Archive for October, 2008


So you need a side to go with your Baked Potato Soup? This Beer-Cheese Bread was awesome with it. My mom and I loved this bread. This is definitely the best bread that I have ever made at home. I will be making this all fall to go with our soup and chili. 

Basic Beer-Cheese Bread

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 (12 ounce) bottle lager-style beer (I used Miller Lite)
Cooking spray
2 tablespoon melted butter, divided

1. Preheat over to 375 degrees.

2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirrings occasionally. Stir in pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in the center of the bowl. Add onion mixture, cheese, and beer to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Don’t over stir.

4. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of butter over the batter. Cook at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Drizzle other tablespoon of butter over batter. Bake another 25 minutes or until the bread is a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool five minutes in pan on a wire rack, then remove the bread from the pan. Cool completely before slicing. 

Notes: This recipe is from the November 2008 issue of Cooking Light, which is a great issue. It’s filled with lots of great recipes for Thanksgiving.


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The cold weather has arrived in Columbus, and it sucks! I don’t know how I am going to survive being trapped in the house with an almost two-year-old all winter long. We spent so much time outside this past summer and fall, being inside all the time is a shock. But that’s a topic for another post…

Since the cold weather has arrived, it’s time to pull out the cozy, comfort food recipes. This past weekend, I made Baked Potato Soup for my mom and I as we winterized my house. I made it because it looked simple and easy, and it is. And, it is delicious.

The recipe is basic, but what makes the soup is the toppings. You must have the toppings! 

Baked Potato Soup

2 and 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut up into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup sour cream (don’t use non-fat)
salt and pepper to taste

Chopped green onions
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese 

1. Put potatoes in the crock-pot and add enough water to cover them. Cover and cook on high until the potatoes are cooked and falling apart, about 4 and a half hours.  

2. Turn the crock-pot to low, add butter, half and half, and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until hot, about 20 minutes. 

3. Serve in bowls and add toppings. Makes about 6 servings. 

Notes: This soup reheats very well. To save some money, buy a block of cheddar cheese and shred it yourself. It is cheaper and the cheese tastes better too!

This recipe is based on a recipe from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook is a great cookbook!

I served this with the most amazing beer bread. Recipe to follow…

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As a single mom, I am always watching my money. I spent this past weekend winterizing my house with my mom (or I should say, my mom winterized my house while I tried to learn how to shrink wrap windows and kept messing up the windows so then she had to go back and fix them – thanks mom!).  

Lately, I’ve also been trying to reduce my food costs. I have significantly reduced how often we eat out and get take out. I always try to cook our meals at home – it’s healthier and more economical. 

Even though I’m reducing my food budget, I still buy as much organic food as I can. One way I do this is we eat very little meat in our house. I’m always looking for good vegetarian meals that are healthy, cheap, easy, and yummy. I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs – A Year of Crockpotting. It sounded like an odd combination to me, but it is delicious! 

White Bean and Apple Chili

2 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed (I used navy beans.)
1 onion, chopped
2 apples, cut in tiny chunks, no need to peel ( I used golden delicious.)
3 cloves chopped garlic
3 T butter
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups veggie or chicken broth 
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Put the butter into the bottom of your crockpot. Dump in the drained and rinsed beans. Chop up the onion and the apple. Add the spices, and pour in the broth. Stir in the yogurt.

2. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4-5. This is done when the onion has reached desired tenderness and the flavors have melded. Stir in the cheddar cheese before serving.

Notes: Like Stephanie said on her website, the chili is very mild, which is perfect for kids. I added Tabasco to my servings. I served whole-wheat, walnut raisin bread with it, which was awesome. It also reheats well.

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I took the munchkin to her first pumpkin patch this weekend. We went to Leeds Farm in Delaware County.

Leeds Farm was not what I think of when I think pumpkin patch. I pictured us walking into a field of bright orange pumpkins and letting her walk around until she found one. Leeds Farms was a lot more fun than that. Especially when I realized she wanted every pumpkin she saw.

At the farm, the munchkin got to feed goats. She loved getting to see the goats up close and was very excited to feed them, since feeding our dog at home is discouraged.

She also played in a corn box, which was like a giant sand box, but instead of sand, it was a play area with kernels of corn. We rode in the banana car train, which was pulled by a tractor. She also slid down a huge slide that in another life was some kind of huge drainage pipe. It was cooler than it sounds.

And those were the activities that she was also old enough to do. There was also a zip line, pumpkin pillow jump, and human gerbil wheels – all of which she was too little to do this year. But we will go back next year for sure.  

We also picked out some pumpkins to take home too, include a cool green pumpkin. Along with the pumpkins, the farm was also selling a few varieties of winter squash. 

The entire outing cost us $19.00, which included a bag of kettle corn, two drinks, and our pumpkins. The admission was $7.00 for ages three and up. Under three was free. 

Location: 8738 St. Rt. 36, Ostrander, Ohio 

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Looking for something to do with the kids this weekend? What’s a better fall activity that going to a pumpkin patch?

Here is a website I found that lists pumpkin patches: Pumpkin Patches and More. You can search by state, then by area. 

[Photo Credit: Pumpkin Patch]

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More fall recipes…

I love fall and fall recipes. I love apples and pumpkins, and so does my daughter.

So here is another fall recipe. It’s easy, healthy, the munchkin loves it, and uses my favorite kitchen appliance – the crock pot. (OK, the coffee part is actually my favorite, but you don’t cook with the coffee pot.)

I felt like a cooking rock star when I tried this recipe for the first time. Yes, I know when you read the recipe you will think I’m crazy because it is so easy. But I never would have though it would be this easy to make homemade apple butter. 

The most time consuming part of this recipe is cutting up the apples. It takes a lot of apples, but I didn’t peel the apples for this recipe, which saved me a ton of time. After cooking the apples, I put the apple butter in my blender. I have the oldest, worst blender ever, but it worked anyway. After blending, you can’t taste the peels.

This recipes makes 4 cups of apple butter. 

Crock Pot Apple Butter

5 pounds apples (about 14 apples), cored and cut up
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves 
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice

1.  Fill a large crock pot with apples almost to the top.  Cover and let stand at room temperature all day.

2. Add spices and toss apples. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours, or overnight. (I did overnight.)

3. Remove the lid and let the apple butter cook an additional 2 to 8 hours on low until the butter reaches the desired thickness. (I cooked mine for 4 hours.)

4. Turn off the slow cooker and let cool. Then transfer butter to blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Store in plastic containers. The butter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. (I refrigerated half of my apple butter and froze the rest.) 

Note:  I used Golden Delicious and Molly apples to make this. If you use tart apples, you may need to use sugar. The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar. 

This recipe is based on a recipe from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook is a great cookbook!

[Photo Credit: Apple]

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COSI has a new exhibit – Sesame Street Presents: The Body. The munchkin and I visited the exhibit last week.

Like all of COSI, the exhibit is incredibly interactive. The exhibit is all about the body, and how to take good care of your body.

My daughter is 21-months-old, and she was probably too young for the exhibit. Older children will definitely enjoy the exhibit more than she did. She interacted with the activities, but didn’t understand what she was doing. She loved getting to see the large pictures of Big Bird, Elmo, and Grover located throughout the exhibit. 

Her favorite activity was “Super Grover’s Obstacle Course,” which was a small, padded obstacle course the kids can run around. She also liked “Mr. Hooper’s Store,” where the kids can walk around the exhibit and fill their grocery baskets with healthy food. 

The exhibit will be at COSI from October 4, 2008 until January 4, 2009. It’s worth a visit. 

Where: 333 West Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. There is parking available in lots directly in front of the building. I have never had trouble finding a spot.

Fee: The exhibit is $3 for COSI member and $5 for non-members. Two-years-old and younger is free.

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