Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumpkins - 2015 edition

For the first time in 5 years, I made the pumpkin bundt cake.  Both of the layers were spice cake and I used a vanilla whipped cream frosting (colored orange) to frost it.  This time, instead of using fruit roll up for the face, I used a black, sparkly gel frosting.  The frosting and face sort of dripped / sagged from the weight of it all but it turned out pretty good.  The girls loved the idea and "helped" me with the assembly.  Here are the full instructions if you want to try it for Halloween!

If you want to make another pumpkin dessert, there are SO many on the blog, but this is probably my favorite:  Pumpkin Crumb Cake.  Okay, one more (hard to choose!)  Pumpkin "Tiramisu."

Last year, I did a retrospective with photos of the kids with pumpkins in years past.  Here is the 2015 update:  last weekend, we carved pumpkins with our church group.  

Middle was super excited that she was allowed to use carving tools all by herself.

Big sketched her ideas before choosing what to carve on her pumpkin:

When the kids were tired of carving, the parents could be found still diligently working on pumpkins:

Some of the final Jack-O-Lanterns

Not Leftovers . . . a new meal!

Last week I made one of my favorite crock pot recipes here on the blog - the Green Enchilada Chicken Soup.  I made the full recipe even though I know my kids aren't the biggest soup eaters (Big only likes Chicken Noodle and Middle only likes Green Soup) because the leftovers are awesome.  This time, instead of thinning down the thick leftover soup, I warmed it and served it over hot biscuits.  My mom used to make creamed chicken over biscuits and it was so good.  This is a green enchilada twist on that idea.  It made the leftovers into a "new meal" and one I will make again.  

Green Enchilada Chicken Soup (I left out the corn this time)

A good biscuit recipe (or use a tube of Pillsbury ones)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mexican Lime Soup with Chicken

Soup is one of those dishes where a few simple ingredients are transformed by combining them
together.  This recipe looks super simple (and it is) but it was nourishing and delicious.  We are
thankfully healthy but this would be the perfect dish if you're coming down with a cold or feeling
under the weather.  I love the queso fresco and avocado on top of the hot soup.  You can reduce the
jalapeño if you want - I only used a little more than half of one yesterday but it wasn't very spicy and
I wished I had put in the whole thing.  You could cook the chicken in the broth with the onion, garlic,
and jalapeño but I used chopped up rotisserie chicken to make it faster . . . dinner on the table within
a half hour of getting home from soccer practice - not an easy task these days!

Mexican Lime Soup with Chicken (2 servings)
(adapted from Williams Sonoma)

3 or 4 limes
2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth  
1 1/2 tsp.  oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 Haas avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
2 oz. queso fresco or mild feta cheese, crumbled

Cut 1 lime into 4 to 6 wedges; set aside for serving. Juice as many of the remaining limes as needed to measure 1/4 cup.

Heat some olive oil in a pan.  Add the onion to the pan and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and chili and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth, lime juice and oregano, and chopped chicken. Bring the heat up, but not to a full boil, and then adjust the heat so it barely simmers. Simmer for 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Put the avocado, cheese and lime wedges in separate small bowls. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve immediately. Pass the avocado, cheese and lime wedges alongside.  

Yields 2 large servings (or 4 first course servings)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

It still doesn't feel much like fall in So Cal (yes, we do have seasons . . . just not so much this year!) but I made some yummy pumpkin cookies a week ago.  We devoured them - I still love the Joy of Cooking version (here on the blog) but these oatmeal ones were pretty yummy too.  We like chocolate chips in our pumpkin cookies and I usually do the mini ones because they're less messy in little hands.  But, I think dried cranberries or raisins would be good in this recipe too.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies (made 3.5 dozen)
adapted from All Recipes

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1.5 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and spices.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and then add the sugar, beating until fluffy.  Lower the speed on your mixer and add the pumpkin puree and egg.  Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Drop tablespoons of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Full Swing

School and our fall schedules are in full swing:

Baby girl has been very patient driving her sisters to and from school and their activities

When she's at home with Mama, we play dress up and blocks.

We made another trip to the beach to enjoy this extremely hot September weather.

Big sister is loving soccer - the gear, the practice, the games and her teammates.

I have to admit that getting dinner on the table on nights when we have soccer practice or have been out all day doing stuff is challenging.  I tried the demo at Trader Joe's the other day and came across an awesome cheater version of enchiladas that was an instant hit with my kids.  That doesn't happen too often!  You use frozen taquitos (without defrosting) and bake them with enchilada sauce and cheese.  We had carrot sticks and Mexican rice with it and it was dinner in about 20-25 minutes.  Middle liked helping me pour the sauce, sprinkle the cheese, and place the olives.  Trader Joe's has black bean taquitos, chicken, and beef - something for everyone!

Trader Joe's "Enchiladas" (serves 4)

1 container of frozen taquitos from Trader Joe's 
1 bottle of Enchilada sauce
1-2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 can of sliced olives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray (or olive oil spray).  Put taquitos in a single row in the pan.  Pour enchilada sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese and top with sliced olives.

Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly and melty.  The taquitos will soften up in the baking.