Nov 30, 2010

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

turkey pumpkin chili 1

This is what I served in those bread bowls I made – Turkey Pumpkin Chili. Can you say YUM?  It was absolutely perfect in the bread bowls – it sort of reminded me as if I was eating a sloppy joe.  You don’t even really taste the pumpkin – but it gives a hearty-ness to the chili.    I am definitely going to add this recipe to my chili rotation – which is the perfect comfort food on a cold, winter night. 


  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin
  • 1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack or cheddar cheese


1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat, and saute the onion, pepper and garlic until tender and fragrant.

2. Add in the turkey, and cook until evenly brown, breaking up into chunks.

3. Stir in tomatoes, pumpkin and beans.

4. Season with chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt and bring to a simmer.

5. Reduce heat to low, cover and continue to simmer 20 minutes while stirring occasionally. Stir in fresh cilantro.  Serve topped with cheese.

Source: adapted from Allrecipes (from my friend Michelle)

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Nov 29, 2010

Bread bowl

bread bowl 1

My husband loves soup in a bread bowl – he’ll always order it if there is the option.  It works great for thick soups – like chili or black bean soup.  Of course the best part is that there are no dishes to clean up at the end of dinner – since you eat your bowl.    In some ways this recipe is no harder than making your own rolls – since when these were done they reminded me of a crusty roll.  But he really loved them – this recipe made five bread bowls – and he ended up eating three of them over the course of the week. 

Want to know what I served in them?   Check back tomorrow and see! 

bread bowl 3


  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water


1. Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic – about 6 minutes.

2. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

3. Divide the dough into four to five pieces, and form them into round balls.

4. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover lightly, and set them aside to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until they've almost doubled in size.

5. Uncover the balls and let them sit for 10 to 15 minutes, to develop a tough skin. Just before placing the bread bowls in the oven, mist them heavily with water.

6. Bake the bread bowls in a pre-heated 425° F oven for 18 to 22 minutes, until they're a deep, golden brown. Turn off the oven, prop the door open a little, and leave the bread bowls inside for 15 minutes; this will keep the crust crisp.

7. Remove the bread bowls from the oven and cool them completely before cutting the tops off and removing the insides.

Source: King Arthur Flour

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Nov 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Pumpkin Ricotta Crostata

crostada 3

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

crostada 1

(before baking)

Since this months Daring Baker’s challenge fell right in the midst of Thanksgiving – I knew I was going to make something to share for dessert after our Thanksgiving meal.   At first – I couldn’t decide what I wanted to make for my crostata filling (since the challenge already provided the pasta frolla recipe (the dough)).  Then I happened to run across this recipe from Martha Stewart – and I knew it would be perfect.  I loved the addition of the ricotta and mascarpone cheeses and the pine nuts for the top. 

crostada 2

I’ve never made a crostata before – but it was really pretty easy.   The pasta frolla was simple to mix together and roll out.   The filling was even simpler since it was mixed together in the food processor.   The lattice was created with the remaining pasta frolla – and you roll the strips and then weave them together. 

In the end – the filling was really light and creamy – and I loved the contrast of textures created by the pine nuts and the crunchy tart shell. 

My relatives were really impressed by the presentation of this pie.  Unfortunately, it had to go up against many other Thanksgiving desserts – so my family was just taking tiny slivers and I ended up with some left over.  But it seemed to be quite the hit!   Enjoy!

crostada 4


for the pasta frolla

  • Scant 3/4 cup (3 oz.) powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (4 3/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (3.5 oz.) whole-wheat pastry flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

for the pumpkin-ricotta filling

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, drained for 30 minutes in a cheesecloth-lined sieve set over a bowl
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 5 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten


To make the pasta frolla

1. Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix.

2. Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.

3. Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface. 

4. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it.

5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.

6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.  Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours until ready to use.

To make the pumpkin-ricotta filling and assemble crostata

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Bring pasta frolla to room temperature. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a lightly buttered  9 inch tart pan. Use your fingertips to press dough against bottom and sides of dish until even. Trim edges; refrigerate scraps in plastic wrap.

3. Prick bottom of pastry shell all over with a fork. Bake until set and pale golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

4. Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees. Process ricotta in a food processor until smooth. Add the mascarpone, pumpkin, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla; process until well combined, about 30 seconds. Add yolks; process until combined, about 10 seconds. Pour into pastry shell.

5. Tear reserved chilled dough scraps into 1-inch pieces. On a lightly floured surface, gently roll pieces with your hands to make 1/4-inch-thick ropes. Gently press one long rope around top edge of shell (patch two ropes together, if necessary). Gently place other pastry ropes on top of filling to create a lattice pattern (ropes of all lengths can be used).

6. Place 3 pine nuts in each square of lattice. Brush latticework with egg white.

7. Bake crostata until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 40 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Source: filling: Martha Stewart Recipes pasta frolla: inspired the book La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene by Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911) from briciole.

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Nov 23, 2010

Spinach Manicotti

manicotti 1

This has been my go-to manicotti recipe since I first saw it in Cook’s Illustrated.   I recently realized that I haven’t made it in forever – which immediately led to a ‘must-make-manicotti-now-craving’.  The great thing about this recipe is that it uses the no-boil lasagna sheets to roll up the manicotti – which makes it much simpler than trying to fill a slippery pasta tube.  You have to be careful not to break any of the sheets though – I softened a few extra sheets to have ready for when one of them rips beyond repair (which is bound to happen!).   I also like this version since it has spinach already in the filling – and they means I don’t have to make a separate vegetable to go along with this.  So enjoy a simple salad and some crusty Italian bread to serve along this meal.  Enjoy!  

manicotti 2


Tomato Sauce

  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Table salt
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Filling and Pasta

  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 5 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, and chopped fine (1/2 of a frozen box of spinach)
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • 10 -12 no-boil lasagna noodles


1. To make the sauce: Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasoning with salt.

3. For the filling: Combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, egg, spinach, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, basil, and nutmeg in medium bowl; set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

5. To assemble: Pour 1 inch boiling water into a broilersafe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.

6. Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 3/4 cup sauce.

7. Spread generous 1/4 cup cheese-spinach mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle, which short side facing you. (this made 10 manicotti for me – 2 of the noodles were extra). 

8. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. Top evenly with remaining sauce, ensuring that pasta is completely covered with sauce.

9. Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 30-40 minutes, then remove foil.

10. Remove baking dish, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element), and heat broiler on low. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Broil until cheese is spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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Nov 22, 2010

Mexican skillet chicken

mexican skillet chicken 1

Who doesn’t love an easy one-dish meal after working all day?  This dish is super flavorful and really easy to whip up.   I made half of the recipe below and it was perfect for dinner and lunch the next day for just the two of us.   I just can’t get enough easy, healthy chicken and rice dishes – you really can’t go wrong with this one! 


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken tenders (about 1 1/2 pounds), diced into 1/2 inch chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 (10 oz.) cans mild green chile enchilada sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves


1. Cut chicken into cubes and gently pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season lightly with salt and pepper.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it is shimmering.

3. Brown the chicken on each side for 1-2 minutes until it is golden but not cooked all the way through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

4. In the hot skillet, add the onion and poblano peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally.

5. Stir in the garlic and cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Add the enchilada sauce, rice and broth, stirring to combine.

6. Bring the mixture to a boil and set the chicken in the simmering rice mixture.

7. Cover the skillet, set the heat to low and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through, stirring every five minutes or so to ensure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom.

8. Stir in the cilantro and spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe Source: adapted from My Kitchen CafĂ©, originally from America’s Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers

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Nov 19, 2010

S’mores Cookies

smores cookies 1

These are essentially a graham cracker chocolate chip cookie with the addition of mini marshmallows and a Hershey bar square.  It’s a great way to get the s’more taste without the campfire.   They are also so cute too! 

It was almost like I did an experiment when baking these cookies – I had older marshmallows that I used first for most of the cookies.  Then for the last few I used a newly opened bag.  And look at the difference after they were baked – for the exact same amount of time.  The one on the left used the older marshmallows and the one on the right used the fresh marshmallows.   My hypothesis is that the older ones had less moisture and therefore held up better in the oven and the fresh marshmallows almost disintegrated since they had more moisture.   I have no idea of if this is true – without doing a real scientific experiment.  And it definitely would not be a bad experiment to try out!   What do you think – do you think I have the right hypothesis?  Any other ideas? 

smores cookies 4smores cookies 3


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups mini chocolate chips
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 Hershey bars, broken into rectangles


1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, & salt.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat (on medium) together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.

6. Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a piece of Hershey bar into each cookie. Return to the oven and bake an additional 4 minutes.

Source: Taste and See

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Nov 17, 2010

Chipotle Chicken Pasta

chipolte chicken pasta

I’ve had this recipe saved in my ‘to-try’ list for a while – and I’m so glad I finally gave it a try.  It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal.  Especially if you love chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – they really give the sauce a rich, smoky and spicy kick.  You can adjust the amount of heat – but be careful because these peppers can be pretty hot – this verged on being just hot enough – but any hotter and I wouldn’t have been able to eat it.   Even how it is, it cleared out my sinuses really well.   Enjoy!


  • 1 (16 ounce) box dried penne pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 pounds chicken tenders, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can artichoke hearts, halved
  • 1 red pepper, ribs and seeds removed and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper plus 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped


1. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Set aside.

2. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper.

3. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Cook the chicken until it starts to brown – about 2-3 minutes each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.   

4. To the pan, saute the red pepper until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add in garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more.  

5. Add in the artichoke hearts, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce, then stir in the chicken broth.   Bring to a simmer.

6. Return the chicken to the pan and continue to cook until heated though.

7. Stir in the heavy cream, then add in the parmesan cheese, spinach and basil. Continue to cook until the spinach and basil are wilted.  Stir in the cooked pasta.  Serve immediately.

Source: adapted from Big2Beautiful

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Nov 16, 2010

Banana Bread

banana bread 1

Banana bread is one of those things that I’ve made many, many times – but I never had a ‘go-to’ recipe.  I always just searched for a recipe and tried a new one each time.  I’ve experienced the dry crumbly loaves and also the uncooked mushy middle – but I can put all of that aside now.  Because I found the winner – it has a whopping 6 whole bananas and even one sliced on top.  The bread was perfectly moist and I loved the crispy outside and the bananas on top caramelized in the oven.  I know for a fact I will be making this bread again and again!  I like to keep any bananas that get too ripe in the freezer to have on hand at a moments notice – and that ended up being perfect for this recipe.  You can also use fresh – but make sure you let them ripen – so you really have to plan ahead (which is why I like to have a supply in the freezer).   Enjoy! 

banana bread 3banana bread 4


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 large, very ripe bananas (about 2¼ lbs.), peeled or 5 thawed, frozen bananas and 1 fresh banana 
  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. 

2. Lightly spray a loaf pan (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches) with nonstick cooking spray. 

3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt; whisk together and set aside.

4. [You can skip this step if using previously frozen and thawed bananas and move onto step 5] Place 5 bananas in a microwave safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and make several slits in the wrap with a paring knife to act as steam vents.  Microwave on high until the bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. 

5. Transfer the bananas to a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and let drain, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes (you should have about 1/2 cup liquid).

6. Transfer the reserved banana liquid to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until reduced to about ¼ cup, 5-10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.

7. In a large bowl, combine the bananas and the reduced banana liquid.  Mash together until fairly smooth. 

8. Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.

9. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the banana mixture.  Fold together gently, just until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Gently fold in the walnuts.

10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula.

11. Slice the remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch thick slices.  Layer the banana slices along both sides of the top of the batter, leaving a 1 1/2 inch wide space down the center to allow an even rise.  Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the assembled loaf.

12. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55-75 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes in the pan before removing and continuing to cool on the wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated, July & August 2010

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Nov 15, 2010

Tortilla pie

tortilla pie 1

Happy blog-o-versary to me! Party smile

I started this blog one year ago (here is my first post) – and here I am 242 posts later!  I started this blog as a way to organize my favorite recipes – and it has turned into so much more than that!  I feel that I have grown as a cook and baker – I have challenged myself to try new and complicated recipes.  I have also gotten way better as a photographer (although I still have lots to learn).  You may have noticed that I have moved on to a dSLR camera (I got a great deal on a used camera once owned by the best wedding photographers in Buffalo).  So hopefully my photos will continue to improve as I gain more practice with the camera.  I think it is very important to have appetizing food photos to accompany a recipe.  And most importantly – I have gained friendships with other food bloggers – and that has made this entire blog worth all of the work.  It’s so nice having others out there that enjoy cooking as much as I do – and understand this crazy food blogging hobby of mine.  And thank you for each and every comment – I love your kind words.  Here’s to year 2 – which should be even better than this one!  Thanks!

With all that said – I cannot believe I haven’t made this recipe in the last year.  It is one of my favorites and I have made it many times.  It’s a really fun meal and super easy to make.  Enjoy some tortilla pie!

tortilla pie 2tortilla pie 3


  • 4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, minced (ribs and seeds removed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 -(15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan, using the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside.

3. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Add beans and water to skillet, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

5. Stir in corn and scallions, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Fit a trimmed tortilla in bottom of springform pan; layer with 1/4 of the beans and 1/2 cup cheese, layer another tortilla then repeat on each layer. 

7. Bake until hot and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Unmold pie; sprinkle with scallions. To serve, slice into wedges.

Source: Martha Stewart – Everyday Food, Great Food Fast

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Nov 12, 2010

Penne alla Vecchia Bettola

nick and tony 1

Well, not really penne – but I used orecchiette – but this recipe is not about the shape of the pasta – it is all about the sauce.   I’ve made vodka sauce before – but this one is better.  I used plum tomatoes that I canned this year and fresh oregano from my garden – this sauce is out of this world good.  It’s got a little kick from the red pepper flakes – and a smooth creamyness, from the cream.  Just make sure you actually have vodka in your liquor cabinet before you start this – so you don’t have to run out to the liquor store in the middle of this like I did.  I served it with a simple ceasar salad and some garlic knots – perfect Sunday dinner!  Enjoy!

nick and tony 2


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 - (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound penne (or other shaped) pasta
  • 2-4 Tbsp. fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.

3. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.

4. Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of black pepper.

5. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

7. Puree the tomato sauce mixture with a hand blender (or use a regular blended if you don’t have a hand-held one).

8. Warm the sauce over low, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes.

9. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate.

Source: Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network

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Nov 10, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

pumpkin spice pancakes 1

I am really into pumpkin lately – and it is really no surprise – since it is seasonal right now and so yummy.  I’ve had my eye on these pancakes for awhile now – and they are perfect with a pumpkin spice latte on a cool Fall morning.  It is also the perfect way to use up some leftover pumpkin from any other treats you may have made recently.


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Dash of ground ginger
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil or melted butter


1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices and stir with a whisk to combine. 

2. Mix together the milk, pumpkin puree, egg and oil or butter in a liquid measuring cup. 

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk together just until combine. 

4. Heat a greased skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Once the skillet is hot, add a 1/3 cup scoop of batter to the pan.  Let cool until bubbles begin to form on the top surface.  Carefully flip with a spatula and cook the second side until golden brown, a couple minutes more.  Repeat with the rest of the batter until it has all been cooked, regreasing the pan as needed.  Serve with cinnamon sugar, maple syrup, and/or whipped cream.

Source: Annie’s Eats who adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from Martha Stewart

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Nov 9, 2010


stromboli 2
I love foods that are rolled up and then sliced – there is just something so much fun about cutting in and seeing what it looks like inside.  And this stromboli came out better than I could have imagined.   It is very simple – and because of that – the flavors really show through – just pepperoni, spinach, garlic, mozzarella and basil.   Dipped in some fresh tomato sauce – this is the perfect appetizer or light dinner.  You can really make this recipe your own and add a variety of ingredients inside – but I think this way is just about perfect this way.   Enjoy!
stromboli 1


  • 1 batch of pizza dough (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1/2 package Turkey pepperoni (regular pepperoni is too greasy) for this recipe)
  • 4 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • tomato sauce, for dipping


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pizza dough into a 12 by 18 inch rectangle. 

3. Combine olive oil, garlic, oregano and pinch of salt and pepper, in a small bowl.  Brush evenly onto dough. 

4. In a large saute pan – wilt spinach over medium heat.  Then place in clean dish towel and wring out excess moisture, set aside.

5. Layer dough with pepperoni, spinach, then mozzarella and top with basil.

6. Starting from the short end, roll up the dough, pinching the seam closed at the end.  Place seam side down on a baking sheet.   Cut slits in top with a paring knife. 

7. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve with warmed tomato sauce for dipping.

Source: adapted from lick+my+balsamic

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Nov 8, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

pumpkin whoopie pie 1
I’ve never made whoopie pies before – but we were having a bake sale at work and it seemed like the perfect time to make them.  I packaged them up individually – so they made the perfect treat to grab-and-go. 
The most common version of this recipe I’ve seen is filled with a cream cheese filling – but I saw this recipe that was filled with maple marshmallow filling.  And I knew right then that I had to make this version.   It is hard to even describe how awesome these are.  The cake is soft and pillowy and has a wonderful pumpkin spice – and the filling is airy and sweet. 
I can’t wait to try out some more fun whoopie pie recipes in the future. 
pumpkin whoopie pie 2
pumpkin whoopie pie 3



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray


  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup


1. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves together in a large bowl.

2. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars together  on medium until well blended blended, about 2 minutes.

3. Gradually beat in oil. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating between each addition. Beat in pumpkin.

4. Add dry ingredients in 2 additions alternately with milk in 1 addition, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Cover and chill batter 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment; spray lightly with nonstick spray.

6. Scoop batter onto baking sheets, 12 per sheet. Let stand 10 minutes.

7. Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking.

8. Cool cakes completely on baking sheets. Using metal spatula, remove cakes from parchment.  Repeat with remaining batter.

9. To make the filling: Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add marshmallow creme and maple syrup; beat until blended and smooth.

10. Spoon filling on flat side of 1 cake. Top with another cake, flat side down. Repeat with remaining cakes and filling.  Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature.

Source: adapted from Bon Appetit

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Nov 4, 2010

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

pumpkin cranberry muffins 1 
Sometimes my husband asks me to make treats for some of the groups he works with and I don’t always get enough advance notice to plan ahead.  So I have to try to figure out what I make with what I have already in my pantry.  Luckily I am well stocked in the pumpkin department – since I bought an excessive amount when it was finally back on the store shelves.   And I always keep craisins around to add to my salads.  So this combination of pumpkin and cranberry was absolutely perfect – and the muffins were soft and so delicious.  Enjoy!


makes 18 regular sized muffins

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. 

3. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

4. Add 1 cup canned pumpkin, milk and eggs; mix until just moistened.

5. Spoon into greased or paper-lined cupcake pans, filling 2/3 full and top with cinnamon sugar.

6. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: adapted from This way to his heart

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Nov 3, 2010

Stuffed Poblano peppers

stuffed pablanos 1
I bought some poblano peppers at the farmers market and wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with them.  So I thought it would be the perfect time to make something that I don’t often make – stuffed peppers. They are not something that I make too often (I can’t stand green bell peppers) but the sweetness of the poblanos makes them perfect for this dish.   I served this with some of the corn salsa that I canned at the end of the summer – and mixed it with some diced avocado.  Along with a few tortilla chips – this was the perfect, healthy, delicious, vegetarian meal.  Enjoy! 
stuffed pablanos 2


  • 4 poblanos peppers, sliced lengthwise and gutted
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed and diced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400. Place the peppers in a shallow baking dish and place in oven for about 15 minutes, while you prepare the filling.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil, red onion, garlic, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Saute for a 3-5 minutes, until slightly softened.

3. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, spices, and bring to a boil.

4. Add rice, stir, bring back to a boil, cover, turn to low and simmer 15 minutes.

5. Once rice is cooked stir in black beans.

6. Spoon the rice and bean mixture into pepper cups, top with cheese, place back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and peppers are soft.

Source: adapted from Veggie by Season

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Nov 2, 2010

Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

apple cheesecake 1
For my brother-in-laws birthday this year, I wanted to make a dessert reminiscent of fall.  I haven’t made a cheesecake in a long time – so I wanted to give one a shot – so this one with the fall flavors and caramelized apples was so perfect.   I used a graham cracker crust on the bottom – then the apples are layered on top and covered with the spiced cheesecake filling.  I saved a few apples for the top for decoration. 
This would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving feast or any fall celebration – it was smooth, creamy and so delicious.  Enjoy!
apple cheesecake 2


for the crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted

for the apples

  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter
  • 3 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths (I used Crispin)
  • 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar

for the filling

  • 3 (8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream


1. To Make the Crust: Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.

2. Process the graham crackers in a food process until you get fine crumbs. Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened.

3. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom of the pan. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

4. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

6. To Make the Apples: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so.  Place the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

7. Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. Start boiling some water to fill the pan halfway.

8. To Make the Filling: Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth.

9. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes.

10. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon.

11. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg.

12. Add in the sour cream or yogurt and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

13. Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust.

14. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan (reserving several for topping if desired). Cover with the remaining cheesecake batter.

15. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the pan.

16. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark.   At 45 minutes you can also add in the apples for topping, if desired.

17. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours or overnight. Then Serve.

Source: Baking: from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

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Nov 1, 2010

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

butternut squash mac 1
Believe it or not – I have never cooked with a butternut squash until this recipe – but that is going to come to an end.  It was so easy to prepare.  I had a feeling that I would like this recipe, but I was blown away.  It was so flavorful and easy to make.  The sweetness of the squash pairs really well with the creaminess of the cheddar cheese.  I also used skim milk – so I may dare say that this is a ‘healthy’ recipe.  I will definitely be making this again soon – and I can judge that by the fact that I could not wait to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. YUM!
butternut squash mac 2
The finished product – my new fall favorite! 
butternut squash mac 3
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 12 ounces medium sized (elbow, shells, etc.) pasta
  • kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. powdered mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1. Adjust on oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and lay the halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
3. Bake squash for 25-35 minutes, or until a butter knife inserted into the flesh meets no resistance.  Scoop 2 cups of flesh from the squash and mash it with a fork or puree it in a blender or food processor. [Any additional squash can be pureed and frozen]
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, add about a large pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente according to package directions. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
5. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the foaming subsides, add in the flour and mustard. Whisk constantly for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in the milk.
6. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream.
7. Add the cheeses, ½ teaspoon salt, squash, stirring until the cheese melts.
8. Pour the sauce over the drained pasta and stir thoroughly. Serve immediately.
Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles
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