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November 30, 2011

Saveur Kartoffelrahmsuppe (Spiced Potato Soup)

Cold weather doesn't agree with me. I freeze once the temp hits approximately 50 degrees. Everyone else in my house seems content to sit around in t-shirts, while I have a sweatshirt and huge blanket wrapped around me. To me the fall and winter are worse weather wise than the summer. Even when I am burning up I can shed clothes or turn on the air conditioner, in the winter I just plain freeze. One thing I love to keep me somewhat warm during the cooler months is soup. There is nothing more warming than a big bowl of soup and a slice of homemade bread. Recently, Saveur magazine had a recipe for Kartoffelrahmsuppe (Spiced Potato Soup), which looked creamy, warm, and delicious.

This recipe has 18 ingredients. The prep and cooking time is approximately an hour and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients. Recently, my local grocery store has started carrying leeks in the organic section, which is so much better than having to drive 30 minutes to the suburban grocery store. Instead of store bought stock, I used the homemade chicken stock that I already had in my freezer. I chose to leave out the caramelized onions since my two boys were eating the recipe, and would shy away from them. Instead of cooking the soup for 30 minutes, I allowed my soup to cook for closer to 45 minutes in order for the potatoes to be completely soft and cooked through. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I was very impressed with this recipe. The horseradish gives the soup a spicy undertone which blends perfectly with the potatoes and leeks. The recipe states that it makes 4 servings, but it made enough for a meal for my family of four plus leftovers for lunch the next day. This soup would make a great addition to a steak dinner or a roast beef sandwich. A delicious soup that would compliment a variety of beef dishes.

For the recipe go to Spiced Potato Soup.

November 29, 2011

Woman's Day Easy Scones

As I've stated before I am horrible about eating breakfast. Most mornings I grab a cup of coffee and nothing else until lunch. The one exception is if I have baked scones. I love scones and they are one of the few breakfast foods that I will always eat. Since I make scones approximately once a month, I am always looking for new recipe ingredients. The November issue of Woman's Day magazine had a recipe for Easy Scones using lemon-lime soda, which looked unusual and perfect for a weekday breakfast.

This recipe has 3 ingredients. It takes a total of 30 minutes, 10 of which is active and makes 8 servings. I made a few modifications to this recipe. First, I used sierra mist soda, since it was what was on sale the week that I made these scones. For flavor I added dried cranberries, approximately 1/2 cup. I love fruit scones and the cranberries give a nice sweet/tart element. Finally, instead of spooning the dough, I hand patted the dough into a circle and cut into eight triangles. Before putting the scones in the oven I brushed the tops with heavy whipping cream and sprinkled with granulated sugar. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys got a kick out of this recipe. I had never used lemon-lime soda in a scone recipe, so I was intrigued by the concept. The scones turned out moist and delicious and the dried cranberries made a delicious addition. The best part of the recipe is that it only has 3 ingredients (4 if using dried cranberries). A very quick and easy scone recipe, that turns out light and perfect for breakfast.

For the recipe go to Easy Scones.

November 28, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Sweet-and-Salty Pecans

I'm a huge snack person. When I was younger I was always active in swimming, dancing, running; you name the physical activity and I probably had tried it. In the evenings after school I would run in and eat half the fridge before dashing off for hours of swimming lessons or dance classes. I was lucky that I had inherited my dad's very tall and lean bone structure and a very high metabolism. When my parents first got married my dad apparently ate 5 bologna sandwiches for lunch and was still a six foot three inch bean pole. As I've gotten older and had two c-sections I now try to watch the snacks that I put into my body and find a balance between protein and taste. Don't get me wrong, I am still the most likely person in my house to eat cake for breakfast, but I am also the one snacking on almonds and soy nuts. Recently, Martha Stewart Living had a recipe for Sweet and Salty Pecans, which looked simple, delicious and perfect for snacking.

This recipe has 4 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of prep and cooking time, 5 minutes of which is active, and makes 4 cups of nuts. Since this recipe has so few ingredients, I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store. I chose to use pecans, but cashew or walnuts would work just as well. Make sure to stir your nuts every 5 minutes and keep the nuts flat in order for them to be crisp, not soggy. Salt the nuts while still warm for the best flavor. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

With four ingredients, this is a very easy recipe. These nuts were great to grab as a snack during the rush of Thanksgiving cooking and my two kids thought they tasted like candy. I used these nuts as a snack, but they would make a perfect gift. With a great package and a bow these nuts would make a great homemade Christmas gift. Overall, a very easy and delicious snack or gift idea.

For the recipe go to Sweet and Salty Pecans.

November 27, 2011

Taste of Home Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas

My oldest son is on a serious mushroom kick. I have made more mushroom recipes in the last couple of months than I have in years. I'm lucky that my five-year-old is a great helper and has become my kitchen side kick during dinner prep. I love spending time with my two sons in the kitchen and it provides a great way to teach them fractions, math and general science lessons. My five-year-old now is able to dump in ingredients and is beginning to understand how to read recipes. In order to help him appreciate the food that he eats, I have been preparing recipes involving ingredients that he loves, such as mushrooms. The November issue of Taste of Home magazine had a recipe for Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas using lime juice and mushrooms, which looked delicious and a great recipe to have my son help to prepare.

This recipe has 16 ingredients. It takes approximately 35 minutes of prep and 14 minutes of baking, and makes 6 total servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store. I do wish that my store had baby portobello mushrooms by the pound, they are a great deal more expensive when sold pre-packaged. I did make one modification, I only had beef bouillon granules, so I substituted it for the chicken bouillon granules called for in the recipe. Finally, I chose to add the red pepper flakes, my family likes a little kick in our food. Make sure to adequately cook the spinach in order for all the water to be cooked out. I let my spinach cook a good 15-20 minutes. Letting the water cook off is essential to avoid soggy enchiladas. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The lime in this recipe gives the enchiladas a great citrus taste. Everyone in my family enjoyed this dish and the leftovers re-heated great for lunch the next day. The serving size is large and I was able to make two meals, making it very economical at only 4 dollars a serving. Overall, a great inexpensive enchilada recipe.

For the recipe go to Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas.

November 24, 2011

Womans Day Open-Faced Orange and Cumin-Spiced Pork Sandwiches

With two growing and rambunctious boys, I oftentimes find myself short on time around dinner. I will start something to serve and within a couple of minutes my two boys will have total pre-dinner meltdowns. Thus, dinner turns into disarray as I scramble to find something that we can possibly eat. To the rescue comes my slowcooker. I love how easy it is to start something in the crockpot in the morning and by dinner everything is done. This way even if my two boys start melting down it doesn't matter since the food is already ready to serve. The October issue of Woman's Day magazine had a recipe for Open-Faced Orange and Cumin-Pork Sandwiches, which looked delicious and full of great spices.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes a total of 8 hours and 15 minutes, 15 minutes of which is active, and makes 4 servings. All the ingredients were easy to find at my local grocery store. I did make some major modifications to the original recipe. First, I prefer for pulled pork to keep my pork butt whole during the crockpot time. I salt and pepper the butt, pan sear on all sides, and then add fat side up to the crockpot. The flavor from the bone makes for a rich, delicious flavor. I chose to add the whole cloves, just make sure to take them out before serving. Finally, I forgot to make fresh country bread, so I served the sandwiches on Naan, since I already had it on hand. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

This recipe is very easy to prepare and has a great flavor from all the spices. The modification to the bread, made a delicious compliment to the flavors. My two boys loved this recipe and ate their whole servings, plus leftovers the next day. During the fall and winter months, crockpot recipes can be a great way to prepare dinner without much effort, and this recipe is no exception. Overall a great blend of spices in a quick, pork recipe.

For the recipe got to Open-Faced Orange and Cumin-Spiced Pork Sandwiches.

November 23, 2011

Rosemary Roasted Nuts

I have a horrible snacking habit. Growing up I would drive my mom crazy when I would come home from school and eat half the fridge. I would then go on to eat dinner and snack again before bed. I was lucky to have inherited my dad's genetics, which pre-disposed me to being tall and thin, the opposite of my mother's family. My mother was always determined that my snacking would make me overweight, but eventually gave in to the fact that I snack instead of eating big meals. As an adult I have become even worse with my snacking. My two kids are constantly on the go, so I have become adept at snacking throughout the day since I end up missing meals. One of my favorite snack foods is nuts. They taste great and have enough protein to keep my energy levels up. Recently I found a recipe for Rosemary Roasted Nuts on recipe.com, which loved very simple and a great way to get more nutrition into my snacks.

This recipe has 5 ingredients. It takes 10 minutes of prep and 20 minutes of baking, and makes a total of 12 servings. All the ingredients are basic, with the exception of the nut varieties. I would love to be able to purchase hazelnuts, however, they only come once a year at my local grocery store during the fall. Additionally they are always in the shell, so I passed and instead I used all whole almonds. I chose to use fresh rosemary, I prefer the taste of fresh herbs to their dried counterparts. Make sure to watch the nuts during the baking time or they could burn. My nuts had to be pulled out at exactly 15 minutes or they would have been overdone. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

These nuts have a great subtle flavor, which is delicious. The recipe is very easy to prepare and takes little total time. My whole family enjoyed snacking on these and they were able to tide me over until my next meal. The best part of this recipe is that they are great as an everyday snack, but would work equally as well as a snack food for a party.

For the recipe go to Rosemary Roasted Nuts.

November 21, 2011

Family Circle Wild Mushroom Soup



The cold weather and I have a love-hate relationship. I love all the flavors of the fall and winter seasons, but I absolutely hate being cold. Growing up we had an old fashioned furnace that had vents that I would stand right in front of in an attempt to stay warm. I have always gotten cold easier than anyone else that I know and I stay pretty miserable once the temps drop below about 20 degrees. I have learned that hot drinks and meals warm me up effectively and are a great way to boost my mood in the colder months. Recently, the November issue of Family Circle magazine had a recipe for Wild Mushroom Soup, which looked easy, warm and full of one of family's favorite foods. 

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It makes 8 servings and takes approximately 15 minutes of prep and 28 minutes of cooking time. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and I was pleased to find that I could purchase shiitake mushrooms in bulk, which was much cheaper than buying them pre-packaged. I make all my stock from scratch, so the day before I made this recipe, I roasted a chicken and used the bones for chicken stock. I found that it took a significant amount of salt in order to flavor this recipe, don't be shy with the salt. Finally, the soup didn't thicken up as much as the photo implied, mine was a thinner consistency of cream soup than the photo. The difference in consistency didn't effect the taste, so it was more a texture issue. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written. 

My oldest son absolutely loves mushrooms. If I tell him that a recipe has mushrooms in it, he will gobble it up happily. This recipe was no exception, he ate his whole serving. The flavor on this soup is nice and it takes very little effort to prepare. The consistency is thinner than the photo implies, but doesn't effect the taste. A warm, creamy mushroom soup, that would work great to warm up in the cold months ahead. 

For the recipe go to Wild Mushroom Soup.

November 20, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas

As I've stated numerous times before I love fall. The spices, the tastes, the smells, everything about fall cooking appeals to me immensely. Growing up fall was full of family functions and tons of baking and cooking by my mother. Coming from a very large family, she was used to making enough food to feed an army, so family functions involved a large amount of prepping and cooking. Fall vegetables were one of the highlights of the fall season in my household, a tradition which has translated to my own much smaller family. One of my favorite vegetables in the fall are sweet potatoes. The November issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine had a recipe for Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas, which looked simple, full of fall flavor, and delicious.

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes approximately 30 minutes of prep and 45 minutes of roasting time, and serves 8 people. All the ingredients are basic and I had no problems finding any of them at my local grocery store. Be sure to watch the vegetables carefully and stir approximately every fifteen minutes. The tops of the vegetables will otherwise burn, especially the red onions. Instead of dried rosemary, I used fresh snipped rosemary. I prefer the taste of fresh herbs when available to their dried equivalents. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

There are few things better than fresh, roasted vegetables. This recipe is simple, and full of flavor. I appreciated how the recipe lets the vegetables speak for themselves, without adding unnecessarily spices. My two boys particularly appreciated this recipe, especially the carrots. The flavors are simple and delicious and overall, a great fall recipe.

For the recipe go to Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas.

November 19, 2011

Bon Appetit Wild Rice, Fruit, and Pecan Stuffing

Growing up Thanksgiving was always a major event. My mother was one of twelve kids, so large family functions were always the norm. Thanksgiving was always exciting. My mother would make lists weeks ahead of everything that needed to be cleaned, cooked, etc. and eventually her bigger lists would span smaller lists and so on and so forth. The menu would normally stay pretty consistent with turkey, stuffing, and lots of sides. For me everything centered around the stuffing. I absolutely love stuffing and every variation that can be made. A couple of years back I made a rice stuffing, which was delicious and different than traditional stuffing recipes. As I was looking through the November issue of Bon Appetit magazine I noticed a recipe for Wild Rice, Fruit, and Pecan Stuffing, which looked low in fat and full of flavor.

This recipe has 16 ingredients. It makes 8 to 10 servings and takes approximately an hour and a half to prepare and cook. The ingredients in this recipe caused me a few problems. I was only able to find 4 ounce packages of wild rice after looking at multiple stores. Apparently wild rice isn't a common ingredient in my area. Luckily they had the small packages of generic wild rice, which is what I bought. I prepared my own chicken broth. The taste of homemade is much better, and it allows me to make it without all the added salt of the store bought variety. I found that the wild rice took even longer than the forty minutes suggested by the recipe. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The wild rice in this recipe had a great slightly nutty flavor, which worked well with the dried fruit and pecans. This recipe is a great alternative to traditional high fat stuffing. Additionally, the minimal amount of fat comes from olive oil, not butter. My two boys particularly enjoyed this dish. Granted they picked out the dried fruit and nuts, but for them that's progress. Overall, a great non-traditional stuffing recipe, that would work well with a variety of main courses.

For the recipe go to Wild Rice, Fruit, and Pecan Stuffing.

November 18, 2011

Woman's Day Candy Corn Fudge

Sweets are my downfall. If there is something sweet in the house, I will find it and eat it. I'm lucky that I was given my dad's metabolism and have two very active kids that I am always chasing after to keep my weight down. It seems that my two sons have inherited my love of all things sweet and will literally dig around looking until they find the last cookie or piece of candy. This time of year is especially bad, I bake at least twice a week and every last bite is devoured by my family. We absolutely love baked goods. I make fudge frequently during the holiday months and I was interested when the October issue of Woman's Day magazine had a recipe for Candy Corn Fudge, which looked easy and a great way to use leftover candy corn from Halloween.

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It makes 64 servings and takes a total of 2 hours and 25 minutes, 25 minutes of which is active. The ingredients are all basic and I already had or was easily able to find at my local grocery store. I made a few modifications to the recipe. Most importantly I chose to use a 13 x 9 inch pan instead of the 8 inch suggested by the recipe. Using the 8 inch pan the fudge would have been way too thick, instead of making 64 very small thick pieces of fudge I made 60 pieces of larger, thinner fudge. A word of caution, after the fudge had sat in the fridge for a day the pretzels became too soft. I would recommend eating this fudge soon after it is made. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The week after Halloween I was able to buy a bunch of bags of candy corn for less than a quarter. I had this recipe torn out for a while before Halloween and had never got around to making it. When I bought the clearance candy corn, I figured it was a perfect fit. Since this fudge is best soon after it's made in order for the pretzels to stay crisp, this fudge would be great for a fall or Halloween party. My two boys loved the candy corn idea, I actually thought the fudge was better without the candy corn topping. I found the addition of the candy a little too sweet. However, the fudge itself was delicious, I loved the combination of dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Overall, a great basic fudge recipe with a twist.

For the recipe go to Candy Corn Fudge.
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November 17, 2011

Everyday Food Turkey and White-Bean Chili

I'm not a fan of the cold. My husband can never understand why I need four blankets and three pairs of socks to sleep at night when the temp dips below 32. I grew up in Seattle where the idea of cold is about 30 during the coldest part of the winter. The first winter I spent in West Virginia and there was a week of 5-8 degree weather, I was ready to move back to Washington as quickly as possible. Luckily, since that time I have gotten a little more used to the cold and much better at finding ways to keep myself warm. One of the best ways that I have found to keep away the cold, is by making warm soups and chili. I absolutely love a bowl of warm soup and homemade bread when the temperature gets cold. I mostly make beef and pork chili, so I was intrigued when a recent issue of Everyday Food had a recipe for Turkey and White-Bean Chili, which looked like a great way to broaden my chili making.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It makes 6 servings and takes a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes, with 45 minutes being active. As expected the one ingredient that I had to go to multiple stores to find was Serrano chilies. They always seem to be out of Serranos whenever I need them at my local grocery store. I had no problems finding any of the remaining ingredients. I did decide to substitute chicken for the turkey. Chicken breasts are a lot cheaper than turkey, and I try to keep down my family budget as much as possible. I ground my own chicken breast, the taste of fresh ground chicken breast is much better than anything you can get at the grocery store. Grinding my own meat added an additional 15 minutes to my overall time. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I served this chili with homemade Irish soda bread, which made a great combination. The recipe states that it makes 6 servings, but I had more than enough for my family of 4, plus enough for leftovers. Oftentimes chicken chili can taste slightly off and be a poor substitute for pork or beef. This recipe was the exception, it was delicious and the ground chicken worked perfectly, Overall, a great dish that takes far less time than most chili recipes and great for the cold weather months ahead.

For the recipe go to Turkey and White-Bean Chili.

November 16, 2011

Torani's Authentic Coffehouse Flavor: So Many Great Options


I absolutely love coffee. Growing up in Seattle coffee was literally everywhere, and I remember having my first true coffee drink in a giant coffee mug (really more of a bowl with a handle) when I was about 12. When I was in college there were at least three coffee shops on every corner around University of Washington and the campus had coffee stands everywhere. Needless to say between the coffee and the turbo truffles I was able to work, dance, and pull off a double major in four years. When I moved to West Virginia I made sure that my beloved espresso maker made the trip nicely padded in my suitcase. I have had many care packages of coffee sent to me with my favorite Seattle coffee (nothing against Starbucks, but they have nothing on Vivace, so yummy!). I love very strong, rich coffee and have at least two cups a day. Therefore I was excited when SheSpeaks gave me the chance to try Torani Flavored Syrups, which I thought would add a nice touch to my morning coffee.

A bit of background on Torani: 

Since 1925, family-owned Torani has been crafting great tasting flavored syrups that coffeehouses use to make their flavored drinks taste so delicious. With over 120 flavors in regular and sugar free varieties, Torani flavored syrups are perfect for flavored lattes, mochas, coffees, cocoas, Italian sodas, teas, lemonades, cocktails and smoothies. Coffeehouse professionals choose Torani flavors because they are expertly crafted and made with the highest quality ingredients, like natural flavors and pure cane sugar. The sugar free flavors have no calories and are sweetened with Splenda. Now, Torani Flavored Syrups are widely available at retail so you can easily create authentic coffeehouse quality drinks at home.


I received Hazelnut and Gingerbread Torani Flavored Syrups to review. As soon as the package arrived I brewed a pot of coffee and tried the syrups in my morning coffee (seperately of course). Of the two flavors, hazelnut was my favorite. It added a nice flavor, without being overly sweet or syrupy. I should add as you can see in the photo I add whole milk to my morning coffee. The second flavor, gingerbread was way too gingery for my tastes. It made the milk taste off, and the whole coffee was overly strong. It might have been better with a weaker strength of coffee or black, but with strong coffee and milk it just didn't work. Since I love gingerbread flavor in baking, I figured I would give the flavors another try in a different type of drink, so I purchased seltzer water and half and half to make Italian and French sodas.

The first drink that I prepared was a Ginger-Vanilla Italian Soda. Here's the recipe I followed:
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Torani Gingerbread Syrup
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar-Free Torani Vanilla Syrup
  • 1 cup of Sparkling Seltzer Water
  • Ice
Add desired amount of ice, pour syrup over and add seltzer water, stir.

This recipe turned out delicious. My two boys were very impressed with this drink and my husband thought it resembled one of his favorite soft drinks, Ale 8. Of all the recipes I tried, this was my favorite.

For the second drink I made Caramel-Hazelnut French Sodas. Here's the recipe:
  • 2 Tablespoons Torani Hazelnut Syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons Torani Sugar-Free Caramel Syrup
  • 1 cup of Sparkling Seltzer Water
  • Ice
  • Splash of Half and Half (full fat)
Add desired amount of ice, pour syrup over, add seltzer water. Add a splash of half and half. Don't stir!

My two-year-old loved this recipe. He has had this drink multiple times since the first time I made this drink and it was definitely his favorite. I thought it was a little overly sweet for an adult's taste, but it was very popular with my two sons.

The final drink that I made was a Ginger-Vanilla French Soda. Here's the recipe:
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Torani Gingerbread Syrup
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons Torani Vanilla Syrup
  • 1 cup of Sparkling Seltzer Water
  • Ice
  • Splash of Half and Half
Add desired amount of ice, pour syrups over and add seltzer water. Add splash of half and half.

This soda has a very rich taste and is a great drink to have for a treat. My whole family enjoyed this soda and it would be great for entertaining.

Overall, I thought the syrups worked well for a variety of drinks and I will be using the Sugar-Free Vanilla and Sugar-Free Caramel in my coffee in the future. I thought the Torani Gingerbread, Hazelnut and Sugar-Free Vanilla worked well in Italian and French sodas and I will be using them in the future in this manner.

Here's a link to my review of the Torani Gingerbread Syrup on the SheSpeaks site. Torani flavored syrups are available in over 122 flavors, which include regular and sugar free varieties. Please go to www.Torani.com to see all flavors.

I would love to hear what Torani syrups everyone has tried and which ones are your favorites!


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Disclaimer: In the spirit of full disclosure, I received products to review for this blog post. No payment was given and as always, all opinions given here are fully my own.

November 14, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Pecan-Crusted Pork with Orange-Maple Glaze

My household loves pork. Not just a little bit, but I think both of my boys and my husband could live without meat, with one exception, pork. They could probably eat pork three times a day and be completely happy. When my husband and I first met I only knew how to cook a couple of pork dishes and never really ate a lot of pork. I quickly learned that that was not going to work in my marriage and since that time I have learned to cook pork about once a week. My husband has spread his pork obsession to my oldest son, who can point out multiple cuts of pork at the grocery store. He has even gone so far to tell me how I should be making bacon properly. The September issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine had a recipe for Pecan-Crusted Pork with Orange-Maple Glaze, with looked like a great combination of sweet and savory, and utilized my family's favorite meat.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes approximately 30 minutes of prep and cooking time and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and I already had most of them in my pantry. I did run into one problem with the recipe. I found that the pecan pieces did not stick to the pork well after being flipped. Most of the nuts ended up in the pan, which I then used as a topping. The nuts did not stay encrusted on any of the tenderloin slices, save one. Therefore, I saved the nuts from the pan and poured them over with the sauce on the plate. Finally, I found that the sauce was not enough for all four servings, I suggested doubling the sauce ingredients, especially if you like a decent amount of sauce on your pork. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The sauce on this pork is delicious. My husband and I both agreed that there needed to be more sauce, since it was the best part of the dish. The pork turned out tender, and perfectly cooked. I wish that the pecans had stuck better to the pork slices, but I actually liked using the nuts as a topping with the sauce, so it worked out. Overall, a very simple pork recipe that only takes 30 minutes to prepare, making it a great weeknight meal option.

For the recipe go to Pecan-Crusted Pork with Orange-Maple Glaze.

November 13, 2011

Food and Wine Rigatoni with Sea Bass and Tomatoes

I love pasta. Growing up we had very little money, but the food my mother made was always delicious. One of the main stables on the dinner table was pasta. Any of the various ways that my mom prepared pasta I absolutely loved, from the simple red sauces, to a delicious Asian noodle dish that she invented (still have the hand written recipe and it is one of my favorite foods). I think during my years as a poor undergraduate and graduate student I ate more pasta that any other food and became quite adept at making pasta dishes from whatever ingredients I had in my pantry and fridge. Now that I am married and have kids I try to prepare a pasta dish at least once a week. I love how versatile pasta can be and my two boys will eat anything on their plate as long as it is surrounded by pasta. The November issue of Food and Wine magazine had a recipe for Rigatoni with Sea Bass and Tomatoes, which looked easy and a great way to incorporate more seafood into my family's diet.

This recipe has 10 ingredients and makes 4 servings. The total cooking and prep time is 30 minutes. I had to make some modifications to the recipe due to availability of ingredients. As far as I know I have never seen sea bass in my area. I was going to substitute halibut, but for whatever reason all the halibut was sold out or not stocked at every supermarket I went to (and I went to four). So in the end I substituted cod, since the types of seafood I am able to purchase are relatively limited. I left out the chopped flat-leaf parsley completely. My husband is not a fan of parsley and won't eat dishes in which it is used as a topping, therefore I left it out. Finally, since I was unexpectedly feeding 6 people instead of 4, I used 16 ounces of pasta to extend the recipe, I kept the same amount of all other ingredients. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I made this dish when my in-laws were in town. My father-in-law recently had heart surgery and has been trying to get more fish and lean meats in his diet. I wasn't sure how well this dish would go over since I decided to make it last minute and my father in-law isn't a fan of crushed red pepper. Luckily, this dish turned out very well and my entire family enjoyed it, including my two boys. I found that the longest part of the recipe was prepping the fish, the actual total time took less than suggested by the recipe. Using 16 ounces of pasta I was able to feed 6 people and still have more than enough leftovers for lunch the next day. Overall, a great combination of fish and pasta and very easy to prepare.

For the recipe go to Rigatoni with Sea Bass and Tomatoes.

November 12, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Milk Chocolate Marble Loaf Cake with Citrus Compote

I have a major weakness for chocolate. If there is chocolate in the house I will find it and more than likely eat it. Luckily for me I was given my dad's high metabolism and I am constantly running around after my very rambunctious two and five-year-old. Thanks to a combination of these factors and the fact that 99 percent of the time I eat very healthy, I routinely indulge my chocolate cravings. I hate to admit it, but I have even been known to eat leftover chocolate cake for breakfast. Not the healthiest breakfast, but yummy none-the-less. Given my love of all thing chocolate the recipe for Milk Chocolate Marble Loaf Cake with Citrus Compote in the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine caught my eye and looked like something perfect for my menu plan.

This recipe has 9 ingredients in the cake and 5 in the citrus compote. The prep time is approximately 30 minutes and the bake time 65 minutes, and it makes 12 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store with the exception of the kumquats, which I left out. My disco era oven even with a oven thermometer never seems to bake consistently and my cake took 20 minutes longer than the stated recipe. I tented the cake after to the first 30 minutes to prevent burning and rotated the loaf pan halfway through the cooking time. The only oranges available at my local grocery store were seeded, which made the prep for the fruit compote slightly more time consuming than the time the recipe suggested. I also took off the skins from both the oranges and grapefruit. I find the texture of the skins unpleasant in many recipes. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The loaf cake part of this recipe turned out well. It was light and had a subtle chocolate flavor. I wasn't as impressed with the combination of the loaf cake and fruit compote. Separately the fruit compote was delicious and my two sons loved eating it for breakfast by itself. When it was paired with the loaf cake it just seemed off. Both components were great on their own, but the combination didn't work. The loaf cake spread with warm butter was popular in my household and eaten quickly. My two boys loved the fruit compote as a fruit salad for breakfast, and ate all the leftovers. Overall, both components work well separately and therefore I would recommend eating them as two different recipes.

For the recipe go to Milk Chocolate Marble Loaf Cake.

November 11, 2011

Macy's #RecipeShare Contest, Your Holiday #Recipe Could win $1,000!

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I absolutely love this time of the year. The colder weather and winter holidays are only part of the reason, the main reason is the cooking. I spend a large part of the colder months baking and cooking. There is something comforting and relaxing to me about making food from scratch for loved ones. Even if the holidays are stressing my out completely seeing the finished dinner on the table brings me a sense of pride and accomplishment that is hard to surpass. I also love sharing holiday recipes and dishes with friends and family. Over the years I have written down my favorite recipes in my recipe book, which I still write out by hand. In order for a recipe to make into my cherished book it has to be something special.

Along the lines of great recipes to share SheSpeaks has teamed up with Macy's and their Recipe Share Contest. Share your favorite holiday recipe for a chance to win $1000 and have it featured on Food Republic. If your anything like me, you love to share you recipes and talk about anything food related and this recipe contest is perfect! Here's the breakdown of what you need to do:

To Enter:

1. Head to www.facebook.com/macys
2. Click the Recipe Share tab
3. Submit your recipe
4. Share the contest via Facebook and Twitter

Recipe submission and voting has been commencing since November 1st. You'll have until November 30th when the contest ends to show off your best holiday recipes so get cooking!

About Macy's In Their Own Words:

Established in 1858, Macy's is the Great American Department Store - an iconic retail brand with over 800 stores across the country and online at macys.com. Macy's offers an incredible selection and the best brands, tailored to each and every customer, while providing an experience that transcends ordinary shopping.
A big part of Macy's unique heritage includes our special events?the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Fourth of July Fireworks, flower shows, fashion extravaganzas, celebrity appearances and holiday traditions that range from the arrival of Santa Claus to tree lightings and festive window displays. But beyond our signature events, Macy's delivers magical moments every day through our shopping environment, service and merchandise - a great deal of which is sold exclusively through our stores. It's all part of the excitement we've been creating for 151 years, and it's all part of the magic of Macy's!


Not to be left out, here is my favorite holiday recipe, Yorkshire Pudding.

  • 2 Eggs
  • Salt (the amount I use varies from a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half depending on how salty the animal fat I'm using is)
  • 2 tablespoons Beef Fat (can also use bacon fat, goose fat etc) amount for 13 x 9
  • 1 1/2 cups Flour
  • Milk (see directions)
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Beat eggs and salt with a fork until combined. Gradually add flour and combine. Slowly add milk a little at a time until the batter is smooth and resembles crepe batter. Let batter stand an hour. This recipe can either be prepared in a 13 x9 inch pan or muffin cups, I prefer the muffin cups. Put a small amount of beef fat in each muffin cup and put in the pre-heated oven until fat has melted. Pour batter onto hot fat in muffin tins/pan and bake 20 minutes.Enjoy!


Tell me about any yummy recipes that you enter, I'm always wanting new dishes to try! Good luck!


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by SheSpeaks. In exchange for my post I will receive a Macy's gift card and as with all posts all opinions expressed are my own.

November 9, 2011

Saveur Honey and Herb Biscuits

Growing up my mom's idea of making homemade biscuits were the ones that we bought to go along with the fried chicken from the grocery store. I remember my mom baking and cooking many things, but biscuits were never on the list. When I moved to West Virginia I remember the first time I went home with my husband to meet his parents, and we had biscuits and gravy for breakfast. That was to be the beginning of my love/hate relationship with biscuits. It has taken me approximately 8 years to come to the point that my biscuits are up to my husband's standards. People in West Virginia take their biscuits very seriously and I am always excited to try new recipes. Recently, I was looking through the November issue of Saveur magazine and ran across a recipe for Honey and Herb Biscuits, which looked delicious and perfect as a dinner side.

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes approximately 45 minutes of prep and cooking time and makes 2 dozen biscuits. My mother-in-law was in town when I made these and cut out the biscuits. Instead of rolling out her biscuits she pats them out by hand on a plate and then cuts them out with the top of a cup. Her biscuits always turn out fluffy and delicious, so I would highly recommend preparing them this way. When biscuit dough is rolled out flat it causes the biscuits to stay flatter during baking, treat your dough nicely! I had no problems finding any of the ingredients, they were all very basic and I either had them already in my pantry or I was easily able to find at my local grocery store. One major difference that I made to the recipe is the baking time. My mother-in-law and I had a large discussion about this and neither of us could fathom baking biscuits for anywhere near 35 minutes. I normally bake my biscuits approximately 15 minutes, 20 at the most. If I had kept the biscuits in the oven for the full time suggested by the recipe my biscuits would have turned into burnt hockey pucks. I followed the remainder of the recipe as stated.

I served these biscuits with a sea bass pasta dish and they complimented each other nicely. My in-laws were very impressed with these biscuits and they are big biscuit eaters, so I take that as a high compliment. These biscuits were very easy to prepare and I was able to throw them together at eight o'clock at night with a house full of hungry tummies. I loved the combination of fresh herbs and honey, it gave the biscuits a nice well rounded flavor. The best part about these biscuits is that they would go well as either a side dish or a breakfast food, a very versatile recipe.

For the recipe go to Honey and Herb Biscuits.

November 8, 2011

Everyday Food Cheese Crackers

I have a slight obsession with cheese. Growing up I wouldn't go for chocolate, or candy, but instead I was fascinated by the fancy cheese section of our local grocery store. I loved going out to restaurants to try new types of cheeses and recipes, and would spend hours in the local Italian grocery store which had a huge fresh cheese section. I wasn't surprised when my youngest son started taking blocks of Parmesan out of the fridge and eating it like an apple. He doesn't seem to understand that blocked cheese isn't a snack that most children would request before candy. As I was looking through the November issue of Everyday Food magazine I came across a recipe for Cheese Crackers, which looked perfect for my cheese loving family.

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes 4 and a half hours of prep, chilling, and baking time and makes 24 crackers. All the ingredients are very simple and I either already had in my pantry or they were easy to find at my local grocery store. Make sure to watch the crackers, they burn easy, I took mine out at exactly 15 minutes of baking time. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

These are best eaten the day they are made. After sitting for a day they become far less crisp. My two boys really like these crackers and ate the majority of the recipe by themselves. The best part of this recipe is that it could easily be modified to include other types of cheeses, bacon, or fresh herbs. I think when I try it again I will add cooked chopped bacon, a crowd pleaser with the men in my family.

This recipe is currently unavailable online. However, it can be found in the November issue of Everyday Food magazine. I did find some other cracker recipes on the Martha Stewart website, which are Peppery Cheese Crackers and Mushroom and Blue Cheese Crackers. They look just as delicious and I plan to try them in the future. Tell me if you have/or do try them!

November 7, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Raisin Sweet Bread

With four people in my house, we eat a lot of bread. About four years back my mother-in-law gave me her old bread machine and I started making bread once or twice a month. A couple years later the bread machine broke and I started making all my bread from scratch. I had my share of bread disasters with my bread resembling a hockey puck, but as time went by I got fairly comfortable making a variety of bread recipes.I am a big fan of breads using raisins. There is something delicious about spreading butter on hot raisin bread. Recently the September issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine had a recipe for Raisin Sweet Bread, which looked delicious and great for a weekend breakfast menu.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes approximately 4 hours of prep and baking and makes 40 servings. The ingredients are basic and I either already had or I was able to find at my local grocery store. The original recipe uses golden raisins, which I used since my family loves them, but regular raisins would also work. Instead of bread flour I used the all-purpose flour that I already had in my pantry. I had no problems with rising or texture, so the all-purpose flour worked fine Be careful to watch the bread to prevent over browning, I had to tent my bread earlier than the recipe suggested. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys loved this bread. It has a sweet taste and looks great after being baked. It makes three large loaves, so it would be great for entertaining. The ingredients could easily be modified to suit your tastes, substituting regular raisins, using all whole milk instead of whipping cream etc. This recipe would work particularly well for a holiday breakfast or brunch.

For the recipe go to Raisin Sweet Bread.

November 6, 2011

Food and Wine Bacon-Scallion Biscuits with Sorghum Butter

Bacon is a big deal in my household. The males in my household love bacon, and when I say love, I mean love. If I want a positive reaction to my baking or cooking I just add bacon and it will be guaranteed to be a hit. Growing up my family was a sausage family. We ate links and patties almost every Sunday morning breakfast. When my husband and I first got married it took some adjusting for me to get used to cooking with bacon grease and not burning bacon in general. I have come along way since then and I now make dishes using bacon frequently. The November issue of Food and Wine magazine had a recipe for Bacon-Scallion Biscuits with Sorghum Butter, which looked like a great way to appease my bacon loving household.

This recipe has 9 ingredients for the biscuits and 2 for the butter. The total time is one hour, with 30 minutes being active, and it makes approximately 18 biscuits. I chose to use maple syrup instead of ordering sorghum butter. I'm a big believer in using the ingredients that you already own/have. The remainder of the ingredients were basic and I either already had in my pantry or were easily available at my local supermarket. My family prefers thick-cut bacon, so that was the type I used for this recipe. One major modification I made to the original recipe was the cooking time. West Virginians make a lot of biscuits and I have never kept my biscuits in for 25 minutes. I bake my biscuits for 10-15 minutes, 20 at the most and turn the baking sheet halfway through. If I had kept my biscuits in the full 25 minutes, the bottoms would have been way too brown for my family's tastes. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

As expected this was a very popular recipe in my family. I made half of the biscuits with a dinner recipe and kept the other half of the dough for fresh biscuits for breakfast the next day. The maple butter was absolutely delicious on the biscuits as well as waffles I made later in the week. My favorite part of this recipe is that it works well as both a dinner side or a breakfast food. Overall, a very versatile recipe, full of bacon and delicious.

For the recipe go to Bacon-Scallion Biscuits with Sorghum Butter.

November 4, 2011

Bon Appetit Pan-Seared Salmon with Pumpkin Seed-Cilantro Pesto

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I loved fish and ate it frequently. My family never had a lot of money, but luckily we lived in an area where fish was fresh, readily available and much less expensive than other places. One of my favorite types of fish was and still is Salmon. Smoked and fresh salmon are some of my favorite foods, I love them in just about everything. From the time that my two boys turned two they have been eating fish and love it as much, if not more than I do. As I was looking through the November issue of Bon Appetit magazine I came across a recipe for Pan-Seared Salmon with Pumpkin Seed-Cilantro Pesto, which looked delicious and a great way to showcase salmon.

This recipe has 9 ingredients and prepares 4 servings. The total time is approximately 25 minutes, with the full time being active. The ingredients are all basic and I had no problems finding any of them at my local grocery store. I was excited to see that my closest grocery store now carries pumpkin seeds in the produce nut section, which will save me from making multiple trips in the future. I was unable to find cracked coriander seeds, so I reduced the amount needed and substituted ground coriander seed instead. The salmon that I found at my local grocery store was a thinner fillet and took less time to cook than the suggested 3-4 minutes per side. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

A very simple and easy to execute salmon recipe. I love that the pesto is not traditional and uses toasted pumpkin seeds. The taste of the roasted pumpkin seeds is delicious and gives the pesto a nutty undertone. The following day after serving this recipe I used the leftover pesto to serve over rigatoni. The pesto re-heated well and my husband liked it even better as a pasta sauce. A versatile and easy salmon recipe.

For the recipe go to Pan-Seared Salmon with Pumpkin Seed-Cilantro Pesto.

November 2, 2011

Food and Wine Bucatini with Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

Pasta makes frequent appearances in my menu plans. Normally every week I make at least one pasta dish, sometimes more. There are many reasons why pasta is one of my favorite foods, but the two biggest are that my kids will eat it, and it re-heats well for lunches. With me staying at home and my family of four living on one income it is essential that the meals that I prepare make multiple meals, and don't cost a fortune to make. If you read this blog regularly, you would have noticed that up until about three months ago I wrote reviews on recipes from Food and Wine magazine and then suddenly they stopped. The short story is that I completely forgot to renew my subscription and only remembered last month. That's what happens when you have  a two and a five-year-old and try to cook from scratch all the time, something has to go and apparently for me it's my memory. I received the November issue of Food and Wine magazine last month and I was pleased to see a recipe for Bucatini with Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts, which looked easy and full of vegetables.

This recipe has 14 ingredients. It makes 4 servings and takes approximately 40 minutes of prep and cooking time. I made a few modifications to ingredients due to local availability. I was unable to find bucatini, so I used perciatelli instead. Secondly, I used a sweet onion since they were still in season and I prefer the taste in recipes. I had to go to multiple stores to find fresh Brussels sprouts and the ones that I was finally able to purchase were very large, so I cut them in quarters. Finally, my Brussels sprouts took longer to cook completely than the recipe suggested, probably approximately five minutes. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I loved how easy this recipe was to put together and the large amount of vegetables. The anchovies gave a nice umami compliment to the flavors without being overpowering. My husband took the leftovers for lunch and thought that the taste was even better the next day. The recipe states that it makes four servings, but with 12 ounces of pasta it made more than enough for my family of four and a bunch of leftovers. Overall, a delicious pasta dish, full of vegetables and kid friendly.

For the recipe go to Bucatini with Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts.

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