2/6/22

Versatile Pumpkin Cake or Bread Recipe

 This versatile Pumpkin recipe makes the perfect soft, fluffy, moist Pumpkin cake or Pumpkin Bread. This is going to be the one recipe you keep on hand. It can be made into a 9x 13 pan for cake, or 2 loaf pans for 2 loaves of pumpkin bread. Just a dollop of whip cream is all you need!

Pumpkin Cake or Bread recipe


It's a very cold and snowy beginning to 2022 here in Virginia. It snowed AGAIN this weekend, and all I wanted was comfort food. I made a batch of Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili and this pumpkin cake to get us through, and they kept me warm heart and soul!


First of all, it's truly the softest, fluffiest, moistest pumpkin cake or bread I 've ever had. I love those quick and easy boxes of pumpkin bread you can buy in the stores like everyone, but this one is so much better, I don't think I'll ever go back. 

Jan's Tip's:

  •  You can pour this into a 9 x13 cake pan like I did today, or 2 loaf pans to make 2 loaves of bread.
  • Spoon flour into your measuring cup by hand, to keep your flour airy and light. If you just scoop it from the container with your measuring cup, it presses it down, and you use more flour than you actually need, making it a bit drier and denser. 
  • Don't over mix this. Just mix to combine and get it in the pan and start baking. you want a soft , airy, almost "mousse" like texture to the batter, and overmixing it will deflate that.
  • Feel free to add in chocolate chips or nuts, or dust it with powdered sugar after it cools. Play around with that a bit. 

Pumpkin Cake or Bread Recipe




Let's get baking!

Printable Copy

Pumpkin Cake /Bread

makes 1 cake or 2 loaves.


Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (or 3/4 cup) softened butter (I used  1 stick of butter and 1/4 cup of butter  / olive oil spreadable blend) 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin 100% pure (not pumpkin pie mix) 
  • 2 cups flour (spoon it into your measuring cup to keep it light and airy)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Spray baking pan (s) with non stick cooking spray.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter & sugar till combined.
  3. add in eggs and  Pumpkin and blend till well combined.
  4. add in dry ingredients  including any optional add in's, and mix just until combined, do not overmix.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) .  if making 2 l oaves of bread, 
  6. divide batter equally between the 2 loaf pans.
  7. Bake cake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  8. Bake bread : 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.




1/30/22

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

 Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans, and a traditional Chili flavor combine into a soup that will warm you from the inside out.


Chili Recipe


I am on a health journey, not to make any drastic changes that I can't keep up with forever, but to simply start making a turn to eating a more plants and whole grains diet with certain meats sparingly.  My meat & Potatoes loving husband is on board if I am willing to compromise on occasion for him.  To that end. I added Turkey Sausage to this version. He was quite skeptical before he tasted it, but he actually loved it! 

Chili Recipe


I will for sure make this version every few times we make chili!, actually I am thinking of making another batch and store in individual serving containers for the freezer . I work from home now, and lunches has been my biggest issue of healthier eating. I need it fast and don't want to hunt around. So if I have this soup ready to heat and eat ,I think I'll be more successful.


Let's get this Soup going!


Printable copy

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, ,drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups (16 oz) of chicken stock
  • 2 cans (16 oz) chili seasoned tomatoes 
  • 1  medium onion diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Optional : 1 lb. turkey sausage or Soy crumbles (cooked, drained & crumbled) 


Directions:

  1. Cook and crumble any sausage (if using ) and set aside.
  2. In large soup pot (or crock pot set to low) add all ingredients, stir to combined.
  3. cook on medium low heat for 1 hour, and then switch to warm/ simmer till serving.
  4. if cooking in slow cooker, cook on low 4 hours, or until sweet potatoes are tender. 
  5. Serve Warm. 


12/19/21

Grinch Fruit Kabobs

This fun holiday treat is fun for all ages! Perfect healthier treat options for the holidays, that any age will enjoy. fruit kabobs to look like the grinch will be instantly recognized and enjoyed at any gathering.

Grinch Treats

I did not create this idea, I found it on a facebook group I follow about living a cozy , "hygge" life. (don't you love when you fall into a place where everyone is nice and supportive?)


I made these little fruit kabobs for my grandchildren whille they were down here for a day during the holidays. We put on the "original" The Grinch Stole Christmas movie, piled blankets and every pillow in the house on the flour for a snuggly good time. 

I made grnich cocoa bombs that my niece made for me , into fun cups of Grinchy cocoa, in grinch cups I found at a craft store. 

and I made them these fruit kabobs for snacks. Let's just say.. these snacks stole the show ! They couldn't get enough of them!  

Grinch treats


They would be perfect to take to holiday party or work gathering, or as a "work gift" for the crew placed into the break room.

Jan's Tips: 

the skewers i used where a bit to wide, and it would split the banana slices. (the kids didnt' mind , but I did)  and regular toothpicks use the entire picks, without being able to use a bit of it as a "handle" . you do want to find, toothpick's that are longer.. so like a small hors d'oeuvre picks. 

Smaller to medium strawberries are best. the larger ones are harder to eat off the skewers, adn don't look right with the scale of  the other fruits.

If not eating right away, I would spritz some lemon juice on the banana slices to decrease browning. 



Lets get cooking!

PRINTABLE LINK 


Grinch Fruit Kabobs

Ingredients; 

1 pack of long hors d'oeuvres skewers.

1 bag small mini marshmallows

1 bag green seedless grapes

1 package of fresh ripe, small - medium sized strawberries

1-2 ripe or slightly under ripe marshmallows.

Optional 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

Slice the top plus about ¼ inch of strawberry off the top of the berry.

Rinse and destem grapes.

Slice a banana into ¼ inch slices. Dunk in lemon juice if not serving right away.

To assemble: 

Feed a skewer through the end of a grape, ,sliding grape down skewer about half way.

Feed skewer through a slice of banana till it rest on top  of the grape.

Feed skewer through cut side of strawberry till the cut end of strawberry rests on banana (pointy end up!)

Feed mini marshmallow onto skewer till it rests on top of the pointy end of strawberry.

Con’t with add’ls skewers till desired amount of kabobs are done.

Serve immediately or store in covered container in fridge till serving.






12/12/21

Versatile Vanilla Almond Cookie

Having one  tasty , yet versatile  cookie recipe  for cut out  sugar cookies cookies , slice and back butter cookies, Thumbprint cookies  and more makes holiday baking so easy. This lovely cookie with a hint of almond, is th perfect blend of soft sugar cookie & a tradiontial butter cookies. The flavor is perfect for young and young at heart. 




This cookie recipe really is that one Vanilla cookie recipe to keep on hand for all your cookie baking needs!  The key is the almond extract  to help it have a bit more depth of flavor. Also  to follow a few tips to make it successful.

Master Vanilla Cookie Recipe


Jan's Tip's:

  • Use cold butter, straight from the refrigerator.
  • Chill your dough as soon as it's mixed for 30 minutes.
  • Use as little flour as necessary for any rolling & cutting.
  •  Your goal in baking time  is NO light browning, pull out cookie after approximatelyl 7-9 minutes, look for a slightly underdone cookie. It will finish baking while it cools on the warm pan. 

 This cookie dough can be rolled out and cut with cookie cutters for decorating.

as we do with our grandchildren every year.



They may be rolled into 1 1/2 inch wide long logs and chilled before slicing into small rounnds and baking for a lovely butter cookie, my favorite it to drizzle with chocolate adn sprinkle with almond slices, or dip half the cookie in chocalate. hmmm.. I wonder if I cut them thinner and made jam sandwich cookies out of them?? 





Roll  into 1 inch balls and press center with thumb for thumbprint cookies. Fill with raspberry, Strawberry, apricot, or my favorite: Cranberry -Orange Marmalade. 



Next try?  I am going ot see about making them snickerdoodled.. I believe they will be really yummy!

What else can we make with this dough?

Let's get baking!



Printable copy

Versatile Vanilla Almond  Cookie


Ingredients: 

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 sticks (1 cup salted , cold butter , cut into chunks.

1 egg

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

1 tsp Almond extract

No salt needed since using salted butter.


Instructions:

Preheat over to 350 degrees F. 

Line cookie sheet with silicone backing mat (or parchment paper)

In mixing bowl mix sugar and butter 1 -2 minutes  till it is fluffy. (you want it light in texture don’t skimp on your mixing time here.)

Add in egg and both extracts, mix to blend.

On low speed of your mixer add in flour, baking powder, just until blended, do NOT over mix here.

On lightly floured surface, work dough into a smooth ball. You want dough to feel like playdough, not sticky and not crumbly after you smooth it into a nice ball. 

Roll out dough for cut out cookies on lightly floured surface, or roll dough into balls for thumbprint cookies (then press center and fill with ¼ tsp. Jam, . For slice and bake cookies roll into  two  1 ½” wide logs approximately 6 inches long each. Slice ¼ “ wide .


Place cookies on prepared baking sheet , and place sheet in freezer for 10 minutes.

Place slightly frozen cookies into middle rack of oven. Bake 7- 9 minutes approximately.

They should seem slightly underdone when removed, to rest. They will finish baking and set

While cooling. (no browned bottoms or edges!)

Remove to cooling rack after 5 minutes or so.  Complete any decorating.





               

9/5/21

Chicken Tortellini Soup with Kale and Parmesan

 Chicken Tortellini Soup with Kale and Paremsan  (and bacon!)  is so creamy and full of flavor it will quickly be in regular rotation on your menu!

Chicken tortellini Soup with Kale & Parmesan


It's September, and that means the start of Soup Weather! Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup on a chili day to warm you up! The base of this soup is so good, you can play with the ingredients!  Instead of toretillini, try gnocchi or ravioli.  Instead of chicken, use Italian sausage. Instead of Kale use Spinach.

My husband fell in love with this soup the first time he tasted it. I made a batch , to send up to my daughter-in-law while recovering from some surgery. There was just enough left over for us to have a light supper. One bite, and he was in love!  He is now having me make again this week, but with italian sausage. 

This soup just screams comfort, and is perfect for taking a batch to a neighbor or someone in need, I promise, they will love it.



Jan's Tips: 

 I started with a store bought rotisserie chicken that I deboned and shredded, (i keep bags in the freezer) , but feel free to cook this in the slowcooker, with some chicken breasts. Just lightly shred the chicken into pieces, when cooked through, and make the soup from there, till it's all cooked through, warm and ready to eat.

Mirepoix is the french flavor base mix of carrots, celery, & onion. I don't use a lot of celery, and hate buying an entire stock just for dicing up one rib. In the produce section you can usually find a container of premade mix ready to go, as well as in the freezer section. You can also premake a bunch yourself and store in the freezer, so you can just pull out what you need when you are ready to make soups, to save time and energy at dinner time.



Let's get cooking:

Printable Copy

Chicken Tortellini Soup with Kale and Parmesan

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups shredded/ diced rotisserie chicken
  • 1/2 cup Mirepoix mix (diced carrots, celery & onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasononing
  • 2 Tsp. olive or avacado Oil
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 cups cream (or half and half) 
  • 4 strips of bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
  • 1 lb. package of tortellini (any flavor)
  • 6 oz. frozen chopped kale (I buy a 12 oz bag and use about half) (Or can use 4 fresh leaves chopped) 
  • 1/ 2 cup grated parmesan

Directions:

  1. In large Cooking pot over medium heat, add  in oil, garlic, cooking till tender, add in the Mirapoix, stirring 1-2 minutes . 
  2. Add in Chicken Broth, stirring to blend, then add in corn starch, blending well.
  3. Add in diced chicken, and italian seasoning. 
  4. in microwave safe bowl, heat the cream for 1 minute (it will curdle if it is cold when poured into soup)
  5. stir in warmed cream,  add in the bacon, tortellini, Parmesan and kale. Let it cook for 10 minutes, till tortellini is cooked through and soup is warm.


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