46/52: 3 Bean and Turkey Soup

Brr! The weather has quickly turned frigid this week. We are definitely approaching winter up here in the Pacific Northwest! In my house, freezing cold weather calls for a nice big pot of soup. My husband works outside, so he certainly welcomes a hot bowl of soup without complaint during the week, or really any time. I came up with this soup this week and it was full of flavor and protein, and best of all is über healthy. Tons of veggies and good for you stuff. My only complaint was I accidentally added too much pasta and it soaked up all of my broth. I added an additional 4 cups of broth but it was still way too thick. The recipe below is adapted to remedy this! So, serve this up with a crispy, gooey grilled cheese and this is a definite comfort meal for a chilly evening! 🙂

Hopefully everyone is gearing up for a wonderful Thanksgiving… I know we are. We are so excited for this year. We’ve decided to start a new tradition in our home. We are going to have 2 Thanksgiving dinners! We have family dinners on Thanksgiving day and we don’t want to forgo those for anything. We love spending time with our family. But we also want a chance to try out recipes and have our own little dinner. Solution? Black Friday Thanksgiving! 🙂 Eee. I am excited. Now I have quite a menu to plan — what desserts I’m bringing to our family dinner, and then an entire menu for our own dinner. Do you have any suggestions on cooking the perfect turkey? I have never made one! Any advice would be much appreciated.

3 Bean and Turkey Soup

Ingredients:

2 TB EVOO
1 small onion, diced
2 large carrots, shredded
2 stalks of celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
3 TB of tomato paste
1 can of petite diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
1-2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp parsley
1 pound of ground turkey or sausage
1 can white kidney {canelli} beans, rinsed
1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed
4-6 cups of chicken broth (or use a vegetable broth) I like to use a hearty stock when I can
1 C of ditallini pasta, or another small pasta
1 C of broken spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan for garnish

Directions:

1. In large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 TB oil over medium heat. Add onions, and saute for a few minutes, then add garlic and saute a minute more. Add remaining vegetables and tomato paste. Saute until tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown turkey meat and season with salt and pepper.
3. Add browned turkey to dutch oven, stir to combine. Add garlic, oregano and parsley.
4. Add rinsed beans to dutch oven, stir to combine.
5. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add pasta and simmer until pasta is tender.

Bon Apetite!

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44/52: Homemade Halloween Oreo Cookies with Patrina

Good morning and Happy Halloween!

I felt it was only appropriate to end the month with something festive and of course with my October baking project! My aunt and I both decided to take a month off in September because of the craziness of school for me, and her as well {I don’t know how she does it with 4 kids, 3 being teens/tweens!}. So here we are with our October goody… homemade oreos! Who doesn’t love an oreo? I don’t think it is one of those goodies I could eat all the time, but I definitely have my spurts where oreos just hit the spot. Overall these were yummy! The cookie is crisp, but so much better than the store-bought version. The filling was pretty good, but I think they would have been just as good with a regular frosting in the middle – but then again, I guess they wouldn’t be homemade oreo cookies then?!

These are super fun Halloween treats. I think I’m going to put together some treat bags for my MAE cohort today — we have long days with double classes tonight. Eeek. We could probably all use the sugar rush!

Homemade Oreo Cookies

Ingredients:
For the cookies:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened or Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar {Use 1 cup for a truer-to-original Oreo wafer or more sugar for a sweeter chocolate cookie}
10 tbsp {1 stick + 2 tbsp} unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg

For the cream filling {white}:

4 tbsp {1/2 stick} unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor or the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add the butter to the bowl and pulse or mix briefly to incorporate.  Add in the egg and mix until the dough forms a cohesive mass.
  3. Scoop between 2 tsp to a scant tbsp of batter {depending on how large you want them} onto the baking sheet.  Continue scooping, spacing the dough balls a couple of inches apart.  With moistened fingers, gently press down on the dough balls to flatten slightly.  Bake for 9-11 minutes {closer to 9 minutes for smaller cookies}, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack and let cool completely until the cookies are firm and set.  Be sure the cookies are completely cooled before filling.
  4. To make the filling, combine the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth.  Add the confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the vanilla extract.
  5. To assemble the cookies, pair them up by size.  Use a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip to pipe a swirl of filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair.  Sandwich together with the remaining cookie and press down so that the filling reaches the edges.

Yield: 20 to 30 sandwich cookies, depending on the size

Source & Recipe: Smells Like Home

Anyway, I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday…. what are your Halloween plans?! Did you do anything fun this weekend? Have a great week everyone!

Halloween Candy Bark

Tra-la-la… I can’t even begin to express how excited I am that we are just reaching Halloween, and making the turn toward Thanksgiving and Christmas! I like Halloween okay, but love the rest of the holidays. I generally don’t get too into “Halloween” baking, but this month have way too many ideas in my head. With the craziness of school and my internship, I hardly have time for the weeknight baking I used to do so I am always looking for quickie recipes. This is definitely one of those!

I am sure most people who live in large trick-or-treating communities purchase large quantities of candy, and generally have some left over. Are you looking for a way to use leftover trick-or-treat/Halloween candy? Well, look no further! I have had my eye on this recipe all year but haven’t been able to convince myself it was necessary to make until now. And to my surprise, this recipe is so yummy – not overly sweet as you would assume, but most of all – simple. Now that I know how simple it is to make candy bark I am going to try different combinations. I think this would be really yummy with candy corn added as well!

The recipe makes quite a bit – so we decided to share some with our friends. It makes a super cute gift, just wrap up in treat bags, tie with cute ribbon and keep refrigerated until gifting time!

Cute, right?

Halloween Candy Bark

Ingredients:
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun size bars), roughly chopped
3 toffee candy bars (or 6 fun size bars), roughly chopped
8 Reese cups, cut into wedges
¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
3 oz. yellow and orange peanut M&Ms, coarsely chopped
3 oz. good quality white chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Pour the chocolate over the foil and smooth into a thin layer with a spatula.

2. Evenly sprinkle the chopped candy bars, Reese cups, honey roasted peanuts, and peanut M&Ms over the melted chocolate.  Press gently to adhere the candy to the melted chocolate.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Melt the white chocolate, again using the double boiler method, until smooth. Drizzle over the chilled candy bark.  Return to the refrigerator and let chill again until the white chocolate is set, 3o minutes more.

4. Peel the sheet of chocolate away from the foil and break into irregular pieces.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Source & Recipe: Annies-Eats, originally from Bon Appetite, October 2010

Enjoy! And, I hope all you little Halloweenies have fun tomorrow! And please pray that my first graders aren’t too crazy in the morning…ahh, wish me luck.

43/52: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Wow — weekly post number 43. I can’t believe there are less than 10 weeks left in the year. Time flies! But, at least it is the best part of the year – holiday time! I look forward to this part of the year all… well, year! I enjoy spring and summer, but there is nothing like holiday baking! Fun, fun! Speaking of holiday baking, ever since I made my pumpkin cupcakes I have been craving more pumpkin goodies! We bought pumpkin spice coffee creamer at the store recently, but it didn’t subside my craving. I think the real reason why is because I’ve had my eye on this pumpkin cheesecake for weeks. Once I showed my husband the picture he agreed, we needed to try this recipe!

I am soo glad we did. It was delicious! The texture was so creamy, and the flavor reminded me of a wonderful cross between velvety cheesecake and pumpkin pie. Oh my. We only had one piece each at home, and then I packaged up a few pieces for my father and mother-in-law and the rest went to work with John. There is no way I could have the rest sitting around the house! The reviews at work and by my father-in-law were unanimous – delicious! My father-in-law even said it might be the best cheesecake he has ever had. 🙂

Unfortunately my pictures aren’t my best. We didn’t cut into the cheesecake until after dinner, which was a bad move on my part! Why? No natural light. 😦 It was already dark out. So rather than being patient and trying to find a good spot to photograph the cheesecake, I was impatient and ready to eat! Regardless, I think y’all get the point. Its delicious! Especially topped with just a little drizzle of caramel. 😉

Yumm!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Prep time: 20 minutes | Bake time: 55 to 65 minutes

Ingredients:

For the crust:
2 c gingersnap cookie crumbs {about a 14-oz package of cookies}
2 T light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
6 T unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
32 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c light brown sugar
2 cups {about a 15-oz can} canned pumpkin  {**I prefer Libbys}
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 T heavy cream
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Double-wrap the bottom and outside of a 9-inch springform pan with heavy-duty foil. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil for a water bath.

3. Beat together the cream cheese and the sugars on medium speed until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin and mix on low until completely incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well until fully incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and beat until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, cloves and allspice and mix on low to incorporate.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Place the pan into a larger pan {a roasting pan is great for this} and pour the boiling water into the larger pan until it is about halfway up the springform pan. {**Note: I didn’t have a pan big enough for a water bath — if you don’t, get one! My perfectly baked cheesecake cracked when I took it out of the oven 😦 }

5. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the edges are set, but the middle still jiggles a little. Keeping the oven door closed, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven, carefully remove it from the water bath, remove the foil and place the cheesecake on a wire rack to cool completely, about an additional 2 hours. Once completely cool, refrigerate for at least 6 hours {preferably overnight}.

6. Cover any leftover cheesecake with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Wrapped, the cheesecake can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Source & Recipe: Brown Eyed Baker

Make me! This would be perfect for a Halloween or harvest celebration – or even for Thanksgiving. Either way, give it a try – it is so worth it!