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!

 

Advertisements

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.

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!

Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake with Honey Lemon Glaze

I was hungry for blueberry crumb muffins

I was hungry for a cinnamon coffee cake.

What happens when you have that craving? You combine them and make an incredibly delicious blueberry crumb coffee cake!

img_3555

I have been in heaven every time I have a piece. And it’s even better when you pop in the microwave and warm it for just a few seconds.

img_3553

This would be a great breakfast cake when you have over night guests.  Or for a  brunch, or just yourself!

I had a bag of frozen blueberries that I wanted to use up. I’ve been on a mission to use everything in my freezer before it’s too late! The bag of mango’s didn’t make it though, they were freezer burnt!

img_3556

Anyway, they worked well. I thawed them first, then drained and coated them with flout before tossing them in the batter.

The crumb topping was enormous! If you don’t want that much you could easily cut the recipe in half.

img_3552

The honey lemon drizzle was a spur of the moment decision, I had just a small amount of honey remaining in the container. And I had a lemon that desperately needed to be used.

And the cake batter was just a basic coffee cake recipe, super easy and delicious.

img_3551

Here is what I did for the cake:

First I sprayed an 8 x 8 glass pan, lined the pan with parchment paper and sprayed again. You don’t need to use the parchment, you can just use the greased pan.

As I mentioned, I thawed and drained the berries then coated them with flour.

Into my mixer I creamed together ½ cup (1 stick) very softened butter and ¾ cup sugar. Then I added 1 large egg, ½ cup milk, baking soda and salt. Once that is blended I added 2 cups of flour, one cup at a time, stopping to scrape the bowl in between each addition. Just a quick note about the milk, I used what I had on hand which is 1%, I know a lot of recipes call for whole but the 1% worked!

I then removed the bowl from the stand and gently folded in the blueberries. Once the berries are evenly distributed through the batter, pour into the prepared pan.

To make the crump topping I used ½ cup (1 stick) softened butter cut into pieces, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut the butter in with the flour and sugar until crumbly, sprinkle over cake batter.

I baked the cake at 350 for about an hour. My oven is gas and after 2 years I still can’t get the hang of it. It runs about 25 degree’s hotter than what I want so I really have to watch it. I also have a double oven; the top oven is small, and the bottom is larger but not as large as a standard oven. It’s large enough to roast a turkey. I love it, and it’s convenient for me because it’s just me. BUT, baking in the smaller oven can be a challenge. SO, in your oven you might want to start checking the cake around 40-45 minutes.

The cake is done when a cake tester comes out clean. Then just lift the cake out of the pan and onto a cooling rack or a cutting board to cool.

To make the glaze I just used the juice of one lemon, ½ teaspoon of vanilla, about 1 tablespoon of honey and I just stirred in the confectioners’ sugar until I got the consistency that I wanted. Sorry, I didn’t measure, I just flew by the seat of my yoga pants!!! I added the glaze when the cake was just warm.

This cake is delicious and best when served warm and fresh from the oven. But is still quite yummy the next day, warmed for a few seconds in the microwave.

img_3556

Here is the recipe, I haven’t figured out how to add the option to print the recipe yet, but I’m trying!

BLUEBERRY CRUMB COFFEE CAKE with HONEY LEMON GLAZE

For the cake:

½ cup very soft butter

¾ cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 large egg

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 cups flour

About 2 cups of blueberries

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the milk, egg, baking powder and salt. Then add the flour, one cup at a time, scraping the in between. Pour into a greased 8×8 pan.

For the topping:

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup flour

1 tsp cinnamon

½ cup (1 stick) soft butter cut into pieces

Cut together until you have a crumbles, sprinkle in top of cake batter.

For the glaze:

The juice of one lemon

½ tsp vanilla

1 T honey

Confectioners sugar, still in about 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you want. I may have used about ¾ cup.

Live well friends!

img_3551

Holiday Meal Planner

Can you believe it is almost the end of October?! We will be planning holiday meals in no time!

I like to prepare a much as I can before the meal. You know those holiday Hallmark movies where the family is together in the kitchen on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each of them is preparing something. One person is making the pumpkin pie, another is preparing the turkey to roast, someone is peeling the potatoes. Yea well it doesn’t work like that in my family and I’m betting it doesn’t in yours either.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have some help getting things ready to serve but for one thing, my kitchen isn’t that big AND I do not have enough ovens for multiple things to bake at one time!

So I thought I would come up with a planner, to help me, and to help you. We all lead busy lives and some of you may be awesome at throwing a big sit down holiday dinner in a flash, but I am not. I need to and like to prepare ahead of time, so here goes:

HOLIDAY MEAL PLANNER

2-3 Weeks Before

  • Plan your menu. If you’re thinking of serving new dishes, practice cooking them prior to your dinner so you and your guests won’t be disappointed.
  • If you are going with the traditional turkey, decide if you are purchasing a frozen or fresh bird, place your order if necessary.
  • Inventory your plates, utensils, glassware and serving dishes. Start shopping if you need to replenish!
  • What linens are you planning to use? Make sure you have enough tablecloths, napkins, and placemats. Launder and iron now.
  • Will you need extra tables and chairs? Whether you are renting, borrowing or buying new, start now.
  • Most importantly (other than the turkey!), make yourself lists. Write down EVERYTHING! Your menu, wine/drinks, things to do, things to buy, you will be thankful you did!

One Week Before

  • If you have not done so already, prepare your grocery list. Then rewrite in the location order of your market or in the order as: produce, canned items, bakery, bread, pantry items, and so on.
  • Clean out your kitchen before you grocery shop. Make sure your pantry and fridge are free of any unused leftovers or outdated products. Wipe down the shelves in the fridge.
  • Inventory your spices and herbs, discard out dated or old containers.
  • Clean your house and decorate if you have not already done so. Eliminate clutter and if your family likes to play games, make sure they are ready to go.
  • Make a plan for your cooking preparations. Use a calendar if you like or just make a list.

Sunday Before

  • If you have purchased a frozen bird, and depending on the size, you may need to put in the fridge so it can start to thaw. Never leave the turkey thaw on the counter!
  • The recipe for my Turkey Rub is here.

Monday and Tuesday before

  • Shop for your groceries.
  • Tie up any loose ends from above that you have not yet completed.
  • Make the cranberry sauce. My recipe is here.
  • If you are cutting up and cubing your own stuffing, do that now.
  • I like to chop up any vegetables that I need on Tuesday. Whether it be the onion and celery for the stuffing and turkey, or veggies for my family to snack on as an appetizer.
  • I work full time and usually cannot take off the day before so I like to make my pies and cakes Tuesday evening when I get home from work.  My pumpkin Pie recipe is here. And my Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream recipe is here.

Wednesday Before

  • If you have not done so already, bake your desserts. Store in a cool place or refrigerate.
  • Prepare any appetizers that can be made ahead, cover and refrigerate. My Three Cheese Roasted Red Pepper Dip is here.
  • If your vegetables are not chopped and ready to go, do that now.
  • If you are cooking a fresh turkey, pick it up from the market.
  • Prepare any side dishes ahead that you can. I make my mashed potatoes now, place them in a large casserole dish, dot with butter and cover with foil.
  • If you are making your mashed potatoes tomorrow, peel and cut them now, place them in a bowl of water, cover and refrigerate.
  • Set up any extra table and chairs, set the table, place any table décor out now.
  • If you are planning to use a cooler for bottled water or beer and extra wine bottles, do that now and sit outside in a safe place.
  • If you’re planning on hot chocolate by a fire pit, my recipe is here. Or my Hot Cider Float recipe is here.
  • Inventory your lists and make sure you are on track!
  • Take a hot bath, pour yourself a drink and relax with a good book!

THE BIG DAY!

  • Prepare your stuffing and turkey and get them in the oven.
  • Reheat your sides.
  • Prepare the gravy.
  • Don’t forget ask for help getting things on the table!
  • And you are done! Enjoy your day and your guests and have a wonderful time!

I wish you the Happiest and Loveliest Thanksgiving and Christmas!

PS: And remember, your holiday will not be perfect! Don’t worry if something doesn’t work out as planned, laugh about it! I can’t tell you how many rolls I have burned because I put them in the oven last and forgot to set the timer!!

Mojito’s and Mint Tea

I love when my herbs are growing and blooming!  But I REALLY love it with the mint has come in!

Last year I planted mint in a large pot, and it did very well.  It came back beautifully this spring.  But I had to plant another pot this year because I love it so much!

I have made my usual mint tea twice this spring and now I make mojito’s!!

img_1846
You can check out my recipe for the mint tea recipe here Fresh Mint Tea.  Although I plan to use some green tea bags the next time I make it, green tea is so healthy for us and I’m trying to incorporate more of it in my diet.

img_1830
For the mojito, first I made a simple syrup by using 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring the water to a light boil, stirring until the sugar is melted.  Remove from heat and add about 5 large mint leaves to the syrup to “steep” while it cools.

I cut a lime in half, set half of it aside and the other half I quartered and squeezed the lime juice into my glass with about 10 mint leaves.  Muddle to break up the leaves, for just about a minute.  Then I added the lime quarters that I squeezed the  juice from and muddled them for a few seconds.  Fill glass with ice.

After the simple syrup was cool, I added 2 ozs to my glass.  Then 2-3 ozs of white rum and topped off the glass with seltzer water.
Add a lime slice to the rim of the glass and float a sprig of mint on top as well.

img_1813
Mint Mojito

 

  • 15 mint leaves, more for a more minty taste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2-3 ozs white rum
  • 1 lime
  • seltzer water

Make a simple syrup with the sugar and water by placing in a small sauce pan and bring to a light boil, stirring to melt the sugar.  When the sugar is melted stir in 5 mint leaves and set aside to cool.

Cut a lime in half; take half the lime and quarter it, squeeze juice into glass. Add 10 mint leaves and muddle.  Add the squeezed lime quarters and muddle lightly again.  I added another half of a slice of lime to the glass and to the rim.

Fill glass with ice, add the rum and mint infused simple syrup.  Top with a splash of seltzer water.

Live well friends and have a minty summer!  Be sure to follow me on Facebook for daily babbling and rambling!

img_1846