Friday, October 23, 2015

2 Great Soups for Fall. And... Cake Mix Cookies - here's your chance!

     Fall is synonymous with pumpkin flavored everything - coffee, cookies, even ravioli.  I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin, but I do like Pumpkin Soup. Lots of area restaurants serve it this time of year. When you order Pumpkin Soup, you usually get the creamy version. I like this, but my favorite is a spicy Rachael Ray creation that I tweaked a few years ago. Today I’m going to share that recipe with you, and I’d love to hear from you if you try it!
     I’m also going to post the recipe for Italian Meatball Soup – an easy weeknight meal with only 5 ingredients. This is the easiest dinner I make, hands down, and definitely one of my daughters’ favorites. They were certainly happy last night when they heard that they were having it for dinner. Thursday nights are hectic for us – my oldest daughter has singing rehearsal at church from 4:30-5:30, and my middle one has guitar lesson from 630-7:00. Then the oldest has voice lesson at 8:00. Sound familiar? I need something that I can throw together quickly, and I sure don’t have time to fight anyone to get them to the table. My mother-in-law’s Italian Meatball Soup is the answer on these busy nights. Thank you Lori Faletti!

     Last, I’m going to share my cake mix cookie recipe. No matter where I bring these shamefully simple cookies, people LOVE them. They ask for the recipe. They ask again and again, and I always say “3 ingredients plus whatever you like to add in.” My cousins beg me to bring them to birthday parties. My neighbors devour them. I make these on weekdays when my kids are on their way home from school, and they love to walk in the door and smell cookies.  I think the act of mixing the batter also calms my pre-homework nerves and makes me feel like I’m a good mom even though can’t quite understand my sixth grader’s math assignments. Ha!
     Enjoy the recipes, peeps!

Italian Meatball Soup


2 large 48 oz cans or cartons of chicken broth
1 28 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
3 C frozen mini meatballs – these can be homemade or store bought. I get mine from the local Italian store
1 bag fresh, bagged pre-washed spinach
½ boz Ditalini or Elbow Macaroni

In a soup pot, bring broth and tomatoes to a boil.
Add meatballs and spinach.
Add noodles and cook until noodles are al dente.

Seriously. It’s that easy.

The pumpkin soup takes a little longer and has a few more ethnic ingredients, but it’s really worth a try if you like pumpkin and spicy foods. Now’s the time of year to do it!

Spicy Pumpkin Soup 


2T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 canned chile in adobo sauce, chopped.
1 14.5 oz can pumpkin
1 bottle of pumpkin beer or regular lite beer
1 large 48 oz can chicken broth
1 can black beans
Shredded rotisserie chicken
Sour cream
Chopped green onions
Shredded Mexcian cheese
Tortilla chips

In a dutch oven, saute your onion and garlic in olive oil. Season with salt, cumin and cinnamon.
Once onions are translucent, add the chopped chile in adobo. The adobo sauce is pretty spicy, so add more for extra kick or less for a milder bite.
Add in the pumpkin, the beer, the chicken broth, and black beans and let simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir in the shredded rotisserie chicken.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with cheese, sour cream, onions and some chips.

Cake Mix Cookies

     I don’t love to bake, and I don’t love sweets. I’m much more likely to devour a bag of chips before a bag of chocolates, and I would much prefer to make a five course dinner than one fancy dessert. My mother-in-law, Lori, however, is the dessert queen. My husband once informed me that when he was a kid, they had a different homemade dessert every night after family dinner.
     I snort laughed at that one, because I definitely don’t make homemade desserts every night.
     I just make cake mix cookies. Often.
     Lori, the dessert queen, also introduced me to these easy cookies. She swears by using oil, but I NEVER use oil in cookies. Or margarine. I don't use margarine for anything. It's butter all the way for me.

1 box regular cake mix – any flavor
2 eggs
1 stick of butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Melt butter in a large microwave safe bowl
Add cake mix and eggs
Add whatever you want – choc chips, white chips, nuts, craisins, etc…
Bake for 10 minutes

NOTE: My family’s favorite is simple yellow cake mix with chocolate chips. I also make chocolate cake mix with chocolate chips, strawberry cake mix with white chips for Valentine’s day. I’ve used white cake mix and add pistachio pudding mix to the batter then add white chips. The cookies are green and cute for Christmas or St. Patrick’s day.

Bottom line – you really can’t mess these up. Be creative, and your family will love them.
Last week I used a white cake mix. I didn't add anything, but made them into sandwich cookies with Nutella filling.
Because everything is better with Nutella. EVERYTHING.

This week I made pumpkin ones with cinnamon chips! ‘Tis the season!

Next time, I’ll be posting my Halloween party snack ideas. Until, then, MANGIA!!!!

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