Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup canned pumpkin (or fresh, cooked, pureed pumpkin)

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips
optional: raisins, nuts, other dried fruits

Cream together the sugar and shortening. Add the pumpkin. Mix dry ingredients well in seperate bowl and then add to the rest of the mixture. (I admit, I don't alway mix them in a seperate bowl, but the main thing is that you want to make sure the baking soda and powder and stuff are well distributed and don't just end up all clumped up in one cookie or something.... yuck...).

Now, here's where you can get creative. Add in your mix-ins to your liking. My last few batches have consisted of chocolate chips, dried blueberries, AND cashews or walnuts/pecans (whichever nut I had available). You can mix and match however you want! i am pretty sure my last ones were at least 1/2 mix-ins!

Once everything is well mixed, spoon into mounds on a greased cookie sheet. I usually use two spoons to help me do the job.

Bake for 10 -15 minutes, until cooked through. The time is going to vary depending on your oven, the size you made your cookies, the pan you use, etc. So, check them at 10 minutes. They should start to brown a little on the bottom and should not look doughy in the middle. I like my pumpkin cookies soft though, so DON'T OVERCOOK THEM (at least not if you are making them for me... haha. just kidding....).

TIP: If you want to have dough ready to bake at any time, make a large batch of the dough, and freeze some of it! Form the dough into a logs on pieces of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly then put in a large zip top bag and put in the freezer! When you are ready for cookies another day, pull out a log of dough, unwrap, cut into thick slices and bake! You may  have to adjust the baking time since they will be frozen. Might even want to turn down the over just a little so the bottoms don't get too brown before the middle is done.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chile Verde anyone?


Olive oil

5 cups diced onion

1/2 cup chopped garlic

5 pounds pork shoulder, cubed

1 quart chicken broth

15 to 20 Anaheim peppers

12 to 15 tomatillos


3 tablespoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves (Mexican oregano if you have it)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup corn flour (NOT THE SAME as corn meal! Corn flour is also called Masa. It is most likely going to be down the ethnic food isle with the rest of the hispanic food.)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (if using fresh chiles and/or tomatillos).

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add 1/4 cup of olive oil. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the pork shoulder in a large heavy bottomed pot, coated with oil, over medium heat and sear until well browned on all sides. Deglaze with the chicken broth, and then add sauteed onions and garlic. Turn heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

(ok, now if you are using the canned chilies and tomatillos, skip the green instructions below.)

Meanwhile, place the Anaheim peppers on a sheet pan.

Peel the outer paper skins off the tomatillos, then coat with olive oil and place on another sheet pan. Place both pans in the preheated oven and roast until the peppers are nicely charred and the tomatillos are soft, about 20 minutes.

Remove pans from the oven and place the peppers in a plastic bag to let them steam for 5 minutes.

Peel and seed peppers.

Puree the peppers and tomatillos (drain the tomatillos! don't use the liquid) in a food processor. Add the puree to the pork mixture, stir, and then let simmer on low heat.

Combine the garlic powder, black pepper, ground cumin, oregano, ground coriander and salt in a small bowl, then add to pork mixture and stir well.

In a small saute pan, mix 1/2 cup olive oil (I have used less oil before... maybe 1/4 cup? Try it and see.) with the corn flour, stirring over low heat for 2 minutes to make a masa roux.

Let the chili mixture simmer for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours on medium-low heat, or until pork is nice and tender. Then stir in masa roux and simmer for 10 more minutes. The roux should work as a thickening agent.




With the holidays approaching, it is time to start thinking about some of those recipes that, in my family, no holiday season would be complete without!

How about a holiday slush?

6 cups water
4 cups sugar
Boil and cool

1 12 oz can frozen orange juice (not diluted)
1 large can pineapple juice
juice of 2 lemons
5 mashed bananas (optional)
Pour into containers with lids. Freeze solid and thaw slightly to serve.  When serving, I usually scrape some out with a fork (to help get it to a slushy stage) then put it in a cup. Pour a little carbonated beverage into it-- lemon lime soda, or Fresca, or... whatever citrus-y soda. We like Fresca at our house. Slush together with a fork so it is one homogenous, slushy mixture! You can add as little or as much soda as you like, according to your preference. 

(Obviously, you could also slush a bunch of it in a punch bowl if you are doing it for a party or something. We usually just let people dish up their own individual servings when it is just our family.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oven Beef Stew

This is a classic comfort food for me. We had it often in my home growing up. I don't make it all that often-- somehow I always forget about it-- but when I do make it, it feels like "home."

2 lbs beef stew meat chunks
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 large carrots, sliced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1 package dry onion soup mix (ie. Liptons)

Place all ingredients in large oven safe pot in order listed.
Add 1 soup can full of water.
Cover and cook in oven 6-8 hours @ 250 degrees

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

MMmmmmmm..... My friend Stephanie brought some delicious cupcakes with raspberry frosting to a little get together we had while I was out in Utah this summer. This inspired me to look for a recipe. I ended up using this frosting on top of little "cupbrownies" at Robby's birthday party we had in Utah. (I prefer brownies over cake, and thought it would be fun to make little cupcakes out of brownies.... just poured chewy/fudge brownie batter into muffin tins with the cupcake papers and baked them up.) They were cute and soooo tasty!


1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar


1. Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

2. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition.

I usually end up adding MORE raspberries than it calls for. I just blend in a little more at a time at the end until it tastes how I want it. 
Note: Be sure to wash and thoroughly dry raspberries before adding to frosting.

Banana, Walnut, Coconut, Granola Muffins!

This recipe is one of Ina Garten's (from Food Network).  She actually calls them "Banana Crunch Muffins," but I prefer the more lengthy descriptive name I gave them. haha. These are sooooo good.

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

3/4 cup whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)

1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)

1 cup small-diced walnuts

1 cup granola

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

 Extra granola or shredded coconut, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line muffin tin with paper liners. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas in a seperate bowl, and then add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend until mixture just comes together, but DON'T OVERMIX!

Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each one to the top. Top each muffin with granola or coconut, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Orange Soy Chicken

recipe by emeril lagasse (foodnetwork)

This marinade is yummy. I like to set some extra aside and use it for dipping the chicken in or for drizzling on the chicken after it is cooked. Obviously, don't reuse any of the stuff you marinate the chicken in though.


1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or non-freshly-squeezed works)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons orange zest (if you don't use a fresh orange, then you can omit this OR what I did one time was put in lime zest, because I happened to have limes sitting around. The zest of citrus fruits has TONS of flavor, so I recommend adding it (whether orange or lime) if you can)

4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

4 teaspoons olive oil


Set a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and add the orange juice, soy sauce, sugar and orange zest. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook until liquid is reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 20 minutes (Keep an eye on it! If it boils over it makes a HUGE mess...not that I ever did that....ok... so I did...). Remove the glaze from the heat, reserve 1/4 cup separately, and then pour the remaining glaze over the chicken breasts in a re-sealable plastic food storage bag. Refrigerate the chicken breasts for 2 hours; remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.

Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and discard the marinade. Season the chicken on both sides with the salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil.

(The following is Emeril's instructions of how to grill it. I don't get that technical-- with the rotating 45 degrees, etc.-- but, cook it however you want. Grill, oven, etc.)

 Place the chicken, smooth side down, on the grill and cook for 4 minutes, rotate 45 degrees and cook an additional 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over, brush each breast with 1 tablespoon of the reserved glaze, and cook for another 4 minutes on the second side, or until just cooked through. Remove from the heat and serve.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Carino's Italian Nachos

I know.... sounds strange... Italian nachos? But if you've ever been to Carino's (formerly Johnny Carino's) and ordered their Italian Nachos appetizer, you know they are SOOOO tasty! Seriously....
So, why not make them at home?

All I did in my attempts to recreate this masterpiece was first, look at the description of Carino's Italian Nachos on their online menu:

"Crispy pasta chips, Italian sausage, and/or chicken, olives, pepperoncinis, tomatoes, jalapeƱos, alfredo, mozzarella and parmesan cheese"

Cristpy pasta chips.... hmmm.... after searching the store for fresh pasta sheets (with no success) I thought of something else I had that I could substitute. Uncooked flour tortillas-- no not just your ordinary package of tortillas, but uncooked, flattened, rounds of dough ready to be cooked into tortillas. In Utah you can buy these at most grocery stores, and definitely at Costco. When I moved out to Ohio I was devastated to find that they did not carry them in the Costco here. Over the past year and a half I have been bringing them with me from Utah when I go to visit! BUT, don't worry... any of you Ohioans.... you aren't out of luck. When I went to Costco here last month, I saw that they had FINALLY decided to order them!!!! Hooray!

So, here is what I do:

If you like deep frying stuff, you can go ahead and deep fry some chips. However, for the sake of 1) less mess and 2) a healthier alternative,  I just bake them instead.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Stack up a few tortillas . Poke several holes in the tortillas with a fork (so that the chips don’t puff up and become all hollow when you bake them).

Use a pizza cutter (or a knife) to cut 8 wedges out of each tortilla. (like you’re cutting a pizza)

Separate all the triangles. Toss all the “chips” in olive oil until they are all lightly coated
OR after putting them in a single layer on a pan, spray them with olive oil spray.
OR..... now that I think of it.... it would probably be easy to just brush the tortillas with the oil BEFORE you cut them..... hmmm..... why have I never thought of that before?

Put chips in single layer on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt if desired.

Put in oven for 4 to 6 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Keep an eye on them! They are done when they are crisp like a chip :) Use your judgement.

You may have to do a few batches, depending how many chips you want.

Italian Sausage
This is NOT the same as breakfast sausage. Make sure it says ITALIAN sausage. You can usually find it by the other ground meats. We use hot, but you can use mild if you don't like things too hot. If you can't find just a package of ground italian sausage, you can buy the uncooked Italian sausage links, and just remove the casings off the sausage links.
Brown and break up the sausage in a skillet.
Alfredo Sauce-- store bought or homemade

Tomatoes chopped

Green onion chopped

Sliced olives

Canned sliced jalapenos and/or pepperoncinis (we usually just use jalapenos)

Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Shredded parmesan cheese

Fresh basil chopped

Layer on baking sheet-- chips, sausage, alfredo sauce, veggies, then top with shredded cheeses.

Place in the oven just until cheeses melt.

Top with fresh basil and devour!!!!!

Usually I end up serving a little extra alfredo sauce on the side, in case there wasn't quite enough on the nachos to begin with.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Moose Munch" (Caramel/Toffee Popcorn)

Thats right folks. Moose Munch. Moose Munch is the name of a gourmet toffee popcorn sold by Harry and David (known for their delicious fruits, confections, and other gourmet food gifts). It is quite delicious. But, believe me.... making it at home will save you TONS of money! Plus, all your friends will love you IF you decide to share it.


First, you'll need about 5-6 quarts of popcorn. You could either air pop some if you have a popper. Or, if not, use the 94% Fat Free microwave popcorn. About 2 bags should do the trick (depending on how coated you want your popcorn, you could always do another half a bag or more. Personally, I am a fan of lots of caramel/toffee).  

You'll want to make sure your popcorn is popped and ready. I recommend you pop it and then shake the bowl a bit to get all the unpopped kernels to go to the bottom, then carefully scoop all the popcorn into a very large bowl, leaving the unpopped kernels behind. Believe me, you don't want to bite into a caramel covered kernel unexpectedly..... Oh, and let me emphasize the words VERY LARGE BOWL. The larger the bowl, the easier it will be to stir the popcorn to coat it in caramel when the time comes. Otherwise, the popcorn doesn't seem to stay in the bowl very well.

To make the caramel/toffee you will need:


2 sticks of butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 tsp salt

Stir together in a pot on the stove, melt,  and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes. You don't need to stir it or anything while it boils.

While it is boiling, make sure you have your popcorn is waiting for you and have your vanilla and baking soda prepared as well (measurements below).

Also, turn your oven on to 200 degrees.

After 5 minutes of boiling, remove from the heat and stir in:

1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda (make sure there aren't any clumps)

Make sure it is well mixed in.Then, pour the caramel mixture over your popcorn.  Use a large wooden spoon to carefully stir the popcorn, coating it in the caramel. Stir, stir, stir, scraping the caramel off the bowl to make sure you get all of its goodness onto your popcorn.

Spread the popcorn onto two cookie sheets. Place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour total. Halfway through, turn the popcorn with a spatula and stir it around a bit. (You might also want to rotate your cookie sheets if you have them on two separate racks.)

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Once the popcorn is cooled, you just break it apart and store it in an air tight container!

There are plenty of fun and tasty ways you can add to this basic recipe.

Want your popcorn CHOCOLATE coated as well? Melt some chocolate chips and then drizzle (or pour it... depending on how coated you want it!) the chocolate over the popcorn when it is partially cooled, then allow to cool and harden. You could use dark chocolate, semisweet, milk, white..... whatever you like! Have fun with it!

Are you a NUT lover? Try adding any combination of nuts to the popcorn BEFORE you pour the caramel over it. Then, mix the popcorn, nuts, and caramel and bake in the oven just as directed above. Almonds, peanuts, pecans, cashews........... nuts anyone?