Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apple and Pecans and Pumpkins...Oh My!

Holy cow, what a week...and it's only Wednesday. I have been studying, studying, studying since Friday in preparation for exams this week...well, actually for exams today, because they happened to fall on the same day. My day didn't start out the greatest; I haven't gotten much sleep in the last few days and I dragged my near-comatose butt out of bed to find cat throw up in front of my door. Yummy. I cleaned it up, turned around, and promptly stepped into another pile. Good morning! Ugh. I talked down my up-chuck reflex and headed about my business to get ready for class.

Today's schedule consisted of giving a powerpoint presentation to my classmates about small cell lung cancer, followed by an exam in my Infectious Diseases class, followed by my midterm lab practical for History and Physical Exam. I knocked my presentation out of the park; almost all of my classmates stopped me later and told me how much they liked it and how clear it was. WAHOO! I hate those things...I get soooo nervous. I followed that with a 90% on my first exam and a 100% on my lab practical....I guess all that studying paid off!

I came home, and to celebrate my awesome day, I decided to bake some treats. I stopped by the farm stand I mentioned a few posts ago and bought some more Honeycrisp apples and a baking pumpkin. I've been craving something sweet all day, so here's what I came up with:

Apple-Pecan Pumpkin Cookies
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cup oats
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans, chopped
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 medium apples, cored and chopped into dime-sized pieces

Blend together butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Beat in egg, vanilla and pumpkin.
In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, raisins, pecans and flour. Stir into pumpkin mixture. Add the apple pieces and mix well.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's All Downhill From Here....

This may look like nothing, but is NOT is a gray hair. MY gray hair. I came home after class to find this little f-er sticking straight out like "ooooo look at me!"

I blame PA school.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Harvest Time

I went home for a bit today to target shoot with Daddy-o, and on my way back to my apartment, I stopped at a local produce stand. I looooooooooove fall for a million reasons, but the fresh produce has to be in the top 10. I bought a couple candy onions, a red onion, a couple acorn squash and 4 huge honey crisp apples.

I could smell the sweet scent coming off the apples the whole ride home...delicious! As soon as I got home, I got to work making myself dinner with my fresh produce. Here's what I came up with:

Honey Dijon Harvest Chicken
4 chicken breasts
2 small acorn squash, peeled and cubed
1 small candy onion, cut in slices
1/4 red onion, cut in slices
2 large apples, cubed
2 boxes stuffing
1 can chicken broth
4tbs Dijon mustard
4tbs honey
5 sprigs fresh thyme

Spray a 9x13 glass dish with cooking spray. Place the chicken in the bottom of the dish. Layer the apples, then the squash, then the onions, over top of the chicken.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, thyme, and HALF of the chicken broth. Evenly pour over the layers.

Pour the two boxes of stuffing into the dish, spreading evenly. Mix the other half of the chicken broth with 3/4 cup water and drizzle over the stuffing, making sure all is moist. Add pats of butter evenly around the dish.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. The squash should be soft, but the apples and onions should still have a slight crunch.

I loved this dish because it has the meat and sides all in one, and it was soooooo tasty! I love buying local produce...helps the farmers and it tastes so good. I served my plate up with a heaping portion and a glass of wine. Perfect fall meal!

Lunch with Dad

I only have one class in the mornings on Mondays so I invited Dad over to have lunch with me this last week. Here's the recipe from our delicious lunch (if I do say so myself):

Pecan-Breaded Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Chicken
4 chicken breasts, hammered flat
2tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 tbs garlic powder
1 cup spinach, chopped
I can medium artichoke hearts
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 sour cream
1/2 shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup pecans, crushed

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the chopped onions. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes and then add the spinach and garlic powder. Cook for 5 more minutes. Add the cream cheese and sour cream. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add cheeses and stir. Spoon onto the chicken. Roll up the chicken and secure with toothpicks.

Cover the chicken rolls in crushed pecans. Spray a 9x13 glass dish with cooking spray. Place the chicken in the dish and cover with the remaining pecans.

Bake for 30 minutes on 350 degree or until chicken is cooked through.

I forgot to take a photo when the chicken was done baking, but it was tasty, I can tell you that much. I served it with some garlic, sea salt and cracked pepper seasoned, fresh green beans.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Be Friendly!

Hey girlwithredsuitcase,

I'd love to see what your blog is all about... :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Easy Cheesy Dinner

Italian Beef with Spinach
1lb extra lean ground beef
1 quart stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup onion, chopped
10 fresh sweet basil leaves
garlic powder
1 cup spinach, chopped

In a large skillet, place the beef and onions. Add the salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. As the beef is cooking on medium heat, make sure to break the meat into small pieces. Tear the basil into small pieces and and add it to the skillet. When the meat is fully cooked and the onions are soft, drain the excess grease. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Also add the spinach and mix well.Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the spinach is cooked through. Serve topped with shredded mozzarella. Also good over pasta.


The last few mornings I have been trying to get up at a decent hour and make myself a well-rounded breakfast. Today's dish was so tasty, I just had to share it with you.

Spinach and Onion Omelet
2 eggs
3 tbs milk
1/2 cup spinach, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
mozzarella cheese

In a small frying pan, drizzle about 2 tbs of EVOO. Add the chopped onion and cook on medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, crack the eggs into a bowl and add the milk. Whip with a fork until blended.

Add the spinach to the onions and continue cooking for another 5 minutes so that the spinach is soft and the onions are starting to brown. Place the veggies in a bowl and set aside.

Empty the egg mixture into the warm pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes or until the egg is well browned on the bottom and flips easily. Remove the lid, flip the egg and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Let the cheese melt, about one minute, and then spoon the veggies onto one half on the egg. Fold the egg in half and then transfer to a plate.

It Sure Smells Like Fall....

FALL IS FINALLY HERE! The weather is finally starting to cool down; it's been breezy and cool enough to wear long sleeves and be comfortable. My new Food magazine came in the mail last week and it was crammed full of fall recipes...Oh how I love fall!

I decided to make a couple recipes from the magazine, but true to my own style, I could resist changing the recipes. So, here are my renditions of some of the magazines fabulous fall dishes...

Loaded Butternut Squash Soup
2 medium Butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbs sugar
1 stick salted butter
8 cups water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 loaf Pumpernickel bread
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic powder
Shredded Parmesan

Melt the butter in a large pot, add chopped onion and cook until soft, 5-10 minutes. Add the cubed squash and the sugar and stir until well mixed and the squash is glazed. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and continue to cook for 25 minutes, making sure the squash is cooked through and soft.

While waiting for the squash to cook, turn on the broiler in your oven and take out several pieces of Pumpernickel bread. Using a bread knife, cut the slices into small cubes. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and then place the bread pieces on the sheet. Drizzle with the EVOO, and sprinkle with a little sea salt and some garlic powder. Place under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the cubes are crunchy and toasted.

When the squash is cooked, while working in small batches, slowly transfer all of the cooked squash and water base to a blender or food processor. Blend of the soup until it is thick and creamy. Return to the original pan. Set to low heat and add the heavy cream and salt/pepper to taste.

Top the soup with the croutons and some shredded Parmesan.
In this picture, I also added some crispy prosciutto and fried onions, but found that the extra flavors weren't even necessary.

As a precautionary side note....don't put the squash peelings down the garbage disposal, or your sink will look like this:

Pinto Bean Pasta Fagioli
5 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 quart jar canned tomatoes
1 large jar pinto beans
1 cup water
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1 box small pasta, like shells or macaroni
1 bunch Kale, stems and ribs removed, chopped

In a large pot, place the EVOO and set to medium heat. Add the onions, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and rosemary. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until onion is soft.

Add the beans and the stewed tomatoes, including the juices from both. Add the cup of water and 1/2 cup of Parmesan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the pasta. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Add the chopped Kale and salt/pepper to taste and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve topped with shredded Parmesan cheese.

I like this dish; it was a nice blend of cheesy and spicy. However, I am just not a big fan of the rosemary. I think next time I would definitely try sweet basil or oregano.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Classy, Oh So Classy.

Pictures from our Labor Day weekend in the UP...

We stopped first at a really cute farmer's market to stock up on veggies for the weekend...
They also sold fresh picked golf balls...

and brussel sprouts, which I had no idea grew on stalks.

Getting into a sassy, gun photo shoot...
Classy. Reeeeeal classy.
Using the guns properly....we're real snipers!

Andy, Me, Deirdre and Paul at the cabin....
Windy day at the lake.