Friday, November 30, 2012

Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin

You didn't think I'd let December get here and fail to post another pumpkin recipe, did you?  I saved the best for last!  Wait, that's not true, I can't pick the best...all pumpkin is delicious, but this recipe is always the first one I make of the fall season. 

Sadly, when I made pumpkin shells this year, I completely forgot to take pictures!  I was telling my friend Katie how I was disappointed I wouldn't have pictures when I posted the recipe and a couple weeks later she told me she made them AND she took pics for me.  How awesome is that?  There's more; you all are in for a real treat.  My pictures that I take...well, they leave plenty to be desired.  They are taken with my phone or IPad and if you're lucky I'll spruce them up a bit with Instagram.  I should really always do that-I'll work on it.  Katie is a professional photographer are amazing!  Really, in the end it all worked out.  I get to share one of my favorite dishes with you and I have fabulous pictures to accompany it.  Thank you again, Katie! As for the rest of you, don't get used to this professional looking blog post.  My simplistic, and well, quite raw pictures will return next time. 

Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin

1 12 oz. package jumbo pasta shells
1/2 C. butter
1/4 C. + 2 T. flour
1 1/2 C. milk
1 1/2 C. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 C. ricotta cheese
2 C. cooked pumpkin
1 C. chopped raw spinach
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
olive oil

Good news: no heavy cream.  Bad news: TONS of cheese. 

Preheat oven to 350.  Boil pasta shells according to package directions.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in flour, continue stirring while you gradually add milk.  Continue stirring until sauce thickens.  When it thickens, stir in 1/2 C. of the Parmesan cheese.  (If it gets too thick, you can add more milk)

In a medium bowl, combine 1 C. of Parmesan cheese, pumpkin, ricotta, spinach, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
Most people can't wait to lick the cookie dough bowl.  This is my kind of bowl. 
Mmmm...I might need to make this recipe this week!
Lightly oil 2 qt. baking dish.  Or, whatever dish you want.  Sometimes I use a 9 x 13, other times I like it in a prettier one.  It really doesn't matter.  This recipe's all fancy and uses olive oil to grease the pan.  Don't let my high quality pictures fool you.  I'm like the rest of you and just sprayed my dish with that stuff that comes out of a can. 

Open pasta shells and stuff with desired amount of filling.  I've found the easiest way to stuff them is with a cookie dough portioned/scoop thing.  It seems to be the perfect amount and makes it go really fast.

Looks scrumptious, right?  We haven't even added the cheesy goodness yet.
Cover shells with sauce.  Sprinkle mozzarella on top.  Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes.
Out of the oven and ready to devour.  I made these for a Halloween party once and they were enjoyed so much that a certain someone started forgoing the plate and fork method and grabbed them with his hands to eat.  Straight out of the pan.  We're high class like that.  That may or may not have been the photographer of these photo's husband. Let's just say, there's a reason she has the recipe already.




Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kelly Ripa's Butternut Squash Soup

In a perfect world, I would wake up each morning and share a morning cup of coffee with Kelly at 9 a.m.  Instead, reality arrives and I DVR her and Reg...I mean, Michael each day and usually end up watching many days worth at once towards the end of the week.  I love how she is so quick on her feet with her banter and her story telling ability is always entertaining.  Basically, she's everything I'm not, which is probably why I find her so entertaining.  I bore people with my stories, there's never a punchline, and quick on my feet?  Never.  I always think of "funny" things 10 minutes later when it doesn't matter anymore.  Personality wise, we are quite opposite, but I must stick with my fellow flat chested females.  She rocks it and I love it.  Oooh, and our husbands are hotties.  Love you, Josh.  Lastly, she shares some spectacular recipes on her show.  I don't know if that means she likes to cook, but I'm going with it as our third similarity.  With those similarities I'm sure she could overcome my dullness and we'd be great friends if we met.  For sure. 
Tonight was soup night at my parents and my mom made a recipe Kelly shared on the show last week and it was the bomb.  Seriously, you need to make this as soon as you can.  I liked it so much I'm blogging the recipe for you a few short hours after I ate it. 
Photo: Hot and Sour Soup night at the Tannahills. Thank you Papa T!!!!
This isn't the butternut squash soup.  This is a dish we only get a few times a year and my dad made some for us.  We used to have an Asian restaurant and this is our hot and sour soup.  Top secret recipe, sorry, I can't share, but it was a special treat so I had to put a picture on here!

This is the butternut squash soup.  Isn't it pretty?  Props to my mama for presentation.  She swirled our honey on top and I've got a story about those pecans.  When we went to the TCU game a couple weeks ago we went to her friends sons house before the game to tailgate.  He had two huge pecan trees in his yard and pecans were everywhere.  I mean, all over the yard.  We each grabbed a ziploc and filled it up as pecans were literally falling from the tree all around us.  When we got home we both cracked open some of those bad boys and the taste was incomparable to any pecan I've eaten.  Fresh is best.  Sadly, although there was an abundance of them, we each only took one bag.  I'm rationing mine and I might have to hide some soon because Josh eats them like crazy as well.  The fact that my mom shared them with me and garnished my soup with freshly cracked pecans shows how much she loves me.  A lot. 
Next time you go to the store, grab these ingredients and make yourself some of Kelly Ripa's soup.

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients For Herb Pouch

  • 3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Star Anise Pod*
  • 1 Teaspoon Peppercorn
*I didn't know what star anise was until a few years ago when I worked at an Asian restaurant in Vegas and we used it. It's a Chinese spice that's shaped like a star, hence it's name.  My mom couldn't find the pods at the store, but she found the spice ground up so we used a little bit of that and it worked just fine. 

Ingredients For Soup

  • 2 Tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Shallots
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth (My mom used vegetable)
  • 1 Large Butternut Squash
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper


  • Cook finely chopped garlic and shallots in olive oil until translucent, about 2-5 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth, then the herb pouch (simply wrap herbs in cheese cloth to make the pouch). Then add salt and pepper to taste, and cubed squash.
  • Partially cover and let simmer for 25-30 minutes until soft.
  • Remove herb pouch and use an emulsifier to blend until smooth.
  • Top with a drizzle of honey and toasted pepitas.  (We didn't have pepitas so we substituted pecans)

Here's a picture of star anise in case you're wondering.  Enjoy your soup!


Copper Oven Cafe

I know I can be biased to Kansas City eating, but it's what I'm used to and I had many years living there to find all my favorite places.  Breakfast is no exception.  I love First Watch.  Or Le Peep.  Or even Einstein Brothers when a girl needs a good pumpkin bagel.  All three of these are fine choices for a lovely Saturday breakfast.  All three of these are also not options in Wichita.  When we first moved here I bought a Groupon for a place in town called The Good Egg, which is Wichita's version of First Watch.  It wasn't good.  In fact, one of my friends even refers to it as, "The bad Egg."  It should come as no surprise that Josh and I have never returned as the food was mediocre and unmemorable.  And, yes, there are a couple other breakfast options in town, but they are very "diner-esque" (it's my blog and I can make up words if I want) and I'm not really into that type of thing.  Needless to say, although I can't say we have ventured out and tried every breakfast option I can say we haven't found that really awesome omelet and coffee that takes me back to KC mornings...until a couple weeks ago.  Well, Josh and I didn't find it, but my birthday outing with Brittany and Katie proved to be quite a successful celebration!

It started on the Saturday before my birthday with a trip to Williams-Sonoma for a cooking demonstration.  We had so much fun!  The cutest older man taught the class on how to cook your Thanksgiving turkey and a few sides. (I don't know about you, but I think elderly people are the best.)  There was a small rough patch at the very beginning when he literally grabbed pliers and pulled the white tendon out of both turkey legs.  For someone who eats meat sparingly and very much dislikes raw meat, that was a bit disgusting.  However, after that it was smooth sailing! 

We even got a little sample of the turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce. It was all very tasty and a nice preview of our Thanksgiving meals to come!  Don't you worry, before we left we also spent a nice chunk of our time longingly looking at all the spectacular things at that store that we can't afford.  A good time was had by all.
Next stop: breakfast at Copper Oven Cafe.  Katie was excited to show Brittany and me a new breakfast place.  It was fantastic!  It started with a delicious cup of flavored coffee.  Sadly, I was enjoying my good company and savoring my coffee I forgot to take pictures of our food. Whoops.  However, as soon as I have a weekend where I am in town I can't wait to take Josh and I'll make sure to take some pictures.  It didn't take me long to pick out what I wanted. 

.............................................................................................$ 7.59
Our Three Egg Omelet Filled Jack Cheese, Black Beans, Onions and Peppers, Topped with
Cheddar Jack Cheese and Salsa and Served with a Side of our Ranch Potatoes and Flour Tortillas

I found this combination so interesting.  I love black beans, but I never would have thought to put them in an omelet.  While it was a different combination, it worked beautifully.  I can't wait to go back.  Brittany ordered a skillet of some sort, but I can't remember what kind.  Katie ordered a ham quiche that smelled amazing and she echoed that description on taste once she took a bite.  Our server did a phenomenal job, which I always take note of.  I'm quite hard on them actually, but she was fabulous.  Very friendly at all times, she recommended a few things when we asked questions and she even filled my to- go cup with fresh coffee when I asked for a cup to take mine with me.  Bonus!

I know this "review" is pretty lame and lacks detail.  But, like I mentioned, I was in Happy Birthday to me mode, not I can't wait to blog about this mode.  Bottom line, if you live in Wichita and have not been to Copper Oven Cafe you need to make this your new breakfast spot! 

Copper Oven Cafe is closed on Sunday and Monday.  Tuesday through Saturday they are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.  Yes, they have lunch and dinner, which I'm sure is great, but I can only recommend breakfast.  I actually didn't even look at the lunch options, but breakfast includes omelettes, pancakes, french toast, skillets, quiche and many more items.  They serve breakfast until 2 p.m. so those of you who don't get up early have no excuse.  It may have taken three years, but I finally have a breakfast place in Wichita.  Thank you to Brittany and Katie for a wonderful morning filled with food and fun!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

A little thing came and went this past weekend.  You're now reading the blog of a 29 year old!  I really can't believe it-time sure flies when you're having fun!  I'm okay with getting older...I had a quarter life crisis when I turned 25.  As in, sat alone at my kitchen table in the dark with a bottle of wine and cried.  (No, Grandma, I didn't drink the whole bottle, don't worry.)  That melt down wasn't even about getting "old".  It was more about being an adult and fully grasping all the crummy things and struggles people you love go through.  Anyway, I know it wasn't my 30th on Saturday so ask me in a year if I still feel the same way.  :)
I read this a year or so ago and it really stuck with me.  Such good words to remember and it makes me thankful for all I've enjoyed this past year.  Looking forward to all that my next year has in store!
Pinned Image
My birthday was on Saturday and you guessed it-there was a KState game to attend!  It was at TCU, so most of the day was spend in the car driving to Texas.  My parents came to Wichita from KC on Friday night in time to take Josh and I to dinner for our birthdays.  It was such a great evening! 

We tried an Italian restaurant I've been wanting to go to for months called Bella Vita.  It was delicious and deserves it's own blog post so I'll save that for another time.

My day started with a pumpkin coffee from Quicktrip.  One of my favorites!  My day ended with pumpkin pancakes at IHOP for a late dinner after the game was over.  Not too shabby.

You're probably wondering when the Pumpkin Crunch Cake recipe is coming.  I haven't had time to blog lately so I'm a bit long winded today...just catching up from my unplanned leave of absence from blogging. 

The pumpkin crunch cake was enjoyed before the game.  So, yes, I had pumpkin flavored things for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I told you I love pumpkin.  You really shouldn't be surprised.  Anyway, my mom's friend has a son at TCU so we tailgated at his house before the game.  It was so nice to have a place to hang out and stretch our legs after the drive.  My mom's friend's dad (did you follow that?) is Italian and she made her family's authentic baked ziti that was incredible!!!!!  I realize she made it for her son, but I don't think she grasped how excited I was about it too!  For a "foodie" like me it really added to the fun on my birthday. 

My mom made me my favorite dessert.  Pumpkin crunch cake.  My friend Katie actually found this recipe last year on Pinterest and I've been hooked ever since.  It's so delicious and EASY.  Those are the only good things I can say.  It's also horrible for you, will clog your arteries, will cause your pants to get tight, etc.  Hence why I haven't made it this pumpkin season yet.  But, it was my birthday, and if a girl can't splurge on her birthday, when can she?!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake


1 box yellow cake mix
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (the original recipe called for 1/2 cup)
1 cup butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom of 9 x 13″ pan. Mix pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour mixture into greased pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture and top with pecans. Drizzle melted butter over pecans. Bake 50-55 minutes.

**My mom taught me that many recipes can taste just as delicious with less sugar than it calls for.  She used 3/4 C. sugar instead of the 1 1/2 it calls for and you would never know.  So, at least I consumed 47 g of sugar per piece instead of 52 g.  Okay, I exaggerated a bit on the sugar content, but in all seriousness, every little way you can cut back adds up!

If you follow my blog and read my last post about Josh's birthday you're probably wondering how I'm going get back in shape after all the food I ate the past week. 

See below:

I will be so nervous for Travis I will have no problem not eating.  I'm not's so, so, so exciting, but oh, the pressure!

Purple Potatoes

Yes, you read that right: Purple Potatoes!  Aren't they beautiful?  These bad boys were hard to get my hands on.  So begins...
Josh's 30th birthday weekend!
I know, I know, I'm a "food blog".  This will all have to do with food! (mostly) I must say, I was quite proud.  Silly, I know, to be proud of my hubby for the specificity he had when it came to his birthday meals.  Even though he doesn't enjoy cooking, he enjoys eating it just as much as I do and that makes me a happy wife.
A couple months ago when I asked Josh what he wanted to do for his 30th birthday it didn't take him long to decide.  He wanted to go to Salina and eat pizza at one of his favorite pizza places with his friends.  It's called Scheme pizza and he goes every chance he gets.  To make it more special for him and so we could all ride together, I rented a limo.  (I know what you're thinking and yes, when I called the limo company they said, "So...if I may ask, what's in Salina?") :)

The sun kind of ruined this pic, but here we are getting ready to leave our house. 
 A HUGE thanks to everyone who made the trip and helped Josh celebrate.
Two of my three brothers even made it from KC and Manhattan!

Josh doesn't even like cake, but I decided since it was the big 3-0 he needed one.  I went with a golf ball and it turned out great!  (No, I did not make it...I cook, not bake, remember?!)  Poor guy, he didn't feel well at all the entire night, but made the best of it!
Saturday morning meant it was time to drive to Manhattan for the KState game.  Here is where the purple potato story comes in.  At one of the hospitals Josh works at they have a chef that cooks them lunch.  One of my favorite parts of my day comes around 11:15 when I get a text from Josh with a picture of what he's eating for lunch.  A couple months ago Josh sent me a picture and it had purple Peruvian potatoes as a side dish.  When he came home that day he went on and on about these potatoes and how awesome it is that they are purple.  Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when I asked Josh what he wanted for the tailgate before the K-State game for his birthday.  His response: purple potatoes.  I thought it was a great idea!  Until I tried to find them.  You would have thought I was trying to get my hands on an illegal substance.  I called three stores in Wichita as well as Trader Joes and Whole Foods in Kansas City and they were nowhere to be found.  I searched online and couldn't find them.  By Wednesday, I was down to 2 days and it was crunch time.  I had to come through.  He asked for ONE thing and it was such an awesome idea.  Like Batman saving the day, I was on a mission.  It was time to get serious. It was time to call in a favor.  So, Wednesday morning I called the US Foods rep from my old job and I left him a message telling him what I needed. Within 30 minutes he called me back.  Craig saved the day!  He was not able to get them for me from US Foods, but he knew a guy who he calls for "abnormal" food items and he could get them for me.  Brian, at Indian Hills Meat and Poultry was expecting my call.  Hot dog, I was going to come through for my man!  I hung up and called him immediately and explained why I needed the potatoes.  Thankfully, he is a huge KState fan so he didn't think I was totally nuts.  (In fact, he suggested I buy a lot and sell them to the other tailgaters.  I'm always open to making money so for a moment I imagined it...I'd call myself: The Purple Peruvian Potato Girl.  I could get a cute uniform, perhaps become so popular I would soar to new stardom...just me and The Mask, putting Manhattan on the national map.  Totally kidding)  Anyway, my options were 10 lb or 50 lb boxes.  For all his trouble I didn't want to only get 10 lbs.  But, my goodness, what's a girl to do with 50 lbs?  I settled for 20 lbs. and I was able to pick them up on Friday.  Mission accomplished! 
We didn't even use one bag.  Guess what color the mashed potatoes will be at the Tannahill Thanksgiving this year? 
Josh wanted chicken fried steak with his mashed potatoes which I shot down in .02 seconds.  I love men sometimes...I'm tired just thinking about the amount of work it would take to make that for a bunch of people at a tailgate.  He also really wanted white gravy to make purple and white potatoes to really get the school colors on the plate.  Now, that, I could make happen.  We stopped and got some chicken tenders from a place in Salina he likes on our way along with lots of gravy.  It was a very festive and successful tailgate!

Here we are after the game with my brothers celebrating another WIN along with Josh's birthday. It was a bit of a bummer, because all day Josh could barely talk his throat hurt so bad. We went to all this effort to make his 30th memorable and I'm pretty sure he would have preferred to be in bed all weekend.  He was a good sport and tried to enjoy himself!
Josh's actual birthday was on Monday and unfortunately, he still felt horrible.  I had pizza shipped to our house from one of his favorite pizza places in Chicago.  (Yes, I ate WAY too much pizza last weekend, but your hubby only turns 30 once!)  A couple unfortunate things about this process.  First off, they did not deliver on Sunday or Monday.  Which meant, I had to have it delivered on Friday since we would be gone in Manhattan all day Saturday.  No big deal...except Josh was post call on Friday so he would be home all day.  I decided that was okay and he would just get it while he was home and get his present a couple days early.  It would still be a good surprise.  He got it on Friday, but then proceeded to tell me he'd known about it since earlier that week when I ordered it because he got an e-mail from UPS.  Excuse me, WHAT?!  I was so careful not to put his e-mail or contact information on anything when I ordered.  It irritates me UPS would automatically send him an email just because they recognize the address I put in.  So much for a surprise.  Present failure.  Furthermore, in my head I imagined a candle lit pizza dinner filled with good conversation, laughter and memories.  Then, reality set in and Josh was in his sweats, under a blanket in the basement and wanted to eat down there.  I totally understand, when I'm sick all I want to do is lay around, but it wasn't quite how I imagined in my head!

Here's a little bit of what we enjoyed Monday evening.  Sausage for Josh and spinach for me.  I also made him apple pie for dessert.  Even sick he did manage to come up and eat a piece of pie.
Just to recap...birthday weekend "curveballs":
1) Josh was sick for his birthday party.
2) Limo broke down on the way to Salina.  Oh, I didn't mention that?  Yes, it sure did.  Not a big deal, but not exactly planned.
3) Pizza couldn't get delivered on his birthday.
4) UPS sent Josh an e-mail about his pizza and RUINED the surprise.
5)  Josh was still sick on his actual birthday.
6) Lastly, see those sunglasses Josh is wearing?  The ones that make anyone look like a fly.  Those are my sunglasses I ordered for the last few KState games that have little Powercats on the side of them.  I didn't know the lenses would be yellow!  I realize that has nothing to do with his birthday, but I thought I should explain those hideous glasses in that picture.
  Even though it didn't go EXACTLY how we planned, it was a very memorable weekend filled with delicious food and company. Thank you to all our friends and family who helped him celebrate!