Friday, September 28, 2012

{ makin' [pumpkin] whoopie }

... pies, that is.

This is an easy, fail-safe recipe that I highly urge you try if you've been craving that soft, creamy, spicy pumpkin taste. For some reason, the taste kind of reminds me of a puffy carrot cake in cloud form. Except it's pumpkin, not carrot. And it's not cake. And, well, it's not a cloud. But other than that, the similarities are uncanny. ;)


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from DreamyDesserts)

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1 16-oounce package of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together brown sugar, sugar, oil and pumpkin. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla.
In a separate bowl, shift together the dry ingredients. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.

Using a pastry bag with a large round tip (Wilton #12 works great), squeeze out concentric circles of batter, until the circles are about 2 inches in diameter. If a point is left where the tip was raissed from the pie, dampen a finger with water and gently pat down the point until batter circle is smooth.

Bake for 11 minutes and cool completely on a baking rack.

Beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Frost flat side of half the pies and top with remaining halves.

Enjoy right away or wrap individually with plastic cling wrap.
Makes 12-14 pies.


Monday, September 24, 2012

{ rich & creamy tomato basil soup }

It's chilly outside, and if you breathe in deep enough, you can almost smell the first frost in the air. The leaves are changing, and the world is pumpkiny and perfect. I love fall so very much -- it never ever gets old.

We're heading to a local apple orchard this afternoon to do some picking, so I thought having a warm pot of soup waiting on us when we return would be a comforting and perfect way to end the day.

Tomato basil soup sounded like a good choice, only this one is super-naughty. The butter and cream can be tasted (and savored!) in every bite.

I doubled the usual recipe this time, as I wanted plenty of leftovers. So don't be confused by some of my pictures if things look excessive. The normal recipe makes plenty for a family dinner though.

Sidenote: Ty, the husband who doesn't like chunky, vegetable stuff, says this is the "best" tomato soup he's ever eaten. Aidan, my 6-year-old son who is also the pickiest eater on planet Earth, loved it. Paige, my 2-year-old who eats anything, ate this too (so her opinion on the subject is actually no big deal). ;)

Rich & Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
(adapted from chef in training)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  •  1 1/2 cups light cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chicken base (I use Better Than Bouillon)
  • 2 (28 oz.) cans petite-diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, more if needed TT
  • 1/2 teaspoon salts, more if needed TT
  • milk, if needed, to thin to desired consistency

  • Process
    1. Melt butter over medium heat in heavy saucepan or dutch oven.
    2. Once melted add garlic and sauté for a minute or two.
    3. Stir in flour and make a roux, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.
    4. Once roux is formed, slowly pour in half and half and light cream, stirring as you pour.
    5. Stir in chicken base, diced tomatos, tomato puree, sugar, basil, pepper and salt. Stir until heated through.
    6. Using a ladle, spoon soup into blender and pulse briefly, breaking up the tomato chunks, but still leaving a nice, thick texture to the soup. Repeat, as needed, until entire batch of soup has been blended.
    7. Return soup to pot. If needed add milk to soup to thin out to desired consistency (I didn't need to add any).
    8. Serve hot, garnished with a sprinkle of grated cheese and fresh basil leaves.

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    { home remedy cough syrup }

    I have a cold. I have a bad cold. I suspect that it's likely a step-child in the flu family -- related to the flu ... but not really.

    The aches and pains are finally beginning to subside, and I don't feel like road kill anymore. But the lingering cough with which I've been left is nasty business. And no matter what product I try from my trusty neighborhood Walgreens, I can't get any relief.

    I've choked down the contents of a $40 box of Extra Strength Mucinex, chugged liquid cough syrup, slathered my neck and chest with Vick's Vapor Rub, popped Benadryl (Benadryl cures whatever ails you if there's snot involved, right?), and have been perpetually sucking on Ricolas. But so far, nothing is breaking through the wall that seems to have built up inside my lungs.

    I haven't been to the gym in a week, and I'm tired of being unable to walk from Point A to Point B without being racked by coughing spasms.

    Time to try something new.

    I remembered pinning a home remedy on Pinterest a few weeks ago that supposedly acts as both a calming agent and expectorant, so I decided to make up a batch. The recipe says it soothes a sore throat, hacking cough, and tight congestion -- sounded good to me. Here's a bit more of the description from the blog where I found the recipe:

    "I’m not saying it’s a cure-all, or some homeopathic miracle drug. But it did a mighty fine job taking the place of store-bought cough suppressants, expectorants, decongestants.

    Wouldn’t you rather have a dose of spicy honey-cider syrup from a little jar mixed up in the kitchen than any of those bottles lurking in the medicine cabinet?"

    Um, yeah I would. And I did.

    Holy smokes! After mixing up the firey concoction and swallowing a spoonful of it, I could almost feel my body, especially my lungs, beginnng to loosen. I was able to breathe deeper, without being overcome with a coughing fit. I was shocked at how well it worked. I just felt ... better.

    And since I know you're wondering, it doesn't taste that bad. The predominant flavor is actully the ginger, not the cayenne pepper. And I'd recommend heating it up a bit before swallowing, just to make it extra soothing.

    So, whoever Maggie is, I salute you, Ma'am. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for passing on your cough remedy.

    Passing it on ....

    Maggie's Cough Remedy
    (adapted from Good Food Matters)

    • ¼ teaspoon grated cayenne pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon grated ginger
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (organic preferred.)
    • 1 tablespoon honey (use locally produced raw honey, if possible)
    • 2 tablespoon water

    In a jar, or any other container with a tight-fitting lid, dissolve cayenne and ginger in cider vinegar and water.

    Add honey. Shake vigorously.

    Take 1 tablespoon, as needed, for cough.
    Note: this doesn’t dissolve perfectly. Always shake well before using.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    { lime and chili pork tacos with jalapeño cream sauce }

    These pork tacos are awesome -- so many contrasts of flavors make for an overall tangy combination that's out of this world. Ty kept saying, "These are GOOD," throughout dinner, which is always a good sign.

    The jalapeño cream sauce was made from peppers grown by a friend (thanks, Ben!), and the potential list of dishes to which this could be added is limitless. For starters, I added it to my eggs the next morning (and included a picture below!). It's delicious. If possible, make it in advance so that it has a chance to chill before being added on the tacos. The cool, smooth texture is so yummy with the warm meat and onions (don't skip making the onions!).

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat another pork taco. :)

    Lime and Chili Pork Tacos with Jalapeño Cream Sauce
    (adapted from Food & Wine)

    Jalapeño Cream Sauce
    • 4 jalapeños, seeded and cut into large sections
    • 1 bunch cilantro leaves (about 1 cup)
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
    • juice of one lime
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • salt, to taste
    • 8 1/4-inch-thick boneless pork chops
    • 1 large sweet yellow onion, sliced in rings
    • juice from 1 1/2 limes, divided
    • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
    • 2 tablespoons Mexican chili powder (regular chili powder works fine), divided
    • kosher salt and freshy-ground pepper, to taste
    • 8 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
    • 1 avocado, halved and sliced length-wise
    • jalapeño cream sauce (see accompanying recipe), lime wedges, and cilantro, to garnish

    Jalapeño Cream Sauce
    In a food processor,puree jalapeños, cilantro, mayo, garlic, olive oil and lime juice. Taste and add salt, as needed.


    Preheat a grill pan for at least 5 minutes. Arrange the pork on a large baking sheet. Brush all over with half of the olive oil. Season with salt and half of the chile powder. Squeeze the juice from a lime on the meat before putting on the grill. Do the same once the meat has been flipped.

    Grill the pork, turning once, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

    Preheat heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Place sliced onions in a bowl and top with remaining olive oil. Stir until evenly coated. Add remaining chili powder and sprinkle with salt.

    Add onions to hot skillet, stirring occasionally to cook evenly. Once onions begin to soften, squeeze the juice from half a lime over the onions and continue to cook until charred and tender.

    Transfer the pork to the cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch strips; transfer to a platter. Serve on warm tortilla with the onions, avocado, cilantro, jalapeño cream sauce and lime wedges.


    breakfast the next morning!

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    { shredded beef colorado burrito} :: in the crockpot

    This is an all-day-in-the-crockpot meat that turns out so tender, nothing but a fork is required.

    Shredded Beef Colorado Burrito
    (adapted from food-pusher)

    2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
    1 yellow onion, thinly sliced into rings
    1 large can enchilada sauce (at least 19 oz)
    3 beef bouillon cubes
    1/2 can refried beans (optional)
    5-7 burrito-sized flour tortillas
    2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

    Season beef with salt and pepper.

    Place beef, bouillon cubes, and enchilada sauce into a crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until meat is very tender.

    Once beef is tender (flakes easily when stirred), heat refried beans and set oven to broil. Place a tortilla on an oven-proof plate or cookie sheet. Using a slotted spoon, place about 1/2 cup of meat onto tortilla, along with cheddar cheese and a spoonful or two of beans. Fold both ends in and roll tortilla into a burrito. Spoon some of the remaining enchilada sauce from the crock pot over the burrito and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly, about 2-4 minutes.

    Serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    { a chilly pumpkin morning }

    Have you ever had coffee on the brain before you've even opened your eyes in the morning? Of course you have.

    This morning was such a morning for me. It was 4:15am, the windows were open, temps were in the 40s, and I could smell and taste a pumpkin latte.

    Time to put my craving into action.

    Starbuck's ain't got nothin' on a homemade pumpkin spice latte, made in the comfort of your jammies and in your own kitchen.

    Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
    adapted from RecipeGirl

    • 1/2 cup Half-and-Half
    • 1 tablespoon unsweetened canned pumpkin puree
    • 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup hot brewed, strong coffee
    • 2 tablespoons (or more!) heavy cream
    • granulated sugar (I prefer demerera sugar), to taste
    • whipped cream, optional
    • ground nutmeg, optional
    • ground cinnamon, optional

    In a glass measuring cup, whisk together milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, spice and vanilla. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes - watch closely and remove it from the microwave when the milk is hot and frothy.

    Pour the pumpkin milk into a large coffee mug. Add hot coffee. Pour in heavy cream, as desired. Add a teaspoon of sugar. Stir, and taste. Add more sugar, if desired.

    Optional, but yummy! Add whipped cream on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve immediately.

    Sunday, September 02, 2012

    { pink ruffles & paige }

    We celebrated my baby's 2nd birthday this week. She's now running around the house, climbing on every piece of furniture, and saying things like, "Wook at me, Mommy!" How can this possibly be?

    We didn't have a big bash, but I couldn't let the occasion pass without providing my [fearless] girly girl with a little bit of pink, a touch of ruffles, and lots of love.

    Happy birthday, sweet Paige.