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Friday, November 28, 2014

Creamy Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you were able to spend it with those you love!  As we get ready for the busy and festive Christmas season, I thought you might enjoy this soup on a cold night to warm you up.  

This recipe comes from my friend, Becky.  She sent my husband home with a big jar of it around this time last year when I had my third baby.  I was so excited for some fresh homemade soup when we got home from the hospital!  And I may or may not have hid the leftovers for my lunch! Talk about yum! There is something about this soup that just reminds me of home, comfort, love, and I don't know, I can't nail it, but something sentimental. I couldn't get enough.  This is comfort food to me! And it's and it's loaded with all sorts of good nutrition. That's a win-win for me. Thanks for the great recipe, Becky!

I have had a serious mushroom obsession lately!  I can't get enough! Seriously though! It's crazy to me that I love them so much because I didn't' really like them as a kid.  There are so many things I love to eat them in, stroganoff, an omelet, on pizza, in salad, fried in butter, and especially in soup.  My mouth is watering!

You have to admit that mushrooms are pretty weird looking, maybe that's why some kids don't like them.  My 4 year old always sees them and says "ewww".  However, she really loves to help me cook and she did all the stirring while we made this soup. She was so proud of her self as she cooked the onion, garlic, and celery til it was tender and yummy. She kept saying, "it's smelling good, mom, what does it smell like?"  We both love garlic.Then she saw me cutting up mushrooms and more mushrooms and even more mushrooms.  I dice them pretty small since I like them that way and becasue I think they are better disguised that way from certain 4 year olds. And she loved this soup, and there were no comments about mushrooms while she ate. She just gobbled it up, so did my one year old! It was a success! I love it when the kids gobble up dinner.  It makes my life happy! No whining at the dinner table is my favorite!

I hope you enjoy this soup too!  I'll be sharing some more mushroom favorites in the future! 

Stay tuned!

Creamy Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup

Printable Version {Click Here}


4 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
½-1 yellow onion, diced fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 ribs of celery, diced fine
4 carrots, finely chopped or grated (I like grated, easier to eat for the my 1 year old, and I like little chunks)
1 teaspoon thyme
16 ounces mushrooms, chopped (I chop them fine so my 4 year old doesn’t say “eww”, and then she eats them)
½ cup wild/brown rice mix
5 cups chicken stock (or water mixed with 5 teaspoons chicken base or 5 chicken bouillon cubes)
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup half and half (with 2 tablespoons cornstarch for thickening if needed, I haven’t need it)
2-3 tablespoons butter (optional)


In a large stock pot melt butter over medium heat and add onions, garlic, celery, carrots and thyme.  Cook for 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally until they are soft, add mushrooms and cook until they are soft and cooked well.

Add chicken broth, water and rice.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat until you have a gentle simmer. Simmer at least one hour, until rice is cooked (but you can for a few if you want to start early), adding more liquid if desired, to reach create the desired consistency.  

Just before you are ready to eat add 1 cup of half and half  (you can mix in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the cold half and half before adding if you want to thicken the soup, I haven’t needed to do this) to the soup and mix. Bring it to a gentle simmer again until it’s as thick as you want.  Add salt and pepper to taste - and if you didn’t use butter to cook the vegetables stir in a few tablespoons to add a rich flavor.  

Serve hot and enjoy!  

Recipe Source:

Slightly adapted from my good friend, Becky N.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pumpkin Roll {with step-by-step picture tutorial}

I love the way food brings family together.  And speaking of together, this exact Pumpkin Roll recipe was the one that was served at my parents wedding reception (see pictures below) back in 1984, we they were brought together forever.  Both my grandmothers and my mom helped make tons of these to serve at the wedding reception.  This recipe is meaningful to me because of that, but not only is it sentimental it tastes divine.  

Have you ever had a pumpkin roll?  If not, let me just tell you what they are all about.  The cake-y layer is made up of a moist spiced cake made from scratch.  Then it's filled with creamy rich cream cheese frosting and rolled up.  It's very elegant looking and it sure to please the kids and adults.  My 4 year old daughter loves anything spiral, becasue she think it looks cool.  I have to admit, I love that too.  There is something about that swirly look that gets you and you just want to eat it around in the spiral.  Kind of like Cinnamon Rolls are for me.  I like to save the center for the late bite becasue it's the most tender.  Mmmm.  

I've included step-by-step instructions on how to make this. It's different than any other dessert I make, but it's not hard.  

I think these are perfect to serve in the Fall and Winter.  And in case you aren't a pie person or want something special besides pie for Thanksgiving, this should do the trick. 

I just had to include some pictures from my parents wedding day.  I love these pictures! I'm so glad my parents are together forever!  Love you Mom & Dad!

The recipe is down below.  Here is a handy picture tutorial.

After mixing the cake batter you'll generously sprinkle powdered sugar on a clean flour sack towel. 
You'll grease the pan with butter and line it with parchment leaving a inch or two over hang on both ends. Butter the top side of the parchment as well. This cake is not going to stick. :)

 When the cake is done, you'll immediately turn it over onto the powdered sugar towel.  

 Then you'll lift the pan off, being careful not to burn yourself. 

Then carefully peel the parchment off, it shouldn't stick really, you had lots of butter on that pan and on the parchment paper.

Then you'll start rolling up the cake with the towel on one of the short sides . Fold the end over before you start. 

 Keep rollin'.

 Once it's all rolled up let it sit for 10 minutes. 

During those 10 minutes add the powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese, vanilla and dash of salt in a medium size bowl.

Using a hand mixer whip the frosting until smooth and creamy.

 When the 10 minutes are up start carefully unrolling the towel.  

 Once it's all the way unrolled you'll see that it has some shape to it from cooling in a spiral. 

 Dollop the frosting on top. 

 And spread evenly all the way across the cake.

 And start rolling it back up again.

Place the beautiful pumpkin roll on some waxed paper or parchment paper and roll up. This will help it not stick to the wrapping. 

 Then wrap in foil.

And put it in the fridge next to your jalapeno pepper and let it chill for at least a few hours. It also freezes well if you want to make it ahead of time and take it out to thaw. 

Sprinkle additional powdered sugar on top if you desire. Cut by tying with dental floss in the size sections you want. And enjoy!

Pumpkin Roll

Printable Version {Click Here}

Yield: 1 pumpkin roll
*Notes: You can bake this in a 10x13 jelly roll size pan or in an 11 x 17 half baking sheet size.  The directions below indicate the bake time and temp for an 11 x 17 - if you want to do the jelly roll size - follow all the same instructions but bake at 375 for about 12-15 minutes. This also freezes great if you want to make ahead and then thaw before serving.

3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
⅔ cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (see note above).  Grease a 11 x 17 baking sheet with butter and line with parchment paper so that it overhangs on the short ends a few inches on each side. This will make for easy removal.  Butter the top of the parchment as well.

In a medium size mixing bowl beat 3 eggs. Add the sugar, pumpkin and lemon juice and mix until smooth.  

In a separate bowl combine the flour, soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and ginger; whisk until combined well.  Gradually add to the wet mixture and stir until combined, taking care to not overmix. Pour mixture into the well greased and lined baking sheet and smooth evenly.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and only a few moist crumbs.  While the cake is baking lay a clean flour sack towel on your counter and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar in an area that is as at least as big as the pan. After the towel is ready start prepper the cream cheese filling.  

In a medium size bowl combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and salt.  Whip with hand mixer until smooth and creamy and set aside.  

When the cake is done immediately dump it onto the coated towel and start rolling up on one of the short ends.  Let it set for 10 minutes.  After the 10 minutes unroll the towel gently and spread the entire cake with the filling and start rolling it back up on the same end you started with before.  

Once it’s rolled place it on wax paper or parchment and wrap it up, and wrap again in foil. This helps it so it won’t stick to the foil for easy serving. For best results; chill for several hours or overnight.  When ready to serve remove from wrapping (sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired) and tie with dental floss to cut. Enjoy!

Recipe Source:

Lightly adapted, from my Grandma, Kathy K, made changes to baking temp and time and pan size.  This was served at my parents wedding reception.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gourmet Green Beans

I feel a bit bad that I've been holding out on you guys by not sharing this sooner.  These beans are perfect for a Thanksgiving side. That's why I'm sharing them now.  But really we enjoy them all summer long when fresh beans are in abundance, but they are just as good with frozen beans too, so really they should be enjoyed all year long!

I first tried these beans several years ago when staying at my Uncle DJ & Aunt Lisa's. I almost feel weird calling them my uncle and aunt, because they are only a few years older than me, and more like my peers. :)  When I tried these beans, I was instantly converted to having this kind of bean from then on.  No more canned string beans for me!  These are so easy to fix and come together in a flash, that they are practically as easy as canned beans. 

Aunt Lisa (she's gonna love that), didn't really give me a recipe, but told me how she does this.  So I've made them several times, more times than I can count.  I wrote down what I did after following her instructions so I can share this goodness with the world.  Aunt Lisa says that they are also super good with bacon added in. Um, hello! I think that would be fabulous! And also some caramelized mushrooms!    She says she usually adds the bacon and/or mushrooms for special occasions, like say, Thanksgiving or a Christmas dinner. If you want to keep it simpler for a regular week night you can forgo the bacon and mushrooms and just do the beans and almonds, whatever floats your boat! Super yum!  

I have to say this is probably on my top 5 favorite vegetable dishes of all time.  I'm probably holding out on your more since I haven't shared all of those, but one of my other favorites is this Zucchini Sauté. I'll try to get on that, and share some more. In the meantime, enjoy these gourmet green beans!

Gourmet Green Beans


I don’t give any specific amounts here - I never measure anything when I make these. I just lightly sprinkle the seasonings below until I think it looks like enough. And you can do as many or as little almonds as you like (I usually make enough for 4 servings of beans and use about ¼-⅓ cup of almonds).  Also you can use any kind of almond you have. I usually always have whole ones, and you can chop those up. Or buy slivered or sliced almonds. Use what you’ve got.  


1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh or frozen green beans, ends snipped off the fresh ones and washed
Kosher or regular salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste (or fresh minced garlic)
Almonds (chopped, sliced or slivered - I’ve used them all 3 ways and they are all good)
Bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
Caramelized mushrooms, (optional) - to caramelize just saute in a pan with some olive oil til cooked, soft and some brown spots


In a 12-inch skillet heat oil over medium heat until hot.  Add beans and sprinkle with the seasonings (as much as desired).  Cook beans stirring frequently until they are hot and until the sides are browned a little; you want them mostly cooked, but still with a nice little crunch in the middle. Add the almonds the last 2-3 minutes.  If you use fresh minced garlic add it at the end with the almonds and cook it in one little section of the pan for about 30 second and mix it up in the rest of the mixture.  

Serve hot, and enjoy!

Recipe Source:

Inspired by the beans my aunt Lisa makes! She didn’t give me a recipe, so I’m not sure if this is exactly how she does it, but it is more or less. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Creamy Tomato Soup

We originally posted this soup over at  Be sure to click over and check out her awesome blog (and super-cute etsy store if you're in need of some Christmas gift ideas!).  

There is snow dusting the tops of the mountains here and it is starting to get C-O-L-D.  It seems we are getting our first taste of winter this week.  I'm not generally a fan of cold weather since I don't really snow ski or enjoy freezing my butt off.  BUT, if it means I can eat soup everyday then I will welcome this weather!  Honestly though, who am I kidding--I eat soup in July.  I just love the stuff and never seem to tire of it.    

Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe Fall Soup

This soup is one that I have been making for a couple of years, but I finally got the recipe just the way we like it.  When I served it last week for dinner, my 3 year old declared that this was his favorite soup and he wanted to eat it everyday.  For the most part he is a pretty good eater, but declarations like that don't come often at our house.  It may have helped that I let him drink his through a straw, but a dinner win is a dinner win and I'll take it no matter the reasons.  

I have a long list of favorite soups and there is no way I could choose just one.  This one is definitely up there in the rankings though.  The tanginess of the cream cheese perfectly cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and creates a luscious creamy texture without the guilt of adding lots of heavy whipping cream. It's kid-friendly and comes together in less than 30 minutes. Oh, and you probably already have all the ingredients on hand.  I usually serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches or even over some small variety of hot cooked noodles.  It's quick and easy and blows the canned variety right out of the water.  

Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe Fall Soup

Creamy Tomato Soup


2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic
2 (14-ounce) cans tomatoes, whole or diced
2 teaspoons sugar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 ½ cubes chicken bouillon or 1 ½ teaspoons chicken base
3-4 ounces low fat cream cheese, softened in 1 inch cubes


Melt butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring constantly, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, their juices, sugar, bouillon, and milk. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Stir frequently to ensure milk doesn’t burn.
Use an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth.  Or, working in batches, transfer tomato mixture to a blender, food processor, or food mill. Puree tomato mixture (if using a blender, cover the lid with a kitchen towel while machine is running).
Drop softened cream cheese in soup.  Allow to melt for 1 or 2 minutes.  Whisk until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


I like to make sure the cream cheese is really soft so you don’t get lumps in the dip.  I do this by placing it on a plate and microwaving it at 20% power for 30 second intervals until it’s super melty.  

Recipe Source:

Adapted from Martha Stewart 
Originally posted by me on

Friday, November 7, 2014

Homemade Creamy Macaroni & Cheese {One-Pot Meal}

We have been enjoying this homemade mac and cheese for a few years now, thanks to one of my favorite food bloggers, Mel!  It comes together in about 15-20 minutes and is waaaaaay tastier than the boxed variety.  I generally always have the ingredients on hand too, so it's something I can make for lunch for me and the kids, or something I can thow together for dinner quickly too.  I like these kind of recipes.  I always need a few like this on hand to turn to when I'm in a pinch. 

You can make this with your favorite variety of cheeses.  I prefer to grate the cheese myself instead of buy the pre-grated cheese, I think it melts better that way.  My favorite combo is half sharp cheddar and half colby or monterey jack. We have also like it will all cheddar or colby.  Use whatever you have on hand.  Although, I will mention if you really want a really cheddary taste, makes sure to use at least half sharp cheddar.  

I made this for lunch earlier this week and my daughter said, "I want to eat macaroni and cheese all day!" I've never heard such a comment about any other food from her mouth!  Although, she really couldn't eat anything all day, I think this was her simple way of saying, "I love this, Mom!"

Enjoy soon, and then tell me about it. 


Creamy Mac and Cheese


3 ½ cups water
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
3 cups elbow noodles
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon dry mustard
12 ounces cheese (3 cups) we use half sharp cheddar and half colby or monterey jack
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Fresh ground black pepper to taste


Bring the 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk (reserving the other half cup in a small bowl), elbow noodles, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan (or large nonstick skillet) over high heat. Cook at a light boil, stirring often, until the noodles are tender and the liquid has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the cornstarch and  mustard to the reserved ½ cup of evaporated milk and whisk til smooth and add to the pot and stir in to combine. Let the mixture simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Once removed from the heat stir in the cheese one handful at a time, adding any additional water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (I have never needed to do this). Stir in the butter until melted and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


Reheats best on the stove with a little extra water or milk added (1-2 tablespoons).  Also works well to do the same in the microwave.  

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

I can't believe we are on to November already.  Hopefully pumpkin is a fall thing and not just an October thing, because I am not quite over it yet.  When I found this recipe last year from The Girl Who Ate Everything I immediately knew I had to make them.  And I did just that.  Many times over.  They were cakey, delicious, and super moist.  Plus these are so much easier than spooning out and baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  I adapted the recipe slightly to use oil instead of butter and subbed half of the butter for applesauce.  That way I can eat them for breakfast and not feel too bad about it.  

pumpkin bars, pumpkin, chocolate, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, fall baking

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares


2 cups flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (see notes at bottom for substitution)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 - 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Lightly spray grease the foil.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the oil, applesauce, sugar, and pumpkin puree on medium-high speed until smooth with a mixer; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Lift cake from pan, peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.


I usually use half all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat with great results.  

I like these best served chilled, so I usually refrigerate them after they are fully cooled.  

*For the pumpkin pie spice, triple this: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon cloves.

Recipe Source:

Slightly modified from The Girl Who Ate Everything (subbed oil and applesauce for the butter)