Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween from My Pumpkins to Yours

This was my 1st time decorating a cake & now I know why. Me & frosting just have a heckuva time. But it was all worth it because this is what Tristan wanted for his school party today. I took the best from 2 recipes here & here & then improvised a bit in order to make the face.

Click Here for Printable Recipe

Happy Halloween to all!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Crab Cakes & Celebrations

Thank you to everyone for your birthday wishes yesterday. I knew celebrating with you all day was going to be fun!

Getting back to recipes, I made these crab cakes a couple of weeks ago as a little appetizer to our meal. We really enjoyed them. Just like other recipes of its kind, there are SO many variations but I liked all the ingredients in this one, especially the Old Bay. I also used fresh crab meat, the $17.99/lb GASPin the little container, which I thought was worth it.

My Thoughts:

In the past I've used canned crabmeat for other crab recipes & have had success while another time I had to throw away what was usually an amazing crabdip in a bread basket, because it was too fishy. And that time I used the fresh!!! Maybe I just got a bad batch. So, I am curious to know about your experiences. I served these with a seafood dipping sauce I picked up at a seafood market. It had a little kick which really complemented the crab cakes.

Click Here for Printable Recipe

We had a few leftover so Tammy came by to snag up the rest. A restaurant had these as their leftover boxes so I asked for a few extra. I just love 'em!!!!!

Speaking of Tammy, our birthdays are on the same day although I am a few years older, so for the last 9 years we have a tradition of exchanging our gifts over a cocktail as well as doing something special together. Some of our bday adventures include swimming with the dolphins at Sea World, a day at the spa, a trip to Busch Gardens & a girls weekend at a beautiful B&B. This year, we plan to visit Aquatica, Sea World's new water park, & enjoying one of those dinner prepping places where you put together fresh meals to have in your freezer, all the while sipping a glass of wine & celebrating friendship & birthdays!
Here we are the night before our birthdays. I had fun putting together a hodge podge of things for Tammy, neatly tucked in a beautiful box. Organic pumpkin spice coffee, tissues with her initial, thank you cards, pinch bowls for spices & some holiday stickers. Not shown is a red mini colander because don't we all need one of those! Tammy gave me one of my favorite Pinot Grigios as well as a beautiful candle & green tea cookies. Yes, our gifts are usually culinarily inspired. There've been waffle makers, sushi making kits, you name it!

Happy Birthday to all the October babies!!!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's My Birthday, Got My Car Fixed! - Wordful Wednesday

Yup, I'm 37 on this Wednesday & I admit that I do enjoy the attention that comes from being the birthday girl. I think everyone should celebrate themselves so I shall, as it is my turn!

Since last week went over so well with my video (gosh I never thought embarrassing myself could feel so good), I figured I would continue with that trend by sharing a photo progression of my life. CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE.
American Idol audition


I was not happy taking that photo above as a child. But as I got older & into makeup & hair, I guess I didn't mind posing as one of the best NY girls in the world. Do you remember the perfect Duck's arse hairstyle in the back. Well, I wish you could see the one I was sporting. I think I won something for that once in school.

And then the prom came, the one I missed because of too many Long Island Iced Teas. Well, we got there after many stops but I can't remember much of it. Let's say it took many years for my girlfriend to forgive me that I ruined her dress. I know she'd be wearing it today if I hadn't. Ahem. I couldn't tease my hair enough. I think some of the boys felt the same.....heh.


Terry took the top left pic as we started dating. We got engaged 7 months later, married on the beach in Key West a year after & then became pregnant just 3 weeks later.

If I could've picked my husband from a catalog I would have ended up marrying the same man. And my son Tristan makes me a better woman. They both truly are gifts from God, as are my family & friends. So, if you were to ask me what I want today for my birthday, I'd say I already have it.

But an immersion blender would be great!!!!

Just wanted to sneak in another picture of me, mom, sis Lauren & Dad from June of this year. My sis Andi & brother Bruce are missing from the pic.

Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me today!!!!!

Brought to you by Angie & Wordful Wednesdays from:

Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Pea Sauce

Even though the name has Creamy in it this is on the healthier side. Adapting this dish from Eating Well, it made for a great dinner last week & lunch for the 2 days after. I was planning to post crab cakes today that I made over the weekend but for some reason my pictures didn't come through to my email here at work from my email at home. Thankfully, I had this recipe ready to go but without my own pics. I'll have to incorporate those in later because there is one funny one which shows exactly why I cut the amount of the peas down.

For more Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays please visit Blessed with Grace.

Ok I will leave in the above pic just for kicks & for comparison sake but the 2 below are mine. THIS is why I needed to reduce the peas.

8 ounces whole-wheat pasta, such as fusilli or rotini
2 cups frozen peas
1 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces sliced prosciutto, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh mushrooms
2 tblsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup whipping cream
Lots of freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fresh parmesan cheese for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until the pasta is tender. I had thawed my peas so I added them to the pasta the last two minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook prosciutto, stirring, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic & cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add mushrooms & cook, stirring, until they release their juices & most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms; stir to coat. Add wine & let simmer for 1 minute. Add broth, return to a simmer & cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in cream & pepper. Drain the peas & pasta; return to the pan, add the mushroom sauce & toss to coat.

My Thoughts:

This dish is not rich & creamy at all like an alfredo sauce & I even wished for more sauce when I first made it. So, I doubled the liquid ingredients to make more & those amounts are already incorporated into the amounts above.

If you don't like mushrooms or peas just substitute. To me, the flavor of this dish comes from the prosciutto, wine & chicken broth & a bit of the cream of course. It's a light pasta dish that won't weigh you down.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tuscan White Bean & Garlic Soup

Weekend was awesome, the weather continuing to cool off more & more. There was quality time with family, dinner sidewalk-cafe style in our quaint little town, running around on a Sunday afternoon, getting fun stuff for the house, indulging in wings & beer, & some sampling of more of Giada's goodies from her new cookbook I am loving.

I also got a lot done around the house which just felt incredible - Fall cleaning, organizing......

This soup was excellent for lunch with my parents, served with some fresh Ciabatta bread. I will definitely be making this again with just one change. See my thoughts below. And aside from the cream, this was very healthy!

See those little things to the left of the pumpkin? Those were little linguine fritattas from Giada but one of many things that just don't come out right some time. They're from her new cookbook & while they have potential there are so many things I would change if I were to make them again.

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
2 sage leaves
2 15-oz cans cannelloni beans, drained & rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
5 cloves garlic, cut in 1/2
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place a medium, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil & shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sage, beans & garlic & stir to combine. Add the stock & bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook gently for about 15 minutes. Pour half of the the soup into a large bowl. Carefully ladle 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup into a blender & puree until smooth.

Be careful to hold the top of the blender tightly, as hot liquids expand when they are blended. Pour the blended soup back into the pot. Puree the soup remaining in bowl. Once all the soup is blended & back in the soup pan, add the cream & the pepper.

Keep warm, covered, over very low heat.

My Thoughts

Per the instructions I only blended half of the soup but I am starting to think I should have blended all of it. Although I do like having the beans whole in the soup I would have also liked this a bit thicker. So, next time, I will blend most of it & add another can of beans to the soup to leave whole.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Southern Cross Fried Chicken

As with ribs or meat sauce, we all tend to have a recipe we don't stray from no matter how good someone else says theirs is. Well, this fried chicken recipe is just that for me.

Click Here to Print Recipe

My Thoughts:
I don't keep a close eye on the clock because usually when the outside is done & to my liking the inside is done as well. I have also kept the skin on as well as taken it off. Your preference. Also, since the magic comes from the pkgs of dressing mix & instant soup, I may have increased it by 50% in the past. Taste your flour to make sure there is a strong presence of these 2 ingredients!!!!!
** I have been unable to find the instant tomato soup mix at my supermarket & heard it was at WalMart. I've used tomato bouillon instead with great results but since I now have to go to WalMart for Bob's sauce I may as well pick some of this up too!!!!

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TGIF !!!!
Have a great weekend everyone. Notalotta plans this weekend which I am loving but we're having my parents over tomorrow for lunch so I plan to use them as my guinea pigs for a few new things I'd like to try. Have a great one, be safe & love those close to you.

Oh, I mentioned balance last week. Two things I ask myself each day is, WHAT must I get done today & WHO can I reach out to today. It may be a friend I haven't spoken to in awhile or quality time spent with a loved one. This way, I get to do the things I need to but without missing out on the people in my life.

1 cut up chicken
2 cups flour
1 pkg Good Seasons Italian Salad dressing mix
1 pkg Instant Tomato Cup of Soup **
Salt & Pepper

Soak chicken in buttermilk overnight or as little as an hour. Combine flour with dressing mix & instant soup pkg. Remove chicken & roll in flour mixture. Fry in vegetable oil on medium to medium high until golden brown & cooked through. Can take between 25-35 minutes for larger pieces. Once done, drain on paper towel & season immediately with a little salt & pepper if you desire.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's All about Bob: Shrimp Salad & Hot Reuben Dip

A while back, someone from Country Bob's sent me some sauce to try. It sat for awhile. Then I received a cookbook from them. On it, it says Christ is our CEO. Too cool. How could I make Christ wait. So I made these two recipes last weekend just to mess around in the kitchen & to finally see what this sauce was all about. I also found out that it's available at Wal Mart. While that place brings out my bad side & words I try not to use, I would venture there to get some more of this sauce.

With a nice variety of ingredients like scallions, dill pickle, eggs & horseradish, this shrimp salad tasted really nice on some fresh cuban bread for a quick Sunday lunch.

Click Here to View or Print Recipe

If you like Reuben sandwiches you'll like this dip. Since it has very strong flavors, it would make a nice appetizer if you pre-served it on some toasted cocktail rye bread. I prefer that over just dipping into it with pretzel chips. I heard it's Football Season so now's a good time for such a bold treat :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wordful Wednesday

Before 30 minute meals, Rachel Ray ran her own gift basket business. Prior to Everyday Italian, Giada was a food stylist for the Food Network.

Well, way before Live.Love.Eat, 4 1/2 years to be exact, I, too, set out for greatness. Take a look my friends. This is the woman behind the apron.

I never did get to Hollywood that day but I received something far greater. The ability to incessantly laugh at myself no matter how many times I watch this over the years as well as the joy & laughter from my son as he watches me do the robot to one of his first loves in music, The Wiggles. And a reminder that if I ever stop being silly, to just start right back up again. Toot toot chugga chugga my friends.

Brought to you by Angie & Wordful Wednesdays from:

Prosciutto Mozzarella Pinwheels

Hi all. I am on a huge Giada kick & loving all the recipes in her new book plus some old ones. What I like to do is skim through her show on Food Network & if there are any recipes I am interested in I quickly add the link to my list on my sidebar.

Anyway, this appetizer is awesome!!! I haven't worked with prosciutto much in the past but it's a salty meat, an Italian word for ham. This was simple & fun to make, ready to go in the oven as soon as the bell went off. And delicious!!!!!!

Flour, for dusting
1 lb purchased pizza dough (I bought fresh from deli)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
7 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 cup coarsely chopped baby spinach
1 tblsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 & position rack in lower third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If not, grease one.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pizza dough into a 12 to 14-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella over the dough. Arrange the prosciutto over the cheese in a single layer. Sprinkle with the chopped spinach, then top with the remaining cheese.

Roll the dough into a thin cylinder, gently tucking in the ends. Brush the entire roll with the olive oil & season with the salt & pepper. Place the dough, seam-side down, on the baking sheet & bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Cool the roll for 10 minutes, then use a serrated knife to cut it into 3/4-inch slices.

Click Here for a Printable Recipe

For more delicious Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, please go visit Blessed with Grace.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mini Banana Bread Loaves

Awesome weekend with a little bit of everything. A 5k which made me realize all too well what 3 months of lack of consistent exercise can do. But I did come in 99 out of 300+. Better next time...

We also had a nice evening visit to the park. It couldn't have been more beautiful as we're FINALLY starting to feel Fall down here. We also enjoyed a special-fest in our quaint little downtown area, a fundraiser for a young girl who was severely injured in a car crash. I love my town...  

I also cooked a bit & am excited to post a few yummy things this weekend. Sunday brought a very spontaneous visit to my best friend Tammy's house. We were only supposed to swap out some food items quickly but it ended up being a longer visit consisting of a sampling of new beer & the kids frolicking in the yard kicking bouncy balls everywhere. Good times....

Anyway, this banana bread is amazing. It really is some of the best I have had & the main reason is the yellow cake mix in it. It couldn't be more moist or delicious. This recipe comes from Mommy's Kitchen. Go check her out. 

1 package yellow cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 bananas, mashed
2 eggs beaten
½ cup milk
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Add dry cake mix to a large bowl. Add eggs, oil & milk. Blend on low with mixer then add bananas. Mix in half the nuts. Pour into a greased large loaf pan or two small loaf pans. Sprinkle the rest of the nuts on top (I didn't use nuts this time). Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Let cool & slice. If the banana bread starts to brown too fast just tent with foil & continue baking.

I made my loaves in an 8 mini loaf pan so I had to keep checking for doneness. It took about 25-30 minutes until a toothpick came out clean. I thought these mini loaves would be awesome for gift giving around the holidays, wrapped in paper & a bow!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Broiled Zucchini & Potatoes with a Parmesan Crust

I made this wonderful dish, another recipe out of Giada's new book, as a side for last Sunday's dinner with the parents. I recommend using fresh herbs & parm but if you can't I wouldn't let that keep you from making this. It was so flavorful & beautiful!

Although there's 3 phases of cooking here between the boiling, pan time & broiling it really is simple. I did the potatoes ahead of time & I also combined the butter, garlic, herbs in a bowl ahead of time. Later, I let them lay on the baking sheet until I was ready to put them under the broiler.

4 small new potatoes (red or white, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter)
2 tblsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 small zucchini, cut in 1/2 lengthwise & then cut into 1 in pieces
Pinch kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes & cook until just tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes & let cool. When cool, cut the potatoes in half.

Place your largest saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter, garlic, thyme & rosemary & let cook until the butter melts, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, season the cut sides of the zucchini and potatoes with salt & pepper. Carefully place the zucchini & potatoes cut side down in the melted butter. Let them cook until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. (Even my biggest pan was not enough to have it all laying flat. No worries. Just let it all sit & then rotate but don't keep stirring like your sauteing. You want them browned not steamed).

Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the browned zucchini & potatoes on the baking sheet cut side up. Sprinkle the tops with the Parmesan. Place in the broiler until the cheese is golden brown, about 2-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate & serve.

My Thoughts:

If you're like me & you don't like your zucchini mushy make sure your potatoes are very tender after boiling so that they are just waiting on the zucchini when they are all combined in the pan. I also doubled this recipe for 4 adults by using 2-3 large zucchini & 6-8 small red potatoes.

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Have a great weekend everyone! I am doing a 5K tomorrow morning, getting my haircut & rid of my highlights to go back to my natural brown for the Fall & spending quality time with the fam. And plenty of cooking too!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

An Apple a Day, Right?

This morning, my angel Tristan shouts out "Mommy, everybody wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to go now." I laugh & smile because I hear Kenny's video playing that song. That's right, baby, that's right.

So, until then, here's some heaven right here on earth. 2 apple-y recipes today! I made these Apple & Thyme Martinis, from Giada, for my parents when they came over on Sunday. My Dad was good at one but Mom & I had a couple. They are very unique & I loved the earthiness to it from the thyme. I should call these Apple & Thyme Will Tell because we couldn't stop gabbing.


10 ounces vodka
6 ounces apple juice
1/4 cup thyme syrup, recipe follows
1 large apple, peeled
4 fresh thyme sprigs

Fill a shaker with ice. Combine the vodka, apple juice & thyme syrup. Pour over ice & shake for about 10 seconds. Divide between the 4 chilled martini glasses. Use the melon baller to scoop out small balls of apple. Place 3 balls of apple & 1 sprig of thyme in each glass for garnish. Serve immediately.

Thyme Simple Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
5 large sprigs fresh thyme

In a saucepan combine sugar, water, and thyme over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and cool the syrup. Any extra cooled syrup can be saved in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Click Here for Printable Recipe


My best friend Tammy, who I am so blessed to have living a couple miles away, told me about these cute little things from Rachel Ray. I told her to make them first & let me know. She brought me some & I LOVED them. The sweetness of the apple with the saltiness of the bacon coupled with the savory cheese is a beautiful wake up call to the tastebuds. You must try these. The kids might love 'em too!

3 large, firm apples, such as gala, cored & sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pound bacon
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 bunch scallions, green parts only, chopped

Preheat a grill or grill pan. In a resealable plastic bag, combine the apples & lemon juice.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then coarsely chop.Grill the apple slices until grill marks form on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip & top each slice with bacon, cheese & scallions. Cover & grill until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.

To reheat leftovers, I suggest microwaving for a few seconds just to get the chill out from fridge, then placing under broiler until browned & sizzling.

Next time I may thinly slice cheddar from the cheese blocks sold in the supermarket, just for easier handling.

Click Here for Printable Recipe

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy Birthday!!! A Wordful Wednesday!

You're Buried with Children

yet you still make the time,

to visit your gURLfriends

and drop a sweet line!

So, Happy Birthday Jen,

Let's bring on the wine. CELEBRATE yourself

but please.............................


Go say Happy Birthday to Jen Here!

Knowing that it would make her so happy, Jen's hubby Jeff wrote to all of Jen's bloggy pals to ask that they send birthday wishes her way in the way of a post. How sweet is that?! Jen, go give your hubby a big smooch! And those pictures above? Jen is a self-professed, accident prone kind of chick.

Brought to you by Angie & Wordful Wednesdays from:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chicken Empanadas & SITS Loving

These came from Paula Deen & when paired with the soup/chili from yesterday it was a perfect meal. I find that the Food Network recipes & sometimes Paula's are way off in measurements so I always make sure to read the reviews. I wasn't susprised to see that the mixture was enough to fill rounds from 4 pie crusts.

For more delicious Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, please go visit Blessed with Grace.

3 cups chopped, cooked chicken (I used Rotisserie)
1 (8-oz) pkg shredded Colby & Jack cheese blend
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, closer to diced
1 jalapeno, seeded & diced
1 tblsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 (15-oz) pkg refrigerated pie crusts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the chicken & next 7 ingredients. Unroll 1 piecrust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15-inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining piecrusts. Recipe stated this would yield 12-15 total but I was able to get 16-18 out of the dough. There was also enough mixture leftover to make another 16 or so. You might want to purchase another pkg of pie crust to use up mixture.

Arrange 1 round on a clean, flat surface. Lightly brush the edges of crust with water. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture down the center of the round. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with your fingers. Repeat with the remaining rounds & chicken mixture. (Up to this point, the recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month). Arrange empanadas on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

My Thoughts:
My first batch took just about 15 minutes. However, when I made more 2 days later I made them a few hours ahead & put them in the fridge. They took a little longer to cook & I also placed them under the broiler.

Click Here for Printable Recipe
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Today also marks the SITS Blogathon. The SITS sistas have introduced me to so many wonderful people & have taken this community to another whole level of camraderie & unity, in a time of life when we need it the most. They do this by encouraging comment love & featuring a blogger each day.
There are so many I could & want to mention but these are some of the lovely ladies I have been so lucky to meet in the past few months.
Lula - Her wit & cultural intelligence amaze me & she has incredible persuasive skills. If it was not for her I would have never read Twilight. Rhea - her writing is creative & many times I have to close out the comment box, ponder, than go back before I know what to say. Tattooed Minivan Mom - she's one of the fairly newer ones & she cracks me up. I love that she is not afraid to show all of her sides, one side is crazy but all sides very cool! And Sassy Stephanie - it was bloggy love at first comment. She's sassy, I try to be sassy. She's just one fun, cool lady!!!!!
Also, Seven Clown Circus - Angie is just a heart full of joy. She's someone I respect & truly admire. I share a lot of her perspective & I love how she looks at life. Deanna's Corner Cooking - I simply love her simple recipes. I have made many so far & they're all home runs! Hello Dahrlin - Angie is a huge cook but even more she is an awesome person. We sometimes go back & forth on the side to gab. We have quite a bit in common & I know we would be girlfriends who sipped martinis if we lived closer.

Thanks SITS for all that you have done to bring women closer together!!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Golden Chili w/ Caramelized Onion & Sausage

Hope everyone had a great weekend.

There were 5 successes to come out of the kitchen this weekend so I am very happy. Whether this is a chili or soup, it's now a favorite in my house & made a perfect dinner when paired with chicken empanadas I made. I will post those tomorrow! This recipe comes from Sweet Peas & Pumpkins. Thank you Sweet Pea Chef!!!!!!!! I can't tell you how delicious this is & I love that the chick peas & creamed corn get pureed to give this soup its wonderful consistency.
My parents came over for dinner last night & I even served this chili in miniature bowls along with some more empanadas as a little appetizer. They could not get enough!!!! There were also Apple & Thyme Martinis involved which I will post this week as well.

2 onions, chopped
1 tblsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 jalepenos, deseeded & minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tblsp ancho chili powder (regular is fine too)
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1 1/4 pounds (one package) of Turkey Italian Sausage
2 cups of chicken broth
2 - 15 oz cans chickpeas
1 -15 oz can pinto beans
1 - 15 oz can creamed corn

In a large stock pot, heat the oil to medium heat & add the onion. Cook until carmelized, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, jalepeno, cumin, chili powder & oregano, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the sausage, breaking it up with the spoon into small pieces (make sure you remove the casing first to make this easier). Once the sausage is browned & no longer pink inside, deglaze the pan by pouring the broth into the hot pan. Scrape the pan to get all those yummy bits off the bottom.

Add 1 can of the chickpeas & the pinto beans. In a blender, puree the 2nd can of chickpeas & creamed corn. Add the mixture to the chili. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the chili is the desired consistency. If it gets too thick, just add some chicken broth or even a beer to thin it out. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream and green onion.

Click Here for a Printable Recipe

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Spinach Gruyere Puff Pastry Pinwheels

I know I promised my gourmet Sunday dinner which was Beef Bourguignon, a classic French recipe, but I don't think I am as thrilled with it as I used to be. So for now, this recipe, from Paula Deen, is awesome but needed some tweaking. I add onions, garlic, salt & a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Puff pastry is so easy to work with & these look beautiful out of the oven.

If you don't want to use expensive Gruyere use its sister, Swiss. This recipe would work with many variations so have fun experimenting. I've also thought of adding a garlic cheese spread next time, either smearing it onto the puff pastry or mixing it in.

Click Here for Printable Recipe
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Olive oil
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced onions
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
Garlic powder & salt
Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (17 1/2-ounce) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

Preheat oven to 350. Drain spinach well, pressing between layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms & onions. Cook for 5 minutes. Let cool slightly & stir together with spinach, cheese, garlic powder, salt & parmesan cheese; set aside. Roll 1 pastry sheet into a 13 by 11-inch rectangle. Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Brush 1/2 melted butter over pastry. Spread 1/2 spinach mixture over butter. Roll-up tightly, jellyroll fashion, starting with the long side.

Repeat procedure with remaining pastry sheet, butter & spinach mixture. (Wrap rolls in plastic wrap & refrigerate up to 2 days, if desired.) Cut rolls into 1/4-inch thick slices. It may be easier to cut if put in fridge for a few minutes. Place on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown & puffed up.

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Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pumpkin Crisp

I got this recipe over at sweet rebellious Lula & thought it would be perfect for our dessert last Sunday night. Everyone LOVED it & I, who am not the biggest dessert person, have been loving it everyday since for breakfast. I will be making this again & for as many people as I know who dessert, I mean deserve, this! I'm not even a big pecan lover but I would not dream of making this without them.

1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 package butter-recipe yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
2 sticks butter, melted (I used 1 1/2 just to cut down a bit, hah)

Stir together first 5 ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture; sprinkle evenly with pecans. Drizzle butter evenly over pecans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Watch after 45 minutes, I had to cover it with foil to keep from browning too much. Remove from oven & let stand 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream. We used fat free & it did not take away.

IF there are leftovers, refrigerate. Put a slice in the microwave for 20 seconds & you’ll think you just made it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Boy & His Auntie - Wordful Wednesday

Off to the beach, for a day full of fun but we took it to the park, cuz it was all wind & no sun.

That's alright, I didn't MIND,

because my Aunt Lauren brought me

Isn't she kind ?!?!

We played with our food,

to last through the year (see you at the holidays)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i LOVE YOU Auntie Lauren, the way you

and MY

I think I'll keep her for a while!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was an awesome day, when all's

said & done.

Even Batman & Joker.....

Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

I made these little guys as an appetizer for Sunday dinner, which I will post later this week. They're filled with egg salad which I plan to modify quite a bit, but you can use this as a blank canvas & fill them with anything you'd like. They look so cute, Tristan said "Mommy, are these for dessert?"

For more delicious Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, please go visit Blessed with Grace.

Slice off the tops of large cherry tomatoes, making sure the other side sits upright. Take a 1/3 teaspoon measurer to scoop out the meat & seeds. Place upside down to drain well. Meanwhile, assemble your favorite mixture. One hour before serving, fill the tomatoes using the same 1/3 tsp measurer & garnish with (2) fresh chives, 2 inches long. Use the thinnest end of the chives for your garnish.

For my filling, I mixed 4 hard boiled eggs with a little mayo, dijon mustard, chopped fresh chives & a bit of curry powder. I wasn't a fan enough to pass on this version to you so find what you like & get to stuffin'. I bet chicken salad would be nice too.

Click Here for a Printable Recipe

Monday, October 6, 2008

Baked Crescent Almond Chicken

It was a great weekend but I learned I am no longer going to clean & cook all in one day. It's just too much for me & it takes the fun away once I get in the kitchen. I'm turning 37 in a few weeks & my birthday gift to myself, aside from a mammogram, is one word: BALANCE. I may be talking about how I plan to achieve that along the way.

This dish was awesome, another good one from Deanna's Corner Cooking. It was fun to make & delicious!!! This is a must try & a must make again!!!!!!!!

Baked Crescent Almond Chicken

2 cups shredded Rotisserie chicken (or canned if you prefer)
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp salt
2 pkg. crescent rolls
2 tblsp sliced almonds

Put cooled chicken pieces into a large bowl. Add spinach, bell pepper, cheese, garlic, mayonnaise & salt. Mix well. Place crescent rolls on greased cookie sheet, leaving triangles of dough attached to each other. Pinch seams of dough together to make a larger rectangular-shaped dough. Place the chicken mixture in a log shape down the center of the dough rectangle, leaving dough on each side. 

Cut with a knife diagonally from the chicken mixture to the edge of the rectangle on each side, making 1-2 inch strips that are still attached to the dough under the chicken mixture. Before I started the criss crossing I folded over the edges of the top & bottom of the rectangle.

Overlap the strips over the chicken mixture for a crisscross effect. Sprinkle the top with almonds.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes. Remove from oven & cut into smaller pieces to serve.

My Thoughts:

If your cookie sheet is not big enough for you to assemble the dough just flour your countertop to do it there. Lift carefully with two spatulas to place on cookie sheet before baking. I also had to cover both ends for the last 10 minutes as they were browning more rapidly than the middle. Keep an eye out after 15 minutes. Next time I may try cream of chicken instead of mayo.

Click Here for a Printable Recipe

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chicken Florentine Bake

This is a simple dish I threw together the other night to get rid of a few things in the house but it also met my need to make something new, especially for a quick weeknight meal. I adjusted the Swiss Mushroom Chicken Bake quite a bit to make a different version. I had it ready in under 30 minutes. It remains healthy because you only need to use 1/2 can of a cream of soup in the entire dish, since it's mixed with the white wine. A few of you who don't like mushrooms can easily omit them from the dish.

Chicken Florentine Bake

4-5 chicken breasts, flattened out, or cutlets
Fresh baby spinach
1 c onions chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
4-8 oz fresh mushrooms
1/2 can cream of chicken or mushroom
Shredded mozzarella or your fav cheese
1/2 c white wine plus a little extra
Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing Mix

Pre-heat over to 375. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a pan. Saute garlic until fragrant. Add onions & cook for a few minutes. Add spinach & cook until wilted. I just love watching the spinach as this happens. Set aside.

Spray baking dish with Pam. Place chicken pieces in dish. Whisk together 1/2 c wine & cream of chicken & spoon over each piece of chicken. Top it with the mushrooms, then spinach mixture. Scatter shredded mozzarella & stuffing mix over the top. I also pour just a little wine around the dish. Spray top with a little more Pam. I do this instead of melted butter when I'm trying to cut out fat. Bake for 25 minutes.

Click Here for Printable Recipe

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I hope everyone has a nice weekend. I plan to cook a bit, meet my sister in the middle of where we both live, at the beach with a picnic lunch, so she can see my little guy, & we're having a Sunday dinner which means I'm going to get my gourmet on. It's been a while & as much as I love these easy weeknight meals I miss the more complicated dishes that Sunday dinners bring.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Crockpot Chronicles - Grandpa J's Creole Mix

My parents came over for dinner Tuesday night so we can see one another before they went away this weekend.

Anyway, Dad wanted spicy & I needed fast, since I don't get home until 6. I had some shrimp & chicken sausage in the freezer so my decision revolved around that. I adjusted a recipe I found online & created this. So far, it's one of my favorite crockpot recipes. There's no cream of's so it's healthy, you can make it as spicy as you want with the Tabasco & choose whatever meat or fish you like. The sausage & shrimp combo was just right.

I dubbed it Grandpa J's because John is my Dad & he scarfed down 3 plates!! It's the least I could do.

Grandpa J's Creole Mix
1 1/2 c chopped bell pepper
1 1/2 c diced celery
1 c chopped onion
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
S & P
Tabasco sauce (I used a lot to get it spicy as we like)
Aidell's Chicken & Apple Sausage, partially thawed & sliced thick
Cayenne Pepper, as needed
Cornstarch, as needed
1 lb shrimp

Combine all ingredients except shrimp in slow cooker. Cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. If using raw shrimp, add in the last hour of cooking. I had cooked shrimp so I threw them in 15 minutes before serving. I added some cayenne pepper at the end for a little more heat as well as a cornstarch/water mixture to thicken sauce a tad. Serve over hot jasmine rice. The kind pictured above is my absolute fav of all white rices.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Man & My Shoes

Wordful Wednesday. My time to be non-foodie. And perhaps a bit silly.

This is my hubby, the man. During our visit to a horse farm/guest ranch in December.

And these are my shoes. Just some of 'em.

I don't tell ya'll enough how wonderful he is but I am truly a lucky girl. If I didn't have him as my own I would wish this kind of man on any wonderful woman in the world. He's a compassionate, loyal, intelligent, sweet, generous & God-loving man. Yes, he drives me crazy he can't find the peanut butter in the pantry unless it's right in front of him, but it's one of his only faults.

The icing on the cake? He's totally a metrosexual & buys me my shoes. I'm not talking about him just reaching in his wallet. No, he shops for my shoes & surprises me. Good thing because I'd be wearing flip flops all the time since I'm not a shopper. Those shoes to the right, they're, uh, indoor shoes, ahem. Haven't worn those yet................oh honey...................

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