Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Moving - Progress So Far

Friday, October 24th - Sunday, October 26th Progress in Pictures


Packing progress at the Hiram house (which looks a WHOLE lot emptier than this now - I'll have to take some pics when we're there this weekend):



New House

The first two pictures are loading up at the old house on the morning of Friday, October 24th and heading to closing, and then the last two pictures are after closing with tons of paperwork and keys in hand, pulling into our new driveway with the first load of "STUFF". :)




 Kitchen



Kent - super helper extraordinaire! Love this kiddo!


Play Room


Lindsey is hanging out in her new space.

This room is the most "done" of any of them so far I think. Still missing a piece of her play mat, and haven't filled the drawers in the entertainment center, but Lindsey's been having fun making a mess in here!

Living Room


Dining Room

 We're getting there, one load at a time, one room at a time, one box at a time!



Monday, October 27, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Potato and Corn Chowder


For the month of October's Secret Recipe Club I received Melissa's fantastic blog "Fried Ice and Donut Holes"; see her "About Me" for the full explanation on the blog name which came from her grandpa. My grandpa used to say "Just a little bit for flavor" when it came to scooping up a little of each of the dishes that were passed around at our family meal times. Reading about the phrase that has stuck with Melissa over the years reminded me of all those times I heard my grandpa say those words, which have stuck with me, at a family gathering. Melissa is a teacher who loves her job but says that baking and cooking are her passion - I think a lot of us will find that phrase resonates with us! I am an Executive Admin at Emory University by day, but I spend much of my days, nights, and weekends either dreaming about, pinning about, posting about, or making something yummy (hopefully!) to share with my family.

I hope you will take a moment to visit the  Secret Recipe Club if you've never heard of it before - it's a wonderful group of bloggers who are given a "secret" assignment of someone else's blog each month and our assignment is to pick ANYTHING from their site to make and post about on our designated reveal day! I have been a part of SRC for quite awhile now and LOVE the opportunity to get to know another blogger a little better each month by spending time perusing their blog, reading through their recipes and posts, and finding something perfect for my family from what they've shared.

Melissa's blog is full of an incredible variety of recipes to enjoy - you will easily find something delicious to make and enjoy at Fried Ice and Donut Holes. There are quite a few meatless / vegetarian dishes in addition to decadent desserts, baked goods, drinks, soup, chicken, pasta, etc. The list goes on and on! I started making my "wish-list" as I was browsing, and a few of the recipes I snagged to try include: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Blondies, Apple Cranberry Crisp, Three Minute Peanut Butter Fudge, Chewy Cocoa Brownies, Roast Beef, Pepper and Cheddar Sandwiches, Bennigan's Potato Soup, Roasted Garlic Mac N Cheese, Crispy Avocado BLT Salad... are you getting hungry yet?!

What I ended up making this month is the PERFECT Corn and Potato Chowder, shared below. I cannot say how delicious this soup was. My son absolutely fell in love with it. He claimed all of the leftovers for lunch the very next day (and he ate 2 1/2 bowls of it at dinner!) Such a perfect, simple, and delicious dinner with a loaf of crusty baked bread. The bacon topping is a wonderful addition - you could even sprinkle on a little cheese if you wanted! I think it is fantastic as is - though my husband did say the flavor of thyme was a little too strong for him. You can definitely taste it on the back of your tongue, but I thought it was the perfect accompaniment to this creamy, comforting, perfect for fall soup.

Corn and Potato Chowder from Fried Ice and Donut Holes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter
4 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt
Black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 2 tsp Gourmet Garden chunky garlic)
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups vegetable broth
2 pounds potatoes, diced
4 carrots, diced into thin rounds
2 cups corn kernels (I used 2 large cobs)
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. In a large cast iron or non stick skillet cook the bacon until slightly crispy, drain on paper towels and set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large soup pot. Add the diced onion and carrots and season with salt and pepper, cook until onion is tender (about 10 minutes). Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the flour until blended in.
  3. Add in the broth and potatoes, Cover and bring mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are tender.
  4. Add in the corn, the half and half, and season the soup with thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and a dash of cayenne pepper (if desired).
  5. Simmer about 5 more minutes, taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  6. Meanwhile, dice the bacon (rough chopped) and place in a small bowl to top the soup with.
  7. Use an immersion blended to blend about half of the chunks of potato and carrots into a smoother texture (if you do not have an immersion blender, transfer about half of the mixture to a blender, cover tightly and blend until smooth, then add back into soup pot and stir to combine).
  8. Ladle into bowls and top with crumbled bacon.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Italian Cheesy Pull Bread




I needed some cheesy bread to go with an Italian flavored meal a little while ago and had bought a little 12-oz loaf of bread at the grocery store on sale that I needed to use. We love cheesy garlic bread, and I've done a couple variations of pull bread before (see Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pull Bread here, and Cheesy Pull Apart Bread here) and I decided to combine the two for an Italian version of pull bread... it is ridiculous and delicious. It was really hard to not hoard the whole thing for myself and just eat that for dinner. We love garlic, so there is quite a bit in this recipe - reduce the quantity if you're not big fans like we are! :) You could sprinkle on some grated parm too, for a yummy finishing touch if you'd like!

My hubby and son wanted me to add some bacon crumbles too, but I thought that wouldn't go with the meal very well, so left them off, but of course bacon does go beautifully with "crack bread", so add some if you're feeling adventurous!

I only know this didn't last very long in our house, and we all had to exert some will power to put at least a small portion of this in the refrigerator after dinner, instead of in our bellies.



Italian Cheesy Pull Bread

Ingredients
1 12-oz loaf bread (sourdough, Italian, etc.)
1/2 stick (4 TBS) butter
1 TBS minced garlic
3 tsp garlic powder
1 TBS Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a sharp bread knife cut the bread going both directions into small squares (see photos for reference). Do not cut through to the bottom crust.
  3. Place the loaf of bread atop a large piece of foil (large enough to wrap all the way around.)  
  4. Gently stuff cheese into all the cracks (I find it seems to work best to go down the cuts that are lengthwise only, and not try to go both directions, the bread seems less likely to rip this way).
  5. Once bread is stuffed with cheese, melt butter in the microwave and add in the garlic, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine and pour over the stuffed bread. 
  6. Secure the foil around the loaf and place on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then open foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.


I love cheese, and bread, and Italian cheesy bread, and pull bread, so this one was a no-brainer!!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

#PumpkinWeek - Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins



Hi and welcome to day 6 and the end of #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day, which is tomorrow! 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder. Check back over the past week of posts for all of the #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

This post is a first for me - because I am typing it from Starbucks! Why? - not just because they make super yummy peppermint mochas and pumpkin bread (yes, I am eating pumpkin bread at Starbucks despite the past couple weeks of pumpkin baked goods that have been gracing my home!) I am here because I have no internet at home. Why do I have no internet at home? Because we are now the proud owner (GULP) of TWO homes and after closing on Friday morning we took a car and truck load of boxes to the new house and that included our big TV and most of the living room electronics to get internet / cable set up there. That included the wi-fi router. I wasn't thinking about that fact when I was planning to come home after our day of unpacking to our other house and get this post ready to go live for Saturday am! Oops.

Oh well - after our day it was kind of a nice excuse to get out of the house by myself, have some quiet time at Starbucks, and sip a nice cup of coffee while I worked on finishing this post! Thank you for joining us all for the past week of pumpkin goodies! I am sad the week is already over - I have LOVED the "excuse" to fill my kitchen with the scents of pumpkin goodies - from slow cooker butter to scones and cookies. They are all winners in my book and I am so glad I got to try them all out and add some new recipes to my fall baking repertoire!

Enjoy this final, delicious pumpkin recipe for the week - these are super tasty little bites. We all really enjoyed these for a breakfast treat and snack. My 13 month old liked these a lot - I saved some without the cinnamon sugar topping for her. And then my husband gave her two with the sugar topping. Sigh.

These are perfect bite sized treats, tender, flavorful, sweet, and lightly spiced. Like most of the pumpkin muffins I make, these were a little on the dense side in that they didn't rise much during baking and most had somewhat misshapen tops - not the perfectly rounded domes you often get on lighter batters. The batter was fairly thick, and I wondered if I'd thinned it some if they would have been a little on the lighter side. I may try that next time and see if it makes a difference. Regardless of their appearance, their taste and texture were very nice and I look forward to enjoying these again!


Check out all the #PumpkinWeek Bloggers and their recipes from today:
Pumpkin Pie Dip by Love and Confections
Pumpkin Pye - that's Pie with a Rye Crust by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Caramel Pumpkin Torte by Lady Behind The Curtain
Pumpkin Loaf by The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Pumpkin Pie Martini by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins by Making Miracles
 
Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins from Sally's Baking Addiction

Ingredients

Mini Muffins
1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup milk

Cinnamon Sugar Coating
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a mini muffin baking tray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice (I used Cinnamon Plus), and nutmeg. Whisk to combine.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the melted butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and milk, Blend well until smooth and combined.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring slowly and only mixing just until ingredients are combined.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared mini muffin pan, filling each well about 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Bake for 11 - 12 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Set muffins on a cooling rack to cool for about 10 - 15 minutes and prepare the cinnamon sugar topping by combining the 1/2 cup sugar with 2 TBS cinnamon in a pie plate or shallow bowl. When muffins have mostly cooled, but are still warm melt the 1/4 cup butter in another bowl. Dip the tops of the muffins in the melted butter and then roll gently in the cinnamon sugar.
  8. Only add the topping to the muffins you intend to eat that day, otherwise they can get soggy when stored.



Friday, October 24, 2014

#PumpkinWeek - Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter




Hi and welcome to day 5 of #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day. 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder. Come back every day for #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

This is a ridiculously simple and perfectly delicious pumpkin butter recipe. I lived several of my childhood years in Pennsylvania and have fond memories of apple butter always gracing our condiment collection in the refrigerator but have never made any type of apple or pumpkin butter previously. There are MANY recipes and versions out there, but this one looked quick, simple, and I always love the chance to put my crock pot to good use - it's fun to find new ways to use it! This recipe is thick, creamy, and perfectly sweet and spiced. I LOVE the smell, texture, and taste, and it is a great accompaniment to fresh baked biscuits. My son was imagining it used as a frosting on some sort of pumpkin bread or cake - that's my boy!

I used Cinnamon Plus for the spices, but you can see the original recipe (linked below) for individual spices suggested and amounts - or use a pumpkin pie spice blend.


Check out all the #PumpkinWeek Bloggers and their recipes:
Pumpkin Pie Chia Granola by Love and Confections
Meatloaf-Stuffed Mini Pumpkins by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
White Chocolate Reeses Pumpkin Blondies by The Spiffy Cookie
Pumpkin and Corn Chowder by Curious Cuisiniere
Buttermilk Pumpkin Pancakes by Life Tastes Good
Pumpkin Spice Cookie Blossoms by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Curried Roasted Pumpkin Hummus by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
Praline Frosted Pumpkin Brownies by My Catholic Kitchen
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter by Making Miracles
Pumpkin Biscotti by The Pajama Chef
White Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake by Dizzy Busy and Hungry


Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter slightly adapted from Recipes That Crock

Ingredients
1 15-oz container pumpkin puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar

Directions
  1. Combine the ingredients in a crock pot and blend together.
  2. Set temperature to high and cook for 3 hours, stirring about every 30 - 45 minutes to prevent burning, and to help ensure even blending and cooking of the ingredients.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

#PumpkinWeek - Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies




Hello and welcome to day 4 #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day. 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder. Come back every day this week for #PumpkinWeek recipes (and take a peek at the ones from earlier in the week too)! You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

These cookies are such a great fall treat - they are so soft and chewy, and have a great spiced flavor to them. My husband wasn't a big fan, but my son and daughter both loved these. I shouldn't be surprised though - both of my kids seem to be huge fans of anything with pumpkin in them. When Lindsey was first starting on solids we fed her quite a bit of pumpkin goodies - pumpkin blended with baked apples, and a pumpkin rice dish were staples for her. Now at 13 months old we've moved on to pumpkin baked goods, and she thinks they're good stuff! We limit her sweets, but I definitely let her have tastes of anything homemade I make and she knows what the word "cookie" means!

My son has already requested that I make these again - they made a nice small batch so they disappeared within about 2 days and Kent took some to school to share with his friends too. This is a great addition to the "pumpkin baked goods arsenal"! They are great warm with some vanilla ice cream for an extra decadent treat.


Check out all the #PumpkinWeek Bloggers and their recipes:
Pumpkin Tres Leches by Love and Confections
Spiced Pumpkin Butter by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Pumpkin Palmiers by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Pumpkin Pecan Oatmeal by The Spiffy Cookie
Mini Healthy Pumpkin Pies by Happy Food Healthy Life
Easy Pumpkin Caramel Sauce by Lady Behind The Curtain
Savory Pumpkin Tart by The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Pumpkin Custard Pie by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by Making Miracles


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally's Baking Addiction

Ingredients


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 TBS pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon Plus (or pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer blend together the softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add in the vanilla and pumpkin puree and blend until smooth.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and Cinnamon Plus together and blend.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, just until combined. Add in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  5. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet (12 per sheet). 
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom and mostly set. Allow cookies to rest on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#PumpkinWeek - Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread


Hello again and welcome to day 3 of #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day! 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili, and pumpkin corn chowder. Come back every day for new and delicious #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

I have a confession. This is not the recipe I originally intended to share. I wanted to make this one. However, I am in the midst of moving, and didn't get to that recipe this past weekend and last night I realized both the spices I needed and my bread loaf pans were already packed. So - I am sharing this one I made and photographed in January 2010 but never shared on my blog - that was back when I was primarily posting about my surrogacy adventures still!

With that said - excuse the poor and lonely photograph - but still try this bread! It is tender, flavorful, moist and a very yummy pumpkin bread. I've made it a few times and it always disappears fast around my house.

When I originally made this I made several modifications to the original recipe and found they worked very well - the bread is pretty easy to tweak if you want to make it healthier. I've included some of my modifications in the recipe posted below. I used half real sugar / half Splenda in my original version and the flavor and texture were still great, so if you prefer to bake with Splenda / Stevia it will work in this recipe.

I can assure you, your house will smell WONDERFUL while this is baking, and it will definitely feel like fall in your kitchen! This one is great warm, cool, with butter, for breakfast, as a snack or dessert (warm it up and top with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream)! Yumm!



Check out all the #PumpkinWeek Bloggers and their recipes from today:
Pumpkin Pie Cream Cheese Truffles by Love and Confections
Pumpkin-Vanilla Bean Madeleines by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
White Chocolate Drizzled Pumpkin Scones by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
S'mores Pumpkin Pie by The Spiffy Cookie
Homemade Pumpkin Puree by Happy Food Healthy Life
Pumpkin Mole by Curious Cuisiniere
Drunken Pumpkin Seeds by Life Tastes Good
Pumpkin Roll by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Pumpkin Lasagna by My Catholic Kitchen
Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread by Making Miracles
Pumpkin Quinoa Oatmeal Bake by The Pajama Chef
Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Pancakes by Dizzy Busy and Hungry

Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread adapted from on AllRecipes

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups white sugar (or half sugar / half sugar substitute such as Splenda or Stevia)
1 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup water 

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, applesauce, eggs, and pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture alternately with water. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. For best flavor, store wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for a full day before serving.