Ingredients

Hearty Pumpkin Pancakes

Fall and winter are the perfect time to incorporate pumpkin into your menu. Our family appreciates the versatility of this fruit ( seen by most as a vegetable) as evidenced by Pumpkin Cake which has replaced pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and Pumpkin Fluff , a low fat and low sugar appetizer served with apples and graham crackers is  recommended  and prepared by our daughter, the registered dietician. Our newest addition to the pumpkin-fest is the pumpkin pancake.  I took a delicious recipe made with white flour and tweaked and tweaked until I came up with this whole wheat version ( I'm always on a quest for healthy and yummy). This recipe makes about 8-10, 4 inch pancakes.

Ingredients:

In one bowl mix the following:

1 1/4 c whole wheat flour

1 t pumpkin pie spice

1/2 t salt

2 t baking powder

2T sugar ( or Splenda if you cut sugar whenever you can)

 

In a separate bowl, mix the following:

1 +1T milk

1 egg

1 t vanilla

2 T melted butter

7 T pumpkin

Fold liquid into bowl with dry ingredients. Using a 1/3c, pour onto a hot griddle. Flip, when top side appears somewhat dry. These pancakes are nice and dense. They stick to your ribs and hold you for several hours.

My family  loves these  because they taste good but I  love pancakes because they they're like fingerprints, no two are alike. Each one swirls just a little differently from the one sizzling just beside it.

You're fingerprint is your mark of uniqueness. No one else looks like you, laughs like you or has a birthmark in the same place as you. Your hips or the texture of your hair may not be exactly to your specifications but you can be certain that there are things about you that others admire. Are you the organizer that  scattered women can't survive without or  the one with witty sarcasm that keeps the office in stitches?

I hope the next time you cook up a pancake, you'll check out how special each one is, then think about yourself and remind yourself that your swirls are practically perfect!

Cheddar Chicken

This is a great child friendly recipe that is also sure to impress the adults at the table.  Seriously who doesn't love cheese & crackers?  

Prep Time is about 30 minutes so it's great for busy Moms, cook time is 35 minutes and it serves 3 adults comfortably.  I recommend serving with your favorite vegetables and cous cous.

Ingredients:

1 package of chicken (3 breasts)

2 gallon sized freezer bags

1 1/2 teaspoons Braggs Amino Acids OR 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pinot Grigio Vinegar

1 egg

30 Ritz crackers

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons butter

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Trim your chicken and cuts the breasts in half (not filleted) and put them in a gallon sized freezer bag.

3. Add Braggs, vinegar and egg.  Seal the bag and make sure you've squeezed the air out.

4. Squish the marinade thoroughly in the bag.  Using a kitchen mallet, flatten the breasts so that they are about 3/4 of an inch thick and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

5. While the chicken marinades, fill the other plastic zippered bag with Ritz crackers.  Use a rolling pin to turn the crackers into crumbs.  Pour onto a plate, add cheese and toss with fork.

6. Dip each chicken breast into the cracker and cheese mixture and place onto a lightly sprayed pan.  The bottom doesn't need to be thickly coated, just the top.  Sprinkle remaining mixture onto the breasts.

7. Sprinkle minced garlic and pour melted butter across the breasts.

8. Bake for 35 minutes.

Serves 3

On a side note, I usually skip the butter and just spray with a little olive oil to make the crust stick but last night I treated the family to a little extra fat and boy did it go over well.  I believe my husbands response was, "Dang Baby, this is awesome!  What did you do different?"  While there are ways to "health" this recipe up, it sure is fun AS IS!

Empanadas: A Mexican Tradition

An empanada is basically a turnover. They are a classic item in the Hispanic culture and can be sweet or savory. Fillings range from fruit to meat and are a part of the holidays as well as a regular menu item in many Hispanic kitchens. Our granddaughter Ava is fortunate to have both German and Mexican heritage and we spent an afternoon keeping her connected with her 'latina side' by preparing empanadas to leave for Santa. The original recipe came from my Aunt Mercy's kitchen and I adapted it to decrease the fat content. I'm giving you both recipes so you can choose the one that best suites your taste.

Ingredients:

All Purpose flour

cream cheese

butter

cinnamon, sugar mix

your choice of fruit filling

Mercy's Marvelous Empanadas

(makes about 6 dz. mini-empanadas)

4c flour

8 oz. cream cheese

4 sticks butter or margarine

 

Yvonne's Less Fatty Empanadas

(makes about 3 dz mini-empanadas)

2c flour

1/2 c reduced fat cream cheese

1 stick butter

In a bowl, blend room-temperature cream cheese and butter together until well mixed. Next, add flour, about 1/2c  at a time until you've used all the flour. Refrigerate for 2 hours. ( This is imperative with the original recipe. It will be sticky and hard to work with if you don't refrigerate.)

Flour the rolling pin and roll the dough out like a pie crust. The stem of a wine glass made it easy for little hands

to help with the work.

 Spoon the filling ( about 1 t for a 4-5in. circle) in the center then fold over and use a fork to seal edges.( We used pineapple filling.) I recommend  you brush the bottom edge with a little water to help the dough stick and prevent bursting open when heated.

 Place in the oven @  350 ˚for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle

with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and a perfect place to get to know each other better or iron out differences. We can share family history, build memories and if we allow ourselves, in the midst of mouth-watering aromas, make ourselves vulnerable to one another, leaving a Fingerprint in each others lives.

Got Guests? Serve Fresh Cranberry Relish

When I decided I'd share my family recipe, my husband of thirty-five years was ecstatic. "If you're going to blog about it, that means you're going to cook it before Thanksgiving!" he chimed. Hence, this afternoon there's a lovely aroma that smells like pie, but it's not. This recipe is quick , easy and lasts for weeks in the refrigerator. It's a tradition for our Thanksgiving meal but is fabulous alongside a turkey or ham sandwich or as a companion to chicken salad, turkey burger or pork loin.

Ingredients

1 lb. of fresh cranberries

1 box of brown sugar

1/2 c raisins

3/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

1/4 t salt

1 t minced ginger root

1/4 t cloves

1/4 c lemon juice

zest of  one orange

Throw all ingredients into a large pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

 

That's it! It's done and people who still serve canned cranberries for Thanksgiving

will be in awe of your culinary prowess!

** Clearly, this recipe is loaded with sugar. Today, my husband is unaware that I used Spelenda Brown Sugar Blend. Half the calories and sugar.

*** You can substitute ground ginger. However, there's nothing like the explosion when  fresh ginger hits the taste buds.

This is a great hostess gift for the holiday season.

When people visit us, I love sending them home with a little expression of  our friendship, so

I'm also keeping a few for guests who visit us during the holidays.

Brown Rice, Mexican Style

Anywhere there's Mexican food, you'll find rice. Enchiladas and rice, tacos and rice, beans and rice. My mother, grandmother and mother-in-law each prepared rice with their own twist and now I've added mine. I hope you'll try this easy, yummy recipe which takes brown rice, full of nutrients, and packs it with flavor that will fill your kitchen with a heavenly aroma.

Mexican Brown Rice

Ingredients

1 c. brown rice

2t. canola oil   

1 T. chicken boullion

2 c. water

½ t. ground cumin

2 cloves minced garlic

1/3 c chopped onion

3/4 c diced or crushed tomatoes

1c chopped vegetables –combination of any of the following: mushrooms, cooked garbanzos, chopped carrots, celery, bell pepper, frozen peas)

Cilantro (optional)

 

Pour brown rice  and canola oil into 2 qt. saucepan, stirring continually until toasty. ( This will make cooking time shorter and rice will have a wonderfully  firm texture.) When rice has browned sufficiently, add water, cumin, tomatoes and garlic. Bring to a boil then lower temperature to a simmer.  Add vegetables and cilantro after rice has been cooking for 20-25 minutes.Cook an additional 15-20 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed and rice is al dente.

Makes 4 c or 8-1/2 c. servings

Tomatillo: Do It Your Way

Tomatillo is commonly known as a green tomato ( in spanish, tomate verde). It is small and covered by an inedible  paper- textured husk and it's flavor is wonderfully tart. My non-Hispanic friends, like Jennifer and Sheri frequently order Enchiladas Verdes ( enchiladas with a green sauce)  when we eat dine at Mexican restaurants so I thought I would just figure out how to make them myself. I've created a recipe for tomatillo salsa which can be eaten with chips or used as the base for the salsa verde in my rendition of  enchiladas verdes.

Don't blink your eyes or you'll miss the  one and only direction for ...

Simply, Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients

18-20 roasted tomatillos

2 roasted Serrano peppers (seeded)

2 cloves garlic

½ t. sugar

1 t salt

½ c cilantro

2T scallions

Put all ingredients in the food processor and puree. The tomatillo has a muted color and the specks of cilantro are bright. This salsa is great looking because of the contrast.

* You can prepare the sauce on the weekend and keep refrigerated until you're ready to make the enchiladas.

Serve it with chips and watch it disappear or keep on going and treat your family to:

Enchiladas Verdes Esquisitos

(Exquisite Green Enchiladas)

Ingredients

1 doz. corn tortillas

21/2 c  cubed cooked chicken

1/2 c white wine or water

8 oz sour cream

1 T cornstarch

salt

2 c  grated white cheese of your choice (Mozarella, Monterrey Jack, pre-packaged Pizza or Italian Blend)

Reserve 1/2 c cheese

 

Heat tortillas on a hot griddle to make them soft and pliable. Fill each tortilla with 2 T chicken and 1 heaping T of cheese. Roll and line them up in a  9x13 baking dish. Cover and place in oven @ 325 while you prepare the sauce.

                                  

Sauce

Heat tomatillo sauce and add ½ c. white wine or water. When sauce is heated through, add  1 t salt. Place ¼ c  sauce into a small bowl and add 1 T cornstarch. Mix through.  Return to stove and add to saucepan  allowing  sauce to thicken and bubble. Add 8 oz. sour cream and stir until sauce is creamy. Remove from heat when it begins to bubble. Pull enchiladas out of the oven and pour sauce over them. Sprinkle remaining ½ c of cheese and serve immediately.

My family thinks these are dreamy!!

Eat the Heat: Jalapeno, Mango Salsa

Salsa comes in all intensities and there are innumerable ways to prepare a tasty one.They are low in calories, usually contain no fat and  if you eat 1/2 c. of  fresh salsa, you can check one of your daily recommended fruits or veggies off the list. This recipe asks for jalapeno which will make a mild-medium salsa. If you want more of a bite, use serrano peppers and if you live on the edge, use habanero peppers.

 

Ingredients

12 roasted tomatillos

2 medium tomatoes

2 c. fresh mango

3 lg. seeded jalapenos

1/3 c. red onion

2 T. fresh ginger root

1/8 c. lime juice

a handful of fresh mint

salt and pepper to taste

Makes 5 c. ( great for a party)

 

 

                                   

         Salsas are a great playground for a creative mind and they're simple to put together.

 

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and chop!!

 

 

 

                                                                    That's it!! The salsa is ready!!

                          

This recipe is great with chips, or as an accompaniment for baked or grilled fish or chicken.

 

Refreshing Strawberry Lemonade

This recipe is a fun twist to traditional lemonade and makes it a true thirst-quencher and summertime favorite. Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated organic lemon peel
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
  • 1 pint fresh organic strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 cups cold sparkling water
  • Ice
  • Whole organic strawberries and sliced lemons for garnish

Method

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

Add the lemon peel, lemon juice, stir, and remove from the heat.

Let cool completely, then strain into a clean pitcher.

Puree the strawberries in a blender and add to the pitcher with the lemon juice.

Stir well to combine and refrigerate until well chilled.

Add the sparkling water and stir well.

Pour over glasses filled with ice and serve, garnished with mint, lemon slices and strawberries.

Now, grab a good book, snuggle up in a nice cushy chair and enjoy.

Basil-Cilantro Pesto

It's quick! It's easy! It's healthy and more than anything, it's DELICIOUS! Pesto is a sauce that can be added to pasta, used as a topping on pizza  and today it's featured in Pesto Chicken Salad. Traditional pesto ingredients include basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. We're shaking it up a little and melding the sweet taste of basil with the fragrant mix of  parsley and citrus found in cilantro.

 

 

Ingredients:

1 c. fresh basil

1 c. cilantro (no stems)

1/3 c. walnuts

1 large clove garlic

1/3 c. Romano or Parmesan cheese (Romano is a little stronger)

1/4-1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

pinch of kosher salt

 

 

First of all, run the walnuts through your processor.

 

 

Next, add the basil, cilantro, minced garlic, cheese, salt, and drizzle a little oil in the processor. Pulse and add oil. Repeat until it takes the form of a thick paste.

 

 

Chop 2 c. of chicken (what you see above is the last of a rotisserie chicken) and add some chopped black olives and the pesto. Because I like texture, I added some minced celery as an afterthought. Blanched almonds would also work. They would add texture, taste and visually change the look of the salad.

 

 

 

This Chicken Pesto Salad is whipped up in about 15 min. and served on a toasted baguette or crackers.

 

 

Cupcake Wars winning cupcake: The Elvis

  I love The Food Network. There is something about watching people prepare food that just puts me in a good mood! So you can imagine when, "Cupcake Wars", made it's debut I was hooked. Basically, Cupcakes Wars starts with four bakeries who take on different "cupcake challanges"...kind of like a cupcake olympics if you will and one by one the teams are eliminated until one lucky bakery is standing. When I saw the following winning cupcake being assembled I knew I had to share it with my cyber-friends...you!  

This cupcake is a combination of a few of my favorite things...banana, peanut butter, chocolate, and Elvis :). Bake, enjoy, and pass it on!

The Elvis Cupcake

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 extra-large whole eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon banana extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 large, overripe banana, mashed
  • Peanut Butter Frosting, recipe follows
  • Chocolate Coating, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, and then stir in the vanilla and banana extracts. Stir in the vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the mashed banana.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 8 to10 minutes. Cool completely, and then frost with Peanut Butter Frosting and dip in Chocolate Coating and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, well sifted
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons cream, as needed

Beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth and combined. Blend in the powdered sugar. Add the cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the frosting is too thick.

Chocolate Coating:

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Melt together the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in the microwave until completely melted