Monday, December 20, 2010

Garden Pumpkin Soup

The hub & I had some pumpkin soup recently that was so very yum! When I asked what was in it, I was was told of the Moosewood Restaurant in New York. I got to googling when I got home, found several knock-off recipes, and knew I had to try it for myself. So, without further adieu, I present to you...Garden Pumpkin Soup!

 Garden Pumpkin Soup
2 lbs. pumpkin (I used 2 cans of pureed pumpkin)
2 bay leaves 
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1 chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1 cup canned diced tomatoes (drained of excess juices)
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup dry white wine
5 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
Directions: Place all ingredients besides the cream in a large saucepan. Simmer on medium heat until heated through & well mixed. Remove bay leaves and turn heat to low. Gradually stir in cream and heat through, but do not allow to boil. I'd soften the onion next time by sauteing it a bit before adding it to the soup, but that's the only thing I'd change. :)

Pair it with some day-old bread for dipping and you've got yourself a nice, hearty meal for a cold winter's night!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Yarn Wreath

After I decided that I for sure liked my fall yarn wreath, I went ahead and made a Christmas one, too. You're probably wondering what happened to the Christmas wreath that I made last year. Unfortunately, the wreath didn't survive our summer move. But, that's okay because I'm happy with this replacement. :)

Once again, I used this flower as an accent.

The lighting in our apartment is not in any way conducive to taking photos.
In real life, this is much more of a "Christmas red" than "lipstick red"
and I like it. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pumpkin Ravioli

As soon as I found this recipe for pumpkin ravioli, I knew I had to try it and I'm sooo glad that I did! Not only was it beyond easy to make, but it also made for a perfect cold winter's night kind of meal. You may or may not be able to tell from the photo, but the wonton wrappers turned into more of a dumpling texture. But, I am not complaining! I think it made it even better. Mmmmm!
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
24 wonton wrappers
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Directions: Combine pumpkin, Parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Spoon mixture into the center of each wonton wrapper. Moisten edges of dough with water and bring two opposite sides together to form a triangle, pinching edges to seal. Place ravioli into a large saucepan of boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 7 minutes. Drain in colander. Place broth and butter in pan & bring to a boil. Add ravioli, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with parsley.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Cookies

I had a holiday baking extravaganza today. I ended up being in the kitchen for something like 6 hours. Exhausting, but totally worth it. I lost count of the cookies, but I made three different kinds and ended up with more than enough for 3 regular-sized tins, 2 small tins, 2 big tins, and 1 ginormous tin.Oh, and I had plenty leftover for the hub, too. I hope the recipients like them. Anyway, these are the varieties that I whipped up this year. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch
Courtesy of my mom-in-law
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
12 oz. package of chocolate chips
12 oz. packages of butterscotch chips
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla thoroughly. Stir in remaining ingredients (For a softer, rounder cookie, add 1/2 cup flour). Drop dough by rounded teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until light brown. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet.

Annnnd.... I forgot to take a photo of these, but they were my favorite (& super easy!). I took the advice of some commenters & reduced the amount of flour to 2 cups, but that's the only thing that I changed. YUM!

Sooo...what are your favorite holiday baked goodies, friends?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cinnamon Almond Rice Pudding

The hub & I volunteer at the food pantry at our church on a bi-weekly basis & reeeally love it. A few months ago, I was asked to head up a kind of life skills table there (that we've since dubbed the "Cook's Corner") to demonstrate good ways to use the items that were being distributed. So I, along with a good friend, whip up a new dish every other week using at least one thing that is being passed out that day for people to sample and take home recipe cards to try it for themselves. We've had an over abundance of rice recently & I was asked to come up with something to use it in for the next pantry. Someone suggested rice pudding & I realized that I had never had homemade rice pudding! Crazy. Just crazy. So, I thought I'd try some out tonight. This is a quick & easy kind of version, but it sounded too good to pass up! Plus, I already had everything on hand. I'll probably do a recipe that uses staples like regular milk & sugar for the pantry just to be sure that most people will be able to try it for themselves with what they already have in their cabinets. But, this version was really good. And perfect for a cold winter's night!

3/4 cup cooked rice
3/4 cup almond milk (I used vanilla)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
sliced almonds
Directions: Combine rice, almond milk, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 4 to 5 minutes, until milk is thicker and rice is a bit creamy. To serve, place in a bowl, top with almonds & drizzle with honey.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baked French Toast

We had baked French toast for dinner last night & it was goood. It was my first time baking it & I'd definitely do it again. I mean, who doesn't love breakfast for dinner?!

The recipe that I used was actually for Boozy Baked French Toast, but I altered it a bit. First, I halved it, since it was just for the hub & I. And instead of the Bailey's, I used a teaspoon of almond extract & a teaspoon of vanilla. (On a related note, almond extract is one of my favorite smells in the entire world.) I used vanilla almond milk & since it's sweet enough by itself, I omitted the extra sugar. I also sandwiched some sliced almonds between the bread slices & threw a handful on top for good measure. Add some (non-sifted, if you're lazy like me) powdered sugar & syrup and you're good to go! The end result was French toast that was more of a bread pudding kind of texture instead of what you would expect from traditional French toast. So, consider yourself warned. It's most definitely worth giving it a try, though. I might even switch things up & try some fresh fruit next time. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Christmas Tradition

I've mentioned before (here & here) that the hub & I have a tradition of making each other a Christmas ornament every year. This time, we decided on making each other gingerbread houses out of felt. 

Here are the supplies:

And the final products!

I made the top ornament & the bottom one is the hub's handiwork. These ended up taking us a while longer than we thought they would. I actually started over twice. But, I'm happy with them. I added a little bit of stuffing to mine, but the hub's didn't seem to need it. So, there you have it. The 2010 Stout house Christmas ornaments!

Do you have any special handmade holiday traditions, friends?
Any special treats or diy gifts?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Vegetarian Lasanga

My awesome mom-in-law has been hosting family dinners once a week and is kind enough to make vegetarian-friendly dishes for us to enjoy. She made this vegetarian lasagna a while back and it was so very good that I had to get the recipe & try it for myself. I'm not a huge black bean fan, but this is seriously goood. The last time I made it, I went ahead & whipped up a second pan to freeze & cook later. I realize that the photo probably isn't the most appetizing thing that you've ever seen, but you'll just have to trust me on this one...

Black Bean Lasagna
from Reader's Digest
9 lasagna noodles
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. oil
2 16-oz. cans black beans, rinsed & drained
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
1 cup water
2 tbs. minced cilantro
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 egg whites, beaten
1 15-oz. carton of reduced fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (I don't think that I used quite that much)
2 8-oz. cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese blend
Directions: Cook noodles according to package (or use no-boil noodles like I did). Over medium heat, cook onion and garlic in oil until tender.  Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, water, cilantro, and pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened.  In a small bowl, combine egg whites, ricotta, Parmesan, and parsley.  Drain noodles. Spread 1/2 cup bean mixture into a 13x9-inch pan coated with cooking spray.  Layer with three noodles, a third of the ricotta mixture, a third of remaining bean mixture, and 2/3 cup of cheese blend.  Repeat layers twice.  Cover & bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.  Uncover & bake10 to 15 minutes longer, or until bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
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