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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Have I ever told you that my husband can draw?  Well, he can.  And he's amazing at it.  His first "love note" to me consisted of a car drawn on a napkin...he was 16.  :-)

Since we've been married, he has drawn all of our pumpkin designs.  It all started with a mouse...


Then, things got a little beastly...


Amazing, right?  No stencil or anything!

So this week, while I was in the kitchen cooking pumpkin, he was sitting at the table designing his latest masterpiece...Wile E. Coyote!


Step 1: Clean out pumpkin guts (ew!).


Step 2: Tape drawing to pumpkin.


Step 3: Use a thumbtack to poke holes.


Step 4: Carve the pumpkin, connect-the-dot style.


Step 5: Marvel at handiwork.


Step 6: Put a candle in it and ooooh and aaaaah.

"Ooooooh!  Aaaaaaaah!"


Happy Halloween, everyone!

Linked up with Gold Star Wednesday!

PS - My friends and I are starting something new!!! Every Monday, we'll be hosting a blog party called THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS, each week devoted to a different theme. This week's theme...pumpkins! If you have a food blog, link up your favorite pumpkin posts and then come back to see what others have to offer.


Friday, October 29, 2010

SMILE...it's your birthday!


Why are we smiling here at Delightful Country Cookin'?  We're celebrating our first birthday!

One year ago today I started this blog...if you happened to follow me then, you will remember that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I still don't.  But I can say with confidence that I've gotten better (especially in the photography department) and now have over 100 husband-tested-and-approved recipes in my stash.  I'd say that's worth smiling about. :-)



In order to celebrate this grand occasion, I'm going to give you our top picks from all of this past year's recipes.  It was a hard, hard decision.

But first...the smiles.

I grew up enjoying apple smiles.  They were always a treat to take to school (who doesn't love a smile?), and they were easy enough for my sister and I to make as kids.  Never, as a kid, did I dream that these were healthy!  I ate them because they were fun.

While recently at Apple Hill, I saw these beautiful Arkansas Black apples.  Once I saw their rich red color, I knew I had to make apple smiles.


Wash, peel, and core the apples, and then cut into even slices.  It's best if you can get 16 slices out of each apple.  Pour some lemon juice into a bowl, and dip the cut sides of the apples into the juice...this keeps them from turning brown.


Once you have your apples sliced, gather up your supplies - creamy peanut butter and some mini marshmallows!


Using a paper towel, dab the apple slices to get rid of excess liquid.


Spread peanut butter on one side of each slice.


Finally, sandwich 3-4 marshmallows in between two apple slices, using the peanut butter as glue!


Are you smiling?


And now....drum roll please...our top picks of this past year's recipes!  My picks are listed first.  My husband's are listed second (and since he's the official taste tester, his are probably more important).



The Breakfast - Corn Waffles (we actually agreed on this one!)









Linked up with Gooseberry Patch's Recipe Roundup: Kids' Goodies!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

my new favorite soup


I think I may have just found my new favorite soup.

I can't begin to tell you how good this is!  It's got so many colors and flavors and textures that it's a pureed soup lover's nightmare.  Maybe that's why I like it so much...I'm not really into pureed soup.  I believe all soups should have character.

My friends...this soup has character.

With delicious chunks of squash, savory sausage, the bright color of peas and green pepper, and the added surprise of hominy, this soup is a winner!

First, the squash.  I chose a butternut, although I encourage you to be creative.  I can only imagine how amazing an acorn or banana squash would taste in this.  Use what you've got in the garden!

The hardest part of this entire recipe is prepping the squash.  Ultimately, you want to cube it.  To do that, I lopped off the top and began slicing it.



Then, I cut the skin off.



Then, I chopped it into small cubes.  I'm sure there's probably an easier way, but that's what worked for me.  If you have a way that works better, let me know!


Once your squash is prepped, it's time to make the soup.  First, prepare your meat.  I used a pound of regular ground turkey and a pound of Italian-style ground turkey (I'm trying to keep the hips in line, after all).  You could also go with pork sausage, sliced kielbasa, ground beef, or just unseasoned ground turkey all the way around (if you go with all unseasoned meat, you might need to add more seasonings later on).

Whatever you pick will taste amazing, I guarantee you.  So, grab two pounds of meat and brown it in a large stock pot.



 Toss in some chopped green pepper (and onion if you'd like).  Cook for about 5 minutes until it's crisp-tender.



Add 2 boxes (8 cups) of chicken broth.  Go with the low-sodium variety...it's better for you!


Toss in your cubed squash and some spices - I chose a teaspoon each of cumin and oregano and a tablespoon of chili powder - and bring everything to a boil.  Let it simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender when you pierce it with a fork.



And now for my favorite part!  Add about a cup of frozen peas (no need to thaw first) and three cans of hominy.  Never heard of hominy?  You must try it!  It looks similar to corn, but has a wonderful (almost buttery) flavor and a nice rich texture.  Grits = ground hominy.  If you are scared of it, you can always substitute corn...but I don't recommend it.  Hominy is just too good!

I chose to use both white and yellow hominy...I like color!



Once you add the last veggies, simmer until the peas are cooked and everything is warmed through.  Taste it, and add as much salt and pepper as you think you need.



 Enjoy!  This is the perfect fall soup, and it tastes amazing with cornbread or even served over tortilla chips!  Incredibly filling and bursting with flavor, this soup is a true winner.
  

Fall Hominy Stew
(Inspired by Boil & Bubble Soup Cauldron in Gooseberry Patch's Halloween)

2 lbs. ground turkey (or sausage, kielbasa, etc.)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped (optional)
1 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cubed
1 T. chili powder
1 t. each oregano and cumin
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cans hominy, drained
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat in a large stockpot.  Add green pepper and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender.  Add broth, spices, and squash, and bring to a boil; simmer for about 15 minutes, or until squash is tender when pierced.  Add hominy and peas and simmer until heated through.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 12.

Nutrition: 247 calories, 7g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 60mg cholesterol, 683mg sodium, 27g carbs, 5g fiber, 3g sugars, 18g protein, 171% vit. A, 48% vit. C, 8% calcium, 17% iron.

Linked to This Week's Cravings: Soups!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

apples and oranges


Can you feel it in the air?  It's fall!


One of my favorite things to do during this season is head on out to a charming little place called Apple Hill.  It's a beautiful collection of Christmas tree farms, pumpkin patches, fudge shops, craft stores, wineries, and (of course) apple orchards situated in the beautiful foothills near Lake Tahoe.


This time of the year, the apple orchards are so crowded that you actually have to park in the orchard!


People come from miles around to stock up on freshly picked apples in varieties that you will never see in a grocery store.


Even more people line up for a taste of apple cider, apple wine, apple olive oil, apple pie, apple dumplings, and one of the best culinary creations known to man...apple cider donuts.


There are corn mazes...


...crafts booths (don't you just love this fall decoration?)...


...craft sheds selling all of my favorite Gooseberry Patch books...


...and tons of fall produce!

My favorites were these little guys...I think they are called Turk's Turbans.


All of the fall fun at Apple Hill inspired me to do a little fall decorating of my own.



Ironically, I chose to carve some oranges. :-)

Yep, I said oranges!


Oranges can be carved just like pumpkins much more quickly and with much less mess.  With a tea light inside, orange jack-o-lanterns make the perfect fall decor, especially when sitting on candlesticks.


It's incredibly easy to do.  First, draw the face...


...and draw a circle on the top - you need an opening, after all.


Use a craft knife to cut into the peel, and then scoop out the insides with a spoon or melon baller.


These are fun...make a bunch!


This recipe is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table
Also linked to Foodie Friday
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