Monday, December 31, 2012

homemade blackberry syrup

My visiting teacher Starley dropped by with a box of chocolates and a bottle of homemade blackberry syrup last week.  I knew exactly what I would do with that syrup!  I made my friend Dee-Anna's puff pancakes with fresh whipped cream and poured the syrup on top for breakfast on Christmas morning.  Breakfast was a success!  This syrup is fantastic and Starley was nice to share her recipe with me so I can make it this summer.

homemade blackberry syrup (or any berry) (my friend Starley)
1 cup berry juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Boil one minute.  Put into clean jar.  Seal with caning lid.  Turn upside down for a few minutes to heat lid.  Can double, triple, etc.

What I have to say- this is not the first time a grandmotherly woman has given me a canning recipe only to find out they have not canned the way I know- in a water bath or pressure cooker or steamer.  I have always been apprehensive about the old method but hey- they seem to end up living longer than anyone else I know so it must be safe!  And to not pull out all that canning equipment is GREAT!  There's no excuse now. : )

Monday, December 24, 2012

black forest and havarti melts on sour dough

My kids like to go to Trader Joes with me because they can earn a treat in the treasure chest if they find Benny Beaver somewhere in the store.  Today they were glad they went with me because of the sample- rolls with ham and melted cheese.  My girls loved it so much we went home and made our own version- black forest ham on sour dough draped with melted havarti cheese.  They ate a mighty fine lunch today, that's for sure.

black forest and havarti melts on sour dough
thin slices of sour dough bread
thin slices of black forest ham (we get ours at Costco)
slices of havarti cheese

Toast sour dough slices in a toaster until lightly toasted.  Meanwhile, brown slices of ham over the stove.  Place browned ham slices on sliced toast then top with slices of havarti cheese.  Broil for a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted and oozing over the sides of the sandwich.  Mmmm!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

christmas mouse cookie

'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house...  Isn't he cute?  He was innocently sitting on a huge platter full of delicious cookies so my husband brought him home. 

christmas mouse cookie (someone my husband works with)
oreo cookie
chocolate dipped cherry
Hershey's kiss
sliced almonds
melted chocolate for glue
icing for holly decorations
edible pearls

Friday, December 21, 2012

hearty harvest and ham stew

I really enjoyed this soup.  It was super simple to prepare and since yesterday was such a rush-from-one-event-to-another-day I put it in the crock pot on low to keep it warm until dinner time.  We enjoyed it with slices of buttered toasted sourdough bread, something my kids recently can't get enough of.

hearty harvest and ham stew (adapted from
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ham steak, cubed (I used black forest ham from Costco)
2 cups coleslaw mix or 1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
3 cups water
5 fingerling potatoes, sliced
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
black pepper to taste
3 cups firmly packed spinach

Warm olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Stir in onions and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and ham; cook for another 2 minutes.  Stir in the cabbage and water.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Stir in potatoes, carrots, celery seed, paprika and pepper.  Cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium low, stir in the greens, adjust seasonings and cook for 10 minutes.  Serve with bread.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

maple butter blondies

My friend Danielle said these are "nothing but rich, sugary gooeyness" and boy was she right!  I made these for gourmet club and I will declare these Hall of Fame based on the praise they received.  Thanks for making me look good, Danielle!  It felt great.

maple butter blondies (my friend Danielle, PIM cookbook)
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Add baking powder, salt, vanilla and then eggs.  Mix in flour.  Stir in white chocolate chips and nuts.  Put brownie batter into a greased 9x13 pan and smooth mixture with spatula.  Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes.  Top should be shiny and firm when you touch the center with a finger.  Do not over bake.

maple butter sauce
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring

Combine sugar, butter and whipping cream in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and stir in the maple flavoring.
To assemble:  Cut brownies into 12 pieces.  Place a brownie on a plate and top with vanilla ice cream.  Drizzle warm Maple Butter Sauce and sprinkle with more nuts.

chocolate mousse

The other day my husband requested clam chowder for dinner and chocolate mousse for dessert, a couple of his very favorite dishes.  He said this chocolate mousse was terrific and said it was just as good as a friend's of his who was a cook and worked his way through school teaching cooking classes.  I'll take it as a "Hall of Fame".  Thanks allrecipes!

chocolate mousse (
1 cup semisweet chocolate chipes
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup whipped cream

Melt chocolate chips in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat; stir until smooth, about 5 minutes.  Stir a small amount of hot chocolate into egg yolk; return chocolate and egg mixture to pan, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract.  Cool, stirring several times.
Beat heavy cream in a large bowl until it begins to thicken.  Stir in sugar; beat until soft peaks form.  Fold whipped cream mixture into cooled chocolate mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night.  Garnish with whipped cream.

Monday, December 10, 2012

cranberry honey butter

This Christmas I've been making various treats when the mood strikes so if friends compare what I whipped up for them chances are they've all gotten something different.  Tomorrow when I host gourmet club, my gourmet club friends are each getting a container of cranberry honey butter.  When I saw this recipe it looked delicious so I had to give it a whirl.  I will drizzle a little more honey over the top of each container of butter.  It will be delicious over warm buttermilk biscuits or pancakes.

cranberry honey butter (Taste of Home, November 2012)
1 cup softened butter
1/3 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Beat all ingredients.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Makes 24 servings.

roasted broccoli

This broccoli deserved a better photograph.  This is seriously the best broccoli I have ever eaten.  My friend Kiana shared it at our last gourmet club.  It's one of those recipes that you ought to go out of your way to get a head of broccoli so you can try it tonight with whatever you've got planned.  She said to make this broccoli you have to sacrifice one of your baking sheets because you end up warping your pans.  She has a pan reserved for this recipe.

roasted broccoli (my friend Kiana)
1 large bunch broccoli (trim away the outer peel from the stalks otherwise they will turn tough when cooked)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
ground black pepper to taste
lemon wedges for serving

Adjust oven rack to the lowest position, place a large rimmed baking sheet on rack and heat oven to 500 degrees.  Cut the broccoli at the juncture of the florets and stems; remove the outer peel from the stalk.  Cut the stalk into 2 to 3-inch lengths and each length into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.  Cut the crowns into four to six wedges, depending on size.  Place the broccoli in a large bowl; drizzle with the oil and toss well until evenly coated.  Season with the salt, sugar and pepper to taste and toss to combine.
Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven.  Working quickly, transfer the broccoli to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer, placing the flat sides down.  Return sheet to the oven and roast until the stalks are well browned and tender and the florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes.  Transfer to a dish and serve with lemon wedges.


Friday, December 7, 2012

pizza soup

It smelled like pizza soup and it tasted like pizza soup!  I enjoyed it for dinner but I enjoyed it even more the next day for lunch- it's a great "lunch soup".  Whatever you do, don't forget to sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.  It's what makes it.

pizza soup (simply kierste
1 jar (14 ounces) pizza sauce
3 empty jars full of water
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained (I used petite diced tomatoes)
1 ring turkey sausage, sliced and cut into quarters
1 cup sliced pepperoni
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped or 1/2 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 cup dried pasta (I used whole wheat skinny penne)
shredded mozzarella cheese or fresh parmesan for topping

Wash and prepare veggies and add them to the crockpot.  Cut up the sausage and pepperoni and add to the veggies.  Add basil and oregano.  Pour in the pizza sauce and follow with three empty jars of water.
Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours.  Since everything is already cooked, it's basically heating through and letting the flavors culminate.
Thirty minutes before serving, add the dry pasta and turn to high.
Garnish with cheese.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

tandoori chicken

Excellent chicken.  Full of flavor and perfect with steamed jasmine rice.  My friend Danielle from Hershey came to visit when her husband interviewed in my town.  When she came she brought me a recipe book compiled by Parnters In Medicine.  Cookbooks full of favorite recipes are my favorite (!) although the best part was flipping the pages and seeing familiar names.  Now if only I could see all the faces...
P.S.  Danielle's husband got the job and he'll be working with my husband.  Hooray!  My kids are counting down the days until her cute baby comes back. : )

tandoori chicken (my friend Wendy P., PIM cookbook)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
dash of ground nutmeg
4 (4 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
cooking spray

Place first 3 ingredients in a food processor; process until finely chopped.  Add yogurt and the next 8 ingredients; pulse 4 times or until blended.
Make 3 diagonal cuts 1/4-inch deep across the top of each chicken breast half.  Combine chicken and yogurt mixture in a large zip-loc plastic bag.  Seal and marinate in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.  Prepare grill.  Remove chicken breast from bag; discard marinade.  Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray.  Cook 6 minutes on each side or until chicken is done.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

creamy green chile soup

This is a great soup!  I love green chiles and I love when I get to put "extras" on top of my soup like tortilla chips, cheddar cheese and cilantro.  YUM!  I shared some with a friend and she said it was her new favorite soup.  Did you hear that?  Her new favorite!  After she visits New Morning Bakery I like to ask her what soup she tried because she enjoys the soups there.  I recommend this one any day but especially on a rainy, rainy day like today.

creamy green chili soup (Lauren's Latest)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large ribs celery, diced
1 (7 ounce) can fire roasted green chiles, drained and diced
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 cup frozen sweet corn
2 cups diced, roasted chicken
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
1/4 cup flour (you can omit for gluten-free)
toppings: grated cheddar, chopped cilantro, crushed tortilla chips

Heat large pot over medium heat.  Melt butter and saute onions and celery until onions are translucent, 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and green chiles and saute 3 minutes.  Pour in chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to boil.  Cover pot with well fitting lid and reduce to simmer. 
Simmer soup 10-15 minutes and then remove from heat.  Using an immersion blender, puree soup and return to heat.  Stir in carrots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in corn and chicken.
Place flour into small bowl and slowly whisk in cream to prevent lumps.  If there seems to be lumps you can always pour it through a strainer like I did.  Pour this mixture into the hot soup and cook until it thickens slightly.  Taste and readjust seasonings if needed.  Serve with toppings.

Monday, December 3, 2012

nauvoo gingerbread cookies

I just experienced "Christmas" at Disneyland for the first time.  It was splendid.  Now I'm ready for more and more and more Christmas. There really can't ever be too much Christmas.  I made these little men for Activity Days this week where they will be adorned with more icing than there is least that's my prediction.  These are the best gingerbread cookies I've  made yet.

nauvoo gingerbread men (
1 cup white sugar
1 cup molasses
3/4 cup lard
1/2 cup hot water
2 eggs
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, molasses, lard and hot water until smooth.  Stir in eggs.  Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger; stir into the batter to make a soft dough.  Add more flour if needed.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour or until firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface.  Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters.  Place cookies onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes or until cookies appear dry in the center.
okies appear dry in the center.

Friday, November 23, 2012

loaded chicken pot pie soup

This recipe won a $500 prize in the category of hearty soups but I still didn't expect it to be as good as it turned out to be.  The spices are a perfect combination and give a little zip.  This really is a comforting soup for a cozy night in.  I doubled the recipe and was so glad I did!

loaded chicken pot pie soup (Better Homes & Gardens, December 2012)
1/2 cup each chopped carrot and celery
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon each seasoned salt, dry mustard, chili powder and ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup half and half
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 to 1 1/2 cups egg noodles (I used whole wheat egg noodles)
biscuits ready to eat

In a large pot cook carrot, celery, onion and garlic in hot butter about 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in broth, chicken, noodles and seasonings.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, 10 minutes or until noodles are tender.
In a small bowl, whisk together half and half and flour; add to pot.  Add broccoli and peas.  Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Spoon into bowls; top with biscuits.  Makes 6 servings.

I am so glad I discovered this method!
Place 2-3 frozen chicken breasts in a slow cooker.  Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, chicken broth and seasonings.  Cook on HIGH for 6 hours.  Add broccoli, frozen peas and pasta.  Continue to cook until pasta is soft- doesn't take long.  Stir in half and half (or you can leave it out and it will still be great!).  Serve. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

eggnog pancakes

Happy Thanksgiving!  We enjoyed these pancakes this morning while listening to Christmas music- the holidays are so joyous.  These pancakes are GREAT and have just entered the seasonal rotation.  My husband thought the best way to eat them is with a little dusting of powdered sugar and a little maple syrup.  As we ate breakfast my husband told us that in Russia they enjoy "Pancake Week" once a year.  That week he and his companion made a different kind of pancake every day of the week starting with banana pancakes then chocolate pancakes leading up to the pancakes his companion made- Kool Aid pancakes. He says they were pretty bad.  Stick with these.

eggnog pancakes (Better Homes and Gardens, December 2012)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used pumpkin pie spice because we're out of nutmeg)
2 lightly beaten eggs
2 cups eggnog
1/4 cup oil

In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients in the order given.  Cook pancakes on a griddle 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with powdered sugar and maple syrup.

apple pie toffee cookies

These cookies just sounded good and different from your average cookie so we had to give them a try.  Graham crackers, fresh apple, toffee bits!  They're great especially with a tall glass of cold milk.  I doubled the recipe so we could share them with friends.

apple pie toffee cookies (Inside BruCrew Life)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cups flour (I needed 1/4 to 1/2 cup additional flour)
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup finely chopped apple (we grated ours)
1/2 cup toffee baking bits
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon shortening

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugars and butter until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla.  In a bowl, combine flour, crumbs, baking powder, salt and spices.  Add to the butter mixture and mix until just combined.  Stir in the apple and toffee bits by hand.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool on pan for 2-3 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Melt the white chips and shortening.  Spoon into a plastic bag and cut the tip off.  Drizzle over cookies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

grace's chocolate chip cookies

Grace is my daughter's favorite preschool teacher and was happily surprised when Grace delivered a plate of these cookies to her on her birthday with a card that she carried around the next day.  My kids hummed as they ate them and my oldest declared we must get the recipe!  When I saw the recipe I knew why they are so good- 1 pound of butter...and chocolate chips!!

grace's chocolate chip cookies (our friend Grace)
1 pound butter
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
about 2 cups chocolate chips 

Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix.  Add next three ingredients; mix.  Stir in chocolate chips.
Scoop dough with spoons or ice cream scoop and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes or until set.

Monday, November 19, 2012

carrot dill soup

This soup would be a fantastic starter for a holiday meal.  I love carrot soup but I loved this one especially because of the dill and the splash of cream over the top.  My friend Gillian brought this to me and it was such a treat!

carrot dill soup (Cookbook: The New Basics Cookbook, Rosso & Lukins)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, leaves included, diced
8 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 teaspoons creme fraiche, for garnish
6 dill sprigs, for garnish

Melt the butter in a soup kettle.  Add the onion and cook over low heat until wilted, 10 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, stock, 1/4 cup dill, salt, black pepper and cayenne.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cover.  Simmer until the carrots are tender, 40  minutes.  Allow to cool slightly.
Puree the soup, in batches in a blender.  Return it to the kettle, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons dill and adjust the seasonings.  Heat through.
Serve each bowl of soup garnished with a dollop of creme fraiche (Gillian used cream), a sprinkling of red pepper and a sprig of dill.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

banana chocolate spice cake

Happy Birthday to the girl who requested a cake using chocolate, bananas and acorns!!  I just happened to see this recipe posted online a day or two later and was overjoyed.  The icing on this cake is velvety- great choice and great flavor combination.  Make these acorns to garnish the cake.

banana chocolate spice cake (Your Cup of Cake)
1 box yellow cake mix
2 large ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk (I put 1 tsp. vinegar into milk)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

chocolate spice buttercream icing (I halved this recipe for a bundt cake)
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, use a fork to mash bananas with baking soda and lemon juice.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil, vanilla extract, buttermilk and cinnamon.  Stir in bananas.
Stir in cake mix.
Grease a bundt pan and pour batter inside.  Bake for the legnth of time indicated on the back of the cake box.
To make the icing, beat butter until smooth.  Add cocoa, vanilla, milk and cinnamon and beat again.  Slowly add powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.  Spread onto cooled cake and top with acorns and banana chips.

lindsey's zucchini cheese soup

Lindsey hosted a luncheon the other day and made this wonderful soup.  It's the kind of soup that you wish you could sit and eat for hours without the bowl emptying or your tummy filling.  Of course I had to go home and make it right away which meant an extra trip to the store and I don't usually make extra trips to the store!  My whole family enjoyed it.

lindsey's zucchini cheese soup (my friend Lindsey M.)
2 medium zucchini, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4" slices
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried bail
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 (15 ounce) can corn (I used Mexicorn)
1 (15 ounce) can evaporated milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Saute the zucchini, onion and herbs in the butter until soft.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Add the water and bouillon; bring to a boil and cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Add corn, tomatoes and canned milk and reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Add cheeses and stir to melt.  Serve.

Friday, November 16, 2012

pumpkin fluff dip

When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it and I knew it would be delicious.  I took it to preschool for snack time this morning and watched my son as he licked the remaining dip off of his plate (we believe in excellent manners in our home).  I then served it as an after school snack and although nobody licked their plate clean, it was a hit.  This dip just made the list of seasonal "must makes".

pumpkin fluff dip (adapted from
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl, mix together instant vanilla pudding mix, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.  Fold in the thawed frozen whipped topping.  Chill in the refrigerator until serving.  Serve with fresh fruit, graham crackers or gingersnaps.

pumpkin pie snickerdoodle bars

Although my two youngest kids did not appreciate these bars, plenty of people did as we shared them with many friends.  My husband's favorite pie is pumpkin and he said he really enjoyed them.  I made these bars with the fresh pumpkin puree that my friend Janet brought over.  Where there's pumpkin puree, there's always a new recipe to experiment with!

pumpkin pie snickerdoodle bars (Plain Chicken)
snickerdoodle layer:
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

pumpkin pie layer:
1 cup flour
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 ounce white chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9x13 pan and lay a piece of parchment paper (I used foil) across the pan so that it extends the pan.
To make the snickerdoodle layer, sift togethr flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.  In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in the flour mixture until well blended.  Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be thick and cookie batter-ish).
To make pumpkin pie filling, mix together butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined.  This layer will be less thick and more pourable.  Pour over the snickerdoodle layer, smoothing out the top.
Combine the white sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.
Bake for 33-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the bars cool completely.  They may deflate a bit and remain a bit pie-like on the top layer.
After the bars are completely cool, place the chopped white chocolate into a bowl or zip-lock bag and melt on low power.  When it's melted add the pumpkin pie spice and mix.  Use a spoon or cut a small corner of the bag and drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the bars and let it cool and harden.
Pull the dessert out of the pan by lifting out the parchment paper or foil.  Cut into bars.  Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Friday, November 9, 2012

pumpkin snickerdoodles

cracker barrel chicken tenderloin

This chicken was very tender and flavorful and with only a few ingredients.  It did take a little while to cook the chicken long enough to get the sauce to caramelize but it was worth the time.

cracker barrel chicken tenderloin (Hen's Nest
1 pound boneless chicken breast tenders (I filleted and sliced breasts)
1/2 cup Zesty Italian dresing
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey 

Mix dressing, lime juice and honey in a large resealable bag or container.  Add the chicken.  Marinate for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.  In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the entire mixture with chicken to the pan.  Braise chicken on all sides until golden but not dry.  Make sure most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce has a chance to caramelize.  The darker, the more flavorful.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

homemade creamy vanilla ice cream

Is everyone on the edge of their seats tonight?  We made this delicious, creamy ice cream from start to finish in just 30 minutes.  It's super, super delicious and with only 4 ingredients.  We had three options tonight: root beer floats, sundaes or cones.  The root beer floats got the most votes tonight.

homemade vanilla ice cream (adapted from my Cuisinart recipe booklet)
1 cup half and half, chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 to 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, to taste

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the half and half and sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes on low speed.  Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste.  Turn the Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker on, pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25 minutes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

cherry rhubarb freezer jam

I was finishing up at our school's teacher appreciation car wash when my friend Lindsey saw me from the road and pulled over with a loaf of hot homemade bread and jar of cherry rhubarb freezer jam.  That's the kind of thing that happens approximately once in a lifetime but you wish would happen every day!  This jam is absolutely wonderful.  I had never had cherry jam, rhubarb jam or a combination of the two.  It was a real treat.  This jam recipe is a keeper!!

cherry rhubarb freezer jam (my friend Lindsey)
6 cups rhubarb, chopped (Lindsey says you can buy it frozen at Market of Choice)
1 1/2 cups frozen cherries (How easy!  Cherries can be high-maintenance.  Not this time)
2 cups sugar
4.5 ounces cherry gelatin (I never would've guessed!)

Combine and bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes.  Take off heat and add jello.  Cool uncovered.  Ladle into jars.  Place in refrigerator uncovered for 4 hours.  Add lids to the jars then allow to freeze in freezer.

creamy southwestern shrimp

My husband said the next time I make this dish, with a combination of shrimp, scallops and mussels it will be Hall of Fame.  This dish was delicious!!  The original recipe is called Southwestern Shrimp Bisque and I had planned to serve it as such until I realized how thick and rich it was.  I think we'd only have been able to eat about 3 bites as a bisque.  It needed some pasta or rice underneath to balance the richness.

creamy southwestern shrimp (adapted from Taste of Home, April/May 2012)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup half and half
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup sour cream (I didn't think it needed any more richness so omitted it)
chopped fresh cilantro

In a small saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender.  Add the garlic; cook 1 minute longer.  Stir in flour until blended.  Stir in water, cream, bouillon and seasonings; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Cut shrimp into bite-sized pieces if desired; add to soup.  Simmer 5-10 minutes longer or until shrimp turn pink.  Place sour cream in a small bowl if serving as a soup; gradually stir in 1/2 cup of soup.  Return all to the pan, stirring constantly.  Heat through, do not boil.  If desired, top with cilantro and avocado.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

yogurt marinated chicken kebabs

These kebabs reminded me a lot of my chicken tikka masala recipe.  They were delicious!  This is a repeater for sure and I'd love to rate them Hall of Fame.  I think my husband would've agreed but I doubt he could even taste them, he was so out of sorts from working all night.

yogurt marinated chicken kebabs (adapted from
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
1 cup plain Greek style yogurt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces

Place crushed red pepper and paprika and chipotle pepper in a large bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons warm water.  Let stand until a paste forms.  Add yogurt, oil, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper to spice mixture in bowl; whist to blend.  Stir in garlic then chicken.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour.  Keep chilled.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat).  Thread chicken pieces on metal skewers, dividing equally.
Discard marinade in bowl.  Sprinkle each skewer with salt, pepper and additional paprika.  Brush grill rack with oil.  Grill chicken until golden brown and cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes total.  Transfer skewers to platter.


One Sunday afternoon (a very lucky one) my friend Janet brought over a plate of potstickers for us to cook up.  My kids were so excited they had a hard time waiting for our next meal!  Janet went to a lot of work to make these but you could certainly take shortcuts (like I plan to).  Whereas Janet ground the pork herself and made the wrappers herself (I was in awe when I found out) you could buy the pork already ground and the wrappers.  She said there are plenty of You Tube videos that demonstrate how to wrap them.  I'll just ask my daughter how; she learned at Activity Days.  Warning:  they DO stick to the pan!

potstickers (my friend Janet adapted it from epicurious)
1/2 pound fatty ground pork
1/4 pound cabbage, steamed, drained and minced
1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar, not seasoned
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of white pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
3 tablespoons finely chopped flowering chives, flat Chinese chives or scallions
24 to 30 round dumpling wrappers, preferably with egg

Combine all ingredients (except cilantro stems, chives and wrappers) in a large bowl then stir in cilantro stems and chives.  Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice to keep chilled while forming dumplings.  Place a slightly rounded teaspoon of filling in center of a wrapper and moisten area around filling with water.  Fold in half to form a crescent and press to seal.  Moisten one corner and bring corners together, pressing them to form a tortellini-shaped dumpling.  Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
Janet's cooking instructions:  Put some oil in a pan and place the potstickers in a pan.  Fill with water until potstickers and half covered with water.  Cook until water evaporates.  (I flipped mine in the pan which is why they were browned on all sides).


store bought favorite: carrol shelby's chili kit

This has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl.  My grandma used to make Carroll Shelby's chili all the time.  There are stories about she and my grandpa and how they would make this chili while serving missions in Switzerland.  My grandma would make a giant pot of it then she and my grandpa would call their mission friends and tell them to bring a bowl and a spoon and come have a bowl with them.  My grandparents became very popular.  How I loved to go over to their home for Sunday dinner.

carrol shelby's chili kit
I got my kit for about $2.19 and there are suggestions on the back of the box of how you can make your chili.  My grandma always used ground beef, onions, diced tomatoes and kidney beans but I did something a little different this time.

Here's what I did to make a hearty, no-bean chili that was delicious and sooo tender:
2 pounds steak meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, diced
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 red bell pepper, diced 
seasoning packets in the box

Brown the meat and onions in a pan.  Pour into a large crock pot.  Add chiles, pepper, green chiles, tomato sauce, 2 cups water and seasoning packets in the box.  An hour before you're ready to serve, stir in the masa flour.

What I have to say- this recipe is gluten free!

six layer bars

My friend Gillian brought us some six layer bars (she omitted the coconut) and they were delicious!  I am not a sweets person but I make sweets for family and friends but the almonds on top called out to me so I had to sample an almond.  The almond was so good I had to sample a butterscotch chip because butterscotch chips had been on my mind, believe it or not.  From there it only got worse- I had to take a little nibble to get the full effect.  And then another nibble...

six layer bars ( Gillian adapted the recipe from Eagle Brand
cooking spray
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup butterscotch-flavored chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped raw almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; mix well.  Press crumb mixture firmly int bottom of prepared pan.  Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.  Layer evenly with remaining ingredients; press down firmly with fork.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Loosen from sides of pan while still warm; cool on wire rack.  Cut into bars or diamonds.
For perfectly cut cookie bars, line entire pan with foil, extending foil over edge of pan.  Coat lightly with no-stick cooking spray.  After bars have baked and cooled, lift up by edges of foil to remove from pan.  Cut into individual bars.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

spooktacular halloween treat plate

You'll have to agree with me that this is the cutest Halloween treat plate you've ever seen!  My friend Joyce brought it over with a container of fresh apple cider that she and her family pressed themselves.  My kids and I sat and stared at these cookies for quite a while and studied them closely. We even waited for my husband to come home and see them before everyone got to choose one thing to eat.  I almost couldn't let anyone eat the spider because he was soooo cute.  Take a look at the photos below so you can recreate them yourself!  Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

crockpot chicken noodle soup

This soup tasted just right on a cold, drizzly day and I loved how I could throw everything into the crockpot then walk away.  I made a double batch so I could enjoy leftovers the next day.

crockpot chicken noodle soup (adapted from blog: Creatively Domestic
5 cups  chicken broth
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups whole wheat egg noodles
1 large semi-frozen chicken breast and 2 semi-frozens chicken thighs (you could use one or the other)

Put everything except the noodles into the crock pot.  Cook on high for 5 hours.  Remove the chicken and cut it into small pieces then put back into the crock pot.  Add the egg noodles and cook for another hour.

Friday, October 26, 2012

homemade pumpkin ice cream

Last week we went to Yogurt Extreme and they had wonderful flavors like Cinnamon Roll and Pumpkin.  Hence my determination to find a pumpkin ice cream recipe to make at home.  It's delicious!  My kids drizzled a little bit of caramel cinnamon topping on top but it's perfect alone or with a cranberry oatmeal dunker drizzled with white chocolate icing from Trader Joe's.

homemade pumpkin ice cream  (Better Homes and Gardens, November 2012)
3 cups half and half
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin

In a medium saucepan combine the half-and-half and brown sugar.  Cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, about 4 minutes until bubbles form around the edges of the pan.
In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the half-and-half mixture into the egg mixture and continue to whisk until smooth.  Pour the egg mixture into the half-and-half mixture in the pa.  Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture coats the back of a large metal spoon, about 4 minutes.  Do not boil.  Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl.  Stir in vanilla.  Whisk the pumpkin into the mixture until thoroughly combined.  Cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until well chilled at least 3 hours or overnight.
Pour the pumpkin custard into a 1 1/2 or 2-quart ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions.  Pack the ice cream into a freezer-safe container.  Cover and freeze until firm at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving.  Makes 10 (1/2 cup) servings.