Zesty Pumpkin Soup with Orange Sour Cream

How is it that just the image of a pumpkin can evoke all the excitement and expectation of the fall season? I really do love pumpkins. I love their interesting shape and bright color. I love picking them out, carving them and decorating with them … and then roasting the seeds! 🙂

I think it’s pretty appropriate that the first soup I serve in my new pumpkin soup tureen is a PUMPKIN soup! This Zesty Pumpkin Soup recipe is one of my all time favorites from the Big Red Cookbook, and it is actually pretty simple.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tblsp butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 15 oz solid pack pumpkin
  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 1 tbsp triple sec
  • 3 tbsp orange juice

Directions:

1) Mince the garlic. Chop the onion. Don’t cry.

2) In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add curry powder, salt, coriander, and red pepper. Cook for 1 minute.

3) In a large soup pot, heat the chicken broth to a boil. Add the spice and onion mixture. Boil gently, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Your house will smell sooo good! 🙂

4) Stir in the pumpkin and half & half. Cook for 5 minutes – do not boil.

5) Transfer to a blender or use a hand blender to puree until creamy.

6) In a small bowl, mix sour cream, triple sec, and orange juice. Drizzle the Orange Sour Cream over the soup as desired.

Zesty Pumpkin Soup

Zesty Pumpkin Soup

No lie — this is one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted. It has just the right amount of kick and so much flavor. I could probably eat the entire batch on my own. It’s really good with some nice sourdough bread!

Zesty Pumpkin Soup with Orange Sour Cream

Zesty Pumpkin Soup with Orange Sour Cream

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Fall is for Soup!

Let’s start this post on an adorable note. Look at my new salt and pepper shakers!!!

They were $0.99 each at Cracker Barrel!

They were $0.99 each at Cracker Barrel!

Pumpkins, turning leaves, cooler weather, Halloween, Thanksgiving – there are so many things to love about Fall! And soup is definitely on my Things I Love About Fall list. That being said, I think you can guess how excited I am about this:

My first soup tureen!

My first soup tureen!

My mother just got a new pumpkin soup tureen from Pier1, so I inherited this beauty! Now, I have to make soup. There’s just no way around it. 🙂

  1. Zesty Pumpkin Soup with Orange Sour Cream
  2. Chicken & Gnocchi Soup
  3. Bratwurst & Beer Cheese Soup

There are some trusted favorites, and some brand new recipes I’ve never tried. Stay tuned over the next several weeks as I cook my way through this list!

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

It is the 1st of September. That means I can finally justify cooking and baking with apples and pumpkin and cinnamon and cloves! I don’t care that I live in South Carolina, and the temperatures are still hovering in the 90s. I am ready for Fall, goshdarnit!

Caramel apples are one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s definitely a nostalgic thing for me. I still vividly remember driving out to Randy’s Farm in Sleepy Hollow (when we lived in Illinois) to pick out pumpkins. They always had sliced apples covered with caramel and cashews!

Caramel and cashew is a delicious combination. My mother took that one step further and created her famous Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples.

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

They are delicious and messy — you need a plate, knife, and roll of paper towels to eat them, but no Fall season is complete without them! 🙂 Even when I went away to college, I got a care package every October with my dad’s Caramel Corn and mom’s Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples!

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples:

  • 5 Granny Smith Apples
  • Kraft Caramels, 2 bags
  • Dove Dark Chocolates, 1 bag
  • Lightly salted cashews, chopped
  • Parchment paper
  • Skewers

Directions: 

It is important to do the prep work BEFORE you start melting anything! 

1) Cover a cookie sheet (or two) with parchment paper. Make sure you have fridge and freezer space ready!

2) Chop up the cashews and place in a shallow bowl.

3) Wash and de-stem the apples. Slice in half and insert skewers. I really like cutting the apples in half for two reasons. One, they’re easier to bite. Two, you have a better caramel-apple ratio! 🙂

4) Un-wrap the caramels and put in medium saucepan. Add 4 tablespoons of water. Heat on low until melted, stirring regularly. Use a wooden spoon. Spatulas have a tendency to melt when heating caramel or chocolate. So I’ve heard. From a friend of a friend.

5) When the caramel is melted, spoon over an apple half. Let the caramel drip off the edges — and don’t worry about covering the cut side of the apple. Place on the parchment paper, cut side down, and immediately place in freezer.

REPEAT until all the apples are covered on the skin side.

6) Kept the leftover caramel warm while the apples set, about 2 minutes. Then spoon caramel onto the cut side of the apples. There should now be a chilled edge of caramel to keep the warm caramel from sliding off the flat edge.

7) Take a handful of chopped cashews and cover the warm caramel. Press the cashews into the caramel lightly. Put the apple back on the parchment paper, nut side down. Return apples to freezer for 2 minutes, keeping the remaining caramel warm.

8) Now use the leftover caramel to drizzle over the nut-free sides of the apples. Then sprinkle the remaining cashews over the drizzled caramel. Return to freezer while you prepare the chocolate.

9) Unwrap the Dove Chocolates and warm in a medium saucepan over low heat. When melted, use a spoon to drizzle over the chilled apples. They should look like this:

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

Store in the refrigerator. You can wrap them up in wax paper or plastic baggies. That’s if any are left after you finish making them!

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

Absolute HEAVEN!

Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting

I always buy bananas with the best intentions of having one each morning for a healthy, well-rounded breakfast. And then I eat a giant bowl of Lucky Charms. :/ Luckily, over-ripe bananas are perfect for banana bread!

I found this recipe on Pinterest. I do love a good ol’ banana bread, but I was excited to try a different take on a favorite. I’ll admit, the frosting was really the selling point!

Banana Bread Bars:

  • 1-1/2 c. light brown sugar
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

The original recipe called for regular sugar and didn’t include cinnamon.

Brown Butter Frosting:

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. milk

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.

2) In a large bowl, mix the sugar, sour cream, butter, and eggs. Stir in the mashed bananas and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Then, add in walnuts.

3) Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown, and the middle is firm when you shake the pan.

4) While the Banana Bread Bars are baking, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Let the butter turn a light brown and remove from heat immediately. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth.

I had to use 4 tablespoons of milk to get it to a spreadable consistency.

5) When the Banana Bread Bars are done, remove from the oven and immediately spread the Brown Butter Frosting over them.

This is a treat which requires a glass of milk to consume — rich, and sweet, and delicious!

Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting.

Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting.

Devil’s Food Cake Cookies

I’m back! Apologies for the hiatus!! I’ve been busy with work, and road trips, and birthdays, and pulling weeds in my yard. Speaking of birthdays, this recipe goes out to a certain brother-in-law whose love of chocolate rivals my own. I scrapped together what I had in my cupboard, and it turned out pretty darn delicious!

Happy Birthday, Jamie! 🙂

Ingredients: Yields 24 large cookies.

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 16.5 oz Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 12 oz bag of mini chocolate chips

Directions:

1) In a large bowl, combine the butter, egg, and vanilla.

2) Stir in the cake mix, adding heavy whipping cream midway.

3) When the cake mix is completely incorporated, add the chocolate chips.

4) Bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes.

5) Cool 2 minutes on the cookie sheets, then remove to wire racks.

Ooey-gooey-chocolate goodness!

Ooey-gooey-chocolate goodness!

The cookies are really soft and moist. This is a really easy cookie recipe, and I’m so happy with how they turned out!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Recently, a friend and co-worker of mine totally made my morning by bringing these delicious cookies to work. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are often overlooked and passed up for something chocolate, or for a more complicated recipe. Sometimes, we forget just how wonderful a simple, tried and true recipe can be.

This cookie is flavorful, has some healthy ingredients (always a plus), and it is SO easy to make! The recipe for this cookie comes from Smitten Kitchen, a blog I will definitely be following from now on!

The recipe yields about 2 dozen small cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups  rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup  raisins

My friend made her cookies with coconut oil instead of butter, which I have never tried before. This recipe was a great test cookie for the task, and I was very pleased with the results. I may be turning to this substitution more often when I am baking. 🙂

Directions:

1) In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

2) In a separate bowl, combine and whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.

3) Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Add in the oats and raisins. The coconut oil has a tendency to hold lumps. My solution was to hand-mix the batter after all the ingredients are incorporated; that way I could smoosh out any remaining lumps of coconut oil.

4) Shape the dough into small balls, and let chill while you pre-heat your oven to 350°F.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough

5) Place 6 balls onto a cookie sheet line with parchment paper. Bake for 11-12 minutes.

The best thing about these cookies is they are crispy on the outside, but still soft on the inside.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This recipe is definitely being added to my big red cookbook. 🙂 And if you wanted something sweeter, you could add some chocolate chips — or I’ve even seen oatmeal raisin cookies with M&Ms in them!

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

I made these on Sunday morning, and I would highly recommend them for the breakfast in bed tray next Mother’s Day! 😉 The thing I love most about this recipe is how it combines two of my favorite comfort foods: pancakes and cinnamon rolls. See the original post and recipe here!

Cinnamon Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

To make the cinnamon filling, mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Transfer the mixture to a ziplock baggie and put aside to thicken. It helps to “massage” the baggie occasionally, even though it makes you feel silly!

Cinnamon filling.

Cinnamon filling.

Cream Cheese Glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the glaze, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove and add the cream cheese, whisking until it is almost smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar, and then add in the vanilla extract last. I also added a little milk to thin out the glaze and make it easier to drizzle.

Delicious cream cheese glaze!

Delicious cream cheese glaze!

Lately, I’ve been using this recipe for pancakes that came with my Star Wars pancake molds. 🙂

Pancakes:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the pancake batter, whisk two eggs in a medium bowl until frothy. Add the milk, melted butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.

Directions:

1) Heat a large, nonstick skillet on medium heat. Use butter or vegetable oil to grease the pan. Add the batter, and reduce the heat to medium low. When your pancake begins to form bubbles, get ready to add the cinnamon filling.

Adding the cinnamon filling.

Adding the cinnamon filling.

2) Snip the corner of the ziplock baggie. Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling in a swirl. Don’t go too close to the edges of the pancake! If you’re feeling creative, you could try some alternate designs!

You can taste the love!

You can taste the love!

3) Cook the pancake 2 minutes on low heat, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake. Flip and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. When you remove the pancake, make sure to wipe the pan clean with a paper towel for the next one.

4) Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of glaze!

Cinnamon Roll Pancake with Cream Cheese Glaze

Cinnamon Roll Pancake with Cream Cheese Glaze

Needless to say, they tasted as good as they looked. I especially enjoyed the cream cheese glaze, a lovely alternative to always having syrup on your pancakes! 🙂