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.

rainbow sugar cookie dough

My youngest two are learning their colors at "Spanish" preschool and got to make these awesome sugar cookies today at school.  I knew they'd be making sugar cookies but rainbow?  So fun!  I love having brilliant friends because I end up feeling a little bit brilliant myself, just by association.

rainbow sugar cookie dough (my friend Joyce)
After years of making sugar cookies with 3-year olds she learned to make the dough in advance, color it then give each child a rainbow they can roll out themselves then cut into shapes.  Brilliant?!  She takes her sugar cookie dough and divides it into 6 parts.  She makes one part red, another orange and another yellow.  You get the idea.  Then she puts a piece of wax paper inside a loaf pan then layers the colors, one by one, pressing them firmly into the loaf pan.  She refrigerates the loaf of sugar cookie dough.  When she's ready, she lifts the wax paper out of the loaf pan and slices the loaf.  She lets the cookie dough sit for a bit on the counter so it's easy for the kids to roll into shapes.  The kids had a very fun time.  When the kids scooped up leftover dough and rolled it out again the result was: TIE DYE!  Perfect for Berkeley or for my little Oregon town.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

rich chocolate chip toffee bars

Hershey's doesn't kid around when it comes to recipes.  My husband doesn't kid around when it comes to chocolate.  After his first bite he said, "These are really good."  I said, "How good?"  His response: "Really, really good.  Hall of Fame good."  I knew it!  I knew these would pass.  These would be perfect on a plate piled high with Christmas goodies.  Yes, my mind is already there.

rich chocolate chip toffee bars  (Hershey's)
2 1/3 cups flour
2/3 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 cups dark chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used 1 cup oatmeal)
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/3 cups (8 ounce package) Heath Bits 'O Brickle Toffee Bits, divided

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
Combine flour and brown sugar in a large bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture resenbles coarse crumbs.  Add egg; mix well.  Stir in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and nuts (or oatmeal); set aside 1 1/2 cups mixture.
Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.  Bake 10 minutes.  Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over hot crust; set aside 1/4 cup toffee bits.  Sprinkle remaining toffee bits over sweetened condensed milk.  Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture and remaining 1/2 cup chips over top.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Top with reserved toffee bits.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cut into bars.  About 48 bars.

rustic stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce

I love Italian food and this was no exception.  I gave my good friend a little pan of them to cook at home and she texted me, "Wow! Those cabbage rolls are crazy good!!!"  She's just the kind of gal I like to cook for! : )  These rolls reminded my husband of the little pigeons he was served in Russia.

rustic stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce (adapted from Food Network Magazine, November 2012)
2 slices whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 head Savoy cabbage

4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 (28 ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
kosher salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 

Make the cabbage rolls.  Combine the bread and milk in a small bowl and soak 5 minutes.  Squeeze the excess milk from the bread adn transfer to a large bowl.  Add the pork, beef, parmesan, eggs, parsley, oregano, garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; mix with your hands until combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to one day.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water.  Carefully separate the cabbage leaves (you will need 12 large leaves).  Working in batches, blanch the leaves until pliable, about 45 seconds, then remove with tongs and transfer to the ice water.  Remove from teh ice water, shake dry then layer between paper towels to soak up the excess moisture.
Shape the meat mixture into twelve 4-inch long sausages.  Lay out a cbbage leaf, then put a sausage on top lengthwise.  Fold in the short ends of the leaf then tightly roll up the leaf like a burrito.  Repeat wtih the remaining cabbage leaves and sausages.  Refrigerate until ready to cook.
To make the sauce, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft.  Add the tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups water, the oregano and 3/4 teaspoons salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 30 minutes.  Season with salt.
Arrange the cabbage rolls in a casserole dish then cover with tomato sauce.  Sprinkle with parmesan and parsley.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

What I have to say- next I will make them with 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound Italian seasoned sausage or else increase the spices a bit.  Since I was doubtful my kids would try the cabbage rolls, I cooked some giant meatballs in the casserole covered with the tomato sauce.  Two of my kids had the cabbage rolls and two ate meatballs!

pumpkin chocolate chip bread

Whenever I make this pumpkin chocolate chip bread I always get requests for the recipe.    It's super moist and you just can't go wrong with the combination of chocolate and pumpkin.  This is my mom's pumpkin bread recipe with chocolate chips thrown in.

pumpkin chocolate chip bread (my mom)
makes 2 loaves
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup nuts, optional
4 eggs
3 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 cup or more chocolate chips

Combine flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.  Mix with chopped nuts.  Set aside.  Thoroughly beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, oil and water.  Fold in flour mixture.  Pour into 2 greased 4 1/2 x 8 1/2-inch loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

cilantro-chipotle tilapia

This is a smoky, spicy fish that I thought was delicious, healthy and quick to make.  Epicurious suggests serving this dish with a pineapple salad.  I have to agree that a bite of sweet pineapple would be a great compliment to this fish.

cilantro-chipotle tilapia (
1 1/2 cups chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 (6 ounces each) tilapia loins

Preheat broiler.  Puree cilantro, oil, chiles with some adobo sauce, water, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth, then coat fish with sauce.
Line rack of a broiler pan with foil then broil fish 3 to 4 inches from heat until just cooked through, 6 to 9 minutes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

brazilian shrimp soup

I made this soup for gourmet club today.  I thought it was really, really good.  I loved the combination of the coconut milk, tomatoes and shrimp but the best part about it was how simple it is to make.  You can easily throw it together in 20 minutes.  If you use whole grain rice like I did you can plan on longer but if you use parboiled rice then you'll be done in minutes.

brazilian shrimp soup (blog: The Sisters Cafe)
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup long-grain rice (I used whole grain jasmine from Trader Joe's)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes (one 15-ounce can)
5 cups water
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined (I bought mine frozen from Costco)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables start to soften.
Add the rice, red pepper flakes, salt, tomatoes and water to the pot.  Bring to a boil and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir the coconut milk into the soup.  Bring back to a simmer then stir in the shrimp (I put mine in frozen).  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just done, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the black pepper and lemon juice.

cajun chicken caesar club sandwich

These sandwiches were super yummy!  My skeptical 4-year old who takes everything apart even kept her sandwich in tact (actually it started out as my sandwich) so I had to make myself another.  Tasty, tasty.

cajun chicken caesar club sandwich (adapted from blog: Cassie Craves)
6 or more strips of bacon, cooked and halved
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, fileted and pounded thin
cajun or creole seasoning
6 slices Swiss cheese
12 slices tomato
12 slices lettuce
6 sandwich buns, split and toasted
caesar dressing

Add the bacon to a large skillet and cook over medium heat to desired crispness.  Remove to paper towels to drain.
Season chicken with cajun seasoning.  In the same skillet you used for the bacon, cook the chicken until browned and cooked through.
To serve, place a leaf of lettuce on the bottom half of a toasted bun and top with a slice of Swiss cheese, a chicken filet, tomato slices then another leaf of lettuce.  Drizzle with caesar dressing.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

mama leone's soup

Heavenly.  Positively heavenly.  My new favorite soup and I am serious.  My friend Kris brought me some Mama Leone's soup from Market of Choice a couple of weeks ago and I was sure it could ever be replicated.  Although I have forgotten exactly what it tasted like this soup is so good it really doesn't matter.  It's lick-the-bowl good.  My entire family enjoyed it so we will be enjoying it frequently.  YUMMMMMMmmmmm!  Hall of Fame.

mama leone's soup (this blog
1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts 
2 teaspoons kosher salt plus extra for chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon black pepper plus extra for chicken breasts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
8 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5) ounce can diced tomatoes in juice  (I used crushed tomatoes)
3/4 cup whipping cream (I used half and half)
2 cups thinly sliced fresh spinach

Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken breast and lightly saute in the oil.  When cool enough to handle, dice the meat and set aside until needed.
Melt the butter in a large stockpot.  Add onions and celery and saute until translucent, about 6 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic, tarragon, oregano, paprika and 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Cook, stirring for 3 or 4 minutes.  Add the flour and stir until well combined.  Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add tomatoes and cream.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the reserved chicken breast and simmer 10 minutes more.  Just before serving stir in the spinach.

What I have to say- the recipe I found had a typo so I ended up putting 2 tablespoons of salt into the soup.  It was a little salty so I adjusted by adding a couple cups of water.  No big deal- it worked out.  So who knows- maybe you'll need a little more salt but definitely not 2 tablespoons.

pumpkin spiced granola

This is another pumpkin recipe I saw and had to make right away.  I had all the ingredients on hand except for the pumpkin seeds but I wasn't about to put off making this for one missing ingredient.  Granola is usually overly sweet in my opinion but this is a mildly sweet granola with a hint of pumpkin.  The aroma while baking is splendid.  My kids each had a bowlful with milk this morning for breakfast and I've seen them take handfuls to snack on.  It would be great as a dessert served with vanilla ice cream and homemade caramel sauce!

pumpkin spiced granola (blog: Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 1/2 cups Rice Krispy cereal
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat liner.  In a large bowl mix together oats and Rice Krispies.  In a separate bowl combine cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  Pour mixture over the oats and stir until everything is evenly coated.  Spread onto baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes, stir the granola and bake for an additional 30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Once cool mix in dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips.  Store in an air tight container.

Monday, October 8, 2012

fresh corn and chicken chowder

Comforting and soothing.  Terrific comfort food or just a great soup for autumn weather.  Super easy to make and although I wouldn't ordinarily serve instant mashed potatoes with a plate of chicken and corn, it works in this soup.

fresh corn and chicken chowder (cookbook: Better Homes & Gardens All-Time Favorites 2012)
12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 (32 ounce) container chicken broth
1/2 cup green sweet pepper, chopped (I used a red pepper)
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups instant mashed potato flakes
salt and black pepper to taste
crushed red pepper, optional

In a Dutch oven combine chicken, corn and broth.  Cover; bring to boiling over high heat.  Reduce heat then simmer 12 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.  Remove chicken and corn to cutting board.
Add half the sweet pepper to broth in Dutch oven.  Stir in milk and potato flakes.  Shred chicken using two forks.  Return chicken to Dutch oven.  Using a kitchen towel to hold hot corn, cut kernels from cobs.  Place corn in Dutch oven; heat through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle each serving with remaining sweet pepper and if desired, crushed pepper.  Makes 4 servings.

What I have to say- I simplified by using cooked chicken I cooked in the crock pot.  I think it tastes more flavorful that way.  I also cut the corn off the cobs before I put the corn into the soup so I wouldn't have to deal with cutting hot corn.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

pumpkin pancakes

These pancakes were a big hit this morning.  They are quite tasty and perfect for a cool, crisp autumn morning.  A couple of my kids pulled the leftovers out for lunch.  They were lovely with maple syrup but would be fantastic with a buttercream syrup as well.

pumpkin pancakes (
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups flour 
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.  Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl.  Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.  Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approx. 1/4 cup for each pancake.  Brown on both sides and serve hot with maple syrup.

macaroni and cheese soup

When my oldest opened up The Friend magazine she wanted to make this recipe so we saved it for General Conference weekend.  We altered the recipe a tad to make it a little bit healthier and to my surprise (and my husband's surprise) it was good!  My kids really enjoyed it so it's a keeper.  Not a recipe I imagined including on our favorite recipe blog but here we go!

macaroni and cheese soup (adapted from The Friend magazine, Oct 2012)
1/2 pound bowtie pasta
9 cups water, divided
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped, cooked ham
1 (11 ounce can) Healthy Request cheddar cheese soup
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
2 1/2 cups milk

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and cook the pasta for 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  
Bring the remaining water, chicken bouillon granules and broccoli to a boil.  Cook for 2 minutes.
Add the soup, milk, ham and onion.  Heat well.  Stir in the drained pasta and serve.


camie's chioppino

Chioppino is one of my favorites.  I decided to make my very own recipe and my husband gave it a Hall of Fame approval!  I have to admit it was mighty good especially served with Ruth's favorite breadsticks which you can find on this blog.

camie's chioppino (yours truly)
1 (24 ounce) can Hunt's garlic and herb pasta sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
3 cups water
1 tablespoon beef bouillion granules
1/2 pound tiny shrimp
a couple handfuls of sea scallops
1 pound mussels
1/2 pound raw fish (I used tilapia loins but cod or halibut would be good too)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
several shakes of Tabasco sauce
several shakes of black pepper

Heat a medium sized pot over the stove and add the pasta sauce, stewed tomatoes, water and beef granules.  Heat to a boil.  Turn down to medium heat and add the rest of the ingredients.  Cook until fish is opaque.  Serve with breadsticks.

Monday, October 1, 2012

spicy red fish stew

Terrific soup!  In fact, my husband declared it Hall of Fame.  It reminded him of a chioppino stew we once had a couple of years ago that we will never forget.  We will be having leftovers tonight and I am happy about it.

spicy red fish stew (adapted from
3 red bell peppers
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, minced
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can pureed tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds halibut or cod fillets, cut into 1" pieces

Char bell peppers over flame until blackened on all sides.  Enclose peppers in a paper bag for 10 minutes.  Peel, seed and chop peppers.
Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and suate until very soft.  Stir in peppers, tomatoes with juice, garlic, crushed red pepper, cumin, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors.  Stir in cilantro.  Add fish; simmer until just opaque in center.  Season stew to taste.