Dec 31, 2011

Spinach and Tomato Tortellini and Cheddar Puffs



Ugh. Another one of the no-daylight-savings-I-wish-I-had-a-DSLR-camera series. But this is actually a pretty fancy looking meal. I like to serve it with a Waldorf salad. I've made it a few times for new moms home from the hospital and every time the recipe has been requested. The cheddar puffs are very similar to a cream puff, but with cheese and without the cream (duh!). Light and fluffy, but a savory flavor. 

Spinach and Tomato Tortellini

INGREDIENTS
1 (19 ounce) package frozen cheese tortellini
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup shredded (not grated!) Parmesan cheese


DIRECTIONS:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil (you'll add the tortellini to the water later). 
Combine the tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, basil and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the mixture begins to bubble.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, milk and cream. Stir this mixture into the saucepan along with the Parmesan cheese. Heat through, then reduce heat to low, and simmer until thick, about 2 minutes.
Add tortellini to the boiling water and cook 3-4 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse.
Pour the tortellini into the saucepan with the sauce. Stir to coat, and serve.


Cheddar Puffs

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper


DIRECTIONS:
In a saucepan, bring milk and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the cheese, onion, garlic powder and pepper; beat until mixture is smooth and shiny. Use a medium cookie scoop to drop dough 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets (or spoon out ~2 tablespoons). Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

Dec 30, 2011

Snickers Caramel Corn


I had a thought this morning that I feel is important to share with all of you. It's part confession/part illustration of how amazing this popcorn is. I was listening to the amazing Jason Mraz and I thought, "I need him to move in to my house. I need a permanent serenade-r. How could I get him to do this? The POPCORN!!! If I just pay him in this popcorn, he'll be sure to stay. Right? Then I could pretend I live in a movie where the perfect theme music comes on in all of the important moments of my life." True story. Morale of the story? This popcorn is amazing enough to convince Jason Mraz to move in with my family of 6. He totally would, ya know. Wouldn't you want to dive in to this and stuff your face, too?



 And it's whole grain (as all popcorn is) so it's totally healthy too. Right? The whole grain-ness cancels out all of the other stuff. Especially the butter. Oh and the sugar. And of course the chocolate, too. See? Guilt free never looked so good.

If I still haven't convinced you by my mindless blabbering (or if you just got distracted by the words chocolate, butter, and Jason Mraz) then just look at the pictures. And wipe the drool off your chin.



Snickers Caramel Corn
(adapted from How Sweet Eats)

1/2 cup unsalted butter*
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 cups air-popped popcorn (about 6 tablespoons before popping)
25 fun size Snickers

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Slice candy bars into sixths (in half, then into thirds).

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add in sugar and corn syrup, whisking until dissolved, then let simmer (without mixing) until mixture begins to bubble – about 4 minutes. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes more until caramel is amber in color, this time stirring every 30 seconds or so in order for the sugar to not burn.

Turn off heat and whisk in vanilla, salt and baking soda. Gently fold in popcorn, turning it over and over again until it’s coated. Fold in about 1 1/2 cups of the candy bars, then spread popcorn on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping every few minutes to ensure that all the popcorn is coated. Remove from oven and top with remaining candy bars. Let cool completely, then break into bite-sized pieces. Or just eat while it's all ooey gooey. With a big glass of milk.

* If you don't have unsalted butter, just don't add the salt later in the recipe. Trust me on this...

*Featured on this sweets for saturday post. Thanks Lisa!

Dec 29, 2011

Cake Mix Oreos

 This is one of the easiest recipes you'll ever make! I am super anti-cake-mix as a rule, but this is one exception. Cake mixes are chock full or gross chemicals and things I can't pronounce... but so are Oreos, right? And even though I don't use cake mixes for baking cakes I'll never turn down an Oreo! These only use 3 ingredients for the cookie part and 4 for the filling. Super simple, super yum.

Homemade Oreos:
INGREDIENTS:
1 box Devil's Food cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all 3  ingredients until a dough forms. Roll dough into balls approximately 1 tablespoon each. I just use my medium cookie scoop and then slice each scoop in half. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 8 minutes, or until edges are firm. Don't over cook! Allow to cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes, then remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire wrack until room temperature. Match similar sized cookies into pairs. Make filling:

Filling:
INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
Mix butter and shortening in stand mixer. On low speed, slowly add powdered sugar until combined. Add vanilla. Beat on low speed 1 minute, then high speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Using a pastry bag with 1/2 inch round tip, or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off, pipe about a teaspoon of filling on half of cookies. Place similar sized cookie on top. Smoosh while lightly twisting (kind of the opposite of opening an Oreo!) to make filling spread to the edges of the sandwiches. Dip in milk and devour!

*I love refrigerating these for about 2 hours before serving. The cookies absorb some of the moisture from the filling and they become softer and yummier.



Dec 28, 2011

Southwest Corn Chowder + Lion House Angel Biscuits


My sister-in-law made this yummy soup for Christmas Eve a few years ago and I've been loving it ever since. She got the recipe from her sister-in-law in more of a "little of this, little of that" kind of format. I've cleaned it up a bit and added these fantastic Lion House Angel Biscuits. This is a large recipe so either serve it to a large crowd, or plan to have awesome leftovers. It freezes well, too! The soup is super creamy with sweet corn and a lot of flavor. The biscuits are light and buttery and amazing. This is the perfect way to heat up these cold, winter nights.

Southwest Corn Chowder

INGREDIENTS:
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 rotisserie chicken
2 (26 oz) family size cans cream of mushroom soup 
32 oz frozen corn
1 (7 oz) can green chilies [or two (4 oz) cans]
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
3 cups milk
3 cups water
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
16 oz monterey jack cheese
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:
Sauté onions in olive oil on medium heat until translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes more. 
Remove meat from rotisserie chicken and add to pot, along with soup, corn, chilis, tomatoes, milk, and water. Cook on medium heat until heated through and slightly bubbly. Remove from heat and add cilantro, cheese, chili powder, and red pepper flakes. Stir until smooth. Serve hot.


Lion House Angel Biscuits
(my notes are in italics)

INGREDIENTS:
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted (I use a whole dang stick... don't hold back!)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a cookie sheet. 
Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. Measure all the dry ingredients and stir together. Cut in the shortening with a pasty cutter or two knives. Add yeast to the buttermilk, then add this to the first mixture. Mix well with a fork, wooden spoon, or your hands. Turn out on floured counter and pat to desired thickness. (I make them about 3/4" thick.) Cut biscuits with a round biscuit cutter or glass cup. Dip biscuits in melted butter and place on greased pan. (Don't bother greasing... you've got plenty of butter going on.) Bake 12 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Note: You may bake these at once or leave on the counter for a while (30-40 minutes) before baking. They can also be frozen, unbaked, if covered first with plastic wrap and then foil. To use, remove from freezer and allow to thaw completely. Remove wraps and bake as instructed above. 

Dec 26, 2011

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

These little Christmas cuties were so fun to make! Once I saw the gingerbread men sprinkles, I knew what I'd be using them for. And I found a super fun Etsy store where I ordered the sprinkles and mini cupcake paper liners. I am a little sad that the liners got so dark when I baked them, but they were still really cute and even more delicious! I doubled the recipe, which made about 50 mini cupcakes. We brought them to my son's preschool Christmas party and left with two!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

INGREDIENTS:

5 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup hot milk
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract


Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners sprayed lightly with cooking spray (keeps the cupcakes from sticking to the paper).
Cream 5 tablespoons of the butter with the white sugar. Add the molasses, egg, and egg yolk.
Dissolve the baking soda in the hot milk. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the hot milk mixture a little at a time. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared liners.
Bake for 20 minutes (12 minutes for mini muffins) or until slightly springy to the touch. Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan and remove to a rack to cool.

To Make Frosting: Cream the cream cheese and butter together. Beat in the powdered sugar until fluffy. Add the lemon extract and beat. When the cupcakes are cool, frost the tops with the frosting and serve.




Dec 15, 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole

I realize that you probably think this is the most unappetizing picture I could post of this recipe... it's not. Trust me, I took plenty more that looked even worse. Part of the reasoning behind the yucky looking pics is that we have no more natural evening light. The sun sets way too early in the Pacific Northwest wintertime. But the larger reason is that it's just not an attractive dish! But please believe me when I say that it is the best sweet potato dish you'll ever have! We have swapped this out for my Grandmom's canned yams and marshmallow dish that she served at every holiday. I just gagged thinking about it. And now we serve it with our Thanksgiving Turkey, Easter Ham, and sometimes just for dinner!

INGREDIENTS:

5 sweet potatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter - softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup butter - softened
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans


Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Puncture sweet potatoes with a fork, place on a sheet of foil, and bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until they begin to soften. Cool slightly, peel, and mash.(You can even do this part the day before.)
In a large bowl, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, salt, 1/4 cup butter, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sugar, and heavy cream. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup butter, flour, brown sugar, and chopped pecans. Mix with a pastry blender or your fingers to the consistency of course meal. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture.
Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until topping is crisp and lightly browned.


Nov 24, 2011

Pumpkin Roll

Gobble Gobble! Happy Turkey Day!



Someday I'll have to do a post on how I store my recipes in my recipe binder. Just to illustrate how obsessed I am with recipes and food (and how OCD I am with everything), I'll tell you that I actually spent a lot of time researching the best way to store recipes. Most of my recipes are handwritten on cards.

When my Grandmom died, my mom asked if there was anything in particular I wanted from her belongings. Her recipes were first on my list. Then, when my mom passed, I also inherited her recipe box. I love having the handwritten recipes in their handwriting. Because of this, I write all of mine down in my ugly chicken scratch handwriting, in the hopes that someday my kids will be grateful. Ha. Regardless, I do have one recipe in my binder that is not in my handwriting, nor any other family members'.

7 years ago, we attended an event where a sweet newlywed brought these delicious pumpkin rolls. I asked for the recipe and she brought it over, handwritten on an index card. 2 weeks later her new husband died in a small plane crash and she moved away from our area. Unfortunately this was pre-facebook, so I couldn't virtually stalk her once she moved. It was such a powerful reminder to live life to the fullest and because of that, I've kept her recipe in her handwriting in my binder. And every fall when I take it out to make this treat, it makes me so grateful.
I've copied it word for word with my notes below:


Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs (beat for five minutes)
Add:
1 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of pumpkin
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup of flour
1 tsp soda
2 tsp pumpkin spice

Line pan with foil and grease well. Spread batter on pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and roll with foil. Make sure when rolling foil to rub butter on the foil as you roll. Let it cool for 15-20 minutes only. Unroll, cool, and spread with filling.

Filling:
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp butter
Whip and spread on cake.
Roll, wrap, and freeze.

My notes:
I love to double or triple this recipe and leave the extra in the freezer. It's a great way to have a fancy treat on hand for all of your holiday gatherings. When you are needing to serve it, just set it out on the counter for about ten minutes until it has defrosted enough to slice. Set on a plate and let defrost another 20 minutes. Serve and get ready to soak up the compliments!

Nov 23, 2011

Crock Pot Apples

recipe adapted from Skinny Chef


Can we just take a moment to mourn the loss of the evening sun? Since Daylight Savings Time ended, my kitchen is so dark by the time we eat dinner that there is no natural light for picture taking. So now you have ugly yellow pictures from now until spring. Let us mourn.........


 Durn Mother Nature. Okay thanks. We can move on. 

This apple dessert is so great. It's basically apple pie without the guilt! Also, it's a crock pot recipe, so you can get it all prepared and cooking before dinner, and then have it piping hot and ready when it's time for dessert!

Or, if you like to live life on the edge, you could even serve it next to a nice grilled pork chop. But only if you're feeling brave.

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 Gala or Macintosh apples, cored
1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, walnuts, butter, and cinnamon. Stuff the apples with the filling and place them in the crock-pot, being careful not to let the filling spill out of the bottom hole. Pour in the apple juice or cider. Cover and cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours on high heat until the apples are soft and begin to collapse.

Nov 22, 2011

Gingerbread Waffles

With Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter... Mmmmm
Because I'm the kind of person that gets an idea in my head and can't function until I act on said idea... We had gingerbread waffles for dinner the other night. If you haven't noticed by now (you're either new here, or a bit slow on the uptake...), I like breakfast foods. A lot. Especially sweet ones. By the time I die, I should have approximately 209,879,213 pancake recipes on this site.

So I had some pumpkin butter. And it was almost dinnertime. And I was hungry. And a bit lazy. And cold. So I decided to make gingerbread pancakes. But, none of the recipes I found sounded right. So I made up my own. And they were marvelous. And a tiny bit healthy. And maybe I should say and one more time to really make this paragraph ungrammatically correct. And.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 c butter, softened
1/4 c molasses
2 eggs - separated
1 c Kamut flour
1 c whole wheat flour (You can use 2 cups regular wheat flour if you don't have any Kamut)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1 1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c raisins
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

In an large bowl and with an electric mixer (or in a stand mixer) combine butter, molasses, and egg yolks. In separate bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. With mixer turned on low speed, add 1/3 flour mixture to egg and butter mixture, then 1/2 of buttermilk, another 1/3 of flour, remaining 1/2 of buttermilk, and then remaining 1/3 of flour - mixing in between each addition. Add raisins. In another bowl, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until whites form stiff peaks. Softly fold egg whites into waffle batter.

Cook waffles on medium heat until brown. Serve hot!

Nov 21, 2011

Winter Squash Rolls


Just in time for Turkey Day! These rolls are so pillow-y soft, you'll want to roll around in them with a nice blanket o' butta! We had a ton of squash, so my husband made a triple batch and froze two batches right after he'd formed them into rolls. Then we were able to bring them out a couple of hours before we wanted to serve them, let them defrost in a buttered pan, rise, and bake!

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups cooked, mashed winter squash (can boil in water, bake in oven, nuke in microwave)
1 cup warm milk
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup shortening


DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, combine 5 cups flour, sugar and salt. Stir in the yeast mixture, shortening, squash and milk. Mix well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Divide the dough into twelve equal pieces and form into rounds. Place the rounds in a buttered 13x9 inch baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Soft Sugar Cookies + Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


This is a very basic sugar cookie recipe that makes stellar holiday decorating cookies. We make them for just about every holiday - Easter, Halloween, Christmas...  I prefer to make them the day before I need to serve them, because then the frosting has a chance to harden slightly, which makes it easier to transport to my kid's school classes. It also allows the cookie to absorb some of the moisture from the frosting, making a softer cookie. The kids love to decorate these and we give them their own bowl of frosting and their own knife - which makes them feel all grown up and important.

Cookies:

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs - slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (+/-)

DIRECTIONS:
Combine shortening and sugar in mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, soda, and salt. Slowly add dry mixture to wet and blend until it resembles dry pie crust mixture. Work in buttermilk - adding more for moist drop cookies and less for easier working dough if planning on rolling out and using cookie cutters.

For drop cookies, use a medium cookie scoop and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 7-8 minutes, or until edges are just a very light brown. Remove and cool 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

For cookie cutter dough, roll dough out onto a floured surface until 3/8" thickness. Cut with cookie cutters, drinking glasses, or a knife and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet 7-8 minutes, or until edges are just a very light brown. Remove and cool 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting - Straight out of my trusty Better Crocker cookbook!

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

DIRECTIONS:
1. In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk.
2. Gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar. Frosts 13x9-inch cake generously, or fills and frosts an 8- or 9-inch two-layer cake.



Nov 8, 2011

Black Bean Enchiladas


This is a super easy enchilada recipe that my whole family loves - even the picky ones. It has lots of healthy ingredients and it freezes beautifully! It's also really versatile and can be switched up with ingredients you have on hand. I like to throw a pound of cooked ground turkey into the bean mixture and then I can stretch the recipe to two 9x13 pans and freeze one.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4oz) can green chiles
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup mild salsa (depending on your crowd you could go medium, or hot)
1 (28 oz) can Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
1 cup sour cream
8 oz Monterrey Jack cheese
tomatoes/olives for garnish
10-12 whole wheat tortillas (get the kind that feel pillow-y when you press the package - the harder ones break when you roll them.

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, saute onion in olive oil until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic and green chiles; cook 2 minutes more. Stir in black beans and salsa, then remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, combine green chile sauce and sour cream until smooth. Grate cheese.

Spread 1/2 cup sauce mixture into bottom of greased 9x13 pan. Add about 1/2 to 2/3 cup beans mixture to each tortilla. Add a tablespoon of cheese, roll and place seam side down into pan. Continue until pan is full or bean mixture is gone. Pour rest of sauce mix on top of tortillas, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and edges are bubbly. Garnish with tomatoes or sliced olives. Serve hot.

Nov 7, 2011

Crispy, Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


I was sooooo excited to try these cookies! My favorite food blogger - Jessica from How Sweet It Is - posted this fabulousness last month and I have been itching to try it ever since. 

Wait. Stop. I need to take a moment to profess my love for Jessica. She's amazing. Everything she makes sounds like something I would make - only ten times better. Oh, but not the Brussels Sprouts. I haven't mustered up the courage for those just yet. Eeek. Anyway...  She is just as obsessed (if not more so) with food as I am. She dreams and daydreams about it. Good food is just as much a part of her family as a child or a crazy uncle. And she loves to exercise. I'm telling you, it's a match made in bacon heaven!

OK we can resume... Jessica went on a quest to make the perfect chewy, crispy, non-cakey pumpkin cookie. After 14 failed attempts, she found success! How could you not love this girl - she does all of my hard work for me! Her secret to this baked bliss was Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter. We don't have a Trader Joe's on the island (WAAAAAAAAH!), but I knew I'd be in San Diego visiting my sister soon enough, and could pick some up then. I now realize that two jars is most definitely NOT enough. Maybe I can convince them to build one here? I'm sure I would shop there often enough to keep them in business! Maybe I could make my own pumpkin butter... That might be easier. Nope. I should just find someone who wants to send me yearly shipments of pumpkin butter every Fall. That sounds good. 

I usually like to change recipes up a bit and make them my own, but because Jessica's wrist fell off - three times - while perfecting this, I figured I couldn't make it any better! The only tip I have is that you should take them out of the oven when they look just underdone. Let them sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire cooling rack. They'll cook just a bit longer on the cookie sheet, but still have that crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-in-the-middle texture. If you cook them until they look done, they end up delicious, but more crispy than not. 

So, thank you, Jessica. To everyone else... MAKE THESE!

Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies made with Pumpkin Butter

makes about 24-30 cookies

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix the flour, salt, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the melted butter and sugars until they are combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Stir in pumpkin butter until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until a dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. I even used my hands to help at one point. Fold chocolate chips and chunks.

Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes, then roll into golfball-sized balls. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are crisp and slightly golden on the edges, then let cool completely.


P.S. This picture is from my first batch out of the oven and I cooked them a little longer than I should have! But by the time I finished the others, the daylight was gone.

Nov 6, 2011

Spinach Linguine with Garlic Chips


As soon as I saw this recipe on Pioneer Woman, I knew I had to try it over pasta. My husband loves garlic and if he happens to walk in the kitchen when I'm slicing it, he always asks if he can eat one. A whole clove. In his mouth. Raw. Gag. I swear he burned his taste buds off when he went to Thailand. I thought maybe this recipe could make us both happy. It has garlic - which he loves, pasta - which I love, spinach so we don't feel as guilty when we go back for seconds, and it's all cooked so the hubby's breath won't be so potent (in the middle of the night when he rolls over and breaths into my face and I almost die - true story). 

I ended up making it when I was at my sister's house because we had some almost ready-to-throw-out spinach and lots of garlic... so the hubs hasn't tried it yet. But when I told him about it over the phone I heard his drool splashing on the ground. It really was delicious! I did notice that a few of the garlic chips were cooked more than others and they had a more bitter taste to them. So there's a fine line between cooking them long enough to get the spicy bite out and be crispy, but not so long that they become bitter. You'll just have to experiment a bit! 

INGREDIENTS

1 (12 oz) package Linguine
5 cloves Garlic, Peeled And Sliced Very Thin
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
~12 oz Baby Spinach
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

DIRECTIONS:
Cook linguine according to package directions (I usually add a tablespoon of olive oil and about a teaspoon of salt). Drain and set aside.

Pour olive oil into an unheated stock pot and add garlic slices. Turn on stove to medium -low heat and allow garlic and oil to heat together. Watch the garlic carefully and stir to turn as it begins to bubble. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon as soon as it turns golden brown; do not allow to burn. Drain on a paper towel or paper bag.

Keeping heat on medium-low, add spinach to the skillet, turning gently with a spoon. Spinach will immediately begin wilting. Cook and stir only for one minute, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove spinach to a plate. Add cooked pasta, spinach, garlic chips, and balsamic to pot (resisting the urge to drink the whole bottle of Balsamic...). Stir and serve quickly. So yummy!




Nov 3, 2011

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies



I don't remember how I came across this recipe, just that when it happened, I immediately went to the store to buy apple cider and caramels. I told my 4 year old son that I'd make them with him the following day. But on the following day at around 5:04 am (maybe 5:03, I'm not positive) I got a text from my very pregnant sister saying "call me." Thirty minutes later I was on my way to the airport, nauseous with nervousness, hoping not to miss the birth of my only sister's first baby. Thirty three hours and a lot of stress later, my sweet baby niece entered the world. And I didn't miss it.

But don't worry, I packed the caramels and apple cider. If only I could have packed my 4 year old. These were a yummy fall treat when they were fresh, but not as stellar the next day. The reason being that there is a big fat wad of caramel in the middle, and it's super hard to chew when the cookie isn't warm and fresh. The original recipe suggests setting the cookie on top of a steaming cup of tea for a few minutes, and then it's just warm enough. However you serve them, be sure to have a large crowd, as this recipe makes about 50 cookies... assuming you don't eat half of the bag of caramels first. Maybe you should buy two bags...

I altered it a bit, as the outer cookie was a bit boring, but the original recipe was still yummy.

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 box (7.4 oz) Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink mix -not sugar free- all 10 packets
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups all purpose flour
1 bag Kraft Caramels (14 oz)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment. (You really need the parchment!)

In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.

With your mixer (or an energetic spoon) cream together butter, sugar, salt and 9 packages of apple cider drink mix powder (save one for later), until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well.

Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.

Refrigerate for about an hour. When you are ready to bake, unwrap your caramels. Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut. Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely.

Place on parchment covered cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Please don't over-bake! Once the cookies are done, slide the parchment off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter. Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down (either on the parchment or on a rack.) If you forget about them and they cool too much and stick to your parchment, put them into the freezer for a few minutes and they'll pop right off.

While cookies are cooling, mix 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar with remaining one packet of apple cider mix. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water just until mixture is glazing consistency - think slightly thinner than honey. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze across the tops of cookies.

Yield: about 4 dozen, depending on how large you make your cookies (or how many caramels have been snitched out of your bag before you begin.) Store in an airtight container.


Nov 2, 2011

Salmon Kebobs with Quinoa and Grapefruit Salad



I am so excited to share this recipe with you for 3 reasons:

1. My husband caught this fabulous fish all by himself and as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to use it on his fresh wild salmon!

2. I'm also so excited to share our super cool griddle. It was one of those non-surprise Christmas presents for my husband last year. He wanted a griddle with a larger top so he could make massive amounts of pancakes in record time. Leave it to my husband to turn pancake cooking into a sport, right? So we headed on down to Bed Bath and Beyond and had to buy the most over the top and super manly griddle. This thing not only makes pancakes, but there are rollers on the bottom that cook hot dogs just like 7-eleven, or those rollers slide off to reveal... wait for it... skewers to cook these awesome salmon kabobs!!! You could even cook pancakes, fry a couple of eggs, and roll-cook some stellar sausage!

I appologize for the super bad pic... click this link to see the real thing!

3. It's seriously dee-scrumptious!

I found this over on the Food Network. I doubled the quinoa because my family loves quinoa and I'm so glad I did. It made great leftovers! I also (obviously) didn't grill this, I used my super fancy griddle, so I can't speak for how this works on the BBQ. I hope you love it too!

Ingredients
Salad:
1 medium grapefruit
8 thin slices fresh ginger
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 small serrano or jalapeno chile, minced (with seeds for maximum heat)
2 scallions (both white and green parts), minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Freshly ground black pepper



Fish:
1 1/2 pound skinless, center-cut salmon, cut into 2-inch cubes
Wooden skewers, soaked


Directions

Strip the peel from the grapefruit with a vegetable peeler, taking care not to include the bitter white pith. Warm the grapefruit peel, ginger, and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the oil starts to bubble, after about 2 minutes, remove from heat. Set the oil aside to steep for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve the oil.

Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa in a bowl and drain. Put the quinoa in a small saucepan with the water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Set aside off the heat, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and fluff with a fork. Cool.

Segment the grapefruit over a bowl, reserving the segments and juice separately. Whisk 3 tablespoons of the grapefruit juice with the vinegar, honey, and salt to taste in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 3 tablespoons of the reserved grapefruit oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a stream to make a slightly thick dressing. Season with pepper to taste.

Toss quinoa with the dressing, chiles, scallions, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Preheat a stovetop or outdoor grill to high heat. Thread the salmon cubes onto the skewers. Brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon grapefruit oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill the skewers, turning as each side browns but the salmon is still moist, about 3 minutes.

Toss the grapefruit segment into the salad, divide among 4 plates, and top with the salmon kebobs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nov 1, 2011

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts with Cinnamon Maple Glaze



As soon as I saw this recipe over at Taste and Tell, I knew it would be our Halloween "treat" for our friends that came trick or treating to our home. When we lived in Arizona, it was always warm enough on Halloween that we could have a potluck in our driveway with hot cider and doughnuts. Now that we are in Washington, all hope of Fall driveway parties has been squashed. 

Also, in the past my husband has been the doughnut maker. He usually fries them in our Fry Daddy. To be honest, that thing scares the crap outta me. Once when I was pregnant I splashed beef grease onto my huge belly and burned it. I called my husband AND my mom, sobbing hysterically about what a horrible mother I was going to be - since I can't even protect my unborn child from the dangers of beef grease. I have been terrified of cooking grease ever since. Soooo.... my husband suspiciously contracted Mono while I was out of town for two weeks (anyone else find that odd??), which left the doughnut-ing to me. Steering away from the Fry Daddy, this recipe seemed like the perfect replacement. 

We only had a few families to share these with, but our neighbors were happy to have us show up at their door and reverse trick or treat with them. :)

The only possible downside to this recipe is that it requires the use of a doughnut pan, which I just happen to own. I suppose you could pipe these into circles on a baking sheet, but then they wouldn't be as pretty! Amazon sells plenty if you have the storage space for them!

No changes to this one, it's just perfect as is!

INGREDIENTS:
Doughnuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Maple-Cinnamon Glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a doughnut pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.
In another bowl, cream together the brown sugar, butter and pumpkin. Add in the eggs, mix well, then mix in the milk and vanilla. Stir in the reserved dry ingredients.
Place the mix in a large zip-top bag. 
Hint: Place the bag in a tall tub to make for easier pouring!
Cut off the corner and pipe into the doughnut pan.


Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven, let rest for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.


Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, maple extract, cinnamon and milk.
When the doughnuts are cool, dip them in the glaze. Return to the wire rack to allow the glaze to set.

Seriously so fantastic!

Artichoke Dip + French Baguettes



Here's another one of my sweet Auntie Peg's recipes. I've changed the cheese from Cheddar to Mozzarella, but the rest is pretty much the same. This is one of those recipes that's really easy to alter with what you have on hand. The cheeses are substitutable (my spell checker doesn't like that word but it looks great to me!), and you can add lots of yummy veggies: roasted red bell peppers, spinach, jalepenos, etc. The baguettes are the perfect size for serving with the dip at parties.

Quick story...
We went camping seven years ago (I just realized... literally 7 years ago to the day! It was on Halloween weekend!) with the same family/friends group that we still camp with every summer. We like to pot luck the dinners, so on Italian night I was in charge of the appetizers and brought this dish. One of the men, Brad, loved it so much that he scooped it into a bowl and ate it with a spoon for his dinner. Now I make sure to pack the fixins' every year!

Artichoke Dip

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup mayonnaise 
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 (6.5 oz) jars marinated artichoke hearts, thoroughly drained and chopped*
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. In a large bowl combine mayonnaise, Parmesan, artichoke hearts, Mozzarrella, and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly.

3. Transfer to an 8x8 baking dish and bake 20-25 minutes - until cheese has melted and top is slightly brown. Do not overcook or it will begin to separate and look really greasy. Sprinkle with paprika and serve warm.

* You can use 1 can of artichoke hearts that haven't been marinated and they work just fine. They don't add any oil to the dish, so it ends up less greasy.  



French Baguettes

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 egg white
1 tsp milk

DIRECTIONS:
Place water, flour, sugar, salt and yeast into bread machine. Select dough cycle and press start.
When the cycle has completed, roll dough out onto a lightly floured surface into a 16x12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8x12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at the 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make one long, lengthwise slash on the top of each loaf. Cover and let rise in a warm place 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size. 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix egg white with milk and carefully brush on the top of each loaf. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. 



Oct 2, 2011

Homemade Butterfingers


At long last... I bring you the Butterfinger candy bars made from (drum roll please) Candy Corn!!! This recipe only uses three ingredients. I promise. It is one of the simplest things I've ever made. There are only two downsides to it: 1. It's kind of hard to mix. I used one extra strong and fabulous husband, but I'm sure a standard Kitchenaid mixer would do in a pinch. 2. Your scale will not be nice to you the next morning. Other than that - no problem!

The instructions for the original recipe I found said to spread the filling "in an 8x8 pan lined with parchment. Cool completely. Cut into squares. Dip in melted chocolate candy coating. Lay on waxed paper to set." But after my Twix Bar Fiasco, I decided to try a different route. I lined some candy molds with the melted chocolate, let it cool, and then smashed some filling into them. After one more layer of melted chocolate, I stuck them in the fridge for a few minutes to set and then dumped them out. Much easier and much prettier than the Twix mess. I would love to get some chocolate molds in the shape of candy bars (like these!) and then my life would be ten times awesome-r. Yes, awesome-r is now a word. Regardless of how you assemble these, they will taste amazing and the filling texture is just as flaky and fabulous as a real Butterfinger.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. candy corn

16oz jar peanut butter (I used a super chunky one because that's all we had, but it was still awesome.)
16oz pkg. chocolate candy melts

Melt candy corn in microwave on high 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking in 15-second intervals til melted, stirring after each interval. It will get thick and hard to mix... a wooden spoon would probably work better than the metal one I used.

Stir in peanut butter. Or have your husband do it. Or throw it in a stand mixer and pray the motor doesn't burn out. Well, maybe don't actually throw it. It gets pretty sticky, too.


(Here are the original directions... feel free to improvise.) Spread mixture in an 8x8 pan lined with parchment. Cool completely. Cut into squares. Dip in melted chocolate candy coating. Lay on waxed paper to set.

If you do make these, I'd love to hear how you choose to assemble them and how they turn out!


Oct 1, 2011

Perfect Crepes

I titled this blog "Perfect Crepes," even though I'm pretty sure my husband would have chosen "Conference Crepes," since I think that is what he was calling them this morning as I was busy shoving them in my face. The hubs makes these light, soft, thin blankets of perfection twice a year for our church's Semi-Annual General Conference. He makes them other times throughout the year - especially when we have an abundance of fresh fruit - but always makes them during conference. So, to him they are Conference Crepes. To me? Perfection. I had the man type up a recipe for me. We don't have it written on a single recipe card and I don't even know where it originated. He's perfected it to perfect perfection so very perfectly, that I'd rather have him do the talking. I'll just sit back and rub my nice full belly.


INGREDIENTS:
(This recipe yields about 1 dozen crepes. You can double as needed and the recipe will still turn out perfectly.)
3 eggs
1¼ C all-purpose flour
1½ C milk
¼ C white sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Using a wire whisk, beat the eggs with ½ cup milk. Stir in ¾ cup flour until smooth.
Add remaining flour and stir until smooth, making sure there are no lumps of flour.
Add sugar, oil, and remaining milk and mix well (batter should be thin).

Heat a 12” non-stick skillet to medium high and preheat oven to 170 degrees. Once the skillet is hot enough, coat with cooking spray. Holding the skillet in one hand, use the other to pour ¼ cup batter into the skillet. While pouring, rotate the skillet so the batter covers the bottom of the skillet evenly. Place the skillet back on the burner and cook for no more than 60 seconds.
Flip the crepe and cook on the other side for 30 seconds. If you can handle the heat, it’s easiest to flip the crepes using your hands.*

Fold finished crepes and keep them on a plate in the preheated oven so they stay warm while you finish the batch.


*Ummm ya. He's crazy. He feels no pain. Maybe use a rubber spatula?

There are so many ways to serve these, but I'll give a few ideas below. I'm sure you can think of more!



Fresh fruit: apple pie filling, bananas, peaches, pears, any kind of berry, mangoes, etc.
Spreads: Nutella, butter, peanut butter, syrup, cream cheese, apple butter, jam, marmalade, jelly, etc.
You can also go the savory route and stuff your crepe with lunch meat, veggies, cheeses, etc.

Or, you can just eat them plain! 
My personal favorite is with a little butter, cinnamon and sugar. Sooo melt in your mouth good!

Whole Grain Waffles


Yummers! The hubs made this yumminess super randomly one morning, so I woke up to a wonderful smelling house. He served them with fresh peaches and Greek yogurt and they were muy fantastico! Also, they're much healthier and more filling than your typical waffle recipe, so you can't feel too guilty for enjoying such a delicious breakfast.

Ingredients
2 eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup white flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

1.In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Beat in wheat flour, flax, oats, white flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt until batter is smooth.

2.Preheat a waffle iron, and coat with cooking spray. Pour batter into waffle iron in batches, and cook until crisp and golden brown.

Sep 30, 2011

Favorite Chicken Salad

This Chicken Salad is my all time favorite lunch food! It's so delicious, so versatile, and so easy! You can serve it with crackers, in tortillas, as a sandwich, or with a fork! We've made it while camping, served for luncheons, brought to parties, or just eaten it with our family as a meal. The combination of sweet and savory can't be beat!

Do I sound like an infomercial yet? I hope not, because this is much better than any blender or steam mop.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb chicken - grilled and shredded, or 3 cans Costco canned chicken
2 cups red grapes, washed and sliced in thirds
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted walnuts, or pecans
1 tsp Lawry's seasoning salt

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Serve with crackers, tortillas, sandwich bread, or anything else you come up with!

Sep 29, 2011

Ginger-Lime Fish Tacos


We usually make this recipe with Mahi-Mahi (Costco!) - which is the BEST - but we had some salmon and my 9 year old daughter kept asking for salmon tacos... So we substituted and it was yummy!

INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste
6 (3 ounce) fillets mahi mahi fillets (or salmon!)

1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 dash cayenne pepper

1 large mango - peeled, seeded and diced (Can also use a peach!)
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
6 (6 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

1.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the mahi-mahi with salt and pepper. Cook the fillets in the hot oil until the fish is golden brown on each side, and no longer translucent in the center, about 3 minutes per side.

2.Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream, lime juice, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste; set aside. Gently combine the mango, pineapple, avocado, and jalapeno in a bowl.

3.To assemble, place a cooked mahi-mahi fillet into the center of a warmed tortilla. Place a scoop of the mango salsa onto the fish, then drizzle with the sour cream sauce, and finish with a generous pinch of chopped cilantro.

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