Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Fun with Ghosts, Scaaary Cupcakes, and Drizzled Caramel Corn

 These little ghosts appeared in the yard of my neighbors, Frank and Barb.  They are moving to Florida soon, and this was Frank's farewell to his neighbors and neighborhood with appropriate tombstones for several of the neighbors.  Apparently Frank has too much time on his hands. 
Here is ours.  Very apropos for all of the walnuts that we have in our yard.  Thank you Frank.  We will miss you and Barb.

I made Scaaary Cupakes with my friend Barb and her grandchildren,  a 6 year old boy and four year old twins, a boy and girl.  Now these cupcakes aren't very picturesque, but they are scaaary to these children.  I made Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting,  and also Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting and the kids frosted their own cupcakes. I brought candy corn and pumpkins, gummy worms, crushed chocolate cookies for dirt, and sprinkles. They had a ball decorating and eating the cupcakes. Some of the cupcakes got a generous helping sprinkles and cookie dirt, but this is what is so much fun!


Drizzled Caramel Corn
We were invited to our neighbor's annual Halloween Party and I wanted to make Caramel Corn.  I know how addicting caramel corn can be, so I tried to lighten it up a bit, so If I ate some,  the caramel corn wouldn't be so bad for me.  I took the classic Caramel Corn recipe, that I have made for many years, and subbed Splenda Brown Sugar for the brown sugar, and Smart Balance, for the butter. I wasn't sure if it would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I only made a half a recipe for two bags of microwave popcorn. that way I could drizzle on the caramel, and it wouldn't totally cover the whole kernels.  There was just enough sweetness to know that you were eating caramel corn, but not so sweet, that your teeth hurt. After the Caramel Corn had cooled, I added in the almonds, and candy corn.  If you didn't want to eat those, you could pick them out.

Light caramel Corn

 Cooking Spray

4 quarts popped popcorn

1 cup brown sugar, or ½ c Splenda Brown Sugar

1/2 cup Light or  Dark Corn Syrup

1/2 cup butter or Smart Balance

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla extract


Spray large shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. Add popcorn and place in preheated 250 degrees F oven while preparing caramel.

Mix brown sugar or Splenda brown sugar,, corn syrup, butter or Smart Balance and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat.

Boil 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla; mix well.

Pour syrup over warm popcorn, stirring to coat evenly.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and spread on foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Cool; break apart.* Store in tightly covered container.

*You may add in the candy corn and almonds, or any other add ins, after the Caramel corn has cooled.

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes  with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling

I also took the Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese. I already had some Mini chocolate cupcakes leftover from decorating Scaaary cupcakes with the kids. 
I cut a hole in the top of the mini cupcake about the size of a quarter, and using the cone method, I filled the cavity with the Pumpkin Cream Cheese filling, and replaced the top.

Then I frosted the mini cupcakes with Vanilla and Chocolate Butter Cream, and then decorated with the candy corn and sprinkles.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling for 18 mini cupcakes
4 oz light cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
Sweeten to taste
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine, softened cream cheese, pumpkin puree, sugar and cinnamon. Fill mini chocolate cupcakes with the cone method.  Frost and decorate as desired.  Refrigerate decorated cupcakes, until serving time.Trick or Treat!!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Broccoli Rabe and Sun Dried Tomato Frittata

It was the night before we left to go to the beginning of the wedding festivities, and we wanted a  light, simple supper.  I remember seeing Kim@Liv Life and her Spinach Sun Dried Tomato Frittata in those cute little ramekins. I don't have any cute ramekins, so I made mine in an oven proof frying pan, and it turned out just fine.(Maybe I should add cute little ramekins to my Christmas List?)  Also, I subbed Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) for the Spinach, and I didn't have any mushrooms either and added  1 cove of garlic, sauteed, (otherwise it was jus the same.)

Rapini, also known as Broccoli rabe is a member of the tunip family.  Rapini has many spiked leaves that surround clusters of green buds that resemble small heads of broccoli. Broccoli Rabe has a nutty, bitter flavor, which is good with sauteed garlic. You can see the long leaves, and small broccoli type heads in the picture below of the uncooked frittata.

 Frittatas are so versatile, as you can see, because except for the eggs, you can add any veggies you have in your fridge, and vary the cheeses, as well. This meal comes together so quickly, and tastes so good. Serve the Frittata with a salad, a glass of white wine, and you are good for the evening.  We will definitely make frittatas again.

Broccoli Rabe (Rapinini) and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata
Adapted from Liv Life and Epicurious

Vegetable oil cooking spray
I Tbsp of Smart Balance or butter
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 clove, garlic sliced thin
3/4 cup packed fresh spinach, chopped or Broccoli Rabe, blanched  and chopped**
4 whole eggs
4 egg whites
8 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
1/4 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 425°F. Coat 1 10” ovenproof skillet with cooking spray and set aside. Heat Smart Balance in the skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until soft but not brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add  blanched  Broccoli Rabe and cook 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Lightly whisk eggs and egg whites in a large bowl. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, basil, Broccoli Rabe mixture, and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into skillet, and  bake until puffed and firm in the center, 12 to 14 minutes.

** If you use Broccoli Rabe, blanch in boiling water for 1 minute, and the place in ice water to set the color, then chop in 1’ pieces.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Happy Couple-Cherise & Todd-Their Wedding!!!!

 Saturday, October, 22, 2011 in downtown Chicago was gorgeous, not only because it was the wedding of my son, Todd, and his bride, Cherise, but the weather was in the high 60's. Unbelievable, because earlier in the week, Chicago endured tsunami like winds along the lakes shore and temps in the 40's There was a whirlwind of events. from the rehearsal and dinner Friday evening to the Brunch Sunday Morning, We were on the move all the time.

The wedding and the reception were held in the same place for a candlelight ceremony, which was gorgeous.  Now keep in mind that I was the one that was taking these pictures with my low light challenged camera, in a candlelit ballroom  Also, I didn't get pictures of everything that I wanted. The wedding party went out before the wedding to take pictures around the city, and then Family pictures were at 4:30 in the hotel lobby. Weddings have certainly changed over the years. The ceremony was at 6pm. More pictures!

The flowers were gorgeous, orange Calla lilies, and orchids of some type. Cherise was a  beautiful bride.

The back of the dress

Here is my family, left to right, Scott, my husband, me, Todd, Cherise, Chris, my other son and the Best Man, and Emily, my daughter-in-law. My granddaughter, Aria, wouldn't get in the picture, because she has a knee brace on her leg, due to a torn patellar tendon.  That's another whole story.

Reid, Cherise's brother,Cherise, her Mom , Camille, and Dad, Len

Cherise's Grandma, Cherise, and her Mom, Camille
On the way to the wedding and reception
 My daughter-in-law, Emily, and Granddaughter, Aria

This is my only picture of the cake, which was beautiful.  It was Carrot Cake with Hazelnut filling.  My son doesn't like chocolate, so they compromised.

 The Couple, so cute!

The flowers on the table.
More flowers, just stunning!

Off to take more pictures!
Obviously, I missed many pictures.  The ceremony was candlelight, with low light, as well as the reception.  Todd and Cherise had a "Sweetheart Table", just for the two of them, instead of a head table with the entire Bridal Party, which was 5 Bridesmaids, 5 Groomsmen, and two ushers! I never got a picture of that either,  Also, they had a wonderful 12 member band, which played every kind of music, and the dance floor was crowded all evening.  So many memories, and the evening flew by so fast, and before you know it, the evening was over. Now, Cherise's Mom and I will be sharing pictures back and forth, until we see the pictures from the photographer. More pictures to come later, I'm sure!

For now, I need to take it easy, and remember that beautiful wedding. Sounds good, but today I'm going to make Halloween cupcakes, with my Friend, Barb, and her grandchildren.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Wedding is Tomorrow and Some Finds

My son is getting married tomorrow.  Through the marvels of modern technology, I'm wrote this yesterday, but posting it today!  I have a few more pressing things to attend to today.  Last week, I had the wonderful Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup from Trader Joe's, Low sodium with Quinoa.  Now if any of you have had this wonderful soup before, you know that it doesn't already come with quinoa. When I bought the soup, one of the sales people at Trader Joe' suggested adding the cooked quinoa, to boost the protein and nutrition level of the soup. This soup was wonderful and very filling.  I would definitely make this again, and my husband loved it.  Now, if I still had access to garden fresh tomatoes, I would make fresh tomato soup from scratch, however, now in the Midwest, the garden tomatoes are long gone. You wouldn't want to make fresh tomato soup from the tomatoes in the grocery store now, for sure, tasteless red orbs, mushy and no flavor. so here is my next best bet. Home made or out of the TJ box, add the cooked quinoa, and you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!
Remember, last week, when I got my first Top 9 of the Day, when I was Guest Blogger on 
The Country Cook with my Apple Walnut Cake. (By the way, I did make the Apple Walnut Cake with fresh apples, and that will be coming soon). I was over the moon excited, and my husband and I had to celebrate.  The Top 9 was a long time coming. Anyway, wine is the perfect way to celebrate, sparkling wine at that. I got this bottle of Moscato at my favorite
store.  That's right  it's Trader Joe's.  I had never had Moscato before, until a couple of weeks ago, when I went to see my friend, Maureen's new kitchen. She said that it had sort of a Tuscany design.  So I asked her what kind of wine she would like, she said Moscato. I guess most Moscato wine is fairly sweet, but this one was not.  I found the is bottle of Moscato for her kitchen warming present, and it has this gorgeous bottle. Now, I'm not a wine snob, but I like a good tasting wine at a good price, and this bottle of Moscato fits the bill. As you can see it, half gone already

Hopefully, I will be posting wedding pictures on Monday, or Tuesday at the latest.

Have a great weekend!  I know that I will!

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and  I received no remuneration from Trader Joe's.  I just like the store and those products.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vegan Raspberry "Cream" Frosting for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month celebrating 25 years of Awareness, Education, and Empowerment.  To support the cause, I made Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vegan Raspberry 'Cream" Frosting, a couple of weeks ago. Probably most people know someone who has had breast cancer. Because of the strides made in breast cancer research, a breast cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence.  I lost a dear friend to the disease, Jo, two and one half years ago. unfortunately, I didn't have any pictures of Jo in my new camera.  I also have other friends, who have fought their fight, and are in remission, Marcia has been in remission  for 14 years. Marcia is on the right, and a Team member on my Relay for Life team.
Breast Cancer, like other types of cancer, has many different strains of cancer, and varieties with many factors involved in life expectancy.  The key to breast cancer or any other type of cancer survival is early detection, if possible. There are some form of cancer, however, that don't have early warning signs, but you just have to remain vigilant, and be your own advocate.

Besides the Susan G Komen Foundation Foundation, TheAmerican Cancer Society offers support and programs for Breast Cancer, as well as,  any other type of cancer. If you are a cancer patient, and need a ride to chemotherapy, the American Cancer Society, ACS, can arrange for rides for you at no cost.  Also, if you need a wig, the ACS can give you one. Both organizations offer Hope for the cancer patient, their families and friends, fighting this terrible disease.

I found this quote from Maya Angelou that sums up my involvement with the Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society, as a Melanoma Cancer Survivor.

“When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better."

Make these wonderful  Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vegan Raspberry "Cream" Frosting for someone you love or a friend or neighbor that has cancer, and give them Hope!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes from Crazy about Cupcakes by Krystina Castella
Makes 24 cupcakes


6 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
2 1/4  C water
1 Tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 1/2 C all purpose flour
2/3 c cocoa powder
2 C unbleached cane sugar.  ½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees oven.   Insert cupcake liners in 2 - 12 cup cupcake pans.
2. In a large bowl mix together the applesauce, water, vanilla, and vinegar.
3. In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients.
4. Carefully add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture.  Beat well.
5. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full. Bake 20-25 min, or until pick inserted in center of cupcake, comes out clean.
6. Cool cupcakes on rack, and frost when cooled completely.

Vegan  Raspberry "Cream"  Frosting

1 Cup Earth Balance vegan spread, softened, not melted. Available at Trader Joe’s
2C vegan powdered sugar   I used regular powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¼ c raspberry jam
1/ 4c.  Almond milk, or more, to desired consistency

Beat Earth Balance until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla to Earth Balance.  Beat with electric mixer Fold in raspberry jam.   Add almond or low fat milk  until desired consistency. Refrigerate about 1 hour still frosting is firmer.  Frost or pipe onto cupcakes.  Garnish with fresh raspberries. if desired,


Monday, October 17, 2011

French Chicken Stew in a Pumpkin

This is our annual stew in a pumpkin.  We have been doing this for several years, now ever since I saw the recipe for Pumpkin Stew in Taste of Home . It is so much fun to make, and even more fun to eat. This year my husband wanted to make beef stew and I wanted to make chicken stew, so we had a "meeting of the minds" over this.  He said that he didn't like the chicken stew last time we made it. I told him that we would make it similar to the ingredients that we have in the Chicken Provencal Stoup from Rachael Ray. He still persisted that he wanted beef stew. In the end we made the French Chicken Stew, and he loved it:) The stew had garlic, onions,carrots, red potatoes, ripe sliced olives,mushrooms, white wine, chicken stock, tomatoes, chicken breasts, legs, and thighs, plus the cooked pumpkin. The aromas coming from your kitchen are wonderful.  

First you cook the stew in a Dutch oven on the stove for about 2 hours. When choosing a pumpkin, be sure that the pumpkin with top and stem on, will fit in your oven on the lowest rack, very important.  One year I bought a pumpkin that was too big for the oven, and we had to run out an buy a smaller one. Then, after you clean out a pumpkin, you transfer the stew to your pumpkin with the top on, and bake in the oven for about 2 hours. Don't over bake the pumpkin.  The best way to test to see if the pumpkin is soft, is from the bottom of the pumpkin, not the sides , like we did in the picture. When the bottom of the pumpkin is soft, you will get a scoop of soft pumpkin with easch serving of stew.
Whether you make, chicken stew, beef stew, or even a vegetarian stew, it will be wonderful. This Pumpkin stew makes a gorgeous presentation, if you can get it to the table. By the time you get all of the stew in the pumpkin in the pan, it's pretty heavy.  Luckily we weren't having company, so that's why the picture of the pumpkin is taken on the stove in bad lighting, sorry. Hopefully, you will have better luck with your pictures. Enjoy!

French Chicken Stew in a Pumpkin

  • ¾ lb.Baby carrots  We like carrots
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil  
  • 2  medium yellow skinned onion, peeled and halved
  • ½ lb of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence, available on spice aisle or, 1 teaspoon each dried sage, rosemary and thyme
  • 6 small red skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (can diced tomatoes (28 oz ounces)  
  • 1 quart plus 1 cup chicken stock, available in quart boxes We used low sodium stock.
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in chunks, 3 skinless legs, and 3 skinless thighs
  • 1 small  can sliced, ripe olives
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cold water
  • I pumpkin, washed


   1. In Dutch oven, brown onions and garlic in 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, until soft. Add carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, chicken stock, white wine, tomatoes, Herbes de Provence, chicken stock, chicken breasts, legs, and thighs, and sliced olives .Cover and simmer for two hours.

    2. Place cornstarch in cup and mix in cold water.  Pour in Dutch oven and heat, till juices are thickened.

    3. Be sure that the pumpkin will fit in your oven on the lower rack, with the lid on with the stem. Wash pumpkin, cut a 6 in to 8 in circle around the top stem. Remove top and set aside. Discard the seeds and fibers from the inside.

    4.  Place the pumpkin in a sturdy, shallow pan.  Spoon stew in the pumpkin.  Brush the outsides of the pumpkin with cooking oil.

    5.  Bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours or just until the pumpkin is tender (do not over bake).  Serve stew from pumpkin, scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving. Yield: 8-10 servings

I'm linked up to Deelicious Sweets Pumpkin Blog Hop! Join me and look at all the glorious dishes made with Charlie Brown's favorite, "Great Pumpkin."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Turkey Meatloaf Cups with Sweet Potato Topping

Do these look like cupcakes with orange frosting  or Turkey Meatloaf Cups with Sweet Potato Topping?  You would be right if you said the later, but they are so cute, I knew that I wanted to make little turkey meatloaf cups, because they are so versatile, good for portion control , lunches, and they freeze well. Also, I could use some of my fresh herbs, before they are all gone. I was inspired to add the sweet potato topping, when I saw Gina @SPCookie Queen'sShepherd's Pie with Ground Turkey and Butternut Squash Topping . It looked so good with the butternut squash on top.  I had a butternut squash and sweet potatoes, but I had something else in mind for the butternut squash. Sweet potato topping would be the perfect complement to the turkey meatloaf,  like Thanksgiving on a plate. Besides, sweet potatoes have the good carbs. I find myself putting the sweet potatoes in a lot of things these days, soups, salads,and main dishes.

I made the Turkey Meatloaf Cups with Sweet Potato Topping and they were wonderful, of course, I love sweet potatoes. The turkey meatloaf was moist, and flavorful, not dry, and the topping was delish. You can use the Butternut Squash or mashed potatoes in place of the sweet potatoes, if your family doesn't like sweet potatoes. Of course, these meatloaf cups can be made using ground beef.  A note, if you do want to freeze some.  Before putting the meatloaf cups in the the freezer bags, place meatloaf cups on a plate and freeze, until the sweet potato topping is firm, and then place in the freezer bags.  That way the topping won't stick to the freezer bag. I hope that you enjoy these little meatloaf cups, as much as we did.  You can have a mini Thanksgiving dinner in no time, compared to the real thing.  Enjoy!

Turkey Meatloaf Cups with Sweet Potato Topping


1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced,
1Tbsp. fresh Basil, chopped
1Tbsp. fresh, Thyme, chopped
1Tbsp fresh, Rosemary, chopped
1 lb. fresh ground turkey, not less than 90%
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 8 oz can tomato sauce, no salt
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2-3/4 c rolled oats

2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes, rinsed, and poked with a fork
½-3/4 c almond milk or cream
½ Tbsp Smart Balance or butter
1 tsp cinnamon or pepper

Directions- Pre-Heat oven to 400 degrees

1. Prior to making the meatloaf, roast the sweet potatoes in 400 degrees, oven until tender, about 30 min-40 min, depending on the size of the sweet potatoes. (The topping can be made in advance.) If you are pressed for time, you can cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave on high for about 5-7 min., depending on your microwave.

2. Remove sweet potatoes from jackets and mash with above ingredients, or use your Food processor. Set aside.


1. Spray 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.  I got 10 meatloaf cups from 1 lb. of ground turkey.

2. Combine herbs and garlic in a large bowl. Add ground turkey, tomato sauce, and Dijon mustard, and mix until well combined. You can add salt and pepper also, I didn’t.

3. Stir in oatmeal until well mixed, and meatloaf is somewhat firm.

4. Fill each prepared muffin cup 3/4 full of meatloaf mixture.

5. Bake in pre-heated 400 degrees oven for 20 min, Remove from oven and spread the tops of each turkey meatloaf cup with the sweet potato topping

6. Return to oven and continue baking for 10-15 min, or until instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees or the juices run clear. Let stand for 5 min, before serving.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apple Walnut Cake and a I'm a Guest Poster

Today, I'm in the country in Brandie's Kitchen@ The Country Cook,  having a cup of coffee and sharing my wonderful Apple Walnut Cake with all of you.  When I was asked to come to Brandie's Kitchen, I was more than excited. What would I make?  It would have to be a simple, ease of preparation, recipe, that was time tested.  Immediately I thought of this Apple Walnut Cake, which I have made since I was in college in the 60's. As you can see this cake is uber moist with lots of apples, cinnamon, and walnuts. The crowning touch to this cake is the hot, sour cream topping that is poured over the warm cake that had holes poked in it with a fork. The sour cream topping sinks in to give the cake it's rich, moist flavor. And Oh, did I mention that this cake is made in the pan you bake it in?  Head on over to Brandie's kitchen@The Country Cook. You won't be disappointed. 

Thank you, Brandie for having me as a guest blogger.  I had a great time in the country with you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Iced Pumpkin Cookies for Emma's Golden Birthday

 One of my friend's Granddaughter, Emma, was turning seven on her Golden Birthday, October 7th. Emma is Anna's older sister. Remember, I made Chocolate Mini Stars with Anna in May?  Of course you do.   Your Golden Birthday is the year you turn the same age as the day you were born. When I was growing up, I never celebrated my Golden birthday, nor did my kids. It's just a nice thing to celebrate. Did you ever celebrate your Golden Birthday?  I was invited to the party, but Emma's Godmother was bringing the cake and cupcakes, so I decided to make  "Golden Cookies" in commemoration of her special day.  I looked at several recipes, and decided on Iced Pumpkin Cookies, that when baked, take on a golden glow. These cookies bake into golden pillows of pumpkin flavor, with all of the spices. Then, I frosted the special cookie for Emma, with Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting, and dusted the cookie with gold shimmer dust. For the rest of the cookies, I just put on  a Vanilla Glaze, and then dusted with gold shimmer dust. 

Here is Emma in her Golden Glory. She's in first Grade, and has lost 5 teeth already. She had her party at an indoor play zone with a party room. See the crown on her head. Everyone had a wonderful time!

So, if you know someone who is having a Golden Birthday, or you just want to have some yummy pumpkin cookies, make these Iced Pumpkin Cookies.  Enjoy!

Iced Pumpkin Cookies from
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Glaze
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
  3. Bake for 12 to 15 to  minutes, or until tops bounce back, when touched lightly, in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Leanne's Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bake

 I told you that I had my eye on Leanne @Healthful Pursuit's  Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bake. I just couldn't wait any longer.  My son's wedding is two weeks from tomorrow, so I need all the energy that I can get. Fortunately, I have my dress for the wedding and the rehearsal dinner, and shoes, so my clothes are all set. I'm getting so excited.  I still have to figure out how to keep my makeup looking good for 12 hours, get my hair cut and highlighted, take Bailey, the Wonder Dog, to the groomer, get a manicure, pick up Scott's tux, and many more things, I can't remember at the moment. So I desperately need the Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bake, now.

Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bake is full of healthy ingredients, like quinoa, pumpkin, almond milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, nuts and spices.  It sounds like dessert, but you can have this for breakfast. Of course, I had to make a few changes, like I always do. Instead of the maple syrup, which has way too many carbs, I just used a sprinkling of brown sugar Splenda.  Also, I didn't have coconut oil, so I used a little Smart Balance,  Then I subbed whole wheat flour for the almond flour, and finally I used almonds, instead of pecans.  My version isn't gluten free, but the main ingredients are the same.  This bake is so good with the crunch of the quinoa and the almonds, and the creamy pumpkin flavors, you'll think that it's dessert. but you are really eating breakfast, a healthy one at that. So If you really need to make Leanne@Healthful Pursuit's Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bake, head on over there now, and say Hi to Leanne!

Oh, and Yes, I just remembered another thing that I am doing this weekend.  I am going to Emma's Golden Birthday?  Do you know what a Golden birthday is?  More on that next week!

If any of you are running in the Chicago Marathon, Good Luck!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple Cocoa Muffins

I saw an interesting pairing of apples and chocolate in a cake, but I didn't need a whole bundt cake hanging around my house, so I made muffins with the apple cocoa pairing instead. Have you ever had a chocolate covered caramel apple?  This muffin tastes like that, minus the caramel,  The muffin is chocked full of cocoa flavor, dark chocolate chips, and grated apples for moistness, along with the Greek yogurt and a touch of cinnamon, Then I topped the muffins with chopped walnuts for crunch.. Because I still have to watch my carbs, I didn't add as much sweetness, as I could have, so they are not overly sweet, and I did use whole wheat flour as well.  If carbs aren't an issue for you, go ahead and add more sugar, or a cinnamon glaze on the top, perfect for Fall.

Speaking of Fall, last week our high for the day was 50, and low in the 30's.  Today is supposed to be 80 and it's already 66 at 6:15AM CDT.  Go figure! We froze at the garage sale, and today we'll putting on shorts again. Anyway, it will be a pretty drive to go see my Dad at the nursing home. I'll take the muffins, and stop to get him Mc Donald's coffee.  He loves Mc donald's coffee, simple pleasures at 91.  He had a friend, who always brought him Mc Donald's coffee, but he passed away.  Now I bring the coffee. Wish him well. Enjoy the muffins with someone you love.

Apple Cocoa Muffins
 Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: 12 muffins

1/3 cup  cocoa
1 3/4 cups  King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Whole Wheat flour
2/3 -1 cup  light brown sugar( I used 1/3 c. Splenda)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt I didn’t use
½  cup dark chocolate chips
2 eggs
6 oz plain Greek Yogurt, fat free
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup ( 1 stick) butter, melted I used Earth Balance
1 cup  grated apple  I used Gala
½ c chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper or, and grease the cups.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar or Splenda, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and dark chocolate chips. Set aside.

3. In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter or Earth Balance, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend; fold in grated apples.  There's no need to beat these muffins, just make sure everything is well-combined. The batter will be thick.

4. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin; using a 2” ice cream scoop.

5. Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven, sprinkle walnuts over the tops of the muffins. And after 5 minutes remove them from the pan, allowing them to cool on rack.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicken Provencal Soup with Carrots, Zucchini and Sweet Potato

This past weekend I had a garage sale, and my friend, Barb, came to help.  We did OK, considering what we were selling, mostly household items, and a few antiques, but never again. They are so much work, and even though our street had four garage sales, we didn't have a lot of traffic. Some of the remaining items are going to Craig's List, and the rest to Goodwill.  The weather was sunny, but unseasonably cool, in the 50's, so the early morning temps were in the 30's.  Needless to say I was wearing many layers. Because the forecast was for cool temps, I knew that I would want soup for lunch.  You can only drink so much hot coffee to keep warm. Thank goodness for my slow cooker, because I certainly didn't have time to make the soup the night before the garage sale.

I made Chicken Provencal Soup in the slow cooker, with a change.  Instead of the high carb red potatoes, I added sweet potatoes  instead, and the soup was so good, low sodium, fat, and carbs.  I just added all of the ingredients to the slow cooker in the order listed, all at once, and turned it on high for 4-6  hours. I didn't saute any of the veggies or brown the chicken beforehand.  If you you like your veggies, a little crisper, cook until the chicken is just done,  maybe on low for 8 hours, depending on your schedule. This soup has several  layers of flavor with the herbs. I couldn't use my fresh herbs, because it was pouring rain and walnuts. There were high winds, and it sounded like we were being bombed for several hours.  Even Bailey the Wonder Dog, who isn't afraid of thunder, was shaking.
We have thousands of walnuts in our yard, no exaggeration! The yard, driveway, and patio are wall to wall walnuts.  Some of my neighbors have been in their homes for 25 years, and it has never been this bad. There is no way that you can pick up all of them.  Scott is "mulching" them with the lawn tractor. What I mess. All of my neighbors are ready to harvest some of them for the wood  If you want any walnuts, send me an e-mail.  Enjoy!

Chicken Provencal Soup with Carrots, Zucchini and Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow skinned onion, peeled and halved
  • Salt and pepper  did not add salt
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence, available on spice aisle or, 1 teaspoon each dried sage, rosemary and thyme
  • 1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (can diced tomatoes (14 ounces) I used no salt tomatoes
  • 1 quart plus 1 cup chicken stock , Low sodium form Trader Joe’s
  • 1 pound chicken tenders or chicken breast, diced
Pre-heat one medium soup pot over medium high heat. While soup pot heats, chop carrots into 1/4-inch dice, then add garlic, and stir to coat in olive oil. Chop the zucchini, pepper and onion into 1/2 inch dice and drop into the pot. Season all the veggies with salt and pepper and Herbes de Provence.

Cook the veggies together for five minutes. While they cook, cut sweet potatoes into small chunks. Add wine to vegetables and reduce a minute or so. Add the tomatoes, cut sweet potatoes, and stock to the pot, cover the pot and raise heat to high.

Bring the soup to a boil, then add cut chicken and simmer 8-10 minutes until potatoes are just tender and chicken is cooked through.  Serve with crusty bread, if desired.

Chicken Provencal Soup with Carrots, Zucchini and Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow skinned onion, peeled and halved
  • Salt and pepper  did not add salt
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence, available on spice aisle or, 1 teaspoon each dried sage, rosemary and thyme
  • 1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes or   baby red potatoes, peeled
  • 1 cup dry white wine I used 11/2 c white wine and 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 (can diced tomatoes (14 ounces) I used no salt tomatoes
  • 1 quart plus 1 cup chicken stock , Low sodium form Trader Joe’s
  • 1 pound chicken tenders or chicken breast, diced
Preparation- Stovetop
Pre-heat one medium soup pot over medium high heat. While soup pot heats, chop carrots into 1/4-inch dice, then add garlic, and stir to coat in EVOO. Chop the zucchini, pepper and onion into 1/2 inch dice and drop into the pot. Season all the veggies with salt and pepper and Herbes de Provence.

Cook the veggies together for five minutes. While they cook, cut sweet potatoes into small chunks. Add wine to vegetables and reduce a minute or so. Add the tomatoes, cut sweet potatoes, and stock to the pot, cover the pot and raise heat to high.

Bring the soup to a boil, then add cut chicken and simmer 8-10 minutes until potatoes are just tender and chicken is cooked through.  Serve with crusty bread, if desired, if you aren't watching your carbs!

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