Pumpkin Poppers

Oh, Pumpkin Poppers! You make the house smell like fall and you taste like a little bit of heaven in my mouth!

If you are a pumpkin bread lover, then this is a must try. We made these in the cooking class I teach to some young girls and not only were they a hit with the girls, I had several mom’s who said that they couldn’t keep out of them either. They have a deep, rich, spice, pumpkin flavor that will have your taste buds saying, “thank you!” This is also a great recipe if you have a few little helpers around. Who doesn’t love to roll these goodies in cinnamon and sugar?

PUMPKIN POPPERS

  • 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and all spices in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, mix oil, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin and milk. Pour flour mixture into wet mixture until combined.

Fill mini muffin tins almost full.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

After poppers have cooled a few minutes, dip in melted butter and roll around in cinnamon sugar.

Melt

  • 1 cube butter  (may need additional cubes)

 Mix

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons cinnamon

 Yields about 3 dozen mini poppers.

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Chantilly Potatoes

What are Chantilly Potatoes? I knew that Chantilly was a town just outside of Paris, France. Is it such a great town that it had the way you prepare some potatoes named after it? YES! And did you know that Chantilly is famous for its cream? It is actually believed to have been the precursor for modern day whipped cream. And wouldn’t you know, the secret ingredient in this recipe is whipped cream! It’s all making sense now.

So in honor of Julia Child’s 100th birthday, here is a French inspired, easy, tasty potato side dish.

CHANTILLY POTATOES

  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
 (may also use Havarti, Gruyere)
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Place potatoes in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for about 10 minutes, or until soft and tender. (I gave mine a shake halfway through) Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes well. Add salt and pepper then cover again and microwave for an additional 3 minutes.

In a large bowl beat the whipped cream until stiff and peaks form. Gently fold in about 2/3 of the whipped cream into the potatoes. Most of the cream will be absorbed into the potatoes. Pour potatoes into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Potatoes will look slightly uneven. Do not rub with spatula to even out as potatoes will lose their airiness and lighter texture. Mix the parmesan cheese and all but 1/4 cup of Swiss cheese into the remaining whipped cream. Spread the mixture over the potatoes and sprinkle with remaining Swiss cheese.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, until top is golden brown. Let rest about 5 minutes before serving.

Mom’s Chicken Salad

Hello Friends! How are you? We apologize for the lack of postings recently. We have been enjoying our summer vacations and have been busy creating memories with family and friends. However, now that school has started for some of us, it is back to the usual routines and chaos of dinnertime!

I spent 3 weeks up in California with Shannon this summer. We were actively typing our cookbook and were able to get a lot of it done. It has been such an exciting AND tiring process. They never really tell you how much work it is going to be. Luckily, this is our love and our passion, and now it is our little baby. We have high hopes of finishing this book within the next month or two! Woohoo!!

My awesome mom also lives in CA in the summertime and so I was able to spend some time with her as well. One Sunday evening she made her famous chicken salad and it made me happy for summer. Happy for all the yummy fruit, fresh vegetables and summer desserts. So if you are not sure what to make for dinner tonight, try this. And then pair it with some yummy fruit or fresh veggies. Yum!

MOM’S CHICKEN SALAD

  • 5 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 (10 ounce) can artichokes, drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated onion
  • 1 ¼ cup diced celery
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream

In a large bowl combine all ingredients except mayonnaise, sour cream and almonds. Cover bowl and let marinate so flavors mesh together. After 1 to 2 hours mix in mayonnaise and sour cream. Add almonds just before serving.

Eat as a side salad, or serve on fresh bread or roll of your choice. May be served warm or chilled. Store in an airtight container. Refrigerate.

Smashed Potatoes

How many ways can you make potatoes? Baked, mashed, roasted, boiled, twice baked, and on and on and on. How about smashed potatoes? This is one of my most favorite side dishes and so easy to make. These smashed potatoes take on a crispier outside and soft inside. My fave!

These measurements for this recipe are more like guidelines. I tend to like my food a little saltier than my husband, so I use almost 3 teaspoons of the Kosher salt. But you can cater this to what your family likes. I have left out the pepper completely when I know I will be serving this dish to little kids.

SMASHED POTATOES

  • 12 or so baby red potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary

In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add potatoes and two pinches of salt and boil for about 20 minutes, or until a fork inserted into potato feels tender.

On a jelly roll pan, drizzle some olive oil so potatoes do not stick to pan. Place potatoes on jelly roll pan and arrange like you would cookies. Then, using a potato masher, smash the potatoes then turn the masher 90 degrees amd smash again. (I find this takes a delicate touch) Then brush or drizzle more olive oil over the tops of the potatoes. Then sprinkle the salt on the potatoes. Lastly, sprinkle rosemary on. Remember that if you are using dried rosemary, to use less than if you are using fresh.

Place in a 450 degree preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops start to golden. Serve immediately!

Cheesy Garlic Bread

An oldie, but a goodie! I love ordering cheesy garlic bread when we go out, but it’s even better homemade! Yes, it’s bad for you, it’s a lot of carbs going in, but can’t a girl live a little?? I would not make this every night, but it sure is a great complement to any Italian meal. (Have you tried our homemade Alfredo sauce yet?) I love that it is a crispy, cheesy delight on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. It is quick and easy to make and will dress up your meal!

Here they are right before going into the oven….yum!

CHEESY GARLIC BREAD

  • 1 loaf of French Bread
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup Shredded or Grated Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup per side)
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese – no need to measure, enough to cover
  • 1 teaspoon dry Parsley flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Soften the butter in the microwave then add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. Mix together well. Cut your bread in half the long way and spread the butter and garlic mixture on top. Take the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top of both halves. Then cover with the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle dry parsley flakes on top and salt and pepper to taste. Cook  for 13-15 minutes, or until edges are browned and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and slice bread horizontally for serving.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

For the month of June, I have been teaching kids how to cook. Sadly, it is the last week of cooking classes. These kids have been so fun and so curious! And really, such great cooks! I let the older kids decide what they wanted to make for the last week of class. One of the things they really wanted to learn was soft pretzels. I have only made these one other time and while they are pretty simple to make, they were not a regular in my household. So, I set out to find a good recipe for these students. Nailed it! Try these soft, chewy, touch of sweet, like you find in the mall pretzels!

SOFT PRETZELS

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons butter (2 Tablespoons for dough and 3 Tablespoons for brushing on finished pretzels)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 3 cups warm water
  • Coarse salt, to taste

Warm the milk in the microwave for about 40 seconds. Pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes. Then stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of the flour with a wooden spoon. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 ¼ cups flour and salt to make a sticky dough. Add more flour if necessary (you’ll probably need a few tablespoons) to form dough into a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each into a pretzel shape (form a U-shape, then holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press firmly onto the bottom of the pretzel).

Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on a prepared baking sheet (re-shaping if necessary) and sprinkle lightly with course salt. Bake until golden, 10 – 12 minutes. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter and brush on baked pretzels.

 Yields 6 big pretzels

Cooking Kids Class, minus Zoe. Aren’t they cute?!?

Easy Homemade Meatballs

I pretty much love any kind of Italian food. And who doesn’t love a good meatball? These meatballs are easy to make and best of all, you can freeze them! They are great on top of spaghetti or as a quick snack. (my kids love these!) They are packed with flavor and would make any Italian mama proud!

HOMEMADE MEATBALLS

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup Italian seasoned dried bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well. Try not to squeeze the mixture through your fingers, but just combine, as “squeezing” will give your meatball a tough texture.

To make evenly sized meatballs, turn mixture out on a cutting board and shape it into a rectangle. Pat down until it is perfectly shaped. Using a sharp knife, cut mixture into 24 squares. (or less if you like a bigger meatball) Roll each square into a ball. Place on an aluminum lined jelly roll pan.

Bake for 14-18 minutes.