Friday, April 15, 2011

Maple Walnut Scones

I love Maple Nut flavor. Not only is it delicious, but it makes me think of Dad. When we were growing up, wasn't his favorite ice cream flavor Maple Nut? These scones are mighty tasty--as well as quite filling!

Maple Walnut Scones

4 cups (17 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ cups (3 sticks/12 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk, divided (6 ounces + 2 ounces)
2 teaspoons maple extract
1 cup (4 ½ ounces) toasted walnuts
¼ cup raw sugar

For the Maple Glaze:
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk until combined. (I used the food processor & pulsed until combined.)

Add the butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the butter is pea-sized. (Once again, I used the food processor and pulsed just until the butter was pea-sized. Then I transferred the mixture to a large mixing bowl.)

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, ¾ cup of the buttermilk (I goofed & added the whole 1 cup--8 ounces total--instead and the texture seemed just right to me), and the maple extract. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then gently knead the dough with your hands until the dough starts to come together. Add the walnuts to the dough and knead gently to incorporate. Move the dough to a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to shape the dough into two discs—about 1 ½ inches in height (I didn’t make mine quite that tall). Do not overwork the dough.

Cut each disk into 6 wedges with a knife. Place the wedges onto the prepared baking sheet. Brush each scone with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes (or 20 to 25 minutes if your scones aren't super tall), rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time, or until the scones are golden brown.

Transfer the scones to a cooling rack to cool completely. (I didn't let them cool completely--we enjoyed them warm.)

Glaze the scones:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the wire rack with the cooled scones over the baking sheet.

Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup until the mixture is smooth. Slowly pour the glaze over each scone in a zigzag pattern. (I sprinkled some chopped toasted walnuts on top while the glaze was still wet.)

Allow the glaze to set (about 10 minutes) and serve immediately.

Scones can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Recipe source: Baked

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

I know I’ve posted similar muffins before, but this one is yummy, too!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 ¾ cups (7 ½ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (6 ½ ounces) smooth peanut butter
1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) milk
5 tablespoons (2 ½ ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup milk (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. To prepare the muffin tins, spray the indentations and the rims around them with Baker’s Joy (or use paper muffin liners).

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Whisk in the brown sugar and continue whisking until thick, smooth, and pale brown, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the peanut butter until smooth, then stir in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour mixture and chocolate chips, until incorporated. The batter is quite thick; be careful not to overmix.

Fill the prepared muffin tins ¾ full. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the muffins are lightly browned with rounded tops. A toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin should come out with a crumb or two attached.

Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Gently rock each muffin back and forth to release and remove it from the tin. Cool them for 5 minutes more on the rack before serving. If storing or freezing the muffins, cool them completely before sealing in an airtight container or in freezer-safe plastic bags.

Recipe source: The Ultimate Muffin Book

Broccoli, Rice, Cheese, and Chicken Casserole

Alyssa made this for us on Sunday. It was delicious!

Broccoli, Rice, Cheese, and Chicken Casserole


3 to 4 cups leftover cooked rice
20 ounces roasted chicken, chopped (or substitute canned chunked chicken, drained)
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 (16 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
1 small white onion, chopped
1 pound extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a large bowl, mix the prepared rice, chicken, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, butter, milk, broccoli, onion, and shredded cheese.

3. Pour mixture into 9x13-inch baking dish.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Stir halfway through cooking to help cheese melt evenly.

Almond Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Filling

Almond Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Filling

Alyssa made these cookies for us. We all absolutely loved them! We ate the entire batch within 24 hours. I assume they would freeze well—if they lasted long enough to get to the freezer!

¾ cup sliced almonds
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
¾ teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
Chocolate filling (recipe follows)
Powdered sugar (optional)

Toast the almonds: Heat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds in thin layer in shallow baking pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown; cool.

Finely chop almonds; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until creamy. Add egg yolks and almond extract; beat well. Gradually add flour, beating until well blended. Stir in almonds. Refrigerate dough 1 to 2 hours or until firm enough to handle.

Heat oven to 350°F. On well-floured surface, roll about ¼ of dough to about 1/8-inch thickness (keep remaining dough in refrigerator). Using 2-inch round (or square) cookie cutter, cut into equal number of rounds. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until almost set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Spread about one measuring teaspoonful chocolate filling onto bottom of one cookie. Top with second cookie; gently press together. Repeat the remaining cookies. Allow to set, about 1hour. Lightly sift powdered sugar over top of cookies, if desired. Cover; store at room temperature.

Chocolate Filling: combine 1 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips and 1/3 cup whipping cream in small saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Cool about 20 minutes or until slightly thickened and spreadable.

Recipe source: Hershey's Chocolate Cookbook

Potato, Ham & Gruyere Tart

This tart reminds me of quiche. It's a delicious way to use up leftover ham!

Potato, Ham & Gruyere Tart

Savory Tart Dough, rolled into a 10-inch round
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 russet potato, about ½ lb (250 g) , scrubbed
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
½ tsp minced fresh thyme
3 ½ oz (105 g) Black Forest ham, cut into 1/3-inch dice (about ¾ cup)
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) plus 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
Large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup (2 ½ oz/75 g) firmly packed shredded Gruyere cheese

Make the Savory Tart Dough:

1 ½ cups (7 ½ oz/235 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
10 Tbsp (5 oz/155 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4-5 Tbsp (2-2 ½ fl oz/60-75 ml) ice water

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and ½ tsp salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Slowly begin adding the ice water, stirring and tossing with a fork until the dough just holds together. Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball, and flatten into a disk. Lightly flour the work surface, then flatten the disk with 6-8 gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll out, lifting and turning the dough and dusting the surface as needed. Fold the dough round in half and carefully transfer to a 9-inch tart pan, preferably with a removable bottom. Unfold and ease the round into the pan, without stretching it, and pat it firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim off any excess dough by gently running a rolling pin across the top of the pan. Press the dough into the sides to extend it slightly above the rim to offset any shrinkage during baking.

Refrigerate or freeze the tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place an oven rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375°F.

Partially blind bake the tart shell by placing parchment on shell & topping with pie weights or raw rice. Bake in lower third of the oven for 20 minutes or until pale gold. Remove pie weights and parchment. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drips when you bake the tart.

To make the filling, in a pot of salted boiling water, cook the unpeeled whole potato until tender when pierced with a small knife, about 30 minutes. Drain and let cool. Peel and cut into 1/3-inch cubes.

In a heavy frying pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the shallots and thyme and sauté until the shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup (5 oz/155 g) of the potato cubes (reserve the remainder for another use). Stir the potato cubes to coat with the shallot mixture, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the ham.

In a small bowl, beat together the cream, egg, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, and nutmeg.

Spread the potato mixture evenly in the crust. Sprinkle with the cheese and pour the cream mixture evenly over the top. Bake the tart on the upper rack until the top begins to brown and the center is set, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes. If using a tart pan with a removable bottom, place the pan on a large aluminum can or canister and let the sides fall away, then slide the tart onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe source: The Williams Sonoma Cookbook

Beef Chili with Masa Harina

Beef Chili with Masa Harina

This chili is fantastic! The flavor is very well balanced—and not too spicy at all made just like the recipe states. The texture is perfect as well—nice and thick but still a soup. We served this chili with Honey Corn Muffins.

5 Tbsp (2 ½ fl oz/75 ml) canola oil
3 lb (1.5 kg) beef chuck, ground (minced) for chili
3 large yellow onions, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely chopped
½ cup (1 ½ oz/45 g) chili powder
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground dried oregano
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
4 cups (32 fl oz) beef stock or broth
1 can (28 oz/875 g) crushed tomatoes
1 can (15 oz/470 g) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz/470 g) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp masa harina

In a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil. Add half of the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a colander placed over a bowl to drain off the fat. Repeat with another 1 Tbsp of the oil and the remaining beef. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the remaining 3 Tbsp oil. Add the onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and coriander, stir until well combined, and cook for 1 minute longer.

Add the reserved beef, the stock, and tomatoes, and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes.

Add the kidney and pinto beans and masa harina. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until the chili is slightly thickened, 5-7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and serve in large bowls.

Accompany this chili with small bowls of sour cream, salsa, shredded Cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions for serving if desired.

Recipe source: The Williams Sonoma Cookbook

Indian Chicken Curry

Indian Chicken Curry

Alyssa absolutely loves Indian food, so she particularly enjoyed this meal. The rest of us really liked it, too. We served the curry with basmati rice and naan bread.

2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
¼ cup (1 ½ oz/45g) unsalted cashews
1 large yellow onion
2 small tomatoes
2 Tbsp clarified butter or canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp seeded and minced green jalapeno chile
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 mL) coconut milk
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Toast and grind the coriander and cumin seeds. (Toast seeds in a skillet over medium-high heat until the seeds begin to pop, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then grind using either a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.) In a bowl, stir together the toasted seeds, turmeric, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, the cayenne pepper, and oil until well mixed.

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Add to the bowl with the spice paste and stir to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Toast the cashews and then chop coarsely. Set aside.

Thinly slice the onion. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and remove the seeds, then chop the flesh. In a sauté pan over high heat, heat the clarified butter. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chile, bay leaves, and star anise and continue to saute until the onion is light golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken and sauté just until the meat turns opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and ½ tsp salt and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

Transfer to a warmed bowl , garnish with the cashews and cilantro, and serve at once.

Offer basmati rice to accompany the chicken and its curry sauce. We also like to serve naan bread with it.

Recipe source: The Williams Sonoma Cookbook

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins taste just like banana bread—even more so than my usual banana muffins do. They are very tender, and absolutely delicious. I think they’re even better cool—so save the leftovers and enjoy them as dessert after dinner.

1 ½ cups (12 ounces) mashed, very ripe bananas—about 4 medium bananas
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) sugar
¼ cup (1 ¾ ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup (2 ounces) whole milk
1 large egg
1 ½ cups (6 ½ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with Baker’s Joy.

In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk, and egg.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill each cup about ¾ full. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Move the muffin pan to a cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the cooling rack.

Recipe adapted from Baked.

Strawberry Frosting

Cooked Frosting

I love to experiment with different frosting recipes. You can get quite different textures using similar ingredients (butter, sugar, etc.) by combining them in different ways. This frosting recipe isn’t as sweet as the standard cake-decorating frosting. It stays soft even when refrigerated. The frosting is very smooth, and it is a good background for adding your choice of flavoring.

1 ½ cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Strawberry extract (I used about ½ teaspoon of concentrated LorAnn flavoring—add according to taste)
Food coloring, if desired

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla extract, strawberry flavoring, and food coloring and mix until combined. Taste and adjust flavoring as desired. If the frosting is too soft, put it in the refrigerator to chill slightly then mix again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

Recipe source: Adapted from Baked

Strawberry Cake

Have I ever mentioned how much I like the King Arthur Flour company? Recently I e-mailed Susan Reid, editor of The Baking Sheet, asking for a pink strawberry cake recipe that had a soft, tender texture. She immediately started working on my request and within days she had sent me this recipe back. I had suggested topping it with chocolate ganache, so she used a chocolate frosting for her version (the Super Simple Chocolate Frosting Recipe you can find at their website). I wanted to try it with pink strawberry frosting, so I used a different frosting recipe when I tested it at home. Either way you top it, this cake is great! It bakes evenly--and it doesn't brown too much. She stated she plans on publishing this recipe in the summer issue of the Baking Sheet--so you guys get a sneak preview since that issue isn't yet available!

Strawberry Cake

2 3/4 cups (11 5/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend or All-Purpose Flour (I used 9 ounces cake flour and 2 5/8 ounces all-purpose flour)
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) strawberry Nesquik powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
1/2 cup (4 ounces) strawberry applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare pans by greasing and flouring, or lining with parchment, then greasing the parchment.

2) Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until the mixture becomes crumbly. Increase the speed of the mixer and continue to mix until the crumbs begin to cling together. The mixture may or may not become totally cohesive and paste-like; it's OK if it does, and equally OK if it doesn't.

3) Add the eggs and whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.

4) Beat in the sour cream, applesauce, and the vanilla, one at a time. Beat for a minute after each addition, until fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

5) Pour the batter into the prepared pans. (Note: Total batter weight is about 1214 g, so put about 600 g of batter in each cake pan if using two round 8-inch pans.) Bake for 25 to 35 minutes for 8" or 9" rounds; 23 to 26 minutes for a 9" x 13" x 2" sheet cake; or 18 to 20 minutes for cupcakes. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan, if desired, cool on a rack, and frost.

Yield: Two 8" or 9" round layers; one 9"x 13" x 2" sheet cake, or 20 to 24 cupcakes.

Traditional Potato Salad

Traditional Potato Salad

I love the fresh taste of this salad with big chunks of red potato, hints of pickle relish, fresh parsley, and hard-boiled eggs.

2 pounds small red potatoes (8 to 10), quartered (or diced if potatoes are large—you can use Yukon Gold potatoes instead if you would prefer)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ cup mayonnaise
1 stalk celery, chopped
¼ cup minced red onion
3 tablespoons pickle relish
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced

Place the potatoes in a large pot and pour over enough water to cover. Set the pan over high heat, bring to a boil, and let boil until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 8 minutes (if potatoes are diced—longer if the potatoes are larger). Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the vinegar and toss to coat the potatoes.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, celery, onion, relish, mustard, and parsley. Add to the potatoes and toss to combine well. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the eggs and serve warm or chilled. (I prefer to serve the potato salad chilled.)

Recipe Source: Robin to the Rescue

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spaghetti & Meatball Pie

6 ounce uncooked spaghetti

2 tablespoon butter

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

8 ounce marscapone cheese

16 meatballs, thawed and cut in half

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the spaghetti and drain. Return to the pan and add butter, Parmesan cheese, eggs and salt & pepper (to taste). Mix well. Place pasta mixture in a greased pie pan, pressing down slightly to form a "crust". Spread marscapone over noodles and then top with meatball halves. Pour marinara sauce over meatballs and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil (sprayed with cooking spray so it doesn't stick) and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes, and then cut into slices and serve.

My notes: I didn't have meatballs, but I did have some sausage, so I just cooked and crumbled some sausage instead. It was yummy!

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

I happened to find the Philadelphia Cooking Creme that Janeil was asking us about at Smith's the other day. It was right by the regular cream cheese. I decided to get it to try this yummy recipe. For the chicken I used a rotisserie chicken (I had bought it for another recipe too so I just split between the two) that I just shredded. It was delicious and very's a keeper!

1 small onion, chopped

2 teaspoons oil

3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast

1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes

1 tub (10 ounce) Philadelphia Santa Fe Blend Cooking Creme, divided

1/2 cup Mexican Blend shredded cheese

8 flour tortillas (6 inch)

Heat oven to 350. Cook and stir onions in hot oil on medium heat in a skillet for 4-5 minutes or until crisp tender. Stir in chicken, tomatoes, 3/4 cup cooking creme and shredded cheese. Spoon about 1/3 cup mixture down a tortilla; roll up. Place in a 13x9 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray; top with remaining cooking creme. Cover. Bake 15-20 minutes or until heated through.

My notes: This made more than 8 enchiladas for me. After I spread the remaining cooking creme, I also sprinkled more cheese on top.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Young's Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Bread

Honestly, this is the best homemade Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread recipe I have EVER tried.  I think it tastes A LOT like Great Harvest's Pumpkin Bread, but the homemade version is so much less expensive and available whenever I feel like baking it!  I got the recipe from Kendra, who got the recipe from the Young family (neighbors in Boise).

Today I was feeling like baking, but I wanted something a "little" bit healthier.  So I chose this recipe and made a few changes (listed at the bottom of the recipe).

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin
1 ¼ cup oil
3 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

In mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil.  Sift together dry ingredients and add to mixing bowl.  Stir until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips. 
Pour into 2 greased and floured 8x4x2 loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.

Healthy Changes:  2 eggs & 3 egg whites (instead of 4 eggs), 1 1/2 cups sugar (instead of 2 cups), 1/4 cup oil (instead of 1 1/4 cups), 1 cup plain yogurt (to replace the missing oil), 1 cup whole wheat flour, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (instead of 1 1/2 cups).  I baked it in 33 muffin cups (1 5/8 oz of batter per muffin; or 1 medium scoop and 1 small scoop of batter with my Pampered Chef scoops).  I wish I would have given the paper liners a quick spray of Pam.  Because I decreased the oil by so much, the muffins kind of stuck to the paper.  But they tasted good.  I didn't tell anyone in my family that the muffins were "healthified," and the muffins are being eaten up just like normal!  WW:  3 PointsPlus per muffin

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bean, Chicken and Sausage Soup

I got this soup recipe from my Taste of Home Soup Book. It is really delicious and you could use kiebasa sausage in it; I used 1 pound of mild Italian Sausages that I removed the casing and proceeded as directed in the recipe. This makes a good sized pot--about 9 servings. The original made about 18 servings, and I cut the recipe in half. Therefore, I am giving you the half recipe and how I did it. I did not have canned Great Northern beans, but I had dried ones and used those.

America's Test Kitchen recommends cooking the dry beans this way: "We prefer the creamier texture of beans soaked overnight. If you're short on time, quick-soak them: Place 1 pound dried beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over, in a large heat-resistant bowl. Bring 2 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Pour the water over the beans and let them sit for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans well." Combine in Dutch oven 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth and 3 cups water. Heat to boiling, stir in the soaked beans, cover, transfer to 250 degree oven and bake until beans are almost tender (very center of beans will still be semi-firm), 45 minutes to 1 hour. (I let them go for 1 hour and they were perfect.) Remove from oven and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. Keep beans and liquid separate until ready to make the soup. (If you want to make just the amount for the soup recipe, use only 1/2 pound or 1 cup beans and cut the broth in half--but use the same cooking times.)

The Soup:
12 ounces Italian Sausage
1 cup finely copped onion
2 ounces bacon bits (we got these at Costco and froze them and just take out what we need)
1 quart chicken broth (I had 5 cups left-over broth and used it all)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon each dried thyme, savory
1/2 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, and pepper (if desired)
15.5 ounces great northern beans or cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups cubed cooked chicken

Cook the sausage with the onion until no longer pink; drain if needed. Add the bacon bits, broth, bay leaf, garlic powder, dried herbs, and cooked beans. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for about 30 minutes, until beans are tender. Stir in the chicken and diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving. NOTE: I did not add salt to this recipe, as the beans were soaked in it, plus there was salt in the meats, broth, and tomatoes. I also took the other half of cooked beans and put it in the freezer in a labeled container with left-over chicken broth to cover. Save it for another time when I want beans in a recipe--all I need to do is take them out of the freezer, let thaw in the refrigerator, and use.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sausage Pepper Sandwich

Here's an easy open-faced sandwich idea. Bryce and I really liked it when we tried it. No measurements here, just put it together and enjoy.

Bread (The original recipe said to use sourdough bread, but I don't really like sourdough, so use what you want. Italian would be tasty, I'm sure.)
Lean Kielbasa sausage
Spaghetti Sauce
Thinly sliced peppers (I've used red, green, yellow, and orange)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese

First you brown the sausage a little in a saucepan. (The first time I just sliced off a serving amount of sausage and sliced it down the middle, kind of like a hot dog. The second time I sliced it so I had lots of little circles.) Spread a tablespoon or two of spaghetti sauce on a slice of the bread. Put the sausage on top of that. Pile on the peppers and sprinkle on the cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted. Yum, Yum!

Rachael Ray's Mac 'n Cheese with Kielbasa

Sorry, I don't have a picture of this recipe, and the recipe may already have been posted, but I couldn't find it. Anthony and I like to make this mac 'n cheese recipe and then just add keilbasa at the end (our own little special touch). It's yum-yum!
1 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1-1/2 cups whole or 2% milk (skim works)
3 cups white cheddar cheese (we use any kind of cheese we have)
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (we substitute black pepper)
A couple pinches of salt
1 lb. elbow macaroni, cookied 8 mins or to al dente, with a little bite to it
Keilbasa sausage, cut in slices
Pre-heat broiler.

Heat a medium, deep skillet over medium heat. Add oil and butter about one turn of the pan. When the butter melts into the oil, add flour and combine. Gently cook, whisking flour and butter together, until smooth and flour has a chance to cook, about 3 minutes. Slowly add milk while continuing to whisk. Gently bring milk to a bubble while stirring frequently. Allow the milk to thicken a bit, then stir in 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese a handful at a time. Season sauce with nutmeg and pepper. Taste and add salt, if you like.

Add cooked pasta to sauce and coat completely by turning over and over in cheese sauce. Add kielbasa sausage and coat in cheesy-pasta mixture. Transfer to a 13"x9" baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Place baking dish under a hot broiler and brown the cheese on top.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Polynesian Sausage Supper

This one's for you's one of my favorite kielbasa dish!

1 pound fully cooked smokes sausage, cut into half-inch slices
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, cut into one-inch chunks
14 1/2 ounces diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
20 ounces unsweetened pineapple chunks
2 tablespoon cornstarch
Hot cooked rice

In a skillet, cook the sausage, onion and green pepper until the sausage is lightly browned; drain. Add tomatoes, broth, brown sugar, garlic powder and pepper. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Stir pineapple into sausage mixture. Bring to a boil; cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch and reserved pineapple juice until smooth; gradually add to sausage mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over rice.

Sausage Bean Stew

When I need a hot meal that comes together quickly, this is what we make.  The recipe is from Quick Cooking Annual Recipes 1999.
Sausage Bean Stew Recipe
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 cans (10 ounces each) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
  • 1 can (15-1/2 ounces) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) lima beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Hot cooked rice, optional
In a large saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients.  Heat through.  Serve in bowls over rice, if desired.  Yield:  6-8 servings (2 quarts)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mashed Potatoes (Low-Fat)

I get an e-mail every month from Gold's Gym to help me stay "focused" on my goal of staying fit and healthy.  This month's e-mail was focused on re-making some high-fat favorites.  I was particularly interested in the entry on mashed potatoes.  They said to use low-fat buttermilk instead of butter and cream.  I tried it this weekend.  I used about 1 cup of buttermilk to 8 or 9 boiled potatoes.  It was delicious and creamy.  I didn't miss the butter or the cream!  What a wonderful discovery!

Honey Corn Muffins

These muffins are very quick to put together, and they taste fabulous! We love the slightly sweet taste the honey imparts.

Honey Corn Muffins

2 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk
¼ cup (3 ounces) honey
¼ cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ¼ cups (6 ounces) yellow cornmeal
¾ cup (3 1/4 ounces)all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ cup (1 3/4 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Butter or honey to taste (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly spray each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with Baker’s Joy.

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the buttermilk, honey, and butter and whisk again until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, both sugars, and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour the wet ingredients into the well, and fold the dry into the wet until just mixed.

Fill each muffin cup about three-quarters full. Tap the bottom of the pan against the counter to level the batter. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Pop the muffins out while they’re still warm and serve them with a generous helping of butter or honey.

Leftover muffins (should you have any) taste great sliced and toasted in a toaster oven.

Recipe source: Baked Explorations (by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito)

Cheeseburger Buns

Because Joshua's birthday fell on conference weekend this year, he decided to have a party the night before--on April 1. Because it was April Fools Day, he chose these buns. They look like normal dinner rolls, but inside is a delicious cheeseburger filling!


2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
3/4 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup (8 ounces) ketchup
8 slices process American cheese, quartered (or substitute your favorite variety of cheese--Cheddar is great)


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, sugar, shortening, egg, salt and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 4-6 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in tomato sauce. Remove from the heat; set aside.

Punch dough down; divide into 16 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, gently roll out and stretch each piece into a 5-in. circle. Top each circle with two pieces of cheese and about 3 tablespoons beef mixture. Bring dough over filling to center; pinch edges to seal.

Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes. Bake at 400° for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 16 sandwiches.

Recipe source: Taste of Home

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

For Joshua's birthday, I made strawberry ice cream (using our favorite recipe that I've already posted here), chocolate ice cream (an amazing new recipe I just posted), and this peanut butter ice cream. I love the flavor of this peanut butter ice cream. I made it plain--without following either of the variations listed below, and I loved it. But I'm sure it would be great with any mix-ins you want, too.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

¾ cup (180 g) smooth peanut butter
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (180 g) sugar
2 2/3 cups (660 ml) half-and-half
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Puree the peanut butter, sugar, half-and-half, salt and vanilla in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Variation: To make Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream, as you remove the ice cream from the machine, layer it with ¾ cup (240 g) of your favorite jam or jelly.

Another variation idea is to stir in chopped up peanut butter cups or chopped chocolate-covered peanuts after ice cream is frozen before transferring to freezer to ripen.

Recipe source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz (picture from

Easy Chocolate Ice Cream

For Joshua's birthday, I made three different types of ice cream. Because I wanted to make them all the same night, I decided to try this version of chocolate ice cream because an ice cream freezer is not required. I'm so glad I tried this recipe! This makes the smoothest chocolate ice cream with an amazingly fudgy texture. It's absolutely incredible!

Easy Chocolate Ice Cream

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
½ cup (5 1/2 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) heavy cream, cold

Microwave chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in bowl, stirring every 10 seconds, until chocolate is melted, about 1 minute. Stir in vanilla and salt. Let cool.

With electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip cream to soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Whisk one-third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Fold remaining whipped cream into chocolate mixture until incorporated. Freeze in airtight container until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 2 weeks. If storing for more than a few days, press plastic wrap directly on ice cream surface before freezing.

Recipe adapted from Cook's Country. Picture from Cook's Country.

Greek Gyros

Sorry I didn't take a picture of these. We had company, and it feels odd to pull out the camera before allowing guests to eat! (Although Bart did pull out the camera before allowing them to eat dessert after they exclaimed that the dessert looked so pretty that it should have its picture taken! It was the chocolate-covered strawberry cake I posted previously.) These sandwiches were fabulous! I prefer to use the Soft Wrap Bread from the King Arthur Flour's Baker's Companion. I had to ask at the meat counter for the lamb. At Fred Meyer, it was located in front of the fish counter (I wouldn't have thought to look there). According to the original recipe, if you want you can serve these inside pocket pitas if desired--I just happen to like the soft, pillowy texture of the pocketless wrap breads better for this type of sandwich.

Greek-Style Lamb Pita Sandwiches with Tzatziki Sauce

5 large (8-inch) pita breads (I prefer to use Soft Wrap Bread from King Arthur Flour)
½ medium onion, chopped coarse (about ¾ cup)
4 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
½ teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed (about 2 teaspoons)
1 pound ground lamb
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 recipe Tzatziki Sauce (recipe follows)
1 large tomato, sliced thin
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about ½ cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Tear about ½ (or up to 3/4) of one pita bread into 1-inch pieces. Stack remaining 4 pitas and tightly wrap with aluminum foil. Process onion, lemon juice, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, and pita bread pieces in food processor until smooth paste forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer onion mixture to large bowl; add lamb and gently mix with hands until thoroughly combined. Divide mixture into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls. Gently flatten balls into round disks, about ½ in thick and 2 ½ inches in diameter.

Place foil-wrapped pitas directly on oven rack and heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add patties and cook until well browned and crust forms, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip patties, reduce heat to medium, and cook until well browned and crust forms on second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer patties to paper towel-lined plate.

Place patties on top of a square of aluminum foil. Using a soup spoon, spread ¼ cup Tzatziki Sauce on each pita, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides.. Divide patties evenly among pitas; top each sandwich with tomato slices, ½ cup shredded lettuce, and 2 tablespoons feta. Fold one side of pita over filling. Fold opposite side of pita over filling so it overlaps first side. Fold one side of foil over sandwich. Fold up bottom of foil. Wrap other side of foil over sandwich to fully enclose it.

Tzatziki Sauce

½ cup Greek yogurt
½ medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced fine (about ½ cup)
3/8 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed (about ½ teaspoon)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves or dill

Combine cucumber, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and lemon juice in colander set over bowl and let stand 30 minutes. Combine yogurt, drained cucumber, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, garlic, and mint (or dill) in clean bowl.