Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Southwestern Turkey Soup

I received this recipe from Allrecipes.com in an e-mail as the recipe of the day. What more appropriate recipe for the day since there was lots of leftover Turkey in my refrigerator, especially two turkey legs and wings that I hadn't cut off the bone yet. I thought I would give this recipe a shot for dinner yesterday but of course I tweaked it a bit, and it turned out Yummo! And it didn't really taste like turkey... just ask my dad who doesn't care for left over turkey at all, and I didn't tell him that's what it was until after he had eaten a bowl of soup. I wish I had a picture of his face when he found out!! Anyway, you can use chopped up leftover turkey, but I also used the legs and wings that I had put in my crock pot before going to work along with 2 cups of chicken broth. I cooked it all day long on low and when I got home the meat just fell right off the bone! I also used the rest of my sliced up turkey breasts and thighs. I added a few things to the original recipe, but you can go here for the original recipe if you like. This was a yummo soup for a chilly winter evening!

Southwestern Turkey Soup
Ingredients:
1- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chopped or shredded cooked turkey
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (14 ounce) can corn, rinsed and drained
1 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon taco seasoning mix
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 heaping tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro (remember the chopped stuff in the tubes you can get in the produce department, that's what I used but you can use 1 teaspoon of dried cilantro if that's what you have)
1/2 cup masa flour dissolved in 1 cup cold water (this is optional, I used it to thicken my soup a bit)

Garnishes:
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Corn chips or fritos
Sour Cream

Directions:
1. Heat 1 or 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil in in a large pot over medium heat, add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes, than add the minced garlic and saute for another minute or two. Then add the turkey, broth, tomatoes, green chiles, black beans, corn, and lime juice. Season with cayenne, cumin, taco seasoning, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Whisk in  the masa flour that's been stirred with the water into the soup along with the cilantro, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes more, until slightly thickened. Spoon into serving bowls, and top with shredded cheese, a dollop of Sour Cream, and crushed tortilla chips or fritos.
Enjoy!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gourmet Caramel Apple Cookies

I found this recipe one day while browsing different internet sites and blogs. I love making cookies around Holiday time to eat and to give to neighbors and if you know me... I love trying out new recipes. I LOVED this one, I love caramel and apple together so I had to try out this recipe. It was good.. but I used craft caramel instead of ice cream topping, thought it would hold up better and it did. While this was a good cookie, I thought it needed more apple flavor, but I posted it anyway... next time I may try 1 1/2 cups diced apple.... or maybe some apple cider in the dough?? but the cookies were good and looked fancy and weren't all that hard to make. Go here for the original recipe. Enjoy!

Gourmet Caramel Apple Cookies
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. caramel flavoring (I didn't have this so I substituted 1/2 tsp. butter extract)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 medium Granny Smith apple, diced {about 1 cup} I microwaved mine for 1 min. and let cool.
1 c. almond and pecan pieces
1 tbs. dark brown sugar
20 caramels or 3/4 cup caramel bits
2 Tablespoons cream
1/2 cup each milk chocolate and white chocolate chips or candy melts
 
Instructions:
Cream together butter and sugars. Add the egg and flavorings and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside. Use one tablespoon of the flour mixture and toss with the diced apples until they are well coated. Mix in the flour until it is well incorporated, then add the apples. The dough will be sticky but firm.
Next combine the mixed nuts with a tablespoon of brown sugar. Drop dough into the nut mixture by the tablespoon and roll until well coated with nuts.
Bake the cookies at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until starting to turn golden around the edges (all ovens are differnt, this is how long I cooked mine). When you remove them from the oven use a cookie scoop or spoon to make an impression in the middle of the warm cookies.
Melt the unwrapped caramels or caramel bits in a small bowl with the 2 Tablespoons cream in the microwave for 45 seconds, then stir. Continue to microwave for 15 to 20 seconds at a time, stirring aftwards until it's melted. Let cool a little while your cookies bake.
After cooling, use a piping bag to fill the cookies with caramel. Drizzle the cookies with melted white and dark chocolate. I put the chocolate into piping bags as well or you could use a sandwich bag with one corner snipped off.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cinnamon Chips

This isn't a recipe but just my opinion. I have quite a few recipes that I like to use Cinnamon Chips in-- I love them. I usually buy Hershey's Cinnamon Chips and have always been happy with them, then I had heard and read that the cinnamon chips you can buy at this store near where I live were supposed to be the best, and have the most cinnamon flavor than any other chips you could buy. It's a store where they sell baking mixes and other flavored chips and kitchen gadgets. I couldn't wait to get there, and last weekend I finally did. I made a carrot cake and got my package of cinnamon chips out to use since it was for a special occasion. Luckily I tasted a few before adding to my cake, and I was soooooooo disappointed. They tasted waxy and not very cinnamony ( I might of just made that word up).... I much prefer Hershey's, they have a bold cinnamon taste and aren't waxy compared to the other ones. Just thought I'd share that, I like using good quality ingredients when I bake, and just wanted to share the results of my taste test. I always find cinnamon chips by the other Hershey's chips down the baking aisle  at most stores and since it's Holiday time, they are easier to find. Happy Baking!!

After I was ready to post this, I decided to bake with some. I made banana bread and used the hershey's cinnamon chips in one, and the cinnamon baking chips that I had just bought in the other. In my opinion Hershey's are still the best. YUM

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lasagna

I had posted this recipe before, but I recently had to make alot for a church dinner the other night, and I tweaked my recipe a bit, this was actually some of the best lasagna I had ever made!
I love lasagna! This recipe is a couple of recipes combined... I took what I liked about both of them. I really don't like lasagna made with cottage cheese so I use part skim ricotta.
Lasagna
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. Johnsonville Italian sausage links (hot or mild)
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
2 cans (15 ounce) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
1 (6oz) can tomato paste 
2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 -15 ounce carton of ricotta cheese (I use the part skim kind)
1 egg
1/4 cup, (heaping) Parmesan Cheese
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Salt (more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (8 oz) package lasagna noodles (9 to 12 noodles depending on how big your pan is)
2 1/2 cups or more grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Remove sausage from casings. In a large frying pan cook and stir ground beef, sausage, onion and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain off grease.
Stir in tomatos, tomato sauce, tomato paste,  parsley, sugar, salt, basil and oregano. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about an hour.
While sauce is cooking, cook lasagna noodles according to the directions on package. Drain and lay out flat on a piece of wax paper until ready to use.
In a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper together until all ingredients is incorporated. I taste and add more salt if necessary.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a lasagna pan, spoon about a cup of the sauce into the bottom of pan, lay 3 or 4 noodles on top of the sauce. Carefully spread 1/2 of your Ricotta mixture over the noodles (I drop by spoonfuls around on my noodles and then spread into a layer with a knife or spatula). Then sprinkle about 1 cup Mozzarella cheese over the Ricotta. Next, spoon 1/3 of the remaining sauce over the cheeses. Repeat another layer just like that starting with noodles and ending with meat sauce. Top with the remaining noodles,then last of your sauce (If your lasagna pan is on the small side and you have leftover sauce, keep it warm in a sauce pan and use as desired on individual servings). Sprinkle a little more mozzarella cheese on top, and the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (so your cheese doesn't stick) and cook in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 more minutes until hot and bubbly and cheese is melty.
Serve with salad and Crusty french bread!! Yummo!!!

For Variation:
Try using Zucchini instead of pasta!! I did and it was yummy! I had about 6 zucchini (they were about 8 inches long and 2 inches around, the biggest I could find at the store) Wash and slice into about 1/4 in strips lengthwise. Lay flat on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes (this way they are tender and some of the water cooks out) Assemble like the lasagna recipe except place your zucchini around to make a layer instead of the noodles and I only did two layers of zucchini... I left off the top layer, so it went meat sauce, zucchini, cheese mixture, meat sauce, repeat that one more time, and then  top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake the same as the above recipe.YUM

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Spice Cupcakes

I finally made a decision and made these cupcakes for my office on Halloween instead of brain cupcakes... I was going to fill them and didn't want them to get soggy overnight. I didn't think I could be creative enough first thing in the morning to make the frosting look like brains, so I opted for pumpkins. These cupcakes turned out yummo!! and I've been asked for the recipe... I shared a link in an earlier post going to the original recipe, but you know me.... I just had to tweak the recipe a bit. And these turned out to be some of the BEST cupcakes I"ve every made..... it all kind of happened by accident. First off, it called for a boxed cake mix all chocolate. Well all I had was white cake mixes except  1/2 a box of triple chocolate fudge and 1/2 a box of yellow cake mix (the kind with butter).... long story behind those, but I will try to shorten it. Did you know you can make a 1 layer cake with 1/2 a cake mix by measuring out the dry mix into a bowl, then measure 1/2 of it back into the box.... and following the directions on the back using only 1/2 of each ingredient called for. I like to make 1 layer cakes sometimes if I'm just feeding my family, and sometimes you like a double layer cake with 1 layer chocolate and 1 layer yellow.... anyway... that is what I had, and what I used. And it was a bonus since my triple chocolate cake mix had mini chocolate chips in them!! Ha! I also replaced the milk with eggnogg. Then I filled mine with vanilla pudding that I tweaked with pumpkin pie spice. I made the frosting the same as the original recipe... and Voila! YUMMY cupcakes!!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Spice Cupcakes
1/2 box Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake mix
1/2 box Yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups Eggnog
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup mini chocolate chips(only if your cake mix doesn't already have them in it, mine did)
Place cake mix, room temperature butter, eggs and milk, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice into mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for two minutes, scrape down sides after one minute. Stir in chocolate chips. Use a large scoop (3 Tablespoon size) it helps them to all come out in a uniform shape, into your lined cupcake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched in the center. Let cool completely.

For Filling:
1 small package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin pie spice
Mix pudding according to the Pie filling directions (that way it's a bit thicker) and stir in the pumpkin pie spice. Fill your cupcakes. (you can scoop out a little of the cake and fill, when you ice them it covers up the hole.)

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 Tablespoons eggnogg
Beat cream cheese and sugar then add powdered sugar pumpkin pie spice and milk and mix until fully blended together and fluffy (I like to whip mine for 2 minutes after everything is incorporated). Remove 4 Tablespoons frosting for the stems, add two drops of  green food coloring. Add a drop or two of Orange food coloring to the remaining frosting

I placed the orange frosting in a piping bag with a #2D tip and started piping the pumpkins. Begin at the top of each cupcakes and pipe down three lines one on each outer edge and one down the center. Then pipe two additional lines in the spaces in between the other three. Apply the green stems with tip #66.
or ice as desired!!
Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Can-Your-Own Apple Pie Filling

I have one little apple tree in my yard and this year it produced apples like you wouldn't believe!! I think I got at least 4 big boxes out of it. I've looked and there are a lot of Canning recipes for Apple Pie filling out there on the internet,  but another friend I work with makes this delicious Dutch Oven Apple Crisp/Cobbler that she brings into the office every Christmas for a treat, it's soooo goood! And when I asked her what she did for the apple filling she said she canned her own pie filling. I had to get the recipe!!! It's delicious! So here is the recipe(I tweaked the recipe a little, and added just a touch more cinnamon and nutmeg, I like a spicey apple pie) and I added the Apple Crisp recipe below that... I haven't made it at home yet so I don't have a picture... but it's delish!!! I love the way my home smelled when making the cinnamon syrup for the apples... YUM!  And don't you love the 'hominess' look of the jars of canned apple pie filling?? I think it would be a cute holiday gift with a cute apple fabric to cover the lid with ribbon tied around it...you could make a basket with pie filling, a pie tin, and premade pie crust.... oh the possibilities!!!

Can-Your-Own Apple Pie Filling
Makes 7 Quarts. Each quart is enough for a double crust pie.

Peel, core and slice 6 -7 lbs of tart apples.

In a large sauce pan blend together:
4-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

Stir in 10 cups water. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. (I didn't time mine, but it took a while to get good and thick and I let mine get to a good boil, so it bubbles a little even when stirring)
Add 3 Tablespoons lemon juice. Stir and cook a minute or two more.  Remove from heat.
Pack your apples into hot sterilized quart jars leaving a 1 " head space. Fill jars with hot syrup leaving 1/2 " head space. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke into the jars and move apples around to help the syrup distribute around in the jar if necessary.
Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean cloth then place sterilized lids on jars and tighten with rims.
Process in water bath for 20 - 30 minutes (I did mine for 30 minutes)
Remove from water bath and place on towel and let cool over night. (don't you love the 'popping' noise of the jars sealing?? what makes you more happy than that?) Don't they look lovely??

Dutch Oven Apple Crisp
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Add 2 quarts apple pie filling to a 12" Dutch oven
In a bowl mix together:
1 cup flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Cut 1 cube (1/2 cup) cold butter into flour and sugar until crumbly. Spread over top of pie filling. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until hot and bubbly and top is golden brown.
Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. YUM!

Frosted Banana Bars

I got this recipe from a friend I work with. She brought them in for a treat one day to the office, they are YUMMO and I just had to get the recipe! It seems I always have over ripe banana's on hand.. I only like to eat them when they are still slightly green... after that they sit on my cupboard until they are way over ripe and I throw them away or until I make banana bread. This recipe was close to my banana bread recipe, they both have cinnamon, sour cream, and 3 banana's in them, but this was just a little more 'cakey'. My friend's recipe used chocolate chips and just regular cream cheese frosting and butter extract instead of banana extract (I only had banana extract on hand, and I put that in my banana bread for a bit stronger banana flavor), but I tweaked it a bit and put cinnamon chips in it and cinnamon in the frosting... gave it a little more of a 'holiday' flavor or Autumn flavor to me... I just LOVE cinnamon chips..... but of course if you want more of that yummy banana and chocolate flavor just put chocolate chips in the batter and leave out the cinnamon from the frosting!!  Enjoy!

Frosted Banana Bars
1 stick butter, softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1- 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
a few drops banana extract
1-1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3)
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 15x10x1 inch jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
Cream butter and sugar, then beat in eggs, vanilla, banana extract and bananas. Add sour cream and stir until combined. In another small bowl, combine flour, soda, cinnamon and salt, then add to creamed mixture and mix well until all ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the chips. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool, then frost with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. Cut into 2 x 4 inch bars, serve and enjoy!!

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Whip your butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together for a minute until the lumps are gone and smooth. Then add cinnamon and powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until all combined. (if you add it all at once your apt to get the kitchen cupboards covered in powder! mix slowly)
When powdered sugar is all incorporated I like to whip my frostings for a couple of minutes on a medium/high speed. This gives you a fluffy frosting.
This recipe made more than enough frosting for me.... I had about 3/4 cup leftover, but ice your cake as thick as you like! YUMMO!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie Spice Pancakes

I made these pancakes for breakfast this morning and OH MY GOODNESS they were yummy!!! Filling but yummy, I only like to eat big breakfasts on Saturday so I spurge a little. I bought eggnog to go in the cupcakes I made for Halloween and have been trying to use it all up! Besides putting it in hot chocolate instead of milk to cool mine off so I can drink it, these were a perfect way to use up leftover eggnog!! I am not much on just drinking eggnog straight, but added to cupcakes, hot chocolate, and now pancakes I love the flavor it gives! I made my pancakes with Bisquick (which I love and it's easy) but you could also substitute Eggnog for the milk in a scratch recipe too. Serve these with salty bacon and your good to go! Enjoy!!


Eggnog Pumpkin Pie Spice Pancakes
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
2 eggs
1 cup eggnog
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (or Cinnamon is good too)
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup regular milk (if your batter is too thick, I like mine on the thinner side for pancakes)
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
Butter
Maple Syrup

In a large mixing bowl, add Bisquick, eggs, eggnog, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and granulated sugar, stir with a whisk until just combined. Add the 1/4 cup regular milk to thin out the batter a little if necessary. Add the cinnamon chips and stir until they are all incorporated.
Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium heat. Spray with a non-stick cooking spray or drizzle with a little vegetable oil . Then using a ladle, spoon your batter onto the hot griddle making the the desired size pancake that you like. (I made mine kind of big! ) Let cook for a minute or two until the bottom is golden and bubbles start to form on the top, then flip your pancake and cook another minute or two until the bottom is golden brown.
Serve hot with butter and syrup! Enjoy!!!