Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vampire Donuts

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Happy Halloween!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


*Donuts (regular-sized; fresh or boxed), vampire teeth (if using boxed donuts, you will need to cut the vampire teeth into two separate pieces otherwise they will split open the donut - trust me on this, I lost a few), candy eyes or chocolate chips for eyes.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Kiss Cookies

Have you ever had Hershey's Pumpkin Kisses? They are the perfect autumn sweet for anyone who loves pumpkin! They are tasty straight out of the bag, but, even better in these fun thumbprint cookies. I made a batch of these the other day and gave them out to my kids' teachers and friends. Everyone asked for the recipe. So, here ya go! Make them soon because these Kisses only come out in the Fall.

This recipe comes straight from the blog Buttercream Blondie:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Bourbon <I used 1 tsp whiskey...I'm sure you could omit this if you want to>
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag Hershey's Pumpkin Kisses

Preheat oven to 325F
Cream butter and sugars till light and fluffy using a hand-mixer.
Add egg, extract and bourbon.
Mix in mascarpone.
Sift dry ingredients together & mix in until combined.
Scoop cookies using a half ounce cookie scoop and roll.
Chill cookies for at least 30 minutes before baking.
Bake for 12-13 minutes rotating halfway through. While they're baking, unwrap the kisses.
As soon as you remove cookies from oven, place the cookie sheet on a cooling rack and press a pumpkin kiss into the center of each one.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Becca's Mexican Stew

My friend, Becca, is not only cute, funny and a great dancer (yep, we take a hip-hop class together once a week), but, she is also a fabulous cook! I seriously love the name of her blog, Home Beccanomics (she used to be a home economics teacher) and her recipes are every bit as clever as her blog name.  This post highlights her yummy Mexican Stew. Seriously, you had me at Mexican....and then again at stew! Now, take a look at the list of ingredients and you will see the makings of a tasty, healthy soup that includes potatoes, quinoa, spinach and avocado. How can you go wrong!!? I did make two easy changes. I subbed the peas out for a can of garbanzo beans and I used a can of crushed tomatoes instead of diced. No bigs! This stew is great no matter how you look at it! Oh, and oh, oh, oh, two out of my three kids absolutely LOVED this! (And don't worry about the third one....he's one of those "I only like chicken nuggets and mac n' cheese" kind of guys!).

Here is Becca's recipe:

1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
5 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tbsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 lb. baby red skinned potatoes, halved
6 c. chicken broth
1 c. quinoa, rinsed if necessary
2 tomatoes, cored and chopped coarse (or a 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained) <I used crushed>
1 c. frozen corn
1 c. frozen peas <I used a 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed>
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
3 c. baby spinach, optional
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 c. ricotta salata or feta, for serving

1. Sauté onion and bell pepper in oil in a large pot for five to eight minutes or until softened.

2. Add salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, cumin, chili powder and cayenne and sauté until fragrant, three minutes.

3. Add potatoes and chicken broth, cover with lid, and turn heat to high. When it reaches boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

4. Add quinoa and simmer until tender, 10 minutes longer.

5. Add tomatoes, corn and peas and heat through for several minutes.

6. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro and baby spinach, if using.

7. Ladle stew into bowls and divide avocado and cheese between bowls.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cabbage Bake with Chicken Sausage & Rice

This was truly comfort food at it's best! Not buyin' it? Does the thought of a giant plate full of steaming hot cabbage make you a bit nervous? Make this for yourself and tell me this isn't just the most delicious, flavorful meal you have eaten so far this Autumn! I promise you will be making this simple, quick meal all season long! Enjoy!

3 raw Italian chicken sausage links, casings removed 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped 1 medium onion, chopped 
4 cloves garlic, minced 1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
2 Tbl water
1/2 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 small head of green cabbage, sliced thin
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook sausage in a large oven safe pot. Use the back of a spatula or a Mix 'n Chop to chop sausage into small pieces. Once sausage is mostly cooked add bell pepper and onion in the pot. Cook for four or five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute longer.  Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, 2 Tbl water, uncooked rice, and seasonings. Top with cabbage and shredded cheese. Cover with oven-safe lid and bake for 70 minutes or until the rice is tender. Serve hot! YUM!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Creamy Sauerkraut & Apple Chowder

This soup was inspired by a recipe I saw in Food & Wine magazine. I absolutely love sauerkraut, so I was intrigued.  I replaced the two pork meats the original recipe called for with chicken sausage which is lower in fat, yet sacrifices zero flavor. I also added a tart apple. I love this addition and am really pleased with the end product. I served this soup with open-faced Reuben-inspired sandwiches. This was a hearty, tasty meal that I will definitely be making again. Enjoy!

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, very thinly sliced
1 large tart apple, peeled a cut into thin, bite sized pieces
2 uncooked chicken sausages, removed from casings (I used chicken apple sausage)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound sauerkraut—drained, rinsed and squeezed dry (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1/4 cup snipped chives
Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the apple and cook for a minute more. Add the chicken sausage and cook about 5 minutes, using a spatula or a handy dandy Mix 'n Chop to break the sausage into tiny pieces. Stir in the flour. Add the broth and sauerkraut and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the crème fraîche and chives. Serve in bowls with Reuben-inspired turkey sandwiches (see below).
These sandwiches were whipped up in a few minutes using sauerkraut as my inspiration. Turn oven to broil.  Put rye bread on a foil lined cookie sheet. Place in the pre-heated oven for just a minute or two until the bread is toasted. Remove pan from oven and flip the bread over. I made a little sauce out of creme fraiche and ketchup to mimic Thousand Island dressing. Spread a little sauce on the rye bread.  Next, add a bit of sauerkraut, sliced turkey and shredded cheese (I used Gruyere). Broil until cheese melts, about three minutes. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve alongside soup.   

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Potato & Pear Salad with Chicken Sausage & Pinenuts

I am CRAZY for this salad.... just CRAZY! I have made it twice in the last week and I already want it again. The dressing is devine and the salad ingredients make for a great savory and sweet mix. I must say, I'm pretty proud of this's a definite must make! Enjoy!!
1 Tbl olive oil
2 cooked chicken and apple sausage links, sliced thin (Applegate's Chicken & Apple Sausage is my fave)
1 medium sized red potato, cut into thin slices/chunks
1 firm pear, cored and cut in thin wedges
Salt & Pepper
1 6oz package of spinach
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts 

2 Tbl lemon juice
2 Tbl cider vinegar
3 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp tamari OR soy sauce
1 Tbl pure maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (don't leave these out- so yummy!)  


Preheat oven to 375 F. 

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced sausage and cook until browned. Add potatoes and pears; cook until browned on edges. Transfer to a foil lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered, for 15 to 25 minutes or until just tender (this all depends on how thin you slice the potatoes and pears....just bite into a potato to see if it's cooked throughout).

While the potato/sausage/pears are roasting, make the dressing. Whisk together the lemon juice, cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard, soy sauce, and maple syrup. Stir in chopped mint. 

Remove potato mixture from the oven. If you want, let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes then mix with spinach and pine nuts and toss with dressing. I like to put the hot mixture straight on the spinach and pine nuts and then toss with dressing.  The hot mixture ever so slightly wilts the spinach. It's all about, do what you like! **You probably won't use all the the rest for another salad tomorrow! Serve with a nice crusty whole grain bread.