Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Roll Pancakes

Pumpkin Roll Pancakes

I was going through my blog reading and I saw this delicious recipe for Pumpkin Roll Pancakes from Our Best Bites.  The first thing that caught my eye was the picture then I read the recipe and I knew they were going to be fabulous.  To begin with, a luscious Cream Cheese Whipped Cream is spread between the pancakes and a dollop of the Cream Cheese Cream is placed on top of the stack.  I could just sit down and eat this delicious mixture of cream cheese and whipped cream.  The pancakes are made with all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  To the dry ingredients you add buttermilk, vanilla extract, eggs, canola oil, and pumpkin puree.  The batter smells absolutely wonderful as you are mixing it up.  You cook the pancakes and assemble. Drizzle with some maple syrup and you are ready to eat.

This was a breakfast to remember.  The pancakes were divine.  They were moist and ever so flavorful.  A great breakfast for the fall season or anytime.   You can find the recipe here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Baked Manicotti

Baked Manicotti
One of my standard go to recipes for comfort food is Manicotti.  I love the taste of  pasta tubes stuffed with a flavorful ricotta cheese filling  and topped with a delicious tomato sauce.  Manicotti is a great dish to prepare ahead of time and freeze or put in the fridge to heat and serve the next day. It is also a quick and economical  meal to prepare.  This is a great a dish for your meatless meal days.

Start by cooking the pasta and set it aside to cool.  Prepare the cheese mixture by combing the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg, and spices.  Stuff the shells.  I use an ice tea spoon and use the handle to push the stuffing into the shell.  Place the stuffed shells in the baking pan and bake.  Let cool and serve.



1 (8-ounce) box Manicotti Pasta
2 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
2 cups Ricotta cheese
1 egg slightly beaten
1 ¼ cups mozzarella cheese, divided
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon white pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook 9 manicotti shells according to package directions.  Drain and place cooked shells on a lightly greased baking sheet.
3.Spread 1-½ cups of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish.
4. Mix in a medium bowl the ricotta cheese with the slightly beaten egg.
5. Add the onion powder, dried parsley, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper to the cheese mixture.  Stir until well combined.  Stir in 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.

6.Stuff the pasta shells with the cheese mixture.  Place in the baking dish on top of the sauce.   Repeat with the remaining shells.

7. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the sauce.
8. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly and cheese has melted.
9. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings
Baked Manicotti

Friday, October 26, 2012

Caramel Apples

Salted Caramel Apple
One of my favorite fall traditions is making Caramel Apples with the kids.  They like decorating them and best of all eating them. One great thing about decorating the apples is you can decorate them with whatever your favorite toppings are. You can add as much or as little decorations to your apple as you wish.  My kids like heavy caramel, light to medium decorating.   Our decorations for the apples are salt, Mini M&M's. chopped pecans,  and mini chocolate chips.   About 2 years ago, I  discovered  Caramel Bits.  They are my favorite.  They are so much better than unwrapping a bag of caramels.  Just put them in the pan and you are ready to cook.  This year I changed my standard recipe.  I found a recipe on the  The Pioneer Woman Cooks website I decided to try.  I only made half of her recipe and the caramel came out perfect.

You start by melting the caramel bits with cream in a double boiler.  Once the caramel has melted you add the vanilla and salt and stir until smooth.  Now for the fun part.  You dip and swirl your apples in the caramel.  Let the excess drip off and roll  the apple in your favorite toppings.  Once the apples have cooled they are ready to enjoy.
Note:  Depending on the size of your apples you will need to use one or two sticks at the bottom of the apple.

Corn Skewers
Salted (and Other) Caramel Apples
Modified From The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Special Equipment: Popsicle Sticks, Corn Skewers, or Chopsticks


4 whole apples (more, if apples are small)
2 packages (11-ounce) Caramel Bits
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt


Mini M&Ms,  kosher salt, chocolate chips,  crushed pecans

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.  Melt caramel bits with cream in a double boiler or glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Add vanilla extract and salt.  Stir until smooth.
2. Stick one or two popsicle sticks (corn skewers, chopsticks)  in the bottom of the apple.
3. Dip one at a time, the apples in the caramel.  Allow excess to drip back into the pan for a couple of seconds, then carefully roll the apple in your favorite topping. Place the apples on the  baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Repeat with all the apples, refrigerating apples as soon as they're coated.  Once cool, wrap apples with cellophane or plastic wrap.

Makes 4 apples

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Black Pepper Kettle Corn

Black Pepper Kettle Corn
Kettle Corn is one of my favorite snacks.  Not only is it quick, it is easy, inexpensive, and tasty.  I found a recipe for "Black Pepper Kettle Corn" in Better Homes & Gardens magazine.  It looked and sounded great. A perfect munchie for an afternoon snack, movie time, or a set- me- on- the- table and enjoy me treat.  As I said, it is easy to make but you have to move quick.  It is best to have all ingredients laid out before you begin cooking. You first heat oil (I used Canola) in a large pot - I tend to use an extra large pot.  I have had popcorn spilling over one to many times.  Once the oil is heated, you add the popcorn kernels.  Cook them for 2 minutes then sprinkle the sugar over the kernels.  Cover the pan and cook shaking the pan until the popping slows down.  Remove the  pan for the heat and toss the popcorn with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour into a serving bowl and enjoy.

My family really loved this popcorn.  It was sweet, salty, and a little peppery. As the recipe stated it cures every craving.    They ate a good portion of it before I had a chance to take a picture. This explains why my bowl is three-quarters full in the picture.

Black Pepper Kettle Corn
From Better Homes & Gardens magazine


1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. In a large pot heat the oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the popcorn kernels; cook 2 minutes, shaking occasionally.
Popcorn Kernels Cooking in Oil
3. Sprinkle the sugar over the kernels.
4. Cover and cook, shaking the pan until the popping slows down.
5. Remove from heat; toss with the salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Serve

Popped Corn

Tossed With Salt and Pepper

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dulce de Leche Pudding

Dulce de Leche Pudding
My daughter, Becky, came home from school the other day announcing that a boy in her class brought Dulce de Leche pudding in his lunch.  She said it looked real good.   When we went grocery shopping she looked for it, but the store did not have it. I told her pudding is really easy to make.  Her and I could make some at home.  We just needed to buy some dulce de leche and we would be set.  Dulce de leche translates  "candy of milk."  Dulce de leche is made by heating sweetened milk.  The milk gets its taste from caramelised sugar.
When we got home we got busy making the  pudding. I found an easy and quick recipe at Chatelaine.  To begin, cornstarch and sugar are whisked together and then cream is whisked in.  Milk is brought almost to a boil and whisked slowly into the cream mixture.   You return the combined mixture to the stove and cook until mixture is bubbly.  You then remove the pudding from the heat and stir in the dulce de leche and vanilla.  Chill for at least 2 hours.  Serve with whipped cream and grated or shaved chocolate.  I grated mine.  Serve.
Becky was pleased with her pudding.  It was sweet, smooth and delicious.  Just like pudding should taste:)

Dulce de Leche Pudding
From Chatelaine


3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup whipping cream
3 cups milk
3/4 cup dulce de leche
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whipped cream for garnish
Chocolate shavings for garnish


1. Whisk sugar with cornstarch in a medium bowl, then whisk in cream.

Sugar and Cornstarch
Cream Whisked into Sugar and Cornstarch
2. Pour milk into a large saucepan and set over medium-high heat.  Bring almost to a boil; milk will begin to steam and foam around the edges.  Remove from heat.  Whisk about 1 cup hot milk into sugar mixture. Then slowly whisk sugar mixture back into remaining milk in saucepan.  Place over medium heat.  Cook, whisking frequently, until mixture bubbles vigorously over entire surface and pudding thickens, 9 to 12 minutes.  Immediately reduce heat to low and whisk frequently for 2 minutes.
Small Amount of Milk Whisked into Sugar Mixture
3. Remove from heat and stir in dulce de leche and vanilla  extract until evenly mixed.  Spoon into individual serving dishes or into a large bowl.  Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding.  Refrigerate.  It thicken as it cools, about 2 hours.  Pudding will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days.  Serve topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Makes 8 servings
Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche  Stirred Into Pudding Base

Pudding Covered With Plastic Wrap


Friday, October 19, 2012

Spur-of-the Moment Vegetable Soup, aka Stone Soup (the Carrot Version)

Carrot Soup
This week in French Fridays With Dorie we made some soup.  Not any soup but a delicious velvety carrot soup.  Start by slicing up some carrots, celery, and garlic.  Chop  an onion, some  fresh ginger, and dice a small potato.  Add this veggie mixture to a large Dutch oven and cook in butter or olive oil.  Add some chicken broth, a rosemary sprig, and simmer.  Smell the enticing aroma as it cooks - mmm wonderful.  At this point you can leave the soup chunky or puree it.  I chose to puree mine.  After the soup was pureed, I reheated the soup and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  The result was a wonderful savory soup .  I loved the sweetness of the carrots with a hint of the ginger.    Quite delicious:)  This recipe gets two thumbs up.

This recipe can be found on Pages 74-75 in "Around My French Table."

Carrots, Onion, Ginger, Garlic, Rosemary, Celery

In the Pot

Ready to Eat

Velvety Goodness

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
These cookies are Scrumpdillyicious:)  I love em. I could have sat down and eaten all of them by myself. What makes them soo good is this rich German Chocolate filling in every bite.  Think of pecan pie filling with coconut and chocolate.  This delicious filling is  spread over a chocolate shortbread crust.  MMM gooey, chocolaty goodness.   These cookies are not that hard to make.  The crust is made in a food processor and then patted down in a foil lined baking dish.  You bake the crust and then sprinkle chocolate chips over the crust.  Let the crust cool.  You then make your filling - brown sugar, eggs, light corn syrup, butter coconut, and toasted pecans.  Spoon the filling over the crust and bake.  Cool,  refrigerate and eat. The family loved these cookies, except for the child who HATES coconut.  I do not know where the child got this hatred of coconut. After devouring these cookies the   majority of the family agreed on two main things.  Instead of having both Pumpkin and Pecan pies for Thanksgiving,  we will have Pumpkin Pie and our German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars. Second,  this cookie will be the main focus of our Christmas Cookie Neighborhood Exchange.  Now to share this recipe with you.

German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
From Southern Living Magazine


3 cups pecan halves and pieces
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Getting Ready To Toast Pecans
2. Line bottom and sides of a 13-x9-inch pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides.  Lightly grease foil.
3. Pulse flour and next 3 ingredients in a food processor 5 to 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Press mixture on bottom and 3/4 inch up sides of prepared pan.

4. Bake crust at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate morsels over crust.  Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).

5. Whisk together brown sugar and next 3 ingredients until smooth.  Stir in coconut and toasted pecans, and spoon into prepared crust.

6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and set.  Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).  Chill 1 hour.  Lift baked bars from pan using foil sides as handles.  Transfer to a cutting board; cut into bars.

Yummy Goodness:)

 Makes about 24 bars

Monday, October 15, 2012

Panera's Cream Cheese Potato Soup

Cream Cheese Potato Soup

It is soup weather.  I love making and of course eating soup.  It can be a broth soup or a rich and hearty cream soup.  It doesn't matter,  I like them all.  Today, I made a thick and creamy potato soup.  My youngest had his tonsils out and this is one of his favorites.  Usually, I do as the recipe states and just smash a few of the potatoes.  I decided I would puree the soup today for my kid.   If the soup is too thick for your liking you can thin it with milk or chicken broth.  You could also just smash a few potatoes like the original recipe states.  As the recipe title indicates, cream cheese is used in this soup. Cream cheese adds a nice velvety texture to the soup and it has a nice mild taste. To make this recipe,
you begin by boiling cubed potatoes, onion, and spices in chicken broth until the potatoes are tender.  The recipe originally called for 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper - I used Cayenne pepper.  I reduced it to 1/4 teaspoon because the spiciness overpowered the soup.   Let the soup cool and then puree it.  Return the soup to the heat and stir in the cream cheese until it melts. If the soup is too thick thin it with milk or some more chicken broth.  Serve.
This soup is a meal on its own.  Serve it with  some bread and you have a nice light dinner.

Panera's Cream Cheese Potato Soup

4 cups chicken broth
4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1/4 cup minced onions
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper depending on taste
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cut into chunks


1. In a Dutch Oven combine broth, potatoes, onion, and spices.
2. Bring to a boil.  Cover and cook on medium heat until the potatoes are tender.
3.  Remove the soup from the heat and let cool if you are going to puree the soup.  If not, smash a few of the potatoes to release their starch for thickening.
4. Return soup to heat and reduce to low heat.
5. Add the cream cheese and stir until cheese melts.
6. Serve.

Makes 4-6 servings