Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Cheese Ball

This cheese ball has made an appearance at many holiday gatherings. I've had the recipe forever, it is always a hit. Perfect for your New Years Eve party. It makes plenty and keeps in the fridge for a week or two.

Holiday Cheese Ball
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 5 ounce jar Kraft Roka Cheese Spread
1 5 ounce jar Kraft Old English cheese Spread
3 green onions finely chopped
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese finely shredded
Mix together and chill. Moisten hands and make 3 cheese balls, roll in finely chopped parsley and chopped pecans. Serve with crackers.
Printable Recipe

Monday, December 26, 2011

TWD Kids Thumbprints

I'm sad to say that our Tuesday's With Dorie baking group has come to an end. I joined the group part way through the book. I still have many recipes to make and much to learn. I think the recipe that most surprised me was Flip Over Plum cake, I had never cooked with plums and I was quite happy with the delicious results. 
It would be hard to choose a favorite recipe but Dorie's section on bundt cakes had many tasty recipes. I especially liked the All In One Holiday Cake. It is delicious!
Having Dorie in my kitchen each week was like cooking with a best friend. Her recipes were detailed and clear. I made 55 recipes from Baking From My home To Yours and only had one failure. That is great odds.

Our last recipe is Thumbprints for Kids. Ms. Dorie Greenspan is our hostess this week, she will have the recipe on her blog. First I want to say thank you to Dorie for an amazing cookbook. It is my go to book for all my baking needs. Thank you Dorie for being so kind and approachable. I had a question about a recipe, I e-mailed Dorie and she quickly responded with some suggestions. Impressive.
 Kids Thumbprints was a great marriage of two childhood favorites, peanut butter and jam. My sweet granddaughter was kind enough to help me. Although these cookies might be served to kids I saw plenty of adults enjoying them.
Great pick Dorie, thank you TWD bakers for a great baking/blogging experience.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cranberry Salsa Over Cream Cheese

I know some bloggers feel they must create their own recipe in order to blog about it. I have a differing point of view. The internet has opened up so many great sources for recipes. I feel it is my job to sift thru the hundreds of recipes I scan each day and pick a few that I think would be winners. I guess I don't want to reinvent the wheel.
So I make many recipes, only the very best make it on my blog. Sometimes I alter a recipe to suit ingredients available or personal tastes. These changes are noted. I will always refer back to the original recipe and blogger.
It is with pleasure that I share a recipe I found on My Kitchen Cafe, a favorite blog at my house.

Mel's Cranberry Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip
                or Cranberry Salsa
12 ounces fresh cranberries
5 green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I used at least 1/2 cup, we love cilantro!)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I didn't measure, just juiced then entire lemon)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2  8 ounce packages softened cream cheese
Crackers or tortilla chips
Pulse cranberries in food processor until coarsely chopped. A Pampered Chef Chopped also works well for this task. Add green onions, cilantro, jalapeno, sugar, lemon juice and spices. Pulse till combined. Put mixture in a covered bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours or over night.
To serve spread softened cream cheese on a serving plate, cover with cranberry salsa. Serve with crackers, pita chips or tortilla chips.

This recipe has been served twice, both times with excellent reviews. It is perfect for your holiday buffet.
Candise had a friend over yesterday; Lindsey and her two cute boys spent the afternoon. The children played happily while the Mom's munched on this dip and sewed a darling banner. Something they saw on Pinterest I'm sure. Lindsey blogs at The R House, hopefully she will post a photo of the cute banner they made.

I'm grateful to have found another recipe to enjoy and share with those I love!

Monday, December 19, 2011

TWD Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie--Rewind

This week was a Rewind Week, make whatever you desire. So many great choices but I love cookies, and peanut butter and chocolate. So I made the Chocolate variation of Dories Peanut Butter Cookie. I have made this recipe many times, always with great results. Kids love it, so do adults. The outside is crisp, the middle is chewy. It's everything a cookie should be!
Check Jasmines blog for the recipe. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the English recipe.
Next week will be our last week. Dorie is hosting! We will make Thumbprints for Kids, an awesome recipe!

SRC Onion Soup

I'm excited to say that the Secret Recipe Club has once again led me to an awesome blogger. Juls lives in South East England and blogs at Pepper and Sherry. Juls is a twenty something catering student. My first glance at Juls blog was one of, 'oh no' what can I cook.
By most standard Juls and I are eons apart. She lives half way around the world, is young enough to be my child and cooks with items unavailable in my smallish mid western town. But actually the more I read about Juls the more I realized we were alike. We both use cooking as a therapy, it really can heal the soul. There is a certain joy in gathering fresh ingredients, chopping, dicing and cooking. Smelling wonderful scents and tasting. And then sharing these labors with those we love.

I had to laugh at Juls response to her boyfriends dislike of onions. "I like onions", she stated, "and I will cook with onions". I had a similar problem 36 years ago when I married my hubby. I'm happy to report that Juls boyfriend and my hubby both now like onions!
Juls doesn't care for cumin which is interesting because my hubby calls cumin 'the stinky armpit' spice. I use it anyway--in moderation.
So, take a moment and get to know Juls, I would love to sit down and have lunch with her. Thank you Juls for letting me stalk your blog this month!
So what did I make from Juls blog? Well Onion Soup of course. I've wanted to make something like the restaurant version of French Onion Soup. But I didn't want an inch of chewy cheese and soggy toast. So thanks to Juls Onion Soup Recipe I made a perfect version for me.

Onion Soup

  • 4 large onions
  • 1 pint chicken stock--I used 4 cups (I like a lot of broth)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (I had fresh bay leaves)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine (omitted--non drinker)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Optional: slices of baguette and grated emmental.
  1. Heat up a little butter on a low heat in the saucepan and finely chop the onions into half rings.
  2. Add the onions, minced garlic and rosemary to the pan, cover for ten minutes.
  3. Take the cover off and cook very slowly on this low heat to caramelise – it should take about forty five minutes until all the onions are soft, sweet, stringy and brown. (I had to cook an extra 30 minutes--my low must be too low).
  4. Add the red wine and Worcester sauce and cook into the onions.
  5. Pour in the stock and season.
  6. Preheat your grill and cut some slices of baguette and sprinkle on about half a handful of grated Gruyere on each. (I melted the cheese under the broiler. Cut the cheese toast into croutons and floated a few on the hot soup).
  7. Serve the soup into bowls and place the baguette slices and cheese on top and put the bowls under the grill for about five minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
  8. Remember the plates are hot so remove with gloves and serve the bowls on plates.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mint Brownies Bites

If you love to cook and you are in Utah a visit to Gygi's is a must. It is paradise for a foodie. Pans, utensils, chocolate, cake decorating supplies and more can be found at this wonderful store. Plan on spending at least an hour and a hundred dollars!
I found plenty to want at my visit last week. I came home with a new pan--can anyone have to many pans? No. This pan is by Nordic Ware so it is made to last. It makes cute little square brownies with an indention  on top. Fill with jam, ganach or frosting and you have a wonderful little bite.
Thank you Carol for the fun Christmas Tree Dish. Nothing completes a dish more than the perfect serving piece!

Mint Brownie Bites
2/3 cup butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour Brownie Bites pan. Set aside. Melt butter and chocolate together over low heat, stir constantly. Set aside to cool. In medium bowl beat sugar, eggs and vanilla together on high speed for about 3 minutes. Stir in chocolate mixture. Add flour and mix gently. Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each well 2/3 full. Bake for 18 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Invert onto cooling rack and cool completely.
Wash pan and repeat. Makes 32 brownie bites. When completely cool fill as desired.

Mint Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, soft
4 ounces butter, soft
2 Tablespoons milk or cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
dash salt
6 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder
1/4 teaspoon mint flavoring
pink food coloring gel
Beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and milk together till smooth using wire whip attachment. Add powdered sugar and meringue powder. Cover mixer with a towel and mix together till fluffy. Add color and flavoring if desired.
Meringue powder will help set the frosting after it dries so it holds its shape. It can be purchased where ever Wilton cake decorating supplies are sold.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Orange, Cranberry Pecan Muffins or The Best Muffin I've Ever Made!

We are not coffee or tea drinkers so Starbucks is not somewhere we frequent. We recently spent too many hours in the O'Hare Airport. Our terminal happened to be next to a Starbucks. Out of boredom and hunger I looked at the yummy pastries in the glass window. Finally I could resist no longer and purchased a Cranberry, Orange Scone. It was delicious. I dream about food and that yummy scone has been in my dreams often!
Hubby and I were ready to find a Starbucks so I could have another scone. But thanks to Pinterest I made my own Cranberry/Orange treat in a muffin form. This muffin was perfect. Cranberry and orange are meant to be together, I added some chopped pecans because I love pecans. This is the perfect holiday muffin

Orange, Cranberry, Pecan Muffins
3/8 cup milk
3/8 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fat free Greek Yogurt
1 egg
1/2 cup butter melted
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped (I used my Pampered Chef Chopper)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 and spray muffin tins with Pam.
In medium bowl combine milk, juice, yogurt, egg, and butter. Whisk until well combined. In a large bowl add sugar and orange zest, rub together with your finger tips. This is the best smell in the world! Add in flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix gently. Add cranberries and pecans. Do not over mix. I use a cookie scoop to portion batter in muffin tins. Sprinkle coarse sugar on top of each muffin.
Bake muffins for 18 minutes, mini muffins 12 minutes. I got 12 regular muffins and about 8 minis.
This recipe is adapted from Homemade by Holman. Thanks Pinterest!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Countdown

I'm so excited to participate with Krista and these other fabulous bloggers as we share a Very Bloggy Christmas. Enjoy these fun ideas - and Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

I am the lucky aunt to several darling little gals. They are happy, innocent, excited, and just fun to be around. Kids are so enjoyable when you no longer have a house full of your own! We can make a mess, eat treats, create till way past their bedtime--and then they go home. I win the 'favorite aunt' status.

We have had several 'craft days' over the years but last year I hit on a winner. I thought about trying to top it, but after about 10 minutes I quickly decided to just repeat it. It will probably be a yearly activity for many years to come.

What is the great activity? It is very simple advent calendar that even the youngest crafter can create. It starts with envelopes and sacks (that's what I had) and from there the sky is the limit. The envelopes and sacks were decorated with stickers, stamps, ink, punched shapes, markers, stencils and anything else they could find in my craft room.

Decorated envelopes were then filled with small treats. Of course you could also put an activity in the container. Read a Christmas Story, bake cookies, sing carols at a rest home etc., there are so many ways to celebrate the season. But candy is safe, I'll let the Mom's choose their activities!

We used clothes pins to hang the envelopes on a length of cord. The girls opted to make 25 envelopes--a perfect way to count the days until Christmas. We had a great evening--with talk of what we would do next year! This was the perfect way for me to start the Holiday Season.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze

 I buy the big cans of pumpkin, I don't know why, probably because my mother did. They are usually a better value but sometimes it's a challenge to use the pumpkin up in a timely manner. I found the perfect recipe to use up that last bit of pumpkin. It was a top 10 Pumpkin Recipe on Brown Eyed Bakers Blog, I trust this gal. She has yet to lead me astray!
I think if all mornings started off with a scone we would only have great days! This scone it a perfect way to start a holiday morning. I love scones because the dough freezes so well. Just cut the scones, quick freeze them and store them in a Ziploc freezer baggie. Be sure and write baking instructions on the bag and date the bag. They are best baked within 2 months. Which is not hard to do at my house. I bake half the dough and freeze half. Perfect for holiday company. They awake to the yummy smell of pumpkin and spices. They think you have been slaving in the kitchen for hours. At this point you may or may not want to tell them your secret! Enough jabber, basic scone recipe. I made a few modifications in the shaping and cutting. The delicious recipe was left intact.

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze
2 cups flour
7 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoons cloves
1/4 teaspoons ginger
6 Tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 Tablespoons half and half
1 large egg

Spiced Glaze
11/4 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons half and half (more or less as needed)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pinch each ginger and cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, line a stoneware baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Set aside
Combine first eight dry ingredients in a large bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut in butter, or use my favorite method; freeze the butter and grate on a large hole grater, perfect size butter. It mixes in quickly.
In a smaller bowl whisk together the pumpkin, half an half and egg. Pour the wet ingredients in the dry ingredients. Mix oh so gently. On a lightly floured surface form the dough in two balls. Flatten gently to about 1 inch thick. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to make 6 wedges in each circle. Place wedges on baking sheet and bake at 425 for 14 minutes, do not over bake. I just like a very light color. Over baking will dry them out and then they won't be as yummy. We have made it this far so no over baking!
Cool scones and drizzle with Spiced Glaze (simply make glaze by mixing all ingredients together to get the consistency you want). Enjoy! Next time I make these yummy scones I will add 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Because I can and I think they would add to the flavor and nuts always add a fun textural intrest.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Quick Taco Soup

 I can't believe I haven't blogged about a favorite family meal. I've had this recipe for years and have no clue where it came from. If you gave it to me please let me know. I liked this recipe because it does NOT use a packet of taco seasoning. I prefer not to use these little packets, I read the ingredients list and knew I could do better.
This simple soup is a 30-minute meal, it feeds a crowd of hungry kids. It is easy to adapt to personal tastes.


In a large saucepan combine:

1 pound of cooked ground beef with onion (cook two pounds of ground beef with onion, use half and freeze half. Put it in a freezer bag and label it. Use it within 2 months for the best flavor.)

1 cup petite frozen or canned corn

1 can drained and rinsed black beans (red or pinto beans work fine)

28 ounces crushed tomatoes in puree

½ can EL PATO sauce (Mexican hot tomato sauce)

2 cups water

Simmer about 20 minutes
I'm sure that after browning the ground beef and onion you could put everything in a Crock Pot and cook on low for 4 hours.

Serve in bowls topped with tortilla chips, grated cheese, sliced olives, and sour cream.  This is an easy recipe to double—then you have leftovers for another busy day.  My boys like this recipe without the added water. It is thicker, almost like a dip, you can scoop it with a chip—it’s a boy thing. 

When your tired of turkey and need a quick meal this is it. This is also a pantry meal. Most of the items to make this soup are easily stored in your pantry. You probably have ground beef in the freezer. Cheese and sour cream are staples in my refrigerator and I always have a bag or two of corn chips in my pantry. Good for Nachos, dips etc.

Monday, November 21, 2011

SRC Brown Butter Pumpkin Bread

The Secret Recipe Club is a fun group of bloggers who are assigned a blog. We stalk the assigned blog for a few weeks and then choose something wonderful to bake from their blog. Reveal day is exciting; it is fun to see what the other 150 bloggers made. It is always fun to see what the blogger that received your blog made. And why, out of 250 recipes would they choose the recipe they did!

So today is reveal day for group C, Angela is our awesome leader. She kindly and quickly answers all my questions that I'm sure I asked last month. Thanks Angela. I was lucky enough to spend time reading and rereading Julia's blog, Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body. I really wanted to make all 30+ recipes in the Fall Favorites category. Julia loves salads and there were some yummy looking creations there. Oh, the cakes, I wish I had an event to bake for but hubby and I would have way too much temptation laying around!
Since it is fall and I have yet to make pumpkin bread I was drawn to Julia's recipe for Brown Butter Pumpkin Bread. I do love the smell of brown butter. Does it come in a perfume?

This recipe did not disappoint, it was moist and full of warm fall spices. It is a 5 star recipe for sure.
I baked 3 small loaves, one plain, one topped with pecans and one topped with a streusel. All delicious.
Thanks Julia, this is my new favorite pumpkin bread and it doesn't even need chocolate. That's impressive.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Bread
1 stick butter--4 ounces, melt in saucepan over high heat, lower heat and 'swirl' butter a bit, cook till it turns brown, watch closely as it goes from brown to black in an instant, allow to cool slightly
2 cups flour (recipe called for 1 cup of white and 1cup of wheat, I used all white as I was too lazy to get my wheat grinder out)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
15 ounce can pumpkin
Whisk together flour, sugar and seasonings. Whisk eggs, vanilla, pumpkin and brown butter. Gently mix together liquid and dry ingredients. Pour in greased loaf pans, I used 3 small pans. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Bread is done when a thin knife inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pans for 15 minutes and remove to a cooling rack.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pumpkin Cheescake with Sour Cream Topping

I know I already have one Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe, and it it's very good. So why another? Because this Pumpkin Cheesecake has a wonderful sour cream topping. It is smooth and delicious. A perfect compliment to the spicy pumpkin cheesecake. It also has some ginger cookies mixed with the graham crackers for a delicious ginger spiced crust. So now you have two choices. Both are delicious! Please see Joy of Baking for the complete recipe. I turn to Joy of baking often, they have great recipes and many have video tutorials. I do like watching a pro cook. I always learn something new.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins with White Chocolate Chips



I found the blog Sugared Whisk several months ago. I knew I wanted a blog makeover but didn't know where to go, I really didn't know what I wanted. I knew I just wanted something different. As I came upon Sugared Whisk, I loved it! She had great recipes but she had a design that spoke to me. Long story short, I contacted Rebaka at Monkeys Love Donuts. She redesigned my blog, I love it. So take a trip over to Sugared Whisk, you'll see why I fell in love with it!

A great fall recipe, yummy Pumpkin Muffins with White Chocolate chips. I think you will like them too. If you need a blog makeover. Check my side bar, you'll see Monkeys Love Donuts. A great blog designer! 

  Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Muffins 

1/2 cup of walnuts
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6 oz white chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, pumpkin, and unsalted butter. Add in the chocolate chips and nuts.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix.
5. Scoop batter into greased or paper cup lined muffin cups. Bake for about 20 minutes or until puffed and springy to the touch. Cool then remove from cups.
-makes approximately 12  muffins-

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Coconut Curry Soup

I do love it when my girls come to visit, they are great cooks. Candise offered to make dinner, I quickly brought up a recipe I've had pinned for ages. It was the perfect day for Coconut Curry Soup, a 30 minute meal that was delicious. It comes together quickly and will no doubt disappear quickly too. Don't be afraid of the fish sauce, it is readily available in the Asian section of the any grocery store. It keeps in the fridge for ages and is a must for many Asian dishes. Trust me on this one.
This soup was also great for lunch the next day. Actually hubby and I were fighting over the leftovers. This will be in the dinner rotation often this winter. Thank you Candise!

Coconut Curry Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken tenders, cut in 1 inch pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1 red pepper, large dice
1 can chicken broth (2 cups)
1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Heat olive oil in pan till shimmering, add chicken and cook for 2 minutes. Add onion and pepper stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, cayenne pepper, brown sugar and curry powder. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Stir in lime juice and cilantro.
Serve a ladle or two over a scoop of hot rice. Garnish with more cilantro.
I think next time I might add some sliced carrots or bamboo shoots. Many possibilities.
This is another great recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pumpkin Bars

I like pumpkin, in most any dish. So it really is no surprise that these Pumpkin Bars were served twice in one week. My sweet mother in law made a birthday dinner for me a few weeks ago. I offered to make dessert. I found this delicious recipe on Joy of Baking. It was a hit at the dinner, my mother then asked me to make them for Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin pie. So I will make them again next week.
This yummy dessert has a shortbread crust made with hazelnuts. The shortbread is slightly sweet, the hazelnuts give the crust a great texture. The baked pumpkin filling is simple to make. This dessert makes a 9x13 pan so it feeds a crowd. It also keeps for a day or two, that's if you have leftovers. The dessert is delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Mix up Thanksgiving desserts this year and serve Pumpkin Bars.
The complete recipe can be found on Joy of Baking, a site full of delicious recipes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What a Great Week!

We have had the pleasure of spending time with our daughter Amber, hubby Tadd and their sweet family. We were able to meet Miss Amelia and attend her blessing. I might add that she has the most beautiful red hair! Big sis Maya was baptized, what a wonderful day. Full of family, friends and blessings. How could one family be so lucky?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crock Pot Potato Cheese Soup

 I have been on a personal quest to find more recipes that are cooked in the Crock Pot. My first Crock Pot, a wedding gift in the mid 70's had an on/off switch and a non removable stoneware liner, the color was Avocado Green. It was not fun to clean! It was not my cooking vehicle of choice. I tried a few recipes over the years, they all taste pretty much the same, not terrible, just the same.
I'm happy to say Crock Pots have come along way. There are sizes to fit every family and any number of features. I have a 6 quart slow cooker, it's great when the family is here but much too large for my everyday use. I now have a 31/2 quart slow cooker, perfect for empty nesters. Your slow cooker should be a least 1/2 full for best performance.
This is probably too much info but I do have a great recipe for the slow cooker. This potato soup was delicious. I'm sure I will make it often this winter.

Crock Pot Potato Cheese Soup
6 slices bacon
1 1/2 cups diced onions
5 cups peeled diced russet potatoes
3/4 cup diced celery
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup half and half
2 cups shredded cheese--I cleaned out my cheese drawer and used several kinds
Fry bacon in skillet till crisp, remove from pan and drain. Crumble bacon and refrigerate. In the same skillet saute onions for 3 or 4 minutes. Put onions, celery and potatoes in slow cooker, add chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours. In a small bowl stir together flour and half and half, mix well with wire whip. Add mixture to soup, increase slow cooker to high and cook for 30 minutes until thick. Add cheese and stir until melted. Top soup with cooked bacon.
This recipe comes from Real Mom Kitchen

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Traditions and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Many years ago when our home was full of small children we tried to make holidays fun. Halloween deco consisted of a not so scary 'witch on a broom' and a smiling ghost trimmed in white lace. We made ghost suckers, pumpkin shaped sandwiches, jack-o-lantern cupcakes with candy corn faces. Simple yes, little ones are easy to please.
The Monday before Halloween was designated as a Family Home Evening Pumpkin Carving Activity. Just imagine 6 kids under 12 with butter knives trying to make the perfect jack-o-lantern. Greg and I were certainly out numbered but managed to keep it together long enough to have 6 smiling/scary/silly jack-o-lanterns. Candles were carefully placed in the pumpkins, the lights were turned off and the children giggled at the silly shapes on the wall.

I'm sure the next tradition was started by Greg, the fun parent. Lite Jack-o-lanterns were then placed in the children's bedroom. They watched the spooky shapes dance on the walls as they drifted off to sleep. Somehow we did this for many years without burning down the house. The kids loved it.

Halloween would not be complete without roasted pumpkin seeds. For some reason digging thru pumpkin 'guts' looking for seeds was fun. I roasted the seeds while the little ones slept (how many activities can you pack in one evening)?  They were excited to have a small baggie with roasted pumpkin seeds in their lunch the following day.
23 year old Max insisted on having a pumpkin carving, seed roasting activity. We played along, because traditions are important!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
Rinse pumpkins seeds until pulp and strings are washed off. Boil seeds in salt water for 10 minutes. Dry seeds on a  paper towel
In medium bowl combine Worcestershire sauce, melted butter and salt. Add seeds, stir until coated with mixture. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 225 degrees for 2 hours. Stir often, seeds should be crisp.

Monday, October 24, 2011

TWD Ginger Jazzed Brownies

I joined TWD about half way thru the book, I have blogged about 53 recipes. 53 successful recipes that were delicious. Many recipes have become family favorites. But, I'm sorry to say I finally struck out. I was excited to make this recipe, I love brownies and I like ginger. Other bloggers said the ginger was too mild. Maybe my ginger was too potent, I grated my ginger instead of chopping it, maybe that made a difference. Whatever I did proved to make these brownies inedible. One bite was all it took--these brownies just screamed GINGER! I even drizzled a brown butter glaze over them. Didn't work, no one would eat them. They were beautiful but after sitting out for 3 days I finally trashed them. It was a sad day in my kitchen.
But one failure out of 53 recipes is great odds. Buy the book, Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. It is one awesome cookbook!

Secret Recipe Club Brownies

I was lucky enough to have two secret blogs this month. The Secret Recipe Club is a great way to meet new bloggers and try new recipes.  Wow! Can I just say I'm impressed. Danielle blogs at A Day In The Life. Her blogs is full of food, family and life. She has two darling little guys, I love her Wordless Wednesday posts. Nothing quite as cute as a toddler living life!
 Danielle is concerned about nutrition but admits to having a sweet tooth. I have several recipes bookmarked for future use such as potato soup in the crock pot, ham and cheese Sammie's and some yummy Asian dishes. Danielle's favorite dessert is cake. She has several cakes that would make a birthday person happy.
So what recipe did I choose? My blog title might give it away, 'getting thru life one brownie recipe at a time'.
Yes, I had to make brownies. Danielle recipe was Marion Cunningham's 'Parker Brownies. This brownie is everything I like in a brownie. Fudgy but not gooey, simple to make, only dirties one bowl and delicious. Hubby just said it is his new favorite brownie! I make a lot of brownies so this is quite a compliment. Thanks Danielle, we have a new favorite brownie!

Parker Brownie, or Danielle's Brownie (I always name recipes after the person I got it from)
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, I used a Guittard baking bar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Butter an 8 inch square baking pan. Gently melt chopped chocolate and butter in microwave. My new microwave has a setting for melting butter and chocolate. I love it! Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add egg, stir till shiny, add salt. Gently stir in flour and nuts. Batter will be stiff, spread in pan. I used an offset spatula for easy spreading. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes. Brownies are thin, perfect for tucking in a lunch sack. Dress the brownies up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a little hot fudge. Be ready for a new favorite treat.

Secret Recipe Club-- Date Nut Loaf

 The Secret Recipe Club comes around every month. We are assigned a blog to get to know and then create a yummy dish from their blog.
 I was assigned an amazing blog called Feast on the Cheap. This delightful blog is written by a mother daughter team. Mary Ann is a caterer and Mariel is a 'fledgling foodie'. I would say they both are amazing. You will find a wide variety of dishes on this blog. Something for everyone I'm sure. Some gourmet, others family fare. I was intrigued by many, I bought the ingredients for the French Onion Soup, I'll make it later this week.

 In my fridge I happen to have a 2 pound container of fresh dates. So when I saw a recipe for Nana's Date Nut Bread that has been in the family for years I had to try it. It was a simple recipe, ingredients you would have in your pantry. I chose to make some mini loaves and a small size bundt. I went to photograph the bundt and it looked naked so I had to drizzle a little browned butter glaze over it. This was one yummy addition. It takes a plain date loaf to an elegant dessert.

Feast on the Cheap is now on my reader, there are many dishes I need to try. The reason it is called Feast on the Cheap is that the cost per serving is given on every dish. That is assuming you have a well stocked pantry. And they will teach you just what is in a well stocked pantry. Yes, a very helpful blog. Thanks Mary Ann and Mariel.