Hot Eats and Cool Reads: October 2014

Oct 30, 2014

Pesto White Bean Spread Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. For more info, click here!

It's been awhile since I've posted an appetizer recipe! I have a great one for you today... Pesto White Bean Spread! Perfect on crackers, sliced bread or some crostini. It would also be great with a veggie tray. It's actually pretty good for you too, which is a plus! I love the pesto flavor, fresh parsley adds some color, and the beans are a nice texture when they're blended. 

I love how simple this recipe is and also how inexpensive it is to make. You can whip it up in a pinch for last minute company or have it on the menu for the holidays. If you're not a fan of garlic, you can leave that out, and to make it vegan, skip the parmesan cheese. So adaptable! Enjoy!

Oct 27, 2014

Slow Cooker Four Bean Chili Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. For more info, click here!

Hi everyone! Sheena's sister Shannon here from In Blurred Focus with my husband's four bean chili recipe!!!  It's fall here in Minnesota, so it was a great day to make a slow cooker full of this amazing chili!  I have to admit, I never liked chili before I tried my husband's recipe.  There is just something about the flavor of this recipe, maybe the spicy V-8 juice as the base? I'm not sure, but it's pretty darn amazing and I can't wait for you all to try it!

Oct 24, 2014

Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup Recipe!

Many of us parents face the same dilemma.... How to get kids to eat veggies? Today, 9 out of 10 people in the United States do not get the proper amount of vegetables, according to The State Of The Plate report. I am pretty fortunate these days since my daughter is now a veggie lover.

How did we get to this point? Try everything, then try them again if they don't like something! My rule has always been she has to try something new, and always at least two bites of each new food. It's worked great for us and she loves almost every veggie we eat, cooked or raw! I also let her choose recipes she'd like to try, then we pick out the types of vegetables she wants to add, using one new one we haven't tried before. It's so worth getting them involved in the whole cooking process!

This year, Birds Eye has partnered with Melissa d’Arabian, celebrity chef, mom of four, and host of’s web series The Picky Eaters Project, to make a difference and help moms with the dinnertime dilemma. I especially love her idea of introducing new veggies with already familiar meals! 

Everyone knows it can be tough to get a balanced meal on the table every day and we’re here to help. Birds Eye frozen vegetables helps mom by providing nutritious, tasty veggies that kids will love. Together, Birds Eye and Melissa are combining their expertise in getting children to eat more veggies, one bite at a time. I'm sure we all can use some extra tips in this area!

You can see some of her ideas and a new recipe in the video below! 

Birds Eye continues to make eating more vegetables a reality by showing families how to fill half the plate with veggies in fun and simple ways moms and kids will both like. By providing moms with more than 40 unique vegetable blends year round at affordable prices, Birds Eye continues to be her ally in the dinnertime dilemma.

The best recipes to get kids to eat veggies in my opinion... are soups! Birds Eye Frozen Vegetables turns soup making into an easy and quick task! All the veggies are cut into bite sized pieces, so no prep required and they hold up SO well in soup! We really enjoyed this recipe for Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup! The kids love it, and it's great served with a chunk of crusty bread for dipping! The package of mixed veggies adds a nice variety and it's done in 30 minutes! Perfect for weeknights! 

Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup (click here to print)

What you need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
6 cups chicken broth
1- 19 ounce package Birds Eye Frozen Mixed Vegetables (carrots, corn, peas and green beans), thawed
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup flour
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
3 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Then add the broth, thawed mixed veggies and green onions. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, whisk together the half and half and flour until combined. Once soup has come to a boil, stir in the half and half and flour mixture. Reduce heat to medium and cook until broth thickens. Before serving, stir in the chopped spinach, dijon mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

This recipe was shared at: Inside BruCrew LifeKathe with an EMemories by the MileFeeding BigThe NY Melrose FamilyA Dish of Daily LifeLove Bakes Good CakesThe Best Blog RecipesThe Better Baker

Oct 22, 2014

Shrimp, Veggie and Rice Noodle Stir Fry Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. For more info, click here!

My daughter's been super picky lately when it comes to eating different foods. She wants to stick to the same things, and let's be honest, that's a pain! I love to make new and different meals all the time, so we compromised. Now she gets to pick out recipes she likes, and we adapt them together, to make something we both love!

That's how this stir fry came to life! We have no problems with her eating veggies and shrimp, in fact she loves most veggies. But hates pizza. Not a typical 7 year old at all! She also loves pasta, so we decided to add in the rice noodles. I had no idea how easy these were to prepare, so they fit in nicely.

Overall, this dish turned out great. As usual, it's a quick meal and fairly healthy too. You can use beef or chicken instead of shrimp if you prefer and use a different blend of veggies. The sauce is flavorful and it's good reheated stir fry style in a skillet or wok the next day.

Shrimp, Veggie and Rice Noodle Stir Fry (click here to print)

What you need:
4-5 ounces rice stick noodles

3/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 pound bok choy, cut into bite sized pieces
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1- 14 ounce can bean sprouts, drained
1 pound raw shrimp, cleaned and tails removed
salt and pepper, as needed

Soak rice noodles in hot water for 10 minutes, Drain and set aside. Cut if desired.

In a bowl, whisk together the broth, teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and sugar until combined. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the canola and sesame oils over medium high heat. Add the bell pepper and bok choy and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Then add garlic, bean sprouts and shrimp, saute for another 2-3 minutes. Pour in the sauce mixture and cook for another 2 minutes until thickened. Toss in the rice noodles a little at a time until combined evenly. Serve immediately.

On the blog... one year ago: Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork Roast

Two years ago: Cheesy Ground Beef, Broccoli and Rice Skillet

Three years ago: Homemade Taco Meat

This recipe is shared at these blogs: Love Bakes Good Cakes, A Dish of Daily Life, The Better BakerInside BruCrew LifeKathe with an EMemories by the MileFeeding BigThe NY Melrose Family

Oct 20, 2014

Chocolate Bottom Pumpkin Pie Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. For more info, click here!

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! It was pretty low key at our house. I went grocery shopping and did a whole bunch of cooking! One of the things I made was this delicious pie!

I'm a huge pumpkin pie lover, especially my Dad's pumpkin pie, but I decided to jazz it up some and incorporate some chocolate into the mix! This recipe really couldn't be any easier and the layer of chocolate on the bottom is great for all you chocolate lovers! It would be a wonderful addition to Thanksgiving or any fall get together!

Chocolate Bottom Pumpkin Pie (click to print)

1 pie

What you need:
1- 9 inch frozen pie crust, thawed
1/2 cup miniature semi sweet chocolate chips
1- 15 ounce can pumpkin
2 eggs
3/4 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
whipped cream and mini chocolate chips for topping

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Bake thawed pie crust for 5-6 minutes, until it starts to brown. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin. Cook over low heat and stir frequently until chocolate is melted. Spread over the bottom of the cooled pie crust. 

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and half and half. Add remaining pumpkin,sugar and pumpkin pie spice, mix well. Pour over the chocolate mixture in the pie crust. Place pie in the 450 degree oven, immediately reducing heat to 350 degrees. Bake about 45 minutes until center is set. Cool completely then slice and serve topped with whipped cream and chocolate chips. Store remaining pie in the refrigerator. 

On the blog... one year ago: Creamy Wild Rice Cranberry Soup

Two years ago: Tomato, Mushroom and White Bean Soup

Three years ago: Mixed Berry Bellinis

This recipe is shared at these blogs: Love Bakes Good CakesA Dish of Daily LifeThe Better Baker, Inside BruCrew Life

Oct 18, 2014

Slow Cooker Red Kidney Bean, Barley and Vegetable Soup with Hamilton Beach Set and Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker and Giveaway!

Disclosure: Hamilton Beach provided this slow cooker to me for review

Now that fall has fully kicked in here in MN, we've been using the slow cooker to cook so many recipes! It's especially convenient when using the Hamilton Beach Set and Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker! This slow cooker is pretty awesome! Let me tell you...

Oct 15, 2014

Book Review: The Sweetness by Sande Boritz Berger

Book Summary:
Early in The Sweetness, an inquisitive young girl asks her grandmother why she is carrying nothing but a jug of sliced lemons and water when they are forced by the Germans to evacuate their ghetto. "Something sour to remind me of the sweetness," she tells her, setting the theme for what they must remember to survive. Set during World War II, the novel is the parallel tale of two Jewish girls, cousins, living on separate continents, whose strikingly different lives ultimately converge. Brooklyn-born Mira Kane is the eighteen-year-old daughter of a well-to-do manufacturer of women s knitwear in New York. Her cousin, eight-year-old Rosha Kaninsky, is the lone survivor of a family in Vilna exterminated by the invading Nazis. But unbeknownst to her American relatives, Rosha did not perish. Desperate to save his only child during a round-up of their ghetto, her father thrusts her into the arms of a Polish Catholic candle maker, who then hides her in a root cellar putting her own family at risk.

My Thoughts:
I'm a huge lover of any Holocaust themed books. Fiction or Non Fiction. With that being said, I really liked this book. It was interesting to see each character and what they were both doing throughout the book, and how drastically different that part of their lives were. 

Although Rosha was in hiding through most of the book, it seemed that she was safe even though her situation was very dangerous. I would've liked a little more detail into her life as it seemed Mira's story stuck out the most, with the most detail. The writing was great and it kept me interested until the end. I would recommend this story to any Holocaust reader. It does show a different aspect that other Holocaust books.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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Oct 13, 2014

Individual Egg, Hashbrown and Sausage Breakfast Bakes Recipe with Mini Baker Round Stoneware from Crafts Direct!

Disclosure: Thanks to Crafts Direct for sponsoring this post!

Growing up in central Minnesota, anytime someone talks about crafts or scrapbooks, the Crafts Direct name comes up! 

Crafts Direct is a locally owned store here in St Cloud, Minnesota and it happens to be one of my very favorites! This store is so much more than craft items. 

You can also find cute home decor items, a kitchen section, seasonal items, and even a cafe! 

They also offer various classes, and donate to many organizations in the community!

Today I'm sharing a new product at Crafts Direct! 

These Mini Baker Round Stonewares are so colorful and functional! They are perfect for any kitchen! 

You can find 9 colors available, and what's best, these Mini Bakers are oven, microwave and dishwasher safe! The handles stay cool in the microwave and the cover is so handy to prevent microwave messes. 

I love using them to make individual sized meals, like the amazing Egg, Hashbrown and Sausage Breakfast Bakes below. 

I also love them for storing leftovers and serving dips! They make perfect gifts for the upcoming holiday season, especially for college students and families. 

Each one measures 6.25" wide x 3.5" high - 4.5" wide x 2" high inside and holds approximately 2 cups! 100% stoneware!

Oct 10, 2014

Pepperoni and Tomato Parmesan Pasta Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. For more info, click here!

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

We have a Girl Scouts event for my daughter tomorrow, fundraiser dinner for her school tomorrow and she's spending the day at the waterpark on Sunday with my family. I'm hoping to catch up on some blogging Sunday. I have so many great recipes coming up!

Today's recipe is especially easy and would be delicious with some breadsticks and a salad! This Pepperoni and Tomato Parmesan Pasta comes together in less than 20 minutes and it's one recipe the whole family will love. My daughter even asked for seconds, which is unusual with new recipes lately since she's so picky. I hope she moves out of this stage soon because she used to love every kind of food she tried. I'm sure this recipe will be in the rotation on a regular basis! Enjoy!

Pepperoni and Tomato Parmesan Pasta (click to print)

What you need:
8 ounces angel hair pasta
1 large tomato, chopped
3 ounces sliced pepperoni, halved or quartered
1- 2 1/4 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with hot water and drain well.

In a bowl, combine tomato, pepperoni, olives, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Toss in the hot cooked pasta and parmesan cheese until combined. Serve immediately. 

On the blog... one year ago: Hearty Chicken, Tomato and Vegetable Soup

Two years ago: Cheesy Ham and Apple Cups

Three years ago: Baked Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

This recipe is shared at these blogs: Six Sisters StuffKathe with an EInside BruCrew LifeFeeding BigMemories by the MileLove Bakes Good CakesThe Better Baker

Oct 8, 2014

Jazzed up Snack and Cereal Mix Recipe with Retro Monsters Cereals! Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry!

“Disclosure:The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.”

It's time for a throwback! I know some of us remember these retro packages from our childhood! Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry Cereals?? They are available only at Target right now for a limited time, so make sure you go snatch up a box of your old childhood favorite!  

You can also find Count Chocula Treats, Boo Berry and Franken Berry Roll-ups at Target right now!

Oct 6, 2014

Caramel Toffee Pecan Brownie Bites Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. For more info, click here!

It's been forever... but today I have a fantastic dessert-ish recipe for you!! 

These bars are ooey, gooey, caramely, chocolaty and absolutely fantastic! I found the original recipe in an old church cookbook, but subbed out the yellow cake mix for brownies, and a few other changes. They turned out wonderful and rich. Everything you need to cure a sugar craving!

You will want to cut these into small bites, and wait until they completely cool before cutting. Otherwise they will be a mess. I made that mistake! I was too antsy and couldn't wait to try them! They tasted great, but didn't look the best, which is fine if you don't need to take a pretty pic of them. Haha! Hope you enjoy!

Caramel Toffee Pecan Brownie Bites

What you need:
1- 18.4 ounce package brownie mix
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs (one for brownies, one for topping)
1- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heath toffee bits
1/2 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 glass baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the brownie mix, water, melted butter and one egg until combined. Spread in the bottom of the 9x13 baking dish.

In a separate bowl, mix together one egg, condensed milk, egg and vanilla until combined. Then stir in the toffee bits and pecan pieces until combined. Evenly spread over the brownie mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into bite sized pieces. 

On the blog... one year ago: Pan Fried Chicken Breasts with Apple Cider Gravy

Oct 3, 2014

30 Wonderful Recipes Using Apple Cider!

It's that time of the year.... fresh apple cider straight from the orchard! I'm sharing 30 wonderful recipes today using apple cider! This is such a great variety... from drinks, to desserts, and even some savory recipes! I hope you find some you enjoy! Just click each recipe name to view the recipe!

1. Pan Fried Chicken Breasts w/ Apple Cider Gravy (pictured above)
2. Sparkling Apple Cider Punch (pictured above)
3. Sparkling Apple Cider Float (pictured above)
4. Apple Cider Vinaigrette
5. Apple Cider Shortbread Cookies
6. Apple Cider Maple Spice Cupcakes
7. Apple Cider Baked Chicken
8. Apple Cider Glazed Doughnuts
9. Apple Cider Cups
10. Apple Cider Ice Cream
11. Crispy Autumn Veg Burgers w/ Apple Cider Slaw
12. Apple Cider Milkshake
13. Apple Cider Coffee Cake w/ Caramel Struesel Topping
14. Apple Cider Pound Cake w/ Caramel Glaze
15. Caramel Apple Spice Cider
16. French Toast Strata w/ Apple Cider Syrup
17. Apple Cider Pork Chops
18. Crockpot Chunky Gingered Applesauce
19. Apple Cabbage Salad w/ Walnuts and Gorgonzola
20. Crockpot Apple Cider
21. Slow Cooker Apple Pudding Cake
22. Apple Cider Glazed Tofu
23. Chocolate Cherry Cider Muffins
24. Chicken Cider Stew
25. Red Cabbage, Leek, Brat and Beet Skillet Supper
26. Mulled Apple Cider
27. Caramel Apple Cheesecaketini
28. Apple Cider Chex Mix
29. Apple Beet Cranberry Sauce
30. Spiced Cider Cocktail

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Oct 1, 2014

Quick and Easy Penne Pasta Goulash Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. For more info, click here!

Hey everyone! Sheena's sister Shannon here again from In Blurred Focus.  I had to laugh when I made this for supper and I plated it for a photograph.... my husband said "You are giving away all my secrets!" No, really, he doesn't mind.  I think he actually secretly likes seeing his recipes on Sheena's blog! :)  So this recipe, is my husband's version of the short spaghetti recipe that Sheena and I grew up on!  And let me tell you, it is not only quick and easy to make but it is so flavorful and so very delicious!

Quick and Easy Penne Pasta Goulash (click here to print recipe)

What you need:
1 lb ground beef
16 oz penne pasta
4 - 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 - 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder

Cook the noodles according to package directions.  Meanwhile, brown the ground beef. Once the beef is thoroughly cooked, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, black pepper, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder.  Simmer sauce until noodles are cooked. Drain noodles. Combine noodles and sauce. Serve and enjoy!

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