Friday, October 31, 2014

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake

I don't think this one needs any description as the title says it all. :)  It is simply delicious!  Enjoy!
-butter flavored cooking spray
-8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
-3/4 cup powdered sugar
-2 tsp milk
-1 (29 oz) can pumpkin puree
-1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
-3 large eggs
-1 1/4 cups sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice
-1 (15.25 oz) box yellow cake mix
-2 Tbs cinnamon sugar mixture
-whipped cream, for topping
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 9x13 pan with the butter flavored cooking spray.  Set aside.
Cream the cheese, powdered sugar and milk.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, salt and spice.  Mix very well.  Add the cake mix and make sure it's well incorporated.  Pour into prepared pan.
Drop dollops of the cream cheese mixture and swirl into the pan. 
Sprinkle on top with the cinnamon sugar.  Coat the cinnamon sugar top with some butter flavored cooking spray.  
Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely, cut into pieces and serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cranberry-Banana Bread

Here's yet another nice little twist on your regular banana bread.  Enjoy!
-1/3 cup shortening
-2/3 cup sugar
-2 large eggs
-2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 1/2 cups flour
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (both work just fine)
-1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Coat 9x5 loaf pan with baking cooking spray.  Set aside.
In your mixer's bowl, cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and beat well.  Stir in the bananas.  Add the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.  Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Stir in the walnuts and cranberries.  Mix well and pour in prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Spicy Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

What a delight this soup is!  I could eat this all day, seriously!  Enjoy!
-3 lbs sweet potatoes
-1/2 cup water
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-1/2 tsp ground cumin
-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
-4 cups chicken broth
-1/4 tsp salt
-bacon, cooked and crumbled, for topping
-shredded Parmesan cheese, for topping
Poke potatoes and place with water in large microwavable dish.  Cover and microwave on high for 15 minutes.  Flip on the other side, cover and microwave for 15 more minutes.  Remove carefully and let cool slightly.  Scoop the flesh out into a large bowl.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes or until it becomes translucent.  Add the cumin and red pepper.  Mix well and cook for 1 minute.  Add the broth and sweet potatoes.  Bring mixture to a boil.
Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a regular blender, process until nice and smooth.
Season with salt and give it a good stir.
Ladle into bowls and top with bacon crumbs and cheese.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Ice Cream Cupcakes

I know that the weather is changing and getting colder, but this treat is welcomed year round in my house!  You get a cookie and ice cream, topped with whipped cream.  SO, so, so good!  Simple and delicious!  Enjoy!
-favorite chocolate chip cookie dough-homemade or store-bought (both work just fine)
-favorite ice cream flavor (I used sea salt caramel and mint chocolate chip)
-whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Get you ice cream out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter.
In your muffin pan, press 1 scoop of cookie dough into each cup.  Bake in preheated oven for 10-11 minutes or until slightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Scoop some of the softened ice cream on top of the cooled cookies (still in the pan).  Place immediately in the freezer.  Freeze for about 2 hours or until ready to serve.
Scoop cupcakes out of the pan, top with some whipped cream and enjoy!  Delicious!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Alabama White BBQ Sauce

I was browsing through some food blogs the other day and came across this recipe on this blog. My mouth started watering immediately!  It promised to be spicy and, if you know me, that's a big weakness of mine. :)  I immediately fit it into my meal calendar, of course!  Following the original recipe, the sauce itself was nice, but it tasted more like a really delicious ranch.  So I went to work and tweaked it to my liking.  This version sure has the kick I was looking for and it is simply delicious!  You can serve it with some delicious fried chicken, pork, steak, salads, etc.  It's quite versatile.  Enjoy!
-1 cup mayonnaise
-2 Tbs spicy brown mustard
-2 Tbs horseradish sauce
-1 clove garlic, peeled
-1 tsp ground black pepper
-1/4 cup white vinegar
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 tsp cayenne 
Place all ingredients in blender.  Process until nice and smooth.  Pour into container, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.  Enjoy!
Recipe inspired from here

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Slow Cooker Santa Fe Chili

Simply delicious!  It also has the right kick for me. :)  I know you'll enjoy this yummy chili. This recipe makes a lot of chili.  If you can't eat all of it, simply portion it and freeze it.  I sometimes, portion mine into large ziplock bags and freeze it for up to 6 months.  It keeps very well, it thaws out nicely and the great flavors are still there.  Enjoy!
-2 lbs extra lean or lean ground beef
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-2 (15 oz each) cans dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained
-2 (15 oz each) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
-2 (15 oz each) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
-1 (29 oz) can corn, drained
-1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
-1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
-1 1/2 cups original V8 juice
-2 (1 oz each) envelopes ranch salad dressing mix
-2 (1.25 oz each) envelopes taco seasoning
-toppings such as shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, corn chips, etc
In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion until meat is no longer pink.  Transfer mixture and all juices into your large slow cooker. 
Add remaining ingredients, except for toppings.  Give it a good stir.  Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
Ladle into bowls, tops with preferred toppings, if desired, and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Carrot-Banana Bread

This is a nice variation to the regular banana bread.  It's moist and delicious!  Enjoy!
-3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
-2 large eggs
-1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
-1 cup sugar
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-2 cups flour
-1 cup grated carrots
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (either one works just fine)
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with baking cooking spray.  Set aside.
In your mixer's bowl, whisk the bananas, eggs and oil.  Mix until smooth.  Add the sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Mix well.  Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time and mix until well incorporated.  Stir in the carrots and walnuts.
Pour into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Barbecue Chicken Burritos

This is another quick and delicious meal for a busy night.  Enjoy!
-2 Tbs vegetable oil
-2 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into bite-size chunks
-1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into small strips
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-1/2 cup Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce
-about 2 cups shredded fiesta cheese blend
-6 flour tortilla, burrito size
-cooking spray
-toppings such as: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, etc
Heat oil in large skillet.  Add the chicken, bell pepper and onion.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink.  Add the barbecue sauce.  Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes.  Remove from stove.
Sprinkle some cheese down the center of each tortilla.  Top with some chicken mixture.  Fold the sides and ends.
Coat a skillet with some cooking spray and heat up.  Add a wrapped burrito and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Place burrito on plate and top with desired toppings.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cheeseburger Pasta

This really tastes like a cheeseburger!  With all the fixings too!  Like, onions, ketchup, mustard, pickles...  Seriously, the whole thing is there.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-1 1/2 cups round tube pasta
-1 lb extra lean or lean ground beef
-1/4 small onion, finely chopped (or 2 Tbs chopped frozen onion)
-1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
-2 Tbs dill pickle relish
-2 Tbs yellow mustard
-2 Tbs ketchup
-1 tsp steak seasoning
-1/4 tsp seasoned salt
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-2 green onions, chopped, for topping
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain.
Meanwhile, cook the beef and onion in a large skillet.  When beef is no longer pink, add the drained cooked pasta.  Mix well.
Stir in the tomatoes with the juice, relish, mustard, ketchup, seasoning and salt.  Mix well and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with the cheese.  Remove from the heat, cover and let is stand for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Scoop onto plates, garnish with some green onions and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Potato Kielbasa Skillet

Delicious, delicious, delicious!  I can't praise this one enough!  And it's quick too!  Under 30 minutes.  The potatoes are mixed with some delicious Polska Kielbasa, onions, bacon and spinach, and they are all tossed in an amazing mustardy sauce.  Enjoy!
-1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
-3 Tbs water
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-3/4 lb Polska Kielbasa, chopped
-1/2 onion, finely chopped
-4 cups packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
-5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
For the sauce:
-2 Tbs brown sugar
-2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
-1 Tbs Dijon mustard
-1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed a little
-1/4 tsp pepper
Place potatoes and water in microwave-safe dish.  Cover and microwave for 4 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Drain.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the Kielbasa and onion.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the drained potatoes.  Cook for 5 minutes or until potatoes and sausage are golden brown.
In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients.
Add to the skillet and give it a good stir.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 3 minutes.
Add the spinach and bacon.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until spinach is wilted.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vegetable Chowder Topped with Bacon

This chowder is perfect for these cooler days.  The flavors combine wonderfully and the chowder itself is quite hearty.  Enjoy!
-2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
-4 cups chicken broth
-2 cups frozen corn
-1 medium onion, chopped
-8 oz baby bellas, sliced
-2 (14 3/4 oz each) cans cream-style corn
-3 cups milk
-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
-salt and pepper, to taste
-bacon bits, for topping
In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, broth, frozen corn, onion and mushrooms.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Add the creamed corn, milk, cheese, salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir.  Cook for about 10 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and top with bacon bits.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Easy Individual Apple Pies

What a treat!  And it's quick too!  Less than 30 minutes!  The filling is a perfect blend of apple, walnut, sugar and cinnamon.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
Ingredients (this recipe yields 20 mini pies):
-2 (7.5 oz each) tubes refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
-1 medium Granny Smith's apple, peeled and finely chopped
-3 Tbs sugar
-1/4 cup chopped walnuts
-1 tsp cinnamon
-butter flavored cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Using a rolling pin, flatten each biscuit as much as you can.
In a bowl, mix the chopped apple, sugar, walnuts and cinnamon.  Fill each flattened biscuit evenly.  Spray each biscuit and apple mixture with a little butter flavored cooking spray.
Bring up all the sides of the biscuit to enclose the filling and pinch well to seal.
Place in ungreased muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.  
Serve warm by itself or with a little whipped cream on top.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cheese Tortellini with Marinated Artichokes and Herbs

I cannot describe this dish enough!  It is absolutely delicious!  It seriously has the perfect blend of flavors.  This is a must try.  Enjoy!
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 (7.5 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts
-1 large onion, finely chopped
-1 tsp dried parsley
-1 tsp dried basil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 (14.5 oz) can Italian diced tomatoes
-1/2 tsp salt
-9 oz refrigerated cheese tortellini
-1 (2.25 oz) can sliced black olives, drained
-shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat the oil in large skillet.
In a small bowl, drain the artichokes.  Set the bowl aside.
Give a rough chop to the artichokes.  Set aside.
To the hot oil, add the onion, parsley, basil, garlic, oregano and pepper flakes.  Cook for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil.
To the onion mixture, add the tomatoes with the juice and the artichoke liquid.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 12 minutes.
While that is simmering, cook the tortellini according to the package directions.  Drain and add to the tomato mixture.  Season with the salt.  Stir in the olives and chopped artichokes.  Cook for a couple of minutes.
Spoon onto plates and sprinkle with cheese.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Romanian Fresh Tomato Soup with Noodles (Supa de Rosii Proaspete cu Taitei)

One of my neighbors had tons of very ripe tomatoes that she was just going to throw away!  Her garden produced so much this summer and she was just done with canning and preparing all the goods.  Luckily for me, she realized that some people might find some use in her tomatoes, bell peppers and jalapenos, so she decided to just offer them for free to everyone who would pass by her house.  I was one of the lucky ones.:)  My very first thought when I saw the tomatoes, was I will make my mom's tomato soup that I grew  up with.  It is packed with delicious fresh vegetables and the taste is out of this world!  So fresh and delicious!  I just can't get enough of this goodness!  Also, instead of peeling the tomatoes, you grate them on the bumpy side.  That way, all the goodness comes out, without the peel and yucky part.  Make sure you give this one a try.  You will definitely not regret it!  Enjoy!
-5 lbs very ripe tomatoes
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
-1 small carrot, peeled and finely grated
-4 cups water
-salt and pepper to taste (I add about 1 Tbs salt and 2 tsp pepper)
-4 oz fine egg noodles
Grate the tomatoes in a large bowl, as shown below, until all the juice is out of them.
 Set all the fresh tomato juice aside.
Heat the oil in large saucepan.  Add the onion, bell pepper and carrot.  Cook until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and water.  Stir well.
Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper.  Add the noodles, stir and cook for about 10 minutes or until noodles are done.
Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Ladle into bowls and serve.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cannoli Cupcakes

This is a true delight!  So soft, creamy and delicious!  It is a little time consuming, but well worth it.  Enjoy!
-1 (16.5 oz) box white cake mix + ingredients to make the cupcakes (eggs, oil and water)
-3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
-1 cup ricotta cheese
-1 cup powdered sugar
-1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese
-1/4 tsp almond extract
-1/2 cup shelled and chopped pistachios
-4 oz white baking chocolate, roughly chopped
-white chocolate curls, for topping
Preheat the oven according to the cake mix box directions.   Line 20-24 muffin cups and set aside.
Prepare cake mix according to box directions.  Pour into prepared cups and bake until done.
Remove cupcakes from oven and cool for 10 minutes in the pans.  Remove onto wire racks until completely cooled.
In a small bowl, beat 1/2 cup of the cream until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, powdered sugar, Mascarpone and almond extract.  Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Using a wooden spoon, fold in the chopped pistachios and the whipped cream.
Cut the top off of each cupcake. Generously spread the cheese mixture onto each cupcake and replace each top.
In a small saucepan, melt the baking chocolate with the remaining 1/4 cup cream.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Drizzle it generously on top of each cupcake.  Sprinkle with the chocolate curls.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cheesy Onion Soup

This soup is absolutely perfect for this colder, rainy weather.  It's sweet, creamy and simply delicious!  Enjoy!
-3 Tbs butter
-1 large onion, finely chopped
-3 Tbs flour
-4 cups milk
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-2 cups Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
-seasoned salad croutons
-grated parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Sprinkle the flour and give it a good stir.  Gradually,  add the milk.  Season with the salty and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until thickened.
Remove the pot from stove and stir in the cheese until melted.
Ladle into bowl and top with croutons and cheese.  Enjoy!


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