Monday, October 25, 2010

Stuffed Pepper Soup

This is a really simple soup. So simple, that I don't have very many pictures to show you......But it's really good!

I started off by browning one pound of hamburger with one chopped onion and two chopped bell peppers.

Then, I added a jar of spaghetti sauce, a can of diced tomatoes, beef broth, frozen brown rice and salt and pepper. That's it!

All the flavors of stuffed peppers, but much easier! It is also really good with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese on top.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped (any color is fine)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups rice, cooked
4 cups beef broth (one 32-ounce carton)
1 can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper

Brown ground beef in large pot and add onion and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper and cook till veggies are softened. Add in rest of ingredients and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

* I used a bag of frozen brown rice (pictured below) that I poured in still frozen but it is pre-cooked. You can use any variety you like just as long as it is cooked before you add it in. This is also a good opportunity to use up leftover white rice from Chinese carryout.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Decorated Pumpkin Cake

My husband had some out of town relatives come for a visit and we had everyone over to our house one night for dinner. I made this cake for dessert and was happy for a chance to use my pumpkin-shaped cake pan again.

I used a boxed, cinnamon flavored cake mix and made a cinnamon flavored frosting to decorate it with. I used a medium-sized star tip and just covered it in "dots" of frosting using a pastry bag. Since I used a shaped cake pan, all I had to do was follow the lines that were baked right into the cake and you can get it decorated in no time at all. Hope you enjoyed hearing about it half as much as we enjoyed eating it!

We also took all the little ones to a pumpkin patch. We had fun showing our little girl pumpkins and looking at all the little animals. Here are a few of my favorite shots:

As you can see, the younger ones were more interested in checking out the pumpkins then looking at the camera.

Here is a link to the pumpkin shaped cake pan I have off of Wilton's website: Jack-O-Lantern-Pan

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This week's recipe is short and sweet. Literally. A couple of weeks ago, I just needed a bite of something sweet and these mini cupcakes did the trick! They are super easy too. I started out with a boxed white cake mix and followed the directions on the box but did add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Then I spooned the batter into a mini-muffin tin that I had lined with paper cups. I filled each cup about 2/3 full. I baked them in the oven at the temperature stated on my box of mix and at this size, mine took 14 minutes. When they were cooled, I made a cream cheese frosting, piped it on top and added sprinkles.

As you can see, they were mini! Piping frosting is easy too. Most crafts stores and mega-marts carry the basic supplies and you don't have to do anything fancy. This was done with a medium-sized star tip and I just went around the top in a circle. I tinted the frosting orange since it is October and added orange, yellow and green sprinkles. And because I made mini-cupcakes, it made a ton! Perfect for potlucks or to send to Halloween parties at school.

I did run a little short on frosting......but only by six so I think I did pretty good.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package softened cream cheese
1 stick softened butter
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients well with mixer and then whip until frosting becomes light and fluffy. If you wish to add food coloring, can do so at any time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple Dumplings

Well, I made something with apples again. But, I don't think you will mind!

I start off by peeling and coring 4 apples.

I used Braeburn apples but Gala Apples work nice too or if you prefer tart apples, use a Granny Smith. You want to use an apple that is good to eat but will hold its shape after being baked. Next, I rolled out one refrigerated pie crust to 12 inches in diameter and cut it into quarters. I placed one apple on each quarter.

In a bowl, I mixed 1/4 Cup sugar with 1 tsp of cinnamon. Divide this mixture evenly among the four apples by spooning into the center of each.

It should come up between half to two-thirds the way up. Then, top off each hole with a half Tbsp of butter.

Gently form the pie dough around each apple trying to cover as much of the apple as possible but without ripping the dough. The smaller the apple, the easier this part is.

Over medium heat on the stove, combine water, sugar, Splenda, and butter until boiling. I like to use a mixture of Splenda and sugar. The sugar makes the sauce sweet and sticky but the Splenda helps keep it from being overly sweet. You can use all sugar for this but they will be realllllly sweet. You can also use all Splenda, they will be not as sweet and the sauce wont be sticky. I found I like the mixture of the two the best but it can be really which ever you prefer. So, once the sauce mixture comes to a boil, pour it around the dumplings that you have placed into an 8x8 baking dish. Do NOT pour it over the dumplings.

Place them into a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.

And when they are done, you can try to wait till they are cool to try one, but I can't help myself!

I placed one in a bowl and poured that sticky sauce all over the top! Now just imagine some whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla or caramel ice cream. How about a little milk  poured over the top. Oh, the options!!

*On a side note: This recipe can be very easily doubled! Just double all the amounts below and bake in a 9x13 baking dish at the same temperature for the same amount of time.

Apple Dumplings

4 apples, such as Braeburn or Gala
1 refrigerated pie crust
3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup Splenda
6 Tbsp butter
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup water

Peel and core apples. Roll out pie crust to 12 inches in diameter and cut into quarters. Place one apple on each quarter of dough. In separate bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of the sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon. Divide this mixture evenly between the four apples and pour it down the middle of each. Top each the cored apples with 1/2 tablespoon of butter on top of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Carefully bring up the sides of the pie dough around each apples. Try to cover as much of the apple as possible without ripping dough. Place the dumplings into an 8x8 baking dish so they are not touching. In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 4 tbsp butter with water, Splenda and remaining 1 tsp cinnamon. Bring mixture to boil and pour it in baking dish around the dumpling. Do not pour it over the top. Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Work in Progress....

A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed a dinner out with my family and we were looking at the dessert menu, of course. The menu featured a pie that was a layered pumpkin pie and cheesecake sort of deal and it looked delicious. I could tell my husband was in love but after eating our dinners we were too full for pie. I know, what were we thinking! Too full for dessert?! But I decided to go home and experiment to try to make something similar. Here is my first attempt at it:

The bottom layer is a classic, baked pumpkin pie. The center layer is cheesecake and the top layer is pumpkin cheesecake. It is in a pastry pie crust and topped with whipped cream. I wasn't completely satisfied with it but for a first attempt, I think I'm off to a running start. There are things I would like to improve and I had a ton of pumpkin pie filling left so I need to rework my amounts yet too. I'm going to keep working at it and hopefully I will be posting the finished recipe for it by Thanksgiving. In the meantime, my husband is loving the idea of getting to eat all my attempts in figuring out a recipe I'm really happy with!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

I have been on a real comfort food kick lately! Today's post is no different. With the weather getting cooler, I have been craving big pots of food bubbling away in a hot oven and the aromas drifting throughout the house. And who doesn't love a good chicken pot pie!

To start my chicken pot pie, I roasted 2 chicken breasts. These were bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. I put them skin side up on a cookie sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and put them into a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.

You don't have to start out by cooking chicken breasts though. You can use leftover chicken, a store bought rotisserie chicken, or any other means you can think of.  But I do recommend roasting chicken breasts this way when using them in something such as this pot pie. The meat turns out so juicy and moist which can be hard to do with white meat.

After I took the chicken out of the oven, I set it aside to cool while I started with the vegetables.  I chopped two carrots and one onion and cooked them over medium heat with olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

As the carrots and onions cooked, I took the meat off the bone of the chicken breasts and discarded the skin. I shredded the chicken into big chunks and set it aside. After about 7 minutes the veggies were softened and I added flour and curry powder. I stirred to combine and added green beans, frozen peas, the shredded chicken and chicken broth. When this came up to a bubble, I poured it into a pie dish and let it sit for about ten minutes.

I always have the refrigerated pie crusts on hand. They are the ones that are rolled up, come two in a box, and can usually be found by the canned biscuits at the grocery store. I  keep them in the freezer and when I know I will be using one, I pop one in the fridge overnight to thaw. So after I let the filling sit, I simply unrolled one of the pie crusts over my filling. Fits perfectly!

I pressed the edge of the dough around the dish to seal it, crimped a pretty crust and cut a couple of slits into the top.

Then I beat an egg, brushed it over the top and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

I then placed my pot pie in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. When it came out it was puffed and bubbly and brown!

We just dished it out with a large serving spoon.....

....and we ended up dishing it all out! Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie
2 cooked chicken breast, shredded
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1- 14 1/2 can green beans, drained
1/2 cup frozen peas
1- 14oz can chicken broth
1 tsp curry powder
3 to 4 Tbsp flour
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
olive oil

Over medium heat, cook carrots and onions on stove top in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. After 5 to 10 minutes when veggies are softened, add curry powder and flour then stir. Then add green beans, peas, chicken, chicken broth and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Bring up to a boil so mixture can thicken and pour into a pie dish, let sit 10 minutes. Roll refridgerated pie crust over top and seal edges to make a crust. Cut a couple of slits in the dough for the filling to vent and brush dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place into a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbling and crust is browned.