Monday, November 28, 2011

November SRC - Chicken with Rustic Balsamic Tomato Sauce

I can't believe that it's the end of November already! That means that it's time once again for our reveal party for Group D of the Secret Recipe Club.

I was paired with Kathleen's blog, Gonna Want Seconds. I knew from the first couple of minutes of thumbing through her recipes, that I was going to find many, many favorites to try. Her recipe for Chicken with Rustic Balsamic Tomato Sauce is a perfect match for my ways of cooking so I decided that would be my choice for the SRC.

Like Kathleen, I do not peel nor seed tomatoes unless it's absolutely necessary - and then it better be for a worthwhile cause. hahaha! This is a one pan dish so full of flavor. I made a couple of changes - I couldn't find decent plum tomatoes anywhere so I subbed two containers of grape tomatoes, which worked perfectly fine. I also left out the Rosemary because I thought that I had some in my freezer but I didn't and I didn't feel like running back to the store before dinner. I'm sure that the fresh Rosemary would add even more wonderful flavor to this dish. I left out the shallots because my family doesn't care for them. I love balsamic vinegar and the reduction in this recipe is fantastic when cooked with the tomatoes.

I served the chicken over rice but egg noodles would work nicely, too. If you want a lighter meal, serve the chicken with a side salad.

Chicken with Rustic Balsamic Tomato Sauce

4 tsp olive oil-divided
4-5 skinless boneless chicken breast - I used a 2.5 bag
2 tbsp fresh rosemary-chopped - I omitted
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 c. shallots-chopped - I omitted
3 tbps  garlic-minced
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
6 plum tomatoes-diced - I used 2 pints of grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 c.chicken broth
1/4 tsp sugar - I added it
1/4 c. fresh basil-chopped

Heat 2 tsp oil in a large pan.  Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.  Add to skillet and brown on both sides.  Transfer the chicken to a platter.

Add 2 tsp oil to the pan.  Lower the heat and add garlic. Cook about two minutes, stirring often.

Add the vinegar, stirring to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the vinegar is almost evaporated.

Stir in the tomatoes, chicken broth and sugar. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add chicken back to pan, turn to cover with sauce.  Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in basil.

Serve over rice or egg noodles. For a lighter meal, serve the chicken with a side salad.

Here's how you can join us in the Secret Recipe Club!  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Looking to switch things up a bit for the holidays instead of the usual pumpkin pie? Try Paula Deen's recipe for pumpkin cheesecake.

This is one beautiful, creamy cheesecake! It's easy to make, too. I followed her directions, only adding more spices to it.

Pumpkin Cheesecake 
From Paula's Home Cooking/Celebrates cookbook

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon - I used 1 tbsp
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg - I used 1 tsp
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves - I used 1 tsp
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For crust:

In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

For filling:

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours. I made our cheesecake the night before and refrigerated it. Set it on the counter for 15 minutes before cutting it for easier handling.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving Tree

I hope that everyone will take some time today to stop and reflect on what they're really thankful for.

In our home, we have so much to be thankful for. You can read some of our "thankful" leaves on our Thanksgiving tree.

A Closer Look - Decorations by My Daughter, Alexis

A Closer Look - Decorations by Alexis

As much as I wish that we were still living in Pa., moving to this state has given me an opportunity to grow in many ways. I'm finding that I'm an independent woman with a strong voice and for that, I'm very thankful.

I'm so thankful for my husband and how hard he works to provide for us each and every day, through rain and snow, holidays and more...airports never sleep - and for that, I am thankful, too.

My kids. They fight like cats and dogs now most of time. For this, I'm thankful that they can scream and argue and chase each other around. They are happy, healthy, headstrong, witty, intelligent kids. The same, yet totally different.

I'm so thankful that my Mom made a full recovery from her health problems this past year. I'm thankful that she's strong-willed and a fighter and never gave up on things. I'm thankful for all of the doctors and nurses that were there to help through all of it and thankful to my sister for being there with her through all it, alone, because I couldn't be there to help out. Mom, we love you!

My Internet friends. I'm thankful for each and every person that I've met along the way. Friends, whether by face or keystroke, have a very special place in my heart.

However you choose to spend your day, I hope that it's wonderful!

My kids and I are cooking dinner. Afterwards, we have plans to bake some cookies and play board games (We're getting Dad involved this time!). Gotta sneak in some time for pumpkin cheesecake and football, too! (Hope those Dirty Birds get taken down!) And if we any energy left over after that, we might drag out a few Christmas decorations. To top things off, my son wants to go Black Friday shopping at Old Navy...let's see if I'm still awake for that one! ;)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cookie Carnival - September & October Reveals

It's that time again! Time to show you all of the delicious cookies baked for the Cookie Carnival for the months of September and October.

For September, there was a choice of baking:

Chewy Pecan Chocolate Bars
"Take the Cake Mix Cookie Challenge", in which the members could submit up to 3 recipes using cake mixes in the recipes.

Everyone chose to make take the cake mix cookie challenge!

Vivian @Let’s Try These made caramel corn cookies

Julie @ A Little Bit of Everything made chocolate chocolate chip cookies!

Katrina @ Baking and Boys For her first cookie, Katrina made devils food cake mix cookies

For her second cookies, she made pumpkin spice cake cookies

Christine @ Whimsical Bakery made cinnamon crinkles

Krista @ Meet the Swans made cinnamon spiced butter pecan cookies


What a wonderful round up! I love keeping cake mixes on hand to make cookies!

Please take a few minutes to visit these ladies' beautiful blogs!! They've been busy since making these cookies. Check 'em out to see what they've been up to!

For October, the two cookie choices were:

Danish Pastry Apple Bars

Fudgy Cats

This time of the year is busy for almost everyone. We only had a couple of people participate this month. THANK YOU, ladies, for baking with the Cookie Carnival this month!!

Michelle @ Chocolate Teapot made fudgy mummies

Vivian @ Let’s Try These made fudgy spiders

Give them some bloggie love by visiting them to see what they've been up to!


With the holidays upon us, I've decided to put the Cookie Carnival on hiatus until after the new year. Keep an eye out for it to debut again in February!

If you're looking for new cookie recipes for the holidays, checkout our Cookie Carnival Round Ups! There's 2 years worth of yummy recipes posted for you to choose from! 

Wishing you Happy Holidays filled with lots of cookie baking!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Crockpot Italian Beef Roast with Potatoes & Carrots

One of my all-time favorite meals is a beef roast with veggies cooked in a crockpot. It's a perfect meal for these chilly days we've been experiencing. This past Saturday was a busy day for us with indoor soccer practice, shopping and taking my daughter to a birthday bowling party... so coming home to a cooked dinner was so nice!

I cooked 2 - 2 1/2 lb beef roasts so that I would have enough meat left over to make beef noodle soup this week. Give a big cheer for a great 2 for 1 meal! 

If you think that meat won't brown in a crockpot, just check this out....  MMM! Tender and juicy!

The potatoes and carrots soak up all of the beef juices, rounding out the meal and making it delicious!

Crockpot Italian Beef Roast with Potatoes & Carrots

2 - 2 1/2 lb beef roasts, thawed if frozen
7 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
5 large carrots, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 pkg. Grill Mates Italian Herb Seasonings & Marinade
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 c. beef broth

This recipe completely filled my 6 qt. crockpot so I wouldn't recommend using a smaller unit unless you decrease the amounts of this recipe.

Into the crockpot, layer potatoes and top with carrots. Sprinkle half of the Italian herb seasoning pkg. onto the vegetables. Pour 1 c. of beef broth over all.

Lay the beef roasts side by side on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle with the remaining Italian herb seasonings and garlic powder. Pour remaining cup of beef broth over top of the meat and down the sides into the crock.

Cook on high for 5 - 5 1/2 hrs.

To Make Gravy

Remove the beef roast and the vegetables to a large platter. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Leave all of the broth and juices in the crockpot.

Stir 3 tbsp. cornstarch into 1/2 c. beef broth. Whisk this mixture into the broth that's left in the crockpot, stirring constantly until smooth. Cook for 5 minutes until the gravy starts to thicken.

Serve immediately with the roast and vegetables.

***Extra Meals***

Any leftover meat and potatoes can be made into beef noodle soup.


The potatoes and carrots can be whipped together for a great topping to shepard's pie or beef pot pie that's made from the left over beef and gravy.

Linking up to:

A Bowl Full of Lemons

Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins

I love gingerbread and I love pumpkin muffins. Combine the two and you have a wonderfully moist, delicious treat. Great for breakfast, packing into lunch bags or for dessert topped with a little whipped cream, applesauce or ice cream!

This recipe was posted at by a friend of mine who goes by "cat lover" on the forums. She turned her recipe into a cake. I made muffins from the batter. The only thing that I changed was to add a little more spices to the batter. Either way, it's great!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins

1 - 16 oz can pumpkin
4 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup light molasses
1/3 cup water
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat at low speed for 30 seconds, stopping to scrape the bowl often. Beat at medium speed 3 minutes, again stopping to scrape the bowl.

Line muffin tins with paper liners. Spoon into paper liners and fill to the top of the cup - I used a large ice cream scoop to fill the cups. Do not level off evenly. The muffins will round out when they are baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the middle of a muffin comes out clean - check often so that you do not overbake.

For an extra sweet treat, top with whipped cream, warm apple sauce or ice cream.

Makes 30 muffins.

Linking up to:

Jane Deere Fusion Fridays

A Bowl Full of Lemons

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