Monday Menu ~ Fall Favorites

Fall is my favorite time of year. There is just something about the crisp clean air coming in through the open windows, the bright blue flawless sky, and all of the gorgeous colors the trees change into as summer fades slowly away.

It could be that after a long summer and all those hot and humid days the cooler weather is the reprieve that we all have been waiting for.

It also could be that we can finally pull out all those comfy sweaters, tall boots, and cute scarves that have been hidden in the backs of our closets. Of course there is shopping for new ones too!

Football games… back to school… half time band performances…. visiting apple orchards….

first game

The girl in the middle is my daughter! So proud of her!

One of my favorite parts of fall is the change in the cooking and baking! Truth be told I love being able to create fun new treats with pumpkin and comforting casseroles.

The other day I got the October issue of the Rachael Ray magazine and fell in love with it… it was packed with tasty pumpkin treats and my favorite is the pumpkin risotto. I seriously can’t wait to give it a try one of these weekends!

That one recipe led me on a hunt for other pumpkin based recipes… sweet or savory it didn’t matter. And I hit the jackpot! Holy cow…  Two Peas & Their Pod scoured the internets and found 50 of the best pumpkin recipes! The hard part now is trying to figure out what one to make first and hoping that I can do it in a way that is healthy!

This fall I decided to get a bit crafty and make a fall wreath and sew some pumpkins from cute Halloween fabric that I found at JoAnns… then in the Rachael Ray magazine I found 36 different ways to decorate a pumpkin… I’ll have to find the easiest one and give it a shot. There are a few there that look pretty complicated…. or time consuming… actually it’s both.

RR pumpkins

 

I’ve shared a few of my favorite fall type recipes in the past. Check them out! Pumpkin Pecan Bars… these are beyond delicious! Sweet potato casserole that is perfect for a side dish for Thanksgiving but is sweet enough that you can eat it as a dessert! So, if you’re looking for something just a little bit healthier try the Pumpkin Crunch Cake. But if you want to skip healthy and go for purely sinful then try the Pumpkin S’more Bars!

I may have a slight addiction to pumpkin… I throw a spoonful or two into my oatmeal, use it as the wet ingredient with a cake mix, and even add a bit to a vanilla shake.

What’s your favorite part of fall? 

#MyMichMemory ~ Garden Fresh Salsa Giveaway!

Whether you like it mild, garlicky, or on-fire hot hot hot, I think we can all agree that salsa has made its way into the hearts of most Americans as a grocery shopping staple.

And NOBODY does salsa like Ferndale, Michigan-based Garden Fresh. The fun doesn’t stop at salsa either. The company also carries a variety of dips, hummus and chips that are absolutely delicious.

This week’s My Michigan Memory giveaway features a Garden Fresh prize pack of salsa, dips and hummus for one lucky winner. Can you say YUM!?

{If you’re a blogger, all you have to do is link up your Michigan-related blog post in the linky tool below and then enter your info into the Rafflecopter form. You’ll get 10 points just for linking a blog post you’ve written about Michigan. If you’re not a blogger, you can still enter to win, just follow the directions on the Rafflecopter form.}

GF Cover

Before you start salivating for that prize pack, there’s some really cool things about this company we think you should know about.

The quick story:
The proprietors, Jack and Annette Aronson were once restrauters in Ferndale. People came to eat the salsa until one day, the head of a grocery chain demanded they made it for his store. The rest is history!

Today, they not only make America’s #1 salsa, but they also make the most divine tortilla chips in the deli, along with super-yummy dips and hummus.
You know it has to be good because they have won more than 250 awards for excellence!

The Aronson's
Aren’t they such a cute husband and wife team?

So, what’s the reason the salsa is soooo good?

For starters, a state-of-the-art high-pressure process allows for cleaner and preservative-free products. Also, all batches are made in small quantities to guarantee freshness and flavor.

Get ideas for using Garden Fresh in recipes here. And if you’re great in the kitchen, submit your own recipe for the chance to have it featured on the GF website and get $100 toward your favorite charity!

Green BONUS:
As if you need another reason to love this company…They also recycle their tortilla chip oil and use it for biodiesel to power school buses. How cool is that?!

What’s your favorite Garden Fresh product? I have too many, depending on my mood, but this is my ‘ole standby:
CUSTOMIZE AND CHOOSE A PHOTO FROM THEIR FB PAGE

For more information Garden Fresh, visit their Facebook, Twitter and blog.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday Menu ~ Edible Cookie Dough

It’s Monday! And if you hadn’t caught on yet (I’m sure you have though) it’s another post featuring a tasty recipe! And this one… is great and it’s from my sister, as a matter of fact she’s back again guest posting this week! So please give her a warm welcome and enjoy the recipe.

So this is not an original recipe of mine. I was on a quest (and still am) to eat healthier and provide something a little better for the family. I know what you are thinking, Cookie Dough Balls, healthy?? Not really, but everyone needs a treat now and then.

So, I was searching and came across the Peas and Thank You website. MaMa Pea, the curator and mastermind behind it had the cookie dough ball recipe right there in shining lights, screaming, make me, make me, make me. So, weak as I am for peanut butter and chocolate, I did it…. I made them. And let me tell you, they are goooooooooooood. In fact, to me, they were close my eyes, smile, and tune out, “Mommy, Mommy, Mom”. I couldn’t quite tune out the, THWACK sound and the crying that followed though. My youngest hit the oldest. Boys… oy vay.

Anywho, my kids love cookie dough (psst.. me too), but I am always leery to give it to them because of the eggs and possibility of salmonella (I’m still trying to get nominated for mom of the year award here). This is a great alternative and my boys don’t know any different. They are always asking to make, “cookie balls”. Yes, I let them help even with craziness.

edible cookie dough

Edible Cookie Dough Balls

Makes 12-18 dough balls
• 1/2 c. non-dairy margarine (i.e. Earth Balance) ( I did use butter once and they turned out delectable)
• 3/4 c. natural peanut butter (I use smooth, but the crunchy variety is fine too)
• 1/2 c. organic brown sugar
• 3/4 c. organic powdered sugar ( I cut the sugar down to ½ c.)
• 1/2 t. vanilla extract
• 1 t. baking powder
• 1/2 t. baking soda
• 3/4 t. salt
• 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
• 1/2 c. unbleached organic flour
• 1/2 c. natural peanut butter chips
• 1/2 c. non-dairy chocolate chips ( I used reg choc chips )

Using a stand mixer, beat margarine, peanut butter, sugars and vanilla until fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda, salt and flours.Add dry mixture to the mixer bowl a little at a time. Add dry mixture to the mixer bowl a little at a time. Add your chips. There’s no need for exact measurements here. I won’t tell. Combine and chill dough for 30 minutes.

Andrew eating edible cookie dough

Andrew loved it!

Did you see??? With Just a Bit of Magic is the blog of the week over at Social Moms!! How great is that? Social Moms is a great community so check it out if you haven’t been over there yet.

Are you looking for more great recipes? Check out the Monday Menu page!

Monday Menu ~ Collard Greens from a girl north of the Mason-Dixon

I am so happy today because I have a special guest post for you! Today my sister has joined the ranks of blogging and this is her first ever post anywhere in the blogosphere! How exciting is that!! 

My sister, like myself, loves to cook and find all sorts of new recipes and then sometimes make them her ownjust like the one she is sharing with everyone today.

So please give her a warm welcome an enjoy the recipe!

Well, I was born in raised in the beautiful state of Michigan so needless to say, collards did not make an appearance on the family table at holidays, nor any other day of the year.

I went 35 long years without collard greens and even had the audacity to scrunch my nose up when offered ( I was a picky eater as a child and only have come to like green leafy things later in life a.k.a  “late foodie bloomer”).

Young collard plants growing in a container

Image via Wikipedia

I tried collard greens for the first time last year and was head over heels for them.  I inquired as to how to make these things and was advised to use certain things.  Well, being headstrong amongst other adjectives to describe myself, I made a few adaptations.   Here is what I make.  Just a note, my even pickier husband loves these.  He DOES NOT do green and leafy and is my work in progress, folks.

These measurements are approximate as I really don’t feel it necessary to measure because it is not baking (YEAH).  My beautiful sister measures because she is an awesome baker, I am not….

One package of cut and cleaned collard greens (What, you thought I cut them up??? NOPE).  Feel free to give them a good rinse in a colander ….  (I do that at minimum).

1-2 cartons of Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock (Make sure it is not the Unsalted version).  One carton is generally enough, unless you like a lot of juice.

7-10 cloves of garlic, minced (approximately) (Did I mention how much I love, love, love garlic?)  Please feel free to adjust to your taste.  NOTE: I have never had an encounter with a vampire, he he he

1 large onion, chopped

1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes

1 pkg of smoked turkey wings (Yes, they have to be smoked)

2 Trappeys hot peppers (minced), plus a few shakes of the vinegar from the bottle (For the love of all that is holy, do not add more unless you like HOT stuff),.

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Ok. This is a layered event.  Here is the order in which it goes:

Pour some chicken stock in HUGH-ASS stock pot.

Greens

Salt and Pepper

Onions

Garlic

Tomatoes

1 Trappeys pepper, plus 1-2 shakes of the vinegar in the bottle of Trappeys

Cut off some meat of the turkey wing and throw on top of all that.  And then add the smoked turkey wing with the bone in.

REPEAT until everything is gone.  Cook on low for about 3 hours with the lid on. The greens will cook down and the meat will fall off the bones, but make sure you remove the bones before serving (unless you don’t like the person… KIDDING… Remove the bones, seriously).

I serve this with cornbread.  Now don’t get all excited, I use Jiffy.  I suck at making homemade cornbread and I’ve made several attempts.  Jiffy turns out so much better… But I do add a tablespoon of sugar to the cornbread mix.  See… its homemade!!!!

Do you eat collards? How do you prepare them?

Monday Menu ~ Roasted Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce and Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Welcome back to another episode of the Monday Menu! One of these days I will get to making a cute button for this feature and make it all official like.

Today I have a special guest for you and I was so happy when she agreed to guest post for me! Please give a warm & magical welcome to Gigi from Kludgy Mom! She has a great recipe that I know you’ll all want to make for dinner this week.

Thank God for Jackie Cross, because she asked me to guest post for her Menu Mondays eons ago and the guilt of not doing that in a timely fashion inspired me to head back into the kitchen after a long hiatus!

As one of the founders of #winebuzz, I find myself with a lot of wine around my house all the time. If I drank every last drop of every last bottle we sample, I’d be on Intervention, so I started looking around for some great recipes that use wine as an ingredient.

This recipe is from Cooking Light. I like cooking chicken breasts because they’re easy and fast, and this recipe delivered both. The Pinot Noir sauce is super flavorful, but not overly heavy like most red wine reductions. You can prep the potatoes and pop them in the oven while you cook the chicken and the sauce, and be done in less than 45 minutes. I don’t eat a ton of fingerling potatoes (they are a little pricey) but these were delicious. And the biggest bonus? One breast with sauce + some potatoes is a measly 500 calories. More room for fudge!!
Roasted Breast of Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce (recipe courtesy Cooking Light Magazine, Oct 2010 issue)

Ingredients:
• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
• 8 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
• Cooking spray
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
• 2 cups pinot noir
• 1 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
• 3/4 teaspoon sugar
• 3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Sprinkle thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and rosemary evenly over chicken. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess flour. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 chicken breast halves to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining chicken. Arrange chicken in a single layer on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray; place rack in pan. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160°. Remove from oven. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.
3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots to saucepan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until wine is reduced to 1 cup. Add broth; cook 16 minutes or until broth mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sugar. Gradually add butter, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Serve sauce with chicken.

Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Ingredients
• 2 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Place potatoes on a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle potatoes with oil; sprinkle with salt, rosemary, and pepper. Toss to combine; spread into a single layer on pan. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and tender.

Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce

Monday Menu ~ Layers of Love Brownies

It’s Monday and that means it’s time again for the Monday Menu! This week I have another blogger from Michigan! Angela from Tiaras and Trucks is here sharing an amazing recipe that is full of chocolate! I think that everyone should drop what they’re doing and make this one!

Years ago, my mom had family members send her their favorite
recipes and put together a cookbook for me. 
All the way from Texas, courtesy of my cousin Jenny, these brownies
immediately became one of my favorite recipes.

I bring them to barbeques and potlucks and anywhere I think
someone might need to gain a few pounds. 
These aren’t low-fat or low-carb or low-anything.  The only way I can imagine making them
healthier is to cut them into smaller pieces!
Abbey and Dylan love helping in the kitchen, but I generally
make these after bedtime.  It’s not that
they’re difficult, but there are a few different steps.  It’s a recipe that deserves a read-through
before dumping all of the ingredients together and turning on your mixer.
Wait?  Not everyone
bakes like that?
Dry Ingredients
¾ c flour * ¾ c baking cocoa * ¼ tsp salt * ½ c. white sugar
* ½ c. brown sugar
Wet Ingredients
½ c butter * 3 large eggs * 2 tsp vanilla
Super Delicious Additional Ingredients
¾ c white chocolate chips * ½ c caramel topping * ¾ c
chocolate chips
A little helper

A little helper


Act One
Preheat oven to 350 degrees & grease/spray an 8 x 8
square pan
Combine cocoa, flour, salt
Beat butter, white & brown sugar, 2 (not all 3) eggs,
vanilla
Add in flour mixture gradually
Act Two
Set aside ¾ c mixed batter
Act Three
Pour remaining batter into pan
Sprinkle white chocolate chips over batter
Drizzle caramel topping over batter & chips
Act Four
Beat the ¾ c batter with remaining egg & chocolate chips
Spread over caramel topping
Bake for 30-35 minutes
Let cool before cutting into squares and ignoring the
calories in each amazing bite.

You can find Angela over at her place, Tiaras and Trucks, every day as well as on Twitter.

Monday Menu ~ Hot Fruit Salad

Welcome back to another edition of the Monday Menu! This week I have a special guest, Andrea from Good Girl Gone Redneck! I love having guests here and it’s even more fun when they share a great recipe. So give her a warm welcome and enjoy the recipe!

Thanks to Jackie for inviting me over to her magical place today so I can share a yummy recipe with you all!

I’m not exactly sure where I found some variation of this recipe. I think I was leafing through a crockpot cookbook, and when I saw something about hot fruit salad I figured I would give it a try. It’s a perfect treat during the cooler weather, and really warms you from the inside out. Plus it’s so simple even a lazy mom like me can make it while doing 900 other things around the house!

Hot Fruit Salad Ingredients

Hot Fruit Salad from Good Girl Gone Redneck

* 20 oz jar chunky applesauce
* 21 oz can cherry pie filling
* 15 oz can peach slices (drained)
* 11 oz can mandarin oranges (drained)
* 8 oz can of pineapple chunks
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1 teasp. cinnamon (or more generous if you prefer – I don’t measure and sprinkle it in!)

Combine in crockpot. Mix ingredients.

Hot Fruit Salad

Cook on low for 90 minutes. (You can also bake for 90 minutes at 350*!)

DONE.

This is a yummy breakfast treat, or a great snack, dessert, it can be served pretty much any time of day. Obviously it’s only really yum if you enjoy warm “fruit,” which I do, so it works for me. You can also try it with apple pie filling, or make your own to toss in if you’re adventurous and brave enough to do so. When you do that it reminds me of the breakfast apple toppings at Cracker Barrel or IHOP, which I could honestly live off of.

You can serve it with biscuits (Pillsbury is my friend), or tarts. Yum. You could also probably easily make a crepe or crepe/pancake/waffle topping out of it. Double yum. With cheesecake, even, if you do fruit with yours (I don’t, but I’m suggesting it anyway). Or just serve it solo, because warmed up it’s absolutely delicious … all by itself.

Enjoy!

Andrea blogs regularly over at Good Girl Gone Redneck where she takes pride in sharing any and all Lazy Mom Recipes she comes up with or stumbles across!

Monday Menu ~ Simple Pumpkin Cake

Yes, it’s Monday again…. the weekend is never long enough! But that’s alright because I have a great recipe for you all to try this week.

It’s a really simple, easy, and quick cake to make. What’s even better is that it’s healthy for you!

Curious yet?

Alright, so here are the ingredients.

1 box cake mix – any flavor you want. You can even use a reduced sugar cake mix.

1 15 oz can of pumpkin

2 eggs or 1/2 cup of egg beaters – these are optional. You can make the cake without the eggs and it turns out just fine.

1 tsp (or more if you like) pumpkin pie spice – leave this out if you want

pumpkin cake ingredients

The ingredients

Now it doesn’t get any easier than this….

Preheat over to 350 degrees and spray your 13×9 cake pan or cupcake pan.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. It will be really thick and this is alright so don’t worry.

pumpkin cake batter

The batter

Spread the batter in the pan evenly and bake for 25 – 30 minutes for the 13×9 and about 15 minutes for cupcakes.

For my cake I wanted the pumpkin flavor to really stand out so I used a yellow cake mix and it was pretty good. I think that I would have liked a spice cake better though just because there would have been more of the flavor that I was looking for. The yellow cake gave it a sweeter flavor than I wanted… but it was still good.

We left ours plain…. no frosting at all. But you can add a frosting, glaze, or fresh fruit.

Note: When you use a chocolate cake mix you can’t taste the pumpkin and it has more of a dense brownie taste. You can also use this to make cookies.

Give it try and let me know what you think?