Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pat's Pumpkin Bread

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With Halloween just around the corner, our dear friend, Pat Herrera (pictured with grandson Nathan), is sharing this excellent and deliciously moist pumpkin bread recipe.  You can add chopped nuts, raisins or dried cranberries as a variation. It tastes even better the second day. Pat is the ultimate realtor, working for The BlackHawk Real Estate Company (J. Rockcliff Realtors). If you use her services, you will want her as your realtor for life.  She is an incredible woman in all that she does for her family, friends, customers and community.

Ingredients:
3 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
2 cups pumpkin
3 cups sugar
1 ½ cups chopped nuts, optional

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix pumpkin, water, oil, nuts and eggs together. Pour into dry mixture and mix well. Pour into two greased medium loaf pans. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 70 minutes or until toothpick comes out clear. Cool before removing from pans.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Michelle's Black Bean Soup

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This was absolutely the best black bean soup I have ever eaten! Michelle made it for me and what a treat it was. It originally came from the Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's Cookbook and is the perfect dish for fall or winter evening.  Here are Tim, Michelle and little Seanie enjoying a day at the pumpkin patch.

Ingredients:
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
2 (15-oz) cans black beans (do not drain)
1 cup Chunky Salsa
2 T lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
Plain yogurt or sour cream

In a medium pot, saute onions in olive oil until they are soft and tender.  Sprinkle cumin and garlic and saute for a minute.  Pour in and stir the black beans (including its juice), salsa and lime juice, then bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt, green onions or cilantro and grated cheddar cheese.  It goes great with homemade cornbread.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ice Cream Bombe

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Here's a simple dessert that you can make the night before. Just take three of your favorite ice cream flavors, soften the ice cream slightly, and mold them in layers into a deep bowl that is lined with plastic wrap. When it's time to serve, invert the bowl onto a platter, remove the plastic wrap, and top with your favorite chocolate sauce. Sprinkle nuts on top if you wish. It's easy - no baking! Here's a photo of Seanie, Michelle and her birthday bomb.

Ingredients:
1 quart vanilla ice cream
1 quart chocolate chip mint (green) ice cream
1 quart chocolate ice cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Chopped nuts

Melt the chocolate chips with the heavy cream in the microwave for 45 seconds.  Mix until blended.  Cool to room temperature.  It will thicken as it cools.

Place plastic wrap inside a deep bowl with extra plastic wrap hanging over the edge and outside the bowl.  Spread the vanilla ice cream against the sides of the bowl in an even layer.  Freeze for 30 minutes. Spread the chocolate chip mint over the vanilla layer.  Freeze for another 30 min.  Spread the chocolate ice cream on top of the mint layer.  Cover everything with plastic wrap.  Freeze for another 30 min. or overnight until firm.

To serve, invert the bowl onto a platter.  (You may have to dip the bowl in a large bowl of hot water for a few seconds, if frozen solid.) Remove the plastic wrap.  Top with chocolate sauce, and sprinkle nuts over all.  Serve in wedges.

Chicken Alfredo Pesto Pasta

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Here's an easy pasta dish that you can put together quickly.  It combines Alfredo sauce with basil pesto, so has a creamy rich taste. You can substitute low-fat milk for the cream if you are watching cholesterol and calories.  It's a good dish for potlucks when feeding large crowds.  Delicious, simple and fresh tasting....a family favorite.

Ingredients:
1 oz extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carton sliced mushrooms
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 cup heavy cream, half and half or milk
2-3 T basil pesto (Trader Joe's)
1 large chicken breast, baked or broiled and chopped
8 oz. penne pasta, cooked al dente 
3 T grated parmesan cheese

Bake or broil a chicken breast or use leftover sliced rotisserie chicken. Cook the penne pasta according to package directions and set aside. In a frying pan, saute the garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the heavy cream and basil pesto and cook for 3 min. Add the chicken, penne pasta and parmesan cheese, and simmer until heated. If the pasta becomes too dry, add a little milk or pasta water. Serve with extra parmesan cheese.

You can substitute milk for the cream. If you use milk, thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch mixed with milk, making a slurry; cook for an additional 3 min. until the sauce thickens.

Grandson Seanie (15 mos) LOVES noodles!