Easy Pumpkin Pancakes

These were lovely on a rainy fall morning! They are a slightly altered version of a recipe found on allrecipes.com

2 1/2 cups of pancake mix. (I used a wheat mix.)
3 TBSP Brown Sugar
2 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 egg
1 3/4 cup milk
2 TBSP Vegetable Oil ( I subbed about 1/2 cup applesauce)
2 TBSP Vinegar
1 cup Pumpkin Puree

I used a 1/4 cup to scoop up the batter onto my griddle. I made 18 pancakes with this recipe.
My kids ate them with a little bit of syrup. I thought they were fantastic on their own.

Best Oven Fries Ever

Okay, are you ready? These are seriously the best oven fries I have ever had. They are crispy-crunchy on the outside and fluffy baked potato inside. The ingredients aren't anything special; it's all in the method. Maybe you all knew this already, but I did not. My oven fries up until this point have been okay--kind of soggy really. Nothing to write home about. But tonight my life was changed (at least in the realm of oven fries).

3 large russet potatoes with peels,scrubbed
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided (you could use canola, peanut or whatever but I personally love olive oil)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Scrub your potatoes and cut each potato into 8 wedges. Rinse them off and set aside in a large bowl of hot water for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 475 degrees. 
  3. Spread 4 tablespoons of the oil on a large heavy baking sheet (like a jelly roll pan). 
  4. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the oil. Set aside. 
  5. Now drain your potatoes. Dry them well using paper towels or a kitchen towel. 
  6. Dry out the bowl they were in and put them back in along with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Toss to coat.
  7. Spread potato wedges in a single layer on your sheet pan. 
  8. Cover tightly with aluminum foil (this is important!). 
  9. Bake the potatoes in the preheated oven for 5 minutes and then remove the foil. 
  10. Continue baking for another 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the bottoms of them are becoming golden brown. 
  11. Now remove the potatoes from the oven and using either tongs or a spatula flip them all over so the up sides are down. 
  12. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes depending on desired doneness. 
  13. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper if desired. 

I doubled the recipe and my family of six took care of them without any problem.
These would also be awesome with fry sauce or ketchup.

*Recipe found on Pinterest and adapted from HERE.

Yummy Autumn Salad

Okay, so this isn't really a recipe as much as it is a list of ingredients.  Also, you may eat it at any time of the year.  Adapted from a not so yummy salad from Bruegger's.

Salad greens (I like a mix of baby spinach and field greens)
Apple, peeled and chopped
Pecans (toasting them makes them yummier)
Feta cheese
Cooked chicken breast
Balsamic vinaigrette (I love Newman's Own light balsamic)

Toss ingredients together and enjoy!

Grandma Lois' Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe is from my Grandma. I guess it was a tradition to make it for Thanksgiving. My Grandpa was in charge of the turkey and fixings, and she would handle dessert. Apparently, our family missed out, because my mom was too busy making the turkey and fixings herself!

This is not a dense cheesecake. The beaten egg whites make it light and fluffy.

1 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
3 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP butter

Press in to the bottom and two inches up the sides of a springform pan. Bake at 325 for 5 minutes.

Large bowl combine 2- 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup half and half or light cream
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cups of sugar
4 egg yolks
3 TBSP flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Beat until smooth.

Fold in 4 stiff beaten egg whites.

Put in prepared crust. Bake at 325 for 1 hour.

1 cup sour cream
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
blend, and spread over cheesecake and bake 5 more minutes

Chill thoroughly before serving.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Another yummy Pinterest find.  While the directions call for it to be made in a slow cooker, I had no trouble adapting it to the stove top.  Perfect for a rainy autumn day!

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used leftover rotisserie chicken, shredded)
1 package of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups half and half (I used half milk and half half and half, low-fat :)
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery

Combine broth, water, carrots, celery, chicken and rice (along with seasoning packet) in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Take out chicken and shred with two forks and then add back into slow cooker. In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour mixture by tablespoon to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Stir cream mixture into slow cooker and then let cook on low for 15 more minutes. 

Lasagna Soup

Wednesday nights are usually "Italian Night" at our house, but not feeling like the usual, I whipped this up after seeing it on Pinterest.  So delicious!

2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves (I used dried)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the ricotta mixture in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.