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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Sausage, Corn and Potato Chowder

I love hot and hearty soup on a chilly day. It hasn’t been too chilly yet but the soup is still a wonderful meal.

This soup is easy to put together, and can be on the table and in your tummy in no time!

I started with a pound of loose sausage, I usually like using a spicy Italian sausage, which would be great for this soup but this time I opted for just a plain sausage. I wanted to use my own spices this time around.

Brown your sausage and a chopped onion, salt and pepper. As it was browning I added paprika and a few dashes of cayenne pepper.

As soon as the sausage is cooked I added 4-5 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of cooked, diced potatoes, 1-1/2 cups of corn. And I tossed in a rather large sprig of fresh thyme from my garden.

I love using thyme in just about everything. Last year I was lucky, our winter wasn’t too terribly cold and my thyme lasted all winter. I have it in a large pot by my back door. My rosemary survived as well.

Bring the soup to a light simmer, adjust the spices to your preference. After about 15-20 minutes, remove the sprig of thyme, and serve.

Sausage, Corn and Potato Sausage

Serves 4

1 pound loose, ground sausage

1 small onion, chopped and diced

4-5 cups chicken broth or stock

2 cups cubed cooked potatoes

1-1/2 cups corn

1 tsp paprika

few dashes of cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1 sprig of thyme

Brown sausage and onion in olive oil in a soup stock pot, salt and pepper to taste.  Add the cayenne pepper and paprika.

When the sausage is cooked, add your broth, about 4 cups to start.  Adding more if you prefer.

Add in the corn, and potatoes and bring to a light simmer, add sprig of thyme. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Taste and adjust your spices. Remove sprig of thyme before serving.

Enjoy!

 

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.

Hash Browns and Eggs

I love breakfast, and I love having breakfast for dinner too!

I made this for a late morning breakfast one day that I was off from work.  There isn’t much in the way of a recipe, you just fry these potatoes, make a hole and dump in the eggs. Easy!  And delicious!

I always keep a bag of these hash brown potatoes in the freezer mostly because I just dislike peeling and chopping potatoes BUT I use them in soups, quiches, and as a side dish.

Start by just frying your potatoes, add in chopped onions, salt and pepper to taste but I have to tell ya, I love using seasoned salt for fried potatoes.

I had a jar of roasted red peppers in the fridge so I chopped one up and added it to the potatoes just enough to heat before I added the eggs.

Clear away some potatoes and create a hole for each egg you want to add, turn the heat down low enough that nothing burns but yet enough heat to cook the eggs.

Pour in an egg in each hole you create, salt and pepper the egg and cover the pan.

I checked my eggs every few minutes, while the eggs cooked I made my toast.

Within about 8 minutes my eggs and potatoes were done and I was pretty much inhaling them!

Again, there isn’t much of a recipe to follow. This one is easy to just wing it!

Enjoy!

 

Mexican Skillet Dinner

Get out your cast iron skillet!  This creation turned out way better than I had anticipated!  I loved it!  And it’ll be a recipe I use often.

I am trying to incorporate more veggies in my diet.  This dish is definitely the way to do it, I just love the combination of the spices and sauce with the veggies and rice.  And the topping of cheese is just an added benefit.

And its versatile so you can pretty much change the veggies and spices to your liking and serving size.  You can’t really mess this up.  Unless you burn it.  And that would be a tragedy!

This is perfect for those days or nights that you are just too darn tired to cook but you really need something healthy and filling.  It comes together quickly so I would suggest you have everything on the counter and ready to go.

If you do not have a cast iron skillet, you can still make this recipe you but you won’t be able to pop it in the oven for the final step.  Unless you have a skillet that you can wrap the handle so it doesn’t melt.  I have never tried that so I am of no help!

In a cast iron skillet, coat pan with enough olive oil to sauté your veggies.  Dice a half of green bell pepper, half of a yellow bell pepper, and a small onion. Toss into the pan, season with a little salt and pepper, sauté until tender.  Add in either frozen corn or corn freshly cut off the cobb.  Grilled corn is even better.

Here is where the variety comes in, you can use any veggie that you want.  Just make sure you start with the veggies that take longer to cook and end with your softer veggies.  Make sense?

When the veggies are cooked, I added my beans.  I used canned, small white beans. Stir well to heat. Again, you could use whatever bean you prefer.

I then grabbed my jar of sliced banana peppers and chopped a few of them up and tossed them into the pan.  You decide if you want them and how much heat you want.  You can use jalapenos, green chillis, or whatever you want for the heat.

Toss in cooked brown rice and your spices.  I used cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, chili powder, and fresh thyme from my garden.

Stir until heated through.  Add red enchilada sauce.  Stir gently until heated and the ingredients are blended well.  Turn off the heat and top with your favorite cheese, I use shredded Monterey Jack.  Pepper Jack would be good too.  Or cheddar.  Well, probably most any cheese would work.

Broil in your oven until the cheese is bubbly.

Top with chopped parsley, sour cream, guacamole, more cheese, nacho chips and a good bottle of Shiraz.

Here’s the recipe:

Mexican Skillet Dinner

1/2 each of a green and yellow bell pepper, seeded, and diced

1 small onion, chopped and diced

1 cup corn, can be frozen, or grilled on the cob and cut off

1/2 T finely chopped banana peppers

3/4 to 1 cup cooked white beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup cooked brown rice

1-1/2 cup red enchilada sauce

Sale, pepper, season to taste

1/2 tsp each of cumin, paprika, chili powder, and season to taste

Dash or two of red pepper flakes

a sprig or two of fresh thyme, remove leaves from stems

About 2 cups of shredded cheese, I prefer Monterey Jack

Assorted toppings to serve: salsa, sour cream, guacamole, nachos, etc.

  1. Heat olive oil over a medium heat in a cast iron skillet, use enough oil to coat the skillet you are using..
  2. Saute peppers and onions until tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You can also start adding some of your spices,  I prefer to season each layer of food that I add.
  3. Add corn to sauté a little, especially if you’re using frozen.
  4. Add the beans, banana peppers and rice along with the rest of the spices.  Taste and adjust the spices to your taste. Stir until ingredients are heated, just a few minutes.
  5. Reduce heat, stir in enchilada sauce to coat and heat through.  Turn heat off.
  6. Cover top with as much shredded cheese as you like.
  7. Place skillet under the broiler until cheese is bubbly.  Don’t walk away.!
  8. Ladle each serving into a bowl, top with desired toppings.

I hope you love this dish as much as I do!  Live well friends!

 

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

I love pasta, and I am always looking for different ways to prepare it.  So, for these hot summery days I thought pasta salad would be appropriate, but I didn’t want the same boring old recipe.

Typically, I just chop up broccoli florets, cut grape tomatoes in half, cube up cheese and maybe ham.  Toss with some sort of an Italian dressing and Salad Supreme.  That is super easy and delish for sure but I wanted something different.

Enter roasted vegetables!

I chopped a half each of a red and yellow bell pepper, and in a bowl they went.  Added about 1 cup of whole grape tomatoes and about 2 cups of broccoli florets.  I also added a handful of sugar snap peas, but in hind sight I probably won’t do that again.  I coated the veggies with extra virgin olive oil, salt and peppered them well and spread them out on my baking pan.

I use a baking stone (with sides) to roast my veggies and I absolutely love it!  The pan doesn’t look very clean but it is!  Don’t judge!

Popped them in the oven at 350 until they were tender, and roasted well.  Maybe about 30 minutes.

While the veggies roasted, I cooked my pasta, I used about a half of a box of penne.  To the water I added a large sprig of thyme from my garden to flavor the pasta.  It was a lovely hint of flavor and I will definitely be doing this again!!

When the pasta was cooked al dente, I drained it and put in a large bowl.  I removed the skins from the peppers and cut them into smaller pieces and added them to the pasta.  I put all the veggies into the bowl along with the oil from the pan.

To that I also added about ¼ cup of jarred sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, along with about a tablespoon of the oil from that jar.  I love sun dried tomatoes, they give any recipe a little boost of flavor.

I added just a sprinkling of thyme and tore up some basil to top the pasta salad and gave it a good toss.  I also topped the plated salad with some grated parmesan cheese.

This recipe is so versatile, you can use any veggies that you want.  You can mix up your herbs and try different spices too.

I think this would be wonderful with some herb infused olive oil too.

Give it a try, but if you want the recipe for what I did, here it is:

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

½ Red Bell Pepper, seeds removed

½ Yellow Bell Pepper, seeds removed

1 cup Grape tomatoes, whole

2 cups Broccoli Florets

1 cup Sugar Snap Peas

¼ cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, jarred, chopped

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Penne Pasta, half of a box

Large sprig of Thyme to cook the pasta, reserve some thyme flakes to add to the finished dish

About 5 Basil leaves, torn

Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Toss all the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper, season well and use enough oil to be able to coat the pasta salad when combining in the serving bowl.

Cook the pasta, add the thyme to the cooking water.

Remove the skin from the roasted peppers, cut in smaller pieces and add to the cooked and drained pasta.  Pour in the rest of the veggies along with the oil from the pan.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes, thyme and basil.

Toss and top each serving with grated parmesan cheese.

This will last a few days in the fridge and serves 2.

Enjoy!

RumChata and Caramel Milkshake

This is a sin. Seriously.

And forgive me, but it is a sin I will definitely commit again!

I was craving a milkshake, and I wanted a cocktail. So hit up the liquor cabinet and I combined the craving.

Super easy. And you probably don’t even need to use a recipe. But here it is anyway, in case you’re curious!

I put about 2.5 ozs of RumChata in my little drink blender, added about 2 cups of vanilla ice cream, a shot of Caramel vodka and about a ¼ cup caramel sauce.

Blended until smooth, which didn’t take long because my little blender is a whiz!

I poured it into a mug, topped with a squirt of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

You could also add some chocolate syrup to make a chocolate caramel milkshake!

This milkshake was perfect, even though it was a chilly night!!

RumChata and Caramel Milkshake

2.5 ozs Rumchata

1 Shot of Caramel Vodka, optional

¼ cup carmel sauce

2 cups vanilla ice cream

Add to blender and blend until creamy smooth. Top with additional carmel sauce and whipped cream.

Enjoy!!