Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spinach Tortellini Soup

I decided to make my one pan chocolate cake for dessert tonight. Have you made it yet? I posted about it on October 16, 2012. It's amazing to me how quickly I forget how much I love to make this cake, as much as flour-less chocolate cake. It's one pan, no greasing, no eggs, just dump, mix all together and bake. Once done, you can sprinkle with confectioners' sugar as I do or frost with your favorite frosting. There you have it, easy, moist & delicious and with only a few measuring cups & utensils to wash. Just the right size for a family of four with a few slices leftover for lunch or snack the next day. Now this post isn't about cake, but about this quick delicious soup. Oh, how I love soup. I could eat it all year. However, I know that with warmer weather soon approaching, chili, stew, soup and those comforting meals that wrap you as a blanket will need to be placed with summer fare. BBQ's, salads, fresh fruits & vegetables, pizza on the grill, clams and yes, ice cream stands! This soup is an easy throw together, once you get the small list of ingredients down, you will be able to throw it together in a snap. Use whatever ground meat you like and you could easily change out the tortellini for small raviolis. It's healthy and so easy, you won't even need to follow the recipe the next time you make it.

According to the calendar it is officially spring. The weather outside says otherwise. So many are just wishing for it to be gone and nice weather here now. There is a time for all things! I have just enjoyed watching what might be some of the last snow flakes falling from the sky. The cold blowing wind against my face, breathing the crisp air and the bright sun on my face. Warm weather is approaching, days at the lake are just around the corner. Bonfire's, roasting marshmallows, splashing the boats, splashing ourselves in a friend's pool, the farmer's market, all on the horizon. It's good for us not to wish the days away, but to awake and enjoy the day ahead. The weather and each moment are part of the day. We should take the time to smell the coffee while it's brewing, the sounds around us. If we spend our days wishing for the next one, we miss out on the beauty that God has blessed us with and the treasures that will be uncovered in it. Take time to look for those spring flowers, to listen for the returning birds and watch the snow melt away. Soon our boys will be able to take their traditional dip in the lake as the ice moves out, but until then, snow needs to be shoveled from the back of the truck!

Ecclesiastes 2:25-There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

Tomato Soup W/Cheese Tortellini


1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 package baby spinach
1 lb lean ground turkey, chicken, or beef
1 bottle V8 low-sodium juice
4 cups of chicken broth
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 small onion
1 tbsp oregano
garlic salt or powder
black pepper


Add a little butter & a drizzle of olive oil to a pan. Heat and add onion, garlic & seasonings. Light cook until softened about 5 minutes or so. Add the meat and brown. Drain. Return to pan. add the V8 juice & broth. Bring to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the tortellini and cook about 5 minutes more. Add extra water if needed.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Our Family Pizza Dough

Do you not just love this danish dough whisk. One of my favorite kitchen tools of all time. Find it here at www.amazon.com. My mom was an amazing cook & baker. She had just a handful of cookbooks, mostly she would use them as a guide for her baking. Me on the other hand, has a never ending collection. I loved it when she went grocery shopping and she wanted to make a pumpkin pie. No big deal, just picked up a can of pumpkin pie filling and made sure that she had all ingredients on the back of the can. Great pie, perfect every time she made it. The same was true of her lasagna, she just followed the recipe on the back of the box. Always the same. The same held true with her lemonade, brownies, and on it goes. I wonder how many meals I could make or desserts that would not require me to open one of my books??    

One book  to never get tired of opening, is the Bible. just spending a few minutes a day in God's word can make a complete difference on how you start your day, change the day or end your day. It has all the ingredients for the recipe of your life. 1 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

Such pretty handwriting!
This is our family pizza dough. My mom & aunt having been making this since I can remember. Mom never ventured from this recipe. In fact the only other dough she would use was one from a local grocery that closed many years ago. I have tried many pizza dough recipes and I always come back to my mom's. I just tweaked it a little to make it more of my own. Taking bits & pieces from other recipes that I liked. I replaced the oil with olive oil, and the water for some room temperature beer. Yeah, I'm in love with beer in my pizza crust and so is my family. It gives the crust such flavor, malty, earthy and our house smells like those pizza shops with the brick ovens. Just wonderful. I secretly have a case in our pantry just for pizza crust and of course taco soup would not be the same without it. I have made this dough just before leaving for work and have left it to rise for several hours. I punch it down when I get home and prep all the other ingredients and it never fails.
All ready to be topped!
Pizza hot out of the oven!
Once it's punched down, divide in half and place on prepared sheets. Let rise for about 10 minutes or so, and take your time to spread into the pans. It feels good and pliable. The crust is not super super thin nor is it thick like bread. It's in between with just enough crust around the edges to hold on to and the base is just thick enough to hold all your toppings. This recipe makes two crust and does very well on regular cookie sheets. No stress if you do not own a stone. If you do, feel free to prep your pizza and then transfer to heated stone.I love my cheese topping a little on the crispy side. Making pizza crust is easy, not time consuming and is so much better tasting than what you can buy in the store. It took me all of ten minutes from the start of mixing to putting the bowl in the oven to rise. So do yourself a favor, buy some good Amber beer leave it a room temperature, and the next time you want some pizza take the time to make your own dough. You just might get doughed over!

Our Family Pizza Dough-


6 cups flour
2 cups warn water or (room temperature Amber Beer)
1/2 cup warm water
2 packages dry active yeast 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 Tablespoons oil or olive oil


Mix flour, salt & sugar together in large bowl.

In a small bowl add the yeast to the 1/2 warm water & let set for a few minutes until it starts to get all bubbly.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the oil, 2 cups of warm water or beer, and the yeast mixture. Stir till all combined adding additional water by Tablespoons as needed to incorporate all the dough. I know that on days when there is allot of moisture in the air my dough requires little extra water. On days when the air is dry it might need a little more. Dump on a floured surface and knead for a few minutes. I stop kneading and poke my finger in the dough, if you leave a little imprint it is ready for the rising. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for an hour or more.
Like I said, I have made this dough first thing in the morning, left on counter and then made our pizza for dinner. 

Mom always used a little butter on the bottom on her pizza pans to prep them. Punch down the dough, cut in half and place each half on prepared sheets. Let rest for about 10 minutes. Gently spread dough on your pan. Top with desired toppings and bake at 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

If using your stones, heat first then transfer to them and bake, check after 15 minutes.

We spread our dough with sauce, then top with cheese and then our goodies.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Eggnog Sparkle Star Cookies

A belated Happy New Year to everyone! I pray that 2013 will be filled with lots of  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness & self-control. Good health, happiness and dreams come true. Maybe a new friendship or two. Sorry for such a late post, but due to some health related issues my post will be few until March.

Eggnog, one of my favorite holiday drinks between Thanksgiving & Christmas. I was unable to indulge very much in this rich and creamy beverage this season. Oh, how I love a small glass with Thanksgiving dinner, one while I am wrapping presents and love to share one with friends over ice with just a splash of rum.

A friend emailed me this yummy cookie recipe with all the flavors of rum eggnog, and while searching for another recipe, I came across the same exact recipe in my Taste of Home Baking Book! They call them Butterscotch Eggnog Stars. I like to call the Eggnog Sparkle Star Cookies. I love how the candy just shimmers when the light hits them. While baking these delicious bites, I could not help but think of the Star that led the three wise men to the manger of baby Jesus, Matthew 2:9-After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was, 10- when they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

My thoughts also went to the beginning of creation, Genesis 1:14- And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark the seasons and days and years, 15-and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so, 16-God made two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars, 17-God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on earth, 18-to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. How fitting that are youngest son received a telescope for Christmas and he can gaze upon the heavens at night and check out all stars and constellations.

These cookies would be great for your Thanksgiving dessert menu and of course Christmas cookies trays. You can easily double the recipe and have them for your cookie exchange parties. Dont' shy away from making these cookies because it only calls for a small amount of eggnog, and you're left wondering what to do with the leftovers, other than drinking the entire carton, I have found a wonderful recipe for whipped eggnog bread at www.thekitchn.com, or an eggnog cheesecake at www.familycircle.com. If you make the cheesecake, use eggnog instead of milk. You could by a 1/2 gallon of eggnog and plan on afternoon of baking these wonderful treats to share with anyone on your list. A slice of bread with your morning coffee, cookies for that "Star" in your life, or an ending to a wonderful evening with family & friends.

 I hope this year finds you following the Star of Creation, and being overjoyed while doing so!

Eggnog Sparkle Star Cookies-
Adapted from Taste of Home Baking


2/3 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup eggnog
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup crushed hard butterscotch candies -or- whatever flavor you like, lemon would be nice


1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon rum extract
2 -3 Tablespoons eggnog


Grease foil lined baking sheets and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Beat in the egg and eggnog. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt & nutmeg, gradually add to the creamed mixture. Divide the dough in half. *at this point I did not have time bake them and they remained covered in my refrigerator for about three days.

On a floured surface, roll out one portion at a time to 1/4" thickness. Cut with a floured star cutter about 3 1/2" and then cut the centers out with a smaller star cutter about 1 1/2". I used a water bottle cap for the round center.

Place large stars 2" apart on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon candy in the center of each cookie.

Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minetes or until the edges are just starting to brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. *As the cookies cool, the candies continue to melt and fill the holes nicely. Remove from foil and cool on wire racks.

For icing, mix all ingredients together adding enough eggnog to make a drizzle consistency. Drizzle over cooled cookies. * I did not have any rum extract, but had some rum, so I used that instead and it nice hint of flavor.

Eat & Love Well,
XO Sonya