Saturday, October 31, 2009

I yuv trick-or-treating


People ask me why I don't dress up. That's easy. Who has the energy to dress themselves up after they get their kids ready? Okay, some of you do. But I will pass, thanks. :)

Our little town offers quite a bit of Halloween festivities to pick and choose from. We could be scheduled all day with trunk-or-treats, Halloween carnivals, and costume parades if I wanted it that way. We've tried them all through the years, but there is one event we've never missed and that is our ward trunk-or-treat. It always happens the night before Halloween and it never disappoints. Carnival-type booths, a cake walk, a little spooky cave, homemade root beer and then outside for trunk-or-treating. It was cold and windy this year. Franny gladly wore her coat but Sophie refused to wear one. That surprised me because Sophie out of our two kids has always been the one more sensitive to temperatures. As a baby we took her out sledding and the moment a little snow touched the skin on her wrist between her glove and her coat, it was all over and we had to pack it in. And now when I'm putting her in her car seat and the sun is in her eyes, she starts screaming like her clothes are on fire. She grin and bore the cold through about half of the trunks we were treating at, and then when I asked her if she wanted her coat, she said, "yeah!" like it was the first time I had asked her. Then she looked up at me and said, "I yuv trick-or-treating." I said, "oh you do, do you?" and she said, "yeah, I yuv candy."

On the way home I said, "Okay, somebody give me their bucket so I can have some candy." (Hungry Mommy.) Sophie says, "okay" and she handed me a bag of pretzels. Uh..nice try. I said, "thanks dear, but can you hand me the bucket so I can pick up something." Usually at this point she would say, "Mom, I'm not a deer!" But this time she must have been too focused on the kung fu grip she was using to keep me from taking her precious bucket. Then Franny said, "here you go, Mom!" and handed me hers, at which point I enjoyed a very nice mini-Twix and mini-twizzler pull apart. I yuv trick-or-treating, too.

Then we came home and had a video chat with my Dad and two youngest sisters in California so they could see the girls in their costumes. Franny was super-chatty, showing them each and every individual candy. Meanwhile Sophie was on the floor next to us, not at all participating in the video chat and ravenously eating piece after piece of candy, probably anticipating the candy could be taken away from her at any moment. (Mean mommy.) When did she learn how to open her own wrappers? Some of my favorite parts of the video chat was when my Dad asked Franny for some of her candy and she laughed and laughed and said, "No, I can't give it to you in the computer!!!" At one point she was trying to get Annie's attention to show her a candy wrapper with a skeleton on it and Maggie put her face really close to their computer's camera and said, "Hi Franny, I'm here too." Franny said, "Oh, Maggie," with a little chuckle and sigh. Then as we were signing off, my Dad said, "hey franny" and gave her a little salute with his hand and said, "Wonder Woman salute!" She said, "No, no, this is Wonder Woman salute." And she put her hands on her hips and posed like this:

It was awesome. Then we washed the half a can of Aqua Net and glitter spray from their hair and cuddled up on the couch to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I like scary movies on Halloween, and that's about the scariest I'm willing to show my kids. (We fast forward the dementor parts.) Sophie fell asleep within five minutes, like I knew she would. (She very recently gave up naps because she starts afternoon preschool on Monday!) Franny told us she gets an upset feeling in her stomach when she's scared, and then she said, "but I like scary." She takes after me. Then she asked us to skip to the part when Lupin turns into a werewolf, something she never should have seen in the first place, but Bobby dozed off and I was making dinner. I said no and luckily we were all asleep before that part came anyway. It was a great night.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

He doesn't kill people?

I get updates each week from, on the progress of my baby's development. Franny seems really interested in the development of our unborn baby, so I called her in from breakfast to check out the picture in this week's update. (I'm seventeen weeks along and we still don't know for sure if it's a boy.)

Here's how the conversation went:

Franny: Does he love me?
Me: Yes.
Baby brother's not mean?
He doesn't kill people?
(struggling to maintain a straight face): No, honey.
Does baby brother wear diapers?
Does he wear clothes?
Does he wear jammies?
That's kinda weird.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cream of Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

My mom used to make me Campbell's Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese when I was a little girl. And I remember eating it once or twice at my best friend Annie's house. Her mom Phyllis has always been so good to me. So I have wonderful memories of this dinner as a kid when it was a bit chilly outside.

So when I saw this recipe for Cream of Tomato Soup on Smitten Kitchen, well, I knew it was just what I was looking for.

This recipe was in fact "adapted" from the recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen, but in no way do I believe it to be an improvement. I used garlic instead of shallots. I had garlic on hand, not shallots. I think shallots would have been better. I skipped adding the brandy or sherry that is called for in the recipe, and I believe I used light brown sugar instead of dark brown. Sometimes it's just not worth an extra trip to the store, you know what I'm saying? For the grilled cheese I used sourdough bread purchased the day before from Panera (OH YEAH.) and medium cheddar cheese.

Cream of Tomato Soup
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned low-sodium
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and cayenne pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes over strainer set in bowl and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall through strainer into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside.

2. Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Add garlic, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.

3. Pour mixture through strainer* and into medium bowl; rinse out saucepan. Transfer tomatoes and solids in strainer to blender; add 1 cup strained liquid and puree until smooth. Place pureed mixture and remaining strained liquid in saucepan. Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in salt and cayenne. Serve immediately. (Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)

I also recently learned how to can. I mean to make a post about my recent canning efforts complete with recipes, but I make no promises. Only because typically when I promise to write about something on this blog, I don't follow through. Anyway, this applesauce recipe is so awesome! If I'm not careful, we could burn through all this applesauce in a week. And I used a lot of apples for this!

Autumn Apple Sauce
found on Epicurious

I used mostly McIntosh, with a few of the following: Granny Smith, Gala, Honeycrisp.

8 assorted apples (i.e., Rome, McIntosh, Royal Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick (3 inches long)

1. Peel, core and cut the apples into large chunks, tossing them with the lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

2. Place the apples and remaining ingredients in a large, heavy pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover partially and cook until apples are very tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover the pot and cook 5 minutes more.

3. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick. Coarsely mash the apples with the cooking juices. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, until ready to use, up to 5 days.

Then I just processed them using a water bath canner for fifteen minutes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This is how we do it in the midwest.

Well, it's not how I do it.

You wouldn't see a kids' carnival game like this where I grew up.


I guess they like to start 'em young around here.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Bobby was changing Sophie's diaper the other day and looked up at her face to see her like this.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Huevos Rancheros

I'd never tried Huevos Rancheros before. I'd always wanted to, and for a long time was on the look out for a good recipe. Well, I found it. I had nothing to compare it to, but Bobby did. He said they were the best Huevos Rancheros he'd ever had. Bobby has a lot of favorite recipes in my repertoire, but it's been a while since he's added a new one to his top 10. This one may have made the cut, which made me really happy. The sauce itself was way too spicy for my kiddos, so they got quesadillas instead. If you want to serve this to your kids, I would recommend cutting back on the peppers. Not us, though. I'm going to keep making it the way I did. Mmmm, mmmm!

Huevos Rancheros
recipe from Martha Stewart

I've always been intrigued by recipes that require soaking dried chilies in boiling water and then pulverizing them in a blender to make a delicious red sauce. It was every bit as great as I imagined it would be.


Serves 4 .

  • 2 mild to medium-hot dried chilies (such as New Mexico or Anaheim), cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut lengthwise into 6 wedges with a bit of root end attached
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 1 jalapeno chile
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 5 whole canned tomatoes, without juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 8 large eggs
  • 8 corn tortillas (6 inches each), warmed
  • Cotija, Chihuahua, or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded, for serving
  • Cilantro, coarsely chopped, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add dried chiles to dry skillet and toast on all sides, pressing down on them with a spatula, about 1 minute per side. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl; pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over chiles, and place a small heatproof plate on top to keep them submerged. Let soak for 20 minutes.
  3. Add a teaspoon of oil to the skillet and swirl to just coat the bottom. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook until charred on all sides, about 8 minutes, removing garlic if skins begin to burn. Remove skins from garlic and place in the jar of a blender. Cut jalapeno in half lengthwise, removing ribs and seeds; add to blender along with onion, chipotle peppers, tomatoes, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, honey, chiles, and their soaking liquid. Blend until smooth. In the same skillet over high heat, heat remaining 5 teaspoons canola oil until almost smoking. Add sauce to the pan, being careful as it will splatter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 2 minutes. Stir in lime juice, and remove the skillet from the heat. Crack eggs into the skillet and transfer to oven. Cook until egg whites are cooked through and yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes. (I gave them seven minutes.)
  4. Place 2 tortillas each on 4 individual plates. Top each with 2 eggs and sauce. Garnish as desired with cheese, cilantro, and sour cream.

Note: We folded them up like tacos and ate them that way. There was a lot of extra sauce. I put all the extra sauce in the fridge and we had it again the next night. We were almost out of corn tortillas, so I used flour instead and actually preferred it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Double Chocolate Banana Bread - why didn't anyone think of this before?
found on The Sisters' Cafe

I've been thinking about this bread ever since I made it.

I had a large bunch of VERY overripe bananas and turned to "The Sisters" for help. I'm not sure I'll ever make regular banana bread again. Why? When this option exists?

Double Chocolate Banana Bread
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups mashed bananas (about 3)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa (I prefer dutch process)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350. Spray bottom of 8x4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Beat sugar, eggs, and oil in large bowl at medium speed until combined. Beat in banana and vanilla at low speed. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; beat into banana mixture at low speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

3 Spoon batter into pan. Bake 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It must be Fall...

...because I'm craving apple desserts and chicken pot pie. My mother loved this time of year. So many of my fall recipes have come through her or remind me of her. Even my treasured recipe for chicken pot pie reminds me of her. I never made it for her, but I always wanted to. When I was a kid I remember she bought us frozen Marie Callendar pot pies, baked them in the oven, and set one down in front of each of us. I hated it. I was like, "You like this?" Then I discovered Martha's genius recipe with fresh thyme in the crust and I was converted. The cake recipe is one of my favorites and I first tasted it at my mom's house years ago after her friend Suzy left some with her after a party or something. I LOVE this cake. This time I tried making it in a bundt pan and was happy with the results. Both the cake and the chicken pot pie recipes have been blogged here before, but I think it's appropriate that the best ones make repeat appearances.


Chicken Pot Pie (adapted from Martha

I added zucchini this time (replacement for the mushrooms). I chopped 1/2 of a large zucchini to the same size as the potatoes, and added them with the carrots and leeks. Delicious!
  • 3 or 4 chicken breasts
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut in half
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 rib celery, cut into thirds
  • 2 cup plus 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks plus 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 lb. red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium leek, white and light-green parts only, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and washed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 6 ounces button mushrooms, quartered if large (these get left out for Bobby's sake in my pie)
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream


  1. Combine chicken, chicken stock, yellow onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, 3 thyme sprigs, and celery in a stockpot, and add enough water just to cover the chicken. Bring stock to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  2. Pick enough thyme leaves to make 3 tablespoons. Combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoon thyme leaves in the bowl of a food processor, and set remaining 2 tablespoons thyme aside. Add 2 1/2 sticks chilled butter cut into small pieces, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. While the food processor is running, add 6 tablespoons ice water and 2 egg yolks, and process until the dough holds together. Divide dough in half and flatten into two discs. Wrap well in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  3. Drain chicken, and reserve the stock. Shred the chicken into bite-size strips, and set aside. Strain the stock, and set aside 2 cups. Reserve the remaining stock for another use.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the remaining 7 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add red potatoes, cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to turn golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add leeks, carrots, and mushrooms, and cook 4 to 5 minutes more. Add the remaining 7 tablespoons flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in reserved chicken stock and milk, and bring to a simmer. Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add reserved chicken pieces, parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons thyme, lemon zest, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and the ground pepper; transfer to two pie dishes. Set aside.
  5. Roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick, and transfer to a baking sheet. Allow to chill 15 minutes. Make an egg wash: In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining yolk and heavy cream. Working quickly, place the dough over the top of the chicken mixture, and tuck extra dough around the edges. Cut slits on top to allow steam to escape. Brush with the egg wash, and place on a baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot. Freeze one pie before baking for later if you like. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil and use within a month.

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt ( I like these salty like French fries), and serve immediately.

Are you hungry yet?

Butterscotch-Topped Gingerbread Cake with Sauteed Apples

For the butterscotch:
6 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 c packed brown sugar

For the cake:
2 3/4 c cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs ground ginger
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
8 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 cup boiling water
2 large eggs

For the topping:
3 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs sugar
1 3/4 lbs. Apples, peeled, sliced

Butter and flour sides but not bottom of 9 inch round pan. 3 inches deep.

Make butterscotch: in a small saucepan melt 6 Tbs butter and sugar together, stirring for a smooth mixture. Pour it into the cake pan and swirl it to coat the bottom. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Put water on to start boiling. In a bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, singer, cinnamon, and cloves, and set aside. Using paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. With a fork, stir in 1 tsp of the baking soda vigorously into the molasses until the molasses has lightened somewhat and has changed in texture. This can take a minute or two. Add the molasses to the butter-sugar mixture and mix on medium until completely combined. Add the remaining 1/2 tsp of baking soda to the boiling water. On low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the water to the butter mixture. Finally add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine after each addition. The batter will be very thin. Bake until the center of the cake is spriny and a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes and invert cake onto a serving plate. Let cool an hour before serving. Just vbfore serving, saute apples in butter and sugar mixture. Top cake with warm apples and serve with whipped cream.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shortbread Cookies and Hayrides

If I didn't know what it would do to me, I would eat shortbread all day long.

The pink cookies are frosted with vanilla-flavored icing, the yellows are frosted with almond-flavored icing, and the others are left naked for Bobby, because he is less gluttonous than I am.

I saw this recipe on 101 cookbooks and had an instant craving, and since I had a hayride and potluck that evening, I had the perfect opportunity to fill that craving and divvy out the rest in hopes of keeping my pregnancy weight gain down this month. It probably didn't work. Might as well make that cheesecake I've been dreaming about...

Anyway, my friend Erin brought iced shortbread cookies, a family favorite of hers, to a cooking club we had few years ago. So I decided to make the shortbread cookie recipe below and borrowed her recipe for icing.

Shortbread Cookies (adapted from 101 cookbooks)
adapted makes me laugh- the only thing I changed was I didn't use a vanilla bean.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a mixing bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat again, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl once or twice as you are mixing. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture in two additions. Stir until everything comes together into a thick dough.

Turn the dough out onto a countertop and divide into two pieces, there is quite a bit of dough, so cutting it into two pieces just makes it easier to roll out later on. Press each piece of dough out into a flat patty an inch thick. Wrap each piece in plastic and chill completely in the refrigerator - about thirty minutes. When the dough is chilled, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out 1/4-1/2-inch thick. Cut the dough into desired shapes using cookie cutters or a knife and place on a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet.

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are barely golden.

Erin's icing:

2-2 1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c oil
1 stp. almond extract (or 2 tsp vanilla extract
4 T milk
Food coloring

Mix well and add a little more milk or sugar for good consistency.

These cookies really hit the spot! Here's some pictures from the hayride. We had a great time!

Related Posts with Thumbnails