Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Santa Fe Tomato Soup

I don't typically like tomato soups, I guess I'm not a big tomato person in general. I'll eat them on my tacos and such but you will not find me dipping sandwiches into a bowl of tomato soup....yuck! My husband is sort of a picky eater, he doesn't like to try many new foods but I will admit he's getting better. Last night I wanted to make a meal that I knew he and the kids would all enjoy, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. But this time mom decided to jazz it up so I might actually enjoy this meal. I have to say, this soup turned out quite delicious and even the hubby agreed! I think it was a little too spicy for the kids but overall I would definitely make this again.

With groceries being so expensive now, it's always nice on the wallet to prepare a meatless meal every once in awhile. This soup is great as is or would be excellent with some beans added in for extra filling.

Okay, so you've already found out that I'm not a grilled cheese and soup type of person. What is the one meal that your family loves but you just can't stand to eat?

Santa Fe Tomato Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, minced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup water
1-15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1-2 teaspoons mild chili powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
French fried onions

Melt butter in a large saucepan; add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in water, tomato sauce, corn, cilantro, hot pepper sauce, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper. Reduce heat, simmer for 10-15 minutes. Ladle soup into bowl, sprinkle with shredded cheese and french fried onions if desired.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pickle Wrap Dip

I've seriously been craving this dip, I've never made or eaten anything like this but it just sounded so good. Our family loves pickle wraps but I don't particularly like making them, I think they're quite time consuming. So with the help of my husband, we created this dip over the weekend and it turned out great! I tried my best to write down exact measurements of everything but really it's just sort of an eyeballing game, keep adding more of the pickles and ham until you get the desired consistency and flavor you're looking for. It's addicting stuff and I can't wait to make it again for any holiday gatherings we'll be attending!

Pickle Wrap Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 lb. deli sliced ham
10 dill pickle spears, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dill seasoning (I used Pampered Chef All-Purpose Dill, but regular dill will work)
Splash of pickle juice

Combine cream cheese and sour cream in food processor. Start adding chopped pickles and ham, mix together. Add in dill seasoning and pulse. Keep adding pickles and ham until you've reached your desired consistency. Add in splash of pickle juice if desired, gives a little more pickle flavor. Serve with crackers, pretzels or veggies.
*This makes a lot, I had this bowl pictured above full plus a smaller container. If you're not needing to feed a crowd just halve everything. Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

I was first introduced to these cookies last year at my annual cookie exchange. Have you ever attended a cookie exchange? They are a lot of fun! The idea intrigued me a few years ago, I did some research on them and held my very first exchange three years ago. I invite around 15 people each year to come to my house for a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon, usually two weeks before Christmas. I serve some appetizers for a light lunch, we play a few games and have time to chit chat amongst ourselves. I also encourage everyone to creatively display their cookies and offer a prize for the most creative. At the end of our time together we gather around the table where the cookies are displayed; with our large containers in hand, we all take turns exchanging our cookies along with the recipes. It's really a lot of fun and it's nice for us to take some time out of busy schedules to relax and enjoy each other's company.

Now, onto the cookies! My friend Becca brought these to the exchange last year and they are absolutely delicious! I'm so happy she found this recipe because it's one that I will continue to use throughout the years. It's pretty much a sugar cookie dough that you fill with a brown sugar, cinnamon and butter mixture just as you would with regular cinnamon rolls. They're topped with a cream cheese icing and so good! If you have a tried and true sugar cookie recipe I'm sure you could substitute that, I might actually give that a try next time. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons softened butter (slice 2 Tablespoons 3 times, totaling 6 tablespoons)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, divided into 1/4 cups
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided into 1/2 teaspoon for each batch

4 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk, to thin icing

In an electric or stand mixer, cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and sour cream until well combined. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Slowly add mixture into wet ingredients until well combined.

Place dough onto plastic wrap, form into a disc shape and chill for at least 2 hours. Once chilled, cut disc into thirds and roll into 1/6 inch thick oval, about 12 inches x 5 inches. Spread each rolled pieces of dough with 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Start rolling from the long end closest to you, rolling into a log shape. If your dough is too soft at this point, put back in fridge to harden. Using a very sharp knife, cut 1/2 inch pieces of dough then placing onto a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. You'll want to bake them longer, but trust me, don't! Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet.

To prepare frosting, beat cream cheese and butter until softened and smooth. Slowly add in powdered sugar and milk until you've reached desired consistency. Frost cookies and place in fridge until ready to serve.

Makes 3 dozen

Friday, November 18, 2011

Caramel Chex

This has seriously got to be one of the most addicting snacks ever! I assure you it has no nutritional value whatsoever, but it's so good. With the holidays coming up this would be a great snack to bring along to your gatherings or if you're like me and give out homemade gifts, this would be perfect for a teacher, neighbor or friend. With such few ingredients and only 10 minutes of prep work, you must add this to your list!

Caramel Chex

2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1-14 oz. box of Chex cereal (corn or rice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 brown paper bag

Open paper bag and dump box of Chex cereal in. Cover portion of table or countertop with wax paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Bring butter, brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil on the stove in a large pan, stir frequently as not to burn. Once everything is melted, take off heat and add in vanilla and baking soda. Stir until foamy. Pour over cereal in paper bag. Roll top down and shake well. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes and shake well. Microwave for another 1 minute and shake again. Make sure to turn the bag onto all sides so the caramel is evenly distributed. Dump chex out onto the wax paper. Once it's cooled a little, spread it out a little. Make sure to keep stirring it every once in a while so it doesn't end up in one large clump. Store in a large air tight container, gallon sized bag or make up into small gift bags for giving.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Butterfinger Blondies

Yum! What's not to love about these? This is one of those desserts that are so easy to make and you know everyone will love. The blondies itself are soft and chewy and the butterfinger buttercream is just amazing. Make these for your next get together.....and be prepared to hand out lots of recipes!

Butterfinger Blondies

1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 large Butterfinger bars, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars in mixing bowl. Add in vanilla and eggs and mix until incorporated. On low, add in flour, baking soda and salt. Mix only until incorporated. Stir in chopped Butterfinger. Spread into a greased 9x13 baking dish and bake for 25-30 mins. or until center is just set. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Butterfinger Buttercream

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup (4 Fun size bars) chopped Butterfinger
Additional chopped Butterfinger for topping, if desired

Cream butter and shortening together until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add in vanilla and mix until incorporated. Turn to low and gradually add in powdered sugar. Mix until smooth. Add in milk until you've reached your desired consistency. Stir in chopped Butterfinger.

Spread buttercream over cooled bars. Garnish with additional chopped Butterfinger bars if desired. Cut into bars and serve

Slightly adapted from: Six Sisters' Stuff

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fiesta Chili Mac and a Halloween Party!

Another busy weekend is behind us! We decided to let our oldest celebrate her birthday a couple weeks in advance just so she could have a Halloween party. It was a lot of fun and I think all the girls enjoyed it.

We had a hard time figuring out what kind of cake to make for her party, I think she forgets that I'm not Cake Boss! I got to make her a pumpkin shaped chocolate chip cookie cake and then she of course (along with every other 12 year old) wanted a Justin Bieber cake. I had a lot of fun making these for her and I know she appreciated them.

One of the activities I had planned for them was bobbing for apples. I remember doing this as a kid and they got a kick out of it.

Okay, on to the food now. I made this dish for dinner one night last week, it's something that our family enjoys quite frequently. It's actually a Pampered Chef recipe (I'm also a consultant with their company) and it's typically made in our Deep Covered Baker, The covered baker is a piece of stoneware that allows you to cook food in the microwave or oven. I can put all of my ingredients for this recipe and let the microwave do all the work while having supper on my table in 30 mins. Or I like to cook my chicken breasts in here and it only takes me 8 mins. in the microwave. Alright, enough with the sales pitch....just had to give some background info.

I wanted to adapt this to a stovetop meal because I know not everyone has a piece of stoneware like the baker. It's something that I know your family will love and it's one of those meals that can be made in the same pan so you're not dirting lots of dishes.

I apologize for my picture, it might not look real appetizing but it's seriously good stuff! Everyone in our family gobbles it down and it makes for good leftovers the next day. You should have most ingredients on hand which I love and you can use any type of noodle you have on hand. I normally use penne pasta but all I had was rotini and it worked just fine. Serve this along side a salad or a lot of times we just enjoy this by itself. It's definitely filling enough!

Fiesta Chili Mac

1 medium onion (I don't normally use onion since my hubby doesn't like them)
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. penne pasta, cooked (use whatever you have on hand)
1- 14.5 oz. can beef broth
1 1/2 cups chunky salsa
1 medium green pepper
1 cup, frozen corn, thawed
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Brown ground beef in large skillet with onion. Drain grease. Add chili powder, cumin and salt. Mix well. Either in a large baking dish or in the same skillet that you cooked the meat (if it's oven safe) add in the cooked pasta, broth and salsa, green pepper, corn and 3/4 cup of shredded cheese to beef mixture, mix well. Place into a 350 degree oven and heat for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional cheese, return to oven for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Candy Bark

I don't know about you, but my kids got a ton of candy on Halloween. Way more than they ever need! I'm sure everyone is searching for ways to use up some of that stash and this is a perfect way to do so. All I have to say is whoever created this candy is genius! Such an easy treat to make and it will use up a large amount of that leftover candy.

The candy bark has a great combination of sweet and salty flavors. You can definitely substitute any candy that you have on hand, just be sure to balance out the sweet and salty.

Halloween Candy Bark

1 lb. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun size bars), roughly chopped
3 Toffee candy bars (or 6 fun size bars), roughly chopped
8 Reese cups, cut into wedges
1/4 cup honey roasted peanuts
3 oz. yellow and orange peanut M&Ms, coarsely chopped
3 oz. good quality white chocolate, finely chopped

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate over the foil and smooth into a thin layer with a spatula. Evenly sprinkle the chopped candy bars, Reese cups, honey roasted peanuts and peanut M&Ms over the melted chocolate. Press gently to adhere the candy to the melted chocolate. Transfer to the fridge and chill for 30 mins.

Melt the white chocolate again using the double boiler method, until smooth. Drizzle over the chilled candy bark. Return to the fridge and let chill again until the white chocolate is set, 30 mins. more.

Peel the sheet of chocolate away from the foil and break into irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container in fridge until ready to serve.

Source: Annie's Eats

I'll leave you with some pics of the girls from Halloween. The little ones were Jessie the cowgirl from Toy Story and her horse, Bullseye. Of course they weren't as cooperative on Halloween night so I'm glad I got this pic a few weeks before.

Our oldest daughter made up her own costume this year, she hopes to become a fashion designer one day so that's what she chose to dress up as. I always love this time of year and can't wait to see what they decide to be next Halloween!

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