Monday, October 10, 2011

Falling for Fall...

 I think a picture is worth a thousand words and a taste is worth a thousand and one.  So take a look at this pic and then go make this cake...dude, NOW!

Luscious Four -Layer Pumpkin Cake
adapted from

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin, divided
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil or applesauce
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, divided
1 (8oz) brick light cream cheese
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
3 cups thawed whipped cream
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • Heat oven to 350.  Grease 2 (9 inch) round pans.  Beat cake mix, 1 cup of pumpkin, milk, oil, (or applesauce) and 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice.  Mix until well blended and pour into prepared cake pans.
  • Bake 26-28 minutes or until knife comes out clean.  Cool cakes completely on wire racks.
  • Beat cream cheese.  Add powdered sugar, remaining pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla.  Mix well and then gently fold in whipped cream.
  • Cut each cake layer in half with a serrated knife. Stack on serving plate, spreading cream cheese mixture between each layer.  (Do not frost top layer.)
  • Drizzle cake with caramel sauce just before serving and then sprinkle with nuts.
I promise there will be RAVE reviews!  Eat well this Fall my friends!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Ahhh...warming ya inside and out.  This spicy butternut squash soup was the perfect way to warm up my parents, who are visiting our wet cold WA from the dry heat of AZ.  The bold, spicy flavors are balanced with the creamy coconut milk and sweetness of the apple.  You will finish your bowl filling full, satisfied and most importantly warm and toasty!

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

2 T. olive oil
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup minced fresh peeled ginger
4 bay leaves
1/2 T crushed red pepper flakes
1 large butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into chunks.
1/2 cup apple, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. curry powder
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 T. sugar
1 15 oz. can coconut milk
5 spicy chicken sausage, casings removed and then chopped (I use the ones you can find at Costco)
Freshly chopped cilantro
Extra coconut milk to drizzle...mmmm.

  • Heat oil in large stock pot over meduim heat. Add onion and cook about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and ginger, and continue to stir, cooking for about 3 more minutes.  Add bay leaves and red peppers.  Stir in squash, apple, curry powder and salt, cook for 10 minutes.
  • Raise heat to medium high and add chicken stock.  Cover and bring to boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring and mashing every 5 minutes.  Add sugar and cook another 5 minutes.  Add coconut milk and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaves (don't need anyone choking on those babies!)  Using an immersion blender, or in batches using a regular blender, puree until smooth.
  • Reheat soup and add sausage.  Season with more salt if necessary, drizzle with extra coconut milk and garnish with cilantro.
  • Eat well and stay warm my friends!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back to school...

"Back to school, to prove to Dad I'm not a fool..." (Billy Madison, thank you!)

Well, it's back to school time here and one delicious indulgence that I always equate to an "after-school snack" is the notorious NO-BAKE COOKIE.  I know, I know, everyone and their grandma has a recipe for this, but I just could not think of any better way to say "Welcome back to school kiddos!"

Even though this cookie is laden with everything naughty (butter, sugar, peanut butter, etc.) I feel like the best mom EVER giving them to my kids after a hard day's work at school...and I then a shove a carrot down their throats. 
Eat well my friends!

No Bake Cookies
1/2 cup real butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
3 T. cocoa powder
dash of salt
1/2 cup peanut butter (I prefer creamy, but I suppose chunky would work.)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups oatmeal (you can substitute a cup of oatmeal for coconut, if ya really wanna get exciting!)

On med-high heat, combine butter, milk, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Bring to a boil.  Boil for 3 long minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.  Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper and let cool or go ahead and scorch your entire mouth by sneaking spoonfuls of this chocolatey molten lava.  I won't tell.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mc Donald's...

Wanna know what kind week I've had?

We went to McDonald' was bad...done.

Eat better than I have this week my friends!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Holy Ham!  Literally.  The Easter ham dinner was delicious, but my word...what to do with all the leftovers?  Well, this chick is not the most creative one of the bunch, so here's a recipe for a soup that truly received all the leftover goodness .  It's a pretty basic ham and bean soup that was scrumptious on it's own, but then I threw the leftover funeral potatoes and BAM!  Outta sight!  Hope you enjoy!

Ham and White Bean soup
adapted from For the Love of Cooking
2 celery stalks, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups ham, chopped
3 cans white beans, drained and rinsed (Great Northern or Navy works)
1 can diced tomatoes
4 1/2 cup chicken stock (I used a homemade ham stock, but chicken works great.)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
*Totally optional, but I put in about 1 1/2 cup of leftover funeral potatoes


Prep your veggies.  Try to make your dices on all the veggies uniform.

    Spray a large pot with non-stick cooking spray and begin to heat over medium high heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery.  Saute until tender.  

Add garlic, ham and tomatoes. Cook for another minute or so, then add stock, 2 cans of beans, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaf.  

 Cook over medium low heat for 1 1/2-2 hours.  Remove bay leaf.  Blend soup with an immersion blender, or in a regular blender, or heck, just use a hand held mixer.  Add remaining beans and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.  You can also add any other "leftovers" at this time.  
Serve this bad boy up with some leftover rolls or a good crusty bread that can sop up all the last little bits.  Mmmm...

Eat well my friends, even if it is leftovers!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicken Shawarma...a pocket full of love.

So as I previously mentioned, I spent part of my childhood growing up in Saudi Arabia.  Some of my earliest memories are of walking the streets of Khobar with my family, having an ancient Arab man, with skin like leather, wanting to touch wisps of my flaxen blond hair.  And the toothless shriveled woman relentlessly insisting that my parents buy a beautiful beaded necklace for each of their 5 daughters.  And the smells...even twenty plus years later, (please, don't do the math!) I can remember the musty, spice infused air.

When we moved bask to the USA my family continued to embrace the Arab culture and cuisine.  It was part of our family...our roots.  Even though I was a very finicky eater growing up, there was something about Arabic food that I loved.  I remember asking my mom to make sambuseks and baklava for special occasions.  Such exquisite memories...I feel kind bad to digress and show this hilarious video, buuuut it just fit too well with the Arab food theme I'm going for.

Hope you get a laugh from the video and enjoy the recipe for Chicken Shawarmas, which is, BY FAR, my most favorite meal ever. 

Chicken Shawarma


1 T ground coriander
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground cardamom
1 T chili powder
1 T. grill seasoning, Montreal recommended
1 tsp. smoked paprika
juice of 1 lemon
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 large onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (yes I use the sue me!)

pita bread
tzatziki sauce, recipe as follows


   Preheat outdoor or indoor grill to high.

In bowl, combined all of the spices.  Take a moment and just breath that aroma in.  It is intoxicating!  Add lemon juice, garlic and olive oil.  Stir until paste like.  You can add a little bit of water if necessary.

Take you mixture and slather all over the chicken until it is well coated.

Transfer chicken to the grill and cook on each side 6-7 minutes, 
until it is cooked through.

Remove chicken from grill and let the chicken rest before thinly slicing.

For bell pepper mixture, heat a large skillet pan over medium-high heat.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray or use a little olive oil.  Once pan is heated up, add peppers and onions.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.

Once veggies begin to wilt, add tomatoes and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Place pita bread on grill to warm them and give them a nice light char.  To assemble, place chicken on pita, top with pepper and onion mixture, and then add hummus and tzatziki sauce.

  Oh my, eat well my friends!!

**On a side note, I have also made kabobs out out this recipe and works out great too.  Just omit cooking the veggies and skewer them along with chicken.  Dee-lish!!

Tzatziki Sauce

6 oz Greek style yogurt
1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp dill
1 T mayo
1-2 T lemon juice, depending on how much *zing* you want
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all up and serve with anything.  Makes a great low fat, high protein veggie dip.