Easy Homemade Tomato Basil Soup

Quick and Easy Tomato Soup

As the nights become chilly, we are craving warm, cozy meals more and more. Tomato Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches make the perfect combination for a delicious fall/winter dinner.

Garden Fresh Tomato Soup

As I was researching what and how to talk about this soup (this doesn’t happen often, but I was at a loss for words today), I came across this from Fine Cooking- “Silky tomato soup is like the little black dress of soups. Unadorned and paired with a simple grilled cheese sandwich, it’s a comforting lunch. Dressed up with simple garnishes, it makes a sophisticated start to a dinner party.”

Hot Tomato Soup and Ham Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Simply put, this description describes Tomato Soup perfectly. Top it with some delicious shredded Gruyere cheese, and dip a melty, crispy, hot grilled cheese sandwich slice, and you have the perfect dinner.

Ham and Roasted Cabbage Grilled Cheese Sandiwiches

Since the soup was so simple to make, I took a bit of extra time on the grilled cheese sandwiches. I had some leftover roasted cabbage that I decided to add along with a couple of slices of ham. The extra crunch from the cabbage and salty flavors from the ham, definitely took this entire meal up a notch.

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

My husband and kids have requested the same meal tonight despite having it for lunch too. I would say that was a win in my book! I hope you like it too! Enjoy!

Easy Homemade Tomato Soup


  • 4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup cream


  1. In a large heavy pot, fry bacon over medium heat until it is crispy.
  2. Add onion and garlic to pan and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste and flour to pot, and stir to combine.
  4. Pour in chicken broth, spices, basil, and whole tomatoes, bring to a simmer.
  5. Simmer soup for about 30 minutes.
  6. Puree soup using an immersion blender or blender.
  7. Return pureed soup to pot and stir in cream.
  8. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and fresh basil. Enjoy!


Quick Pumpkin Swirled Breakfast Bread

This post has been sponsored by Pillsbury, however all opinions are my own. #ItsBakingSeason

Pumpkin Crescent Bread

With the holidays just around the corner, we begin to focus on the “big” meal. You spend days preparing leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, wake up early to put the bird in, and continue to prepare for the rest of the day. Then, when noon hits, you realize you have not eaten and your kids have been munching on pie and leftover Halloween candy all morning. They really know when to take advantage of your (or just my) selective hearing!

Quick Pumpkin Breakfast Bread

This year I vow to be more prepared. So much so, that I am testing out recipes in mid October. I want to be fully prepared for Thanksgiving, and I want to sit down with my kids and husband and have a special breakfast. It will be the only meal that day that it will be just us, and I think it is very important for us to talk about what we are grateful for as a family.

Pumpkin Crescent Bread

With the stove and oven pretty much occupied from post coffee and on, I need a recipe that is festive, delicious, and most importantly easy. That’s where this Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crescent Bread comes into play. Out of all the recipes we tested, this was our family favorite.

Pillsbury Rolls

Starting with Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, I rolled out the dough. I then spread a delicious concoction of pumpkin puree, cream cheese, sugar, egg, and spices, and rolled the dough. Using a sharp knife, I cut the roll down the center exposing the layers. I twisted them together then wrapped them into a snail like shape, sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar, then baked it to perfection.


While I feel that this bread would have been absolutely perfect without a glaze drizzle, it was even better with one! Add some walnuts for crunch and you have the perfect semi-homemade fall breakfast!

Pumpkin Breakfast Bread

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls are on regular rotation here in our home. They are great for a quick and easy breakfast, and perfect for experimenting with the eager to cook kids without all of the mess. This past summer we made raspberry danishes weekly using this rolls. We can’t wait to test more recipes using fall flavors and produce! For more fun ideas and recipes go here. Enjoy!

Slice of Pumpkin Breakfast Bread

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crescent Bread


  • 2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • Cinnamon and Sugar for sprinkling before baking
  • Glaze (optional)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together pumpkin, cream cheese, egg, spices, and sugar until smooth.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out Crescent Rolls, rolling gently over holes with a rolling pin.
  5. Spread filling over dough.
  6. Starting with the longest side, roll dough pinching together the edge at the end.
  7. Slice roll in half and turn to expose the layers.
  8. Carefully twist pieces together (like a braid but without the third piece) then roll into a snail like shape.
  9. Place dough onto cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bread is golden.
  11. To make the glaze, whisk powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth.
  12. Pour over bread and serve warm or at room temperature.


Red Velvet Halloween Cake

Welcome new San Diego 6 News Followers! We hope you enjoyed our special Halloween Movie Night Special! Here is the cake that was featured! Enjoy!

Red Velvet Halloween Cake halloween cake

It is finally October therefore I can finally post Halloween themed desserts without feeling too bad, right!? I could have started Halloween in August (when I start my Christmas music) but I thought I would spare you all!

Cut cake Red Velvet Halloween Cake

This Red Velvet Halloween Cake was not only gorgeous, but it was delicious too. We are not big red velvet fans over here, but it was gobbled up pretty quickly! It is perfect for Halloween too! The blood red center combined with the decadent black frosting make for a pretty spooky cake!

black rosettes

I like my cakes high, so I opted to make smaller rounds rather than doubling the batch. It still served quite a few people because I was able to make smaller slices do to the height.

Red Velvet Halloween Cake

I have tried many different brands of food coloring, but always end up using McCormick food colors when I want a vibrant color. I love using their black during Halloween and Valentine’s Day. Mixed with a chocolate frosting, you can really get a rich dark color. No, this post is not sponsored, I am just telling you what I use in my kitchen and why 😉 The recipe provided below was made for making the rosettes. So do be alarmed by the amount, you need lots of frosting! If you don’t plan on making the rosettes, I would suggest cutting the recipe in half. For a great tutorial on how to make the rosettes, go here.

If  you have a party coming up, make this cake! It will not disappoint! Happy haunting!

Red Velvet Halloween Cake


Red Velvet Halloween Cake


  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • Frosting
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 7½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon black food coloring


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 4 6in baking rounds.
  2. In a bowl, combine cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, and salt. Mix together.
  3. In the bowl of your mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time.
  5. In a small bowl combine sour cream, food coloring, vinegar and extract.
  6. Alternatively, gradually add flour and sour cream mixture and mix on low until just combined. Do not over mix.
  7. Evenly distribute batter into 4 pans. Bake pans for about 20 minutes or until a knife is inserted and comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely before applying crumb coat.
  9. For the frosting, combine all the ingredients and beat on low for 1 minute.
  10. Increase mixing speed to medium high and beat for 3 minutes or until smooth.
  11. Apply crumb coat to cake and place the rest of the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
  12. Place cake and frosting bag in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  13. Once cold, apply rosettes and refrigerate to set.


Recipe very slightly adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Red-Velvet-Cake-with-Raspberries-and-Blueberries-108256


Halloween Macarons

Halloween French Macarons

Whenever we have a ton of eggs, a batch of French Macarons is in the near future. I like making them because I usually can get two recipes out of the three eggs, seeing as how I only use egg whites for this recipe. After housesitting my mom’s house and her 6 chickens, we found ourselves with an additional 5 dozen eggs on top of what our chickens produce!

Halloween Tie Dye French Macarons

It seems that I make them for every season too. This year is no exception! I love the way these Black and White tie dye macarons came out! To get this effect, I simply brushed on the black coloring gel to the bag before I filled it with the white macaron batter. To add a bit more color and make them more festive I dipped them in chocolate and added some Halloween sprinkles. Because, what isn’t better with chocolate and sprinkles!

Spooky French Macarons

This weekend, the kids and I will be having our big Halloween Baking Day so stay tuned for a few more spooktacular recipes!

Halloween Macarons


  • Macaron Shell:
  • 90 grams egg whites (roughly 3 egg whites)
  • 25 gram (2 Tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200 gr (1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons) powdered sugar
  • 110 (3/4 cup) Almond Meal
  • Black Food Coloring Gel
  • Chocolate Frosting or Ganache for filling
  • Black Melting Chocolates
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil or vegetable shortening
  • Halloween sprinkles


  1. Although the recipe provides measurements, I find that the macarons turn out much better when the ingredients are weighed.
  2. Separate your egg whites into the bowl of your mixer.
  3. Sift almond flour and powdered sugar. This really breaks up the powdered sugar and makes for a smooth shell.
  4. Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Put your egg whites in your bowl and beat on medium until it is foamy. Turn your mixer on low and gradually add the sugar and extract. Once all the sugar has been added, beat on high until hard/stiff peaks form.
  5. Carefully fold in your almond flour/powder sugar mix into the egg whites gently, until mixed, about 30 strokes.
  6. Fit your pastry bag with a round tip (Ateco #807 or #809). I put the pastry bag into a tall cup and fold the sides over. It makes it easier to fill.
  7. Brush black food coloring gel along the inside of the bag for the tie dye effect.
  8. Spoon batter into the bag.
  9. Pipe 1.5 inch rounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat and allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. This enables the shell to harden and will create the “foot” while baking.
  10. Preheat oven to 300 degrees or 280 degrees for a conventional oven. Bake for 18 -20 min, however you need to rotate the pan halfway through the baking process.
  11. Allow to thoroughly cool before filling.
  12. Add a drop of black frosting to the chocolate frosting or ganache filling to make jet black.
  13. Place a dollop of frosting or ganache in the center of the macaron then sandwich with another macaron.
  14. If wanting to dip in extra chocolate, melt black melting chocolate with coconut oil or shortening for one minute. Stir into smooth.
  15. Dip each macaron halfway into melted chocolate and sprinkle with sprinkles.
  16. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to one month. Defrost 30 minutes before serving.

Halloween Tie Dye French Macarons

Zombie Party

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, MARS. All opinions are mine alone. #BOOItForward #CollectiveBias

Zombie Party

It’s officially October which means we can finally start talking about Halloween. It’s about darn time as I have been planning it since early this summer. I have been wanting to throw a Zombie Party for forever, and finally got a chance to do it! With a group of teenage boys that always seem to be hanging around, I thought that throwing a mini surprise party with severed ears and zombie boogers would be perfect! My kids are just as in to Halloween time as I am. They love to bake and create fun crafts to spook our house up! Last week we spent over an hour in the Halloween section at 
Walmart picking up everything we would need for a month of crafts, zombie party supplies and of course our favorite M&M’S®, TWIX®, and Starburst® candies for our BOO Kits.  After being BOO’d last year, starting the BOO’ing train this year was our first priority.Zombie Party

Severed Ear Sugar Cookies

Zombie Boo Kit

In case you don’t know what BOO’ing means, it is when you make a little Halloween treat, secretly deliver it with a card that explains how it works, and then the recipient does the same to someone else! It is so fun to watch the excitement on Facebook from our friends that we BOO’d. You can check out more examples and ideas at BOOItForward.com as well as print out your own BOO Kit card.


Pre- Zombie Party, we thought it would be most appropriate to secretly surprise our friends with a Zombie Survival Kit. We picked up a white box, tissue paper, American Greetings® Halloween stickers, finger bubbles, zombie apocalypse supplies, and of course candy! Because, what would a BOO Kit be without some SNICKERS® and Skittles®! After filling the box, we attached the label and BOO Kit card, and then had to zombify it! Making red scratch like marks made it look like we had been attacked on our way to deliver. Awesomeness I say!

Zombie Barbie

Zombie Baby

For our party we used a combination of fun quirky things that we have collected through the years (my mom and I always have an eye out for cool things for our Halloween parties) and homemade props. In the last three years we have gone through two puppy stages, so needless to say, we have quite a few chewed up dolls. I had been saving them for this exact purpose….Zombies!!! I simply spray painted them white and then sponged on some black around the eyes and red around the mouth and hands. We also had some engineer prints (posters) made for the background.

Zombie Halloween Party

Since I knew I would be serving a bunch of teens, I wanted to make the food fun. The Severed Ear Cookies were quite the hit and they also absolutely loved the brownie pop eyes.

Zombie Eye Truffles


To make the eyes, I simply made a batch of brownies and mixed it with frosting. I then rolled out quarter sized balls, stuck a fork in the tops, and froze them for about 30 minutes. Once cold, I dipped them in melted white dipping chocolate. The I placed an eyeball in the center of the Life Savers® Gummies and placed it in the center of the ball. Once the chocolate had set, I brushed on some red food coloring for the eye veins. Finally, I drizzled red gel around the plated eye balls for fun!

Zombie Scavenger Hunt

When night began to fall, I sent the teens on a Zombie Apocalypse Supply Run around the property to burn off all of their extra energy. I am so using that video when they get married!

Zombie Candy Bowl

This time of year is so much fun. The only thing that will make it better will be the release of the new Ghostbusters® movie on October 11th! You can pre-order it on Blu-Ray and DVD now. Or, watch it on VUDU like us.

Zombie Cake with Candied Walnut Brains

The Best Zombie Party!

Don’t forget to enter the BOO It Forward Sweepstakes for a chance to win a $500 Walmart Gift Card! Enjoy!


Zombie Party


  • 1 9x9 inch pan of cooked brownies
  • 3/4 cup chocolate frosting
  • 1 pound white melting chocolates
  • 24 plastic forks
  • 1 tablespoon shortening or coconut oil
  • 24 Life Savers® Gummies
  • 24 edible eyes
  • Red food dye
  • paint brush


  1. Using your hands or a food processor, turn brownies into a medium size crumb.
  2. Mix chocolate frosting with brownie crumbs.
  3. Mold mixture into 24 quarter sized balls and stick with plastic forks.
  4. Freeze balls for 30 minutes.
  5. Insert each edible eye ball into the Life Savers® Gummies.
  6. When balls are cold, melt chocolate and shortening or coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl for one minute.
  7. Stir chocolate until smooth. If not smooth, microwave for increments of 10 seconds, stirring in between each, until smooth.
  8. Line a baking sheet with foil or wax paper.
  9. Dip each ball into chocolate until it is coated. Gently tap to remove excess coating.
  10. Place on cookie sheet and let sit for 10 seconds, then place the eye in the center.
  11. Continue with the rest of the brownie balls.
  12. Refrigerate eyeballs for 30 minutes until coating has hardened.
  13. Squirt a tiny bit of red food coloring onto plate.
  14. Using a brush, paint on veins.
  15. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days before serving.


American Greetings Halloween




Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

So the last post I did, Pumpkin Tiramisu, I was going on and on how it is feeling like fall here and that we managed to skip our September heatwave. Well, boy did I jinx that. The following days were brutally hot, reaching the low HUNDREDS on the coast. Because we are on the coast, we have no air conditioning…go figure.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Bread

So now that the temperatures have returned to somewhat normal, dare I jinx it again, I have returned to the kitchen. First up- something my kids could eat in the car. Since we spend most of our time in the car these days going back and forth to school and extracurricular, we need a lot of on-the-go food. This bread is great because it doesn’t dry out and can easily be sliced and wrap in plastic wrap.

Pumpkin Bread With Cream Cheese Filling

The kids love it and so do we. It’s like a pumpkin cheesecake in bread form. What’s there not to love! Like most breads, it is simple to make and makes your house smell amazing while baking! Next time I will make them in muffin tins for lunches! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Harvest Bread with Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

Yield: 6-8 servings


    Cream Cheese Filling
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pumpkin Bread
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, cream cheese, sugar, and flour until smooth. Set aside.
  3. To make the bread, combine flour, baking soda, spices, and salt and whisk together until combined.
  4. In the bowl of your mixer, combine pumpkin puree, sugars, and melted butter and beat until incorporated.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  6. Whisk in flour and milk and hand mix until just combined.
  7. Pour half of the batter into the pan.
  8. Carefully spread the cream cheese filling over batter in the pan.
  9. Pour the rest of the pumpkin bread batter over the cream cheese filling.
  10. Bake bread for 40-50 minutes or until a knife is inserted and comes out clean.
  11. Cool 10 minutes then invert to remove from pan.
  12. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Caramel Apple Rolls and a trip to Puerto Nuevo

Carmel Apple Rolls

For the last few years I have been without a valid passport. It was always on my list of things to do, but I somehow never got around to doing it. Well, when we booked our Europe tickets last year, it was something that had to be done! Now that I have it, I want to go everywhere!

Carmel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

About two weeks after returning home from Europe, I took a day trip down south the Mexico. I had been wanting to do it forever! A friend and I left early and made our way to Puerto Nuevo for some fresh lobster and shopping. If you are a lobster fan, this is where you need to go!

Lobster in Puerto Vallarta

Tortilla Factory

For about $20 per person, we got huge fresh delicious lobster with melted butter, rice, beans, chips, salsa, and soup. So much delicious food!!! We of course could not resist a couple margaritas. Let me tell you that margaritas in Mexico are not the same as in the States! After two, I was walking on the clouds!

Candy Vallarta

Candy Stand

After lunch we did some shopping. The candies and dried fruit displays were spectacular, and they drive a hard bargain.

Churro Cart

After shopping we decided to head back home. Although stuffed to the brim, I could not resist the fresh Churros that were being made right next to our car. Since we sat for about 2 hours, I got out and had them make a few fresh batches to eat and take home. All in all it was an amazing afternoon, and one that I will be doing again next weekend!


While shopping, my friend recommended that I buy this caramel sauce, Cajeta. I couldn’t actually see it as it was wrapped up in thin wood and plastic but I took her word for it. HOLY CARAMEL-this stuff is to die for!!

I wanted to cook with it so that I could get it out of my house. For some reason the thing is a magnet to a spoon and my mouth. Since it is fall, Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls were a must.

Caramel Apple Rolls

Now if you can’t get your hands on this liquid gold, regular caramel sauce will do the trick. I also drizzled the caramel over the tops along with a simple vanilla bean glaze. We enjoyed the rolls for breakfast and dessert. My thighs were exceptionally happy when the rolls (and caramel) were gone. Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 1 hour

Yield: 9 large rolls or 12 medium rolls


  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package instant yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups peeled and diced apples
  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Caramel Sauce for drizzle (optional)
  • Vanilla Glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk


  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine warm milk, melted butter.
  3. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour milk mixture and egg into the center.
  4. With your mixer attached with the dough hook, or your hands, knead dough until it forms a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
  5. Place dough in a well greased bowl and lightly cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Let dough rest in a dark cool corner until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes.
  7. While dough is rising, make apples.
  8. In a medium sized saucepan set on medium heat, melt butter.
  9. Add apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon and cook until the apples are soft, stirring often, for about 5-7 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  11. When dough has doubled in size, punch down.
  12. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16x9 inch rectangle.
  13. Spread Caramel Sauce over dough.
  14. Sprinkle with cooked apples and cinnamon.
  15. Tightly roll the dough beginning with the long side.
  16. Pinch together the edges.
  17. Slice rolls evenly into 9 large or 12 medium sized rolls.
  18. Place rolls into a lightly greased 9x13 inch pan.
  19. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise again while you are preheating your oven.
  20. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  21. Bake rolls for 15-18 minutes or until the centers are lightly golden brown in color.
  22. Allow to cool while making the vanilla drizzle.
  23. To make the vanilla glaze, combine powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk. Whisk until smooth.
  24. Drizzle caramel sauce and vanilla glaze over rolls if desired.