Friday, September 30, 2016

Pumpkin Surprise Cups

I love surprising my kids with a nice treat after school.  These cute, delicious cups are super easy to put together and very tasty.  The fun part is that you can put anything you want in them, like chocolate kisses (of any kind), chocolate chips, caramel, marshmallows, etc.  It's fun to enjoy the little surprise in the middle of the pumpkin cup. :)  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 cup packed brown sugar
-1 large egg
-1/2 cup canned pumpkin 
-1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/4 tsp ground cloves
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 cup flour
-24 pieces of candy (chocolate kisses of any kind, caramels, chocolate chips, marshmallows, etc)
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Coat a mini muffin pan with baking spray, the one with butter and flour.  Set aside.
In your electric mixer's bowl, cream the sugar and egg.  Add the pumpkin and mix well.  Slowly, add the melted butter. Give it a good stir, then add the salt, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and flour.  Mix well.
Pour batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and immediately press a piece of the candy in the middle of each cup.  It will begin to melt immediately. :)  Cool the cups in the muffin tin for about 15 minutes.  Carefully remove each cup and place on wire rack until cooled completely.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pepper Jack Potato Soup

The soup is so delicious!  I love the combination of all the flavors, especially the little kick from the pepper jack cheese. Perfect for the colder days.  It's cheesy, filling and hearty.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-3 strips of bacon
-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
-1 small onion, finely diced
-1 bell pepper, diced
-6 cups chicken broth
-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
-1/4 cup salted butter
-1/4 cup flour
-1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
-8 oz Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
-1/2 tsp white pepper
-1/2 tsp salt
Directions:
Cut bacon into small strips.  Place in large sauce pan and fry until nice and crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop up the bacon from the pan onto a plate lined with paper towels.
Do NOT discard the bacon drippings.  Return the pan to the stove. Add the garlic, onion and pepper in the bacon grease. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until veggies are nice and soft.  Add the chicken broth and potatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter over low heat.  Whisk in the flour and until nice and smooth. Add the evaporated milk and give it a good stir. Add mixture to the soup.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until soup thickens a little. Add the cooked bacon and cheese  Give it a good stir. Season with white pepper and salt.  Stir, ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Quick and Easy Blackened Salmon

I just love cooking fish.  It doesn't take much time or a lot of fuss, and the results are delicious!  This is a very simple recipe, similar to how my mom used to cook it for us.  It goes perfect with a side dish like mashed potatoes or seasoned cheesy rice and some veggies.  Simple and delicious.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-4 salmon filets, skin on
-5 Tbs vegetable oil
-1/2 Tbs smoked paprika
-1/2 Tbs cayenne
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
-1 tsp salt
Directions:
Pat dry the salmon filets and set aside.
Heat oil in large skillet.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne, thyme, oregano and salt.  Generously season the top of each salmon filet.
Once the oil is very hot (smoky), turn off the heat and add the season fish, flesh side down.  Cook for a couple of minutes, then turn the stove back on, on medium heat.  Continue cooking for a couple more minutes.  Carefully, flip the fish with the skin side down.  Cook for about 5 more minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hot Cheesy Sweet Onion Dip

One of our favorite things to do as a family, after a busy week, is to sit down and watch a good movie while munching on chips and dip.  I also love making new dips for us once in a while.  This is a new addition to our family and it quickly became a favorite.  It's sweet, oniony, creamy, cheesy, etc, etc.  It's so, so, so good that you'll have a hard time stopping to eat once you start!  YUM!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-3 (8 oz each) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 large sweet onion, cut into chunks
-2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-1 tsp cayenne
-3 Tbs chopped chives, divided
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
In your food processor, add the cream cheese and onion.  Process until smooth.  Add the Parmesan, mayo, cayenne, 2 Tbs of the chives, salt and pepper.  Process until well combined and smooth.
Transfer mixture into an 8x8 baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining chives and enjoy warm!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Raspberry-Cheesecake Cookies

These little cookies are like a bite of Heaven.  The dough is a beautiful mixture of butter and cream cheese.  I also used homemade raspberry preserves, which gave the cookies an even better flavor. They are fluffy, sweet, super delicious.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1/2 stick (8 Tbs) salted butter, at room temperature
-4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 1/4 cups flour
-about 1/4 cup raspberry preserves
Directions:
In your electric mixer's bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and mix very well.  Add the flour and mix well.
Cover the bowl with wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Take the dough out of the fridge.  Scoop out a small piece of dough (about 2 Tbs each) and roll into a ball.  Place it on the prepared sheet and lightly press your thumb in the center.  Repeat with remaining dough. Fill each indentation with about 1/2 tsp raspberry preserves.
Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden around the edges.
Remove sheet from the oven and let cookies rest on it for 15 minutes.  Carefully, transfer cookies onto wire racks until completely cooled.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

One Hour Artisan Bread

Yes, it is possible.  And yes, it is delicious!  I love making this over and over.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-5 1/2 cups flour
-1 Tbs active yeast
-2 Tbs sugar
-1 Tbs salt
-2 cups hot water
-sesame or poppy seeds, optional
Directions:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
In your mixer's bowl, mix 4 cups of the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt.  Pour in the hot water and, using the hook attachment, mix for about 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky.  Knead for 10 minutes. 
Remove the hook attachment and cover the bowl with a damp towel.  Let it rest for 15 minutes.
After that, punch down the dough. Divide into 2 and shape into large balls.  Place loaves onto prepared sheet.  Cut a few slashes (about 1/2 inch deep) into each loaf. Brush each loaf with some warm water on top.  If desired, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.
Place a small pan half full with hot water on bottom of oven.  Place the bread on the middle shelf of the cold oven.  Heat the oven to 400 F.
Bake for about 40 minutes (including the time it takes for the oven to heat up) or until the loaves reach a beautiful golden brown.  
Enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Spicy Spinach and Sage Sausage Soup

Oh, what a delight this is!  The sage sausage is definitely the star of this dish, with all of that extra flavor it brings.  Everything combines beautifully together.  Super YUM for this one!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 lb bulk sage pork sausage
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-6 cups chicken broth
-2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks
-1 (6 oz) bag baby spinach
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp crushed pepper flakes
Directions:
In a large skillet, brown the sausage, breaking it as it cooks.  Once cooked, set it aside.
In a large saucepan, mix the cream and broth. Add the potato chunks and spinach.  Mix well.  Stir in the cooked sausage, salt and pepper flakes.  Mix very well and bring to a simmer.  Simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes or until potatoes are nice and soft.  Make sure to stir occasionally.  Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Yes, yet another zucchini bread!  Our awesome neighbors have an amazing garden and they keep on sharing fresh veggies with us, including lots of yummy zucchini.  This bread is definitely a big time winner in our family.  The kids love all that chocolate mixed in with the zucchini.  Win-win!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 1/4 cups flour
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 large eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
-1 large zucchini, shredded (should have about 2 cups)
-1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 10x5 loaf pan on sides and bottom with baking spray (the one with flour and butter).  Set aside.
In your electric mixer's bowl, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Mix well.  Add the eggs, one a time and mix well.  Stir in the vanilla and melted butter.  Add the shredded zucchini.  Mix very well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Mix well, then pour all that goodness into the prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and place the pan onto a wire rack.  Cool for 15-20 minutes.  Carefully, remove the bread from the pan and place onto wire rack.  Cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!
***you could also bake this as muffins.  Simply pour the batter into lined muffin pans and bake for only 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Follow the same cooling instructions and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Zucchini Bread with Pecan Chips

I love zucchini bread!  There are so many varieties of it out there and they're all so yummy!  This is yet another version and the pecans add that awesome crunch and unique taste to it.  Super delicious!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-3 cups sugar
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp cinnamon
-2 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp ground nutmeg
-3 1/4 cups flour
-4 large eggs
-1 cup vegetable oil
-1/3 cup water
-1 tsp lemon juice
-1 medium zucchini, shredded
-1 cup pecan chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat 2 (10x5 inch ) pans with baking spray-the one with flour and butter.  Set aside.
In your mixer's bowl, add the sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and flour.  Mix well.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.  Add the oil, water and lemon juice.  Mix well.  Stir in the zucchini and pecan chips.
Pour mixture evenly into the prepared pans.  Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove onto wire racks and cool for 10 minutes.  Carefully, remove the bread from the pans and place back on wire rack until completely cooled.  Slice and enjoy!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fresh Peach Pie with an Almond-Coconut Crust

Yes, this pie is as delicious as it sounds! The crust is absolutely amazing, the filling super creamy and delicious, and, of course, the fresh peaches (straight from our peach tree) are simply delightful.  YUM!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For crust:
-1 cup slivered almonds
-1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For filling:
-1 cup sour cream
-1/8 tsp salt
-4 Tbs powdered sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
Toppings:
-1 lb fresh peaches, pitted and sliced
-1 cup heavy cream
-3 Tbs sugar
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a small food chopper, process the almonds until they form nice small crumbs.  Pour into small bowl.  Add remaining crust ingredients and mix well.  Press  mixture on the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round pie pan.
Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven onto wire rack and let it cool completely (it might take a little over 1 hour).
Once crust is cooled, mix the filling ingredients in a bowl, until nice and smooth. Pour into cooled crust.
Top that with the fresh peaches.
Beat the cream and sugar until soft peaks form.  Spread it over the peaches.
Slice that goodness and enjoy!

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