Monday, November 21, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Butternut Squash Risotto

I'm very excited to be apart of The Secret Recipe Club.  I saw it on another blog and it peaked my interest, so I checked it out.  Basically, you are assigned someone else's blog, and you cook/bake one of their recipes and blog about it on your own blog.  In turn, someone is choosing something off your blog too.  How fun!  So, the blog I was assigned Cookin' with Moxie.  Jamie has alot of great recipes, and she's italian so it was fun to browse and take in her knowledge.  I finally landed on the Butternut Squash Risotto with Spinach and Mushrooms, but I know I'll be back to try some other recipes too!

Now, I'm not a mushroom fan, I never really have been.  So, when I made this dish, I actually substituted roasted chicken for the mushrooms.  But, if you like mushrooms, be my guest to make the dish that way.
The only other change I made, was I used chicken broth instead of vegetable broth, because that's just what I had on hand.
Here is the original recipe:

2 – 2 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into half-inch pieces
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
16 oz white button mushrooms, sliced and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces  (I omitted)
5-6 cups vegetable broth (if you run out, substitute hot water)
5 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with 2 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. On the baking sheet, toss the butternut squash with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Roast until tender and lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tbsp butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until their water nearly evaporates, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until tender, about 3 more minutes. Set aside.  (I skipped this step and already had cooked chicken)
Heat the vegetable (I used chicken) broth (it does not have to boil) in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft but not browned. 

Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. 

Add the rice and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until all the grains are slick and slightly opaque. Add the wine and simmer until almost completely absorbed.

Add two ladles full of broth to the risotto and bring to a simmer. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Keep the risotto at a steady simmer, stirring continuously until the broth has evaporated almost completely. Add one ladle full of broth, stir until it is nearly evaporated, then add another ladle full. Continue simmering and stirring, adding broth as necessary, for about 25-30 minutes or until the rice is creamy and cooked through, but still firm to the bite. When the risotto is on its last ladle full of broth, add the spinach (this will wilt down considerably). Stir until spinach is just wilted. Add the roasted squash and mushrooms (I skipped the mushrooms and added chicken). Add 3 1/2 tbsp of butter and Parmesan cheese; stir to combine. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 big-eaters as a main-course.
The thing with Risotto is patience.  You have to literally stand by it the whole time it is cooking, it needs a little attention.  And, it is well worth it!  This was a really yummy Risotto.  My whole family loved it!
Be sure to check out Jamie's Blog atCookin' with Moxie.  And if you love to cook and try recipes, you should visit The Secret Recipe Club.  Even if you aren't interested in doing it, there are tons and tons of awesome food blogs on this site!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Slow Cooker Sunday: BBQ Pork Burritos with chopped salad

This recipe was inspired and adapted from one of Food and wine Magazine's cookbooks.

I found 3 of these cookbooks at a garage sale!  what a great find!  I changed this 'quick' from scratch meal to a slow cooker one.  It turned out GREAT!

2 lbs pork roast
1 bottle of bbq sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp cumin
Tortillas (I used whole wheat)
Cheese for topping

Put roast in the crock pot.  My meat was actually left over from another pork roast that I had split.  I intended to do pork steaks with it, but changed my mind.  So, my meat was sliced.  It really doesn't matter, but I think it cooked quicker being sliced.

Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper.

Pour the bottle of bbq sauce on top so the meat is covered. Sprinkle the thyme and cumin on top.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Mine was finished in about 6 hours, but it won't hurt it to go longer.

Once the meat is cooked, grab a couple forks and shred it, or cut it into small pieces.  Roll it up in a tortilla and sprinkle some cheese on top.  Place under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

I served this atop a chopped salad.  Make your salad with whatever you like.  I cut my Romaine lettuce into small strips.  I added diced tomato, green pepper, and avocado along with a couple of lime wedges.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Cake Pops

There's always so many desserts at thanksgiving dinner.  I really only want a bite of each one, rather than a whole piece.  That's one of the reasons I like cake pops.  I know there's super creative people out there that make amazingly decorated cake pops.  And, I'm just not one of them.  But, these are festive and easy to do.

There's 2 ways to make cake pops.  The first way I learned, is here.  The other way is to use the "Babycakes Cake Pop Maker".  I decided to invest.  We've had fun making cake pops and donut holes with this!

So, for these pops I used a pumpkin cake recipe.  Honestly, I have no idea which one.  I found it off the internet, so I'm not listing it because I don't even have it.  Any cake recipe or cake mix will do.  You squirt the batter in the little holes of the pop maker, close the lid, and 3 minutes later, they're done!  And perfectly round.  :-)  
Then I dipped them in chocolate that I melted slowly on my stove top with about a tsp of vegetable oil.  Once dipped I placed them in my handy dandy holder, that my husband made me (there is a holder that comes with the pop maker too), placed a candy corn on top, and put them in the fridge for setting.

Fun and Festive.  Oh, and they taste good too!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

This is another great recipe that I got from the "Apples of Gold" Study that I did and have talked about before.  Again, not sure whose recipe it was, so if you're out there, let me know!

I top these enchiladas off with enchilada sauce.  It's a great sauce that can be used on lots of Mexican dishes.  I found this great site, Cooking Mexican Recipes, that has authentic mexican recipes.  Rockin' Robin is definitely that--Rockin'!  She was very helpful when I contacted her with questions, and her site has these awesome videos!  You know exactly what your dish should look like.

2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken**
1/2 cup onion
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs butter
1 can chopped green chilies
1 cup or so of black beans
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup cheddar cheese, plus more for topping.

**Great tip for shredding chicken, is to put it in your Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle, while its still hot.  Turn it on low and your chicken is shredded in about 30 sec.  Found that in Pinterest, works like a charm!

Sautee' the onion and garlic in butter.  Add the rest of the ingredients.

Place about 1 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan

I put the mixture on one side of the tortilla, roll once, fold sides over, and roll the rest of the way, then place seam side down.

Top with the sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 until warmed throughout.

Makes about 12.

Enchilada Sauce

This recipe is adapted from Rockin' Robin over at cooking mexican recipes.  Robin grew up in a Mexican Restaurant. Okay, probably not literally, but you get the point.  Visit her site to learn more about her.  I was wondering if this sauce would be too spicy (as in hot) for my little ones and contacted Robin.  She got back with me within the same day and was very helpful.  This sauce definitely has alot of flavor!  I did think it was a bit too much for my kids, but I've made the adjustments here for our liking.  You can check out the original recipe at Robin's site, and you should.  She has a video on making this sauce, and lots of tips about mexican cooking in general.  And you know I love Mexican!  A special thanks to Rockin' Robin for all you do!  Make sure you leave her a comment telling her I sent you!  Okay, on to the recipe:

2 cups Chicken Broth
2 Tbs Chile Powder  (use 1/4 cup if you like lots of flavor)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 pinch of ground cinnamon (less than 1/16 of a tsp)
a little less than 1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbs plus 1/4 tsp flour
3 tbs vegetable oil

In a 2 quart sauce pan add the oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, lower the heat to low and add the flour.

Mix with a wire whisk for about 1 to 2 minutes stirring constantly. You want to see a little bubble going on. Then add the chile powder and whisk in till fully mixed.

Slowly pour in the 2 cups chicken broth. Turn the heat up to medium again and stir till fully mixed.
Add the cumin, garlic powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar (the sugar is a little secret to eliminate any bitter taste from the chile powder) stirring after each addition. Bring to a boil as you continue to stir.
Once boiling, stir and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat, this enchilada sauce recipe is done.

You will notice that as this sauce sits it will form a "skin" on the surface. This is normal and in fact the longer the sauce sits the thicker this skin becomes. All you have to do is peel the skin off and throw it away.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ipod cake

Here is the cake I made for my son's birthday party.  I attempted my own fondant.  It actually went pretty well.  Thanks Torie for all the tips and decorating tools.  Also, thanks to my awesome husband who helped knead it and pretty  much rolled it out.  (I think he was having fun).

If your interested in trying to make your own fondant, you can find a recipe and directions at make it and love it.  Great Tutorials on this site!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Slow Cooker Sunday: Cranberry Pork Roast

This is a recipe I got from one of the wonderful ladies that facilitated the "Apples of Gold" bible study at my church.  This is a wonderful study and included time to prepare food and eat together.   It is one of my fondest memories.  I wish I knew which lady it was as I like to give credit, so if you're out there reading this, please let me know!  The women were kind enough to type up all the recipes we had over the course of the 6 week study.

2 1/2-3 lb. Boneless, rolled pork roast
16 oz of jellied cranberry sauce (I made my own, the recipe is here, or you can use canned)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs water
1 tsp salt

Place roast in crock pot.  Combine cranberry sauce, sugar, cranberry juice, mustard, and cloves.  Pour over roast.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until meat is tender.

Remove roast and keep warm.  Skim fat from juices.  Measure 2 cups, adding water if necessary.  Pour into saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat.  Combine cornstarch and cold water to make a paste. Stir into gravy.  Cook and stir until thickened.  Season with salt and serve with sliced pork.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

This is so easy!  I was making a recipe that called for it and I just decided, why not make my own?  So, I found a great recipe on

This recipe makes 1 16oz jar of sauce.  So, if you need more, adjust accordingly.

1 12oz bag cranberries
3/4 cup cranberry juice
1 cup of sugar

1.  Wash your cranberries and discard any that are not ripe.  Your looking for a deep rich red, that's a ripe berry.

2.  Bring the juice to a boil (you can use water, but juice gives more flavor).  Add your cranberries and let them cook about 5-10 minutes stirring once or twice.  Mine only took 5 over medium heat.  You will hear them popping as they cook.  Once about half of the cranberries are popped and the sauce feels mushy, it's done.

3.  Crush and Strain the berries.  You can use a food mill, or simply place in a seive and crush with the bottom of a jar.

4.  Return the strained berries to the pan and heat until boiling.  Once boiling, add the sugar and let it boil at a full boil for 1 minute.

Now, if you're a canner, at this point you could start that process.

5.  Place into a container, or in a mold if you're doing this for the holidays and want it to be decorative, and place in the fridge.  It will set up in a couple of hours.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Hi friends!
My blog is currently undergoing a bit of re-constructing.  Please be patient, I know it's a little hard to read at the moment, but I am working on it and hope to have it resolved very quickly!  Thank you so much for stopping by!!!


Slow Clooker Sundays: Peanut Chicken

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  Have you heard of Pinterest?  Watch out, it's addicting!  If you're not 
familiar with it, it's basically on online way to organize anything, such as thoughts, lists, ideas, you name 
it.  I find lots of food inspiration there as well as many other things.  But, on to the recipe.  This is an 
asian type dish, and I have adapted the recipe a little.  You can find the original recipe here.  You'll 
notice I changed the name and that is because I really can't call this 'hot and spicy' like the recipe name
says because I omitted the heat.  I wanted my kids to eat it.  :-)  And they did!  Like all slow cooker
meals, this one is easy peasy!  Enjoy!

  2medium onions, cut into thin wedges
  1 1/2cups sliced carrot (3 medium)
  1small red sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips
pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  3/4cup chicken broth
  3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  1/2teaspoon finely shredded lime peel
  2tablespoons lime juice
  2tablespoons soy sauce
  2tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  1tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  4 garlic, minced
cup unsweetened coconut milk
  1cup frozen peas
  Hot cooked rice
  Chopped peanuts (optional)
  Snipped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, place onions, carrot, and sweet pepper. Top with chicken. In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, peanut butter, lime peel, lime juice, soy sauce, tapioca, ginger, curry paste, and garlic until smooth. Pour over all in cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in coconut milk and peas. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Serve chicken mixture over hot cooked rice. If desired, sprinkle each serving with chopped peanuts and cilantro. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls

Hello bloggy friends!  I am so excited today to have my FIRST GUEST POST!  Please welcome my friend Rebecca.  Rebecca and I met in person a couple of times, but most of our friendship has grown over facebook.  I know, kind of crazy.  It was there we discovered our shared passion for cooking, lounging by the pool and ice cream. Unfortunately we live in different states, so this is as close as it comes to cooking together, but I'll take it!   WELCOME REBECCA!!

Thank you Chellie for inviting me as a guest on your cooking blog! I have had a passion for artful cooking for many years now and it is an honor to come along side of you.
This season I endulged in a very fun and festive recipe -squash soup - served in baked pumpkin shells.  My guests were delighted at their appearance as they were served individually with croutons floating atop.  The taste is delicate, creamy, and somewhat smoky if you add the bacon or ham.  We all rated the dinner a success!  I hope you all will enjoy it for yourselves!

For the bowls: 4 small pumpkins
2 teaspoons sugar
kosher salt

For the soup: 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 small onion - chopped
kosher salt
2 pounds of butternut squash
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
freshly ground pepper
5 cups water

For the toppings:
pumpkin seeds
paprika or chili powder
crisp prosciutto, ham or bacon
fried onions
fresh sage or parsley leaves

1. Make the bowls. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a paring knife -cut a large circle around the stem of each pumpkin. Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Sprinkle the inside of each with 1/2 teaspoon each sugar and salt. Place the pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet; roast until tender - 20-25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile make the soup: Cut the squashes in halves, scooping our seeds and fibers. Cook in microwave until tender. While squash is cooling - Melt the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Add fresh or dried thyme - a pinch. Increase the heat and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Scoop out cooked squash and add to pot along with 1 teaspoon sugar and cook, stirring, until glazed, 3-4 minutes. Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes.

Working in batches - transfer the soup to a blender, crack the lid on occasion to let the steam escape. Puree until smooth. Pour batches into large bowl -until finishing pureeing entire batch. Transfer back to saucepan. Stir in heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper, to desired taste. Ladle soup to individual soup bowls. Add topping as desired.

Again, thank you Chellie for your invitiation!  I believe our next venture should be an online version for our guests to view! The idea of us both together in the kitchen, cooking up something wonderful to share with our viewing guests, sounds exciting and fun!  Maybe Hollywood will discover us and we will be televised with our own cooking show - two blondes in the kitchen together - what a stir that would make.....

Thank YOU Rebecca for sharing your artful cooking with us!  What an honor to have you as a guest.

Be sure to stop by and say hi to Rebecca on her blog: