Saturday, October 30, 2010

Recipe #70: Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

Nick loves this one!  This is a Rachel Ray recipe that doesn't disappoint- it's quick, easy, cheap, a little spicy, and REALLY good.  I've seen two variations of this, but I'm posting the one I found online.


  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped  (I coarsely chopped mine)
  • 3 cups canned or packaged vegetable stock, found on soup aisle
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (found often on the baking aisle)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 palm full
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 palm full
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, eyeball it in the palm of your hand
  • Coarse salt
  • 20 blades fresh chives, chopped or snipped, for garnish
    (I used dried while cooking, and also to top it)


Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add oil. When oil is hot, add onion. Saute onions 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, black beans and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine ingredients and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt, to taste. Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve garnished with chopped chives.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Recipe #69: Super Easy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I tend to bake sweets when I'm bored and feeling domestic... like today, during the football game.  I wanted an easy cookie recipe that would use stuff I already had in the kitchen, and this one was perfect- no flour mess!  These cookies turn out super heavy, so just one big one is more than enough for me.  I halved this recipe and it made 9 giant cookies.  I also baked them a bit longer than the recipe calls for (17-18 minutes instead of 10-12).  These could be easily changed, too, depending on what you want to put in them besides walnuts or chocolate chips.  Here's the recipe copied directly from where I found it on (


  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, sugar and eggs. Mix well with wooden spoon till smooth and well-blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheets two inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or till lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes than transfer to wire rack. Cool completely. Store in airtight containers up to a week

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Recipe #68: Western Skillet Eggs

This recipe caught my eye in my October issue of Food Network Magazine, and I'm glad I made it- the sour dough bread made this a really interesting take on western style eggs.  We enjoyed it for dinner, then had the leftovers for breakfast the next day!


1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 large green bell peppers, seed and cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 pound thinly sliced ham, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 slices sourdough bread, torn into pieces (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for topping (I omitted this)
8 large eggs


Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350.  Whisk the half-and-half, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste in a small bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and cook until just softened, 1-2 minutes.  Add the bell peppers; cook until the peppers are soft and the shallots are golden, 5-6 minutes more.  Add the tomatoes, ham, bread, parsley, and 1/4 cup water and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Remove from heat.

Make 8 evenly spaced indentations in the bread mixture with the bottom of a ladle or small measuring cup.  Crck an egg into each indentation.  Slowly pour the half-and-half mixture over the eggs.  Bake, rotating the skillet a few times, until the whites are set, about 15 minutes.  Top with parsley.  (I baked it for a little longer because my whites weren't setting well, which cooked the yolks more, but it turned out fine regardless.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tastefully Simple

Anybody who's had Tastefully Simple products will probably immediately talk about their beer bread (for good reason!), but there's so much more!  As it states on their website, "The Food You Love, The Time You Deserve: From main dishes to desserts, we offer a wide variety of easy-to-prepare foods and gifts for every day and every occasion. Best of all, our products can be enjoyed right out of the package or prepared within minutes!"

My best friend is a Tastefully Simple consultant, so naturally my kitchen is full of this stuff because I can't help buying the products after trying samples.  Everything is so easy to make, usually only needing an ingredient or two added to the product to complete it, resulting in a dip, or a loaf of bread, a dessert, a drink, and so on.

So here's dinner that I made for tonight- pulled pork (made with the Tangy Tennessee Slow Cooker Sauce, topped with cole slaw (made with something I always have in my fridge- Vidalia Onion Dressing, 

For the pork, I simply followed the instructions on the bottle... simply putting a 3lb pork roast in my crock pot with half the bottle for 6.5 hours, then shredding the roast, putting it back in the crock pot, and mixing in the rest of the bottle of sauce.  I served it about an hour later.

For the cole slaw, I simply chopped up as much cabbage as I wanted, added the Vidalia Onion Dressing to taste, and threw in some sliced almonds.  Easy!

This is only one quick example of ways to use TS products.  I made a whole bunch of dips for a game night we had at our place recently, and then I used one of them (bacon ranch!) as a spread for my sandwiches.

If you have any interest in these time-saving products that also happen to be really delicious, get in touch with Carlie Moore at or browse through her Tastefully Simple site for products and ideas: