Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Noodle Soup

I opened my fridge this morning and couldn't decide what to do with all the leftover turkey. Our host and hostess sent us home with the second turkey, a nine pounder that we hadn't even sliced into! (Many thanks to the Alpuches cause this soup was delicious.) Since there is more than enough for sandwiches for a week and because my kids lose interest very quickly; I decided to make soup.

5 carrots, sliced
5 celery sticks, sliced
1/2 onion, because it was hanging out in the fridge looking innocent
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp sage
5 bouillon cubes
3c leftover turkey, shredded or cut into bit sizes
6oz egg noodles

Start by putting 5 cups of water and 5 bouillon cubes in a pot. Slice the vegetable and throw them in the pot with the poultry seasoning and the sage. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the vegetables for about twenty minutes. Cut or shred the turkey and add to the soup. Toss in about half a package of egg noodles (about 6 oz) and summer for an additional 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add more water as needed, but I don't like my soup to be too watery.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Chai Cheesecake

Do you know what I'm thankful for this year? I'm thankful that the holiday health food trend is losing popularity. I watch what I eat (for the most part) all year long. I don't want to eat Weight Watchers crust-less 2 point pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I don't want to eat a low fat, dry, tasteless turkey stuffing. I want flavor. I want the real thing.

This year, I found a Pumpkin Chai Cheesecake with Caramel-Rum sauce. It's far from health food, but I'm making it to take to my friend Laura's house for Thanksgiving. That lessens the chances that I'll be eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the next few days. Now, I'm stepping a little out of my comfort zone here, I've never made a real cheesecake. But this just looked too good to pass up.


2c crushed cinnamon Teddy Grahams
1/4c butter, melted

4 packages (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2c white sugar
4 eggs
1c pumpkin puree
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/3c packed brown sugar
1/3c light or dark corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cool whip
1 Tbsp rum extract

Cool Whip

Preheat the oven to 300˚F, Spray a 9 inch spring form pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix the crust ingredients. Press mixture in bottom and about 1 inch up the side of the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. To minimize cracking, place a shallow, half full, pan of water on the lower oven rack.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and white sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Spoon about three cups of mixture into crust. Spread evenly. To the remaining mixture, add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and cardamom. Mix until smooth. Spoon mixture smoothly into the pan.

Bake for about 1 hour and 25 minutes. The edge of the cheesecake should be set at least 2 inches into the cheesecake, but the center will still be jiggley. Is that a real word? Turn the oven off and open the oven door at least 4 inches. Let the cheesecake remain in the oven for 30 minutes. Then let the pan cool an additional 30minutes before refrigerating. Refrigerate cheesecake for at least 6 hours, but no more than 24 hours.

Before serving:

In a small saucepan, heat brown sugar, corn syrup, and 2 Tbsp butter to boiling over a medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in cool whip. Heat to boiling. Remove sauce from heat and stir in the rum extract. Cool until warm.

Just before serving, run small spatula around the edge of the cheesecake to separate from the pan. Carefully remove side of pan. Top individual slices of cheesecake with warm sauce and a dollop of cool whip. Refrigerate remaining cheesecake.

(Cook's preference: The caramel sauce is pretty yummy and it looks really cool when you serve it up, but this cheesecake holds its own. If you want to skip the sauce it's still a spectacular dessert...very rich, would be awesome with coffee...if I drank coffee.)

Grandma's Homemade Apple Pie

Okay, so it's not my Grandma's Apple Pie, but it could totally be someone's Grandma's Homemade Apple Pie. It's just that good!

Let's talk about the dough first. This pie dough recipe is an awesome recipe from the pros at Cook's Illustrated. The secret ingredient is vodka. It allows the dough to be super malleable to roll out while still maintaining a buttery and flakey texture. The vodka cooks off and the steam from the evaporating vodka is what makes the pie crust so flakey. I don't drink a whole lot of vodka (mores the pity), but the little 50ml bottles they sell at the checkout counter of your local liquor store is just enough for this recipe.

Who am I kidding? It's Thanksgiving. You've got family coming into town. Your sister's going to be telling you how her kids never throw temper tantrums. You love her and her kids, but who needs that kind of pressure? Your dad is going to be pointing out every parenting mistake you are making. You better go back for the big bottle, maybe two. It'll get you through the day and will help you keep your mouth shut as the family drama plays out.

For a nine inch double pie crust:

2 1/2c flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
12 Tbsp butter
1/2c shortening
1/4c vodka
1/4c water

Combine 1 1/2c of the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and shortening. Cut ingredients together until dough starts to collect in uneven clumps. Cut in the remaining flour. Sprinkle water and vodka over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix until the dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide the dough into two balls. Cover bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes. You can store the dough for up to two days.

While the dough chills make the filling:

6c apples; cored, peeled, and sliced (about 7 depending on their size)
2T tapioca
1/2 to 3/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

How much sugar you use depends on personal taste and the type of apple you use. I use Braeburn apples and a little more than 1/2c sugar. If you use a tart apple like Granny Smith; you may need closer to 3/4c of sugar.

Mix the dry ingredients and add the apples. Mix well. Sprinkle some flour on your kitchen counter and roll out the crust. Put the crust in a 9 inch pie plate. Add filling. Put a few dollops of butter on the apple filling. Add the top crust. Cut a few X's on the top crust to let the pie vent while it cooks. Refrigerate the pie for about 15 minutes. Brush the top of your pie with water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 450˚F for 20 minutes. Turn down the oven to 350˚F for 20 minutes. Let the pie cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Apple Peeler

I bought this gadget at Target a few years ago. It is an essential tool for making Homemade Apple Pie. It easily attaches to your kitchen counter or table if you need to sit down. It cores and evenly peels your apples and all you have to do is turn the handle. Cleaning it is a little difficult because of all the intricate parts, but it is worth it!

Cranberry Salad

When I was a kid, the only thing I knew to do with cranberries was to string it up with popcorn to decorate a tree. Oh, and they make tart juice with cranberries. That was about it. Last year for our Thanksgiving program, someone brought this salad. I didn't even know it had cranberries in it until I looked at the recipe. I made it for our Christmas dinner and again at New Year. This is a really easy recipe to throw together; however, you have to start this recipe the day before you serve it. You have to give the flavors time to mingle.

2c raw cranberries
3 apples
1 can crushed pineapple
1/2c white sugar
1c mini marshmallows
1c cool whip

In a food processor or blender, finely chop the apples and cranberries. It's okay if there are still some apple chunks; after all, nobody likes a showoff, especially around the holidays. Drain pineapple. Add pineapple and sugar to the mixture. Stir mixture together and let it sit in the fridge overnight. About an hour before serving, add the marshmallows and the cool whip.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Today was the trial run to the Girl Scout Baking Party I'm having next month. I think it might be the first sign that I'm certifiable. I am inviting thirty girls (ages 6-8) to my house, to trash my kitchen in the name of baking, frosting, and decorating cookies. However, they'll be earning badges and hopefully taking all the cookies with them at the end of the day. Here is the recipe we'll be making minus the frosting and sprinkles that I'll figure out later:

2 1/4c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2c sugar, plus 1/3c sugar for rolling the dough
2 oz cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces*
6 Tbsp butter, melted
1/3c vegetable oil
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

*Most sugar cookies do not call for cream cheese, but I found the cream cheese cut the sweetness of the cookie and really rounded out the flavor.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. In another bowl, combine sugar, cream cheese, and warm butter with a fork. Whisk in oil until smooth. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Continue to whisk mixture until smooth. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Combine until a soft homogenous dough forms.

Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll the dough into a ball. Put about a third of a cup of sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough balls in the sugar before spacing them evenly on 2 cookie sheets. Using a drinking glass, flatten dough balls until they are about 2 inches in diameter. Then flip the cookie over so the top of your cookies doesn't read: IKEA 365 like mine did. Bake, on cookie sheet at a time, for 14 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet about half way through. If you over cook these cookies, they will lose their chewiness.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pizza with Olives, Mushrooms, and Capers

I must say that I am becoming more and more comfortable in the kitchen. I'm starting to feel comfortable gauging which ingredients will complement each other. I'm also starting to cook (a little) without relying so much on my measuring spoons, which is nice because there are fewer dishes. Anyway, except for the dough, the measurements for this recipe are approximate. You can use more or less depending on how sassy you are feeling.


1 package of Betty Crocker Pizza Crust mix
Contadina pizza sauce in the squeeze bottle
Olive oil (Pam works just as well)
1/4 c kalamata olives, sliced
8 fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp capers
Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix the pizza mix with 1/2c hot water. Knead dough just a little. Pour a little olive oil on the pizza pan and press out your pizza dough. Squeeze some pizza sauce onto the dough using the back of a spoon to spread it out. In a skillet, sauté the fresh mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms, olives, and capers evenly across your pizza. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top of your pizza.
Bake pizza for 20 minutes.

I loved this pizza. Kalamata olives are a lot stronger than canned black olives. I think they are too strong to eat straight, but sliced on a pizza they are just right. The capers were a little tangy and the olives were almost sweet. I didn't provide a picture because a) I forgot the camera in the race to gorge myself on this pizza and b) we all know what a pizza looks like, right?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cheddar Twisters

These are great rolls to serve with soup. The combination of the cheese, green onions, and garlic really complimented the Broccoli Cheese Soup. I'll bet it would be delicious with the Pumpkin Soup, too. These were so good, but I had to push away from the table because one of these rolls uses the dough of two cresent rolls. Yummy, but easy to overindulge.


2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury cresent dinner rolls
1 1/2c shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
4 green onions, chopped
1 egg
1 tsp water
2 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp garlic salt mixed with 1/2 tsp dried parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet with PAM. Unroll both bans of dough, separate the dough into 8 rectangles. Firmly press perforations to seal. In a small bowl, mix cheese and onions. Spoon this mixture evenly onto the middle of the 8 rectangles of dough. Fold the dough over lengthwise to form a long strip. Firmly press the edges together and twist the strip 3 or 4 times bringing the ends together to form a ring. Place on the cookie sheet. In another small bowl, beat egg and water together until well blended. Brush egg over the dough. Sprinkle dough with sesame seeds and garlic/parsley blend. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes. Best when served warm.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I've had this recipe forever. I think my friend April gave it to me, but I'm not sure. I'm definately in a soup mood this week. Must be the weather.


onion, chopped
1/4c flour
1/4c butter
2c chicken stock
2 heads of broccoli, cut up
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1c cheddar cheese

Pam the bottom of your pan. I use a big pot so I have fewer dishes. Saute onion and set aside onion. Melt butter in the bottom of the pan and add flour. Whisk flour into butter. Add chicken broth and simmer for twenty minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, and onion. Cook over a low heat until vegetables are done, roughly twenty minutes should do it. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour into blender and puree. Return to pot. Over a low heat, add cheese and nutmeg. Let the cheese melt a little before serving.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tortilla Soup

Don't be fooled by this soup. By looking at the ingredients, you'd think this soup is going to need a side or you'll be hungry in another half an hour. This soup stands alone. It very filling and yummy, too.

1 small onion
1 (4oz) can diced green chilies
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 Tbsp oil
1 c. tomato, diced
1 can beef broth
1 can chicken broth
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c tomato juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
3 corn torillas
1/4 c. cheddar cheese
sour cream*

Saute onions, green chilies, and garlic in oil. Add tomato, beef and chicken broth, water, juice, spices, and Worchestershire sauce. Say Worchestershire five times really fast. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for one hour. Cut tortillas into strips. Add tortillas and cheddar cheese to soup. Simmer for ten minutes. Serve with warm tortilla, avacado, and sour cream. I like to sprinkle a little cheese on the soup right, too.

*These ingredients are optional. They look pretty, but the soup tastes great with or without them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bagel with Basil and Cream Cheese

I am my mother's daughter. I admit it. I hate to waste food. I find it irritating to buy special ingrediants for a recipe only to let the rest of that ingredient go to waste because I'm not sure where else to use it. I bought basil a few weeks ago for the Mediterranean Pasta Salad. Here's how I used it so it wouldn't go to waste.


Seeded Bagel
Cream Cheese
4 or 5 fresh Basil leaves, chiffonade*
Salt and Pepper, to taste

*roll the basil leaves together tightly and slice thinly

I usually freeze my bagels so they don't go bad. While my children love to have bites, they rarely want a bagel of their own. I outsmart them by toasting both bagel halves. I know that between them, they'll eat at least half of a bagel...but, I digress. Toast the seeded bagel. Add cream cheese and basil. Cut tomato in half and slice each half. Top your bagel with tomato. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls for Autumn

These cinnamon rolls have been calling to me for weeks, months maybe, ever since Jen shared the recipe. Ironically, I'm trying to watch my weight right now so I'll be sending most of these to work with Roger to endear myself to his new co-workers.

I've adapted this recipe from a website called Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk. Good advice, but do you think she takes the five second rule into consideration?

Now that I'm more comfortable cooking, I've started looking at a recipe and automatically making substitutions for things I have in the house. This recipe was originally vegan, but I don't keep soy milk in the fridge, so I'm substituting skim milk. Also, the original recipe calls for 3/4 c pumpkin, but I froze my pumpkin in
1 c increments, so I'm tossing it that last 1/4 cup because I'm too lazy to re-measure it out.


1 package dry yeast
1/4 c warm water
1 c pumpkin puree
1/4 c milk
1/4 c margarine, melted
1 Tbsp white sugar

2 1/2 flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger

3/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp oil

3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cinnamon
2 Tbsp chilled margarine, cut into small peices


3/4 c powdered sugar
1 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the warm water with the yeast and whisk together. Let stand for five minutes. Add the pumpkin, milk, margarine, and sugar to the yeast. Lightly mix. Add 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Beat together until smooth.

Turn dough out onto your floured kitchen counter. Take the remaining flour and use it to flour the top of the dough and your counter as your kneed the dough (about 10 minutes). The dough will be elastic, but soft and still a little sticky to the touch without being floured. This was the part that Kaitlyn liked the best. I let her pull her stool up to the counter and let her knead the dough with me. Of course, then she wouldn't leave the dough alone while it was rising so I had to shoo her out of the kitchen while the dough was trying to rise.

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with oil, turning the dough to coat the top of the dough as well. Cover and let rise until dough doubles in size.

Punch down the dough, cover and let rise for five minutes.

Combine the sugar, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in the margarine with fork until mixture resembles coarse little balls.

Roll the dough into a 12X10 inch rectangle on your floured counter. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Roll up the rectangle tightly, from the long side, pinch seam, and ends to seal the dough. Cut roll into 12 (1 inch) slices. Place into a 9 inch square baking pan coated with cooking oil.* Cover and let rise until it doubles in size (about 25 minutes).

Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until golden brown in a pre-heated (375 degrees) oven.

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, water, and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth. Drizzle over the cinnamon rolls.

*If you want to eat these hot and fresh in the morning (Saturday morning, maybe?)without having to get up before first light to start them; you can cover them with plastic wrap at this point and store them in the fridge. In the morning take them out and continue with the recipe (they will take a little longer to rise, probably an hour or so, because they are chilled). Take this time to shower, enjoy a cup of tea, dig out your fat pants, and call your sister to wake her up on the one morning her baby actually let her sleep in.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

This is my favorite time of year. I love baking in the autumn...and if you've been following my blog you'll notice a slight favoritism for cooking with Pumpkin. This morning Kaitlyn asked where her baby pumpkin went. I told her we were going to make her baby pumpkin into cookies today. She was on board.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or shortening, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin puree*
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*I used some of the puree that I made yesterday. It tasted the same as the stuff I buy at the grocery store.

For the Icing

2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture. Beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet with a spoon. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.

To Make Glaze combine confectioners' sugar, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Add a little more milk as needed, to achieve your desired drizzling consistency. I made half the cookies with icing and half without. Kaitlyn prefered them without, but I liked both. If there are any left when Roger gets home....I'll ask which one he prefers.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Soup

When we were in Germany we went to a Pumpkin Festival. We had some Pumpkin Soup that was AMAZING! I've been searching for a good Pumpkin Soup recipe ever since. This is the first Pumpkin Soup recipe that has brought back memories of Autumn in Germany. This soup is amazing. I really love the flavor of the pumpkin and onions. I think I can taste the mace, too. I think this soup would well complimented with some cheesy or buttery dinner rolls.

3 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and diced
5 cups chicken broth or 5 cups of water with 5 bouillon cubes
1 onion
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp mace
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp syrup
1/2 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste

Bring broth to a boil. Add pumpkin and simmer until tender. Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add onion to pumpkin mixture. Move soup to blender and puree it. Return soup to pot and add salt and black pepper. Add the honey, syrup, mace, and nutmeg. Stir in the cream for a richer flavor.

Puree Pumpkin

I woke up on yesterday and realized that we'd forgotten to carve pumpkins for Halloween. So what am I going to do with these pumpkins that have been decorating my front porch for the last few weeks? Then it occurred to me that it's silly to throw out three perfectly good pumpkins and then run to the grocery store to get Pumpkin for baking Thanksgiving goodies.

So here's how to make your own Pumpkin Puree. Preheat oven to 350˚F. You don’t need to cut the pumpkin open before you roast it. I’m not kidding. Just jab it with a knife four or five times to vent the steam. (Is it weird that I think of the movie Psycho when I do this? Never mind, don't answer that.) Put the whole darned thing on a baking sheet, and pop it in the oven for an hour or so, until you can easily stick a knife into it. Cool, then scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff with a spoon. It is SO MUCH EASIER than when it is raw. Skin the pumpkin with a paring knife. Cut it up into chunks. If you cut it up and realize the pumpkins not quite done...pop it back in the oven for 15 or so more minutes. Run the pumpkin chunks through a blender or food processor. I add a little bit of water to the blender to make it easier to puree.

Freeze the pumpkin in Ziploc freezer bags for future use in baking pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup...whatever makes your skirt fly up.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cheese Plate

The first time I read about a cheese plate was in a book of recipes written by the Barefoot Contessa. My mom didn't do cheese plates. I'm not sure my mom ever did appetizers...There were those rice pockets things she always brought to Grandma's Christmas party, but I digress.

I really miss the cheeses that I could buy in Germany. I'd make a cheese plate with a French cheese called Comte and a Dutch cheese from Old Amsterdam. Yummy. I haven't found those cheese at my local supermarket, but that's okay. They were yummy, but not essential to the cheese plate.

When making a cheese plate for a dinner party, women's lunchon, or church pot luck all you have to do is cut up some of your favorite cheeses. I used Cheddar, Brie, and Fontina on this plate. Fontina is a mild Spanish cheese that I found in the Deli. I usually try to mix up the cheeses...something mild and something strong. Add some crackers. I used Sociables and Town House crackers. Then add some grapes. I cut the grapes into little bunches and left them on the vine to make them easier to pick up. I also sliced up some red and yellow bell peppers to add a flash of color to the plate. You can really be creative with this appetizer. Arrange your ingrediants on a pretty plate and refidgerate until needed.