Sunday, November 23, 2008

More pumpkin, I can't help it!

I am so in the holiday spirit right now, which means pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. I don't think I have baked anything in the last month that didn't include pumpkin. It is just one of those seasonal favorites, that will seem out of place once fall is over, so I have to get my fill now! These pumpkin bars are amazing! So moist, they get rave reviews everywhere I bring them. I tried to make them a bit more healthy, so below in black you will see the substitutions I made this time. Please don't let the banana freak you out, you really won't taste it in the bars, all the spices mask the banana flavor really well. I know that right now my mom is thinking I should just leave her recipe alone, but at the rate I bake, I have to make things a smidgen healthier, or else I would be severely overweight! So without further commentary, enjoy!

Wait until they are cool to frost, otherwise they look like this!

Company Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs ( I used 2 eggs and 2 bananas)
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup oil (I used applesauce)
I 15 oz can pumpkin
2 cups flour ( I used whole wheat flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon (I use about 2 tbl)
I also added 1 tsp cloves and 1 tbl pumpkin pie spice I like the spicy flavor, and I wanted to make sure it covered the banana flavor

1 8 oz pack of cream cheese, room temperature ( I used RF cream cheese)
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 pan.
Mix eggs and sugar until well blended, and oil and mix, then add pumpkin and mix. Meanwhile combine all dry ingredients, then slowly add to wet mixture. Stir together, but DO NOT over mix.
Pour into pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until top springs back when touched or toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Set aside to cool and make frosting.

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar slowly. Spread over cooled pumpkin bars, sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. ENJOY!

Hearty Chili

This is my go to chili recipe, which comes from my friend Cassy, back home in Washington. This was almost always my requested dinner when I went to her house, I loved all the veggies in it, and the nice spice that wasn't overpowering, but was certainly there. It was a big change from the chili I grew up on, which was honestly a can of chili beans, a can of kidney beans, a can of tomato sauce, some ground beef, and a chili seasoning packet. Sorry to out you mom, but that really isn't chili! Of course I took some liberties with it, as I do with almost all recipes, and my version didn't disappoint at all. If you are looking for another soup to add to your winter round-up, look no farther.


1 1/2lb ground turkey or beef (I used left over roast I had, shredded into tiny pieces, LOVED it!)
1 (15 ounce) can chili beans, not drained
1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can white kidney beans (cannelini), drained
2 (28 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon or bacon bits
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 dash cayenne pepper (or more if you want it spicy)
1 or 2 tablespoon brown sugar

Optional Toppings:
shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese
sour cream
taco chips

* Cook the meat first then add the diced veggies until tender. Add all other ingredients to slow cooker and let simmer for the day. That is it, really. That simple! This makes enough for a crowd so you may want to half the recipe or plan to freeze some. It does freeze well and tastes just as good thawed and re-heated. Works perfect to have small tupperware portions to take to work, just take it out of the freezer the day before. ENJOY!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

No pictures tonight, we were too hungry to bother to find the camera, but I though that I would share our meal with you anyhow. It fit the bill for easy and tasty, and sort of healthy. Prepare yourself for this is a recipe off of the Campbell's soup can. Not gourmet, but gourmet isn't really me anyhow, now is it?

1 can of Campbell's Cream of Chicken ( I use the 98% fat free of course)
1 1/3 cups water
3/4 cups uncooked long grain white rice
pepper to taste
2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables ( I just used peas)
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Stir everything but chicken and cheese together in a 2 quart dish.
Top with chicken, seasoned as desired ( I used some rosemary and oregano).
Bake at 375 for 50 minutes or until rice and chicken are done.
Sprinkle with cheese and broil until cheese browns. Let sit for 10 minutes and enjoy.

Just a heads up, I actually made this the night before and left it in the fridge so it was ready to pop in the oven right when I got home from work. I did end up having to add a little extra rice to soak up some extra water/soup, which required about 15 more minutes in the oven.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Easy breakfast casserole

Please allow yourself a moment to picture this scene: My mom sitting on the couch at 9am with a bag of cheetos in one hand and a diet pepsi in the other. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Oh yea, of course not, only my mother finds cheetos and sugar water to be an appropriate breakfast. If only I had been home to make sure she had an appropriate meal. Unfortuantely I had to work, which left my mother and my husband alone to fend for themselves for breakfast. Mom, I promise I will always be prepared with this casserole for any future mornings with us. (please don't get me wrong though, my mother would rather eat cheetos and a diet pepsi for breakfast then real food, it just appaled my husband so much I made this for their future mornings together.) And just so you know that my mother didn't starve that morning, Michael took her to a sports bar for breakfast...please insert sigh here, if you knew my mother you would know she doesn't belong in a sports bar.

This recipe came about to prevent another morning like the above mentioned. My friend Lindsay had made a similar casserole, so this was my attempt to copy it without actually knowing what she put in it. The recipe below is with pretty basic, there are lots of ways to jazz it up. Think peppers and onions and bacon and/or sausage. Change it to suit your tastes.

Breakfast Casserole


cooking spray (PAM)

1 bag of cubed frozen hashbrowns

8 eggs (I used egg substitute)

1/2 cup milk

2 cans of diced green chiles

1/2 pound of thick sliced ham

1 cup of shredded cheese

1/2 cup diced onion (I saute them first)

salt and pepper to taste


Spread frozen hashrowns in the bottow of a lightly sprayed 9x13 pan. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over hashbrows, layer the diced chile peppers and onions over the top, followed by the ham and finally the cheese. Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes, or until eggs are set and cheese is golden brown. Top off with a dallop of sour cream and enjoy.