Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz (about 2 cups) chopped peeled butternut squash
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 3 cups fat free vegetable or chicken broth
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • toasted coconut for garnish (optional)

Add oil to a medium soup pot, on medium heat. When oil is hot add onion, garlic and sauté. Add roasted cumin, garam masala and curry powder and mix well cooking another minute. Add broth, light coconut milk, butternut squash and cook covered until squash is soft, 12-15 minutes. Remove cover and using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Season with salt and fresh pepper and serve.


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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Carmel Apples

Our family makes these every year! They are so good!popsicle sticks

5-7 apples
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 1/2 Tbls. Crisco
14 oz. caramels
2 Tbls. room temperature water
parchment paper
Rice Krispies
Cinnamon and Sugar

Wash and dry apples and remove stems. Push stick through top center of apples about 1/2 way down.

Unwrap caramels and combine with water in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 second intervals, stirring each time until creamy. (Be careful not to over heat or else carmel with harden.) Immediately roll apples in caramel, coating completely. Then roll in Rice Krispies.

Place on parchment paper.

Melt chocolate chips and shortening also in a microwave-safe bowl for same 30 second intervals, stirring each time. Roll apples in the white chocolate, then cover with cinnamon and sugar. Place on paper in the fridge until serving. Cut into slices for easier serving and eating.
So yummy! And fun to make together as a family. And whether they are perfectly dipped or clumpy because your kids did them, they are still delicious!

* You can also use milk chocolate, peanut butter or mint chocolate chips. Can also top with nuts, sprinkles, cookie crumbs, M&M's, Reeses Pieces.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Ranch Ham & Broccoli Pinwheels

Ranch Ham & Broccoli Pinwheels

1 recipe for rolls or homemade bread (I used my recipe for quick rising pizza dough because I didn't have time to let the dough rise)
Filling Layer:
12 oz. cream cheese

1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. butter

1 ranch dressing packet

1 t. parsley (dried or fresh)

1/2 t. garlic powder

1/2 t. black pepper

Dash of cayenne

2-3 c. Ham, chopped (I used deli sliced ham)
2 c. Broccoli (fresh or frozen--just chop up pretty fine. I had a frozen broccoli/cauliflower mix and used that)
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped  
1/4 c. green onions, sliced (I used 1/2 of a yellow onion. I also added chopped celery- you can add pretty much whatever you like)
2-3 c. shredded colby or cheddar cheese (you could also use parmesan cheese--the more cheese the better in my book!!)

Make the dough as you would normally. Once the dough has risen for the first time, punch it back down and divide into your two large mounds (each mound will make about 12-15 pinwheels). Roll the dough into a large, thin rectangle (get it as thin as you can--about 1/8 inch thick).

Mix the filling ingredients together and spread half of the mixture over the rectangle dough evenly. Sprinkle the ham, vegetables and cheese over the filling on the dough. Roll the dough like you would a cinnamon roll, tucking each roll in as tightly as you can. Once you have a long log of the pinwheel, begin cutting pieces into 1 inch thick slices. Place the slices face up on a greased cookie sheet. Place cookie sheets of pinwheels into the oven at 170 degrees. When slices have doubled in size, turn the oven to 350 degrees (without opening the oven door) and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly golden on top.

Quick Rising Pizza Dough

4 cups
All purpose white flour
2 pkgs
Rapid-rise yeast
2 tsp.
1 tsp.
2 tsp.
Olive oil
1 ½ cup

1. In mixer combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar.
2. Heat 1 ½ cups water and oil to 125-130 degrees.
3. With motor running, gradually add hot liquid.
4. Process, adding up to 2 TB. cold water till dough forms a ball, then process 1 minute to knead.
5. Turn out onto lightly floured surface, cover with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Heath Bits Peanut Butter Cookies

Heath Bits Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup REESE'S Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/3 cups (8 oz. pkg.) HEATH BITS Toffee Bits, divided
1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. Beat shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add egg; beat just until blended. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Stir in 1 cup bits; reserve remainder for topping.

3. Drop by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet; top each with reserved bits.

4. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until set. Do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely. About 3 dozen cookies. 

I had a package of toffee bits hanging around and decided to make the recipe on the back. These are to die for!!!

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Friday, October 8, 2010

October Gourmet Night at Natalie's

The Menu:
Italian Spread for Bread or Crackers
The Punch
Apple & Spiced Pecan Salad
Spinach Mushroom Ravioli with Garlic Cream Sauce
Chicken, Pine nut and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan-Gingersnap Crust

Italian Spread for Bread or Crackers
Red or yellow bell peppers
Red onion
Roma tomatoes (or about 4 regular tomatoes)
6 oz.
Jar of Capers (with juice)
¼ tsp.
Cloves garlic

Whipped cream cheese

Olive oil
1.  Dice peppers, onion, and tomatoes (I dice pretty small)                                                              
2.  Add salt, capers, and garlic.
Stir well. Drizzle with olive oil.
4.  Spread whipped cream cheese on crackers or sliced crusty bread (sourdough is good).
5.  Put spoonful of mixture on top of cream cheese.

Focaccia Bread
Original recipe by Tyler Florence
  • 2 tsp rapid rising dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 1/2-4 cups of flour
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt + 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Cornmeal for dusting
  • Olive oil to brush surface of the bread


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary


In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise over a gas pilot light on the stove top or other warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick. Lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, coat a small saute pan with olive oil, add the onion, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes until the onions caramelize. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips. Brush the surface with more olive oil and then add caramelized onions, garlic, cheese, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake on the bottom rack for 15 to 20 minutes.

Apple & Spiced Pecan Salad
6-8 cups assorted greens (anything but iceberg)
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large red-skinned apple, diced

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
dash Tabasco sauce
2 TB. sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Whisk together dressing ingredients.

Spiced Pecans:
3 TB. butter
1 1/2 TB. sugar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans

Over medium heat, melt butter in a pan and add sugar, spices and salt. Add pecan pieces and stir until well coated. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until sugar caramelizes and pecans darken slightly in color. Transfer mixture to foil or parchment paper to cool. Break up pieces.

Assemble salad ingredients and top with cooled pecans. To avoid browning, apples can be added directly to dressing, or diced just prior to serving. Toss salad with dressing and serve.

 This was the only ravioli picture I got! Sorry, it's sans sauce and I don't even have a picture of the other ravioli!

Basic Egg Pasta
4 large eggs
1⁄2 cup water
31⁄2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Place eggs, water, flour, and salt in mixer bowl.
Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to Speed 2 and
mix 30 seconds.
Exchange flat beater for dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Let it rest for 20 minutes. 
Divide dough into 4 pieces before processing with Pasta Sheet Roller attachment. (or roll out to desired thickness)
Yield: 1 1⁄4 pounds dough.

Spinach and Mushroom Ravioli with Garlic Cream Sauce
1 recipe Basic Egg Pasta
1 tbs  olive oil
11/2 cups  finely chopped fresh mushrooms
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup  shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 large head garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbs  butter
1 tbs all-purpose flour
11/3 cups whipping cream
1/8 tsp  ground nutmeg
1/4-1/2 tsp  salt
1/8 tsp  black pepper

Prepare pasta dough; let rest.
In medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add mushrooms and garlic; sauté
cheese, salt, and pepper; stir in mushroom mixture. Refrigerate until ready to fill ravioli. Fill ravioli with mixture using whichever method you prefer (I used my KitchenAid Ravioli Maker attachment).

For Sauce:
Peel loose, paper-like skin from outside of garlic. Cut 1/2" slice from top of garlic to expose cloves. Place cut side up on 12"  square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with oil; wrap securely in foil. Bake at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes, or until knife point in center meets no resistance; cool. In small bowl, squeeze garlic out of cloves; mash with fork.
In heavy 2 qt  saucepan over medium heat, heat butter until hot. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute. Gradually stir in cream, mashed garlic, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Heat to boiling; boil and stir 1 minute, or until thickened. Serve hot over cooked ravioli.

Chicken, Pine Nut and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
1 recipe Basic Egg Pasta
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup  finely chopped roasted chicken
1 package mild goat cheese with garlic and herbs
1 tbs  olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbs packed fresh basil or 2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp packed fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 jar (7 oz) roasted red bell peppers, undrained
1 cup half-and-half
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Prepare pasta dough; let rest.
On baking sheet, place nuts in single layer. Toast in oven at 350°F (180°C) for 5 to 7 minutes, or until light brown and aromatic. Cool slightly; chop. In medium bowl, combine nuts, chicken, and cheese; refrigerate until ready to fill ravioli.
Fill ravioli with mixture using whichever method you prefer (I used my KitchenAid Ravioli Maker attachment).

For Sauce:
In medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onion; sauté until onion is tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Remove from heat; set aside. In food processor work bowl, position multipurpose blade. With motor running, add basil and oregano. Process until
chopped, 5 to 10 seconds. Add onion mixture and bell peppers. Process until smooth, scraping sides if necessary. Add onion-pepper mixture to skillet. Over medium heat, heat to simmer. Add half-and-half, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Cook until mixture is thickened and heated through. Serve hot over cooked ravioli.

*I made and filled all my ravioli a week prior and froze them. Huge time saver!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan-Gingersnap Crust
Recipe by Our Best Bites

1 3/4 C gingersnap crumbs (about 30 small cookies)
6T real butter, melted
3 T brown sugar
3/4 C ground pecans

3 8oz blocks cream cheese
3/4 C canned pumpkin puree
6 oz melted white chocolate (that's about 1 C white chocolate chips)
1 C sugar
3 eggs
2 t vanilla
1/4 t nutmeg
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t cloves

- 1 C whipping cream, beat with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 4 Tbs powdered sugar until medium peaks form.
- 1/3 C roughly chopped pecans, either toasted or caramelized
- 2 Tablespoons jarred caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Using 2 large pieces of heavy duty foil, securely wrap the bottom and outside of your cheesecake pan. This will prevent leaks when using the water bath.

For Crust:

Use a food processor to crush gingersnaps. Then do pecans. Combine gingersnaps, pecans, brown sugar, and butter and stir well to combine. Press into a 9" spring form pan. Evenly spread across the bottom of pan and up the sides about 1 inch.
To melt chocolate, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. Set aside.

With an electric mixer beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.

With the mixer running, slowly add in white chocolate in a steady stream (or steady blobs).

Pour mixture on top of the crust.
For water bath:

Place cheesecake pan inside of a larger pan. I use a roasting pan. The larger pan should be at least 2-3 inches in depth. Place in pre-heated oven. With a kettle or pitcher filled with hot water, pour water into the larger pan about halfway up, or approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

Bake for 60-75 minutes or until set. The center should be just a tad bit jiggly still. It will finish cooking while cooling.

When it's done, remove from oven and place on a rack until completely cool. Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.  This is a very soft cheesecake so sufficient chilling is a must!

When ready to serve spread sweetened whipped cream on top, drizzle caramel sauce over it, and sprinkle with pecans.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Best Ever Sunday Roast!

Here is the way I make my pot roast. I am sure there are lots of great ways to cook a roast, but this is how I have found makes the best roast. Believe me, I have tried it dozens of times....

1. Buy the meat. I always get mine at Costco. This recipe works with several types of meat; chuck, top round, bottom round. Just pick what ever looks best. Poke it with your finger (it sounds nasty,but it works) the more tender, the better.
2. Season meat with salt and pepper
3. Brown meat in large pot / dutch oven. This step is very important. Make sure your pan is VERY hot, I preheat my pan on High heat. Place meat in pan and do not move it for several minutes, if the meat ripes then it needs to brown longer, then it will release from pan. Do this on all sides.
4 After meat has browned, remove meat from pan and deglaze with pan with about 3/4 cup of water. Just pour water in pan and scrape the brown bits from the bottom. This is where lots of flavor comes from. Be careful, since the pan is so hot it will boil and steam a lot.
5. In a seperate bowl, Mix togeher 2-3 packets of McCormick Au Jus to 2-3 cups of water.
6. Add the browned meat and au jus mixture pack into the large pan.
7. Add 4-5 tablespoons of Worchestershire Sauce.
8. Add 2-3 onions to pan. (These can be left whole or just cut in half)
9. Then, just cook the meat on low temp for 4-5  hours until tender. (I cover the meat and cook it on the stove top, you can also cook in the oven, or in a crock pot)

To make the gravy:
1. Remove the meat and onions from the pan and pour about 1/2 cup of au jus sauce over the meat to prevent the meat from drying out. Let it rest.
2. In a small bowl, mix together about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour with about 1 cup of water. Make sure there are no lumps.
3. Slowly whisk the four mixture into the au jus sauce. Make sure to adjust the water levels to desired thickness and taste for seasons. You may add more salt and pepper if needed.

We always serve it with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables! Enjoy!!!

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