Pumpkin Cake

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

I am not even kidding when I say I have been waiting all year to share this recipe with you!  Pumpkin cake has been a family favorite of ours for years.  We actually stopped making pumpkin pie and make this instead every year for Thanksgiving!  Yes, it is that good.

Last year when I shared my pumpkin gingersnap recipe with you, I mentioned how my mom loves pumpkin any time of year.  She is no respecter of seasons when it comes to pumpkin!  I generally only make it in the fall, but if you happen to get a craving for this dessert in the middle of the summer, then you wouldn’t be the first! *wink*

There are three steps to this recipe, but all of them are easy.  Below are the ingredients you’ll need to make this delicious dessert.

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, measure 1 cup of the dry cake mix, 1/4 c. melted butter, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.  Mix together until combined.  Set aside.

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

In a medium bowl, mix remaining cake mix, 1 egg and 1/2 c. melted butter. 

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Drop by large spoonfuls into the bottom of a 9×13 pan and press into an even layer.  (I recommend lining it with tin foil and spraying with cooking spray.)

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

I rinsed out the medium bowl I used for the bottom layer and then beat together the pumpkin, salt, 2 eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, sugar, evaporated milk and milk.  You can do this by hand or with a mixer, but because it is liquidy, it tends to splatter a little bit.  Pour over the bottom layer.

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Sprinkle the spiced mixture over the pumpkin layer using your hands.  You don’t want it to be fine crumbs or large chunks–somewhere in between.

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before serving.  We like it with whipped cream on top but vanilla ice cream is really yummy too!

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

So let’s break this deliciousness down:

Step aside pumpkin pie!  Pumpkin cake is taking your spot at Thanksgiving this year!

Seriously, guys, I would not lead you astray!  Make this for Thanksgiving or your next holiday party and everyone will be asking for the recipe.

Pumpkin Cake
serves 20

Ingredients:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 2 c. pumpkin
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. evaporated milk
  • 1/2 c. milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix 1 cup dry yellow cake mix with 1/4 c. melted butter, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix remaining cake mix, 1 egg and 1/2 c. melted butter.  Press into bottom of a 9×13 pan.  (I recommend lining it with tin foil and spraying with cooking spray.)
  4. Beat together pumpkin, salt, 2 eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, sugar, evaporated milk and milk.
  5. Pour over pan mixture.
  6. Sprinkle spiced cake mix from step 2 over the top.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 5 minutes.
  8. Let cool before serving.
  9. Serve with whipped cream.

20 Minute White Bean Chicken Chili

Make a flavorful white bean chicken chili in only 20 minutes from stove to bowl!

Over the weekend, I saw a lot of Christmas in July sales and it kind of freaked me out for a minute!  I feel like the summer just started, but if I think about it, my daughter is going to be starting her second year of preschool in about 6 weeks, which means fall is just around the corner and then it’s Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas!  If there is one thing you need to know about me, it is that I don’t like the cold. And living in Utah, we get some cold winter days.  I’m definitely not ready for it to be cold any time soon.  Give me 90 degree weather and a pool and I will be one happy camper.

However, I do love me some good soup, which is why I like to have it year round.  It’s such an easy meal to prepare because you can often throw in a bunch of ingredients and–voila!–you have soup.  Some soups, like my Crock Pot Minestrone Soup or Homemade Chicken Noodle, are super yummy, but take a little longer to cook and sometimes there just isn’t time.  But this white bean chicken chili recipe is perfect for those days when you don’t have a lot of time to cook and need something quick and filling.  Not to mention the fact that it only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, and you’ve definitely got a winner here!
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

Make a flavorful white bean chicken chili in only 20 minutes from stove to bowl!

Start with your chicken.  You can either cook some chicken and then shred it, get a rotisserie and cut it up into pieces, or use a can of cooked chicken (I like the Kirkland brand).  I generally just use whatever I happen to have on hand.

After you’re chicken is prepped, put it in a large pot.  Add the beans, chicken broth, green chilies and corn.  The amount of chicken broth you add is completely up to you.  If you like thicker chili, or don’t need it to serve as many people, then use 2 cups.  If you like thinner chili, or need to serve more people, use 4 cups.  It won’t affect the flavor, just the amount you end up with.

Make a flavorful white bean chicken chili in only 20 minutes from stove to bowl!

Next, measure the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper and cayenne pepper into a small bowl and mix together.  Put it in the pot with the above ingredients.

Make a flavorful white bean chicken chili in only 20 minutes from stove to bowl!

Turn the heat onto medium high and let it all heat though.  When it begins to boil, turn down the heat and slowly add the half and half.  Return to medium high heat and allow the soup to heat through again.  Serve immediately.

Make a flavorful white bean chicken chili in only 20 minutes from stove to bowl!

White Bean Chicken Chili
serves 6-8

Ingredients: 

  • 1 12.5-oz can of cooked chicken (I like Kirkland brand) or 1 lb chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 2 15-oz cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 cans chicken broth (between 2-4 cups)
  • 1-2 cans green chilies (depending on how hot you like your chili)
  • 1 15-oz can corn, drained
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper 
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper 
  • 1 pint half & half 

Directions:

  1. Cook and shred chicken if you are not using canned chicken.  
  2. Add chicken, beans, chicken broth, green chilies and corn into a large pot. The amount of chicken broth you use is up to you, depending on if you want thicker or thinner chili.
  3. Measure onion powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper and cayenne pepper into a small bowl.  Mix together and then put into pot with other ingredients.
  4. Heat all ingredients together over medium high heat.
  5. Add half and half and heat again until heated through.
  6. Serve immediately.
  7. Store in air tight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup--Made with fresh ingredients and so good!

When I was doing my meal planning this week, I was happy to see that I had all the ingredients needed to make a family favorite for dinner: Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup.  However, when I went to make it, I realized that while I had everything I needed, it wasn’t necessarily in the most convenient form: baby carrots instead of pre-shredded, frozen broccoli instead of fresh (I forgot to pull it out to thaw) and some potatoes that were starting to go bad.  So the prep time for this meal took a little longer than planned.  When my husband called to give me the heads up that he was on his way home from work, he asked what we were having and was excited when I told him.  This is a soup that my family cannot get enough of and we rarely have leftovers because everyone just keeps going back for more.

So let’s get started:
Start by prepping your ingredients.  Chop the vegetables.  Cut the potatoes into approximately 1-inch cubes, shred the carrots (if you don’t have pre-shredded), chop the onion and mince the garlic.  For the broccoli, chop it into tiny florets (cut off as much stem as you can so the pieces are smaller).

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup--Made with fresh ingredients and so good!

Add your broth to a pot and throw in the onions/onion salt, broccoli, carrots, garlic/garlic salt and bay leaf.  Simmer on medium, covered for about 15-20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

While the veggies are cooking, start the potatoes boiling in a large pot.  Drain the water when they are cooked through but not too soft.

Once the broth/veggies and potatoes are done, pour the broth/veggies into the pot with the potatoes.  Make sure to remove the bay leaf.  Slowly stir in the half and half (you can also use 2% milk or even heavy cream).

Turn the burner onto a low heat, uncovered.  Season with the remaining herbs and spices, adding a little extra or a little less of whatever you like.  Personally, I love the allspice and nutmeg in this soup.  It adds an unexpected richness to the overall flavor without being overwhelming.

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup--Made with fresh ingredients and so good!

Once the soup has warmed back up, add the cheese in small handfuls and stir until melted.

If the soup is thinner than you like after adding the cheese, you can add a thickening agent.  (I prefer to use Ultra Gel, which is a modified food starch similar to cornstarch, but you can add it to hot or cold liquids without mixing it with water first and it won’t separate.)

Remove from heat and serve.  Garnish with shredded cheese, parsley or any other seasoning you like a little more of.  Enjoy!

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup--Made with fresh ingredients and so good!

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 4 c. broccoli, chopped
  • 4 c. potatoes, cubed 
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 3 c. cheese, shredded
  • 2 c. carrots, shredded
  • 2 tsp. onion salt (or 1/2 c. onion diced)
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or 2 cloves of garlic minced)
  • 2 c. half and half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. salt (varies depending on salt content of broth)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Chop the vegetables.  Cut the potatoes into approximately 1-inch cubes, shred the carrots (if you don’t have pre-shredded), chop the onion and mince the garlic.  For the broccoli, chop it into tiny florets (cut off as much stem as you can so the pieces are smaller).
  2. Add your broth to a pot and throw in the onions/onion salt, broccoli, carrots, garlic/garlic salt and bay leaf.  Simmer on medium, covered for about 15-20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.
  3. While the veggies are cooking, start the potatoes boiling in a large pot.  Drain the water when they are cooked through but not too soft.
  4. Once the broth/veggies and potatoes are done, pour the broth/veggies into the pot with the potatoes.  Make sure to remove the bay leaf.  Slowly stir in the half and half (you can also use 2% milk or even heavy cream). 
  5. Turn the burner onto a low heat, uncovered.  Season with the remaining herbs and spices, adding a little extra or a little less of whatever you like.  Personally, I love the allspice and nutmeg in this soup.  It adds an unexpected richness to the overall flavor without being overwhelming.
  6. Once the soup has warmed back up, add the cheese in small handfuls and stir until melted.
  7. If the soup is thinner than you like after adding the cheese, you can add a thickening agent.  (I prefer to use Ultra Gel, which is a modified food starch similar to cornstarch, but you can add it to hot or cold liquids without mixing it with water first and it won’t separate.)
  8. Remove from heat and serve.  Garnish with shredded cheese, parsley or any other seasoning you like a little more of.  Enjoy!

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup--an easy, delicious soup that is perfect for busy days, sick days or any day!

It’s been a crappy week or so in my house.  Everyone got sick with this yucky cold, which then turned into acute bronchitis for my husband and I.  Yeah.  Fun stuff, let me tell you.  And when I’m sick, I really hate having to put too much effort into cooking.  So I was relieved when I opened the fridge and found a big plastic container full of one of my favorite soups: Minestrone.  It was leftover from Christmas Day when we had dinner at my in-laws home and we ended up with about half to bring home.

So today I’m sharing this recipe with you in hopes that you’ll find it as delicious as me and my family do. I wish I could say that I made up this recipe and take all the credit for the yumminess that it is, but I’d be lying and that is generally frowned upon…  The truth is that I found the recipe on Pinterest on a blog called Yummy Healthy Easy who adapted it from another blog (Foodtography).  I have adapted it a little more to suite me and my family.

I really like this recipe for a few reasons:
  • It is a good no-meat alternative.
  • It’s easy.
  • It’s healthy and filling.
  • It doesn’t heat up my house in the summer months.
  • It uses ingredients that I typically have around my house so I’m not running to the store for something random.
This soup is so easy to throw together in the crock pot in the morning and you just add a couple more ingredients in during the last 30-40 minutes of cook time.  Get some Rhodes rolls going a few hours before dinner and voila!—you have an entire meal that takes practically no work at all.  Double it for larger groups, or take it to a neighbor.  (It’s also a perfect meal to take to moms who have just had a baby.)
Now, on to the recipe:

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup--an easy, delicious soup that is perfect for busy days, sick days or any day!

First, you’ll need to combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, parmesan cheese rind, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours.

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup--an easy, delicious soup that is perfect for busy days, sick days or any day!

About 30-40 minutes before it’s done cooking, add the zucchini and spinach.  Cook for 30 minutes.

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup--an easy, delicious soup that is perfect for busy days, sick days or any day!

Add cooked pasta and let it cook 10 minutes more.

*Note: If you used fresh rosemary and/or bay leaves, this is where you would want to take them out.  I generally use dried herbs for my soups, so I just leave them in since they have become soft and part of the soup.
Ladle into bowls and sprinkle on some shredded parmesan cheese, then salt and pepper to taste.
It might be an understatement to say that my family loves this soup.  My husband eats it both the day of and as leftovers to take to work the next day.  Both my 3.5 year old and my 16 month old ask for seconds every time.  It rarely lasts more than a couple of days in our house.  That makes it a winner in my book!

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup--an easy, delicious soup that is perfect for busy days, sick days or any day!

CROCK POT MINESTRONE SOUP
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped (I use about 1 Tbsp onion salt)
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped (about 3 large carrots, or 12 baby carrots)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or ½ tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 (28 oz) can petite-diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed (I found these under the name Great Northern beans)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 bay leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried) 
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped (or 3/4 tsp dried) 
  • 1 tsp salt
  •  1/2 tsp pepper 
  • 1 medium, zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen (defrosted) spinach
  • 1-2 cups small pasta, like ditalini or elbows, cooked al dente
  • Extra parmesan cheese for serving on top
Directions:
  1.  In a crock pot, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
  2. 30-40 minutes before the soup is done cooking, add zucchini and spinach.  Cover and cook 30 minutes.
  3. Add cooked pasta, cook 10 minutes more.
  4. Remove bay leaves and rosemary sprig.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with shredded parmesan cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.  ENJOY!

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

Growing up, my mom would regularly make meals that were so yummy we’d all ask her to make it again.  She’d then shrug her shoulders and tell us that she just made it up and didn’t write down the recipe, so the odds of duplicating it exactly as we’d had it that night were slim.  It became a running joke in the family to ask her if she’d remembered to write down the recipe, or at least all the ingredients, when we’d sit down to a dish we’d never had before.  One of the meals we had many times growing up, and that my mom did have a recipe for, was chicken noodle soup with homemade egg noodles.  We knew if we saw a whole chicken going into the pot that chicken noodle soup was on the menu.  My family loved (and still loves) it, especially in the fall and winter or when we were sick.  There is just something about the homemade stuff that can’t be poured out of a can.

Now when I make this soup for my family, I substitute a rotisserie chicken from Costco for simplicity’s sake, but I always make the egg noodles from scratch.  I don’t have any experience making other types of noodles and I don’t have a fancy noodle attachment for my KitchenAid (yet), but these are pretty simple to make and don’t take much time, so don’t be nervous to try this out for yourself.

Here’s what you need for the noodles:

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

To start out, beat the eggs with a fork.  Then add the milk and beat it together with the eggs.  Next, add the salt (optional) and the flour and stir.   (I think it’s easier to just use the fork to mix it all together rather than a spatula or spoon.)

The amount of flour you’ll need varies a little bit so I generally mix the first two cups in, then add the third cup.  You will likely find it necessary to use your hands to knead in the last cup of flour completely.  You don’t need to work it too much–just until most of the flour is incorporated.
*Note: I have used wheat flour, as well as half wheat and half white.  If you do this, the amount needed will be a little less than listed.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!
What the dough looks like after 2 cups of flour

Once your flour is kneaded in, sprinkle another 1/2 cup or so on a clean counter.  Put your dough in the middle and flip it over so both sides are floured. I gently pat off any extra flour and make sure to move the flour around on the counter so that it replaces the flour that just got on the dough.  This is important to do as it will help prevent sticking which makes it easier to remove the noodles when you’re ready to add them to the soup.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

From here, you use your rolling pin to roll it out to about an 1/8″ thick.  I periodically check to make sure the dough isn’t sticking and add a little more flour as needed.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

After you’ve got it rolled out, use a pizza cutter to cut the dough vertically into 1/4-1/2″ strips.  Then cut them horizontally into shorter strips, about 6″ long.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

Now you just need to leave the dough to dry out.  I recommend a minimum of 2 hours, but 3-4 is better.  The time it takes for the noodles to dry out is dependent on how thick they are and how hot it is in your house.  You can check the noodles dryness by touching it and pulling on it a little.  If it’s stretchy, then it’s not dry enough.  We’re not trying to completely dry the noodles out, but just enough so that they aren’t a sticky mess when you add them to the broth.

At some point, you’ll need to get your chicken ready.  If you use a rotisserie like me, just cut off portions and either cut or tear it into pieces.  You could use cooked chicken breasts and do a rough chop.  Or you can use a whole cooked chicken like my mom does.  (If you do this last option, keep the water/broth as your base for the soup.)

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

To make the broth, you can use canned or boxed broth, or make your own using bouillon.  I generally use between 6-8 cups of broth, which feeds my family of four, plus enough for 1-2 servings for lunch the next day.  (It is partly a preference thing as well.  My family likes a little less broth and more noodles and chicken so I lean more towards 6 cups.)

Bring the broth to a boil and using a spatula, like the kind for flipping pancakes, loosen the noodles from the counter.  If you used enough flour, they should come up pretty easily.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

Drop the noodles in one by one to prevent them sticking to each other.  I put the noodles in first and let them cook for 10-15 minutes before adding the chicken, then I let it go for another 5-10 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked through.  You can check the doneness by taking one out and cutting it to see if the middle is wet or dry, or you can take a bite and see if you like the texture.  Add salt, pepper and onion salt to your broth if you would like.  (I find that if I add salt to the noodles, I don’t need to add it to the broth.)

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!
5 minutes after adding noodles to the broth

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

*Note: I generally don’t end up using all the noodles but if I made closer to 8 cups of broth, then I would.  Again, it’s just a preference at this point.

Finally, ladle it into bowls, serve hot and let it warm you up from the inside out!  I like to add a little bit of Cajun seasoning called ‘Slap Ya Mama’.  It’s adds just a little bit of a kick and is SO good.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • 3-4 c. cooked chicken breasts or rotisserie, cut or shred into pieces
  • 6-8 c. chicken broth
  • salt, pepper, onion salt (to taste)

Directions:

  1.  Beat the eggs with a fork.  Then add the milk and beat it together with the eggs.  Next, add the salt and 2 cups of flour and stir.
  2.  Knead in 1 cup flour until combined.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour on clean counter and place dough in the middle. Turn over so both sides have flour on them.
  4. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to about 1/8″ thick.  Cut vertically into 1/4-1/2″ wide strips then cut horizontally into 6″ long strips. (I use a pizza cutter to do this.)
  5. Let dry for at least 2 hours, but 3-4 is better.
  6. Cut or shred chicken into pieces.
  7. Bring 6-8 cups of broth to boil.
  8. Add dried noodles one at a time and let cook for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Add chicken, salt, pepper and onion salt.
  10. Let cook for another 5-10 minutes or until noodles are cooked through.
  11. Enjoy!

*Note: The recipe can easily be halved or doubled to suit your needs.