Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

I am not quite sure how it became Thanksgiving week, 2017. It feels as though I just planted all of my spring flowers. But now they are gone and I have pumpkins on my front porch.

By now I am usually swimming in Thanksgiving meal preparations and ideas, but my son and his family bought their first house and they want to have the dinner.

But part of me is still thinking of everything that I usually do this time of the year. I guess old habits do really die hard!  I will miss getting up early on Thanksgiving morning to get my turkey in the oven, going back to bed and then waking up to the house smelling amazing!

I always had the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on while I cook.  And the kids in me still enjoys Santa at the end!

I am a little late in sharing this but if you are looking for a meal planner, I have a link to my blog post that will definitely help, the link is here Holiday Meal Planner

There are also links to some of my recipes for the holidays in that blog.

If you need a little encouragement on how to survive all the expectations of the upcoming holidays, I have a link to my blog post here Less Stress for the Holiday Season

Hopefully some of my suggestions are helpful.

I have to admit, Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday.  The only expectation is the fellowship and meal with family and friends.  But for me it is also the kick off to the Christmas holiday.

Remember to enjoy the holidays and your family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Pumpkin Crumb Muffins with a Cream Cheese Center

Fall has finally arrived! And with that comes hot chocolate, soups, and pumpkin. Pumpkin everything! And I am one of those people that loves everything pumpkin.

I also love muffins. And cream cheese.

Last year I made a pumpkin muffin that had the cream cheese swirled in it, this year I made them with a cream cheese filling. Oh. My. Gosh.

First you will need to make the cream cheese filling and pop it in the fridge to chill. Super easy, just take an 8oz block of cream cheese, room temperature and blend in 1 cup of powdered sugar.

Next, make the sugar crumb topping. I used ½ cup sugar, about 6 tablespoons of flour, 1 tsp cinnamon and 4 tablespoons of butter cut into chunks. Cut the butter into the sugar and flour until it resembles crumbs. Guess that’s why it’s called crumb topping! Anyway, I usually like to use my hands towards the end of the blending as I can get better crumbs. Just my thing. Set aside.

Now for the muffins! I used my stand up mixer for this. Pour in your bowl 1 cup of vegetable oil, one 15oz can of pumpkin puree, 1-1/2 cups sugar, and 4 large eggs. Mix until just combined.

Then add your spices, I used 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, and ½ tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice. Also add 1 teaspoon of salt and baking soda. Blend until the spices are just blended in.

Now add your flour, one cup at a time, 3 cups total. Scrape the bowl often. Once the flour is blended in do not mix any further.

Preheat your oven to 350 and line your muffin tins with paper cups. I still spray the paper cups. Remove the cream cheese filling from the fridge and be prepared to assemble!

Put a little of the batter in each of the cups making sure that the bottom of the cup is totally covered. Drop in about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese filling. Then fill the muffin cup with batter until no less than ¾ full. I tap the muffin tin gently on the counter to make sure there are no air bubbles and that the cream cheese is completely surrounded with the batter.

Top with a sprinkling of the sugar crumb topping. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan to cool.

I can’t tell you how long they will last because I can promise you ….. they won’t! You and everyone that you share them with will scarf them up!!

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Crumb Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

Makes 24-26 muffins

 Cream Cheese Filling:

1 8oz block of cream cheese, softened to room temp

1 cup powdered sugar

Blend until soft and creamy, refrigerate until ready to use

Sugar Crumb Topping:

½ cup sugar

6 T flour

1 tsp cinnamon

4 T butter, cut into cubes

Cut butter into sugar, flour and cinnamon mixture until crumbly, set aside

Muffins:

1 c vegetable oil

1 15oz can of pumpkin puree

1-1/2 sugar

4 eggs, large

Blend until combined

Add in 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp ground cloves, ½ T pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda. Mix until just combined.

Add 3 cups of flour, one cup at a time and only mixing until blended, scraping bowl frequently.

Preheat oven to 350, line muffin tin with paper cup liners. Drop in enough batter to cover the bottom of the paper liner, drop in about 1 T of the cream cheese filling, fill the rest of the cup with batter. No less than ¾ full. Tap the muffin tin on the counter to remove air bubbles. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from pan to cool.

Shrimp and Corn Bisque

Now that the weather has FINALLY taken a turn towards autumn and the days and nights are a little cooler, it makes me want to be in the kitchen baking treats, bread and…making soup!

This bisque has been a favorite for a while now.  It’s very easy quick and easy to make and it is practically fool proof.

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You can add more cream if you like or substitute the light cream for heavy.  You could add cheese, more shrimp.  You could use sherry.  And you could always add kale or spinach too.

It is very versatile and easy to change up to what you are craving.

As always, I love some warm bread with my soup, and a glass of wine of course.

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So, first you want to devein your shrimp and remove the tails.  If you are using large shrimp, cut them in half so they are more bite size.

Dice up your potatoes into small cubes, again bite size BUT if they are small cubes they will cook quicker.  I use diced frozen potatoes, the work is already done for me!!

The corn I use is just frozen yellow corn,

Using the herbs is optional of course but I still have plentiful amounts of thyme and rosemary so I have been adding them to lots of recipes!  You could use whatever herbs you have on hand and love.

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Here’s the recipe:

3 cups shrimp, deveined and tails removed, chopped if shrimp are large

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cups potatoes, diced in small bite size cubes

1-1/2 cups corn

1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste

one 32 oz carton of chicken stock

1 cup light cream (or heavy cream if you prefer)

2 sprigs each of thyme and rosemary, strip the stems and chop the rosemary

slurry of cornstarch and water to thicken the soup

In a heavy soup pot, sauté the shrimp, onions and potatoes for about 10 minutes, salt and pepper.

Add the stock, tomato paste and corn, using a light simmer, cook until the potatoes are tender.

Add the cream, herbs and the slurry.  If adding kale or sherry you can add it now.

Once the soup has thickened, turn off the heat and serve.

Garnish with shredded cheese, bacon, sour cream, whatever you like.

Serve with crusty bread or I made Rosemary Focaccia bread to go with this soup.

Enjoy!

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Minestrone, Quick and Easy!

It’s that time of year when the weather turns cooler, that we turn towards a hot bowl of soup.

Today I had a craving for minestrone.


This soup is so easy and does not take long at all!

I started by heating olive oil in my soup pot, and tossing in onion and garlic.  Saute until slightly tender.

Then I poured in chicken stock, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes with the juice.  Next in the pot is the orzo.  Salt and pepper, and a little sugar and stirred it all together.

Brought the soup to a simmer and reduced the heat to slowly cook the orzo.  Then I added cayenne pepper, turmeric, onion powder.

When the orzo was just about finished I added pinto beans, I like to rinse and drain the beans.  And just before serving  I tore up some spinach and tossed it in too!  Stir to heat the beans and spinach and serve.

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Serve each bowl topped with grated Parmesan, a delicious glass of wine and a slice of hot buttered and crusty bread!

3 T Olive Oil

1 medium onion, chopped and diced

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

32 oz carton of Chicken Stock

8 oz can of Tomato Sauce

15 oz can of Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes

15 oz can Pinto Beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup Orzo

Dash each of Onion Powder, Turemic and Cayenne Pepper

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 tsp sugar

About 1 cup of torn spinach, more if you’d like!

Heat olive oil in your soup pot, add the onion and garlic, sautee until slightly tender. Pour in the chicken stock, diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce.  Bring to a light boil and reduce the heat to a light simmer.  Add the orzo, and spices including salt and pepper to taste, add sugar.  Stirring often.  When the orzo is just about done, add the beans and torn spinach.

Total cooking time is around 30 minutes.  Cheers friends, live well!
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Pumpkin Spice Granola

I am notorious for over baking my granola!  I always think I have time to go throw some laundry in the washer or check my email.   I can promise you… if you can focus and stay with the oven for about 20-30 minutes, the end result of this Pumpkin Spice Granola is worth the time spent hovering over a toasty oven.

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Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  I line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl put in 2-1/4 cups oats, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg and a good pinch of ground cloves.  Stir it around a little to mix the spices into the oats.  Then add 1 cup slivered almonds or your favorite nuts, and 1 cup of raisins, dried cherries, or whatever dried fruit you want!  Oh, and don’t forget to stir in 1/2 to 1 cup of pumpkin seeds!!  Stir around to combine.

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In a measuring cup pour in 1/2 cup of good maple syrup, 2 T agave syrup or honey, and about 3 T of pumpkin puree.  I’m sure pumpkin pie filling would work too but you might have to adjust the spices.  Use a fork and stir to blend.

Then pour the syrup mixture over the oats.  You can stir with a spoon or do what I do….use your hands!  Divide the granola between the two cookie sheets.

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Now, here’s the time consuming part.  I put the cookie sheets in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes and I stay put!  After the first 10 minutes, pull the sheets out and gently stir the granola, pop it back in and set the timer for another 10 minutes.  Again pull the sheets out and stir the granola.  Put the sheets back in the oven and do the same thing now at 5 minutes, two more times but you can take the granola out of the oven as soon as it has toasted nicely but it NOT over toasted and crunchy!

Do no over bake!!!  Carefully remove the parchment paper with the granola from the cookie sheets and place on your counter to cool. When completely cooled, place in a container that seals tightly.

This recipe makes about 6 cups of granola.

Here’s the recipe again:

2-1/4 cups oats

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

good pinch of ground cloves

1 cup slivered almonds or your favorite nuts

1 cup dried fruit, cherries, raisins, your favorite….

1/2 to 1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup good maple syrup

2 T agave syrup or honey

3 T pumpkin puree

Bake at 325 degrees on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Set timer for 5 to 10 minute intervals, stir and bake until toasted.  Cool and store in a tightly sealed container.

Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today I am going to share a recipe from a friend at work.  She baked these delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  They were so tasty that I could not control myself AT ALL!!!

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I thought my usual one cookie would suffice, it did not!  I am pretty sure I had at least three!!

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Here is Rhonda’s recipe:

1 cup butter flavored Crisco

1 cup white granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

15 oz can of pumpkin puree

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream the sugars and Crisco until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time.  Add the vanilla and pumpkin.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour,baking soda, salt and spices.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the moist ingredients, blending as you go.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoon sized balls onto a cookie sheet sprayed with a non-stick spray.  Bake at 350 degrees 15-20 minutes.

You need to give these a try, you will NOT be disappointed!

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Three Cheese Roasted Red Pepper Dip

What a tasty little surprise this was!!!  Roasted red peppers, cheese, cheese and a little more cheese baked into a hot, rich, golden, bubbly serving of deliciousness!!!

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This would be great to serve at any upcoming holiday parties and family events coming up the season!!

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Here’s what you need:

2 Whole Roasted Red Peppers, diced (I used jarred)

1/2 cup Mayonnaise

1 tsp Spicy Brown Mustard

2-3 dashes of Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper and Paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

8 oz Block of Cream Cheese

1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1/2 cup Shredded Colby Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Blend all ingredients by hand, pour into a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with a light dusting of additional shredded mozzarella cheese, or a heavy coating if you prefer.  Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly!

Serve with bread, crackers, bagel chips…….. a spoon!!!!  It’s really good!!!

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ENJOY!!!!