Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pumpkin Spice bread

I know we're just barely into summer, but I can only take about a week of 100 degree weather and then I am decidedly ready for Fall.  I was craving Fall and craving pumpkin bread and I even got so lucky that on the day I made this it got all cloudy and rained, even if it was still 90+ with now added humidity; indoors it felt and smelt of fall.  Makes 2 loaves plus several muffins too.

Pumpkin Spice Bread

    • 2 cups canned pumpkin
    • 3 cups sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 4 eggs
    • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. in a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, water, vegetable oil and eggs.
  3. Beat until well mixed.
  4. Measure the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves into a separate bowl and stir until combined.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth.
  6. Grease two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans and dust with flour.
  7. Evenly divide the batter between the two pans.
  8. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pans by inverting onto a rack and tapping the bottoms.
  10. Slice and serve plain, buttered, or with cream cheese.

S'mores Cheesecake Bars

I really, really should have taken pictures of these (here are Annie's instead).  They turned out perfectly and were so good.  I made these for our family 4th of July celebrations and only realized as I began to to start in on the recipe that it only made an 8x8 dish.  It worked out fine to just cut them into little bite sized bars to be able to let everyone have some, but next time I make them for a crowd I will be sure to double the recipe.  It was also through this recipe that my sister, Lindsey, taught me a little trick about drizzling chocolate.  I am so grateful since I could never manage to just melt the chocolate and proceed to get a non gloppy, smooth drizzle.  Solution, add a little bit of vegetable oil to the melted chocolate.  Drizzles like a dream.

S'mores Cheesecake Bars
Annie's Eats

For the crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped  * I used semisweet
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup marshmallow cream
2 tsp. cocoa powder
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the topping:
1½ cups mini marshmallows
Milk chocolate chips, melted (optional)

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line an 8x8" baking pan with foil; spray lightly with cooking spray.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a small bowl.  Stir together with a fork until well combined.  Press the mixture in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.  Bake 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack while you prepare the filling.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325˚ F.

To make the filling, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and marshmallow cream.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Blend in the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and eggs until incorporated.  Stir in the melted chocolate until well blended.  Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and smooth the top with a spatula.  Bake about 30 minutes, or until the center is just set (does not jiggle when shaken gently.)  Remove from the oven.

Evenly top the cheesecake layer with the mini marshmallows.  Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, just long enough so the marshmallows begin to melt into each other.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack.  Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the tops of the marshmallows.  (Alternatively, this can be done underneath the broiler with a very watchful eye.)  Once the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature, drizzle with melted milk chocolate if desired.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill 2-3 hours before slicing and serving.

Printed from Annie's Eats

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

My Linda mom always made a fabulous Pineapple Upside Down Cake for catering events and for my birthday I really had a hankering for one.  This was so easy and completely delicious.  It was also a great recipe to have Logan help with; I let her place the pineapple slices with the cherries in the middle.  (Jude was on the other side of the kitchen helping daddy whip up some mean mashed potatoes to go with my birthday pot roast.)

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 1 (20 ounce) can sliced pineapple
    • 6 maraschino cherries
    • 1 (18 ounce) package duncan hines supreme pineapple cake mix
       * Here's where I took a little detour: I had bought a Pillsbury yellow cake mix instead and when I got home realized that it said it had a cup of pudding in the mix.  So, I left out the 4 oz box of pudding below, ignored the oil and egg amounts in the recipe opting to follow the box directions for those and then added the pineapple juice.  It turned out fabulous and I would do it this way again in a heart beat because it did turn out so good.
    • 1 (4 ounce) box vanilla instant pudding mix
    • 1 cup pineapple juice
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
    • 4 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Melt butter in a 9x13 pan in oven.
  3. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter in pan.
  4. Drain canned pineapple into a measuring cup.
  5. Place pineapple slices evenly in pan, cutting the last two in half to cover pan.
  6. Place the maraschino cherry halves in the center of the pineapple slices, cut side up.
  7. Combine the cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix to combine.
  8. Pour batter into pan.
  9. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Cool 5 minutes and turn cake out onto a serving platter, pineapple side up

Fish Tacos

I've always been a little wary of trying fish tacos; just afraid they might be too fishy or the texture of the fish weird in a taco, but after this meal I am completely sold.  Sheri and I found the sauce recipe online and just seasoned the tilapia with what sounded good and it was good;  so, so good.  I've been craving these just about every week since.

Fish Tacos

For the Fish:

I really love Tilapia.  It is a white fish that doesn't come across "fishy" at all and the texture has a perfect dense/ light, flakiness when cooked.  We bought prepackaged frozen filets, thawed them in water, pat to dry and season with: Lime Pepper, sprinkle of Chipotle, light sprinkle of Salt = perfect.  You could use Lemon Pepper too if you don't have the lime variation.  We used the George Foreman grill, easy peasy, and just checked on them a few times until they were golden and flaked.  You could also bake them in a dish in the oven with a little olive oil. butter, or maragrine on the bottom at 450 degrees 6min, turn over and bake 4 min, then turn over again and bake for another 4 minutes until flaky.

For the Sauce:

sauce by Recipezaar (now Food.com)


    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 package taco seasoning mix
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


    1. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons seasoning mix in small bowl (when we made this I think we ended up using the whole package of taco mix so, just go according to taste for yourself.)


    corn tortillas, softened and warmed in the microwave (no need to fry)

    shredded cabbage or iceberg lettuce

    chopped tomatoes

    lime wedges for squeezing onto tacos * an absolute must in my opinion

    shredded cheese, optional

Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

We love enchiladas, red or green, in our house and even though we have a great go to recipe that never fails to please I am weakly attracted to any recipe that has the words "cream cheese" in the ingredient list.  I was intrigued by the idea of using it in an enchilada recipe and was excited to try these.  They were really good and different and this was a recipe with ingredients I would never have thought to use for such a classic, like the beans, but it totally worked.  As always, if I post it on here (and there are plenty of recipes I try that don't end up on the blog) then it is definitely something we enjoyed and will be making again.

Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas
My Kitchen Cafe

3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 (4 oz.) cans of green chiles, lightly drained
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, cubed
1 can white or black beans, rinsed and drained * I used Great Northern Beans because I really like them and I had them on hand

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup chicken broth
¼ cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 can (7 ounce) green chile enchilada sauce
½ cup sour cream

8 ounces (about 2 cups) Monterey jack cheese, shredded
8 medium (soft taco size) flour tortillas 

 * I made these using flour tortillas as given in the recipe because I always try to follow a recipe as is the first time I try it, even though we really prefer corn tortillas in our enchiladas.  It was still quite yummy and for those of you who like to use flour, you will love it, but in the end we still prefer corn and I will use those instead next time, which for us will make them perfect!

Handful of chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and green chiles. Mix well. Add the chicken and black beans. Mix to combine. Set aside. 

In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir well. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. As you whisk and the mixture cooks, the flour will get less lumpy around the onions and the mixture will become smooth. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is bubbling and has thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the enchilada sauce and sour cream. 

Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish. Spread about 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the dish. Fill each tortilla with about ½ cup of the chicken/cream cheese filling. Top with a small handful of shredded cheese, a couple tablespoonfuls for each enchilada. Save at least 1/2 cup cheese for the top of the enchiladas. Roll the tortillas up and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Continue filling enchiladas until the dish is full (I can easily fit 8 enchiladas in one pan). 

Pour the white sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the enchiladas are bubbling, hot and lightly browned. Sprinkle fresh cilantro over the top and serve.  

Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

My mom and I enjoyed the soup and salad lunch at Olive Garden a few months ago and fell in love with their Chicken and Gnocchi soup.  Mmmm, so good. As soon as I got home I searched for a highly rated copycat recipe for it and found this.  Yummy.

Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
Recipezaar (now Food.com)

  • Saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrot in oil over medium heat until onion is translucent.

  • Add chicken, chicken stock, half and half, salt and pepper, thyme. Heat to boiling, then add gnocchi. Gently boil for 4 minutes, then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes.

    Add spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.

    (Heat to boiling and add cornstarch dissolved in 1-2 Tbsp water at this point if you want a thicker soup.).

    Ladle into bowls and serve!