Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Eve Sweet and Sour Meatballs!

Sweet and Sour... That's how our 2010 has been around our house.  So I think this recipe is comletely appropriate for the occasion. (sigh) 
So, if you are going to a New Years Eve Party and  you don't know what to bring?!  This recipe is always a hit, so if I were you, I would double or triple the recipe!  It's also low fat, and who doesn't need that after Chrsitmas?!  ENJOY!
1 lb lean ground turkey or beef (I prefer the taste of the turkey)
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 egg or 2 egg whites
1 jar (10 oz) sweet-and-sour sauce (I got mine at a local restaurant)

Heat oven to 400°F. In large bowl, mix turkey, garlic, bread crumbs, milk, salt, pepper and egg. Shape mixture into thirty 1-inch meatballs. In ungreased 13x9-inch pan, place meatballs.
Bake uncovered about 15 minutes or until meatballs are no longer pink in center.
In 2-quart saucepan, mix meatballs and sweet-and-sour sauce. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce and meatballs are hot. Serve hot with toothpicks.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ham and Swiss Stuffed Chicken

LEFTOVERS EVERYWHERE!!!!  Oh my goodness, there are leftovers, EVERYWHERE!  Don't heat it up in the microwave, use this great dinner recipe to for leftover ham!  ENJOY!
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

4 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices cooked ham
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup honey mustard dressing

Flatten each chicken breast half to 1/4-inch thickness between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper.
Place cheese slice and ham slice on center of each chicken breast; roll up. Secure by placing seam side down in a 13x9 lightly greased pan.  Sprinkle with seasoned salt and pepper.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the dressing for later.  Brush with 1/4 cup of the dressing and then cover and cook in oven at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until center of chicken is no longer pink.  Serve chicken rolls with warmed reserved dressing.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Got leftovers? Sweet Potato and Chipotle Soup

MERRY belated CHRISTMAS!  I don't know about anyone else, but I definately ate my fair share of really good food this Christmas! And although I throughly enjoyed every minute of it, my waist line did NOT! And like always, we had a TON of leftovers, so this is what I am doing with our left over sweet potatoes! 
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 teaspoons of minced garlic, fresh or dried
4 medium sweet potatoe, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 small can chipotle chile in adobo sauce, found in the mexican section of grocery stores
7 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Sour cream, for serving
Toasted flour tortilla wedges, for serving (optional)
(This recipe serves 8, so feel free to cut in half for smaller meals)

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper, and cook until beginning to brown around edges, about 7 minutes. Add cumin and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in sweet potatoes, chile, and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce to a rapid simmer, partially cover, and cook until sweet potatoes can be mashed easily with a spoon, 20 to 25 minutes.

Let soup cool slightly. Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return pureed soup to pot over low heat and season with salt and pepper. Top soup with sour cream and serve with tortilla wedges, if desired.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What's Christmas without a box of chocolates?!

I don't know about you, but Christmas isn't Christmas without a few chocolates sitting around waiting to be pounced on!  But don't buy that box!  Here is the simplest of recipes that will make your family and friends marvel at your MAD skills... even if you don't think you have them!  Merry Christmas EVE EVE!
16 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate or a combination, finely chopped
12/3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for rolling

Place chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat cream until it begins to simmer; pour over chocolate. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand 10 minutes. Uncover and whisk chocolate mixture until smooth. Mix in vanilla and salt. Pour into a 9-inch pie plate and let cool 15 minutes. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until completely set, about 3 hours. (HINT, NEVER use metal bowls or tools when working with candy. It will ruin the consistency.)

With a melon baller, a 1-inch scoop, or a teaspoon, scoop out chocolate mixture and place on parchment paper. Coat hands with cocoa and roll truffles into balls; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. (To store, cover with plastic and refrigerate, up to 2 weeks.) Roll in finely chopped nuts or more cocoa powder, or brush with luster dust just before serving or packing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Ham

In my mind, Christmas wouldn't be the same without a really good ham at the dinner table. Although I would LOVE to go and buy an official Honey Baked Ham, I really have a hard time justifying the price, but that's just me!  So, instead, this is what will be at our table this year.  Enjoy!
6- to 8-lb fully cooked smoked bone-in ham
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup maple-flavored syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Dash of ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 325°F. Line shallow roasting pan with foil. Place ham, cut side down, on rack in pan. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of ham and does not touch bone.
Bake uncovered about 1 hour 30 minutes or until thermometer reads 135°F to 140°F. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Brush over ham during last 30 minutes of baking.
Cover ham loosely with foil and let stand 10 to 15 minutes for easier carving.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Scones from Emily at Impel Clothing!

This is a good friend of my mine who not only has a very cool clothing line, but this is one of the BEST scone recipes I have ever done!  ENJOY!

Friday, December 17, 2010

French Toast Casserole

Tomorrow is our church Christmas breakfast with Santa.  I signed up to bring a casserole, but I am not much of a egg person, so this is what I am taking instead of the standard breakfast casserole!  SHHHHHH........It is sooooo yummy and you will not be able to get enough!  It's also a great Christams morning breakfast! 
5 cups bread cubes
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup white sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon margarine, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly butter an 8x8 inch baking pan.
Line bottom of pan with bread cubes. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and vanilla. pour egg mixture over bread. Dot with margarine; let stand for 10 minutes.
Combine remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Bake in preheated oven about 45 to 50 minutes, until top is golden.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Magic Wand Sticks

My kids are more than slightly obsessed with Harry Potter.  I even bought them their own wands and they now run around casting spells on one another.  So imagine their surprise when I told them I had wands they could eat!
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped salami, turkey pepperoni or fully cooked ham
3/4 cup milk
Ketchup, mustard, pizza sauce or cheese dip, if desired

Heat oven to 450ºF. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until mixture is crumbly. Stir in cheese and salami. Stir in just enough milk until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently 10 times. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Pat dough into 8-inch square; cut square in half. Cut each half crosswise into 1-inch strips. (For crisper sticks, arrange strips to have about 1-inch space between them.)

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cool with ketchup, mustard, pizza sauce or cheese dip.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

We had a cookie decorating party last week. There was lots of fun to go around.  I do believe however, more was eaten than decorated, but that's what its for, RIGHT?!  I must say the decorations are top notch!  The recipe was great and we had a ton of fun!  Thanks Piercy's for joining us!
Pretty sure this one above weighed 5 pounds!

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup shortening, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon; set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, until they are completely absorbed. Divide dough into 3 pieces, pat down to 1 1/2 inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When the cookies are done, they will look dry, but still be soft to the touch. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on wire racks. When cool, the cookies can be frosted with the icing of your choice.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cheesecake cookies... full of yummy, festive goodness!

I made this yummy goodness yesterday and I have already had a bunch of people ask for the recipe! So here it is.... They are festive and oh so easy to make.  But warning...you won't be able to eat just one! 
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1 box (4-serving size) cheesecake-flavor instant pudding and pie filling mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
3 oz white chocolate baking bar, coarsely grated

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, dry pudding mix, oil and egg until soft dough forms.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart. Using thumb or handle of wooden spoon, make indentation in center of each ball. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon jam into each indentation.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool 10 minutes; sprinkle with white chocolate.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tom and Jerry!

This recipe is another family favoirte of mine.  We even had special mugs that were used ONLY for Tom and Jerry's.  Although my grandparents served it with Rum, I was very happy with they way this turned out without it!  I'm pretty sure that I LOVED the name too beacuse I thought it was named after the cartoon.  Hey, maybe it is!?!
12 egg(s)
1 cup sugar
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 or 2% milk

Separate the eggs into 2 different bowls. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they become stiff.  Set aside. Add the sugar to the yolks and stir until they are water like.  Add a pinch each of ground allspice, cinnamon, and cloves to the yolk mixture. Fold the whites into the yolks. Put 1 tablespoon of the egg mixture in a coffee mug. Heat the milk to almost boiling or to your liking and fill to the top with the milk and stir until you get foam. Sprinkle nutmeg on top. Serve immediately!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Grandpa's Fudge

There is only ONE person that was capable of making this sweet treat perfect every year and that was my Grandpa Meredith.  His fudge was famous, not just in our family but throughout his neighborhood during the holidays.  Many have tried to copy, but none prevailed.  Maybe because he NEVER wrote the recipe down, so there is really no way to duplicate it.  So this recipe is not exact, it is still so wonderful and brings back many many memories! 

Just like... GRANDPA'S FUDGE
5 cups sugar
1/2 pound butteror margarine (2 sticks)
1 large can evaporated milk
Boil for 15 minutes on medium low heat.
Then add..
1 bag of small marshmallows
18 ounces of semi sweet or milk chocolate chips. (Best if you use a mixture of both!)
2 cups of walnuts (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Stir on low heat until set and all is melted about 8 minutes and no longer.  Pour into a buttered 9x13 inch pan (make sure that the pan is buttered all the way to the top) or 2 square pans.  Refrigerate.  Cut into pieces after the fudge has turned cold.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Morning Tradition.. Swedish Pancakes

Christmas when I was young was truly amazing.  We would pile EVERYTHING in the car and head south to my Grandma's house in Provo, UT.  Tradition permeated her home, and the spirit in her home was something that I will never forget.  The entire family was together and we did the same thing every year.  We would watch either It's a Wonderful Life or the Christmas Story with Ralphie like it was the first time we had ever seen them.  Then we would head to midnight mass at her church, where we would pass a lighted candle so that everyone was holding the new light and life of Christ.  Followed by a Christmas message and the congregation singing O Holy Night.  We wouldn't get home until 2 or 3 in the morning.  

My grandma would have been cooking for days to get ready for Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and Christmas night dinner.  Although, her tradition on Christmas Eve was serving Okra Stew of some sort, it was NEVER really popular, so I won't share the recipe, hee hee.  But I do remember Christmas morning!  It was filled with more Ebelskivers, Swedish Pancakes and bacon than you could ever imagine. 

So here it is... Something that reminds me of my Grandma Mary, who by the way, I miss her terribly, especially at this time of year.  Enjoy!
Beat 2 eggs just to blend, add 1 cup of light cream.  Sift in 1/2 cup sifted flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Beat until smooth with rotary beater.  Let stand 1 hour so batter thickens.  Heat skillet to 375 degrees or until drop of water dances on the surface.  Butter lightly.

Beat batter again.  Use 1/4 cup batter for each cake.  Brown on both sides.  (It may be difficult to turn pancakes, so loosen edges with a spatula and lift pancake with fingers.)  Roll pancakes and serve with fruit filling, berry syrup or good old fashion maple syrup.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  If you are serving a large crowd, place finished pancakes on an over proof platter, cover and turn oven on to 250 degrees to keep pancakes warm.  You may need to double or even quadruple this recipe!  Wink Wink!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Simple and Satisfying!

I don't know about you, but my kids love noodles.  Anything noodles and I have grown tired of the same old stuff.  So, we mixed it up and this is what we came up with!  This recipe is extremely simple and my kids LOVE it!  Even the veggies!
1 pound angel hair pasta
1/2 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter 
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 zucchini, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 cup of broccoli, steamed and cut small 
1 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices 

In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta until soft or according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. 
Meanwhile, make peanut sauce by putting into a blender or food processor, blend peanut butter, pepper flakes, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil until smooth. Cut zucchini and carrot into very thin strips and steam with broccoli to your liking. Transfer pasta to a large bowl; toss with veggies and sauce. Enjoy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Coconut Bread

Back when I was getting married, I was going through the daunting task of finding the ULTIMATE wedding cake. Fortunately, I worked at one of the hippest hotels in SLC that had the BEST restaurant within it's walls! VERY LONG story short, they had the answer. Ambroisa Cakes. When my mom and I went to taste the cakes, she told us that all of her cakes were made with coconut. I am NOT a huge coconut fan. As a matter of fact, most things that have coconut taste like tanning lotion to me. So, I was a little worried, but not to fear! Coconut in cakes actually keeps the cake moist and holds its shape. We tried it and I was HOOKED! So, now that I have told you all of that, let's move on to the recipe of the day! Coconut Bread! Be careful with this one! It's bound to be addicting and I promise, it does NOT taste like tanning lotion!
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons coconut extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs and coconut extract. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture alternately with buttermilk and coconut.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.


1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. coconut extract
Combine above ingredients except coconut flavoring and bring to a boil.  Remove and add extract.  Pour over bread before serving.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

There's nothing like a good French Dip Sandwich...

After trying several recipes for French Dip sandwiches, I decided to mix a bunch of them and make it my own.  I love these sandwiches, especially during the winter. Enjoy!
3-4 lb rump roast, trim fat prior to placing in crock pot
1 packet. au jus mix
1 10oz. can of condensed french onion soup
2(10.5 oz) can beef broth (or you can do 1 can of beer and 1 can of beef broth.)
1 1/2 cups water
Hogie buns, we prefer sourdough
Swiss or provolone Cheese

Place roast in crock-pot. Mix the au jus packet, soup, broth and water and pour over meat. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. Remove roast. Reserve juice for serving. Slice meat thinly or it may be soft enough to just pull apart. Stack meat on buns and cover with cheese. Wrap in foil. Heat in 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Serve and dip in left over juices from crock pot.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Try this sugar cookie!

I am a sucker for a good ,soft, yummy sugar cookie!  After all, if you are going to go to the trouble of making them, they BETTER be good, right?!  Well, leave it to Martha to make a really good cookie!  We made these last year and they were a hit!
4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for working
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for decorating (optional)
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Royal Icing, and desired decorations, such as colored sugars
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

5 tablespoons pasteurized egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add sugar, eggs, and lemon zest and process until mixture resembles wet sand.

Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface; knead several times until dough comes together. Divide into 3 portions; flatten each into a disk. Roll each disk to an 1/8-inch thickness between sheets of parchment. Stack dough (still in parchment) on a baking sheet; refrigerate 20 minutes. (To store, wrap in plastic and freeze on sheet, up to 2 weeks. Thaw until pliable before using.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with racks in middle and lower thirds. Working with 1 dough sheet at a time, peel off parchment (save for baking). With lightly floured cutters, cut dough into desired shapes and arrange, 1 inch apart, on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets (reroll scraps, if desired). Sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Bake until cookies are set but still pale, 7 to 9 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Using a spoon, frost cookies with icing; decorate with sugar, if desired.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Corn and Potato Chowder

I love this crazy Utah weather.  I love the snow, the cold, cooking and baking.  It just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  ahhh.... Well, this is a recipe that is loved by my whole family.  As a mom, it feels good to sit down after you have made dinner and have EVERYONE, say.. "that was soooo good."  That happened with this one in my house!  Hope it works for you!

2 bacon slices, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups (or more) whole milk
1 15-ounce can creamed corn
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon thyme

Cook bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add potato and bell pepper and sauté 1 minute. Add 2 cups milk and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender and soup thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Add creamed corn, corn kernels and 1 tablespoon thyme to soup and simmer until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat, stirring frequently and thinning with more milk if too thick.) Sprinkle with thyme and cheddar cheese and serve.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Peanut Brittle

Did you know that Peanut Brittle is was the first candy ever made into a real recipe?!  The recipes can be found back into the early 17th century. You learn something new everyday! Useless, but who knew?

Peanut brittle reminds me of my grandma's house.  I truly I don't even know that she liked it, I'll have to ask my dad, but it was always there during the holidays.  It's location was as predictable as the Christmas tree, right in the middle of the table. Christmas time at my grandma's was unlike anything else.  The smells, traditions and family.  It still gives me goosebumps and I truly wish I could go back in time!   I love Peanut Brittle for many reason, but the top reason, is it's yummy and super easy to make!

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 cup peanuts
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking soda

Grease a large cookie sheet. Set aside. In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peanuts. Set candy thermometer in place, and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300 degrees F, or until a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water separates into hard and brittle threads.

Remove from heat; immediately stir in butter or margarine and baking soda; pour at once onto cookie sheet. With 2 forks, lift and pull peanut mixture into rectangle about 14x12 inches; cool. Snap candy into pieces. (If someone in your home has an allergy to peanuts, you can use cashews or pralines.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Broiled Tilpia

I really hope everyone's Thanksgiving was amazing.  I truly have so much to be thankful for, I just need to rememeber it on a daily basis and not just on a holiday.
MY FAVORITE time of year is finally here!  I have some amazing holiday recipes coming your way!  But until then, this is what's for dinner tonight....

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
2 pounds tilapia fillets

Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.

Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Caramel Drizzled Pumpkin Cake

There is one thing, okay SEVERAL things that I love about Thanksgiving, but the desserts take 1st prize in my book!  I LOVE dessert and I love pumpkin!  BUT, I do have to admit, that I am a bigger fan of things made from scratch, however, THIS CAKE IS AMAZING!  You will be the hit of the party!
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup (from 15-oz can) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 jars (12 oz each) hot fudge topping
1 container (12 oz) Betty Crocker® Whipped fluffy white frosting
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons caramel topping

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease or spray bottom of 13x9-inch pan.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center.

Immediately poke cake every inch with handle of wooden spoon halfway into cake. Drizzle condensed milk evenly over top of cake; let stand until milk has been absorbed into cake, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place hot fudge in medium microwavable bowl. Microwave uncovered on High 15 to 30 seconds or until smooth. Spoon and spread over cake, pressing slightly into holes. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.  Spread frosting over top of cake. Sprinkle with pecans.   Just before serving, drizzle caramel sauce over each serving of cake. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Roasted Turkey Roulade

I found out yesterday that I will not be cooking for lots of people this Thanksgiving.... SADNESS.  However, it is still possible to have fabulous turkey without having to cook a ton of it!  This recipe is from one of my favorite chefs... Ina Garten, aka.. The Barefoot Contessa! This serves about 6-7 adults and is well worth the effort!

¾ cup large-diced dried figs, stems removed
¾ cup dried cranberries
½ cup Calvados or brandy
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1½ cups diced onions (2 onions)
1 cup (½-inch-diced) celery (3 stalks)
¾ pound pork sausage, casings removed (sweet and hot mixed)
1½ tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
3 cups Pepperidge Farm herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1½ cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole (2 halves) turkey breast, boned and butterflied (5 pounds)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Place the dried figs and cranberries in a small saucepan and pour in the Calvados and ½ cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small bits with a fork, and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until cooked and browned. Add the figs and cranberries with the liquid, the chopped rosemary, and pine nuts, and cook for 2 more minutes. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.

Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and stir well. (The stuffing may be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan.  Lay the butterflied turkey breast skin side down on a cutting board. Sprinkle the meat with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Spread the stuffing in a ½-inch-thick layer over the meat, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Don’t mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. (Place the leftover stuffing in a buttered gratin dish and bake for the last 45 minutes of roasting alongside the turkey.) Starting at one end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.

Place the stuffed turkey breast seam side down on the rack on the sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 1¾ to 2 hours, until a thermometer reads 150 degrees in the center. (I test in a few places.) Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve ½-inch-thick slices and serve warm with the extra stuffing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Perfect Thanksgiving turkey..... I mean Prime Rib?!

That's right! Who serves PRIME RIB for Thanksgiving?!  My in laws.  That's who!  As I told you awhile ago, I am not a super traditionalist, BUT I do expect turkey on Thanksgiving.  So you can imagine my surprise 9 years ago at my first Thanksgiving dinner in the Elggren household and they were cooking a Prime Rib Roast, IN ADDITION to Turkey! 
Well, as I am preparing to make Thanksgiving dinner for my side of the family this year, I heard my husband on the phone asking if he could come get some prime rib from their house on Thanksgiving day!  Silly man! 

3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
1/3 cup orange marmalade
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 cup beer (the darker the better)
1 (8 pound) prime rib roast
1/4 cup olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Mix together the ginger, marmalade, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, hot sauce, and mustard. Stir in the beer. Prick holes all over the roast with a 2 pronged fork. Pour marinade over roast. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, basting at least twice.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place roast on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour about 1 cup of marinade into the roasting pan, and discard remaining marinade. Pour olive oil over roast, and season with freshly ground black pepper. Insert a roasting thermometer into the middle of the roast, making sure that the thermometer does not touch any bone. Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil, and seal edges tightly around pan.

Cook roast for 1 hour in the preheated oven. After the first hour, remove the aluminum foil. Baste, reduce heat to 325 degrees, and continue roasting for 1 more hour. The thermometer reading should be at least 140 degrees for medium-rare, and 170 for well done. Remove roasting pan from oven, place aluminum foil over roast, and let rest for about 30 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shrimp Dip

For as long as I can remember my mom has made a dip just like this for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And, I can NEVER remember it lasting past the first 10 minutes of any family get together!  Especially with my uncle Kurt there!  Anywho, here it is!  ENJOY!

1 can tomato soup
8 oz. cream cheese
1 pkg. Knox gelatin
3 tbsp. water
1 c. celery, chopped
1 sm. onion, chopped
3/4 c. mayonnaise
1 (4 1/2 oz.) miniature salad shrimp

Heat soup and cream cheese. Mix gelatin with water and pour into soup mixture. Stir in mayonnaise and then dump in all remaining ingredients. Put into an oiled mold or small to medium bundt pan. Chill overnight. Transfer to a decorative plate by turning the mold upside down.  You may need to soak the pan in warm water to get it to release into it's shape. Note: Be careful not to leave mold in hot water too long when unmolding as the dip will lose it's shape when inverted on serving plate.
Serve with crackers or pita bread.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Don't forget the cranberry sauce....

Thanksgiving wouldn't be right without the cranberry sauce.  It adds so much.  Flavor, color, texture, the cool popping noises they make when you cook them...
HOWEVER, I don't actually use it until the next day when I have it on my infamous turkey sandwich on a roll.  Strange I know, but it's the truth!
I love this recipe below.  It adds just the right everything!  ENJOY!
2 bags (12 ounces each) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 wide strips orange zest, plus 1 cup fresh orange juice
Coarse salt and ground pepper
In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, orange zest, and 1/2 cup water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange juice. (To store, refrigerate, up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Instead of the mashers...

Mashed potatoes are called 'mashers' in our house.  And believe me, they are considered major delicacy food, especially by Mr. E.  But HIS week spot is Sweet Potatoes mashers, so I won't even mess with taking these away from him.  Oh No, this recipe below is to replace just plain old mashers at the Thanksgiving table!  Wonderful and oh so easy...  I promise, they won't last long!

Mashed Potato Gratin

(recipe from here and picture from here.)
3 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dish
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
Coarse salt
3 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere, Jarlsberg, or other Swiss cheese (6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a shallow, 1 1/2-quart baking dish. In a large pot, cover potatoes with water by 1 inch; add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until easily pierced with a paring knife, about 20 minutes. Drain. Wipe pan; return potatoes.

Add butter; mash with a potato masher until creamy. Cool slightly. Fold in egg yolks, milk, 1 1/4 cups cheese, and 2 teaspoons salt. Spread in prepared dish.  Top with remaining cheese. Bake until golden brown in spots, rotating dish halfway through, about 30 minutes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not your everyday Thanksgiving....

THANKSGIVING. I truly love this holiday.  Wonderful food, family, friends and a nap if you are lucky!  Followed by Black Friday early morning shopping!  WOO HOO! But that's another post for another blog, right?!  I love the traditions associated with it, however, I am by no means a traditionalist when it comes to the menu.  I will do a turkey for turkey day, (how can you NOT?), but I love to shake everything else up a bit.  I also want to cut time and effort whenever possible, and NO I am not lazy! (wink wink). 

So it begins... The week and a half of non traditional, time saving Thanksgiving recipes! Whether you are cooking the entire feast, or just bringing a side, I hope at least ONE of these new recipes that I have found works for you and your loved ones! ENJOY!

(recipe and picture from here.)
Slow Cooker Sourdough and Wild Rice Stuffing
8 cups cubed sourdough bread

3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
1/3 cup dried porcini mushroom pieces
3 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup chicken broth

Heat oven to 300ºF. Spread bread cubes in single layer in large roasting pan or baking pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly toasted; set aside.
Place 3 cups broth, the wild rice and mushrooms in 4- or 5-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat setting 3 hours.
Add remaining ingredients except 3/4 cup broth to wild rice mixture. Add bread cubes. Pour 3/4 cup broth over bread mixture; toss gently. Cover and cook on low heat setting 4 hours to 4 hours 30 minutes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Too Die For Salted Carmel Hot Chocolate

Ok, so it might NOT be 'Too Die For', but I do admit, that's it's pretty awesome!
This one is for you Paul!
3 tablespoons caramel syrup, heated to luke warm
Hot Chocolate of your choice ( I used Ghiradelli double chocolate)
Fresh Whipped Cream
Pinch of Medium Coarse Sea Salt

Pour 2 Tablespoons of caramel syrup into a mug so the inside of the mug is coated well. Add hot chocolate and stir everything. Top off with with cream, drizzle with remaining caramel, and sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I left my heart and GOOD Clam Chowder in San Francisco...

San Francisco... FISHERMAN'S WHARF

My hubby and I and our dear friends just got back from a VERY fun, VERY quick vacation to San Francisco.  Besides doing all of the necessary touristy things, we were on the HUNT for the BEST food and this included AMAZING clam chowder....  Well, long story short, we found ALL of it!  So I immediately came home to find the BEST version of San Francisco Clam Chowder!  Although its yummy, it was better with the pier in the background.  hee hee.. SO,Here it is... ENJOY!

4 slices bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups water (more if you like it thinner) 
4 cups peeled and cubed red potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
ground black pepper to taste
3 cups half-and-half
3 tablespoons butter
2 (10 ounce) cans minced clams

Place diced bacon in large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until almost crisp, drain the fat; add onions, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in water and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.

Pour in half-and-half, and add butter. Drain clams, reserving clam liquid; stir clams and 1/2 of the clam liquid into the soup. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through. Do not allow to boil.  Serve in sourdough bread bowl and ENJOY! (recipe from here., with a few alterations :))

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Potato Crusted Salmon

I LOVE salmon and crazy thing is... SO do my kids.  We grill it, bake it, microwave it,(yes, I said microwave), broil it, eat it raw.  You name it, we've done it!  This recipe was made for me 8 1/2 years ago by my darling husband.  Really I think he was trying to impress me AND that he did!  Now it's a family favorite and I almost can't make enough because my kids devour it!  THATS A GOOD THING! ENJOY!

Potato Crusted Salmon
1 lb salmon, 3/4 inch thick (I get mine at Costco)
1 egg white, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup dry mashed potato flakes
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil

Remove and discard skin from fish. Cut fish into 4 serving pieces. Mix egg white and water with fork. Mix dry potatoes, cornstarch, paprika and lemon-pepper seasoning. Dip just the top sides of fish into egg white mixture, then press into potato mixture.

In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over high heat. Cook fish, potato sides down, in oil 3 minutes. Carefully turn fish, using wide slotted spatula. Reduce heat to medium. Cook about 3 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with fork.
Recipe and picture from here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

I am a sucker for a good French Onion Soup, but even BETTER when I don't have to slave over it all day.  This recipe is fantasic and will warm you up this fall/ winter season!  ENJOY!

3 large onions, sliced (3 cups)
3 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) ready-to-serve beef broth

Cheesy Broiled French Bread
8 slices French bread, 1 inch thick
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (3 ounces)
2 tablespoons grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Mix onions and margarine in 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker.   Cover and cook on high heat setting 30 to 35 minutes or until onions begin to slightly brown around edges.

Mix flour, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and pepper. Stir flour mixture and broth into onions. Cover and cook on low heat setting 7 to 9 hours (or high heat setting 3 to 4 hours) or until onions are very tender.

Prepare Cheesy Broiled French Bread. Place 1 slice bread on top of each bowl of soup. Serve immediately.  Recipe and picture from here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Leftover Halloween Candy?! Make COOKIES!

If your home is like our's,  then your kids got a TON of Halloween candy, and I really don't want them munching on it for the next couple of months.  SOOO, we unwrap it, chop it up and MAKE COOKIES!  Then we can deliver them to neighbors or just for fun to friends and teachers.

Halloween Candy Cookies
3 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chopped candy bits (such as Butterfingers, Baby Ruths, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, m&m's, jelly beans, OR WHATEVER you have leftover.

Preheat oven to 350.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugars together with a mixer until very light, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add vanilla.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture and mix until combined.  Stir in candy bits.
Drop dough by tablespoons onto baking sheet.  Bake 15- 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 4 dozen really yummy cookies! 
Recipe from here

Monday, November 1, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto- FOR YOU DENISE!!

I have a dear friend back east who asked me for this recipe.  SOOO..... here you go Denise!  Let me know how you like it! AND, this is where I found it!

3 lb butternut squash
6 cups nonfat chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (9 oz)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
5 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 oz)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
4 oz arugula or baby spinach (6 cups), stems discarded and leaves very coarsely chopped

Roast squash:
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Halve squash lengthwise and seed, then cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch-wide slices and season with salt. Roast slices, skin side down, in a shallow baking pan in middle of oven until tender and golden, about 50 minutes.

Set aside 6 crescent-shaped squash slices for serving and keep warm. Cut flesh from remaining slices into 1/2-inch pieces, discarding skin.  Start risotto after squash has been roasting 40 minutes: Bring broth to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer, covered.

Meanwhile, cook onion in butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add rice, garlic, and cumin and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente (it should be the consistency of thick soup), about 18 minutes total. (There will be leftover broth.)
Stir in squash pieces, then stir in cheese, salt, sage, and arugula and simmer, stirring, 1 minute. (If necessary, thin risotto with some leftover broth.)
Serve risotto immediately, spooned over reserved squash slices.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Seeds- HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

 Ok, so have to admit that my favorite part of Halloween... is the pumpkin seeds.  I LOVE them and they are really  not hard to prepare, BUT the process can be ooey, gooey and really kind of gross.

 Not one seed left, OK, maybe one!
I had always just baked my pumpkin seeds with a bunch of sea salt, UNTIL I found this recipe from here!

Seeds from 2 or 3 large pumpkins
sea salt
olive oil
Rinse seeds from pumpkin guts and place in a medium pan. Fill with salt water and boil for 12 minutes.

Strain seeds in a colander and spread seeds on a cookie sheet over night. You can bake instead of waiting over night, but they are much crunchier if you wait.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle seeds with olive oil and sea salt. Toss lightly. Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar (about 1T).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Streusel Topped Pumpkin Pie

Ok, so you are probably saying... "WHY CHANGE AN ALREADY GOOD THING?" Well, because it is AMAZING!!!  Try it, you won't be sorry, and if you are, then I'm sorry! :)  TRUST ME!

1 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

Heat oven to 425°F. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on box for One-Crust Filled Pie.

In large bowl, beat all filling ingredients with hand beater or wire whisk until blended. Pour filling into pie crust-lined pie plate.  Bake 15 minutes. Remove pie from oven; reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Cover crust edge with 2- to 3-inch-wide strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake 35 minutes. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix topping ingredients until crumbly with fork; set aside.

Sprinkle topping over pie. Bake about 10 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on cooling rack 30 minutes. Refrigerate about 4 hours or until chilled before serving. Store pie covered in refrigerator.
(recipe and picture from here)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's been awhile... Pumpkin Gingerbread

Good morning, afternoon and evening to everyone! 
 I'm back and oh how I have missed you!  Life is crazy sometimes and you just need to take a break, but I am here and ready for new recipes, AND, I will be adding some fun family crafts, home projects and much much more.... 
so, get READY, SET, GO!

Fall is my FAVORITE season, well I just lied.... Winter is, but we can pretend it's fall for the purpose of ALL the wonderful harvest recipes there are. 
There is so much to bake, cook and do in the fall and one of my favorite ingredients is PUMPKIN! 
I LOVE pumpkin in just about everything!  Drinks, breads, soups, pies, and YES, even candy! (Have you tried the Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses?!  TOO DIE FOR!)

Anywho, this week is going to be all about FALL and PUMPKINS!  I want to share with you one of my favorite pumpkin recipes!
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Cream cheese Frosting (recipe here or you can use store bought)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans or you can do one medium size bundt pan.  It makes is so pretty and almost looks like a pumpkin!
In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.

In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.  Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Let cool and drizzle with Cream Cheese Frosting.
(recipe from here and picture from here.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 red bell peppers (I used a large jar of already roasted bell peppers and it worked great!)
4 large tomatoes - peeled, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1/8 teaspoon white sugar
6 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
1 dash hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sour cream

To Roast peppers: rub oil on peppers and put them under the broiler until blackened, turn to get all sides. Put into paper bag and seal. Let rest for 15 minutes, then peel will come right off and core and seeds will fall out. Chop peppers. Reserve one chopped pepper; set aside.

Heat olive oil over moderate heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato, bell peppers (except reserved), thyme, paprika, and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat until all the tomato juices have evaporated, about 25 minutes.

Stir in chicken stock, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce (if using). Bring to boiling, lower heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Strain soup, reserving broth. Place solids in food processor or blender, and process until fairly smooth. Add puree back into broth.

Melt butter and stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute. Stirring slowly, add the broth/vegetable mixture. Add reserved chopped pepper and bring to boiling. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and add 1 tablespoon of sour cream to each bowl. For a lighter soup, this is also delicious without the sour cream. (recipe and picture from here.)
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