Saturday, November 21, 2009


This one I like to call "The Beauty Shot"

I love it when things are true to their name. Like, the Beatles are the "Fab 4" because they were fabulous and there were 4 of them. And Johnny Depp is People Magazine's 2009's "Sexiest Man Alive," because he is (one) of the sexiest men alive. And being true to its name, this snacky mix is Very Addicting. I love to make it when I have company coming so that I don't eat it all by myself. Seriously, not because I think, " Oh, others will enjoy this!" but more, "I can't make this and eat it all by myself . . . again." Without further ado, I give you Addiction.
Thanks to Cyndi for first introducing it to us 5 years ago!

ps- Staci has a version that is slightly different and uses golden grahams, she'll have to post hers too.

2 boxes of Chex (one rice and one corn, or can use 2 corn or 2 rice)
1 lb sliced almonds
4 cups wide coconut (NOT flaked coconut, I buy wide coconut at a local health food store)
1 1/2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups light Karo syrup

In a ginormous bowl, (or brown paper sack works well too) combine cereal, almonds and coconut.

In a saucepan over medium heat, start melting the butter and then add the sugar and corn syrup. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Once bubbly, let it boil for 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Pour over the dry goods and stir to make sure all the sticky goodness spreads over all the cereal. Keep in a resealable container and enjoy!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Red Onion Spinach Salad

My friend Jen requested this recipe. It is very tasty and a go to for salads. The great thing is that you can put just about anything in the salad and it works!!

Red Onion Spinach Salad

1/4c. sugar
1/3c. oil (not olive)
1/4t. salt
3T. red wine vinegar
1/8th red onion

Mix all in blender

Mix together any of the following
Red Leaf Lettuce (really any lettuce you have will do)
Granny Smith Apple
Toasted Almonds
Parmesan Cheese

Italian Wedding Soup

This is a recipe that came from my cousin Jenny. It is so delicious and hearty. I am a soup lover and this one makes it in to the meal plan about once a month! (I will post a picture next time I make it...I forgot to get one this last time!)

Italian Wedding Soup

Makes about 12 cups

1 (10oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1T. chopped garlic in 1/4 c. olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1T. dried basil
1t. SPIKE all purpose seasoning (you can find this in the spice aisle)
1/4 pound uncooked orzo pasta
1T. cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water
grated romano to taste

Meatballs: (I have used many different recipes for can buy the meatballs if you want too!)
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
1T. chopped parsley
1 clove garlic

Heat oven to 350*.

To make meatballs, combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, pepper, parsley and 1 chopped clove garlic. Form into tiny meatballs. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until done.

Microwave spinach according to package directions. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out all moisture and set aside.

Saute onion, celery, carrot, 1T. chopped garlic in oil, 5 minutes or until onion is transparent.

Add chicken broth, basil and SPIKE and let simmer 5 minutes.

Add orzo. Let cook 8-10 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture, stirring slowly until soup begins to thicken. Add spinach to soup, followed by meatballs. Top with grated romano and serve.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Douglas loves pecan pies. When I saw this recipe I couldn't pass it up...take a yummy pie and add chocolate to it?? Yes please!
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Everyday Foods Nov. 2009

Serves 10
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 recipe pie crust, rolled and fit into a 9-inch pie plate
1 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lowest position. In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes (or melt chocolate in microwave). Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together (do not whisk) eggs, corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stirring constantly, gradually add melted chocolate. Pour filling into prepared crust; place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange pecans in one even layer over filling.

Bake just until set (filling should jiggle slightly when pie plate is tapped), 50 to 60 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool completely on a wire rack, at least 4 hours (or up to overnight) before serving.

Green Bean Casserole

Who doesn't love green bean casserole?? I think it is another of those comfort foods that most enjoy. I love this recipe because instead of buying cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions, you do it all yourself!

Green Bean Casserole
Everyday Foods November 2009

Serves 8
3 cups vegetable oil
6 large shallots, cut into very thin rounds, rings separated
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 pound button mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped
14.5 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. In a large bowl, toss together shallots and 1 1/4 cups flour until shallots are evenly coated. In batches, shake off excess flour from shallots and fry until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes, adjusting heat if shallots are browning too quickly. With a slotted spoon, transfer to sheet and season with salt. Set aside. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature with a layer of paper towels underneath, up to 2 days.)

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook green beans until crisp-tender, 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high. Add mushrooms and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup flour and cook, stirring, until incorporated, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, gradually add broth, then milk. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (To store, refrigerate with plastic wrap on surface, up to 2 days. Reheat before using.)
Add green beans to mushroom sauce and toss to coat. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake until bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes. Serve topped with fried shallots.

Sweet Potato Casserole

I like pretty traditional Thanksgiving fare and I love sweet potatoes so this recipe fits the mouth is salivating just thinking about it. Hope you enjoy!

Sweet Potato Casserole
Everyday Foods, November 2008

Serves 8
3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 8), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups mini marshmallows or chopped regular marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water by 1 inch; salt generously. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, and return to pan. Heat over medium, stirring, until liquid has evaporated and a thin film covers bottom of pan, about 2 minutes.

Remove pan from heat; add milk, butter, and nutmeg. Mash until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Transfer sweet-potato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. (To make ahead, refrigerate, up to 1 day.)

Top casserole with marshmallows; bake until center is warmed through and marshmallows are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Corn

So I feel like I'm breaking the biggest food blogging rule EVER . . . I am posting a recipe of something I have not actually made or eaten. But, to be fair, it is a tried and true of my very good friend, Christy Miller and I have it on excellent authority that this dish is foolproof. It is a star at their meal and anytime I hear that about a vegetable (really, what veggie outshines dessert?) I have to try it. I am going to make it this year for Thanksgiving and who knows, maybe you want to too and if I wait till AFTER I make it to share the recipe, well, then Thanksgiving will be over. Hence my rule breaking. :)
I promise to add notes/photos after I make this.

6 slices bacon, drippings reserved
1/2 cup chopped onion (yellow or white onion)
2 tbsp flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup sour cream
3 1/2 cups whole kernel frozen corn
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives (garnish, optional)


In a skillet, fry bacon until crisp, you don't want any wiggly parts. Drain grease and save 2 tbsp drippings. Crumble the bacon and set aside. In your skillet with the reserved drippings, saute onions until tender, add flour, garlic and salt/pepper. Cook and stir until bubbly, then cook and stir one minute more. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream (isn't this sounding yummy?) Add corn, parsley and 1/2 the bacon, mix and pour into a 1 quart baking dish. Sprinkle the top with remaining bacon. Bake uncovered at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Serve with chives as a garnish.

* Christy says she usually doubles this for Thanksgiving and it fits perfectly in a 9x13. She also says to get a really high quality frozen corn, she uses the frozen organic corn from Costco with great results.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Turkey Brine

This is a recipe from my friend Holly. I tried it out last year and it made the most tender, juicy turkey I have ever had. I am definitely doing it again!!

1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey

Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water. Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 oranges, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary

To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water in a non-reactive container (such as a clean bucket or large stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, plastic garbage bag.) Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary.Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. Place breast side down in a large, heavy roasting pan, and rub on all sides with 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper.

Stuff the turkey with:
1 large yellow onion, cut into 8ths
1 large orange, cut into 8ths
1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme

Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.
Roast the turkey, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, turn over, and baste with 1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time. Baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock.

Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Another Stuffing Option

Sallie posted this on My Sister's Kitchen (see sidebar) and it is just what I was imagining so I will be giving this a go on Thanksgiving! p.s. I copied the recipe and picture straight from your blog Sallie...hope you don't mind :)!!

Bread and Sausage Stuffing
Williams Sonoma
1 loaf sourdough French bread, about 1 lb., cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 leek, white and light green portions, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sausage, onion, leek, celery and sage and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the meat browns and is cooked through and the vegetables are translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in the bread cubes, parsley and half-and-half. Stir in the stock until the mixture is evenly moistened. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely before stuffing into the cavities of the turkey. Serves 8 to 10.
You can either use this savory mixture to stuff the turkey (see yesterday's recipe) and then spoon any extra stuffing into a buttered baking dish and bake it alongside the turkey during the last 40 minutes of roasting or just pile it all in a large baking dish. While the turkey rests, keep the stuffing in the oven to develop a golden brown crust.

Next up:
PIES--banana cream, chocolate pecan, and from scratch pumpkin
Turkey Brine
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Jello Salad

so...stay tuned!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Simple Stuffing

This is the stuffing my grandma always makes and I think it is so delicious. The stuffing is always what I want for leftovers. I think the trick to make this so delish is to not skimp on the butter. mmm.


Two 6 oz. bags Mrs. Cubbison's stuffing
1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups broth

Combine dressing with butter or margarine and vegetables. Stir liquid in gradually. Spoon into 2 1/2 or 3-quart greased casserole dish. Bake covered 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove cover and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer for a crisper top.


It is right around the corner and I couldn't be more excited!! I mean, who doesn't love a holiday that revolves around eating delicious food full of butter and cream?? YUM. So, I am going to slowly share the recipes that I will be using for my Thanksgiving fare. The first will be mashed potatoes. I am a fan of fairly traditional mashed potatoes fror know, the comfort type. This is originally from Martha Stewart and is rich and creamy (look at the ingredients, how could it not be!)

4 pounds russet, Yukon gold, or long white potatoes
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 cups milk or cream (go for the cream, it's Thanksgiving!!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Peel potatoes, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place in a medium stockpot, and cover with cold water. Add 2 tablespoons salt. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 20 minutes. Drain.
While potatoes are cooking, place milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat just until it comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, and keep warm. Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Press hot, drained potatoes through a ricer into bowl. Stir potatoes with a wooden spoon until smooth, about 1 minute.
Stir in butter until completely melted and well incorporated. Slowly pour in hot milk, stirring continuously. Add pepper, nutmeg, and salt; stir to combine. Taste, and adjust for seasoning. Serve immediately.

Berry Smoothie

So, in Septemeber I decided to buy a Vita know, the mother of all blenders. I had a blender I had purchased from Williams Sonoma and it just didn't cut it. There were always chunks left when I would make smoothies. I debated over this purchase forever (they are pricey) but then just decided to do it! I don't regret it one bit. I have used it at least once a day since I bought it. It even grinds wheat. Anyway, if you are a blender user or would like to be, definitely check them out!

So, I have made many a smoothie. I try to get the kids to drink at least one a day. I throw in spinach, carrots, cabbage, celery etc....whatever I have on hand. You can't taste it and they are all raw and full of vitamins and nutrients. This following recipe has been my favorite lately.

Berry Smoothie

Handful of almonds (if you have a regular blender, blend these to a powder first)
1-1.5 cups good orange juice (I use Naked juice from Costco, but any orange juice NOT from concentrate will work)
Scoop of plain or vanilla yogurt (optional)
5-6 frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
Handful of baby carrots (5-6)
Handful of spinach
Half of a banana
4-5 Ice cubes

Put all in blender and blend until no chunks remain. Drink and enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Healthy Tip #4

Sneak healthy stuff into meals whenever you can. I always try to add whole wheat flour to bread, spinach, carrots, cabbage, celery and almonds to smoothies I make etc. Most of the time you can't even taste it and it makes it that much healthier. I am going to try to post my smoothie recipe tonight. We have one almost every day!!

Pizza, Pizza

We love pizza in our house. My hubster has an off colored way to describe his love for pizza. Let's just say that the basic idea is that good pizza is really good and bad pizza is still pretty good sorta like something else. Anyway, I make pizza about once a week. I have tried a few recipes and these are some of my favorites.

Pizza Crust

1 package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2T. vegetable oil

1t. sugar

1/4t. salt

2 1/2 cups flour (I use 1.5 cups whole wheat and 1 cup white flour...just a little healthier)


In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the oil, sugar, salt and 1.5 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a firm dough. Turn out onto a floured surface; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll to fit your pizza pan (normally 13 inches or so). Grease pizza pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. Transfer dough to prepared pan, building up edges slightly, Do not let rise. Bake at 425* for 12-15 minutes or until browned. Add toppings; bake 10-15 minutes longer.

Pizza Sauce

(this sauce comes from Sallie at "My Sister's Kitchen"--check sidebar)

1-14 1/2oz. can tomatoes (I drain these)

1-6oz. can tomato paste

1/4t. oregano

1/4t. basil

1/4t. black pepper

1/4t. salt

1/8t. garlic powder

1/8t. onion powder

1T. sugar

Place all ingredients in blender and pulse until it reaches desired consistency.

Assemble the pizza

So, I make my crust and prebake it. Then, I top it with desired amount of sauce. Don't over do the sauce or it will drip when you eat. Then I top with the toppings of choice which usually includes one or more of the following: pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, sausage, and spinach. I know the spinach sounds weird, but it is a good way to sneak some healthy stuff into your kids diets. The cheese then follows. Once all this is on, put it back in the oven and cook until cheese is melted and slightly brown.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Healthy tip #3

This one if for all the "pickers" out there (I am a HUGE picker). I kinda subscribe to the philosophy of one for you, one for me. Not cool when cooking. So here is a tip I learned from doing Weight Watchers...pull out the bag of carrots and munch on those when cooking. Whenever you feel the need to pick, shove a carrot in. It really works!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Healthy Tip #2

As a mother of little kids it can be hard to work out like I wish I could. So, I try to find chances to exercise whenever I can. One thing I like to do it walk, whenever I a neighbors, while kids ride bikes, park farther away at the grocery store and walk in, whatever you can do. I think every little bit helps! I have gotten really lazy about this, but I am going to start being good again. Walk, walk, walk!

Steak Subs

Isn't that picture mouth watering? I am a huge steak sub fan!!! That ooey gooey melty cheese, delicious grilled veggies and hunks of beef . . . I'm sold. These were so awesome, they just went in my monthly family dinner rotation. Thanks to Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe, she is fabulous. The link to her original post is here. Try serving with steak fries for a real diner experience.

*Makes 4-6 large sandwiches

3-4 pounds sirloin steak, about 1 inch thick (or whatever steak is cheapest!)
1 tablespoon sauté spice (equal parts black pepper, salt, and garlic powder)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced thin
2 tablespoons steak sauce (used A-1 bold and spicey, hubby's fav)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4-6 (6 inch) sub rolls, slit partially open lengthwise
6 ounces thinly sliced deli provolone cheese

Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Pat steak dry with paper towels and rub saute spice liberally into each side. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium high heat until rippling. Cook steaks until well browned, 5 to 6 minutes per side (this is all the cooking time the steaks get so cook them according to your preference). Transfer to plate and tent with foil. Let them rest for five minutes, then slice thinly against the grain.

Meanwhile, add remaining oil, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to empty skillet and cook until vegetables are softened and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Off the heat, stir in steak sauce, oregano, and sliced steak until well combined.

Divide steak mixture among rolls and top with cheese. Arrange sandwiches on rimmed baking sheets and bake until cheese is melted and rolls are golden brown around edges, about 5 minutes. Serve.

ps- these are Melanie's exact instructions, not my words.

pps- just as good the next day. Refrigerate the innards and pick up with the baking in the oven step.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Coconut Cream Pie

This is a different take on the coconut cream pie and I loved it!! I mean, come on, who doesn't like chocolate added to their desserts. Just try this puppy and see if you can eat less than I did.


Everyday Foods November 2009

For the crust:

30 chocolate wafer cookies, broken into pieces (I used 15 whole chocolate graham crackers)

1/4t. coarse salt

5T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/3cup sweetened shredded coconut

For the topping and filling:

1 3/4cups sweetened shredded coconut

2 3/4 cups whole milk

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup corn starch

3/4t. pure vanilla extract

1/2t. coarse salt

1 1 /2 cup heavy cream

Make crust: Preheat oven to 325*. In a food processor, combine cookies and salt; process until fine crumbs form. With machine running, slowly pour butter through feed tube and process until mixture resembles wet sand. Stir in coconut. Press crumbs in bottom and up side of 9 inch deep dish pie plate. Bake until crust is set, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pie plate on wire rack.

Make topping: Increase oven to 350*. Spread 1/2 cup coconut on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden, 10-12 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Make filling: In a small saucepan, whisk together milk, eggs yolks, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and salt. Cook over medium high heat, whisking constantly until bubbles form at the edge and mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl and stir in 1 1/4 cups coconut. Pour filling into cooled crust and smooth top. Refrigerate until filling is chilled and completely set, about 2 hours (or wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate up to two days.)

To serve, whip cream until soft peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream and toasted coconut.


So, there have been a lot of waffle recipes posted, but I think this is the BEST waffle recipe I have come by :). We have waffles every Sunday for lunch so I have tried a lot of recipes, but none quite match up to this one! These aren't sweet (which is a good thing since I like cream and fruit on mine) and they come out of the iron nice and crispy. I used to beat the whites with this one because my mom always did that with her waffles, but in a hurry once I didn't and there was no difference. I think the real trick is not to over mix that batter. That way the baking powder can work as it should.


2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups flour (I use half white, half wheat)

2t. baking powder

1t. baking soda

1/2t. salt

1/3 cup butter (I always cut this way down to make them healthier)

Heat waffle iron. In bowl beat eggs. Add buttermilk, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and melted butter and mix until just combined (there may be a few lumps left). Pour batter onto hot, greased waffle iron and cook until golden brown.

Top with syrup, fruit, cream or buttermilk syrup (our favorite!)

It's that time of year...

Thanksgiving, Christmas, fall...yes, yes, yes. But the time I am referring to is my time of cumpulsive eating. I don't know if it is the cooling weather, the holidays or what, but I do know that I tend to snack more, eat more, bake more, and weigh more. Well, here I am committing to not do that this year. I told my hubby last night that I was making a resolution to stop now. For heaven's sake, we aren't even to Thanksgiving yet.

The thing that is hard about this goal is that I LOVE to cook, bake and eat. I don't want to give that up because I do enjoy it so much. I just need to use a little more moderation. So, for the next little bit I am going to be posting my favorite good eating habits, mainly as a reminder to myself, but also for any of you out there who are like me and want to control the holiday gain.

So, here's to good luck to all of us.

Tip number 1:
Drink lots and lots of water.

I always find that when I am eating more, I am drinking less. Get out a large water bottle (I use the ones I got in the hospital after having my kids) and keep it full. That means that you need to drink, refill, drink refill. This will not only keep us from feeling as hungry, but also help ward off all the winter illness that seems to be going around.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Garlic Pepper Sauce

This is the sauce that goes with the black bean soup.


3T olive oil

2 large onions, coarsely chopped (4 cups)

2 green bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped (2 1/4 cups)

2 red bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped (2 1/4 cups)

5 garlic cloves

1t. dried oregano

1t. ground cumin

1 large tomato, cored and coarsely chopped (2 cups)

3 cups mixed cilantro leaves and tender stems

coarse salt and ground pepper

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add bell peppers, galic, oregano, and cumin; cook, stirring often until pepper are crisp tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomato; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes more.

Transfer to a food processor. Add cilantro, and puree until slightly chunky. Season with salt and pepper.

If not using immediately, transfer sauce, in 1 cup quantities, to airtight containers. Freeze until ready to use, up to three months.

Black Bean Soup

I asked my hubby the other day what his favorite meal was that I made and this is what he said! The great thing about that is that this is so is definitely my go to menu item. It is on the stove as I type this in fact.

The garlic pepper sauce can be made in advance and frozen. That is what I like to do. It will make enough for about 6 recipes of soup. One recipe will feed my family with no left overs.

Oh, and this recipe comes from Martha Stewart Everyday of my favorite food magazines. Enjoy!


1 cup thawed garlic pepper sauce (I never thaw it in advance, isn't that what the stove is for??)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water

Put (frozen, in my house) garlic pepper sauce, water and chicken broth in a pot and heat until garlic pepper sauce is thawed. Add black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender or regular blender (though I would totally recommend investing in an immersion blender...they are awesome). If you do it in the blender make sure to work in batches since the liquid will expand when blending. Season with course salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir in 2-3t. fresh lime juice. Serve with sour cream and cheese, if desired.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

White Bean Chili

My goal is to make/post more recipes from my "Just a Matter of Thyme" cookbook because when I do make things from it, I ALWAYS love them. I've been wanting to try a white chili for a while and while I quickly scanned the list of ingredients, I realized I already had everything in my pantry. Bonus. In the original recipe, it makes it on the stovetop, bringing to a boil first and then simmering several hours. I bypassed that and brought out the trusty crock-pot, dumped everything in at once and set on low for 5 hours. MMmmm, delish.

3 (14oz) cans white beans (can use dry beans, roughly 1 1/2 lbs, make sure to soak overnight and drain)
4 cups chicken broth
1 clove garlic minced (or 1 tsp fresh garlic in a jar)
1 onion, diced
1 small can chopped green chiles
scant tsp ground cumin
scant tsp dried oregano
dash of ground cloves (omitted, all out of cloves, oops)
4 cups cooked chicken, diced (or 2 12.5 oz cans of chicken, drained)
3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

Reserve cheese as a garnish, mix all other ingredients in a crock-pot and let it do all the work. Serves 6-8, equally great leftover as fresh.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chocolate Turtle Brownies

A word about my friend Mary Ann. She makes magic happen in the kitchen. Whether its her famous Christmas chocolates, sexy cornbread or just plain ol' chocolate chip cookies, she is renowned for her culinary prowess. This is her brownie recipe and I first had them at a Death By Chocolate party Staci and I hosted a few years back. I am ashamed to say this is the first time I've made them. Don't worry, I'll repent at least once a month by baking a batch. I had to hurry and take some over to various friends' homes or else I was at high risk of eating the whole pan. We're talking me, a fork and a 9x13 of chocolate/caramel goodness. So I did what any true friend does, I decided to share the calories around the neighborhood. This is a keeper.

2 cups chocolate chips, divided (I used milk chocolate)
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I prefer pecans so that's what I used)

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and butter together, whether in the microwave or stovetop. Stir till smooth. Stir in eggs, add flour, sugar, vanilla and soda- stir well. Spread batter into a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with remaining chips and all the nuts.

Bake 350 20-25 minutes.

In her original recipe, its says to drizzle the caramel topping over the warm brownies and I decided right then, I needed to double it, because I didn't want a "hint" of caramel, I needed a blanket of caramel. So here is the original version, know that I doubled it and it was caramel heaven.

Microwave 12 caramels and 1 tbsp milk on high for 1 minute- stir. Microwave at additional 10-15 second intervals until smooth. Pour over warm brownies. Let cool completely in pan before cutting into bars.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lara Jensen Fancy Waffles

Here is part 2, if you will, of another waffle post. Here I posted Lara Jensen's basic waffle recipe and now I'm posting her fancy waffle recipe. This one, being fancy and such, requires more time and effort, but the delectable waffles are your reward in the end. Pass the syrup please.

1 3/4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups milk (or buttermilk)
1/2 cup oil

Sift together flour, powder and salt, set aside. In another bowl, combine the 2 beaten egg yolks, milk and add oil last, set aside. Stiffly beat egg whites, carefully fold other mixtures into egg whites. Don't over mix. Cook on pre-heated waffle iron.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cheddar Biscuits


2 to 2 1/4 cups flour, plus more for working surface

2 1/4 t. baking powder

3/4 t. salt

1/4 t. ground pepper

6 T. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425*. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, soda, salt and pepper. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture represents coarse crumbs, with some pea size lumps. Mix in buttermilk and cheese until combined. With a floured hand, knead dough against side of bowl until it holds together. If it is sticky, knead in up to 1/4 cup more flour.

After kneading biscuit dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough to 1 inch thick. With a floured biscuit cutter, cut out rounds as close together as possible. Place on a baking sheet. Gather scraps; pat again, and cut out more rounds. Place on jelly roll pan.

Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Pate Brisse with Thyme

PATE BRISSE WITH THYME (used to top the Chicken Pot Pie in a Pumpkin)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 t. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 T. thyme leaves
1/4cup to 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor. All ingredients should be cold. Add the pieces of butter for approximately 10 seconds, or until the mixture represents coarse meal. Add the thyme leaves, and pulse to combine.

Add ice water, drop by drop, through the feed tube with the machine running, until the dough just holds together without being wet or sticky; do not process more than 30 seconds. Test the dough at this point by squeezing a small amount together. If it is crumbly, add more water.

Divide the dough in half and shape into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill for at least an hour.

Chicken Potpie in a Pumpkin

This is one of my favorite dishes in the fall. It just seems so festive to me. I first made this 5 or so years ago. The original recipe was from the Martha Stewart website, but after quite a bit of searching, it seems to be gone from the clue why. I will first post the original recipe and then let you know what I did to change it around to work for me. My hubby helped a ton with making this yesterday and it made a huge difference, so if you have a second set of hands, definitely utilize them!!

CHICKEN POT PIE in a Pumpkin--Serves 6

6 two-pound sugar pumpkins, preferably short and squat (if you have trouble finding these, they are also called pumpkin pie pumpkins...I got some of mine at Trader Joe's when I was in Vegas and a few others from a local grocer)
5T butter, plus 2T melted
2 t. salt
1t. freshly ground black pepper
1t freshly grated nutmeg (I have a little microplane that I use to grate the nutmeg and you can buy whole nutmeg in any spice section)
1 pound pearl onions (I think the package they sold at my grocer was 10ounces. I used that amount and it was great)
9 ounces potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used extra potatoes. I was serving guests and wanted to make sure to have enough. I cut them pretty small...make sure the potatoes and carrots aren't too big because they don't get much time to cook and will be hard if they are too big.)
12 ounces button mushrooms, quartered if large (no button mushrooms at my grocery store so I bought what they had and sliced them so they would stretch farther.)
8 ounces carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (2 medium carrots)
5T flour
2 1/2 cups chicken brith
1 cup milk
4 1/2 cups poached or roasted chicken (from a 5 pound chicken) (I ended up using two HUGE breasts and 3 thighs since I am a dark meat girl. It was more than enough meat. I steamed it in my steamer to keep in moist. It would have been much easier to pick up a chicken at Costco, but I didn't have a chance to get over there.)
2T. fresh thyme leaves (I have an herb garden so I did use fresh herbs, but I think dry could easily be substituted.)
3T. chopped parsley
2T. fresh chopped sage
1/2 recipe Pate Brisse with Thyme
1 large egg, beaten with 1T. heavy cream for egg wash

I didn't make the Pate Brisse. Instead I made my cheddar buttermilk biscuit recipe and topped them with that. I liked it better. It was easier, heartier and tastier IMO.)
I also added a little more of some of the things I had and then doubled the liquid to make it stretch. It was enough to fill the six pumpkins with just a little left over.

Heat oven to 375*. Slice the tops off the pumpkins. Scoop out the seeds (I find an ice cream scoop helps with this). Using a pastry brush, brush insides of pumpkin with 2T. melted butter. Season insides with 1/2t. salt, 1/4t. pepper, and 1/4t. nutmeg. Place pumpkins on a baking sheet; cover tightly with foil. Bake until tender, about 30 minutes.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add onions, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold running water. Peel onions, set aside.

Melt 5T. butter in a large, high sided skillet set over medium heat (I used a large dutch oven). Add potatoes and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to turn golden. Add mushrooms and carrots and cook 4-5 minutes more. Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and milk and bring to a simmer. Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in chicken, thyme, parsley, sage, remaining 1 1/2t. salt, 3/4t. nutmeg, and 3/4t. pepper. Remove from heat, and divide amoung pumpkins.

Roll Pate Brisse to 1/8 inch thickness. Pull center of dough upward to form a pumpkinlike stem. Place over the hollow of each filled pumpkin. Using the back of a small paring knife, mark the dough to simulate the lines of a pumpkin. Brush top of dough with egg wash. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

or, if you choose to make the biscuit dough:
Make the dough. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a bowl of cutter that will cover the top of the pumkins. Cut out dough and place on top of pumkin, covering the hole. Bake until the biscuit topping is baked, about 25 minutes.

Caramel Corn

Few things are better than snuggling up on the couch with a bowl of caramel corn. Pop a movie in the DVD player, tuck the kids in bed and enjoy a cozy night at home. This is my kinda comfort food! My husband and daughter bust out their spoons the next morning for a little pre-breakfast sugar rush, while they dig into the leftovers. I much prefer it warm, freshly made. Pair this with an ice cold beverage or smoothie and its my idea of a perfect night!

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light karo syrup

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. While stirring constantly over medium to medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes and then remove from heat. Can be poured immediately over popcorn or can wait up to 20 minutes. If you let it sit for a while, be sure to stir again right before pouring over popcorn.

ps- I think caramel popcorn recipes with karo syrup are much better than ones that use marshmallows. I must be programmed to love all things extra sweet!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Creamy Red Pepper Soup

I have been meaning to try this recipe for quite some time. Considering it was in the Nov 2005 issue of Everyday Food, I'd say I've been meaning to make this soup for about 4 years! It didn't disappoint. I made it, used my immersion blender (bonus!) and invited Staci to lunch. Her words, "This is blog worthy." So there you have it folks, another soup to tantalize your taste-buds this fall. We enjoyed ours with a loaf of homemade wheat bread.


Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 3 medium red bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, and cut into 1-inch chunks (5 cups)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped chives, for garnish


  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add celery, carrot, onion, and garlic; cook until onion is opaque and carrot is crisp/tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add peppers, broth, 2 cups water, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until peppers are very tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove bay leaf; puree soup in batches in blender. Return to pot; add cream and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. If necessary, gently reheat before serving, and garnish with chives