Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chicken and Kale Soup

With the cold weather upon us, our consumption of soup has increased greatly.  Lots of squash, vegetable and chicken soups and stews have been making an appearance on our dinner table and then again the next day for lunch.

The most recent soup was a wonderfully simple Chicken and Kale soup.  As I have said before I struggle with greens.  I primarily use them in soups because that is the easiest for me and one way I know my kids will eat them.  They become completely oblivious to the tiny shrived piece of green in their soup and don't stick their noses up at like they do when it appears in a sauteed pile on their dinner plate.

While I like soups that simmer on the stove all day filling my house with a wonderful aroma I like 30 minute soups even better.  Soups that can be made at 9:00 in the morning, thrown in the fridge then reheated at 7:00 pm after practices are over are even better, and this is a soup that falls into both of those last two categories.

Chicken Kale Soup

2 chicken breast, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1 Tbsp taco seasoning (see below)
2 cans dice tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 bunch kale, stems removed roughly chopped

In large soup pan, over medium high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add chicken cook until light brown.  Add garlic, onion and taco seasoning, cook for about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and broth, cook for 20 minutes stir in kale, cook for another 10 minutes or until kale is soft.

*Chicken breast can be replaced with sausage of chicken sausage, adjust amount of taco seasoning if using a spicy sausage.

 Taco Seasoning

4 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
6 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
4 teaspoons black pepper


Mix together ingredients in an airtight container. Shake to combine.
Add 2-3 tablespoons for every 1 pound of ground beef, turkey or chicken. Use to replace store-bought taco seasoning in any recipe

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shoo Fly

It has been a long time, but I have started baking with the Cake Slice bakers again.  It was one of the first blog baking (say that 10 times fast) groups I joined and love being a part of  this small, world wide group of bakers.  I have missed them and am glad to be back.

They have started with a new book - Vintage Cakes and so far I am loving it.  While I love elaborately decorated cakes and have pinned,and made, my fair share of these cakes and cupcakes.  I am finding that they are becoming a bit too much for me.  I want a cake that looks like a cake.  I want to be able to tell what kind it is, I want the flavors to stand out just as much as the appearance.  I just want a cake, and that is what Vintage Cakes is, simple old school cakes

Much to my husband's delight the first cake chosen was Shoo Fly Cake.  He grew up in Pennsylvania, near Dutch country and Shoo Fly pie was a staple of his child hood.  The cake didn't have the stickiness of a pie, but it still had a nice crumb and the wonderful rich molasses and spice flavor.  While he probably would have preferred a pie, this cake was a wonderful trip down memory lane, just like a "Vintage Cake" should be.

Be sure to check out the other Cake Slice bakers and come back next month for another great vintage cake.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Prep

Less than a week away and my Thanksgiving preparations are going well. The menu is all set, grocery lists are written up - and the first of many trips to store have been made.  I have started doing some cooking and the refrigerator is filling up.

The Menu - nothing new, just traditional family recipes.
  • Turkey 
  • Cornbread stuffing - OK I lied we don't usually have cornbread stuffing, this is a new recipe
  • Sweet potato souffle
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Corn Casserole
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Green beans
  • Biscuits
  • Gravy
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Pecan pie

Besides the Thanksgiving day menu, I also have a gift giving menu.  I usually make batches, and batches of pumpkin and apple bread but this year I am trying something new and going with a combingation of sweet and savory goodies.
  • Herb Crackers
  • Cranberry Chutney 
  • Turtle Popcorn
And the all important timeline so we can get it all done:

Make croutons for stuffing
Dough for crackers
Pie Dough
White and Whole Grain Croutons

Pie dough - freeze until Wednesday
Turtle Popcorn
Clean  - my least favorite thing to do, if I don't get it done we can always include dust tic-tac-toe as a Thanksgiving day game, I think I have just come up with a new tradition

Chocolaty Turtle Popcorn -

Bake crackers
Package gifts
Girls Day Out - my mom and I are taking the girls to the American Girl store, hopefully they won't think this is a yearly tradition

Cranberry Sauce
Thanksgiving Feast at the preschool with the Pilgrims and Wampanoags
Take turkey out of freezer

Table prep - make sure I have table cloths and napkins are clean.  Probably run to the store to pick up something new
Stuffing - for the elementary school Thanksgiving feast
Our Thankful rocks will be the center of the table decorations

Elementary school feast - an hour of songs and poems with cute little pilgrims
Bake pies
Clean and prep veggies
Bake sweet potatoes
Buttery, Flaky Pie Crust

Turkey, on the grill
Mashed potatoes
Green Beans
Brussel Sprouts
Eat, nap, walk and eat

Start planning for Christmas

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway

It's November which means Christmas.  I am always a procrastinator when it comes to Christmas shopping. I wait to the last minute then scramble around.  When I am in scramble mode I turn to those tried and true sites where I know I can find good reliable gifts.

One of my favorites is Melissa and Doug.  Not only do my kids love their products, but so do I.  They are quality products that not only withstand lots of use, but also grow with my children.  Their wooden play food is a staple in the kids kitchen and is loved by all - especially the sushi set which my son got when he was about 2 and is still a favorite 5 years later.

Melissa and Doug just released their Terrific Twenty Holiday Gifts for 2012 and it really is a terrific list.  There is something for children of all ages and interests.  I know the Fashion Design Activity Kit, and Metal Grocery basket will be under our tree this year and I am sure a few other M&D goodies will also be there as well.

To celebrate the Terrific Twenty M&D is having a "20 Days of Terrific Twenty" giveaway on their Facebook page.  Starting November 6th they will be giving away one item from the Terrific Twenty list to at least one lucky Facebook fan.  Go visit them now and enter, it's super easy and you only need to enter once to be entered for the entire 20 days.

Not only is Melissa and Doug offering a great giveaway on their Facebook page, but they have also given me the opportunity to offer the Suspend game to one of my readers.  I am going to make it easy, all you need to do is follow my blog and leave a comment.  I will draw a winner on November 20th.

If you haven't done it all ready go visit M&D on Facebook and enter the Terrific Twenty and maybe you will be finding some wonderful Melissa and Doug products under your tree this Christmas.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lasagna Soup

It's the beginning of the month which means it's Secret Recipe Club time.  Before I reveal my recipe I have a confession - I didn't make anything this month, my husband did, but I did not.  The day before the reveal and as always I had marked a bunch of different recipes, but hadn't made anything.  To make things more challenging I had to work, so I brought in some backup.

I was a little worried about bringing in Mike as a replacement.  He is an excellent cook, but he has trouble following a recipe, so even though I gave him a recipe for Lasagna Soup there was a great possibility I could have come home and found something completely different.  In the spirit of SRC he did follow the recipe, but made a few changes and we now have two delicious recipes to turn to when a craving for lasagna soup strikes.

As a thank you to Mike for helping out I have a favor to ask of you.  Mike loves knowing what other people eat and he started a Facebook page called "so what did you eat".  He just started it and would love to build it up so if you could "like" the page and share what you eat Mike, and I, would really appreciate it.  It doesn't matter if you had a gourmet meal or a bag of chips and a soda, just snap a picture and share away.

As I said this month's SRC dish was lasagna soup from Cravings of a Lunatic.  There are so many great recipes to choose from, I was initially going to make the Turtle Popcorn, but with all the Halloween candy around I couldn't add another sweet to the house.  Even though it didn't make an appearance this month I am sure it will around Christmas time.

Here is Kim's recipe.  This is a delicious, quick and easy dish.  Perfect for cold days when you need some warm comfort food.  Enjoy!

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (I didn’t have fresh so I used minced garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 box (32 oz) of beef broth, or mix 4 cups boiling water with 1 to 2 tablespoons of better than bouillon beef base (I used the better than bouillon)
  • 1 (28 fl oz) can of whole peeled tomatoes (san Marzano), pulsed in blender
  • 1 (1 lb 8 oz) jar of pasta sauce ( I used Ragu Sauteed Onion & Garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups broken lasagna noodles
  • 1 (5 oz) package of grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella (the new pizza mozzarella is the bomb)

  1. Brown your ground beef, onion, and pepper in a large dutch oven. It should be broken into fine particles and cooked till juices run clear.
  2. In the last minute or two add the garlic.
  3. Now add your brown sugar, tomatoes, sauce, oregano, basil and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the noodles and simmer until they are tender. Stir in parmesan.
  5. Turn on your broiler.
  6. Transfer soup into ovenproof soup bowls. Place in oven and broil for 3 to 5 minutes.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Apples, Pumpkins and Candy

Just before Halloween I received this wonderful collection of books from Storey Publishing.

 If you aren't familiar with them you need to check them out.  They have a great assortment of books, covering a wide variety of topics - gardening, crafts, food and drink, etc. - and they also have a fun blog that is filled with some excellent information, delicious recipes and some amazing giveaways.

It was hard to decide which book to start as they are all filled with wonderful recipes, ideas and information. My kids wanted to make everything in Ghoulish Goodies and many pages in Candy Construction have also been bookmarked.  But, I was drawn to Pumpkin by DeeDee Stovel.  This book, as the name indicates is a collection of everything pumpkin.

I have roasted and baked pumpkins and made a lot of different pumpkin recipes - pastas, breads, soups - but after looking through this book I realize I haven't fully utilized the pumpkin and there are many recipes left to try.

While I was tempted by many of the recipes, I decided to start off with a simple classic pumpkin bread.  The Half Moon Bay Pumpkin bread is a very straight forward, basic pumpkin bread.  There is nothing extra in this bread, which is what makes it so delicious, it is just a moist flavorful pumpkin bread.  It is great plain or toasted with a little smear of cream cheese.  While I had one or two pieces sitting down with a cup of tea, most of this bread was eaten a tiny sliver at a time - it was too hard to resist as it sat there on the counter just  calling out.

 I am looking forward to working my way through all these great books.  I am sure we will be using some of the trick-or-treating loot for some "Candy Construction" and I am sure there will be a lot of great "Pumpkin" and Apple dishes on my Thanksgiving table thanks to Storey publishing.  Please be sure to go and check out all their great titles and maybe add a few to your library.