November 29, 2012

Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is just around the corner....granted it doesn't look or feel it here in Tucson especially with the temps in the high 70's but we are still getting into the spirit. Tree is up, decorations are out, Little John (our elf) has appeared and cookie baking will start soon (even if I have to turn the A/C on to cool down the house afterwards!!

So until I decide what to do about the hot temps and the urge to bake cookies I will work on using up all our Thanksgiving leftovers. And how doesn't think that making soup is not an easy way to use up leftovers. I don't know about you but I love eating soup?! It is such a comfort food for me, the smells of coking a soup from scratch...yummm.

If only we had some smell-a-vision!!

Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

2 quarts of chicken broth (I used 4 cans)
1/2-1 lb fresh mushrooms, roughly sliced
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp chicken bouillon granules
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2-3 cups cooked wild rice or brown rice ( I use one box of Wild Rice Mix that comes with the seasoning packets...cook as directed minus adding the seasoning)
2-3 cups chopped cooked turkey (or you can use chicken)


In a large sauce pan combine broth, veggies, seasoning and bouillon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins. In a dutch oven or stockpot melt butter, stir in flour while stirring constantly. Gradually add broth into the flour mixture while whisking (I add about 1 cup of broth). Bring to a boil...continue whisking, carefully pour the remaining soup mixture, stir in rice and turkey. Bring back to a boil just long enough to heat the rice and turkey.

**I like adding a bit of fresh cracked pepper before eating**

November 28, 2012

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

This is the yummies bread I have made it a while, good thing the recipe yields 2 loaves! It smells so yummy while it is in the oven too. I am going to make sure to keep some extra cans of pumpkin in my pantry since after the holidays are over it always seems like canned pumpkin is nonexistent.

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
1 cup canola oil or applesauce (I use applesauce whenever I have it)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans, optional (I didn't have any on hand today)


Preheat oven to 350F; grease 2 loaf pans

Combing your dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. 
In a larger bowl beat eggs with both sugars. Add pumpkin, oil (applesauce) and vanilla extract. Mix until well incorporated. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients. 
Fold in cranberries and pecans.
Divide mixture evenly between the two loaf pans.
Bake 50-55 minutes, check for doneness before removing from oven.
Cool in loaf pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely. 

**I wrap my bread in plastic wrap and keep them in the refrigerator. These also freeze well. 
When I eat this bread I like to put my slices in the toaster for a few minutes and then I add either a dab of butter or smear a little peanut butter on before eating....yummm ;-)**

November 21, 2012

Jeweled Coconut Cookies

My list of which cookies to make around the holidays seems to get longer and longer every year. I just can't help myself and am always looking to try an new recipe....I mean honestly you never know what you may stumble across when you leave your comfort zone!! When I first started baking and cooking I found most of my "now" favorites at Taste Of Home. Their website is chuck full of tried recipes and their magazines are not only full of recipes but usually have a picture to go with everyone of them. I am the type of person that can just imagine how yummy something may taste just by looking at the picture while reading the recipe. I have kept so many of my magazines so I always have visual to get inspiration from.....and again this doesn't help shorten my list!

Out of all of my "must try" or "looks yummy" this recipe is a MUST in my baking agenda. I love these cookies! I probably shouldn't limit these just to the holidays.
I have also made these for cookie exchanges. This recipe is easy to make ahead of time and easy to double.

Jeweled Coconut Crisps

Jeweled Coconut Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 TBS milk (I use lactose free milk)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup finely chopped red and green candied cherries
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional....but I always add them)
1 cup flaked coconut


Cream butter and sugar until fluffy in a large bowl. Beat in milk and vanilla.
Gradually add flour while mixing. Stir in cherries and pecans.

Shape into 2 8inch logs. Sprinkle coconut** on a cookie sheet and roll both logs in the coconut so that it sticks to the sides of the dough. Do not press too hard otherwise you will have oddly shaped cookies.

**I have made these and have added the coconut to the dough instead of rolling them in it. I personally prefer it this way rather than the rolling part.

Wrap logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hrs (can be chilled overnight if preparing ahead).

When ready to bake preheat oven to 375F.
 Remove dough from refrigerator, remove plastic wrap and cut into 1/4 inch slices.  Place onto cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart and bake 10-12 minutes or just until edges are lightly browned.

Cook on wire rack.

Makes about 5 dozen

November 16, 2012

Neapolitan Cookies

I told you about my very first cookie exchange and how I had to bring 12 dozen cookies with me. Well this is the exact recipe I used. It was not only really easy make but they also taste super yummy and look really cute in your cookie jar.....well mine is a glass see through jar ;-) Not only do they taste super yummy with a glass of milk but they also go well with coffee!

Neapolitan Cookies
Neapolitan Cookies                                                                Recipe adapted from: Taste of Home

1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
6 drops red liquid food coloring
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted


Line a 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan with waxed paper; set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. 

Divide the dough into thirds. Add almond extract and food coloring to one portion; spread evenly into prepared pan.

Add nuts to second portion; spread evenly over first layer.

Add melted chocolate to third portion; spread over second layer.

Cover with waxed paper; refrigerate overnight. **These can be made and baked on the same day. I just start early preparing the dough and then put in the freezer for about 1 hour before cutting and baking.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Unwrap dough; cut loaf in half lengthwise. Cut each portion into 1/8-in. slices. Place 1 in. apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 12 dozen.

November 15, 2012

Cookie Exchange

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is back cookies and I usually host a Cookie Exchange Party every year. My very first Cookie Exchange I was part of was a bit scary, we had to bake 12 dozen cookies!!! I thought there is NO WAY I can bake that many cookies and them taste good too....but I did. You should have seen all the different cookies I brought home from that exchange. It was a huge reward after baking so many of the same kind of cookie to have been able to come home with 12 different types of cookies to try.

My little helper & I

I am going to share cookie recipes with you and you share cookie recipes with me. Some of the recipes I will be sharing are directly from the cookbook or web page I got them from and others will be from my "secret" collection. I promise you though that every recipe I share with you has been tried and worth sharing. To keep the sharing going I ask for you to share a recipe too.

Photo Credit

NutterButter Santa Cookies

12 oz white baking chocolate, chopped (DO NOT USE WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIPS)
1 pkg Nutter Butter sandwich cookies
Red colored sugar (I have always used the red sprinkles you can find in the baking section)
About 35 white chocolate chips
About 64 mini semisweet chocolate chips
About 32 red hot candies (optional, I don't always add the red hot candy)


In a microwave, melt white chocolate for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second at a time, stirring until smooth.

Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Place on wire racks so the excess chocolate can drip off. 

For Santa's hat, sprinkle red sugar on top part of chocolate. Press one vanilla chip off-center on hat for pom-pom; let stand until set.

Dip other end of each cookie into melted chocolate for beard, leaving center of cookie uncovered. Place on wire racks. With a dab of melted chocolate, attach semisweet chips for eyes and a red-hot for nose. 

Place on waxed paper until set.

Makes about 32 cookies

November 12, 2012

12 shared THANKSGIVING recipes

The countdown has started, we only have 17 days left until Thanksgiving. Have you decided on your menu? I have but thanks to Pinterst I might have to make a few changes to my usual side dishes! So as I was browsing through all the recipes I decided to put together a list of sides I would make....I don't think I will be making ALL of these but if I had to feed a football team I would consider many of these. I have left out the turkey and the ham in my list but I plan on sharing my recipes that I use to make ours every year. My list contains a variety of side dishes, desserts, snacks/appetizers and even a yummy drink.

Hopefully I am able to help you complete or even update your menu with a few of these recipes.


(if you look closely to the spelling of each recipe title each contains a letter that spells out THANKSGIVING)

November 7, 2012

Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

Can you believe it is already November 7th?! Geesh where has the time gone?! We now only have 14 days left until Thanksgiving and 47 days until Christmas!! Time to get my menu thinking cap on. Our weather here in Tucson, AZ has finally started cooling off this month BUT these past 3 days have been just a bit too warm for my "fall weather" feeling. Hopefully the weather forecasters are right and we are getting our cool off this coming weekend...highs are only supposed to be in the low 70's possibly even mid 60's. If this happens I will be trying out a few new recipes again this weekend.

November 7th is not only the day after Elections 2012 but it is also that time of the month again to submit our Crazy Cooking Challenge recipes. This month our theme is "Stuffing". I must admit my husband has always been the Stove Top stuffing kind of guy BUT I am pretty sure I proved him different last night. Our almost 9 month old LOVED it too, he loves his momma's cooking! This stuffing recipe is going in my keeper files for sure.

Hot out of the oven!

Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

1 lb sausage (I would not recommend using sweet italian sausage for this)
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1/2 cup chopped apples
14 oz. stuffing (I used cornbread style that comes in a bag) NOT STOVE TOP
2 cans chicken or veggie broth
1 TBS italian seasoning


Preheat oven to 350F.

Brown sausage; transfer to a bowl lined with paper towel to drain excess grease BUT do not drain the grease in your pan. 

Add butter to hot pan and heat until foamy.

 After the butter is nice and foamy add celery and onion and cook until tender. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine stuffing, cranberries, apples, italian seasoning and sausage; toss ingredients to combine. Carefully add the celery and onion mixture to the stuffing mixture. Pour broth evenly all over the stuffing and toss to coat.

Spoon mixture into a high rimmed baking dish and cover with lid or foil. (I used my Deep Dish Covered Baker from Pampered Chef). Bake 30 minutes covered and another 30 minutes uncovered.



November 6, 2012

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

I was a little skeptical about this recipe since cooks all night. You know what was even worse then being worried about the outcome of this.....waking up to the smell of it at 3AM and having your stomach rumble because it smells SO good. The only bad thing that I can say about the outcome of this dish is darn the luck that my crockpot has a hot spot!!

Finished casserole

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

6-8 strips of bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled (I used turkey bacon)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 green bell pepper & 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (2lb.) bag shredded hash browns, frozen
1 cup shredded cheddar
12 eggs
1 cup milk (I used lactose free milk)
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
1 tsp dried parsley


Spray crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.     

Sauté onion, garlic and peppers until tender. Meanwhile whisk together eggs, milk and seasonings, set aside. Start layering ingredients. Hashbrowns, bacon, pepper mix then cheese; repeat until you end with cheese on top. Pour egg mixture over everything.

Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

So I found this recipe and thought "I am going to try these".....I have never made cinnamon rolls from scratch let alone cinnamon rolls with pumpkin!! I will tell you that the recipe takes a little bit of time from start to finish BUT the time was WELL worth it :-)

Ready to rise for the first time
Rising for the second time

Baked without the frosting 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

1/3 cup milk (I used lactose free milk)
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 TBS sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 (1/4 oz.) pkg dry yeast ( I used Rapid Rise Yeast)
2 cups flour

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS melted butter


In a small saucepan heat milk and 2 TBS butter just until warm (DO NOT BOIL OR SIMMER), heat just until butter is completely melted, stir while heating. In a large bowl combine pumpkin, sugar and salt. Add milk mixture to the pumpkin and mix until well mixed. Beat in egg and yeast.

In a separate bowl add the two cups of flour with the nutmeg and salt. Slowly add flour to the the wet mixture, scraping sides of bowl frequently until all of the flour is combined. Dough will be very sticky!

Lightly grease a different bowl and turn dough into this bowl. Grease the surface of the dough lightly and cover with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm area and let rise at least 1 hour. Dough is ready when doubled in size.

Meanwhile combine your filling ingredients and set aside.

When dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Turn dough onto a clean, floured surface. Knead a few times to form a smooth dough. You will need to sprinkle your dough with more flour to make it workable and easy to handle. Once your dough is workable roll dough into a 12x10 rectangle.

Once you have rolled out your dough, smear your filling mixture all over. Then roll your dough up jellyroll style, beginning on a long side. Cut your dough into 3 even chunks and then cut these into 1 inch slices. Place rolls cut side up in a greased square baking dish.*** Cover and let rise again for 30-45 mins. Preheat your oven to 350 F during this step.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from your baking dish and put them on a parchment paper lined cooling rack. Cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

***You can freeze the rolls before baking if desired. When ready to bake take them out of the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature at least 5 hrs before baking. This amount of time is needed to allow dough to rise.

Caramel Frosting

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TBS milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar

In a small saucepan heat butter until melted. Stir in remaining ingredients, having the powered sugar being the last thing added. Whisk until smooth. Smear over baked and slightly cooled cinnamon rolls.

Blueberry Banana Bread

This recipe is one of my stand-bys for when my bananas turned brown faster then they were being eating. If you don't have blueberries you could use raspberries too! I like putting my slices into the toaster to warm them up a bit and then smear just a little butter on it before eating or peanut butter BUT is not needed. I like taking this bread with me as a little on the go snack too.

going in the oven

My recipe calls for 1/3 cup applesauce but you could use a jar/container of baby food too....bananas, pears or a fruit combo too. This won't change the flavor too much but works if you don't have applesauce. AND if you don't have applesauce or baby food, use oil (same measurement).

Blueberry Banana Bread

1 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 whole bananas)
1/3 cup applesauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease your loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl combine dry ingredients including the oats. In another bowl whisk together the bananas, applesauce and eggs. Add banana mixture to the dry ingredients stir to combine. Fold in blueberries.
Pour mixture into your prepped loaf pan. 

Bake 1 hour (check with a cake tester before removing). Cool in pan at least 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely. **I keep mine in the fridge after cooling.**

Jalapeño Popper Dip

This dip was a winner and is going in my keeper stash for sure. The only part about making this kind of dip that I was concerned about was how spicy it would be. Have you ever bought Jalapeño's that were either really really mild or REALLY REALLY spicy?! Thankfully the ones I used were right were they needed to be.

Bad news about this post.....I don't have a picture to share :-( I promise though that as soon as I make it again I will add a picture!!! And who knows it may be sooner then later, since it was so good.

Jalapeño Popper Dip

2 pkg. cream cheese, softened (I used lactose free cream cheese)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup mayonaise
4-6 fresh jalapeño's, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup diced green onions
6-8 slices of bacon (optional)....I left it out

1 cup of crushed crackers (I used Ritz but you could use saltines or even Panko bread crumbs)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 stick of butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350F

Combine all the dip ingredient together in a bowl, make sure to stir well. Transfer to an oven proof dish. (I was surprised at how much dip this actually makes, so my baking dish ended up being too small and I had to fill two different dishes)....I am going to say that you could easily get the entire batch into a 9x9 square baking dish. Spread it out smoothly.

Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle across the top.

Bake 20-30 minutes or until bubbly and the topping is light golden brown.

Serve with crackers or even tortilla chips.

Brunch Worthy

Boy oh boy did this weekend fly by!! And the temperature in my house was WAY hotter then it was outside LOL but well worth the effort of all the yummy treats I made. I made so many different recipes and have found some keepers.

Here is a list of everything I made:

Mini Citrus Muffins (these are easy and great to take to a social gathering)
Banana-Blueberry Bread (this is a favorite of mine)
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (requires time but the result is well worth it)
Crockpot Breakfast Casserole (besides the burnt spot from my slowcooker having a hot spot this casserole is a keeper, especially since it cooks overnight and is ready in the morning)
Angel Food Lemon Bars (these are the perfect combo of lemony-sweetness)
Jalapeño Popper Dip (this is an absolute keeper)

Then I have to share Tiffany's a-m-a-z-i-n-g chocolate chip cookie recipe!! I gave her the Jalapeño Popper Dip recipe in exchange for this cookie recipe.

November 1, 2012

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Halloween is over and now we are going to be focusing all our attention to getting our menus together for Thanksgiving. These next few weeks are some of the yummies weeks of the year! I don't think there has been a fall season where I haven't wanted to bake more cookies or cook more soup. I would have to say September-January are my favorite months of the year. Another favorite of mine during these months are all the yummy recipes to use pumpkin in! But then again I like using it year round ;-)

These cookies are some of the best cookies I have made! They are not only delicious but they were the perfect blend between firm, fluffy and not too sweet but yet just the right amount of sugar that goes great with either a hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

For the cookies:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 3/4 cup flour (sounds like a lot but it is right)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

For the coating:

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice


Cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin, then egg and vanilla; stir until incorporated.

While creaming the butter whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Turn your mixer on low and slowly add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and pumpkin mixture. Mixture will be thick and sticky.

Either cover your bowl or transfer to a clean bowl and cover; chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (I actually left mine in the refrigerator overnight, then took it out while the oven was preheating before baking). 

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and combine the ingredients for the coating; set aside. Scoop dough and roll into equal size balls. Roll in the sugar coating, place on the baking sheets and gently push the cookies down to flatten the tops. Cookies will not spread much, so you don't have to leave more then 1 inch between cookies. 

Bake the cookies 12-14 mins, they should be slightly firm to touch for them to be finished. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool completely before putting them into your cookie jar or tightly sealed container. These keep well! ENJOY!!