Thanksgiving Mini-Post!

Because who honestly wants to sit on the computer on Thanksgiving Day? (…don’t answer that.)

I’m sure you know that I’ll be doing my share of cooking today, so today’s post is – as I called it – mini. ๐Ÿ™‚ But delicious!

I present to you, the Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Latte!
Yes, you read me right: pumpkin spice latte made in a crockpot. Those of you more familiar with the crockpot and its ways will not find this surprising – but I sure did when I came across it (say it with me)ย on Pinterest.ย 

The credit goes to BettyCrocker.com:
http://www.bettycrocker.com/how-to/tipslibrary/tools-equipment/slow-cooker-pumpkin-spice-latte

Being a big fan of all things pumpkin, I’ve tasted quite a few pumpkin spice lattes in my short time (well, say about 4 different kinds…) My favorite used to be the Starbucks version, but as I do not go to Starbucks, I’ve explored a few PSL’s at the odd coffee shop now and then. Some of them have too much spice and not enough sweet. Others have too much sweet and not enough spice.

As always, the beauty of doing things at home from scratch is that you have control. As such, this homemade crockpot PSL definitely ranks among the best I’ve ever had. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not surprising when it comes down to it, as you can control the sugar, spice, and everything nice.
The recipe on the website makes enough for 10 servings. We certainly won’t be having that many people over for Thanksgiving, so I cut it in half, and it turned out great!

(Sorry for the photo quality; I got up so early to make this and was too lazy to take a stellar picture.)
Now truth be told, I did put in about half of the canned pumpkin in (and I will repeat what the recipe tells you: this is not to be confused with pumpkin pie mix!) But after letting it cook and taking a sip, I added a little more, and also put in another teaspoon of sugar. My advice is to stick to the original recipe – whether you’re cutting it in half or making the original amount – and just play with it once it’s cooked long enough.

The end result I got was: mild spice, very “pumpkiny,” and neither too sweet nor too bland.
Seriously, it was exactly like drinking a cup of pumpkin pie. ๐Ÿ˜€ I topped it with some frozen fat-free whipped cream (no, I am not averse to using fatty ingredients, but believe it or not, fat-free whipped cream tastes a lot better than the regular kind – at least in my opinion) and, of course, added a dash of pumpkin pie spice on top (careful about going crazy with the spice, or you’ll do what I did and choke on it… >>)

Altogether, if you’re a pumpkin fan, and if you also happen to like pumpkin lattes, this is a great recipe to try. Adjust it to your taste, and you’ll get the best PSL you’ve ever had – no joke!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

 

 

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That’s A’lotta Enchilada

About a week ago, I made some crockpot chicken enchilada soup. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yep.
It was, by far, the easiest recipe I have ever made. How, you ask? Because – like most crockpot recipes – you almost literally just toss everything in and press “Cook” (so to speak.)
Almost.
There is some chopping involved, needless to say, but that truly is the hardest part (and I wouldn’t call it hard.) The other hard part is saving enough for leftovers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The recipe came from a blog called “Gimme Some Oven,” found here:
Credit:ย http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/slow-cooker-chicken-enchilada-soup-recipe/

The amazing part is not how easy it is, but how incredibly delicious it turns out to be when it’s done! I must stress, the garnish I used really did make the soup. I don’t think it would have been half as tasty without it. The recipe on the blog will recommend a variety of things to garnish the soup with. I’ll mention what I used further down.

Start

Start

Now bear with me a minute while I head down a small artists’ rabbit hole.
I wanted to show you all a snazzy picture of the ingredients beautifully lined up together just like the woman in the blog did it – and it worked very well, until I foolishly poured the enchilada sauce into the mix. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Bye bye, awesome presentation. You see now why I love cooking: it fuses with my artistic half, and will sometimes end up with visually pleasing results. XD

And finish. :)

And finish. ๐Ÿ™‚

There you have it! This recipe is so simple, I really can’t say much beyond that it tastes incredible. ^_^

As for the garnish, just in case you can’t deduce what I used in the photo, here’s what I added:

– Tortilla chips, cracked into bits
– Avocado
– Four cheese Mexican, shredded (at least I think that’s the name. You’ll know it when you see it in the cheese aisle.)
– Cilantro

Go ahead and add what you want, but I personally vouch for this garnish!

I should probably add that it’s best to cook it on the low setting, as the recipe suggests. I made the mistake of changing the heat to medium a little over halfway through, and the chicken was a bit tough. If you want the meal done faster, it’s entirely possible to put some ready-baked store-bought chicken in toward the end, instead of using raw chicken from scratch.

Other than that, this meal is heart-warming, tasty, and easy to prepare. Even the leftovers didn’t last long. And, as always, it makes a great dish for a cold winter night. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you enjoy!

Delicious “Cold Night” Bake

I’d like to share one of my favorite recipes I’ve found on Pinterest so far – a bake called “Lazy Sunday Casserole.” ๐Ÿ˜€

I’ve actually tried this one three times, changing up a few things for each round (and, in all honesty, the way I made it the first time is the best.)
This is a super-tasty, super-easy meal, and perfect for a cold night (as the title suggests.)

The credit goes to a woman named Kay, who hosts an awesome blog at “Kayotic.”
Source:ย http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/lazy-sunday-casserole

The cool thing about this recipe is that there are almost no rules. Although I would say that potatoes and sausage are a must, you can virtually put anything you like in it!ย The original recipe calls for bell peppers, but having tried it with and without, I have to say I prefer it without (the last time I made it, however, I did put in bell peppers to give the dish some color.)

bake_2

Aidells’ Italian style chicken sausages with mozzarella are pretty tasty in this dish, but my all-time favorite meat to use are the regular Saag’s beef sausages (and I believe they come with garlic. Best ever!)

I’ve never been one to shy away from a lengthy and complicated recipe – but neither do I object to ones that are simple, as long as they are tasty. ๐Ÿ™‚ This one, like I said, is incredibly easy: the gist of it is that you basically chop everything up and pop it in the oven for an hour. But please do take a look at the recipe in the link above for details (which, obviously, are required.) It does come with a nice little sauce you pour over the bake, which is not optional (unless you enjoy your food more bland than flavorful.)

bake_3

Ready to go in the oven!

Sadly, it took me my third try at this recipe before I decided to put tinfoil at the bottom of the baking dish. ๐Ÿ˜› Turns out this particular one is a bear to clean afterword.

bake_4

And there, you’ve got the finished product. ๐Ÿ™‚ Which tastes much better than it looks, I promise you!

Like I said, the fun of this is that you can add whatever suits your fancy. I haven’t been too much of a pioneer with this, so on the whole, I stick to the original recipe (minus putting in the bell peppers.) Funnily enough, because my mom and I differ so much in our tastes, she said the bake was a little too dry the first time. Third time I made it, she loved it and said it was “just right,” but in my opinion it was a little too moist. I preferred it more dry, because it gave the sausages a nice firm skin to crunch on. So, do whatever you think is best, as far as how dry or moist you want this to end up. I think putting the tinfoil over it while it’s baking helps with the moisture. I don’t know, I won’t speculate on it – I’m no chef.

Also, it makes pretty good leftovers.

Hope you enjoy!

 

Cookin’ Canuck: Fisherman’s Soup

A few days ago, I found a picture of a very interesting-looking soup (Pinterest Alert!) originally from a website called “Cookin’ Canuck” – hence the title of today’s post. It is run by a lovely lady named Dara. ๐Ÿ™‚

Credit: http://www.cookincanuck.com/2012/10/fishermans-soup-recipe-with-tilapia-shrimp-tomatoes-capers/#comment-1082464

I gave this recipe a try last night, and I am telling you, words cannot describe how delectable, how tantalizing this was!

It took very little time, the ingredients weren’t horribly expensive, and the directions are easy to follow. The long and short of it is this: if you like seafood and tomato, this is the soup for you! Please do take a look at Dara’s recipe in the link above.

What I changed:
– Not much. It calls for “firm whitefish” and recommends tilapia. I ended up using salmon because I wasn’t able to find a good, firm chunk of tilapia. Rest assured, although I have not tried the recipe with tilapia, I fully confirm that it is absolutely delicious with salmon. ๐Ÿ™‚
– As per usual, I used pre-minced garlic that comes in a jar instead of chopping fresh cloves. Would fresh cloves have tasted better? Probably. Fresh anything is always better.
– It calls for dried oregano. Well, because I had…um…a little help obtaining these ingredients, I realized during preparation that I, in fact, did not have dried oregano. >_< Now, sometimes I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to following a recipe (sometimes! I am not above swapping fish), so I was a little flustered when I realized I didn’t have dried oregano. I ended up using powdered oregano, which obviously turned out fine, since I was raving about the deliciousness of the soup.
– Needless to say, I did not put any chile flakes in this. XD It might not have done much harm, but I prefer to be safe than sorry.
– Last little extra thing I did was throw in a shallot (one I didn’t use with a previous recipe. Yes, the pumpkin one.)

Other than that, I followed the directions down to the last word, and ended up with an extremely satisfying result. ๐Ÿ˜€

Picture time! It was great fun watching the colors develop as I added more ingredients.

Picture time! It was great fun watching the colors develop as I added more ingredients.

I prefer my carrots chopped into larger bits – though, because I was feeding two other people, I tried not to cut them too large. ^^

With fish and shrimp.

With fish and shrimp.

Now, one thing I ran into was that the soup didn’t seem…well, “soupy” enough. The more ingredients I added, the thicker and more stew-like it was getting. Which isn’t a bad thing, but I like keeping my stew in a crockpot. XD Not sure if the recipe was supposed to end up that way, whether it was my fault and I somehow added more ingredients than I should have, e.t.c. Either way, I ended up using more vegetable broth than the recipe called for, which didn’t ruin it in any way.

Like I mentioned, this doesn’t take as much time to cook as it seems.

I want more just looking at this.

I want more just looking at this.

Last, but certainly not least, I encourage you – no, I implore you – to top it off with a nice slice of rustic bread. We used roasted garlic bread (not actual garlic bread like the kind you eat in Italian restaurants, but bread that is flavored with garlic), and if possible, it just made the whole meal that much tastier. While eating this, I was surprised to find that the bread actually had thin slices of garlic inserted into it. (+50 points! I am a huge garlic-lover.) The best part about this was eating the bread after it had been soaking in the soup. :O I mean, wow. Our bread happened to be very delicious, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the bread choice had a lot to do with it.

All in all, I was way more satisfied with this recipe than I thought I would be. I’m not even a huge fan of tomato in soup, but this was a major exception! I will note, too, that the capers really added that extra touch of flavor that the soup…well, didn’t exactly need, but it sure wouldn’t have been the same without it. You recall that I mentioned really loving capers in my last post? I’m gonna bring the spotlight back on them and insist that you put capers into this soup when you make it! ๐Ÿ™‚

This recipe will definitely go under my “Favorites.” Once again, please go take a look at Dara’s recipe and give this soup a try; as always, you will not regret it!

That’s all for now. ^_^

Why Is The Rum Gone?

Because it went into the cake, that’s why!

You guessed it: my latest endeavor resulted in a very moist, delicious rum cake. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Out of this world!

A while back, I found this tasty rum cake recipe (for once, not on Pinterest), and as usual, it was the finished product that had me sold. The credit goes to a woman named Monica who shared her recipe on a lovely blog.
Credit:ย http://lickthebowlgood.blogspot.com/2010/12/think-harder-rum-cake.html
-As you know, folks, I never take credit for inventing any of these recipes. I just follow them and, at best, modify a few things.-

It’s not every night that I cook, but when I do, I try to make it as special as possible (sometimes even going so far as to “artify” the dishes I present my food on.) Yet, as my mother wisely pointed out to me one night, it’s just as well that I don’t cook all the time, otherwise it would be harder for us to maintain our “girlish figures.” ๐Ÿ˜› Haha, bad joke.
It’s never an issue of time so much as it is money.

Anyway.

This will mark the second time I have made this cake. I followed the recipe almost precisely, except that I substituted the nut topping with raisins (walnuts hurt my moms’ mouth.) Can’t say I’ve ever actually had rum cake with a nut topping, but I assure you that raisins and rum go together like bread and butter!

It’s also a lot of fun, if you like baking.

Easy to sprinkle at the bottom (really, the top) of the bundt pan.

Easy to sprinkle at the bottom (really, the top) of the bundt pan.

It’s a pretty straightforward recipe – and, as I always say, if I can do it, anyone can! >o>
My mom and I loved the pan we saw in the recipe and scoured the Internet to find it. While we found a few close seconds, we didn’t find the exact one that Monica used. We are artists, and therefore, picky. But the end result was, we bought an average-looking bundt pan at the local Kitchen Store. ;_; Waah.

rumcake_3

Couldn’t resist sharing a few of these pictures, for your viewing pleasure (like I said, artist! Gotta have pictures!) The way the mixture falls into the bundt pan always reminds me of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – you know the beginning when they’ve got that delectable chocolate oozing out in silky ribbons? YUM.

rumcake_4

If this bad boy is screaming your name, go check out Monica’s recipe on the link I provided above (I’d post the recipe here, but I’m afraid that’ll make it look too much like I’m stealing it or something.) In my opinion, one of the best parts about making this cake – aside from eating it, of course – is spreading the rum glaze over the top. I used coffee-flavored Kahlua for all the rum in this recipe. I’m telling you, it is to die for!

Last but not least – and I am pleased to say I actually did invent this little addition – try topping off a slice of the cake with whipped cream! I got me a 2 for 1 deal of french vanilla whipped cream at the store. It goes amazingly well with the rum cake, in fact I wouldn’t dream of eating it without the cream on top. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I encourage all of you rum-cake-lovers to give this a try, I’m sure you won’t regret it. ๐Ÿ˜€

 

 

Post-Halloween Perfection

The title may sound a bit puffed up – and although the recipe I tried may not have contained what I would call amazing flavors, I’ll go so far as to say that the finished product was visually entertaining. ๐Ÿ™‚

About a month ago, I found a recipe called “Roasted Pumpkin Sage Soup,” from skinnytaste.com (never heard of the website.)

Credit:ย http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/10/roasted-pumpkin-sage-soup.html

Naturally, what really attracted me to this recipe was the picture of the soup in those awesome pumpkin bowls. Weeks ago, when I vowed to make this with the leftover Halloween pumpkins, I decided that that’s exactly what I was going to do – make the soup and serve them in nifty little pumpkin bowls.

I was looking forward to making it all day (more, I think, because I was anxious to play with the pumpkin bowls rather than because I wanted to eat it. Are you tired of hearing “pumpkin bowls” yet? My inner child has overpowered me yet again.)

Well, I followed the recipe down to the last word, and ended up with a pretty satisfying product.

 

pumpkinsagesoup

Trying to be artsy with the pumpkins in the background, lol.

I’m telling you, I think the creation of this blog inspired me to remember to take pictures of the dishes I make. ๐Ÿ™‚ Like I mentioned in my intro, 5 times – 5 times and not a time less! – I tried to snap pictures of my cooking, and had failed each time. I’d be halfway through the meal when the light bulb went on: “…Oh yeah, the picture… >_< ”
Not that it means anything to you folks, but this will mark my first successful attempt at photographing the food I make. (Haha, they said it couldn’t be done!)

…Ahem.
All in all, the soup was very tasty.
The recipe suggests garnishing it with sour cream and chopped sage (at least I think it was chopped.) What I tried and found out – which you may or may not agree with – is that the more sour cream you mix into the soup, the tastier it is.

Would I would have done differently: I am a person of robust flavors and often enjoy very rich-tasting food. Not to say I’m the type who would travel to a foreign country and try the world’s hottest pepper or something – but I mean I enjoy fairly strong flavors, such as garlic, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and capers, e.t.c. Very few people in my family appreciate good flavors the way I do, so I’m always on my own when it comes to appreciating those robust flavors I enjoy so much.
Back to the soup: it was tasty, creamy, and “pumpkiny,” but I would have enjoyed it more had it contained a stronger flavor.
When I garnished it with sour cream and sipped a sample, I was under the vague impression that the soup might have been good with some grated cheese on top – maybe Parmesan or some other type of stronger cheese. Do cheese and pumpkin go well together? I have no idea, and if there’s a professional chef out there who’s reading this and tugging at his mustache, by all means, correct me on that. :/
I don’t have a specific idea of how I would change this soup were I to make it again. But to liven up the flavor, I’d err on the side of adding more herbs, maybe some spices to it (aside from the salt and pepper that’s called for in the recipe), and I’d even go so far as to try adding that cheese as a garnish.

Right off the bat, all this soup really had in it were shallots, garlic, chicken broth, and pumpkin. And the sage, too, of course. By my standards, that just isn’t enough. XD

But, if you’re the type who thoroughly enjoys milder flavors and prefers to taste more of the natural, raw ingredients, I’m betting you’ll enjoy the soup – as the original recipe has it – a lot more than I did.
Or, if you’re like me and will sacrifice some of those natural flavors to make it (in our opinion) tastier, I’d try to improvise a little when making this.

I certainly don’t regret it, though! I ate my entire bowls’ worth, and it proved to be a very unique and satisfying first course for the night. My mom enjoyed it immensely, as she isn’t as fond of bold flavors as I am. To quote the Three Bears, I think it was “just right” for her.

All you pumpkin-lovers out there, I’m sure you won’t regret giving this a shot. ๐Ÿ™‚

End of this months’ pumpkin story.