Monday, November 18, 2019

Pasta Fagioli Soup - Instant Pot Version

I've converted my very favorite soup to an Instant Pot variation. If you would like to try the slow version, it can be found here.






Yield: 5-6
Author:

Pasta Fagioli Soup - Instant Pot Version

Pasta Fagioli Soup - Instant Pot Version

This is my all time favorite soup! I never cook the pasta in it, but cook it separately, so that it doesn't get mushy and overcooked, even when cooling. Don't tell Olive Garden, but I like this better than their Pasta Fagioli Soup!

ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage + 1/2 lb. hot Italian sausage (or 1 lb. ground beef)
  • 1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans beef broth (I used 4 teaspoons of Better Than Beef Bouillon + 4 cups water)
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon, pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon, marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, optional
  • 1 teaspoon, dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon, dried oregano
  • 3 cups of cooked small pasta, like ditalini

instructions:

How to cook Pasta Fagioli Soup - Instant Pot Version

  1. Brown the sausage in your Instant Pot, on saute' setting. 
  2. Add the celery, onion, and garlic, and saute' for a minute or two.  Add the rest of the ingredients, EXCEPT the pasta, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to get all the bits of browned sausage to release.  Cancel the saute' setting.
  3. Put the lid on the Instant Pot, and move the lever to the seal position.  Hit the Pressure cook button and pressure cook for 10 minutes. 
  4. When the time up, let the pressure come down naturally for 15 minutes.  (You can cook your pasta separately in a saucepan during this time).  After 15 minutes, move the lever to vent position, and let the button drop before opening the lid. Stir the delicious soup.
  5. Place some cooked pasta in the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup on top.
  6. Grate some Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!
Created using The Recipes Generator

 Cissy was recently one of a group of students who were awarded The Lion's Pride Award at her school!  Teachers nominate students for the award, and it could be for being organized, kind to others, for being helpful, for making the teacher a better teacher, etc.  The teachers write up a paragraph on why they nominated the particular student.  It was all very inspiring, and humbling. 

My handsome grandson, Riley, turned 16 last week!

 

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Easy Pumpkin Muffins


 Recently, Julie, at Julie's Creative Lifestyle, shared an easy pumpkin bundt cake, and I decided to make the cake into muffins, and put a crumb topping on.   I'm trying to make my way through my Republic of Tea Pumpkin Spice, and Twinings Chai Pumpkin Tea, before I start on my holiday teas.  My pumpkin tea towel and adorable pumpkin are from a sweet blogging friend. 

 My youngest son and daughter-in-law went out of town again, and this time, my son, Mike, and I went to their house to watch the girls.  Here's Harper mixing up the easiest muffins or cupcakes ever. 

 Hayden wanted to help, too, and she's putting on the topping.

 She looks quite pleased with herself, don't you think?

 My morning friends are enjoying their breakfast. 




Yield: 12 muffins
Author:

Easy Pumpkin Muffins

Easy Pumpkin Muffins

These are the easiest and most moist muffins ever! I think a yellow cake mix would work, too, but add maybe 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice to it. Cream cheese frosting on top would be great if you want cupcakes!

ingredients:

  • 1 Spice cake mix
  • 1-15 ounce can pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Topping (if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons of softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

instructions:

How to cook Easy Pumpkin Muffins

  1. For the muffins:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Line the muffin pan with cupcake liners, or spray with cooking spray.
  4. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. 
  5. For the topping:
  6. Mix the butter, flour and brown sugar together to form crumbs.
  7. Fill the pan with the batter, filling to the top.
  8. Sprinkle on the topping, if desired, or use some sparkling sugar, or leave plain.
  9. Bake for about 18 minutes.

Created using The Recipes Generator





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Monday, November 4, 2019

Pumpkin Date and Nut Bread


Since we've had freezing temperatures already, please join for an inside tea with some wonderful pumpkin date and nut bread and some pumpkin spice tea. 

I found this Autumn Delights cakelet pan last year, and love using it for Autumn treats.  


These little loaves are perfect for gifting!



Yield: i large loaf, or four mini loaves and six cakelets
Author:

Susan found this recipe from a friend, but the recipe comes from Maida Heatter's Cakes Cookbook. If you love dates, spices and pumpkin, you'll love this bread!  Aldi has whole dates at a good price.

ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups  flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1- and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • about 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (my addition)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 -15 ounce can pumpkin
  • 8 ounces pitted dates, cut up with kitchen shears
  • 1 cup walnuts, broken or coarsely chopped (I toasted mine)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of raw sugar for sprinkling on top of the loaves, optional

instructions:

How to cook

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and place rack to the lower third of the oven. Butter or spray a 10x5x3 inch loaf pan .  (I used four mini baking loaf pans and my 6 cavity Autumn Delights cakelet pan.  )
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon,  cloves and nutmeg and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, with a hand mixer set on low, beat the eggs just until combined. Add the sugar, beating just to blend. Add the oil, beat just to blend. Mix in the pumpkin, then add the dates. Add the flour mixture and stir or beat only until it is blended, then stir in the nuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan(s) and smooth the top. Sprinkle with a little raw sugar over the top of each loaf.  (I didn't add any sugar to the cakelet pan.)
  4. If you are using a large pan, bake for 70-80 minutes. If using smaller pans, baking time will be less, about 45-55 minutes.  My mini leaves took  50 minutes and the cakelets took 25 minutes.  Start checking the loaves with a clean toothpick before the recommended time is over as all ovens are different. The toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf should come out clean. Cool in the pan(s) for 15 minutes before removing to cool on a rack.
  5. Cover and store at room temperature or refrigerator for several days or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2-3 months.
Created using The Recipes Generator


 This little cutie pie, Harper, has a birthday this week, and she had her five-year-old birthday party.  Can you tell that she's having fun at her gymnastics party??!!

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

My handsome Marine grandson, Connor, is celebrating his 19th birthday this week! Happy Birthday, sweet boy (he'll always be a boy to me)!

 


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Monday, October 28, 2019

My Grandson's Graduation from Marines Boot Camp

 Graduation Day from the Marines Boot Camp took place in San Diego!  

 Family Day was the day before graduation when we first got a glimpse of Connor, during practice, after almost three months! 

 After the new Marines got in formation before the crowd, they were released to find their loved ones.  Here's Connor with his girlfriend and his Mom.  We had the rest of the day to spend with him on base,  until 5:45, when he had to return to his barracks.  He was so excited and so happy to just be with us, and he chatted away about his experiences and his time doing the Crucible.  He was so thoughtful and answered all of our questions that we had.  He also ate, and ate, and ATE!  He had ice cream first, then candy, a burger and fries, and our leftovers, and more candy, ice cream, and Nutrigrain bars.  He didn't want to go to the arcade, the bowling lanes or anything on the base, but just sit and talk to us!!


 Here's the family with our new Marine!


 This is his platoon on Graduation Day.  San Diego happened to be having a heat wave while we were there.

 We found our Marine!


 We were so excited to congratulate him!  He quickly got his bags and was out of there lickety split! 


 The first thing he wanted to do was to go to In and Out Burger and to take the food back to the condo that my daughter and son-in-law rented.  My son, Kevin, on the right, flew in the night the night before graduation.

 Connor and Rachel out on the sunny deck. The condo was a few steps away from Mission Beach.

 We did enjoy some beach time while we were there.  Riley is throwing the football to Caiden and Cissy, who didn't mind being in the cold Pacific Ocean.  Connor didn't even want to see the beach since he said that he had to hike in the sand for 8 miles in his boots, and part of it was in water. 

 Molly and I had some fun in the sand!


 The sun was just about done for the day, and we were a happy bunch!

 Cissy and Kevin doing handstands in the sand, with Caiden about to join in.


Before we headed to the airport, my daughter suggested we head to La Jolla, where Kevin, Caiden and Cissy tried out the scooters, and we had lunch.

Here I am with two of my four children, my youngest and my oldest.  Goodbye California!  We really enjoyed our time here and we have so many wonderful memories to hold on to. All the new Marines get 10 days to be home, but Connor gets an extra 7 days, to help with recruiting.  After that he returns to California for School of Infantry training, which every Marine is required to do.  Congratulations to Connor!!  He was so happy, mature, and confident.  We are all so very proud of him!



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Monday, October 21, 2019

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Please join me for some Pumpkin Cheesecake on the patio, while we admire the haunted house that Harper and my son, Mike, put together.


  I made the tea cozy last year with vintage-look fabric that I had bought several years ago. 



Yield: About 8
Author:

Pumpkin Chesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I adapted my plain Instant Pot Cheesecake recipe in order to make a pumpkin flavored one. I think I like this better than pumpkin pie!

ingredients:

  • For the crust:
  • 1 cup gingersnaps (I used pumpkin gingersnaps)
  • 3 tablespoon butter, melted
  • pinch of salt
  • For the cheesecake:
  • 16 ounces cream (2 blocks) cream cheese (I used Nuefchatel)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (freeze the rest)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature

instructions:

How to cook Pumpkin Chesecake

  1. Make crust:  Spray a 7" springform fan with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine crushed gingersnaps, melted butter and salt.   Spread evenly  in the bottom and partially up the side of the pan.  Freeze for 20 minutes, while you prepare the filling.
  3. Make cheesecake:  In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, and pumpkin until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon , nutmeg, and salt.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until just blended.  Don't overmix.  Por batter into springform pan.
  4. Pour 1 and 1/2 cups water into IP and place trivet in the bottom.  Wrap the entire pan in foil, covering the top, also.  This will prevent water from falling onto the cheesecake.  Lower the pan on the trivet.
  5. Lock the lid in place and select  High pressure.  Set timer for 35 minutes.  Allow the pressure to release naturally.
  6. Remove the cheesecake from the IP and carefully remove the foil.  Place in a wire rack and allow to cool for at least an hour.
  7. Cover the springform pan with foil and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.  Garnish with whipped cream. 
Created using The Recipes Generator



My son, Mike, and Harper had fun putting this together while my youngest son and duaghter-in-law were in NYC for a benefit.  We kept the littles busy with crafts, and activities for three nights and four days.


Harper actually placed all the candies (along with a few nibbles) on to the house. She's very careful and precise!

Hayden loved playing with the homemade play dough, which stays so soft and pliable. 


The weekend before was Hayden's 2nd Birthday Party, which was a theme of ice cream, a favorite of Hayden !

It was such a nice day, that the party was outside.


Here is my son Kevin, with his wife, Kristen, and Hayden and Harper (who changed her clothes mid party!). 

Here we are at the kids' craft table with Cissy, Hayden and Molly, my daughter.


Hayden opened her gifts inside.  My son, Mike, is with us, enjoying the fun time.



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Monday, October 14, 2019

A Charleston Wedding

My  sister and I met for our niece's wedding in Charleston, SC., and stayed in a rental home.  For our first evening we walked several blocks and found S.N.O.B's (Slightly North Of Broad).  The wonderful thing about Charleston is that you can walk to restaurants, sights, and stops.  

We had the shrimp and grits meal and it was so fabulous.

Along the way we admired beautiful window boxes. 


The rehearsal dinner was at Saltwater Cowboys.  My niece, Maggie, is with me and my sister.



Here's Maggie, our brother's daughter, on her wedding day, which was at the most beautiful setting at a plantation in Charleston.

The tables were set so perfectly!


The newly married couple's first dance.  You can get a glimpse of the wedding cake, to the right, inside the room.

At the reception, there was an omelet station and a biscuit bar, with spreads, and also fried green tomatoes. 

Our great nephew, Carson, was all tuckered out!

After enjoying that relaxing reception, all the guests boarded a bus and we went to another venue for more food and fun.  My sister is in the back, me, Shane, my nephew and Maggie's brother, Madison, his girlfriend, and Sean, my nephew and sister's son.

The next morning, my sister, our great nephew, and I went to a restaurant that served the most delicious crepes. We shared a savory, egg, ham, and cheese crepe, and also a Charleston Crepe, which was raspberries, blueberries and Chantilly cream...so good!  

What a fun time we had!

**An update on my grandson, Connor, is that he finished The Crucible.  The boys then climbed the reaper, had chicken broth and apple slices,    received their Eagle, Globe and Anchor from their Drill Instructor and  transitioned from a recruit to a Marine.  After that they had a Warriors Breakfast of eggs, potatoes, steak and chocolate cake!  

Thank you for keeping Connor in your thoughts and prayers as he went through this.  It meant so much for everyone to be rooting for him.  Soon he will graduate from boot camp!



























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