This is not a recipe, its real life

This blog is something that is very precious to me. It’s a place where I can express myself, the things I love to do (and cook!) and I like to think that people enjoy reading my experiences in life and in the kitchen and that sometimes they read something that makes their next dish or their next restaurant trip a little better. This little project has been going strong for about 6 months and I have no idea how many people actually read it. I’ve seen the stats but they’re just numbers, not names or faces. Some times I read my words back to myself and I think  ”I need more me in the blog, people want details about me, not just cooking.” Personalities make blogs and the human connection is what makes blogs last.

I’ve debated for a long time about this post, waffling back and forth wondering if I should open myself up or not. But today I decided it was time. You know the fun side of me, the side that goes home and cooks to unwind. The person who spends hours in the kitchen every weekend excited to try a new recipe or scours internet recipe sites for inspiration.

Today I will go home from work and probably eat Halloween candy for dinner with a side of a bottle of wine. I will cuddle my puppy dog and hug my husband. I will not cook anything but instead I’ll try to lose myself in some trashy TV or worse a Christmas movie (yes, on Halloween!). You see, today we found out once again that I am not pregnant.

We have been trying to start our family for two and half years now although it feels like its been a lifetime. We started out like most couples who have been married for a few years and want children; excited, hopeful talking about names of our children and things we couldn’t wait to teach them. I began dreaming of nursery colors and maternity clothes.

About 10 months into it, I had a feeling something was wrong. We were both young, both healthy so why was everyone else getting pregnant and we weren’t. After months of floundering and wondering where to turn we started seeing a specialist. We went through horrible tests to find out that I needed surgery for endometriosis. The doctors thought I had scar tissue all over my organs and it was preventing me from getting pregnant, they wanted to remove it.

In June, I had the surgery. The doctors found stage 4 endometriosis. They said it was some of the most they’d ever seen but they had removed everything and my uterus looked good. Immediately, they wanted to start hormone shots and do a round of ultrauterine insemination. We did our first cycle in July and were so excited. We thought this was it, this was the solution. After everything we were finally on our way to a family. But alas it didn’t work and we were left confused, broke and upset.

These are the things they don’t tell you when you sign up for health insurance, most companies cover nothing. Apparently, infertility is not seen as a disease or condition and women who have issues have to pay for them out of pocket.

We decided to try again, round 2 but the doctor found cysts on my ovaries caused by the hormone shots. So we waited and we waited and we waited for the cysts to go away. Three months later, almost, we were cleared to start again. I began shots and we did the procedures. Then I did more shots until my blood test today.

Less hopeful this time, we were more prepared for the phone call but it still rattles you. Negative, again. Another month, gone.

And now here we are. Money has run out and the emotional burden is too heavy to carry. We’re out. We move on to what’s next and that’s the question that is just hanging there. What IS next? Where do you go when the life you wanted isn’t a possibility anymore?

How do you not become bitter and angry when there are pregnant women everywhere you look? And you feel like you’re getting left behind by the friends who have been able to have children?

So why am I telling you this tragic story, for pity? No. I’m tell you all because I need to get it out, I need to move on. And I’m telling you because if you’re out there and you’re wondering why you’re not pregnant yet and you’re secretly hating everyone who is pregnant around you, you’re not alone. Infertility is an attack on the most basic female right, the right to bear children. When you can’t do that, you feel like less of a woman and less of a person. It feels shameful. But don’t let it make you feel that way and don’t go through it alone. If no one else, I’m here email me with any questions or concerns. The best advice I can give is go see a reproductive endocrinilogist, your OB doesn’t know shit. Trust me.

For those of you who don’t or didn’t have any problems getting pregnant, don’t take that for granted and don’t take your children for granted. Think twice before asking someone the personal question “So when are you guys going to have kids?” I hate that question and way too many people think they can ask it.

So for now, Eric and I will be grateful we have each other. We will begin to research adoption (I know you’re going to ask that). But first we’ll take a break. I’ll enjoy exercising again, eating chocolate again, and drinking wine again. I can’t wait to be able to plan things more than a week in advance and not to have internal ultrasounds at 7am 3-4 days a week! And I’ll blog, I truly love cooking and sharing what I learn along the way with all of you and I’m grateful to anyone who gives me a few minutes of their time by reading my words.

Thanks for reading and I promise no sad stories tomorrow but maybe another pumpkin recipe… :)

Pumpkin Muffins/Cupcakes

As Fall moves along, my love for all things pumpkin has not waned a bit. Last week, I decide to look for a pumpkin muffin recipe so that I could make a batch and then take them to work in the mornings for breakfast. I like to change up my breakfast whenever possible. I found a recipe for pumpkin muffins on the Pioneer Woman website that also suggested topping the muffins with cream cheese icing, thereby turning the muffin into a cupcake. Genius! I could easily make breakfast and dessert at the same time! This recipe is really easy and delicious; you don’t even need your electric mixer.

Start the recipe by sifting together all the dry ingredients. Now, cut in the cold butter using a pastry cutter or two knives. I don’t have a pastry cutter so after using two knives to slice the butter up, I also used my fingers to “grind” up the butter and incorporate it well into the dry ingredients. You want it to look like course crumbs.

In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. The recipe called for condensed milk and I only had sweetened condensed milk so I used heavy cream instead and it worked great. Mix in the egg and vanilla until well combined.

The recipe also calls for golden raisins, I’m not a huge fan so I left those out but feel free to add whatever you like. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry just until combined. It will look a bit lumpy, no worries.

Fill greased or lined muffin tins 3/4 full. Sprinkle each muffin with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg and bake for 25 minutes.

 

These tasty muffins will puff up and get a crusty sugar topping when they’re done.

Pop the muffins out of the tin to cool and mix up some cream cheese frosting if you wish.

I recommend only putting a small dollop on top, these muffins don’t need much.

In the end, I prefer the cupcake version, the cream cheese frosting is the perfect addition to these muffins. I already made 2 batches and can’t wait to make more.

 

Here’s the recipe, again from Pioneer Woman:

Pumpkin Muffins/Cupcakes
5.0 from 1 reviews
Print
Author: Pioneer Woman
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • Muffin Ingredients:
  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup (heaping) Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Golden Raisins (optional!)
  • Topping
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • FOR FROSTING:
  • 1/4 cup Softened Butter
  • 4 ounces, weight Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 pound Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease 12 muffin tins.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in butter with two knives or a pastry blender until it is fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Add raisins. Fold gently until mixture is just combined.
  3. Pour into a greased muffin pan—batter hardly ever fills all twelve unless you keep it down to 1/2 full. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar-nutmeg mixture over the top of each unbaked muffin.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. Ice with cream cheese frosting.
  5. To make the frosting, mix all ingredients on high until soft and whipped. Spread onto completely cooled muffins, or place into a large pastry bag with a large star tip and go crazy! Store in the fridge, as icing will soften at room temperature.

 

 

 

 

Roasted Carrots & Parsnips

I tried my first Thanksgiving “test” recipe this weekend with roasted carrots and parsnips. I’ve been wanting a roasted root vegetable recipe for about a year and when I was making roast chicken this weekend I decided to finally look for a good recipe. I found a few options on the internet that included 3-4 different vegetables but decided to go with just the carrots and parsnips. I didn’t eat many root vegetables growing up, carrots were about it so I’ve always been interested in trying parsnips, turnips and rutabagas; this is maybe my second time eating parsnips, ever.

The whole dish is very simple and really delicious. I choose the easy route with the carrots and used the pre-peeled and sliced ones and then peeled and sliced the parsnips. Line a sheet pan with tin foil and spread both carrots and parsnips over it.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Use your hands to toss the vegetables so they are well coated with oil.

Place into the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Open oven and stir vegetables, cook for another 10 minutes. Stir and move the pan to the bottom 1/3 of the oven. Roast for another 15 minutes or until the vegetables begin to brown.

While the vegetables are roasting, melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the honey and balsamic vinegar. Stir well.

Pour over the roasted vegetables and toss, serve them immediately.

One great plus to this recipe is that you can roast the vegetables a few hours in advance, allow them to sit at room temperature without pouring the glaze over them. You can heat them back up for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven, then pour the glaze over them and toss well.

Here’s the recipe from Epicurious.com:

Roasted Carrots & Parsnips
Print
Author: Epicurious.com
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 6 ppl
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds carrots (1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter), peeled, halved lengthwise
  • 2 pounds parsnips (1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter), peeled, halved lengthwise
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil. Divide carrots and parsnips between prepared sheets. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, then drizzle 3 tablespoons oil over vegetables on each sheet; toss to coat.
  2. Roast vegetables 10 minutes; stir. Roast vegetables 10 minutes longer, stir, and reverse sheets. Continue roasting until vegetables are tender and slightly charred, about 15 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Tent with foil and let stand at room temperature. Rewarm uncovered in 350°F oven 10 minutes.)
  3. Melt butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in honey and vinegar. Drizzle honey glaze over vegetables and serve.

Stuffed Peppers

We harvested our last sweet peppers a few weeks ago, from the one plant we decided to attempt to grow this Summer, and in an effort to use as many as possible, I made stuffed peppers.

I like to think of stuffed peppers as one of the classic American dishes and grew up eating it often as a kid. I took my mom’s recipe and added a bit to it to arrive at the recipe I have now; it makes enough to feed about 6 people and can be prepped in about 20 minutes, plus its perfect for a cold evening.

The first step to this recipe is to wash and hollow out the peppers. Usually the peppers are large and I prefer to slice them in half to make the portion sizes more manageable.

 

I recommend using dark ground turkey meat for this recipe, the higher fat content lends to more flavor in the meat and the overall dish, but you are fine to use lean white meat if you prefer. To make the stuffing, simply mix up all the meat, rice, egg, cheese, milk and spices.

Once well mixed, stuff each pepper with the mixture. Once all the peppers are filled, place them into a pot and fill the pot with V8 juice or tomato juice. I usually use about 1/2 gallon of V8. You want the V8 juice to just cover the peppers, use water or chicken stock to dilute if needed.

Bring to a boil and then simmer covered, for one hour and 15 minutes.

Serve with a slice of crusty bread.

Here’s the recipe:

Stuffed Peppers
Print
Author: Red Velvet
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 20 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3-4 green peppers, depending on size
  • 1 lb. ground turkey thigh
  • 1/4 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1/2 gallon V8 juice
Instructions
  1. Wash and hollow out green peppers. Slice in half.
  2. Mix together turkey, rice, egg, parmesan, parsley & milk.
  3. Fill the peppers with the turkey mixture.
  4. Place into a large pot and pour over V8 and water until the peppers are covered.
  5. Cover and bring to a boil, simmer over medium heat for one hour. Serve with a slice of crusty bread.

Thanksgiving confession

Saturday was an epic day, the November issue of Bon Appetite arrived in my mailbox or the “Thanksgiving Issue” as I like to call it. I have saved, not only every Bon Appetite November issue for the last 5 years but also issues of any other cooking magazine I can find. It’s official, I’m a Thanksgiving magazine junkie.

Subscribe to Bon Appetit magazineI’m not sure why exactly, I have never had Thanksgiving at my house (we always go to someone else’s) or made a big turkey dinner for a large group of people, but I love reading about new sides, different spices for the turkey and new ways to use pumpkin and cranberries in dessert. I simply can’t get enough. I dog ear all the recipes I hope to try someday and occasionally try a few when we have company but there are many that I have yet to try out. I love the classic recipes and I love the ones with Asian influence or Southern flair. I don’t have a favorite.

Perhaps the reason I gobble up Thanksgiving recipes (pun intended) is that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and being an American, a big turkey dinner is a hard thing not to love. I think its fitting that my favorite holiday is one that evolves entirely around food. I also love the Macy’s parade and the long weekend after that Thursday. May years, we get a longer vacation for Thanksgiving that we go for Christmas!

I know, I know, I’m not skipping over Halloween, I realize it is next Monday and I’m already stocked with candy for Trick or Treaters, but I couldn’t resist expressing my excitement over the coming Thanksgiving Holiday. Last night, I even tried out two of the recipes from this Bon Appetit; so many more Thanksgiving ideas to come!

What about you guys, do you love Thanksgiving like I do? Does your family have a special dish that is a Thanksgiving must? Do you make the whole dinner or bring a side dish to a relative’s house? Spill.

Pumpkin Waffles

Have I got a great weekend breakfast recipe for you guys! I found this recipe on another great food blog, Smitten Kitchen and absolutely had to try it. I hope you’re not sick of pumpkin recipes yet, I know I can’t get enough of the stuff right now. These waffles left me feeling completely happy and tasted like Fall, if that makes sense. I recommend stocking up on some pumpkin today so you can make these waffles for breakfast tomorrow.

Start the waffles by mixing together all the dry ingredients. The recipe calls for cloves, sometimes I find that cloves make recipes taste like a Christmas candle, and don’t enjoy the flavor but I initially made the first waffles without any cloves and they were seriously lacking, so I do encourage the addition of the cloves. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg to the recipe.

Whisk together the wet ingredients, except for the egg whites. I used the organic pumpkin for this recipe the first time I made it and some Libby’s the second time, the waffles tasted exactly the same. I’m convinced the organic pumpkin is exactly the same as Libby’s except its not as orange in color and costs more because its organic.

With an electric mixer, mix the egg whites into soft peaks.

Whisk together the wet and dry ingredients until just combined.

Add the egg whites and gently fold in.

Spray the waffle iron with a little Pam so the waffles don’t stick and pour the batter onto the hot waffle iron.

And voila!

Serve the waffles with maple syrup, whipped cream and cinnamon. The second time I made them I also added chopped pecans on top which was amazing, but you won’t see those in these pictures because I was so busy eating I forgot to take the photo.

Here’s the recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen:

Pumpkin Waffles
Print
Author: Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil for brushing waffle iron or cooking spray
  • Maple Syrup
  • Chopped Pecans (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F and preheat waffle iron. Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl with buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined.
  2. In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks (as in, far softer than the over-beaten whites you’ll see in my picture above). Folk them gently into the waffle batter, until just combined.
  3. Brush waffle iron lightly with oil and spoon batter (about 2 cups for four 4-inch Belgian waffles) into waffle iron, spreading quickly. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm and crisp. Make more waffles in same manner.
  5. Serve with maple syrup, whipped cream, cinnamon and top with chopped pecans.

Pork Tenderloin – Hawaiian Style

Pork tenderloin may be one of my favorite dishes to make and to eat. It’s perfect for company because there are endless possibilities of marinades and chutneys to go with it, it feeds alot of people and it is easy to make. This recipe for pork tenderloin is my favorite. I adapted it from a recipe book I bought on our honeymoon in Hawaii at the local Ulupalakua Winery and think of that great trip each time I make it.

Boy, I’m wishing I was here right now. Eric took this photo, isn’t it great?

After imagining yourself in a hammock beside the ocean, begin the recipe by preheating your oven to 400 degrees and place the pork tenderloin in to the baking dish. Sprinkle the pork with lemon pepper (found in the spice section at the grocery store), Kosher salt and sage. You want dried sage, not ground sage. Rub these spices all over the meat being sure to get both sides well.

Pop the meat into the oven for 20 minutes. While the pork cooks, make the sauce by whisking together maple syrup, red wine and Dijon mustard.

After cooking for 20 minutes, turn the meat in the pan and pour the sauce over.

Cook for another 10 minutes and bast the meat again, cooking for a final 10 minutes. Allow the pork to rest, covered with tin foil, for about 10 minutes to bring it up to temperature.

Pour any leftover cooking liquid into a gravy boat to top the meat with.

Serve with braised carrots and jasmine rice or mashed potatoes.

This pork has a bit of sweet and savory in the flavor and it really does make the whole house smell delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

Pork Tenderloin – Hawaiian Style
Print
Author: Red Velvet
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 12-14 oz. pork tenderloins
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. crumpled sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup red wine
Instructions
  1. Rub meat generously with kosher salt, lemon pepper and sage leaves. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
  2. While the meat is cooking, whisk together maple syrup, red wine and mustard.
  3. After 20 minutes, remove the pork from the oven, turn each tenderloin and pour glaze over the meat.
  4. Bake for another 20 minutes, stopping halfway through to baste the meat.
  5. Remove tenderloins from oven, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Reserve the cooking glaze; drizzle over sliced meat and serve.

 

Chicken Dijon

Chicken Dijon. Photo © Johnny Valiant

I saw this recipe in October’s Food and Wine Magazine and it sounded amazing, plus it was categorized as a weeknight meal, win, win. I made it last weekend and Eric said “This is the best chicken you have ever made, I mean EVER.” Can’t beat that kind of a compliment!

It’s quick, its easy, its delicious and it must be added to your weeknight rotation. The recipe calls for all chicken legs. I love a good leg but I think next time I’ll throw in a few thighs as well, purely for the reason that they have more meat. I need to eat two chicken legs to equal one chicken thigh.

To start the recipe, you roast the coriander seeds in a skillet over the stove. You only need to roast them for about two minutes and the pan should be completely dry. After two minutes, take them off the heat and grind the seeds; I used my mortar and pestal to grind them.

Once you’ve prepped the rest of your ingredients, season the chicken and cook it over medium high heat until brown. This will take about 10 minutes and be sure to turn on your hood vent and open a window, the hot oil and chicken will create some smoke.

While the chicken is still in the skillet, throw in the onions and cook until soft. Then add the garlic and cook for about one minute.

Add the chicken stock and coriander seed. Bring to a boil and cover. Cook the chicken over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the sour cream, mustard and tarragon in a small bowl. I didn’t have any tarragon that the recipe called for so I substituted fresh thyme; it tasted great!

Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a platter and cover to keep warm. Whisk the sour cream and mustard mixture into the hot broth and allow to simmer down and thicken over medium heat (about 5 minutes).

Put the chicken back into the skillet and turn it to coat it with the sauce.

Arrange on a platter and pour sauce over the chicken.

Serve with a vegetable and some crusty bread.

Here is the recipe from Food & Wine Magazine:

Chicken Dijon
Print
Author: Food & Wine
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 medium chicken drumsticks (about 3 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons chopped tarragon
  • Crusty bread, for serving
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, toast the coriander seeds over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and let cool. Crush the seeds coarsely with a pestle.
  2. In the same skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Season the chicken drumsticks with salt and pepper, add them to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and crushed coriander and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover and keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk the mustard with the crème fraîche and tarragon. Whisk the mixture into the skillet and simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet and turn to coat. Serve the chicken with crusty bread.

Tomato Bisque

As the weather gets colder, I am always reminded of warm recipes that have been forgotten over the Summer months. This week I began to think about my recipe for tomato bisque and when Eric asked me to make it a few days ago I knew it was time to bring that recipe back into the rotation. I’m not a fan of regular tomato soup, I never have been but give me a bowl of tomato bisque and you may find my licking it clean so as not to waste any precious drop. I love dunking bread or sandwiches into tomato bisque and the way it really sticks to the sandwich, your spoon and even your stomach; it really warms you up and makes you feel content.

The recipe is straight forward but you will need a blender, food processor or immersion blender to make it. I used to use a blender to smooth everything together but last year Eric bought me an immersion blender for Christmas and that has revolutionized my bisque process. Now I have many fewer dishes to wash and the soup is creamy and delicious. If you make any sort of bisque often, I recommend the immersion blender, plus you can find them easily for $50 or less.

To start the bisque, you need some good fat; melt butter in a large stock pot and then fry up the diced bacon so that it releases all the fat. Scoop the bacon out with a slotted spoon once it begins to brown. Now you’ve got a flavorful base for the soup.

 

Throw the onions, garlic, carrot and celery into the pot and saute until everything is soft, 5-8 minutes.

 

Add in the flour and mix well. Fry the flowered mixture for another 3 minutes.

Add in the chicken stock and canned tomatoes and whisk until it begins to boil. Add in your herb bouquet. These are very simple to make, I use kitchen twine to tie up parsley, thyme and 2 bay leaves. *Tip: Sandwich the bay leaf in between the parsley and thyme, that helps the bay leaf stay in and not slip out.*

 

Simmer the whole pot on low heat for 30 minutes.

 

Take the soup off the heat and pull out the herb bouquet, throw it away. If you’re using an immersion blender, pour the soup into a mixing bowl to avoid damaging the stock pot. If you’re using a regular blender, you can ladle the soup in batches into the blender and blend until smooth. I used the immersion blender and blended the whole thing until it was smooth, then I poured it back into the pot and put it over medium heat.

 

Once boiling, whisk in the heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste. The soup will thicken after a minute or two.

 

Serve with a slice of crusty bread or my favorite, grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

 

I pulled this recipe from FoodNetwork.com:

Tomato Bisque
Print
Author: Food Network
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced bacon (about 1/2 ounce)
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes (with liquid), roughly chopped
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp and most of the fat has rendered, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
  2. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Pour in the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Tie the parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine and add to the pot. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. When the soup base is cool, remove and discard the herb bundle. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Using a sieve over a large bowl, strain the tomato puree. Return the puree to the pot and reheat over medium heat.
  4. Whisk the heavy cream and salt into the soup and season with pepper to taste. Divide among warm soup bowls and serve immediately.

 

Pumpkin Cookies

In the spirit of the season and the spirit of all things pumpkin, I’m about to give you the best cookie recipe on the planet. I’m not kidding, these are seriously the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. Most people hear pumpkin cookies and don’t think much of them but one bite into these and your mouth is filled with the soft sweetness of pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and icing packed into a soft and delicious cookie. Every time I make them for people I get asked for the recipe.

These cookies were a special treat that my mom made around the Fall and Christmas time each year growing up. As soon as we felt the first chilly winds of Fall, we would start asking for pumpkin cookies. My favorite pumpkin cookie story happened a few years ago. Eric had been working at his company for just over a year and I decided to make a batch of cookies around Christmas time for him to share at the office. As you will see, this recipe makes ALOT of cookies. I think it may be triple the original recipe but that’s just a hunch. I sent almost a whole batch with Eric to work because his office isn’t small. Mid morning I received an email from him that all of the cookies were gone within the first hour of work and he was getting emails thanking him for the cookies and saying how good they were. I was surprised how quickly they were eaten, but happy that so many could enjoy them (including the CEO who stopped by Eric’s desk personally to thank him for the cookies, yep, I’ll do my part for his next promotion!). About two weeks later, his company held their annual holiday party. As Eric introduced me to some of his coworkers a common theme emerged, the cookies. Wives were asking me for the recipe and husbands were talking about how great the cookies were. Some of the wives even seemed a bit annoyed because their husbands would not stop talking about the cookies! I had no idea cookies could have such an effect. Needless to say, I now make an entire batch of pumpkin cookies each December for Eric to take to work.

The recipe is simple and starts with Crisco, alot of Crisco. Sidenote: do you buy Crisco in a tub or in sticks? My mom always bought the tub so I remember scooping it out of measuring cups as a kid, when I helped her bake, but I have since discovered the sticks. They’re just like butter and you can cut exactly the amount you need. I love them and I’m never going back to the tub. Plus the sticks take up much less room in the pantry, but I digress. Mix the Crisco and sugar in an electric stand mixer until light and fluffy.

Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Add in the vanilla and lastly the pumpkin puree. I choose to use my homemade pumpkin puree for this recipe, in the end I didn’t have quite enough of the puree for the recipe so I added about 1/4 of a can of the organic pumpkin puree. I can’t say I can taste a difference in the puree but I do know that the cookies tasted great, like always. I’d say the organic pumpkin is just the same as Libby’s, just more expensive because its organic. I’d use it again if I needed to.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Drop the cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees.

While the cookies are cooling, mix up the glaze. It’s simply powdered sugar, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg and add milk until its the right consistency. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time and if you add too much and the glaze is too thin, simply add some more powdered sugar to thicken it.

Dip the cookies into the glaze, allow excess to drip off and then let the glaze set for an hour or so before putting the cookies in their container.

My favorite snack combination is pumpkin cookies and cold apple cider. Nothing says Fall like that!

 

Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Cookies
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Author: Red Velvet
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 can solid pumpkin
  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Cookie Recipe:
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy, with an electric mixer.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well.
  5. Add vanilla and mix well.
  6. Add in 1 can of pumpkin puree, mix well.
  7. In a medium size bowl mix together all dry ingredients. With the mixer on low, slowly add the entire flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl.
  8. Drop cookies onto baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes until just beginning to brown.
  9. Icing Recipe:
  10. Mix 2 cups of powdered sugar a dash of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.
  11. Add enough milk until desired thickness.
  12. Once cool, dip the top of the cookies into the icing and allow to set.