Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Halloween was another fun night. The Doherty clan met at my sister-in-law Cathy's house, and I brought two different chilies. Matthew had a blast Trick or Treating. He caught on by the very first door that someone will bring out a big bowl of candy to you. So he was off and loving every minute of it. I made a goof and couldn't find the top piece to his puppy costume. Fortunately I had his cute pumpkin hat with us, so Matthew went out as a pumpkin headed puppy. I found it when we got home. It was in the car hidden behind his car seat the whole time!

Love my kitty ears?

Trick or Treating fun!

Halloween Playdate

Friday morning, we had a Halloween playdate. We met at Kristin's house for breakfast, then went downtown Rockton to the library, where they read a cute story for the kids. There was suppose to be a parade of all the kids in their costumes downtown, but the rain put a damper on that. They passed out candy in the library instead. A great time was had by all...

The kiddos in their costumes, and yes, that would be my son having to see how the Librarian reading the story was making the shawdows...

The whole gang...

Pumpkin Banana Streusel Muffins

I made these fabulous and yummy muffins for our Halloween Playdate we had Friday morning. The streusel topping totally makes the muffin. I definitely will be making these again.

Pumpkin Banana Streusel Muffins
(from The Crepes of Wrath)

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree

3/4 cup mashed bananas (about 2 small bananas)

3/4 cup vanilla yogurt

streusel topping (recipe follows)

turbinado sugar (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mash your bananas. Then add in the vegetable oil, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and yogurt. Mix until combined well, scraping down the sides of your bowl.

3. Gradually mix the flour mixture in with the banana mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is evenly combined. Don’t over mix!

4. Prepare your muffin tins (Be sure to spray your pan with Pam if you aren’t using muffin cups). Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup, then sprinkle a teaspoon or two of streusel topping over the batter (recipe follows). Top off with a little less than 1 teaspoon of turbinado/raw sugar over top of that. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the muffins are golden and set. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing.

Streusel Topping

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch kosher salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature

1. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

2. Place the butter into the flour and with clean hands, mix the butter in with the flour until crumbs/clumps have formed.

Happy Birthday to Me!

On my actually real birthday, we went out to Spider Sushi here in Rockford. We met my sister-in-law Linda, and my friend Candace. It was a lot of fun. Chris gave me the book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Childs as my gift. I have wanted it since seeing the movie "Julie and Julia"!

Candace's eel "catapillar" sushi was picture worthy!
The way to my heart, a new cookbook!

Frontera Grill

On Wednesday evening, Chris and I headed into Chicago to go to Frontera Grill, one of my favorite restaurants by chef Rick Bayless. After a scramble for a last minute babysitter, we had a great time getting away to the city, and enjoyed a wonderful meal! We started off with the appetizer platter(guacamole, cheviche tostadas, jicama salad, chicken tacquitos, cheese quesadillas, and two salsas with chips), then I had a wonderful meal of pork loin in a chile sauce with a fig salsa, and a roasted butternut squash puree. Chris had the steak tacos al carbon. For dessert we had an awesome chocolate ice cream that also had fig, reisling, and orange flavors in it with with a homemade hot fudge sauce on the side. It was a great evening to celebrate my "unofficial" birthday. I was born overseas (Taiwan), and technically it was still the 28th here in the states. So legally my birthday is the 29th, but I like to "milk" the two day for all its worth!

At the bar, and Chris and I...

Some pics of the food...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

We had a blast last night as a family carving Matthew's pumpkin. He really enjoyed playing with the seeds, and for some reason liked chewing the raw pumpkin! What a mess to clean up, but it was worth it. I cleaned and roasted the seeds with a little kosher salt. I have forgotten how good fresh roasted pumpkin seeds are...

The pumpkin!

Matthew enjoying playing with the pumpkin insides...

Chewing raw pumpkin...I love the progression of these pics!


Yummy Cookies

Last Thursday I had a wonderful meal at our friends the Lundstrom's. Our dessert was some peach ice cream, and these wonderful cookies. Jill was kind enough to share the recipe. Yesterday I made a batch of dough, cooked 9 in the oven, and froze the rest as she does with her dough. Now I have cookie dough ready to go, and can bake them up fresh and hot in a few minutes. Brilliant idea!

Chocolate Chip/Oatmeal/Walnut Cookies

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (or I used 1/2 cup Splenda brand brown sugar)
1/4 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup walnuts, chopped

In a mixer, cream butter, sugars, and shortening together till fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs one at a time till blended. Add in the vanilla and mix till blended. Mix the flour, salt, and soda together in a separate bowl (I also added the oatmeal here), and add to the mixer a little at a time, scrapping down the sides occasionally, till blended. Stir in the chocolate chips, oatmeal (if not already added), and walnuts till incorporated. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until done; usually takes 10 to 14 minutes depending on cookie size.

Here is the bag I froze with the extra dough...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chicken Tomatillo Posole

Tonight I made one of my all time favorite soups-stews, posole! Posole refers both to the garbanzo bean-size corn kernels called hominy and the Mexican stew traditionally made with pork and hominy. This version is made with a store bought rotisserie chicken and the best tomatillo salsa. The garnishes add the color, flavor, and textures of a fresh salad to the warm bowls of satisfying stew. What a treat it is!

Chicken Tomatillo Posole

Spice Blend:
3 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt

3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced in half lengthwise then thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 cup)
1 (4 oz.) can mild diced green chiles, drained
1 Tbs. fresh minced garlic
1 Tbs. chopped shallot
2 1/2 cups large shreds rotisserie chicken, pulled apart by hand
2 (15 oz.) cans or 1 (30 oz.) can hominy, drained (I used white hominy)
2 (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth
1 (16 oz.) jar tomatillo salsa (I highly recommend Frontera's roasted tomatillo)

Shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped avacado, chopped tomatoes, sliced radishes, shredded chihuahua cheese, sliced green onions, and fresh lime wedges

1. Make the spice blend: Stir the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Make the stew: Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the chiles, garlic, and shallot, and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken, sprinkle in the spice blend, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the hominy and broth, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the salsa and simmer, covered, 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Laddle into serving bowls. Top with all the various toppings of your choice (I like them all!), and squeeze a little lime juice over all.


My favorite tomatillo salsa... We just happen to be going to Frontera Grill this week, and I am super-duper excited!

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Fun

It was a balmy 72 degrees yesterday in Rockford! Matthew and I had a fun afternoon outside playing in the leaves. I even taught Matthew how to "rake", or at least he was having a blast pretending. He was also 20 months old yesterday. I ran inside to get the camera, because I knew these pictures would be super cute. I love these first two of him peeping through the tree in our front yard.


Learning to rake, and having fun in the leaves!

Matthew kissing and trying to "pick up" his pumpkins...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have been making this soup for a few years now. Always a staple in our home during the colder months. The toppings are what make the soup. Chris has a pretty nasty cold, and requested that I make it for dinner this morning. We were suppose to go to Georgia today to visit my family, but with the way Chris is feeling, it was wise to stay home. Matthew also enjoyed the soup as you can see by the photos. He was wearing quite a bit of it by the end of dinner!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
3 cups chicken broth
1 can Mexican diced tomatoes (14 1/2 oz.) -I used Hunt's petite diced tomatoes with mild green chiles...
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed -I cut them up small...
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro -you can leave this out or use as topping...

Shredded Mexican blend cheese
Tortilla chips -for some reason in this soup I like the Tostitos flavored with lime...
minced fresh cilantro
diced avacado
fresh lime slices to squeeze into soup

In a large sauce pan, combine first six ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, reduce heat, cover and simmer 4-6 minutes till chicken is no longer pink. Combine cornstarch and water till smooth; gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil, stirring till thick, about 1 minute. Enjoy with the toppings!!

Matthew enjoying the soup!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Great Pumpkin Patch

After we left the orchard today, we stopped by The Great Pumpkin Patch on our way home. What a fun place! You can view everything they offer on their website. Matthew liked riding in one of the wagons they provided with his pumpkin, and viewing all the different animals they have; there was even a camel!

Isn't he adorable??

Edward's Orchard Pumpkin Pics

Last year we took some really cute pictures of Matthew sitting in all the pumpkins at Edward's Orchard. I wanted to recreate it this year. Today we went out to the orchard, on a chilly yet sunny day. Matthew wasn't as cooperative this year, but we did get a few that were good. We were amazed he left the hat on his head for any length of time. I guess it was cold out!

Our "little pumpkin" this year...

Awww, hugging the pumpkin...

Here are a couple of the pics from last year...

Pumpkin Cake

Here is the cake I made for my mother-in-law's birthday. It is pumpkin with cream cheese frosting, and decorated with candy corn (some chocolate covered). I got the recipe from the October issue of Real Simple magazine. It was for cupcakes, but I adapted it to make two 9-inch cake rounds.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Cool pic of Matthew walking in the park...

Rockford Arboretum is beautiful right now...

Fall Family Photos 2

At least Matthew is smiling in this one... Chris and Matthew playing...

I LOVE these photos of Matthew...he is my sweet little boy for sure!

Fall Family Photos 1

As luck would have it, we picked the best day this week to take some pictures outside. It was a gorgeous day on Wednesday! Our friend Inger was so nice to do the honor of taking the pictures. I love the new camera...

Smile Matthew... :o)

Matthew getting some smooches!