Monday, October 31, 2011

White Chocolate Apple-Pecan Blondies

It's excitingly eerie and getting dark around here!  

{A prickly PIRATE and his first mate, WOODY}
With frighteningly fun trick-or-treaters ringing our doorbell....

a cackling witch has her candles lit and pumpkins carved and she's cast a wicked spell!

A potion of poison apples, chopped white chocolate, and toasty nuts in her blistering cauldron. "Hocus Pocus,"working her magic, she's created a hair-raising new B L O N D I E  to chew on! 

Our wacky witch is horrified, but we are delighted.  In the spirit of batty fun, our fairy tale White Chocolate Apple-Pecan Blondies are disguised as goodies this Halloween making monsters howl for more creating sweet dreams!  

Please pack 'em up and enjoy all autumn long, especially on leaf-peeking days, tasty tailgating parties, and harvest hayrides.   

White Chocolate Apple-Pecan Blondies

  • 1 (11. 5 ounce) bag white chocolate chips, divided 
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup apples, peeled and chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 13x9" baking pan.  In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt 1 cup of the white chocolate chips and butter, stirring until smooth and carefully remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat.  Cool chocolate mixture to room temperature.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla until thickened and pale and beat in white chocolate mixture.  Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into chocolate mixture and stir just until batter is combined well.  Stir in nuts, apples and remaining white chocolate chips and spread mixture evenly in pan.  Bake blondies in middle of the oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool blondies completely in pan on a rack before cutting.

Please note:  I melted a little white chocolate in the microwave on high power, checking every 15 seconds.  Watch carefully, it will scorch easily.  I added a little orange food color and maple extract to "glue" pumpkins and candy corn to bars, decorating them for Halloween.  However, they are spooktacular on their own, embellish only if you dare!

Here's to a "Happy Halloween" friends!  Thanks for indulging me with this one...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Idaho Potato Bugs

EEK!  It's a Thug...

Halloween Potato Bugs /

Trick or's a Idaho Potato Bug!

Idaho Potato Bugs

Idaho Potato Bugs
  • 1 large potato, scrubbed and dried
  • softened butter and salt
  • 12 medium shrimp, shells and tails off, deveined
  • 1-1/2 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons hot milk
  • 2 teaspoons butter (melted in milk)
  • 1 tablespoon minced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (divided)
  • 2 black olives
  • 2 snips of red bell pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Smear potatoes with softened butter, salt it, poke with fork times a couple of times, and bake for 1 to 1-1/2 hours till done.  Meantime, clean shrimp and set aside.  Grate the cheddar cheese.  When potato is done, cool to handle.  Cut in half lengthwise and carefully remove the cooked potato to a bowl, reserving skin whole.  Mash potato with cream cheese, milk,  butter, onion and parsley.  Add salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 of the grated cheese and mix gently. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter with garlic and drench the shrimp in it.  Hang shrimp over the potato skin as pictured above.  Fill skin with potato mixture, sprinkle remaining cheese over top of the bug.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 more minutes.  Remove from oven and add olive slices for "eyes" and a snip of red pepper for a "nose."  Makes 2.  Serve with lots of scary love!

Happy weekend before Halloween.  Hope it's filled with fabulous fun! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sourdough Pancakes

Are you loving Fall, well, here's one of our favorite recipes and it's on the house! 

Our little granddaughter was born in Arizona a week ago, so this past week we soaked up one more week of summer weather.  We returned to Idaho yesterday and were so excited to see the autumn leaves in our own backyard!  We had to put on sweaters while our house warmed up and we sipped pumpkin herbal tea by a roaring fire last night.

It seems that our weekends have been filled with company, family, football and pancake parties!  It's such a delicious way to start a chilly morning.  I often remember platefuls of  my mom's fragrant sourdough pancakes with hot maple syrup.  They were so tender and would "melt in your mouth!" 

I promise those gathered round your table will feel the love and you don't have to have a 3 year-old sourdough starter to pull it off.  You have to plan the day before and mix flour, water and yeast together.  Cover it and set it in a warm place for 12 to 18 hours.  I put mine in the oven with the light on and it bubbles with happiness!

Here's my starter.....

save at least 1/2 a cup for the next time...

follow the directions and add all the ingredients...

pour onto a hot griddle and have fun flipping...

and you will have 9 to 10 golden, light, fluffy, perfect pancakes... fabulous for Fall!!!

Sourdough Pancakes

S O U R D O U G H   S T A R T E R

  • 1 package or 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 cups flour
To make your starter, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water.  In a medium bowl, add remaining water and flour and mix all three ingredients well.  Lightly cover and let stand in a warm place, your oven with the light on or cupboard overnight.  In the morning, the batter will have gained half again it's bulk and will be covered with air bubbles.  It will have a pleasant yeasty odor.  Put 1/2 cup of the starter in a scalded pint jar, cover and store in the refrigerator (or a cool place) to use in the future in place of the dry yeast.  Leave room for expansion in the container, or set the lid on without tightening it.  This is the sourdough starter.  Starter will keep almost indefinitely in a clean, covered glass container in the refrigerator.  Never use a metal container or leave a metal spoon in the starter or batter.  If unused for several weeks, the starter may need to sit out an extra night before adding flour and water.

S O U R D O U G H   P A N C A K E    B A T T E R

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 to 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar  
Dissolve soda in water and set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the remaining sourdough batter (you should have about 2 cups left).  Add eggs, oil, salt, and sugar to batter and blend well.  Add soda-water mixture just before baking.  The batter for the sourdough pancakes should be the same consistency as the batter for other hot cakes.  Pour scoops of batter onto hot griddle, turning once and cooking until golden brown.  Serve with favorite toppings.

To make sourdough waffles, use the basic hot cake recipe, but add two extra tablespoons of oil.  Add the oil, the the soda-water mixture, and bake at once according to the directions that come with your waffle iron.

Makes 9 to 10 6-inch hot cakes.  You can double, triple or quadruple this recipe easily.  Save 1/2 cup of starter for each batch...because you will want to do it all again!

(illustrated by Susan Branch)

AND spectacular sourdough pancakes on lazy weekend mornings!

Make it a great one and thanks for checking in.
I've been extra busy with new babies, little grands and am working hard to reply to your comments.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chicken and Rice Casserole

There's an old saying, "Don't count your chickens before they are hatched."

Well, last week two new little chicks arrived in our nest!

Our newest, handsome, red-headed, grandson, Grant was born Monday 10-10-11.  

and another sweet, beautiful, little granddaughter, Charlotte arrived Thursday, 10-13-11.

Born just days apart, both are such precious blessings reminding me of a favorite quote.

 “It is no small thing, when they, who are so fresh from God, love us. ” 
Charles Dickens

Both moms are doing well, babies too.  They have other little mouths to feed and sometimes it's more important to prepare something that is fast and easy in the busy days ahead. 

With Grandma Née cooking in the kitchen

Chicken and Rice Casserole is a snap to fix and is simply plain, perfect for tender tummies! Generally I like to spice things up a bit, but not this week.

In a large saucepan, saute the onion is olive oil, just until soft.  Add everything else but the chicken and warm it up.  Pour into an 11x17" casserole dish.  Lay the chicken pieces on top, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and cover with foil.  Place it in a 350 degree oven and bake for 2 hours.  Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

That's it.  I steamed some carrots and zucchini, warmed some crunchy rolls, and served it with a crisp green vegetable salad.  

If you're like me and like a little more flavor, add 1 cup each of diced celery and apple, and 1/2 cup of craisins before baking.  Sprinkle each serving with toasted sliced almonds for an easy autumn treat!

Chicken and Rice Casserole
  • 1 (10.75-oz) can cream of mushroom soup*
  • 1 (10.75-oz) can cream of chicken soup*
  • 1 (10.75-oz) can cream of celery soup*
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked rice, not instant (I used brown rice)
  • 1 chicken, cut up--or 8 chicken breast, skinned, washed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
In a large saucepan saute onion in olive oil till soft.  Add the water, soups, rice, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly in saucepan and cook until evenly heated.  Pour into an 11 x 17" casserole dish.  Top with chicken pieces; cover, and bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.  Uncover for the last 10 minutes.  Serves 8.

*I use the Campbells low-fat, no trans-fat variety.

Now since I'm counting, these new little chicks, 11 grandsons and 6 granddaughters, total 17 for me and I'm singing!  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you are having a happy harvest too.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chewy Designer Oatmeal Cookies

I'm married to a man who is passionate about fresh fruit and ice cream.  His mom was famous for her root beer floats, served in her signature green goblets.  I don't remember a dessert that she ever baked, or a time when her freezer wasn't filled with the best vanilla ice cream she could buy.    

Shortly after our marriage I found this chewy oatmeal cookie recipe in a civic club cookbook I was given at a bridal shower.  Lucky for me, it's my guy's very favorite cookie.  

You know how some oatmeal cookies are real spicy with nutmeg or cinnamon?  

Well not this one! These cookies depend on whatever you stir in for their flavor.  I can change this up and as long as I add the oatmeal, my man's happy. 

So make it your own cookie, try craisins instead of raisins, dried apricots or dates, white, mint, or butterscotch chips for chocolate.  Go nuts!  Try pecans or almonds for walnuts; you get it, throw in whatever you've got!  I've found somebody always likes it...

Chewy Designer Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped 
  • 1 cup finely shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir in the sugar mixture until well blended. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut until evenly distributed.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven for a chew cookie or 14 minutes for a firmer cookie.  Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet and then remove to wire rack.  Cool completely and then store in a tightly sealed container.

Enjoy a welcome weekend and bake some beautiful cookies.  Your home will smell so inviting and your family, friends and neighbors will have sweet dreams all week!

Thanks for stopping by all.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Spinach-Artichoke Soup

Welcome to my party friends!  This happens to be my best "POT-LUCK" ever.

Pot-luck you say, well I will ask you, have you ever seen a more beautiful pot?

It's a 7-quart, hammered copper and brass Williams Sonoma "soup station."  

One of my favorite bloggers, Jacqueline@Purple Chocolate Home  held a give-away for one of her lucky followers and I'm absolutely thrilled to be her grateful recipient.  Thanks so much Jacqueline for such a lovely gift.  Talk about, "pot-luck," each time I simmer spicy cider, rich hot chocolate, a special stew, {I could go on and on} I will think of you.  During the holidays it will be the star at each buffet!

Jacqueline creates amazing tablescapes each week.  I fell in love with this soup station when I saw this picture on her blog.  The smooth copper-brass lid and brass handles combined with the hammered copper sides makes it a work of art.  It's the most spectacular cooking vessel ever to grace my kitchen.  Jacqueline also knows how to cook with a French flair.  She lives in an amazing home with a pizza oven in her kitchen and knows how to make everything she touches look delicious!

When the UPS man arrived at my door, I was thinking about Friday night football food.  Our beloved Boise State Broncos were taking on Fresno State.  After opening the box, I knew it was time for our first annual autumn P O T    P A R T Y.

the soup de jour

Cheesy Chicken Spinach-Artichoke Soup, whew-ee,  is party fare and would be divine served in a bread bowl.  Next time I serve it I will plan ahead and do just that.

Cheesy Chicken Spinach-Artichoke Soup
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 (10 ounce box) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (any tough outer-leaves removed)
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained (I used Ro*tel)
  • 1 (8-ounce) cream cheese, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup chicken, cooked and cubed
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • sliced green onions
  • croutons
Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add flour and make a paste.  Add chicken stock.  Cook over medium heat till thickened, stirring often.  Season with pepper.  Add cream cheese, Parmesan and Monterey Jack cheese and stir until it's smooth and melted.  Add spinach, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and chicken.  Gently stir till blended.  Add canned milk.  Keep the soup warm, but do not boil.  Garnish with sliced green onion and croutons or serve in a warm bread bowl.  Serves 8.

FYI: No. 5 ranked, Boise State dominated Fresno State 57-7, making Idaho proud 
and go visit sweet Jacqueline.  You will enjoy her blog and who knows, you just might be a winner too!  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grilled Jack Cheese and Applesauce Sandwiches

Are you ready for Fall apples and a nip in the air? 

We are around here...apples, cheese and a little squeeze! 

The first thing we did this last Spring was plant fruit trees, three apples in particular.  Saturday we harvested about a dozen apples from our little happy apple week!

Grilled Jack Cheese and Applesauce Sandwiches were my cousin, Cheryl's, college creation.  They are a delicious twist on a traditional grilled cheese sandwich, toasted on a hot skillet.

I like to use sourdough bread, the best Jack Cheese out there, applesauce and a little butter.

Slather one side of both slices of bread with applesauce, add generous slices of cheese, slap it together, and lightly butter the tops.  Place it on a hot skillet, I use medium heat, and give it a little squeeze.  Watch it carefully and turn when it is golden brown.  Keep watching till the second side is toasty too.  

Now slice it in half and serve it.

With what?  Well lucky for you here's a bonus,  a crunchy side salad.

Toss sliced apples with baby greens, radicchio, toasted walnuts, and feta cheese.  Now stir some balsamic vinegar with a little pear chutney and some olive oil and it was a slightly sweet,
pungent vinaigrette.   It was perfection...just saying....ever so humbly.

Enjoy this most glorious time of the year, and an apple {one way or another} each day.  

Thanks for stopping by!