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Monday, October 31, 2011

Sugar Cookies

  • I have never really been a sugar cookie lover, but they are so pretty and fun to decorate, so I usually only make them a few times a year. Every time I make them I swear I won't do it again because they take a lot of time and I usually end up in a disastrous mess where every bowl and measuring cup in my kitchen end up dirty. Now that we have a dishwasher (we didn't for the first 2.5 years of marriage), I feel like I can make sugar cookies without ruining my marriage by arguing whose dish day it is...

    Although I'm not a sugar cookie lover, I do like these ones and they got great reviews when I made them for a little Halloween get-together. Lu posted a Sugar Cookie recipe that she likes to use, but this one is a little bit different, so I wanted to share. This one is bakes for less time at a higher temp and makes a bit more than her recipe. I like 'em soft and chewy, so I roll them thick, but if you like them crispy, you can roll them thinner or just leave them in a few minutes longer.  Happy Halloween!

    (For these cookies, I used the glacé icing recipe that Linds posted on here a while back from the girls over at Our Best Bites, where I got the spiderweb idea. That recipe is definitely a keeper. I think with the glacé icing, the cookies taste better the next day. These are also great smeared thick with some classic cream cheese frosting.)
    Rolled Sugar Cookies
    Printable Version

    1 1/2 cups butter
    2 cups white sugar
    4 eggs
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    5 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt

    In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

    Preheat oven to 400. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on silicone or parchment-lined cookie sheets.
    Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Be careful not to over bake--cookies will not be browned even though they are fully cooked.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

    Recipe Source:

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin pancakes! Oh my yummy! If you made these cookies that I posted a few weeks ago, then you probably didn't use your whole can of pumpkin. I usually buy the big cans, so I had lots leftover. While I could have froze the rest for using later, we saved it in the fridge and have been having pumpkin pancakes for breakfast and brinner! :) They are so yummy drizzled with some homemade maple syrup, or topped with cooked apples.

They are rich in flavor, light and fluffy, and full of fall spices! I hope you enjoy them. They are a perfect fall breakfast, brunch, or brinner!

Pumpkin Pancakes
Printable Version
Serves 6

Note: I usually half this recipe for our family. I still use one egg if I half the recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1+ cups milk

In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. In a separate bowl combine pumpkin, egg, oil, vinegar, and milk (start with 1 cup, and then add a teaspoon or two at a time to thin until it’s the consistency you like for pancakes). Whisk pumpkin mixture into flour mixture just enough to combine.

Heat a lightly buttered griddle or frying pan over medium heat or slightly lower. Pour our scoop the batter onto the griddle, using about ¼ cup batter for each pancake. Brown on both sides until cooked through.

Serve with butter and maple syrup. And if you want a chocolatey twist, throw in some chocolate chips (about ½ cup).

Recipe Source: adapted from by Ruth. Used several reviews to make adaptations.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Super Nachos

I'm not sure I can even call this a real recipe, but it's a super easy, super fast dinner idea.  I think everyone needs some of those to stick in their back pocket!  I like to pair this with mexican rice or a green salad.

Super Nachos
Tortilla Chips
1 lb ground beef
Taco seasoning (Use store bought or make your own)
2 cups grated cheddar or colby jack cheese
Diced tomatoes
Sliced olives
Avocado or guacamole
Sour Cream
Salsa...or any other toppings you can dream up.  My friend, Haylee, even makes them with grilled chicken.

Preheat oven to 375.  Add salt and pepper to ground beef and brown.  Drain fat and rinse if desired.  Season with taco seasoning according to package directions.  Arrange tortilla chips on a lined baking sheet.  Be careful not to let them overlap too much, or you won't get enough cheesy goodness on each chip!  Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top.  Top with all desired topping and finish off with remaining grated cheese.  Keep a close eye on them for about 5 minutes in preheated oven or until the chesse is a melty as you want it.  We like to dip ours in sour cream, salsa, or cilantro-ranch dressing.

Note:  I mixed all the toppings in with some cooked macaroni for my little guy since he can't chew tortilla chips yet.  He loved it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tootsie Pop Ghosts {in an Egg Carton Graveyard}

I have been thinking about and dreaming about our upcoming Halloween party this weekend. We are having several of my nieces and nephews over and my in-laws. I have never really got into Halloween much, but when there are fun things to make and a party to make them for I just can't seem to help myself. It's lots of fun! In my preparation for this party I remembered back to when I was a kid and my mom would make tootsie pops into cute ghosts. So I thought I'd better do that as a fun little party favor for everyone to take.

(see more pictures below for a simple tutorial)

This project is really simple, and if you save your egg carton then you'll probably have everything on hand except the tootsie pops (or you could use blow pops, I think dum-dums are a little small for this, but you could and they'd just be baby ghosts).

All you need is:
  • Egg carton (12 or 18 count egg carton, depending on how many you want to make)
  • Tootsie pops (blow pops, dum dums (for baby ghosts) or any other round-shaped sucker)
  • Kleenex
  • String, ribbon, colored pipe cleaner wire, fabric, etc for tying
  • Black Permanent Marker
  • Green paint or paper (optional)

Okay, let's get started:

First pain the sides of the egg carton lid green, or cover them with green paper for grass in the graveyard. Then with a permanent marker after the paint has dried write "R.I.P." On each egg holder/tombstone.
Next, place a Kleenex over each tootsie pop and tie a piece or fabric (that's what I used), or any of the following: string, ribbon, colored pipe cleaner wire, yarn, etc. around the bottom of the sucker. And draw to black eyes on. It'd also be cute do buy those googly eyes and glue them on (just make sure it doesn't glue through onto the sucker.
Once the paint is dry on the egg carton, fill it with newspaper. This will help hold the ghost pops up when you put them in....otherwise they will not stand up very well.
Next you'll turn the egg carton so it's upside down (tomb-side up) take a sharp knife and just twist it until you get a small hole in each egg compartment. This way the little ghosties will fit in nice!
Now start putting the ghost in each hole you poked and then soon you'll have a full grave yard of haunting ghosts! :)
Aren't they cute?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Classic Chili

I think I've only made one good Chili before trying this recipe. In the past I've just whipped up something kind of random and called it Chili. But after tasting this Chili, I know that my past in-a-hurry-Chili-whip-ups were not Chili at all. They weren't even half as good as this stuff.

The way I prefer my Chili is like this: Mostly beef and tomatoes, some beans, a slight sweet and mildly spiced flavor, and I like it somewhat thick, but still a bit soupy. That is just what this recipe is all about! It's all of those wonderful things. And it's easy and does not call for any absurd ingredients. Severed with a hot slice of cornbread and slather of butter, it's simply perfect.

After making this marvelous Chili I have come to realize that a long simmer really does bring out the flavor. The slow simmer helps marry all the flavors together, producing a very satisfying bowl of homemade Chili.

Oh man, I don't know what else to say, but you gotta try this!

Classic Chili
Printable Version
Serves 8

2 pounds lean ground beef (I like 93% lean)
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes or 2 quarts home canned tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

Combine ground beef, onion, and garlic in a large stockpot. Cook and stir frequently over medium-low to medium heat until beef is brown and juices run clean. Drain any excess grease off meat if you’d like.

Add chili powder, salt, oregano, tomatoes (if like to dice my tomatoes before adding to the stockpot. The reason it does not call for diced tomatoes is there is usually less tomato juice in the can/jar. You can also break up the tomatoes with your stirring spoon if you’d like), and tomato sauce. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour plus.

After the hour of simmering add beans and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve warm: plain, or with grated cheese, sour cream, and chips, and/or cornbread.

Note: the key here is to simmer it at least the full amount of time called for, it really brings out the flavor and makes the chili all that it’s supposed to be.

Recipe Source: adapted from by Michelle

Friday, October 14, 2011

Whole Wheat Dinner Muffins

Last night for dinner we had these hearty little muffins. I spotted them on Mel's Kitchen Cafe a while ago and have had them on my "to-make" list for a while. It's too bad I waited as long as I did to try them. They look just like a regular muffin, but don't let that fool you. The thing that makes these babies so delicious is that the egg whites are whipped separately, leaving you with a light and airy, yet hearty muffin. I will definitely be making these again soon. The fact that there is no yeast or rising time is a plus too! I had to restrain myself from eating half the batch last night, but it was worth it because the leftovers made great breakfast muffins

Whole Wheat Dinner Muffins
Printable Version

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (I used white-wheat flour)
4 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
6 tablespoons firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons butter, melted, or olive oil
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
3 tablespoons sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350°F (325° if you are using a dark or nonstick pan). Grease 16 standard muffin cups; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping during baking.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl or a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the egg yolks, butter, buttermilk, and sour cream until blended. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture just until evenly moistened. Don’t overmix! The batter will be slightly lumpy.

In a clean bowl, using a mixer, beat the egg whites just until they form soft peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter until blended, again, taking care not to overmix because that will result in tough, dry muffins.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup nearly level with the rim of the cup. Sprinkle the muffins with the sesame seeds if desired. Bake the muffins until they are golden, dry and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from cups and serve warm or at room temperature with butter and/or jam.

Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe; original recipe adapted from The Willams-Sonoma Cookbook

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies may just be one of my most favorite cookies. They are definitely one cookie that I crave each fall. I love the way cinnamon and chocolate go together, and accompanied with a rich pumpkiny cake-like cookie, they are simply divine. Soft, tender, and full of chocolate morsels in every bite....that's right, morsels-meaning more than one per bite! There's not much more I can say about these tasties. I hope you enjoy!

LinkPumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Printable Version
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (I freeze or refrigerate extra pumpkin depending on when I'm going to use it next)
½ cup vegetable oil (or ¼ cup vegetable oil + ¼ cup applesauce, that’s what I do)
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 ½ - 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a 8 cup measuring cup combine sugar, pumpkin, oil (or substitute of ½ applesauce ½ oil), and egg. Mix until combined well. In a small mixing bowl mix the following until combined: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt. Dissolve baking soda in milk and add to wet mixture along with dry mixture and mix until combined. Add one tablespoon vanilla (I use my teaspoon and do 3 teaspoons so I don’t dirty another measuring spoon) and 1 ½ to 2 cups chocolate chips (depends on how much chocolate you want). Mix until incorporated.

Bake on a greased or silicone lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned. When cookies are done remove with spatula to a cooling racked lined with paper towels. This helps the cookies not stick to the metal racks. If you are going to be storing these in a plastic container it’s best to either stick wax paper between layers (only do 2 layers) per container otherwise the cookies will get mushed.


Recipe Source: unknown, it was just hand written in my recipe box ???

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cranberry Cream Salad

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving (and Columbus Day)!  It is this time of year that I am so glad I married a Canadian.  Until I started dating my hubby, I never knew that Canucks celebrated Thanksgiving several weeks earlier than we do in the United States.  I guess it makes sense if you think about it--it's colder up north so their harvest season is a bit earlier.  Thankfully, I get to give thanks twice a year with two Thanksgiving dinners!  I'm always looking for reasons to celebrate and eat good food, so even if you aren't Canadian, it would be silly not to take advantage of an excuse to eat turkey.  

This recipe comes from my Aunt Kohnie.  Everything she makes is delicious and this
salad could quite possibly be my favorite thing about Thanksgiving dinner.  It is light, fluffy, and festive and is a perfect side for a turkey dinner (or any potluck for that matter).   I love that is uses fresh cranberries and not canned, or cooked.  I can't wait until November 24th so I can make it again!

Cranberry Cream Salad
Printable Version
1 bag fresh cranberries  (frozen would work too)
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 ½ cups sugar
1 package miniature marshmallows
1 pint whipping cream
Bananas (I used about 4 medium-sized)
Nuts (optional)

Use blender to chop or grind cranberries. You can use a little water or some of the pineapple juice  to help them chop, just drain it afterward.  Add pineapple and sugar to cranberries. Let stand in fridge 4 hours or overnight. Whip whipping cream. Fold in cranberry mixture. Add marshmallows, bananas, and nuts (if desired).

Recipe Source: My Aunt Kohnie

Friday, October 7, 2011

Taco Soup

It is feeling more and more like fall each day this week. We even had snow on the foothills and mountain tops yesterday. Is it that way for everyone else? I am feeling a big soup fetish coming over me as the temperature cools and I try to stay warm.

This taco soup is one of our favorites (as with all the other recipes I post on this blog). We have this soup throughout the year, but I especially love a hot soup on a cold day, like today.

This recipe calls for all sorts of ingredients that I always have on hand (ground beef, onion, broth, canned tomatoes, beans, corn, tomato soup, salsa, and taco seasoning), so I can whip it up just about any old day, without making a run to the store. I also season it with my very own homemade taco seasoning, which gives is an extra warm touch.

This soup is great topped with your favorite taco toppings, such as: sliced olives, green onions, sour cream, grated cheddar, cilantro, and tortilla chips.


Taco Soup
Printable Version
Serves about 10

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 (medium to large size) yellow onion, diced
2 (10 ounce) cans chicken or beef broth
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 cup salsa (your favorite kind)
1 small can of tomato soup
1 cup frozen corn
1-2 (27 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (depends on how much bean you like)
½ to 1 package of taco seasoning, to taste (or 2-4 tablespoons of this taco seasoning)

Sliced olives
Sliced green onion
Grated cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Tortilla chips

In large stock pot add diced onion and ground beef. Brown ground beef until juices run clear and it it thoroughly cooked throughout, onions should be clear and cooked through. Add broth, diced tomatoes, salsa, corn, beans, and taco seasoning and simmer for 15-20 minutes until hot. Simmering allows the flavors to intensify.

Note: I usually half this recipe except for the beans, I just use one can. This usually will feed my and my husband for dinner and give us about 3 lunch size helpings leftover. We also like to serve this with cornbread.

Recipe Source: Rosella B.