Friday, November 10, 2017

A Perfectly Sized Letterboard

If you are a little slow to the Letterboard game and buying one for yourself, here's a cute 10 x 10 board I just bought and I love it. It has plenty of letters and a plastic organizing box to house all of them. The price has dropped since I bought it, so I thought I'd pass the savings on to you! It's the perfect size for daily quotes or illustrating Instagram pics.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Butternut Squash Soup with Candied Pecans

After searching and trying recipes for years, I finally found THE ONE! I have been desperately seeking a way to replicate the Butternut Squash soup I had at Blue Lemon in Utah for years! Luckily, Favorite Family Recipes has a recipe that has it spot on. And we also have a recipe for candied pecans that's a must have on top of your soup.

Butternut Squash Soup (from Favorite Family Recipes)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger (freshly grated is best!)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 2 pounds of butternut squash (1 pkg. from Costco)
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1-2 cups heavy cream
  • Croutons and chopped pecans, optional
  • In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and spices to melted better and stir for 1 minute.
  • Add chicken stock and apple cider. Bring to a boil.
  • Add squash and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until squash and carrots can easily be poked with a fork. Check liquid in the pot while simmering. Add more chicken stock if necessary.
  • Pour all the contents of the pot into a blender. Puree until mixture is smooth.
  • Blend in 1 cup of heavy cream. Gradually add more until the mixture reaches the consistency of a creamy soup.
  • Pour the contents of blender back into the pot and keep warm until ready to serve.
  • After serving soup into individual bowls, garnish with croutons and chopped pecans.

Candied Pecans

1/2 c. pecan halves
1 T butter
1 T brown sugar

Melt butter in a saucepan over heat. Add pecans, then sugar to coat. Once sugar is melted, remove from heat. You don't want to overcook these.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Grilled Pizza Dough

Not every pizza dough is alike. This one is perfect for grilling on the BBQ. The wheat flour adds a sturdiness, not to mention health benefit, to aid in the perfect browning.

Grilling Pizza Dough

2 1/4 c. white flour
2 1/4 c. wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 1/2 c. warm water
3 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil  
3 T honey

Mix flour and salt in large bowl. Place warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle yeast over water and let sit (sprinkle with sugar). Let stand until dissolved (about 10 minutes). Pour yeast mixture into bowl with flour and salt. Add oil and honey. Mix with until course dough forms. Knead dough if not using a bread mixer. Cover bowl, let stand for at least 30 minutes. 

Roll little dough balls onto lightly floured or greased surface making individual pizzas into 10 to 12-inch circles. 

Heat BBQ grill to low. Brush or spray the bottom of pizza crust and lay on the grill. Close grill and check every 3 to 4 minutes. Crust will be ready to remove from grill when it is puffy and has a golden bottom. 

Remove from grill and turn it over so the uncooked size is facing down. Place pizza toppings onto the COOKED side of the pizza. Return to grill and close lid. Check after 5 minutes. Toppings will be melted and "cooked." Bottom will be golden. 

*I like to make some leftover (half-grilled) pizzas and freeze them for a quick dinner or lunch later.

One of my favorite wood-fired pizzas is served at a local pizza place called Malawi's. The Capri is my favorite. I think I have mimicked it well. What I do is add Alfredo Sauce (recipe below), fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and fresh, garden tomatoes. Then once the pizza is cooked I drizzle reduced balsamic glaze on top.

Our Favorite Alfredo Sauce

1/2 c. butter
1 pint heavy whipping cream (2 cups)
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, add butter, heavy whipping cream and cream cheese. Cook over medium heat and whisk until melted. Add the minced garlic, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk until smooth. Add the grated Parmesan cheese. 
Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for about 3-5 minutes or until it starts to thicken. 

*I have noticed if you blend up the shredded Parmesan in a blender (might take more than 1 cup) it tends to melt better.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Black Bean Brownies! Really?

I am a fan of Joy Bauer. A few weeks ago, she posted a recipe for black-bean brownies touting the health benefits of using the beans as opposed to the oil. Fewer calories and more fiber than the traditional after school snack, I thought I'd give these a try.

Her recipe calls for a brownie mix, egg and a can of beans. I didn't happen to have any brownie mixes on hand, so I improvised and came up with my own recipe. My children ate them up without complaint. Once I told them what was in them, they did start to say they didn't like them as much. Ha ha. They were just a little more moist and fudgy than what they are used to -- that's not a negative, is it?

Black Bean Brownies

1 (15 oz.) can of black beans
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Open can of beans and rinse them. Don't empty the beans, but refill the can along with the beans with water. Dump the water and beans in a blender and mix up. Add the bean puree and the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix up with a spatula. Once completely blended add to a lightly greased 8x8 pan. Bake for 25 minutes in a 350-degree oven. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mastering Mashed Potatoes

I have been making mashed potatoes with a potato ricer for years! I will never do it without one again. This is the ultimate way to make lump-free, smooth and tasty mashed potatoes. Perfect timing for Thanksgiving coming up, wouldn't you say?

I recently bought my second Potato Ricer on Amazonsince I am giving my first one to my daughter. It is stainless steel so I figure this one will be more sturdy.

For those of you who aren't familiar with ricers, I simply boil my potatoes, then place them into the vessel (yes, with peels still on) and smash them through the strainer. And BAM! Lump-free potatoes. They come out stringy looking. Kinda fun. My favorite disc to use is the small-holed one.

I then add nearly a can of evaporated milk, depending on the amount I am fixing and a cube of butter and then add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Then, with a hand mixer I stir away.
My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Potato Ricers will certainly change your way of making potatoes -- it did ours! Let me know what you think!
Psst! For a great roast beef recipe to accompany these potatoes check this one out. For light and fluffy white rolls, go here.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience.)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lightened-up Pumpkin Bread with an Fluffy Pumpkin Spread

This pumpkin bread is lightened up so you can afford to lather up the spread on these slices.
Years ago, I found this recipe in a healthy cooking Taste of Home cookbook. Proving to my children they couldn't taste a difference in this recipe compared to the ones full of fat, I gave them a blind taste test. Each one picked the less fattening version as tasting better. Yay!

Whether you want to try this one or use your favorite stand-by recipe, you must try the spread. I'm afraid my children don't eat pumpkin bread without this now. It makes a lot, so we usually run out of bread before spread. So begins the cycle. Make more bread. Run out of spread. Make more spread for the leftover bread. Repeat.

Lightened-up Pumpkin Bread (courtesy of Taste of Home)

2 1/4 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/3 c. cake flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 eggs
1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/3 c. canola oil

1. In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk, applesauce and oil. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.

2. Transfer to two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Pumpkin spread

1 16 oz. container of Cool Whip
1 large (5 oz. ) pkg. Instant Vanilla Jell-O pudding mix
1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin
1/2 - 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl, mix all of the above ingredients together. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cucumber Mini Toasted Bites and a STEAL on a Mandoline Slicer

I can't get enough of these little cucumber toasty bites. Adapted from Taste and Tell's blog I have made these several times and probably have eaten more than my share. They are a quick and unique appetizer I think you'll like.

Cucumber Mini Toasted Bites 

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/2 of a (.06 oz.) package of dry Italian season dressing mix
1 baguette
1 English cucumber, sliced
1-2 T dill weed
olive oil

Slice baguette and brush each slice with a little olive oil.
Toast them in an oven at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
Blend the cream cheese, mayo and Italian dressing mix together.
Once baguettes are cooled, spread dressing on top of each slice.
Top with a cucumber.
Sprinkle dill on each one.

I recently bought this Mandoline Slicer that made slicing the cucumbers much easier. It's very affordable, but you can get it for a steal at 40% off with a special code for my readers. Use code ZI6ZU5ST at checkout and you'll get $8 off! I've always wanted one of these. This is a simple one that is so easy to use and cleans up well in the dishwasher. Let me know what you think!