Because crafts are like crack.

Pumpkin Dip November 6, 2011

Filed under: Cooking — Casey @ 10:30 am

To say that I like pumpkin would be an understatement. I consider myself a pumpkin gourmet. This year I sampled more than a dozen pumpkin beers. I have recipes for pumpkin nachos, pumpkin chili, pumpkin burgers, and pumpkin lasagna along with all of your normal pumpkin uses. I come by it honestly though. The only people I’ve known that like pumpkin as much as I do are my cousins and we all got it from my late grandmother.

Pumpkin Dip is a great fall appetizer or snack. It would even make a great dessert. I serve it with apple slices, gingersnaps and graham crackers.

Pumpkin Dip

  • ¬† 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Mix in the pumpkin, spices, and orange juice concentrate until well-blended. Chill until serving.

There is a reason cake decorating is not my “mane” hobby September 25, 2011

Filed under: Cooking — Casey @ 2:36 pm

When you are the “crafty” person in your group of friends, you often get called upon to assist in all sorts of creative endeavors… even those for which you have no real talent.

I first took a cake decorating class when I graduated college and I found myself with many free evenings. This was more than ten years ago and before cake decorating and other crafts became trendy. I learned alongside a bunch of granny-types and eventually dropped out when all of my roses ended up looking like unicorn poo. I did keep my icing tips though and even learned a couple handy tips along the way.

So my friend’s little boy was getting ready to turn one, but she couldn’t find a bakery anywhere that would accommodate his egg allergy. Every little boy deserves a smash cake that doesn’t result in anaphylactic shock so I took on the challenge.

Our first obstacle was finding recipe for our little bubble boy. In a light bulb moment, we realized that anything vegan would eliminate two of the more common allergens, milk and eggs. But often they substituted soy, which could also be a problem for over-reactive immune systems. Our answer finally came from the domestic diva herself.

Her Divvies Chocolate Cupcakes are nut, dairy, and egg-free and delicious to boot!

Step two was finding an icing recipe. This was surprisingly more difficult than I thought it would be. I think that decorating class I took finally paid off when I dug out this recipe I used in my decorating class.

The birthday party was to be animal themed which did make our decorating a little easier. After a couple hours on Pinterest, a lion seemed like our best chance for success. We used one of the Wilton Sports Ball cake pans to give our animal head a better shape.

I am not sure if our cake recipe was not robust enough, but it is a very good thing we were not planning on making a ball. However, if ever I need to make a cake for a bachelor party, I will definitely be using this pan again.

We then had a lot of fun dying our icing.

Even if it did look a lot like pub cheese.

I have always been bad at doing crumb coats. But once the base coat of frosting was smoothed out with some wax paper, it looked a little better. But still like a cheese ball.

The key to the mane was the multi-opening decorator tip.

So the finished project was a little off looking, but still kind of cute.

In retrospect, I would say he could really use some ears. Fortunately, my primary audience was only one. Happy Birthday Will!


Because I do whatever Matt Lauer tells me to do January 9, 2011

Filed under: Cooking — Casey @ 12:00 pm

Turkey Pozole Soup

While normally not a huge Matt Lauer fan (in fact I think he might be a bit a goober in real life), I admit the NBC crew is part of my morning routine. I find Matt, Meredith, Ann, and Al to be just innocuous enough to not annoy me while I am attending to the more important tasks of getting caffeine into my system and checking Facebook. On Monday the background noise seeped into my consciousness when Matt commented the Turkey Pozole from the previous segment had been REALLY good (if very spicy) and everyone should make it. Everyone? That is a pretty resounding endorsement. I figure that Matt probably gets to sample food from lots of great chefs so the soup must be super tasty to merit such enthusiasm after a commercial break. Would Matt really risk his journalistic integrity on a mediocre soup?

With all my previous cooking experience, I only had a vague idea of what hominy is all about. I think I might have been able to purchase it for my settlers when playing Oregon Trail, because I mentally have it filed as something you might eat with hard tac and sourgham.

In fact it appears hominy is maize soaked in lye. Yum? Additionally, pozole seems to be a traditional pork and hominy soup. Double yum? But Matt would never steer me wrong, right?

Right! Holy cow, this is one tasty soup! It is very spicy, but has the kind of heat I find myself craving. This soup was so good that the husband went back for a second bowl two hours after dinner.

I tried to shop for ingredients from memory and I was not very successful. I remembered some Mexican “A”-spice. Thus I purchased Adobo paste instead of Ancho chili powder. I also forgot a fresh jalapeno. In all frankness, my palate is not sufficiently developed to taste many subtle flavors below the spice of this soup. Someone more accustomed to heat might worry more about Ancho vs. grocery store chili powder, but my tongue can’t tell the difference.

So this is the recipe that WE made and that we can vouch for. Obviously, I can’t follow a soup recipe to save my life.

Turkey pozole soup with green chilies

Adapted from Michael Lomonaco, executive chef at Porter House New York on the NBC Today Show


  • 1.5 pounds cooked turkey tenderloin cut into 1/2 inch cubes (any meat would be great – especially any leftover poultry)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons diced pickled jalapeno peppers
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons peeled, chopped garlic
  • 2 4 ounce cans chopped green chilies
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo paste (just because I bought it!)
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 28 ounce can white hominy
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • Sour cream
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Saute the onions and red pepper in the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat until lightly browned.

Add the jalapenos, chopped turkey. Season with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir in garlic, green chilies, tomatoes and Adobo paste. Let warm through.

Stir in the chicken broth plus two cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and allow it to simmer, partially covered for at least one hour.

Add the drained and rinsed hominy. Cook until warmed through, about 15 minutes.

Serve with cilantro, scallions and sour cream.