Pumpkin Bread

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I usually leave the recipe posting to my sister, Lara, who seems to have a little too much fun cooking and blogging if you ask me, but today I am having a grumpy day (being woke up four times in the night by a bored four-year-old will do that), so I've decided to bake. It's a little sad that baking (and eating the finished product) is like a panacea for all my problems, but it's true. This recipe here is our family's favorite pumpkin bread recipe and is sure to brighten up a dreary autumn day with its pumpkin-y autumn flavor, moist texture, and the ever so important CHOCOLATE! We usually make them as muffins, but the loaves are fun for sharing with friends. I usually use whole wheat flour and sometimes replace some of the oil with applesauce, which is still very good.

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:
3 cups sugar
1 can (16-oz.) pumpkin
3-1/2 cups flour ( I use part whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup oil (or applesauce to save fat & calories)
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 - 2 cups chocolate chips

Cream all ingredients together and put into greased and floured loaf pans (2). Bake 1 hour at 350°. We actually rarely make them as whole loaves, but make them in muffin tins instead. It cuts way down on the baking time and makes it easier to dole out to the kids. For muffins bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes.



Thai Beef Salad

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm always on the look-out for healthy and easy meals I think my family will like. This is one I found in a recent Taste of Home magazine that caught my eye for its nice presentation and well-roundedness. My kids would love the noodles, my husband would love the beef, and I loved that it was healthy and easy. Of course things don't always necessarily go as planned with cooking!
While did all end up eating our portions (even the younger kids), it definitely didn't go on any of our favorite's lists either. We found that the dressing was a tad bit too sour for our liking, so if I ever made it again, I would probably end up finding a recipe for a savory peanut sauce to use instead of the vinaigrette dressing. We actually ended up eating the leftovers without any dressing at all and with all that hearty beef and crisp red peppers we didn't miss it at all.
Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:
8 oz. uncooked spaghetti
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup peanut or canola oil
2 Tbs. lemon or lime juice (I used lime)
1 Tbs. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh gingerroot
1-1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce (optional)
1-1/2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1 pkg. (5-oz.) spring mix salad greens
1 small sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
4 green onions, chopped
1 lb. deli roast beef, cut into strips (I had the deli slice it 1/4-inch thick for this recipe)
2 Tbs. chopped salted peanuts, optional

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients.

Drain spaghetti and rinse in cold water; toss with 1/2 cup dressing. Place in a large serving dish.

In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, red peppers, and green onions. Drizzle with remaining dressing; toss to coat. Arrange lettuce mixture over spaghetti. Top with roast beef; sprinkle with peanuts, if desired.



Fresh Pesto and Tomato Pasta

Sunday, October 25, 2009

With its fresh pesto and tomato flavors I knew immediately that we would love this recipe I found over at the Sisters' Cafe. The kids thought it was such fun helping me collect 5 whole cups of basil leaves from our plant to make the pesto and ended up loving it as much as we adults did. Serve it up with homemade bread sticks and a salad for a simple, healthy dinner!

(I used a bit too much of the pasta water in thinning mine, so it didn't turn out as green as I'd expected. The flavor, however, was still fantastic!)

The ingredients:Click here for printable recipe.

1 cup basil pesto (I used this recipe from Sisters' Cafe)
1 lb. penne pasta
6-8 cups diced fresh tomatoes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Basil leaves
Shredded Parmesan cheese

Prepare basil pesto. Store in refrigerator or freeze until ready to serve (see link above for a great recipe!)

Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Just before draining the pasta into a colander, remove ~ 1/2 cup of the pasta water; set aside. Drain the pasta, put back into the pot, and then stir in the Basil Pesto and the reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, to create a sauce. Add diced tomatoes and toss to coat thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer onto individual serving plates and garnish with fresh basil leaves and shredded Parmesan cheese. Makes 8 servings.



Giveaway Winner!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

And the winner is....

Heidi who said:

"Congrats! Keep the wonderful recipes coming :) What a great giveaway. I don't know if I want the pastry mat or the pie plate more.... I guess if I have to pick I will say the pie plate because you would laugh if you saw my poor pathetic pie plate (my good one was left at my moms house when I brought a pie and now she says it was hers!!)"

Congratulations Heidi. I'll be in touch to get your address, so I can get your new stoneware pie plate sent to you soon.

FYI (a little about my methodology): I printed a list of all the comments off, removed the ineligible entrants (people related to me or who did not want to enter), then each entry was assigned a number, then we used the ever faithful random.org to pick a random number for us.


Honey-Lime Chicken with Warm Black Beans and Spinach Salad

Thursday, October 22, 2009

After the last few posts, it may appear that all we ever eat at our house is junk food night and day, but I actually do cook dinner every night too. :) This meal I tried from a church cookbook was one of those meals that qualified as healthy AND good in my book. The original recipe called for salmon so I've included those instructions in here, but since my husband is very allergic to seafood I've substituted it with thinly sliced boneless skinless chicken breast tenders instead. The meat was well-flavored and tender and devoured by kids and adults alike, while the corn/bean mixture packed a little bit of a punch with the crushed red pepper and scared off the kids. Next time I will probably halve the crushed red pepper amount (or omit it) for the kids' sake.

We served this meal to a friend with vegetarian leanings and he absolutely LOVED the corn/bean salad. With the kids just wanting to eat the meat, it was a good mix for both of them!

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

4 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
Juice of 2 limes
3 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
6 chicken tenders (or salmon fillets)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 box (10-oz.) frozen corn (or can)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 can (15-oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
2-3 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
6 cups baby spinach, chopped

Preheat skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onions, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, salt, and pepper (the spice). Saute 3 minutes. While the onions are cooking, preheat a medium skillet over med-high heat with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. In a shallow dish or plastic bag, combine juice of 1 lime, honey, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add chicken breasts (or salmon fillets) to lime-honey mix and toss to coat thoroughly. Add seasoned chicken/salmon to hot skillet and cook until just cooked through: 3-5 minutes on each side.

To the cooked onions, add bell peppers and corn and cook another minute.
(I decided to throw in an orange pepper too)

Add chicken stock and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add black beans and cook until heated through. Remove skillet from heat and add juice of second lime, cilantro, and spinach. Toss to wilt spinach. Serve salmon/chicken on top of warm black bean and corn salad. Serves 6.



Cooking with Kids (Halloween): Scarecrow Cookies

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

As I sit here typing this recipe up I'm starting to sense a theme in my mothering style. Apparently I like to entertain my kids with cooking and creating food. I've even got them perusing my food magazines and circling recipes they want to try. Hehe! I guess that's not SUCH a bad thing, except that all they ever want me to make is goodies!

This cute recipe (from Taste of Home) was one the kids saw in the magazine and begged and begged for me to buy the ingredients for. Since it's never a good idea leaving an entire batch of any goody lying around our house (especially when we always seem to have a plethora), I agreed only on the premise that we would make them to share with friends.

That was good enough motivation for my kids. As soon as I had all the ingredients in the house they eagerly decorated these cute little scarecrows and had a great time. Surprisingly not a single crow bothered us while we made them either. ;)

**If you haven't seen my giveaway yet, be sure to go check it out before it ends this Friday 10/23. **

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

1 batch of sugar cookies, cut into 3-inch round shapes and baked (find my favorite sugar cookie recipe here)
1 box of Frosted Mini-Wheats (or All-Bran) (for the hair)
1 bag candy corn (for the nose and hat decorations)
Chocolate sprinkles (to make the stitched mouth)
Sugar wafer cookies (for the hat), cut into 2-inch and 3-inch pieces
Mini M&M's or mini chocolate chips (for the eyes)
Vanilla frosting

Generously frost each of the cookies.

Then place the 3-inch slice of sugar wafer as the bottom brim of the hat leaving enough room right above it for the top rim to stick to the frosting as well.

Next add the shredded mini wheats or All-Bran for the hair ( All-Bran is what the original recipe called for and actually looked really cool, but I wanted to use something that my kids would actually eat.)

Then add the mini m&m's or chocolate chips for the eyes.

Place the candy corn nose into place.

Arrange the chocolate sprinkles into a stitched mouth shape. (This step was way too hard for all of my kids except the twelve-year-old, so most of the cookies just had sprinkles in the general shape of mouths {as seen below}).

Decorate the hat with gel or candy corn pieces as desired.



Cooking with Kids (Halloween): Easy Spider Cupcakes

Monday, October 19, 2009

The month of October turns into one big giant sugar fest for our family. Two of the kids have birthdays this month, which means that in addition to the normal sugary treats of October, we also end up making cupcakes, cookies, and birthday cakes to celebrate their birthdays.

This past week was a particularly crazy one for me, so when it came time to make treats for my son to share with his first grade class, I ended up just showing the three younger kids (9, 7, & 4-years-old) the pattern from the Taste of Home magazine, and let them go to town decorating the cupcakes completely by themselves (with strict instructions not to lick the knife).

They were as simple as could be for them to do and turned out completely adorable. I only wish I had thought to take a few pictures of the process....

Click here to see a menu of all of our Halloween recipes in one place! 

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:
Oreo cookies (1 per cupcake)
Shoestring licorice, cut to about 3-inches long (the original recipe called for black, but our store didn't sell black and my kids don't like it anyway, so we used the red)
Orange or chocolate frosting
M & M's (2 per cupcake)
Cupcakes, baked in muffin papers

Generously frost the cupcakes with orange frosting.  (this is a fun job for the kids to do themselves, but if you're worried about mess, you can have them pre-frosted)

Cut shoestring licorice into 3-inch segments and separate.

Place 4 segments on each side of the cupcake opposite each other (pressing them lightly into the frosting) .

Press Oreo gently in the middle of the cupcake (covering the tops of the legs).

Dip each M & M into a little frosting, then place on the Oreo to be the eyes.

Now that's a spider you won't have to squash!


Don't miss a single recipe at Recipe Shoebox.  Sign up for free email updates on the right. 


One Year Blogoversary/ 200 Posts / Giveaway/ Apple Pie Recipe and Tutorial!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

**NOTE:  This contest is now closed**

I was surprised when I came to write my "Blogoversary" post tonight to discover that not only is it the birthday of my blog today, but it's also my 200th post. Wow! How is that for serendipity?

I started this blog exactly one year ago today in hopes that it would become a way for my sisters, my mom, and I to share and organize our favorite recipes. It got off to a slow start with mostly me posting all my old stand-by recipes while my audience consisted of mainly of people related to me. Since then it has become a hobby I love and a motivation for me to keep trying new recipes. Me and my family have really benefited with the discovery of new favorite recipes and many new friends in the process. Thank you to all of you for your support!

Over the development of this blog, I have often felt badly that I posted all my old favorites first thing when not many people were looking at the blog and now most people are finding my new recipe experiments and not so much my tried and true favorites! In honor of my blogoversary and 200th post I am reposting one of my very favorite recipes--my famous apple pie recipe. Of course I'm not really famous outside my circle of friends for it, but I have won bake-offs with it and been promised a place in heaven by my bishop after he tasted it, if that tells you anything.

Perfectly flaky crust and tender, flavor filled apple pie...if only reaching eternal salvation were this easy. :)
Read to the end for my special 200th post/blogoversary giveaway!!!!

Click here for printable recipe
Pie Crust--this crust was a Maryland State Fair winner from 1979 (obviously not my entry since I was in first grade that year). After experimenting with a million different ones over the years, this is by far my favorite (and everyone else's too)!
The ingredients:
1 cup Crisco (I like butter flavored Crisco)
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg + enough ice water to make ½ cup liquid
Cut shortening into flour and salt until mostly the size of peas (DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH! Big clumps are not only okay, but desirable. You do not want to dough to start sticking together at all).
For the egg/water mixture I put an egg in a half cup measuring cup and add ice water to the top.
Make a slight well in the flour/salt/shortening mixture, add the egg/ice water mixture and stir with fork until just barely clinging together. Knead with hands for 15-20 seconds just bringing in some of the loose crumbs. (Only do this until the dough is just holding together, you do not want want to overwork the dough). I think the crust handles best when used right away, but you could cover and refrigerate the dough at this point. Yields two to three 9” crusts. (I always get two, but my friend Karen always gets three. I guess it depends on how thickly you roll out the dough.)

Divide the dough into two equal sections. Then on a generously floured pie mat (mine's from Pampered Chef, although if you look at the link they're even cooler now than the one I have. I love that you can just pop it straight in the dishwasher to get it clean.) or a piece of wax paper. Use your hands to pat the dough down until relatively flat. You'll want to flip it over a few times in the process of flattening, reflouring the surface slightly each time.

Don't be scared to flour the surface VERY generously.

Making sure you start with both sides of the dough and the mat well floured, use the rolling pin to form the crust into a somewhat circular shape. Make sure that you rotate the whole mat a few times while rolling out the dough to ensure that the thickness is even throughout. (Do NOT be alarmed about streaks of shortening you see in the process of rolling out. This is normal and desirable. A pie class I went to said that those streaks are what make it flaky.)
(Never mind the skiwampus shape of this one, I pulled the edges of the V on the right together to repair it. Even after years and years of making pie crusts---crusts still rip, stick, or end up slightly off shaped occasionally. Practice makes it easier to prevent and to fix.)

After rolling it out to your desired thickness, carefully brush off excess flour and lift the entire mat into a centered position over your pie pan and release gently into the pan.

Be careful when removing the pie mat/wax paper, so that you can try to minimize any rips or sticky spots in the crust. (Making a mess is inevitable during this process, so don't stress!)Don't flute or trim edges yet, unless you are making a single crust pie. You want to leave it all hanging out until you add the filling and top crust (I forgot to take pictures of doing the bottom crust, but needless to say it's all the same, other than there isn't anything in the pan yet.)

Whew! The hardest part is done! Now it's onto the filling part...

No Fail Apple Pie--seriously this is SO easy!
1 ½ cups sugar, divided
¼ cup flour
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. ginger
6-7 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (no substitutions--you want tart, firm apples and Granny Smith are the best) **SEE NOTE BELOW ABOUT CHOPPING.
1 Tbs. butter
Start with the pie crust rolled out into a 9” pie pan. Combine ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup flour, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and sprinkle over the uncooked bottom crust (this step seems weird to a lot of people, but I promise it turns out fine. I forgot to take a picture, but basically you'll just pour the flour, sugar, and salt mixture into the empty pie crust and stir it lightly with your fingers to evenly distribute it).
**If you don't have an apple/peeler/corer yet like this one from Pampered Chef, I highly recommend purchasing one. Not only will your kids love the thin spiral slices it makes, but it makes the apples evenly sliced in your pie. I get comments all the time on how uniform the apples are and how that makes each one perfectly cooked. If you don't have one, then just try to chop them as evenly as possible. **
Then fill crust with half of the apples. Sprinkle on another ½ cup sugar, then add the rest of the apples so they mound an inch and half or so over the edge.
Combine the remaining sugar (½ cup), pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in small bowl. Pour evenly over the top of the apples. Cut butter up into small clumps and place evenly over the top of the apples and spices.
Roll out top crust and place over pie (using crust directions from above). Brush extra flour away lightly and cut an inch from the edge, pinch top and bottom layers together, then tuck and form as desired,(I use the extra dough to cut out seasonal shapes with cookie cutters to adorn the crust).

Brush lightly with milk.
Sprinkle evenly with approximately 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
Make sure to poke a few holes in the top to allow steam to escape. These can be artistically place to enhance the beauty of the pie.

Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375° and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Watch the pie carefully the last 20 minutes or so, being ready to place some foil over edges or top if they are browning too quickly. The filling will bubble out slightly when the pie is done...be patient!

It's best if you let it cool completely, then reheat before serving. Serve warm with cool whip or vanilla ice cream. Good luck and feel free to email me with any specific questions.



Whew! You made it through my novel---Now for the giveaway!

One winner will get to choose one of the following pie making implements from the Pampered Chef:

Apple/Peeler/Corer--peels, cores, and slices your apples into kid appealing, perfectly even, spiral slices. My kids have actually taken over peeling and chopping the apples, because they think it's so fun to do. And even if you don't have any little helpers in your house, you will find that this will save you oodles and oodles of time in preparing the apples for apple pie.
Pastry Mat: This nifty little silicone mat is SO nice for rolling out dough of any kind. We use ours (which is an older version of the same thing) for pie crust, sugar cookies, bread dough, and biscuits. I love that it's flexible, no slip, will roll right around my rolling pin for storage, AND will pop right into the dishwasher for cleaning. With all the measurements right on there, you'll never have to estimate size again. Ours is several years old, very well used, and still looks brand new. You will love this!

Deep Dish Stoneware Pie Plate: I ♥ Pampered Chef stoneware!!! This is the best material for baked goods bar none. I went to a pie making class with a professional chef and she said ceramic stoneware is far and above the best material, metal next (even disposable pans), and the worst is glass because it'll make your baked goods soggy. I've given away most of my glass pie pans now. I have lots of other stoneware pans as well, which I love, but this pie plate is one of my favorites. I use it for my pies (of course), but I also love it for when I just have a few items that still need to be baked (the last few cookies of a batch or something) and I don't want put the whole big pan in the oven.

Now all you need to do is leave me a comment telling me which one you want and for extra entries:

~ Subscribe to my blog or follow me via Google Friends Connect (on the right) and leave me a separate comment. Current subscribers/followers can add an extra entry, too.

~Blog about it or email friends. Anything to share this contest. :) Leave me another separate comment telling me how you shared it.

~That would be up to THREE separate entries per person, just make sure you leave the separate comments.

This contest will end on Friday, October 23 at 11:00 pm EST. Open to residents of US and Canada only. Winner will be announced in a blogpost next Saturday 10/24. Good luck!

**NOTE:  This contest is now closed!**



Cooking with Kids (Halloween): Chocolate Mice

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This fun idea for Cooking with Kids came from my sister-in-law Karey's aunt Pat (got that?) who emailed me several weeks ago with some pictures. She had made them as a cute treat for a wedding she helped with and thought they would be fun for us to try and boy was she right! The kids had a fantastic time making these for Halloween and thought they were the cutest little treats EVER! They did end up a little on the messy side, but that didn't stem the kids' enthusiasm in the smallest degree. They'd be cute for a kids' party too. Click here to see some of my other fun Cooking with Kids ideas. Thanks Pat for a great idea!

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

Hershey Kisses
1 jar maraschino cherries
Dipping chocolate
slivered almonds
Frosting in contrasting color (so it'll stand out on the chocolate)

Melt dipping chocolate by placing in microwave for 90 seconds, taking care to stir well every thirty seconds.

Holding maraschino cherries by the stem, dip the cherry into the melted chocolate making sure you cover the entire cherry.

Dip the very bottom of the Hershey Kisses into the melted chocolate quickly attaching them to the dipped cherries.

Place cherry and kiss combination on wax paper and place the almond ears before the chocolate is set (the ears were too hard for the kids, so I had to help them and even I wasn't too successful at making them look nice).

After chocolate is set (you can place them in the fridge to speed up the process) pipe frosting "eyes" and "nose" onto each little mouse. You may need to use a toothpick to assist you in this process. Better put away the cat while you eat these cute little fellows!

If all that chocolate didn't give you enough of a sugar rush, then you may want to consider drinking the maraschino cherry juice to give you a jolt.



Caramel Rolls

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I am an impatient cook. I like things to move fast, which means that cooking bread can be a frustrating experience for me. I do like homemade bread, but since I usually cut down rising times and take any other short cut I can think of, my bread often does not reach its full potential.

Lucky for me I have my sister living with us for a while who is much more patient than I am. When she asked me if she could make us these caramel rolls one day I didn't have think hard about what my answer would be...yes, yes, and how quickly will they be done?

She patiently followed the recipe perfectly, set the timer to make sure it rose long enough, and tediously took her time creating each perfectly shaped roll and the results were perfectly soft and delectable. As imagined, they were quite sweet, but the texture was oh so perfect and I can't wait for her to offer to make them again!

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:
2 Tbs. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1-1/2 cups lukewarm milk (95-100 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup oil
6-3/4 to 7-1/2 cups flour, divided
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream or half & half

Prepare caramel sauce first, by combining in a medium saucepan butter, brown sugar, and cream. Bring to boil; cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; pour sauce into greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Cool completely at room temperature.

Next dissolve yeast is warm water; let rise. In a large mixing bowl, combine lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, eggs, oil, and 3-3/4 cups of the flour; add yeast mixture, mixing until smooth. Knead dough with up to 3-3/4 cups of the remaining flour; place into greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover; let rise until doubled.

Roll out dough into a 15x6-inch rectangle. Spread with softened butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up into a long skinny tube; pinch shut. slice dough into rolls, 3/4-inch thick. Place dough, face down, into prepared pan with caramel sauce; let rise. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done. Let cool 10 minutes then invert onto serving tray. I spooned whatever caramel sauce remained in the pan over the rolls. Makes 12.


Check out Sweet Rolls that Rock for lots more yummy looking sweet roll ideas!

Sweet Rolls that Rock


About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

  © Blogger template On The Road by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP