Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

In an attempt to try out a few new holiday side dishes, I discovered a dish that makes me push away the typical potato casserole.  I will admit that I have not cooked with spaghetti squash.  What a pleasant surprise!  This creation had this carb loving family excited.  All the goodness with no guilt!  If you are a newbie to spaghetti squash, this video might help you out.
Start making your menus!- Amanda

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

1 medium spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
¼ t red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy
1 t fresh thyme
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds.  Place in a covered dish with a ¼ inch of water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes.  In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, red pepper and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and transfer to a small bowl.  Combine the squash, onions, sour cream and half the cheese together and mix well.  Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish 8 x11 and top with remaining cheese.

Place into a 375º for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown on top.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

It’s that time of year where pumpkins are on the brain.  While whipping up your traditional fall favorites, you need to make time for these cookies.  It’s a perfect way to use that leftover pumpkin puree.  Soft and chewy with a hint of pumpkin, these goodies are like eating a piece of fall.  Feel free to add some pecans or walnuts.  The cookie monsters in my house approved this addition to our fall dessert assortment.  Taste the fall!- Amanda

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 t vanilla extract
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
With mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg, followed by the pumpkin puree and the vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture and the oatmeal until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 11-13 min. Cookies will be lightly browned at the edges when done. Don’t over-bake or they can dry out.
Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen

Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

Oh the happiness of a French Dip!  Let’s get a fact out there: A French Dip is not from France.  The name is derived from the actual bread that is used to create this delectable sandwich.  During my research, I discovered that Philippe Mathieu, inventor of the French Dip Sandwich, was French and living in Los Angeles. In 1914, according to the story at Mathieu’s  restaurant, Philippe was preparing a sandwich for a policeman and accidentally dropped the sliced French roll into the drippings of a roasting pan. The policeman liked the sandwich and came back the next day with some friends to order the sandwich “dipped” in the meat pan. From that day on, a new sandwich was born. See accidents in the kitchen can turn out to be a wonderful thing! There’s your history for the day.  So put on a little French music and fire up your crockpot.  It’s that easy.  Can’t trust a name of a sandwich! -Amanda

Crockpot French Dips Sandwiches

3 lbs beef chuck roast
16 oz. beef broth (1 1/2 cans)
1 can condensed French onion soup
1 white onion, thinly sliced
1 t garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 French rolls
sliced provolone cheese

Trim excess fat off of beef roast and season meat all over with salt and pepper.  Pour beef broth, French onion soup, onion slices, and garlic powder into slow cooker and place beef roast into liquid.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Since this is cooking in liquid, you don’t have to worry about the meat drying out in the same way you might if you were roasting the meat in the oven. I cooked our roast for 7 hours and it was so tender.
Take beef out and rest it, covered with aluminum foil, for about 15 minutes. Slice beef and return to slow cooker on low for 30 minutes.
Lightly toast the bread and evenly distribute cheese between rolls.  Divide beef onto rolls and spoon the remaining beef juice into ramekins. Serve each sandwich with its own dip.

Seves 4-6

Happy Birthday Pancakes

My sweet, energetic, determined, little boy turned 7!  The sky was the limit for his birthday dinner.  He could go to his favorite restaurant, order pizza, whatever… William requested I make breakfast for dinner.  I wanted to whip up a special treat.  Our Happy Birthday Pancakes, complete with sprinkles, create a celebration.  Warning: They are very sweet so you will need a large glass of milk.  Happy Birthday, William!  Love, Mommy

Happy Birthday Pancakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1 T sugar
3/4 t baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1-2 cups milk
assorted sprinkles

Combine flour, cake mix, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix. Add 1 cup of milk, eggs, and vanilla and stir until smooth. You want the batter to look like regular pancake batter; not too thin, not too thick. This will vary greatly on the brand of cake mix you use. You might need to add a little more milk.  Take a small taste test as well to see if the pancakes are flavored enough.

Preheat a skillet on medium heat.  Fold desired amount of sprinkles into batter. Pour batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto skillet and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more. Serve with vanilla glaze.

Vanilla Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1 T milk
1/2 t vanilla extract
assorted sprinkle

Mix milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar until glaze forms. You may need to add a little more sugar or water/milk to reach desired consistency. Mix sprinkles into glaze and drizzle on pancakes.

Happy 7th Birthday, William!

Pumpkin Bread

We have entered my favorite time of the year.  Baking in the fall just makes me happy.  The other night our kitchen was alive with the smell of pumpkin bread.  Seriously, nothing says “Hello Fall” like pumpkin bread.  This easy recipe was given to me by my mother-in-law when I first entered the Fuller family.  It has been a traditional recipe ever since.  Make it the night before to experience the ultimate goodness.  Oh the smell of fall!-Amanda

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 cup flour

3 cup sugar

1/2 t salt

1 t cinnamon

1 t nutmeg

2 t baking soda

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2/3 cup water

1 can pumpkin

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

On a low speed, mix flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and soda.  Mix well.  Make a hole in the middle.  Add cooking oil, 4 eggs, water, and pumpkin.  Stir well.  Add walnuts.  Grease and flour 2 bread pans.  Split the batter between the two bread pans.  Cook 1 hour or little longer at 350 degrees.  Cool completely on rack.  Wrap bread and refrigerate.  Make the night before for total yumminess.

Crazy Good Roast

Okay, Roast!   Last Sunday I wanted to be all 1950’s and whip up a roast.  Now June Cleaver did not have a crockpot but if she did, it would have totally changed her life and the way she prepared a roast.  Honestly, just throw it all in the crockpot and curl up with a good book.  To make it a little exciting, I shredded some roast and served on small rolls.  It was a HUGE family hit.  Here’s to a restful Sunday! -Amanda

Crazy Good Roast

4 -5 lb. chuck pot roast

1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch mix

1 pkg. McCormick Au jus mix

8 T butter (1 stick)

6 whole pepperoncini peppers

If you want: Potatoes (cubed) and/or Carrots (chopped)

Place the pot roast in the crock pot on low.  Sprinkle ranch and au jus mix over the roast.  Place a stick of butter on top of the roast.
Put 6 peperoncini peppers on top of the roast.  Add potatoes and carrots now if you want them with your roast.  Let the roast cook at least 7 hours.  Trust me don’t add water.  Pull your roast out of the crockpot and prepare to serve.  If you want sandwiches, shred your roast and serve with rolls.

Minestrone Soup

Soup weather!  You know what I’m talking about.  The kind of weather that you can’t wait to get in your jammies and call it a day.  Well, our last rainy day called for minestrone soup.  It takes a little time to prepare but then you will have plenty of time to be lazy.  Serve it with warm, garlic bread to complete the goodness.  Feel free to experiment with veggies and noodles.  Stay dry and warm! -Amanda

Minestrone Soup


2 T extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 pound pancetta or thick-cut prosciutto, finely chopped

1 lb. zucchini, cut into strips lengthwise, then cut into small pieces

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

32 ounces  (4 cups) chicken stock

16 ounces (2 cups) chicken broth

15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed

15 ounce can  tomato puree

1/4 lb. whole wheat penne or other short-cut pasta

Handful basil, torn into pieces

About 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano

In a soup pot, heat the EVOO, over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned, a couple of minutes. Add the zucchini, celery, onion, bay leaves and 2 cloves garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 7 to 8 minutes.

Stir the chicken stock and broth, beans and tomatoes into the soup and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Stir in the basil and lower the heat to low.

Serve soup in bowls and top with parmigiano cheese.  Add warm, garlic bread to complete the meal. This soup is thick and full of stuff.  Feel free to add a little more chicken broth to thin out the soup.