Thursday, October 29, 2009

pumpkin cranberry bread

oh my, this is crazy easy and crazy delicious. i whipped up a loaf of this moist pumpkin cranberry bread earlier this morning. it took no time to throw together, in one bowl i might add and bake. i iced it with a vanilla cream cheese glaze i winged. holy moly, it is pumpkin-y, cranberry-y and spicy. i opted out of the nuts, but i bet walnuts would be delicious the next go around. my four year has jumped on it like white on rice. go make a loaf today.

you can find the recipe here . i didn't have an orange, so as usual, i subbed sunnyd! works for me. here is my take on the icing. i put it on the loaf while it was still slightly warm, so it would great the lovely waterfall effect. naw, i was just in a hurry and didn't feel like waiting till it completely cooled. i am lazy that way or impatient is more like it. anyway, it tastes pretty good. enjoy.

beth's vanilla cream cheese icing

in a bowl mix the following til you get the consistency you like:

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cream cheese
1/2 tsp real vanilla
1 cup confectioners sugar
2-3 tsp of fat free half and half(it was what i had, but you could use any type of milk)

my icing was pretty thick, keep adding your milk till you get it how you want it. drizzle, pour, spread, slop, whatever on your ridiculously easy, moist, yummy pumpkin cranberry bread.

leaning loaf of loveliness....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

cranberry bars

i made a half pan of cranberry bars adapted from here. ms. goodman's blog is simply beautiful, her pictures incredible. i am afraid neither my bars nor my picture do her justice. the only changes i made to her recipe, besides cutting it in half was to use vanilla sugar instead of plain white, and since i had no orange, i subbed sunnyd, yep sunnyd. these bars are delicious, if you like cranberries and i happen to adore them, you will enjoy these. they are not overly sweet with a nice tang from the berries. jamie loved the crust the best. he told me he wished i used the dough for cookies. these cranberry bars make a wonderful fall dessert. go check them out. enjoy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

creamy tomato soup with a buttery baguette crouton

i love soups and a good tomato soup in particular, but i always thought the canned soups were the good ones, until now. i made the best creamy tomato soup tonight. i say creamy, but it has crushed tomatoes in it lending it to be a little lumpy, yet delicious. i like the lumps, but i am sure you could do away with them with an immersion blender or a food processor. i don't recall where the recipe came from, but no matter, it's mine now. i switched it up quite a bit adding oregano and freshly ground black pepper among other goodies. it is delicious. no more slithering condensed tomato soup that goes splat in this house. it is homemade all the way.

oh, try sinking a pat of butter to the bottom of your bowl for even more flavor. oh baby....

i also bought a little baguette a the store, cut in pieces, basted it with butter, sprinkled with seasoned salt and baked in a slow oven till nice and toasty. it was a big fat crouton to float on top. mmmm.... mmmm good. enjoy.

beth's creamy tomato soup

3 cups tomato juice(you could use v8, but i just used plain tomato juice)
1 28 oz can good crushed tomatoes( i used hunt's)
1 cup fat free half and half
1 med sized shallot diced
3 tsp butter
1 to 1.5 tsp dried oregano(rub in between you hands to release the oils when adding)
2 tbsp of flour
1 tsp salt
3-4 tsp of sugar
freshly ground pepper or pepper

in a bowl whisk together two cups of juice, milk and canned tomatoes. set aside.

in a dutch oven or large pot, melt butter over med high heat, add the shallot and oregano. saute a few minutes until shallots are tender. add the flour and stir for another minute or so. now add the tomato/milk mixture. whisk to combine and keep whisking till the soup begins to boil. now reduce to low and add the other cup of tomato juice, salt, sugar and a good grind of pepper. let the soup simmer uncovered for about an hour, stir often to make sure it does not stick to the pot's bottom. taste and adjust your seasoning. you could even add some red pepper flakes for some bite.

i think this would be wonderful topped with parmesan or cheddar cheese, pretzels, goldfish crackers, just about anything. i even think the addition of some rice would be lovely. it makes for a tasty jumping off point.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

cream cheese spritz cookies, not so good

so i thought it would be cute and fun to make the kids some halloween or fall like cookies. i also thought a cream cheese spritz might be tasty. i searched the net and found a recipe that sounded good, turns out, not so good. anyway, i whipped up the dough, attempted to dye it orange, baked up more peach, added some sprinkles and colored sugar, ugh, i don't like these.

first, they were hard to press. they wouldn't separate easily from the cookie press. i had to gently coax them with a knife, which doesn't make for pretty cookies. also, the taste of the cookie was too tangy and a tad too flour-y. the recipe, which i am not going to share, (you don't want it anyway) used two full sticks of butter and 8 oz block of cream cheese. jeeze, i could have made a pumpkin cheesecake with that, what a waste. oh well....


today is my 44th birthday, now what?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

just too cute

you just gotta love krispy kreme for these adorable jack-o-lantern doughnuts. travis and i hit up the doughnut plant, factory, bakery, feed store, whatever you call it this morning and bought a dozen to share with the family. just too cute....
they are just plain glazed by the way, no filling. wouldn't a pumpkin filling be spooktacular?

Monday, October 19, 2009

yorktown day 2009 and ham biscuits

today is yorktown day. that is 228 years ago today the british surrender ending the battle of yorktown bringing about the end of the revolutionary war. it also marks the day of eating too many ham biscuits, well, in my case. travis and myself spent the morning in yorktown watching the parade, people, enjoying the perfect fall weather and overindulging in ham biscuits. well, i did. here are few pics of our yorktown day!

p.s.-as you will see, apparently there can never be enough fife and drum corps, not to mention ham biscuits.

i told travis to go stand by the cannon and he went and stood by a trashcan?

the haunted nelson house...spoooky....

its gardens....

the ole alma mater....go falcons!

french children, who can resist....too cute....

brunswick stew....

ham biscuits....oh my....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

sweet taters, ree and a pepper mill

i am so excited and full. tonight i went with two of my girlfriends, lauri and julie, for a little pre-birthday celebratory dinner and boy howdy was it ever so good. my 44th is coming up on thursday and my girls always take great care of me. don't get me wrong, i always look forward to spending some time with them, but most importantly, i know a good meal will be involved and tonight was no exception. we dined here, enjoying good ole southern cuisine. it's where i ate my weight in sweet potatoes among other tasty treats such as homemade mac and cheese, cabbage, bbq ribs, fried fish, corn bread and broccoli casserole, oh, i mean potato salad(it looked the same to me). thank you ladies. it was wonderful and very filling. now wait, it gets better, the presents! the girls know how much i enjoy the pioneer woman's blog, so they presented me with her brand new cookbook or rather a nice replica. it is sorta like a pioneer woman cooks award. it's a piece of wood with the cookbook's front cover lamented to it and a promissory note attached that tells me i have a pre-ordered copy on the way!! yeehaw!! oh, and it just keeps coming, the cherry to my over indulgent sweet tater, ree drummond sundae, a brand new pepper mill! i have been wanting one for a long time and either i have been to forgetful, lazy or cheap to make the purchase. this is what makes this ole gal happy. these are my diamonds, my jewels. thank you so much ladies for a great evening.

p.s.-my birthday is not till thursday, so there is still the opportunity for someone to get me that doughnut pan. teehee.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

don't panic, i am in the process of changing my template

and it might take a few days. the other was getting on my nerves. i am in hopes that if i change templates i can get a few of the "gadgets" to work properly and drum up more business, so to speak. please bear with me. thanks!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

cheese straws, more plank than straw

i have not been to inspired to bake these days and i don't really know why. i do know that i have been thinking about cheese straws though. you know, those buttery, cheesy little crackers squeezed through your mama's cookie press and baked lightly till crispy. they are pretty common here in the southern u.s. and i just love'em. cheese straws make a great nibble paired with some salty green olives or homemade bread and butter pickles. although i didn't really need an excuse to make a batch, i thought they would be tasty with the big ole pot of bean and bacon soup i am making for supper. now, i need to clarify that my cheese straws are more like cheese planks. i did proudly use my mother's 1960's cookie press, but fitted it with the bar disk rather than the star, which would have given you more of a rope that you would need to cut into sections(straws). actually, any disk would work. next time, how about some cheese spritzes!

this recipe for cheese straws is crazy easy and can be made entirely in the food processor.

cheese straws

preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit

1 8oz block sharp cheddar cheese(i use extra sharp)
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 stick of butter, softened(butter, not margarine)
one pinch of cayenne pepper or to your liking(i go easy on the cayenne for the kiddos)
.5 tsp salt

that's it. now, in your processor or by hand, grate the cheese. remove the shredder blade and replace with the steel knife blade. i just dump my grated cheese into another bowl, switch blades and right back in. add the butter, pulse a few times to get it going and then add the rest. you might need to pulse, take off the lid and push things around a bit, but it will magically become a dough ball. now fill your cookie press and start squeezing or twisting, in my case, onto parchment lined cookie sheets. i use silpats. bake about 11-12 minutes. when you smell them, they are generally done. cool and enjoy.

the bean and bacon soup came from here. this is one of my absolute favorite blogs. i did switch up the recipe a bit, instead of an onion, i used a shallot. i used two cans of navy and one can great northern beans. i opted for one large clove garlic instead of four average size. oh, also it was not quite thick enough for me, so i added a little cornstarch slurry. overall, this is a dynamite recipe. thanks pam!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


caroline hits the hay.... the hayride that is....

it was a beautiful day, so we threw the youngin's in the car and headed to pumpkinville in toano, va. it was fun, for them. personally, it was nothing special. oh well....

travis was more interested in the pumpkin bean bag toss....

it's the great pumpkin charlie brown!

ripe for the pickin'....

i found one, i found one!

an orange beauty....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

hannah's chicken tortilla soup and ina's corn muffins

so i tried two new things yesterday and both turned out to be very good things.

first, i had seen ina garten aka the barefoot contessa make the best looking corn muffins while tuned into the network, so naturally i had to have them. i wanted to pair the muffins up with something different, that's when i saw this. yeehaw, that looks mighty tasty, not to mention mighty easy. hannah, over at honey and jam makes the most delicious recipes, visits fun places and documents all with the most amazing photos and she is only nineteen folks! i mean, hey, i am forty three and still can't do any of those things near as well as hannah. maybe, when i grown up. please take a moment and peruse her site. it is fantastic.

both the soup and corn muffins were a big hit with the hubby. the kids, not so much, but they are weird anyway. the soup was perfectly spicy even though i opted out of the jalapeno. i cheated and used a rotisserie chicken which worked perfectly. i also used a quality sharp white cheddar rather than the monterey jack cheese. oh, and the lime, don't forget the lime, squeeze a wedge over your bowl. it just gives it that something extra special "kick". yummy! i will make this again and again.

now, the corn muffins, oh my, they were delightful, delicious, delovely. this is an excellent recipe and one for your cookbook. i halved the recipe and got six texas sized muffins. they baked up beautifully and are a moist, cakey, buttery, desserty corn muffin. both recipes are simply great. i hope you give them a whirl. enjoy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

scalloped potatoes and ham

a real quick post to share with you one of my personal favorites for cold weather, scalloped potatoes and ham. i love this stuff! it is not for the faint of heart when it comes to calories, but oh my is it worth the splurge. i am sure you can lighten the load some, i try to and i will share those secrets. oh, i generally serve a big green salad to cancel out those fat grams. well, mostly to make me feel better about eating all those fat grams and to pretend i am eating healthy. enjoy.

scalloped potatoes and ham-your can find the recipe here.

my changes-i use fat free half and half, 2% milk and also, 2% cheddar that i sprinkle on top after it comes out of the oven. just put your lid back on and the heat will melt it beautifully. also, i don't do cayenne, because, well, i don't do cayenne.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

easy cherry turnovers

this was breakfast this morning and they were delicious. i had seen a post somewhere on the net about making these simple, yet luscious little gems. i just know i had to give them a whirl and besides it doesn't get much easier than this to make your family fresh pastries.

i choose cherry, but just imagine the possibilities. it using canned pie filling, but i am sure any fresh fruit compote with be divine. i have got in my mind peach or sweet potato for the next go around. holy moly. enjoy.

easy cherry turnovers

preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat

here we go, you need one box of puff pastry and a can of your favorite fruit pie filling. one box will make eight turnovers, i only made four this morning, so i have another sheet to change up the fruit filling. thaw at room temp per instructions. once thawed, roll with your rolling pin to make a nice smooth rectangle. now cut into four smaller rectangles, i use my pizza cutter for this part. pop the top of your pie filling and place a good spoonful on one corner of each of the puff pastry squares. you are going to fold to make a triangle. you follow, right? also, it's okay if a little of the fruit squirts out, i just shove it back in the best i can and then crimp the sides with a fork to seal. you can pull and stretch the pastry as necessary to make sure it seals. you won't hurt it.

okay, now take one egg white and separate. mix a little water into the white to make an egg wash. you can use the whole egg, but i like just the white.( i nuke the yolk for about 20 seconds and give to the dog as a treat) now, brush this all over the top and sides of your turnovers. pop into your preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until nice and brown.

meanwhile, whip up a glaze for your pastries. mix about .5 cup powdered sugar with a drop of good vanilla and a tbsp or so of water. stir until mixed. you might need to adjust your water and sugar to get the consistency you want. i brush my glaze on with a pastry brush, so it is pretty thin. if you prefer to drizzle, make it thicker. let your turnovers cool slightly, brush on your glaze while they are still warm. cool, long enough for the glaze to set. enjoy.

fresh, warmed by the morning sun....yummy with hot coffee or tea....

Friday, October 2, 2009

soft and spicy molasses cookies

october is here, bring on the cool weather. i love october and not just because it is my birthday month, but because to me it signals that fall has truly arrived. my kiddos requested their favorite cookie, next to a snickerdoodle, these soft and spicy molasses cookies. i think these are awesome too, but strictly a fall cookie. it is just something about the flavors that seem so appropriate. i got the recipe a gazillion years ago from a co-worker and fell in love. they are so moist and chewy, full of cloves, cinnamon and ginger. i was thinking next time i might add some chopped candied ginger. oooh, how lovely, but i am not sure my kids would go for it. this recipe makes a ton of cookies, plenty to eat and plenty to share. enjoy.

beth's soft and spicy molasses cookies

preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit

in a large bowl, cream 1 stick of softened butter and a .5 cup of vegetable shortening. add to that mixture 1.5 cups of sugar and beat till light and fluffy. to the butter mixture add .5 cup molasses and two eggs beat until smooth, turn off mixer.

now, in another bowl sift together your dry ingredients- four cups flour, .5 tsp of salt, 2.25 tsp baking soda, 2.25 tsp ground ginger, 1.5 tsp cinnamon and 1.5 tsp clove. okay, with mixer back on, gradually pour your dry ingredients into your creamed mixture until dough is blended and smooth. the dough will be sticky, so pop it into your fridge for about an hour to make it easier to handle.

in a bowl place about .5 cup more of sugar. you are going to use this for rolling your dough balls. pinch off a piece of cookie dough and roll into about an inch sized ball, roll in sugar and place on your cookie sheets lined with a silpat or parchment about two inches apart. bake for about 13 minutes. do not over bake. allow to cool a few minutes and inhale.

p.s.- these cookies do not spread a lot, so bigger the ball you roll the thicker the cookie. you will have to adjust the baking time.