Friday, December 31, 2010

Gingerbread Bars

I was looking for a dessert to bring on Christmas Eve. I didn't want something super sugary and I was all cookied and candied out. My awesome friend, Kim, posted this recipe on her blog and it sounded very similar to my Aunt's hermits, although now comparing the two recipes they are slightly different, but to me they tasted very similar!

Gingerbread Bars-shared from Mac's Kitchen Adventures
2 cups flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
10 tbsp butter(1 1/4 stick butter), room temp
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup molasses

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together dry ingredients. Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add in molasses and mix until blended. Add in dry ingredients and beat until blended. Spread into greased and floured sheet pan or jelly roll pan. *The dough is REALLY thick, so make sure you have some patience for this part. Sprinkle top with 1 tbsp sugar(or sanding sugar/raw sugar) Bake for 15-20 mins until tester comes out clean in the center.

**These were a little darker than the hermit cookies, but the taste was almost exact! These were dynamite and I loved them. I served them with fresh whipped cream!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Vegetarian Fajitas

Last week I was looking for more Vegetarian recipes in hopes to help cut down our grocery bill, plus I seem to have a lot of beans to use up! Hallee sent along this recipe.

Vegetarian Fajitas-Hallee The Homemaker
2 summer squash, julienned
2 zucchini, julienned
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
2 cups black or white beans
1 cup corn(omitted)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar OR cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
dash of salt
dash of pepper
1 tsp sugar(optional)

In a large bowl combine vinegar, oil, spices, and sugar. Mix well to combine. Add in veggies and toss to coat. Marinate for at least 30 mins but not longer than 24 hours.

Pre-heat a skillet. Drain the veggies and saute until tender about 10-15 mins.  Add in beans and corn and cook until heated through. Increase the heat for 5 mins to brown veggies. Serve in warm tortillas.

**These were INCREDIBLE! The first night I had them I was the only one that ate my boys don't like the veggies cooked, but raw is ok! K nor I missed the meat at all. These are very flavorful and had a nice kick! I couldn't believe how great they were! Thank you Hallee! It is a wonderful vegetarian option loaded with flavor!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Creamy Taco Mac

Well by popular demand, here is the recipe! I posted on Facebook about making this and 3 or 4 people requested it, so here it is! It was a pretty quick meal to come together!

Creamy Taco Mac-Shared from Jenn's Food Journey
8 oz elbow pasta
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, slightly drained
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 lb ground meat(I used chicken)

Cook macaroni according to package directions.

Brown mean and drain. Add in onion and cook for 3 mins and then add in garlic and cook for another 3 mins. Add in tomatoes and taco seasoning and bring to a boil, simmer for 5 mins. Add in sour cream and cream cheese, stir to melt. Simmer for another 2 mins. Coat pasta with sauce and enjoy!

**I did double this recipe. We both found it VERY spicy, which is odd for K to say! So next time I will only use half of the taco seasoning I made, but if you like spicy go ahead and use it. It was creamy and delicious! I think the addition of some corn would be fantastic in it too!

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

We had friends over this weekend for some gingerbread house and cookie decorating. They are vegetarian so I thought this soup would be perfect! I did adapt it to the slow cooker which made it that much easier!

Vegetarain Tortilla Soup-Let's Dish
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 qt veg. broth
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1-14 oz can diced tomatoes with gr. chilis
2-4 cups black/white beans
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 pkg frozen corn
hot sauce to taste
2-3 tbsp lime juice(which I forgot)
salt and pepper to taste
4 corn tortillas, cut into strips

Place all ingredients in slow cooker except lime juice and tortillas. Stir well and turn on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. Ten minutes before serving stir in tortilla strips and replace cover. Add in lime juice right before serving.

**This was a little spicy, but not over powering. It had lots of flavor so everyone liked it, even K didn't miss the meat!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tasty Tuesday 12/28

Overnight Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake-Finding Joy in my Kitchen
Mint Chocolate Mint Crunch-Finding Joy in my Kitchen
Dark Chocolate Cherry Shortbread-Finding Joy in my Kitchen

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles-Debbi Does Dinner Healthy
Oatmeal Tea Muffins-Loving my Domestic Life
Biscuit Breakfast Pizza-Creatively Domestic
Cajun Jambalaya soup-Loving my Domestic Life
Chicken Pad Thai-LMDL
Spanish Rice-LMDL
Slow Cooker Roast Pork and Black Bean Chili-LMDL
Cinnamon Butternut Squash Muffins-Creatively Domestic
Texas Curried Chicken-CD
Thai Chicken Pizza-CD
Mexican Rice-CD
Barley PIlaf-CD
Southwest Chicken and Corn Chowder-Let's Dish

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

We are currently under the Blizzard of 2010! I'm sure my boys will LOVE the snow in the morning and it will be nice to have more than a dusting...but not sure that I wanted a blizzard and a foot of snow!  Thankfully there is plenty of food in the house so we won't go hungry!

I'll also be meeting up with my friends this week for dinner so no cooking for me that night!

-Snickerdoodle or Choc. Chip Zucchini Muffins...although I have a bunch of bananas to use as well!
-French Bread 

-Beef Barley Soup
-Creamy Taco Mac
-Maple Oat Swirl French Toast
-Brunch Pizza
-Apple Cheddar Monte Cristos

Mocha Thumb Prints and Saltine Toffee

I found this recipe in a Family Circle magazine. I made it for our housewarming 5 years ago. I like to post different recipes so I decided to make these again...I haven't made them since, but they are very tasty!
*I also made them Peppermint Mocha Thumb prints this time as I had a partial bag of dark choc/mint chips.

Mocha Thumb Prints-Family Circle
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tbsp instant coffee
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup chocolate chips(or peppermint/dark choc. chips)
1 tbsp kahlua*

Cream together butter and sugar. Add in egg and mix until combined. Add in flour, salt, and coffee. Mix until throughly combined. You may need to need it a bit and it will be a pretty thick dough. Roll dough into balls(about 2 tsp or so, I used my small cookie scoop). Place on cookie sheet and make indentation in middle of the cookie.(I used my 1/4 tsp spoon and it worked awesome) Place in 350 degree oven for 12 mins. You may have to press the centers down again once removed from the oven.

Once cookies are cooled. Place chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl and slowly melt. Let cool slightly and add in kahlua, mix together.**Now for some reason my chocolate did seize, and it could have been b/c I didn't add in the corn syrup or the butter. So it made it more fudge/frosting like. BUT it still worked out very well!

**The addition of peppermint was like eating a "peppermint mocha" from Starbucks. They are delicious!

Saltine Toffee
I've seen these referred to as "Christmas Crack"...they are very delicious and easy to make. I've seen it in numerous places and almost replaces regular toffee.

35 saltine crackers
2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pkg chocolate chips

Lay crackers on foil lined cookie sheet. Melt butter and brown sugar in saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 mins. Spread over crackers. Place in 400 degree oven for 7 mins. Remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the hot toffee and let sit for 5 mins. Spread chocolate into thin layer and sprinkle with walnuts, allow to cool.

**This is a staple at our house during the Christmas season. It is a must as it has that sweet and salty taste.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Peanut Butter Crunch Bars and White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Usually around this time of year I make either peanut butter balls or these crunch bars. I really don't have the patience for the pb I'm gonna let my mom make them! They are hands down THE best, but these are a close second and delish if you LOVE a pb/chocolate combo.

Peanut Butter Crunch Bars
2 cups powdered sugar
6 sheets of graham crackers, crushed
1 1/3 cups peanut butter, divided
1 stick butter
6 oz chocolate chips

Mix together sugar and 1 cup pb. Melt butter and add to pb mixture. Mix in graham crackers.(I did use the stand mixer for the mixing part, its a thick "dough" and wasn't sure if I could mix it by hand). Press into a 9x13 inch pan(or an 8x8 for thicker bars).Melt chocolate chips and pb and spread over the top of the mixture. Let harden and cut into bars.

**I love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. I like the crunch that the crackers provide. These are probably just as good as peanut butter cups! YUM!

 White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
The first time I made these K said they were the best cookies I've ever made! This has now become a holiday staple and is perfect for the season. I did use a different recipe this year(slightly) and I liked this even better than the original!

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies-Eat at Home
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups oats
1-2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and milk. Add in flour and salt, beat to combine. Add in oats and stir to combine. Stir in chips and cranberries. Place on cookie sheets and bake for 9 mins.

**These are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside! I love the flavor combination and the milk made them a bit more moist than the original.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Rustic Turkey Tart...or pie

*This was NOT photographing well...but I promise it is good! I saw this tart in our local grocery store's magazine and really wanted to try it. So I put it on the menu after Thanksgiving, but some of the people that were here don't like blue cheese and the rest of us were sick so it was put off for a bit.

I did omit the pecans, used fresh cranberries, apples instead of pears, and made it more into a pie than a tart.

Rustic Turkey Tart-from Big Y
1 pie crust
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup chopped cranberries
2 apples, chopped
1/4 cup pecans, chopped(omitted)
1 cup light sour cream
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Make pie crust and place in pie plate. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and place inside pie shell. Bake for 20-25 mins until heated through and pie crust is done.

**This was really good...if you like blue cheese! It has a sweet and savory taste and is a different take on a turkey pie.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Peppermint Meltaways

I love peppermint especially this time of year. Well my girlfriends and I were doing a cookie swap this year and I saw this cookie so I wanted to give them a try! They were simple to make and pretty tasty too!

Peppermint Meltaways-shared from What Megan's Making
2 sticks of butter, softened
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 1/4 cups flour

Butter cream frosting flavored with 1 tsp peppermint extract. (You will not need a full batch) tinted with green or red food coloring.

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in extract. Combine flour and cornstarch and slowly add to butter mixture, scraping down the sides as needed. Place dough in fridge for about 30 mins.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Bake for 10-12 mins or until bottoms are lightly browned. Let cool for 5 mins and gently remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Once cool frost and sprinkle with crushed candy canes or peppermint candy.

**These were really good and did melt in your mouth. BUT they were very fragile, I was surprised they made the 45 mins trip to the cookie swap. There was also no way I was going to be able to spread the frosting on the top, so I used my star tip and swirled it on. These also didn't make a lot of cookies but it did work out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

FlufferNutter Cookies and Double Chocolate Almond Cookies

I discovered a new blog the recently and this cookie recipe was on it. It only requires 3 ingredients so its pretty fast and easy to does take some muscle to stir it together though!

FlufferNutter Cookies-shared from A Picky Palate
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix together egg and peanut butter throughly. Fold in marshmallow. You still want to be able to see the marshmallow, so it creates a swirl. Place on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 mins or until cooked through.

**Now for whatever reason, my cookies spread out and didn't stay in a thicker cookie. It could have been the cookie sheets I used which were silicone. These were pretty tasty, but I think they would have been even better if they were thicker.
Double Chocolate Almond Cookies-adapted from For the Love of Cooking
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/3 cup flour(ap and ww)
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together butter and sugars. Add in egg and vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients and stir together. Slowly add in to butter mixture until well combined. Add in chips and almonds and mix until combined. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 mins.

**These were pretty good and I loved the crunch of the almonds. Although my cookies did not spread out like the original recipe's did. I seem to have this problem often. I did freeze most of the dough to use for Christmas presents.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gingerbread Pancakes

To follow our normal Saturday morning routine and by request from a 4 year old, we needed pancakes for breakfast.  I wanted to try these, but I wasn't sure how well they would be received by the boys. This is a perfect holiday treat or great for Christmas morning breakfast!

Gingerbread Pancakes-adapted from Debbi Does Dinner...Healthy
1 1/2 cups flour(I used whole wheat and ap)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup water

Combine dry ingredients and whisk together. Stir together wet ingredients and whisk into flour. Place batter on hot oiled griddle. Cook until bubbles form and flip until side is lightly browned.

**I mentioned above I wasn't sure how the boys would like these...but they LOVED them. Completely devoured one each! A even told me how great they are and he never says that! I was shocked! We liked them very much as well. Next time though I will double the recipe as it didn't make much. Enough for our family, but we like leftovers!

For other great breakfast ideas, check out Finding Joy in My Kitchen's Breakfast Countdown!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

It's the week of Christmas and I have a lot to get done...including teacher gifts!

-Peanut Butter Crunch Bars
-Mocha Thumbprints
-Shortbread...or spritz(would it be bad to use halloween sprinkles?)
-Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
-Gingerbread bars(for Christmas Eve) with homemade whipped cream
-Granola(teacher gifts)
-Red Velvet Pancakes or Eggnog Pancakes
*I already have 2 kinds of cookie dough in the freezer so I just have to bake those up for gifts and some are getting the frozen dough.

-Philly Cheesesteak Soup with Panera Sourdough bread(not homemade)
-Vegetarian Fajitas
-East Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
-Creamy Taco Mac
-Chicken Pot pie(teacher gifts)
-General Tso's Stir Fry
-Brunch Pizza
-Buffalo Chicken Dip w/carrots, celery, and tortilla chips(for xmas eve)

Christmas Dinner:
-Roast Beef
-Roasted Garlic Mashed potatoes with bacon and cheese
-Roasted Carrots
-Whole Wheat Pull Apart Rolls
-Choc. Chip cookie cheesecake bars...I think

Pizza Rolls

I needed an appetizer to bring to a cookie swap so I decided to give this recipe a try. It is fairly easy and simple, but next time I will divide the dough in half to make 2 rolls.

Pizza Rolls-shared from Hoosier Homemade
Pizza Dough:
2 1/2 cups flour(ap and ww)
2 tsp vital wheat gluten
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp yeast
7/8 cup warm water
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp italian seasoning
Pizza/pasta sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
pepperoni slices

Place dough ingredients in bread maker according to manufacturer's directions. Start on dough cycle.

Once dough is done, take out and roll thin.*Like I mentioned before I would cut the dough in half and make them smaller. Once rolled out, top with your favorite sauce, sprinkle with cheese and layer on pepperoni. Starting with the long side of the dough, roll up jelly roll/cinnamon roll style and tuck in ends as needed. Slice into 1 inch slices and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 mins.

**By making the big roll it was very thick and very hard to cut. I got impatient so i just cooked it like a calzone, but I did cut a few slices into the rolls. The rolls were excellent and even the girls at the cookie swap loved the "calzone" rolls. The dough was soft and fluffy while the cheese got a little crispy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Egg Nog Bread

When I first saw this recipe I immediately thought of my husband. He LOVES eggnog and I buy it when its on sale this time of year. I on the other hand just.can' But this I thought I could handle!

Egg Nog Bread-adapted from Mommy's Kitchen
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup egg nog
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp rum extract(omitted)
1 tsp vanilla extract(I used sugar cookie egg nog, so omitted)
2 1/4 cups flour(I used 1/2 ww, 1/2 ap)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
small box instant vanilla pudding mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bread pan(s)(I got one loaf and 6 muffins out of this batch).

Beat together wet ingredients and sugar together. Sift flour, salt, baking powder together and add to egg mixture. Beat until combined. Stir in pudding mix. Place in prepared pans and bake for 20-25 mins or until knife comes out clean.(My bread got darker before it was done, so I covered it with a another cookie sheet to keep it from browning to much.) For muffins about 18-20 mins.

**This was better than I thought it would be! It was moist, dense, and a little crunchy on the outside. It was perfect. It did remind me more of a cake than a bread. The boys loved it!

This has been linked to Finding Joy in my Kitchen Countdown to 2011!

Friday, December 17, 2010

BBQ Beef Burritos

I saw this idea I believe in the Kraft magazine. I never thought to make burritos out left over bbq.

BBQ Beef Burritos
leftover rootbeer bbq beef
spray oil(or butter)

Sprinkle some cheese down the middle of the one tortilla. Top with beef and sprinkle additional cheese on top. Fold in sides and ends to create a pocket. Spray with oil and place seem side down in hot frying pan. Spray top with oil. Cook until browned and flip.

**This was a very quick and easy weeknight supper and a great alternative to just bbq sandwiches.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peanut Butter Blossoms

I think this is a classic Christmas cookie and not one that I make very often. Actually I can't say for sure that I've ever made them to begin with, but we had some kisses so we made some. These are a quick and easy cookie to make and perfect to have the kids help out with.

Peanut Butter Blossoms-from Hershey 
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup peanut butter(I did use Chunky)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
48 hershey kisses, unwrapped
additional granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Cream together shortening and peanut butter until well mixed. Add in both sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in the egg. Add in flour, salt, and soda. Mix until well combined. Scoop(or roll) into 1 inch balls, roll in sugar and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 8 mins until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and quickly place one kiss on top of each cookie and push down slightly. Allow to cool.

**These are pretty tasty! Although I do love the peanut butter chocolate combo. They are cruchy on the outside from the sugar coating and chewy and soft in the middle.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thai Chicken Soup

I was told to hold off on the soup for a while...apparently we were all souped out after Thanksgiving. BUT I borrowed one of the recent Food Network Magazines from the library and this was in it. I HAD to make it...I love all things Thai(well all that I've tried.)

This was the first time I used a curry paste and other than the price of it, it was wonderful in this soup! Luckily the rest of the ingredients were pretty cheap!

Thai Chicken Soup-Food Network Magazine
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp green curry paste
6 cups chicken broth
1 15 oz can coconut milk(I did use light)
1 tbsp fish sauce(plus more to taste)
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
4 oz rice noodles, broken into pieces
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
juice of 2 limes

Place oil in hot soup pot. Add in onions and cook until soft and lightly browned. Add in garlic and curry paste. Saute for 1-2 mins. Add in broth, milk, and fish sauce. Cover and bring to a boil. Add in bell peppers and noodles. Cook for about 3 mins. Add in the chicken and cook for another 3 mins. Add in lime juice, stir and serve.

**This was perfect! It was such a different taste on a "traditional" soup and will be making it again! It had a bit of a kick, but it was not over powering. I did use leftover turkey and turkey broth, but it was delicious none the less!

For more great soups and stews check out Finding Joy in my Kitchen's 2010 soup round up!

This has also been linked to Eat at Home

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This week I will start on my cookie/candy making list. I will make up the cookie dough in advance and freeze it and then pop it out of the freezer when I'm ready to bake them up!  My list includes:
-Saltine Toffee
-Molasses Crinkles
-Spritz(if I still have a cookie press, I know I had an unfortunate accident with my other one, but I think I have another)
-Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge
-White Choc. Oat, Cranberry Cookies

On Saturday I invited over 2 of A's friends to do some ginger bread houses and cookies with us. I will be providing the cookies and icing, they are bringing the decorations. I think they will have a blast!

As for the rest of the week and real food we are eating...

-Snickerdoodle muffins

-Coconut Shrimp and Curly fries(not homemade as I tried once and it was a dismal failure!)
-Maple Balsamic Pork, potato, roasted carrots
-Rustic Turkey Tart
-Black Bean soup...or Vegetarian Tortilla soup
-Pigs in Blankets with homemade Crescent Rolls

Chocolate Pumpkin Trifle

I made this for our Thanksgiving dessert. I saw it and thought it sounded DELICIOUS so I went with it and didn't do pies this year. It might have needed a bit more effort, but it was easily made ahead of time and it was worth it!

Chocolate Pumpkin Trifle-adapted from Rachael Ray
4 cups heavy cream, divided
3 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
3 tbsp powdered sugar
2 batches of chocolate wafer cookies
7 oz jar marshmallow cream
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 bag toffee heath chips(about the size of a choc. chip bag)

Place 2 cups of cream in stand mixer with whisk attachment. Add in cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk until stiff, but not dry. Scraping down sides if needed. Place in another bowl and set in fridge.

Whisk the rest of the cream until stiff but not dry. Fold pumpkin and marshmallow cream together. (This takes quite a bit of work, so next time I may mix it in the stand mixer). Next take pumpkin mixture and fold it gently into the whipped cream. Set aside.

In a large bowl, preferably glass. Layer in some pumpkin cream. Stand chocolate cookies on their sides all the way around the bowl. Next make sandwich cookies using the cookies and pumpkin cream. Lay these down in a single layer in the bowl. Top with some toffee chips and layer in some chocolate whipped cream. Continue with the layers until all cream and cookies are in the bowl. (I did have a few cookies left over. this will depend on the size of your bowl) Save some toffee for the top. Sprinkle.

Cover and let sit until ready to serve!

**This was delicious and rich! But it was loved by all. I loved the crunch that the toffee lent to the fluffy cream and the soft cookies. It was the perfect dessert.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chocolate Wafer Cookies

For our Thanksgiving dessert, I decided to forgo the pie when I saw a recipe for a pumpkin chocolate trifle. It involved chocolate wafer cookies and wanted to make them from scratch. I asked Hallee the Homemaker how to adapt her Vanilla Wafer Cookie recipe and gave it a try! The first batch did not flatten out, but the second batch I flattened before baking and they came out perfect!

Chocolate Wafer Cookies-adapted from Hallee the Homemaker
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 325.

Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg. Add in dry ingredients and mix until well combined.(This is a very thick dough). Scoop out dough using a small ice cream scoop or tsp. Place on baking sheet. Take a glass and dip the bottom into sugar and press onto each dough ball. Repeat for each ball. Place in oven and bake for 10 mins. After 10 mins shut the oven off and leave the cookies in the oven for 30 mins.

*These worked out perfectly and are crisp just like the store bought, but they taste so much better! They were quick and easy to make.

Friday, December 10, 2010


While making our Thanksgiving Day dessert I realized that Q couldn't have it! It was full of whipped cream and he is lactose intolerant! So I went on a hunt  to find something else for him. I was leaning towards brownies, but I found this so my sister choose these instead.

Blondies-shared from Let's Dish
1/2 cup butter
scant 1 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients and set aside Melt butter in saucepan. Add in sugar and whisk until disolved. Quickly whisk in egg and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Place in 8x8 inch pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 mins.

**Other than I over cooked them just a touch, these were very good! Everything you want in a blondie, chewy, soft, gooey, YUM! They were soo good, I never got a picture!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake Muffins

I had bagels planned for our Black Friday shopping day breakfast...and then realized my mom can't eat them. So I went with this recipe. Now the original recipe says it makes 10 muffins so I doubled the recipe...I got 2 dozen muffins! I knew 10 wouldn't last us long!

*This recipe is for a 10-12 muffins
Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake-adapted from Lick the Bowl Good
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp applesauce
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2-2/3 cup sugar
4 oz vanilla yogurt(or sour cream)
1/8 cup milk
1 1/4 cups flour(ap or whole wheat)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Cinnamon Brown sugar filling
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar together. Add in one egg at a time until well blended. Add in yogurt, vanilla, and applesauce. Mix well. Sift together dry ingredients and add in slowly, mix until just combined.

Scoop about 1 tbsp into prepared muffin tins(greased or liners). Sprinkle 1 tsp of cinnamon topping on top followed about another tbsp of batter.

Bake for 18-20 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.

**These were really tasty! I did skip the cinnamon sugar topping and cut back on the sugar in the batter. I could probably cut it back even more with the cinnamon swirl in it. The outside edges got nice and brown and crispy which added a nice texture to the moist and fluffy center! YUM!

For more breakfast ideas check out Finding Joy in my Kitchen's Breakfast Countdown!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Apple Onion Stuffing

I had never made "homemade" stuffing was always the stuff in the box. The last year I branched out to try a new recipe and I must have been watching Rachael Ray when I decided to try this recipe. Next year I may even make my own bread for the stuffing! (It's all about the baby steps)

Apple Onion Stuffing-shared from Rachael Ray
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 bay leaf
4 ribs of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 apples, chopped
salt and pepper
2 tbsp poultry seasoning
6-8 cups cubed stuffing mix(I used pepperidge farm herb)
2-3 cup broth

Place oil and butter in pan, once melted add in veggies and apples, sprinkle with spices, cook just until soft. Add in stuffing and broth just until moistened. Place in 13X9 inch casserole pan(or buttered muffins tins) Bake at 375 degrees until heated through about 10-15 mins.

**this was delicious! Sorry there is no picture...we ate it all before we got one!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-12/7

White Chocolate Brownies-Eat at Home
Eggnog Bread-Mommy's Kitchen
Peppermint Meltaways-What Megan's Making
Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocci Soup-Brenda's Canadian Kitchen
Peppermint Truffle Brownies-Let's Dish
Peanut Butter Dough Balls-What Megan's Making
Slow Cooker Candy-apples to zucchini

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Seen as I never posted a menu for last week, I will share with you some things we did have. After cooking for Thanksgiving, having a 4th bday party, and we ALL got sick, just the thought of food wasn't boding well, so I cooked with what I had!

-Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
-Rootbeer BBQ Beef
-Orange Chicken with broccoli and brown rice
-Blueberry Pancakes

This week we will be enjoying:
-BBQ Beef Burritos
-Chicken Parmesan
-Pizza Rolls
-Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
-Baked Potato Soup
-Apple Cheddar Monte Cristos

-Eggnog Bread
-Peppermint melts...or Peppermint sandwich cookies for a cookie swap on saturday

I think that's about all of it! I do need to work on my baking/candy making list. I started it tonight and got one thing written down.

Maple Oat Bread with Cinnamon Swirl

I have been wanting to make this bread for a while now and definitely make it into french toast! This worked out perfectly for both!

I did cut down on the brown sugar after reading it was a very sweet bread especially if you are going to use it in french toast!

Maple Oat Bread with Cinnamon Swirl-adapted from The Happy Housewife
1 cup plus 2 tbsp lukewarm water
2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
4 tbsp softened butter
1 1/2 cups rolled oats, ground
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp apple or orange juice
1 tsp gluten
2 cups ap flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt

Swirl ingredients:
4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup brown sugar

Combine all the bread dough ingredients and mix/knead until a soft dough forms. Place in a warm place and let rise for one hour or until doubled.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and roll out as thin as possible. Melt the butter and combine with the sugar. Spread over the dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll up like a cinnamon roll, making sure ends are tucked in and ends are folded in. Place seam side down in loaf pan. Let dough rise for 1 1/2 hours until doubled.

Place in 350 degree oven for 30-40 mins. Tent with foil after 20 mins. Slice and serve warm.

**Now my loaves look small as I couldn't figure out from the recipe if it made one or two loaves. I think it only makes one as these are pretty small and the sugar mix didn't cover both loaves. This was excellent bread and made fantastic french toast!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Apple Sausage Cheddar Balls

We used to make these growing up, but I haven't had them in a long time. Mostly because they are not the healthiest item to make. BUT I saw this recipe so it bumps the nutrition up a bit and I used whole wheat flour. I also doubled the "dough" ingredients so it stretched a little farther.

Apple Sausage Cheddar Balls-adapted from Cooking During Stolen Moments
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb bulk sausage(I only used 12 oz)
2 cups shredded cheese
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 apples, shredded
1/4 tsp allspice

Mix all ingredients together. Form into balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 15-20 mins.

**Q tried a couple bites, but his appetite has been lacking a bit since he was sick over the weekend. I ate these and thought they were fabulous. You couldn't really taste the apple, but the sweetness was there and it off set the saltiness of the pork and cheese! Definitely a keeper!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sweet Potato Pancakes

 I had some extra sweet potato puree left over so I decided to give these a try. I made it special treat by adding in mini chocolate chips. A had been begging to eat them so I finally gave in!

Sweet Potato Pancakes-shared from Lick the Bowl Good
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup applesauce(or butter melted)
1 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans(omitted)

Whisk together all ingredients until well combined. Place on hot griddle and cook until edges are firm. Flip. *If you are adding in chocolate chips sprinkle on top before you flip them.

**These were pretty tasty, but K informed me he likes the pumpkin ones I make better. I think it has to do with the vinegar in that recipe as it makes it lighter and fluffier(like buttermilk would)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Beef Stew

This is a family favorite of ours! It is easy as it uses the crock pot, one of my favorite appliances!

Beef Stew- from Big Y
1 lb stew meat
1 qt beef stock
1 pkg baby carrots
2-3 potatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water

Place all ingredients in slow cooker except water and corn starch. Stir to combine and set to low for 6-8 hrs(or until veggies and meat are tender) One hour before serving, combine cornstarch and water until smooth, stir into stew and set slow cooker on high for one hour. This should help thicken the stew. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

**This is a great fall or winter very filling dish! Its a great crowd pleaser!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cranberry Orange Bagels

I like to have things in my freezer that can be easily grabbed in the morning...I'm not much of a morning person and add 2 kids in(one who moves like molasses) and I'm frantically scrambling for the door to get to where we need to go. I already have part of a batch of Pumpkin Bagels in there so I wanted to try these next.

I'm loving making my own bagels...really!

Cranberry Orange Bagels-shared from Apples to Zucchini
1 cup plus 2 tbsp warm water
1/2 cup dried or fresh cranberries(chop the fresh ones)
1/3 cup brown sugar
zest of one orange(2-3 tsp)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 cups flour(1 cup ww, 2 cup ap)
2 1/4 tsp yeast

Combine ingredients in bread machine according to manufacturer's directions. Start dough cycle. Check after 5 mins to make sure its not to soft(which is what happened to me and I wasn't here to check it, add more flour 1 tbsp at a time, or if its to dry add 1 tbsp of water at a time until desired consistency is reached). About 15 mins before cycle is done, place a large pot of water on stove and bring to a boil.

Once dough cycle is done, remove dough and place on lightly floured surface. Divide into 8-9 equal pieces. Roll into balls and flatten slightly. Break hole in the center and give it a twirl to form bagel shape. Place on cookie sheet and let rise for 10 mins.

Place bagels in water 2-3 at a time(depending on how big your pot is) and let boil for 45 secs, flip and boil for 45 seconds more. Remove with slotted spoon and drain.

Bake for 18-22 mins or until golden brown.

**These were very good! Chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside! As previously mentioned I wasn't here to watch the dough, normally I am and always will be. But if you find you come home and the dough is too soft, then let it finish the cycle. Once its done place dough on a heavily floured surface and lightly knead in extra flour until a stiffer dough forms. I saved the bagels whew...I hate waisting food!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-11/30

Cranberry Orange Streusal Bars-Teacher Turned Mommy
Orange Lentil Soup-For the Love of Grub
Creamy CHicken and wild rice soup-what's Megan Making?
Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Muffins-Apples to Zucchini
Gingerbread Hot Cocoa-Apples to Zucchini
Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies-Muchkin Muchies
Mint Chocolate Delights-Alli-n-Son
Snickerdoodle Muffins-Eat At Home

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

So to continue my love for pumpkin, how about some cookies? I did give half of this batch to a friend with 2 meals.

My husband also called me on the fact that I've been making a LOT of pumpkin recipes....but I don't like pumpkin pie. I think its purely a texture thing for me!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies-shared from $5 dinners
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups flour(half ww, half ap)
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, and pumpkin. Once smooth add in the flour, spices, and baking soda. Stir until dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 mins.

**These were more cake like than a cookie. My cookies didn't seem to look like Erin's...but they were still pretty good. They reminded me more of a muffin top. They also didn't spread out like her picture. But still a healthy version of a cookie.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rainbow Cupcakes and Butter Cream Frosting

 A certain little boy I know turns 4 today...I'm really not sure how that happened! But I wanted to send in some cupcakes to school to celebrate. I saw the idea for rainbow cupcakes a while ago and then this past week they were posted again on another blog so I had to try them out.(Although he did want chocolate, but I felt bad that a little girl in his class doesn't like chocolate, so I convinced him of rainbow!)

Rainbow Cupcakes-cake recipe shared from Hallee the Homemaker
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

*This made around 21 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350, prepare muffin tins with oil or cupcake liners.

Sift together sugar, salt, flour, and baking powder. Mix together milk and vanilla. Add in half the milk/vanilla and oil to flour mixture. Beat on medium for 2 mins. Add in the rest of the milk and eggs, beat for another 2 mins on med.

Divide batter into 4-6 bowls(depending on how many colors you want to do). Tint dough with food coloring to desired color. Have birthday boy help with this! Little fingers provide BRILLIANT colors! Stir well. Divide amongst cupcake pan(s). Starting with one color in the bottom, followed by each color after to form layers.

Place in oven for 15-18 mins until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

**These came out so pretty and were fun to make especially with little helpers!

Butter Cream Frosting-shared from Hallee the Homemaker
I LOVE frosting...well on cake! I like a really really good one too, not the whipped kind(which we found out the hard way Q can't have! Oops!)  Hallee came through with this recipe and it rivals the bakery in town, it's definitely a keeper!

1/2 cup butter. softened,
1/2 shortening
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla

Beat butter and shortening until fluffy(about 2 mins on a stand mixer). Add in the sugar, cream of tartar, and vanilla. On low gently beat the sugar until all the creamed mixture is combined. Slowly add 1 tbsp of milk to mixture until desired consistency is achieved. Once this is done, put mixer on high and beat for 3-4 mins until light and fluffy!

**This is my absolute favorite frosting recipe and I use it all the time whenever a cake needs to be made!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lasagna Soup and Pizza Hut Bread Sticks

I can't remember where I got this recipe from...I think it was one of the magazines I get. It intrigued me as I never thought to make soup out of lasagna and it was completely worth it! I make it in the crock pot but you can also do it on the stove!

Lasagna Soup
1 lb Italian sausage, crumbled(or sliced) cooked, drained
8 oz-1 lb pasta(I used shells, but any will do)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 container cottage cheese
2 tbsp tomato paste
pinch of red pepper flakes
1-2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tsp dried basil
6 cups broth

Place all ingredients in slow cooker except cheese and pasta. Cook on low for 6 hrs. Cook pasta in another pot until tender. Stir cheese and pasta into soup and serve.

**We love this soup, although this time I forgot the cottage cheese. But it was still pretty tasty!

Pizza Hut Style Bread Sticks-shared from
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cups flour(3 ap, 1 ww)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp oregano
3 tbsp powdered milk
2 tsp yeast

Place ingredients in bread maker according to manufacter's directions. Set on dough setting and wait!

In the mean time make topping:
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tbsp garlic salt*
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp oregano
olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in bowl and stir until well combined. Set aside. *I didn't have garlic salt, so I added in more garlic powder and 1 tsp salt.

Once dough is done, remove from bread machine and place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle that is 1/2-3/4 inch thick.  With pizza cutter cut dough into 1X4 inch strips. Place on greased cookie sheets(I did use my non-stick pans). Brush bread with olive oil and sprinkle with topping. Let rise for 20 mins or until doubled. Place in 350 degree oven for 10-12 mins or until golden.(Make sure you watch these as the topping browns quickly)

**We can't say that these tasted just like pizza hut, but I think the fact that they aren't dripping in fat is the reason. These were the best bread stick recipe we have tried thus far. They were fluffy and airy. The outside had a bit of a bite and the topping was great.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope this post finds you well and celebrating the holiday with family and friends!

Here is our Thanksgiving Menu...the non-basic turkey day items will have recipes coming. Most are pretty traditional so I don't really feel the need to share them, but of course if you would like them let me know!

-Roast Turkey
-Apple Onion Stuffing(recipe coming)
-Broccoli Cheese Rice casserole(recipe coming)
-Sweet Potato Rolls(recipe to come)
-Butternut Squash
-Mashed potatoes
-Cranberry sauce...from the can!(It's the only kind my brother will eat!)
-Green Bean Casserole(with homemade Mushroom Soup)

-Black and Tan Trifle(chocolate and pumpkin whipped cream with homemade choc. wafers)
-I think my mom was going to also make some cheesecake bars.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Granola bars...or Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

I stumbled on this recipe when I found another blog to read. Snowhite show cased this blog in one of her Friday Favorites and these looked really good!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars-shared from Two Peas in Their Pod
3 1/4 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup(I used maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 inch pan.

In a large bowl whisk oats, spices, and salt together. In another bowl whisk brown sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, syrup, and vanilla. Pour over oats and mix until moist. Stir in chocolate chips. Evenly press mixture into pan. Bake for 30-35 mins or until golden brown. Make sure the center is set as the pumpkin keeps them moist but you don't want them raw in the middle. Cut using a sharp knife and cool on a rack.

**This reminded me more of a baked oatmeal than a granola bar. It could have been because I used quick oats and old fashioned, none the less it was delightfully delicious! I've been eating it broken into pieces with a splash of milk over the top.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-11/23

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cheeseball-Meal Planning with Connie
Southwestern Taco Pot Pie-Brenda's Canadian Kitchen
creamy taco mac-Jenn's Food Journey
Easy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup-Let's Dish
Red Velvet Pancakes-The Sweets Life
Chicken Nacho Bake-Jenn's Food Journey
Smore Bars-Lick the Bowl Good
Healthy Poptarts-Heavenly Homemakers
Chocolate Bark-Made On
Cranberry Pecan Pitas-Apples to Zucchini
whole wheat pull apart yeast rolls-Hallee the Homemaker
Pumpkin Knots-The sweets life
Pumpkin Blondies-Baking Junkie
Pumpkin Spiced Hot

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I have quite a bit of prep work to get done for thanksgiving. I choose not to post our menu probably until Thursday. This is only because it's pretty basic and nothing special! I will be posting the stuffing and the dessert recipes at a later date!

To get us to Thursday we will be enjoying:
-Taco Soup
-Minestrone Soup
-Apple Sausage Cheese Balls(or just Sausage Cheese balls)
-Coffee cake muffins
-possibly a veggie barley soup...or lentil barley soup, can you see I haven't decided! OR philly cheesesteak soup(if i have all the ingredients)

After Thursday:
-Pumpkin Spice Bagels and Cranberry Orange Bagels
-Rustic Turkey Pie(or tart)
-Turkey broth(and I'll make sure NOT to have them over expand and freeze!)
-Turkey and Dumpings
-Pepperoni Pizza
-Blueberry Pancakes
-Some kind of birthday cake...I was going with chocolate but I think now the bday boy wants who knows!

Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins

I am always looking for new muffin recipes and for some reason I thought this was a mocha muffin, but it turned out to be just coffee!

I wasn't a huge fan of the 3 STICKS of butter that this recipe required, so I cut the butter in half. I also cut back some of the sugar.

Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins-adapted from Lick the Bowl Good
Beat on high until fluffy:
3/4 cup butter(1 1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
5 tbsp instant coffee
(add in 3/4 cup applesauce,mix)

Sift in:
2 cups ap flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

At low speed mix until just combined:
1 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips

Place batter in greased muffins tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 mins or until toothpick comes out clean.

**These were pretty good for a coffee muffin. Although I do think next time I'll add in some cocoa powder.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Crock Pot Indian Curry

On my quest to try more curry, I found this simple recipe. I've never had Indian Curry before so I don't know how this compares to the real thing, but I was willing to give it a try!

Slow Cooker Indian Curry-shared from A Year of Slow Cooking
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 inch peeled ginger, grated
few dashes of hot sauce
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 sweet pepper, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed/drained
1 lb chicken breast(optional)

Place milk, paste, spices, garlic, hot sauce, and ginger in bottom of crock pot. Stir well. Place chicken in sauce and flip a couple of times to coat well. Add in veggies and beans. Cook on low for 7-9 hours or high for 4-6 hours. (I did stir in my veggies to get them coated in the sauce, but you don't have to.) Right before serving, remove chicken and shred, add back in and coat with sauce. Serve over your favorite rice.

**Like I mentioned before I am not sure how authentic the spices are, but it was still pretty good and curbed my curry craving! It was a touch spicy but not hot. I didn't think my boys would like it so I offered them something else. Little did I know they LOVED it, mostly the beans. This could easily be adapted to vegetarian by omitting the chicken and adding in more beans and veggies.

Friday, November 19, 2010

'Tis the Donate!

The other day A came home with a project from preschool and to go along with it they have the kids bring in food for a food drive.  I was hoping they still did this as there are times when I find I want to donate especially this time of year, but never seem to remember or have the opportunity to.  I also want to teach my boys that it is better to give than receive and no matter what we happen to be going through there just might be someone out there that is worse off and could really use the help.

Money has been tight for many people this past year in this economy. I started our "better eating/whole foods" approach last January. Part of it was to help us save money as it is a lot cheaper for me to make a loaf of bread than to spend $2 on a loaf that has who knows what in it! It has helped us to eat better and healthier while saving a few bucks, plus it tastes about 10 times better!

As I sit here pondering what I want to donate, I remember a post Hallee made about her work in the soup kitchen. Basically its about the low quality of food that is being provided for these people, who many are in poor health. She goes on to say that if these people had better quality food they would be in better health. So I can imagine that the same people who go to a food bank could use the same quality of food.

I wandered through the store tonight trying to think of things that are more whole food appropriate so I can donate what I preach. Now I would LOVE to give them organic foods, but I'd much rather give them  quantity vs. quality. Don't get me wrong organic is probably the best way to go, but if I spent $3 on a bag of organic dry beans only one family will profit. But if I get 3 bags of regular beans 3 families can have at least 3 meals of a better quality food, not great, but better.(Prices are a guess, I haven't priced organic dried beans, but I know regular in our store is around $1/lb).

So if you find in your heart you want to donate this holiday season, I challenge you to donate more whole foods vs. the "processed" stuff. Sure you can pick up 5 boxes of the blue box mac and cheese, but instead grab 5 lbs of dried beans for the same price(if not cheaper).

Here are some other suggestions:
-brown rice
-Old fashioned oatmeal
-whole wheat crackers
-whole wheat flour
-100% juice
-dried beans(black, red, kidney, white, etc)
-No sugar(or sugar substitute) jelly(Polaner's All Fruit is one)
-Natural Peanut Butter
-whole wheat pasta
-canned fruit(in juice not syrup)
-canned vegetables(no salt added)
-I'd like to say soup, but most of those are also loaded with chemicals and sodium, so maybe a low sodium broth.
-low sugar cereal(cheerios)

Other non-food items that they also look for:
-toilet paper

If you have any other ideas, please feel free to share! Also let us know what YOU have donated this year!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

This made its first appearance on my Tasty Tuesday post and I needed something quick and easy for lunch today. This couldn't have been simpler! I also added in some cheese tortellini and leftover spaghetti.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup-shared from Let's Dish
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups broth
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Place tomatoes and broth in sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer. In a blender puree peppers and garlic. Add to tomatoes along with lemon juice and spices. Simmer for another 30 mins. Add in cooked pasta just before serving.

**I actually used a can of whole tomatoes and pureed them and next time I'll used diced just to give it a bit more texture. I may even roast them. I felt like it was missing something and perhaps I just needed to up the spices a bit, but it was still quite tasty!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chocolate Chip cookies...with a secret ingredient

I know I've seen this before, but never tried it. I don't usually have packages of pudding in the cabinet anymore, but I had one more left that I just didn't know what to do with it. We don't eat pudding much as Q can't have it...I used a cheesecake flavor of pudding.

Chocolate Chip Cookies-shared from Family, Food, & Fun
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2.5 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2.5 cups flour(I used half whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 (3.3 oz) box of instant pudding
1-2 cups choc. chips

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream together sugars and butter until smooth. Add in one egg at a time until combined. Add in vanilla. Add in dry ingredients and mix until throughly combined. Stir in choc. chips. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 mins.

**I have to say these are one of the best chocolate chip cookies I've had...if you like soft cookies. These were prefect and oh so good!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tasty Tuesday 11/16

Chocolate Pudding Mix-Taste of Home
Southwest Sloppy Joes with Honey Lime slaw-Debbi Does Dinner Healthy
Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake-Joy the Baker
Mississippi Mud Brownies-Family, Food, and Fun
Challah-At Home with Haley
Loaded Chicken Philly Sammie-Siggy Spice
Sweet Hawaiian Rolls-Apples to Zucchini
Oozy:Arabic Recipe via Huhu
General Tso's Chicken Stir Fry-Debbi Does Dinner Healthy
Tiramisu Bowl-Kraft foods

Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This is the last week of preschool for Avery before the holidays, so I will be making him some rainbow cupcakes with maybe rainbow frosting! We will see how the frosting goes!
Other baking includes:
-Cinnamon swirl coffee cake muffins
-Cranberry Orange Bagels(to freeze for Black Friday)
-French Bread

-Baked Ziti with sausage, peppers, and onions (for a friend)
-Vegetarian Chili and corn muffins
-Beef Stew
-Ham Stuffed Shells
-Apple Cheddar Monte Cristos

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin Cheese Coffee Cake

I was looking for a new dessert to make for Halloween...I was leaning towards an apple cake, but then I stumbled upon this delicious looking cake! Of course it is pumpkin!

I did cut back the sugar, used whole wheat flour, and low fat cream cheese. I also only put the coconut topping on 3/4 of the cake as I didn't figure my mom would be able to eat it yet.

Pumpkin Cheese Cake-adapted from Food, Family, and Fun
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup flour(1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 ap)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 tbsp sugar

3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans(omitted)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together cake ingredients and place in a greased 9x13 inch pan.

Cream together filling ingredients.  Using a small cookie scoop place dollops of cream cheese over cake batter. Swirl using a knife.

Combine topping and sprinkle over topping. Place in oven for 35-40 mins until a knife comes out clean.

**This was so very good! We did decided it was tastier with the topping on it(sorry mom). This would be great for a potluck dinner. It was quick and easy too!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Bagels

I am continuing my love for pumpkin right now...A asked for bagels and this was on my list this week so I went ahead and made them. They are very easy considering they use your bread machine, but I'm sure you could easily make them using a stand mixer.

Pumpkin Spice Bagels-shared from Apples to Zucchini
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
3 cup bread flour*
2 1/4 tsp yeast

*I used 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup ap flour, and 4 tsp vital wheat gluten.

Combine ingredients in bread maker according to man. recommendations. Start dough cycle.

About 15 mins before the cycle ends, place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil.

Once cycle is complete, turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Shape dough into 9 balls. Flatten slightly and push a hole into the middle. Stretch dough out to make about a 1 inch hole. Lay on cookie sheet, cover and let rise for 10 mins. Preheat oven at 400 degrees.

Place 2-3 bagels into boiling water and boil for about 45 secs, flip and boil for 45 secs more. Place on greased cookie sheet. Place in oven for 15-20 mins until golden brown.

**A wasn't a fan of these...even though I called them orange bagels. If I called them pumpkin, I knew he wouldn't eat it. Q on the other hand loved one and ate almost a whole one. Then half of mind for breakfast...I loved the flavor. I did freeze the batch this time as I remember last time they went bad before we finished them. Now we have fresh homemade bagel whenever we like! I think these would taste fabulous with the creamy apple tortilla cream cheese.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Low Fat Pomegranate Blueberry Scones

I had about a half cup of pomegranate seeds left that the boys somehow didn't devour...and I remembered this recipe. I added in some blueberries to even it to a cup of fruit. I wasn't sure how the recipe was going to work as it uses very little butter, but it worked out surprisingly well!

Low Fat Pomegranate Blueberry Scones-shared from Gina's Skinny Recipes
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup suga
zest of one lemon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup ap flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup pomegranate(or 1/2 cup pom, 1/2 cup blueberries)
1 large egg white, beaten
2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Mix together the first 5 ingredients. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gently fold in fruit.  Add milk mixture until moist.(Dough will be sticky)

Place dough on floured surface and knead lightly four times with floured hands.(I used a bit of extra flour as it kept sticking to me and the mat). Form dough into 8 inch circle onto baking sheet.(about 3/4 inch thick). Using a knife cut dough into 8 wedges, but not all the way through. Brush egg white over scones and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden for about 18-20 mins.

**These came out wonderful! The lemon was a great flavor and they were very good for only using a little butter. I had never cooked with pomegranate before but they worked out well. Definitely a great recipe for brunch or Christmas breakfast! I can't wait to try new flavors!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Black Bean Tacos

After I used some corn tortillas for a soup, I was left with quite a few tortillas left over. This recipe IMMEDIATELY came to mind! It's quick, easy, and delicious! Although, I swear I posted it before! It is a great vegetarian meal that is quite filling.

The original recipe calls for feta crumbles, but I wasn't paying $4 for a small pkg, so I cut up some sharp cheddar into tiny squares and we loved it even more!

Black Bean Tacos-shared from The Hart of the Home 
2 cups black beans
1/2 tsp cumin
1 pkg broccoli slaw(or shredded cabbage)
1 lime, juiced
1/3 cup feta crumbles or chedder cubes
8 corn tortillas
hot sauce

Mash the beans slightly and sprinkle with cumin, stir. Set aside. Combine slaw and lime juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and set aside.

Heat 1-2 tsp of oil in frying pan until hot. Place corn 1-2 corn tortillas in pan and fry until golden brown. Flip and fill with 2 tbsp beans(or what will fit), fold over and heat for a few mins. Remove from pan and place some slaw on top, sprinkle with hot sauce just before serving. Continue with the rest of the tacos.

**We added to much hot sauce to ours, but that was our own fault! We liked the sharpness of the cheese and the tang of the lime juice. YUM!

*This has been linked to Finding Joy in My Kitchen