn into a zombie. Exciting stuff!

So for a quick Zombie night supper how about some Easy Taco Pockets? Only 4 ingredients.

1 lb lean ground beef, cooked, drained (or turkey)
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 can large refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

In 10-inch nonstick skillet, mix cooked beef and 1/2 cup of the salsa. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.
Press each biscuit into 6-inch round. Spoon 1/3 cup meat mixture and 1 tablespoon cheese onto center of each round. Fold dough in half over filling; press to seal. Place on greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375° for 9 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with remaining salsa.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween S'mores

I've been pondering for weeks for what kind of treats to create for Halloween for the teachers. Last year we made Snack-o-lanterns. But this year I was kind of diggin' these Ghost and Pumpkin peeps, coated in their glittery-sugar goodness. Seeing as how they are marshmallow-- my mind always runs toward S'Mores!! And who wouldn't like ghostly s'mores, right?

So, I made these little treat bags.

A miniature chocolate bar, a ghost peep, and grahams. The perfect snack! I popped them in a little treat bag that I purchased from the craft store, stapled a on this cute little tag and done!

(Click the photo for your very own printable tag. You're welcome!)

You still have time to whip these up for the teachers in your life. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cheesy Stuffed Mealoaf

Tired of the same old meatloaf? I don't much care for getting stuck in a rut with supper ideas, but sometimes sticking with a family favorite isn't a bad thing. I tried to combine the best of both worlds with a meatloaf that is stuffed with cheese and rolled then baked to perfection. Pizza sauce takes the place of ketchup and I highly recommend using the right ratio of sauce to meat because it will become too soupy and will not bind properly. Enjoy!!

1 1/4 lb extra-lean ground beef
3/4 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 egg
1 can (8 oz) pizza sauce
1/4 cup bread crumbs, Italian style
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheese

Heat oven to 350°. In large bowl, mix ground beef, sausage, egg, 1/2 cup of the pizza sauce, the bread crumbs and pepper.

On foil, pat mixture to12x8-inch rectangle. Sprinkle evenly with cheese; gently press into meat. Top with spinach. Starting at short end, roll up tightly, using foil to start to roll; seal ends. Place seam side down in ungreased 12x8-inch (2 quart) glass baking dish.

Bake 1 hour. Spread remaining pizza sauce over top. Bake 15 minutes longer.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cheesy chicken pot pie

You win some you lose some. My kids weren't crazy about this dish, I must say. But I didn't think it was too bad. There were plenty of leftovers, so I took half the casserole to a couple of guys at the office and the rest I saved for the man to have for lunch today.

It's quick and easy for a weeknight supper and paired with a salad or some rice, you're all set. Now pour me a glass of sweet tea and hand me a fork.

3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas), thawed, drained
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) velveeta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
Make It

Heat oven to 375ยบ. Combine first 4 ingredients in 13x9-inch baking dish. Unroll dough; place over chicken mixture. Bake 20 to 25 min. or until crust is golden brown.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Addicted to Popcorn

I have a true love. And this is it.

Melt and Drizzle White Chocolate over Hot Popped Corn.

For more crunch you could add sliced almonds or craisins.....Mmmm, so good.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day of Oatmeal

Tomorrow just happens to be National Oatmeal Day. Nothing says celebrate like a hot bowl of creamy mush. Well, if you're in my family you get a bowl of dressed up creamy mush, but who's keeping track?

I do love a good old fashioned bowl of oatmeal. And I love playing around with flavors. Maple and brown sugar, cinnamon and apples, honey, or plain with butter and sugar like my mom used to make!
How about banana nut oatmeal?
Mmmm, do you eat yours with a piece of buttery toast? And who cares if you use the toast as a spoon. It'll be our secret.

3 c fat-free milk
3 TBLS firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 c Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
2 medium-size ripe bananas, mashed or sliced (about 1c)
Pecan pieces
Drizzle of Honey

In saucepan, bring milk, brown sugar, and spices to a gentle boil; stir in your oats. Return to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute for quick oats, 5 minutes for old fashioned oats, or until most of liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Remove oatmeal from heat. Stir in mashed bananas and pecans and a drizzle of honey.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with caramel sauce

I can't say as I'm a big fan of bread puddings as far as bread puddings go, although my whacky friend Michelle makes a mean bread pudding with her whiskey sauce that will give you a buzz in one bite. I don't recommend eating it at the office when you actually plan on working, but it's pretty good.

I am kinda loving this amazing pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce. Ooey-Gooey stuff always makes me swoon. And the caramel sauce used to drench this recipe is soooo good.
I really like using a mixture of breads for this recipe to change the texture and allowing it to stand for a few minutes before baking will give the pumpkin goodness time to really soak into the bread.

Pumpkin bread pudding & ooey-gooey caramel sauce

bread pudding ingredients:
2 cups half & half
1, 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 cups 1/2 inch cubed stale french bread and baguettes
1/2 cup chopped pecans

a few tablespoons of maple syrup

ooey-gooey caramel sauce ingredients:
1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream

You may want to double or triple the caramel sauce to drown the bread pudding. I won't tell anyone if you lick the spoon.

bread pudding preparation:
preheat oven to 350 degrees. whisk half & half, pumpkin dark brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon & vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. gently fold in bread cubes (you don’t want to stir them so much they turn to mush). stir in raisins & chopped pecans (if you choose to use them). transfer mixture to 11×7 glass baking dish. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of maple syrup. Let mixture stand 15 minutes. then bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

meanwhile, prepare caramel sauce:
whisk brown sugar & butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. whisk in cream until sugar dissolves & sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes.

to serve:
Serve the pumpkin bread pudding warm, sift powdered sugar over bread pudding, & drench with warm caramel sauce.

If you need one of those cranes to pull you out of your house, just give me a call. Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Season

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the prices for pumpkins this season at my local market. $2.99 each for a giganterrific pumpkin. What a steal!! Due to the amount of rain we've had in recent months, the local crop has been abundant with these orange beauties, making them extra affordable. On my walk around a neighborhood today, houses were dressed with two or three of these babies with a blanket of mums covering porch steps. Fall at it's best!

Bless my soul, I love pumpkin season.

I thought I'd share a delicious pumpkin ice cream. Taking help from already prepared vanilla ice cream, it's got the perfect pumpkin flavor with the richness and creaminess that you'd expect, but laced with cookies for a bit of added crunch. It's a must try!!

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened (You can use homemade vanilla or storebought)
36 vanilla wafers or gingersnaps

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix until well blended. Stir in pecans. Fold in ice cream.

Line a 9x13 inch dish or sealable plastic container with 18 cookies. Spread half the ice cream mixture over the cookies. Repeat layers. Freeze until firm.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Apple Nachos

I remember as a kid, every year, I would beg my mom to make caramel apples for Halloween. For me the holiday isn't complete without one of these confections on a stick. I've even seen some of the cutest ones wrapped in caramel and coated with sprinkles or even candy corns, which would make a great teacher gift for Halloween.
Some of my favorite memories with my girls are watching the Halloweentown movies every year....which happen to be marathon viewing on Disney channel this week. How I love Debbie Reynolds as the witty grandmother. What could be better than spooky movies and a plate of apple nachos?? This would also make a great after school snack.
Thin slices of crisp tart apples flecked with chocolate chips, pecans, and drizzled with creamy melted caramel and marshmallow. This recipe makes about 12 servings. Enjoy!
18 caramels
1/2 tablespoon water
15 large marshmallows
3 Tablespoons butter
2 medium tart apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 Tablespoons pecan pieces
3 Tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Halloween sprinkles
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt caramels with water; stir until smooth.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt marshmallows and butter. Arrange apple slices on a large platter. Drizzle with caramel; top with marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle with peanuts, chocolate chips and sprinkles. Serve immediately.

Lasagna Soup

This yummy fall weather has me begging for a change of colors in the leaves. Unfortunately it's still a little early for us to have a change if we have one at all. Fall for me just screams "SOUP!". So I've been perusing a collection of soup recipes that I haven't made in a while and some new options for old favorites.
This Lasagna Soup is a combination of flavors that I'd love to unlock. The tomato and beef stock base paired with the pasta give it a nice starchy substance. Adding the veggies and seasonings make it really balanced. And the meat can be quite versatile. Beef, Turkey, or even some chunky sausage would work well in this soup.
Gosh I can't wait to eat.
1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 large green pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium beef broth

2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

1 cup frozen corn

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2-1/2 cups uncooked spiral pasta

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, cook the beef, green pepper and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain.

Stir in the broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and pepper. Bring to a boil. Stir in pasta. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender. Sprinkle with cheese.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Sticky Buns

This coffee cake was a huge hit at this office this week! They especially love it when I bring some sort of concoction in and it's still warm. I spend my morning calculating the exact second the warm gooey treat comes out of the oven so it retains its heat when it arrives at the office. This is perfect with a cup of coffee.

One of the wonderful ladies at the office brought me a pile of fresh Virginia Gala apples so I threw together this apple cinnamon sticky bun coffee cake that's flecked with pecans and diced apple.

1 1/2 cups chopped peeled apples
1(12.4-oz.) can reduced fat Refrigerated Cinnamon Rolls with Icing
1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Heat oven to 350°.
Spray 9-inch glass pie pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread 1 cup of the apples in sprayed pan.

Separate dough into 8 rolls. Cut each roll into quarters; place in large bowl. Add remaining 1/2 cup apples and pecans.
In small bowl, combine margarine, brown sugar and corn syrup; mix well. Add brown sugar mixture to dough mixture; toss gently to combine. Spoon mixture over apples in pan.
Bake for 28 to 38 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Invert onto serving platter.
Remove lid from icing. Microwave icing on HIGH for 10 to 15 seconds or until drizzling consistency. Drizzle over warm coffee cake. Serve warm.

Happy Birthday Elle

I'm so proud to be the mom of the cutest 8 year old in the world.

Beautiful, Math Lovin', sister lovin', polka dot wearing, brown eyed, precious sweet girl!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chicken Marsala

My mom asked me for a Chicken Marsala recipe, so I gave her this really easy and quick skillet recipe. Just thought I'd share it with you.

4 boneless, skinless thin sliced chicken breast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup Marsala wine

Combine flour, salt, pepper, and basil; mix well. Heat oil and butter in a heavy non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Dredge chicken in flour.
Cook chicken until lightly browned about 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cook until chicken is browned. Stir mushrooms. Add Marsala.
Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Serve with hot cooked pasta or rice.

Buffalo Chicken Soup

There are no words to describe this soup! But I must warn you it's pretty close to perfect. It is spicy. It is chocked full of veggies that pair perfectly with "buffalo" sauce and if it were a man, it'd be a cross between George Clooney and Gerard Butler.

This soup is perfect on those chilly fall days! Lucky for me today was just that.

2 Tb butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped or shredded carrots (I take all the help I can from the grocery and used shredded carrots)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans rinsed & drained.
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 pounds of chopped cooked chicken
1/4 cup prepared wing sauce (I prefer Texas Pete wing sauce, heat depends on you....I used extra mild for this recipe)

In a dutch oven or large pot, melt butter and add onion, celery, and carrots.

Cook on medium heat until tender. Add tomatoes, beans, broth, chili powder and salt. Mix well. Add chicken and wing sauce. Allow to simmer until veggies and beans are tender.

*I swirl a little ranch dressing on top, but it would be equally as great with a dollop of sour cream or if you prefer, blue cheese crumbles.

*You can make this in the slow cooker using uncooked chicken, cooked on low for 8 hours. I had cooked chicken in the fridge, so I made this on the stovetop.