Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bean Soup

Chilly evenings make me think of my mom's Bean Soup.

A family staple passed down through generations that stemmed from the depression era and the need for cheap, yet hearty food.  Beans do the trick.  Oh the flavor of bean soup! (Don't forget the cornbread!)  Mom primarily used pinto beans, or great northern white beans along with some type of salty fat to season the broth.  Typically a ham hock or bacon was used.   

Recently, I found a great supplier of heirloom beans in Napa, Ca.  Rancho Gordo is a wonderful source for unique beans. 

They have about 20-30 different kinds at a given time, along with other items such as dried corns, grains etc.  Being that I love my Bean Soup I quickly bought several new types of beans to try out.

Today's Bean Soup was made with Rancho Gordo's Rio Zape Beans.

(photo courtesy of Rancho Gordo)

Using these beans was a wonderful treat.  The soup liquid turns deep and dark and makes a tasty broth.  They are similar to a pinto bean but have more depth.  They are said to have notes of coffee and chocolate with a velvet texture.  At $5.95 a pound I would say that is a darn good bargain!

I found the soup so flavorful that I went to order another pound and they were already out of stock.  I just got a note that they are now back in, so I'm putting in my order right away.  

I hope you try my Bean Soup and also give this bean supplier a try.  No paid promos here...just sharing a great source that I came across.  Spreading the love!

Bean Soup

1 pound dried beans, rinsed and picked through for stones (pinto, great northern, red beans)
6 cups water (plus more)
2 slices of bacon, or 1 ham hock
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Soak beans overnight.  Drain beans and place in a large dutch oven.  Add water, bacon or ham hock.  Make sure there is enough water to cover the bean by 1 - 1 1/2".  Cover and cook over medium high heat bringing to a boil.  Add salt and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer covered 2-3 hours, stirring beans occasionally.  Stirring creates the release of starches from the beans which will make the soup thicker.  Make sure to check the water level and add more as necessary to keep the original water line 1 inch above the beans.  Adjust seasonings if you add more water.

After beans are tender take about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of beans and roughly mash them.  Add them back to the soup and stir.  Allow to simmer 30 more minutes.  Soup should thicken slightly.  Serve.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chocolately Hot Chocolate

Here's a little quick treat to warm you up.

This has to be my favorite Hot Chocolate recipe.  Found among my mom's coveted recipe cards, this one is a winner.  Such deep chocolate flavor.  

It warms the soul.

Cheers to you!

Chocolatey Hot Chocolate

serves 4

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
mini marshmallows (optional)

Put cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Stir in milk gradually until cocoa becomes incorporated.  Add chocolate chips; melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Add marshmallows if desired. Serve. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Dinner Menu


It's Halloween Time!

Are you planning anything for Halloween?  Do you still dress up and go out to parties, or do you host one of your own?

We typically go out on Halloween, sometimes dressing up to join in all the fun.  I remember many couple costumes such as Cleopatra and Marc Antony, Laurel and Hardy, Batman and Batgirl, and his favorite....Zorro and his dame.  This year we went to a Great Gatsby event down at a Malibu Mansion and go to dress up in roaring 20's attire.  So much fun.

Sometimes it's great to stay in, have some friends over for a cozy dinner, hand out candy, and watch scary movies!  

So I've planned a Halloween Dinner menu that you can pick and choose from whether you are taking the kids out trick or treating, or staying at home with the porch light off..!

All of these dishes are perfect for a cozy Autumn evening.  Below are the links to the recipes:

Apple Cider Iced Tea
Monster Mash
Cheesy Garlic Herb Bread
Pork and Pumpkin Stew 
Take Along S'mores

Happy Halloween!!! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Peaches and Cream Muffins

When I was little my dad used to say "Baby! you remind me of peaches and cream!"  Then he would tickle me and I would just giggle!

I decided to make these because I was thinking of my dad today.  He had such a playful side, always chasing me around, making me laugh.  And then that saying...I never really thought peaches and cream were all that special until I made these muffins.  Oh MY!

Wonderfully ripe fresh late summer peaches and cream (sour cream in this case).  What a combination and such great flavors of the south.  Especially in a freshly made hot muffin.

Perfect for a Sunday breakfast.

Hopefully you can still find some late summer peaches in your grocery store so you can make these.  But if you can't I'm sure that frozen ones will do just fine.

I've also included a sugar substitute for a low-carb version for those that like that option.

When you eat these, maybe you'll feel just like peaches and cream...without all the tickling!

Peaches and Cream Muffins

Makes 12

2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1/8 t salt
½ c sugar or ¼ c Splenda sugar blend
2 large eggs
1 c sour cream
6 T canola oil
1 t vanilla
1 c frozen or fresh peaches, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Stir to combine.  In another small bowl lightly beat eggs.  Add in sour cream, oil, and vanilla.  Beat slightly to mix.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Stir until moistened.  Do not over mix.  Fold in peaches. 

Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Simple Cheddar Biscuits

Today we are going to talk about one of my favorite subjects....BREAD!

If you have ever eaten dinner at my house growing up we always...I mean always,  had some type of bread with dinner.

Sometimes a biscuit, sometimes cornbread or a dinner roll.  But...bread none the less!

So it's no wonder that bread is a love of mine.  Biscuits are just a staple around our house and we'll probably never given them up.  Who would want to?  Hot, steamy, tender biscuits.  


Mom always made biscuits for breakfast, but sometimes we would get a treat and get them for dinner.  But sometimes a dinner biscuit calls for a little bumping it up a notch!  So cheddar biscuits are just the ticket.

Perfect with a bowl of chili or a hot steamy bowl of soup.  Really there is no excuse not to make these biscuits...they go with anything you like.

What makes these simple?  You get to take a shortcut and use a baking mix.  Plus they are drop biscuits so you don't have to roll out the dough and cut biscuits!  Just perfect and rustic.

So enjoy your bread and eat it too!  We do!

Simple Cheddar Biscuits

makes 10-12

4 c baking mix
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 c 2% milk
2 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl add baking mix and cheese.  Add milk and stir together until blended.  

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Drop dough on baking sheet by large spoonfuls.  Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Brush tops with melted butter.  Serve.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Rotini Skillet Lasagna

When you don't know what to cook and you need dinner on the table in a flash
think pasta....

This time of year a nice bowl of pasta is definite comfort food, and what could be more comforting than lasagna?  Nothing really!  All that cheesy goodness, wow.  Makes my heart flutter thinking about it.

But who has time to make lasagna on a weeknight?  Not this girl.  I guess I could have made one on the weekend and froze it for a night like this.  But of course, I didn't thank that far ahead and I'm craving it now.  So I'm going to make a version of lasagna.  A skillet lasagna.  My version.

There are so many versions of this dish out there running around the internet, but I still wanted to bring you the version that my mom and I created.  

Everything in this dish we already had on hand which was perfect, and made the dish go super fast.  To make this creamy, like a true lasagna, we added mozzarella and yogurt.  The yogurt replaces the ricotta and is healthier for you.  You could also use sour cream.  It leaves a nice tang and works just as well.

The end result is a ooey gooey make-shift lasagna that you made in about 20 minutes.  We both loved it!  Can't beat that for a cozy fall night.  I'm thinking that this is my new favorite pasta dish.

What's your favorite pasta dish?

Rotini Skillet Lasagna

3/4 lb. ground sirloin
3 c. of rotini
2 c of marinara sauce - any flavor
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t Italian seasoning
1/2 c mozzarella cheese
1/3 c yogurt or sour cream

Brown ground sirloin in a skillet over medium heat.  Drain and return to skillet.  Meanwhile cook pasta in a large pot full or boiling salted water as per package instructions.  

Add marinara sauce, garlic, and Italian seasoning to meat in skillet.  Add cooked pasta and stir to combine.  Add cheese and stir until melted.  Add yogurt or sour cream and stir to incorporate.  Serve.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crescent Roll Mummy Dogs

It's almost Halloween time, and I LOVE LOVE Halloween!

It's always been one of my favorite holidays.  Dressing up in all the fantastic costumes and putting on all the makeup.  Sooo many great memories of Halloween.  Several favorite costumes come to mind like being a Gypsy, or a Unicorn, or a Tiger like in the play Cats!  I even had a friend how once dressed up as a mummy, with tattered dirty sheets made into cloths.  She was perfect!

A couple of years ago we went away during Halloween (it's also our anniversary!) and the town of Cambria was having a scarecrow festival.  So many creative scarecrows placed strategically around town.  Aren't these incredible?

I usually don't make Halloween themed or decorated food because it usually is a time where we go out and party.  No time to eat.  But what I will do is make some themed or fall "esque" appetizers to have before the partying begins!

In honor of my mummy dressed friend Stephanie I decided to make some Crescent Roll Mummy Dogs.  You've seen them all over the internet no doubt.  They are quite popular and very easy to make.  But what you may not know is that they taste horrifyingly excellent!  The crescent dough just provides that needed bun like texture, but even better I would say, that you need with a hot dog.

Plus...who can resist these?  I mean, no one I know..and the kids go crazy over them.  And, aren't they cute??

So wrap up a hot dog in true mummy fashion this Halloween.  They may not fright, but they are sure to delight!


Crescent Roll Mummy Dogs

adapted from

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls 

10  large hot dogs

Cooking spray
Mustard or ketchup, for dipping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Unroll dough; separate at perforations, creating 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal.  Cut each rectangle lengthwise into 10 pieces, making a total of 40 pieces of dough.

Wrap 4 pieces of dough around each hot dog to look like "bandages," stretching dough slightly to completely cover hot dog. About 1/2 inch from one end of each hot dog, separate "bandages" so hot dog shows through for the  "face." On ungreased large cookie sheet, place wrapped hot dogs.  

Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until dough is light golden brown and hot dogs are hot. With mustard, draw eyes for the face.   


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