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Another snowy day favorite….hot chocolate. This sure beats the Swiss Miss mix. Takes a few more minutes, but well worth it. Chocolatey, sweet and spicy all the things great hot chocolate should be.

Makes 2 servings.

In a pot wisk together all of the below ingredients (stir consistently to avoid burning), bring to a simmer over medium heat and serve with marshmallows or whipped cream or simply alone in a nice mug. Enjoy!

Ingredients

3 cups of skim milk (I use Farmland skim plus, if you don’t have that you can use 2% or whatever kind of milk you have)

1/4 cup of unsweetened coco powder

Pinch each of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg

2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

splash of vanilla extract

tiny pinch of salt

5-8 semisweet chocolate chips

I love soups of all kinds and they are so easy to make!  Sauté any veggies you have in your fridge, add some spices, boxed broth and simmer away for 15 minutes. Healthy. Delicious. And a great way to use up leftovers in your fridge.

This is my super easy minestrone. Sauté a cup each of chopped onions, zucchini, carrots, green beans and celery until crisp but tender. Add in a box of chicken broth, a cup of crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, herbs de provence, oregano and fresh parsley. Stir in a can of drained white beans. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with a small shaped pasta and grated parmesan. Make a batch on Sunday and eat it for lunch all week long. Tons of veggies and protein from the beans…just yummy!

Thanks to Deena for this recipe! It is so great!

Wonderful as breakfast, a snack or even dessert. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
2/3 C shortening
2 2/3 C sugar
4 eggs
1 can (16oz) pumpkin
2/3 C water
3 1/3 C all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2/3 C chopped nuts (optional)
2/3 C raisins (optional)

Heat oven to 350.  Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans (9x5x3) or 3 loaf pans (8.5×4.5×2.5).  Mix shortening and sugar in large bowl.  Add eggs, pumpkin and water.  Blend in flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves.  Stir in nuts and raisins.  Pour into pans.  Bake until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hr, 10 min; cool slightly.  Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans.  Cool completely before slicing.

ZUCCHINI BREAD:  Substitute 3 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 med) for the pumpkin.  Blend in 2 tsp vanilla with the cloves.  Decrease baking time to 60-70 min.

It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is rapidly approaching which means busy times and plenty of food to go around!

I have found that Bon Appetit has the best Thanksgiving guide around. Check it out here – They have everything from the best turkey recipes to sides and appetizers. Highly recommend this site.

What are all of you making for Thanksgiving? What are your favorites? Feel free to post some winners here!

My favorite is my grandmothers Sausage Stuffing…but sorry, it’s a family secret!

photoI was in the mood for something sweet last night after dinner.

We have apples left from the farm so here’s what I came up with.

I love to invent things based on what I have on hand…it’s fun, you should try it!

This tastes exactly like a caramel apple….Fall is here!

Ingredients

1 large apple sliced thin (you can peel it if you like)

2 tbsp apple cider (can use apple juice or water too)

1 tbsp orange juice

dash of cinnamon

pinch each of nutmeg, ground ginger and salt

2 tbsp brown sugar

drizzle of honey

1 tbsp butter

caramel frozen yogurt (I used Stonyfield)

Directions

Melt butter in sautee pan on medium high heat. Add sliced apples and cook for two minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except for frozen yogurt) and cook for about 5 minutes until apples are soft. Top with caramel frozen yogurt and enjoy!

Friday Breakfast….A Sigma tradition.

At my office, each Friday someone brings in breakfast for the entire office. We rotate, so you only have to supply breakfast about once a year. This year I took it as a challenge to spend as little money as possible (recession special) but still put together a really nice breakfast for everyone to enjoy!

On the menu:

  • Egg casserole with turkey sausage, peppers, onions and potatoes
  • Egg casserole with spinach, feta and tomato
  • Egg casserole with cheddar cheese
  • French Toast (made with Balthazar Bread…of course!)
  • Apple & Cinnamon Compote to go on top of the French Toast
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries / Blueberries
  • Greek Yogurt and Granola
  • Brownies
  • Orange Juice

It’s hard to believe, but by “shopping the sale rack” at the grocery store, I was able to feed 50 hungry employees for only $85! Eggs on sale for 99 cents / dozen…Cantaloupe 2/$3…Apples for 99 cents / lb. – the list goes on! I formulated my menu around what was on sale – and it worked!

NewYorkGiantsI went to watch the NY Giants season opener Sunday. And that means — Tailgating! I was asked to make something sweet, and there is no bigger crowd pleaser than brownies. Check out these delicious brownies – made from scratch. Try it just once, and you will be amazed at how much more yummy they are then the boxed variety.

Ingredients:

1 cup of butter

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hersheys)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 generous handful of mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

In medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add sugar, vanilla and eggs. Whisk until blended well. Sugar should melt / dissolve mostly. Do not let it boil – you will get scrambled eggs – (simmering is okay).

Measure out flour, cocoa and salt in a large bowl. Mix to combine. Stir in butter and sugar mixture to combine. Fold in mini chocolate chips.

Pour into a 13 by 9-inch pan sprayed with PAM. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Cut into triangles. Enjoy!

photo(2)I had my girlfriends over last night for a Melting Pot recreation….also known as a recession special! It’s more intimate and inexpensive to host a Melting Pot event at home. I made Chocolate Fondue with assorted dippers (recipe below) and mint chocolate martinis complete with rimmed glasses. YUMMY! Create your own girl’s night this week!

Thanks ladies for coming over xoxo

Chocolate Fondue

Serves 4

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

4 ounces semisweet chocolate (or whatever kind you like)

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring the cream, sugar, cinnamon and butter to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and peanut butter — stir until the chocolate melts. Serve with assorted dippers like strawberries, pretzels, bananas, pineapple, cubes of pound cake and marshmallows. Enjoy!

So, I have a major sweet tooth and have never met a sweet treat I didn’t like! But that doesn’t mean that I can’t have my favorites. Currently I’m craving the most delicious red velvet cupcake I’ve ever tasted. It’s from Make My Cake Bakery in Harlem, NYC….Just Delicious! It was voted best in New York by The New York Times…and she was even challenged to a “Throw Down” with Bobby Flay!

Moist yummy cake and tasty cream cheese frosting and it’s HUGE…it’s simply the best! Everything is made fresh each and every day. If you are in NYC, stop by and grab one, you won’t be disappointed!

 

Here’s a great tip for saving some money when cooking at home…buy what’s in season! This is a simple way to guarantee the freshness of your ingredients and keep a few extra dollars in your pocket.

georgia-peaches

Peaches this week at Fairway (my favorite market) are 99 cents / pound! Not only do they make a delicious snack, but you can do so many things with them. Eat them up before they are no longer in season. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Slice in half, brush with olive oil and cook on grill pan (cut side down until tender). Serve them sliced on top of a salad – Check out last night’s recipe, and substitute these for the apples. Or you can drizzle with honey and top with greek yogurt for a tasty and healthy dessert.
  • Cube and mix with orange juice, olive oil, jalapeno and cilantro. Use as a topping for simply grilled fish or chicken.
  • Make a Peach BBQ sauce to brush over chicken. Saute 1 chopped peach and 1/4 white onion diced in 2 tbsp of melted butter. Once tender add 1 cup of water, 2 tbsp cider vinegar, dash of salt and pepper, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp dijon mustard. Simmer for 20 minutes. 

About Me

My name is Ashley and I'm a self taught cook. Getting home from work, popping open a bottle of wine and cooking up dinner with my boyfriend is my favorite part of the day. I want to show you that making dinner can be fun and easy. I have some great tricks for the young professional...like me, that I know you will love! Follow me and I'll make you the talk of all of your friends! You won't believe the things you can whip up in the kitchen that are...Just Delicious!

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