Monday, November 18, 2013

Homemade Tomato Soup (GF, V)

Baby it's cold outside!  Well, maybe not that cold here, but maybe where you are it is!  :)  One of the best meals for lunch or a quick dinner is good old tomato soup and grilled cheese.  I know it's one my family's favorites. 
A good friend of mine follows a vegan diet and when she would be coming over I was terrible at trying to figure out what to make.  Then she had my hubby and I over and made this soup.  Then it was like everything clicked.  Changing food to be vegan or gluten free doesn't have to be that hard.  You don't have to stop eating everything you've always loved, you just have to be willing to change a few ingredients a bit.  Now, I change everything!  Shhh, just don't tell my husband and kids!
I still make regular grilled cheese sandwiches for my family.  For me, I make a "kind of" quesadilla.  I use corn tortillas and I like provolone cheese for these.  Butter the outsides of the tortillas and cook until lightly browned, flip and do the same on the other side.  I cut them into quarters.  They make perfect dippers!
What are some of you favorite food that you enjoy but are afraid to change?  Give it shot!  You might like it better.

Tomato Soup

-Saute in 1/4 cup of evoo or butter:
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
-Add: 1/4 cup flour (all purpose or GF flour blend), stir until dissolved
-Stir in:  1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 28oz cans of crusted tomatoes
1-2 T brown sugar or honey
-Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 30 minutes
-Remove and discard bay leaf
-In small batches pour soup into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth (you may want to let cool slightly before doing this so it doesn't splatter everywhere)
-Return to pot and add: 1 cup soy creamer or 1/2 & 1/2
-If you'd like it a bit thinner add in some vegetable stock
-Season with additional salt, pepper and/or sugar/honey to taste

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Triple Chocolate Nut Clusters

I don't know about you, but am so ready for this month to fast forward to Thanksgiving.  I want to enjoy a day of food, friends and fun and then move onto Christmas!  I'm one of those crazy people that has already pulled out my Christmas dishes and is thinking about starting to decorate for Christmas.  I start my Christmas baking sometimes as early as October and keep on going.  I like to do my baking before Thanksgiving, freeze it all and then it's done and I can pull my baked goods out to make platters of cookies anytime I need to during the whole month of December.  I love it!!  I've made over 20 different types of cookies and candies some years.  To me, that is right on the top of my list of favorite Christmas time things. 
This year I'm cutting way back with how much I'm baking since we are getting ready to move.  One of my favorite chocolate candies to make are Triple Chocolate Nut Clusters.  They are super easy, you make them in a slow cooker, it makes a lot and they also make excellent gifts to put in mugs, jars or bags to give out.  Try them  and let me know what you think!

Triple Chocolate Nut Clusters

1-16oz jar dry roasted peanuts
1-9.75oz can salted whole cashews
2 cups pecan pieces
36oz chocolate bark, squares cut in half
1-12oz package semisweet chocolate chips
4oz bittersweet chocolate
1T shortening
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine first 7 ingredients in a 5-quart slow cooker, cover and cook on low 2 hours or until chocolate is melted.  Stir, add vanilla, stirring well to coat.
Drop by heaping T onto wax paper.  Let stand at least 2 hours or until firm.  Store in an air tight container.  (Or freeze in zip-lock bags like I do.

Yummy Deliciousness!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Skylander's Birthday with Oreo Cake

Another birthday down and celebrated in our house.  With my husband and kids birthday's all in the fall/winter I feel like it is non-stop!  My little guy turned 6 and he is all about the Skylander's right now.  That is all he has asked for and wants to play.  We got him the game and now everyone else has been filling in the "guys."  He has made his huge list of the ones he still wants for Christmas and it keeps growing. 
We did a low key party for him this year with just a couple friends and cake. My favorite part was the favors.  I put together Skylander Element Boxes filled with candy for the favors and they turned out really great!  I think I was just as excited about them as he was.  I got the idea from here

So cute!  Right?

I printed off a Skylanders logo and elements pictures and taped them onto tackle boxes.  I tried to match the candy with the different elements.  Don't worry, I had to research what they all were too! 
Water-gummy fish, Fire-fireballs, Earth-chocolate rocks, Undead-chocolate eyeballs, Life-green licorice, Air-airheads, Magic-purple chocolate covered pretzels, Tech-orange jelly beans
This would be a fun favor for lots of different parties I think.  The tackle box idea you could use for a craft party, Legos and so many others!  It's cheap, versatile and you can use it afterwards for things too! 
My son requested an Oreo cake, so that is what I made.  I used this recipe for a Chocolate Sour Cream Cake and then made a creamy Oreo filling. 

Oreo Filling
Mix together:
1/4 cup butter, soft
4 oz. cream cheese, soft
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Fold in 8oz whipped cream until mixed well
Crush 1 1/2 rows of Oreos and fold into cream mixture.
Layer 1/2 of Oreo cream in the middle of the 2 layers of cake and the rest on top.
Melt 6 oz chocolate chips and 3 T butter until melted and smooth.  Drizzle and lightly spread on top.  Top with more Oreos if desired. 
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I think we had a successful party!  The birthday boy was happy and everyone was full of sugar.  What's your favorite birthday themes?