Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Down Home Corn

This corn is so creamy and delicious.

3 cups frozen corn
4 TBS butter
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. cornstarch
1-2 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a large skillet or 2-quart saucepan over medium heat; stir until mixture just comes to a boil, making sure the cornstarch dissolves completely.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it thickens 6-7 minutes longer.  If you want a creamier consistency, pulse several times with an immersion blender to break up some of the corn kernels. 

Serves 6

Source:  The Dinner Doctor - Anne Byrn


Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crunch

Sweet Potatoes

2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup light brown sugar)
8 TBS butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Pecan Crunch Topping

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
3 TBS butter, melted

Peel and quarter the sweet potatoes.  Place them in a saucepan, add cold water to cover and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let simmer until the potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes.  Drain the potatoes, then mash them with a potato masher.

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with vegetable spray.

Place the mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, 8 tablespoons of melted butter, milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until just combined, about 2 minutes.  Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with a spoon or spatula.

Make the pecan crunch topping:  Place the pecans, brown sugar, flour and 3 tablespoons of melted butter in a small bowl and stir with a fork to combine.  Scatter the pecan mixture evenly over the top of the sweet potatoes.

Bake the sweet potatoes until the pecan topping begins to brown and the potatoes are bubbly, 25-30 minutes.

Serves 8

Source:  What Can I Bring?  Cookbook - Anne Byrn


Mashed Potatoes

You can make these potatoes the day before and refrigerate them until you are ready to put them in the oven.  

8-10 large potatoes (4 cups mashed)
1 cup sour cream
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2-3 TBS milk
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender.  Drain potatoes and return to hot pot.  Mash with a potato masher. 

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, sour cream, cream cheese and garlic powder.  Transfer to a greased 2 quart casserole dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

Servings:  10-12


Thursday, December 22, 2011


I received this recipe from a family that owned a Greek restaurant in town.  It has become a Christmas family tradition.  Don't let this intimidate you.  It is really not that difficult. 

1 lb. filo pastry sheets (40 sheets) - thaw according to package directions
1 lb. butter, melted (4 sticks)

3 cups ground walnuts and 1 cup chopped walnuts, mixed together
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 slice of lemon (I use 1 tsp lemon juice)
1 stick cinnamon (I use 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon)

1 cup honey

Make the syrup first so it has time to cool.  Bring sugar, water, lemon and cinnamon to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the honey and bring to a boil again.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Put a drop on your thumbnail, if it doesn't roll off easily, it is done.  Cool.

Mix the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon together.   Divide the nut/sugar mixture into 9 piles on your work surface. 

Melt the butter.  Brush the bottom of a 9x13 pan with melted butter.  Line the bottom of the pan with a sheet of filo.  Brush with butter.  Add 3 more sheets, brush each sheet with butter.  Once you have 4 buttered sheets in the bottom of your pan, sprinkle nuts over the top.  Cover with 4 more filo sheets (butter each sheet).  Sprinkle with nuts.  Continue with 4 buttered sheets and a sprinkling of nuts until all are used up except the last 4 sheets.   Now, top with the last 4 sheets, brushing each with melted butter as before except for the top sheet. You don't want to butter the top sheet because your knife will stick to it making it difficult to cut.  

(See diagram below).  Cut lengthwise to make 1 1/2" wide strips.  Then make diagonal cuts 2 inches apart.  After cutting, now carefully brush the very top filo sheet with melted butter.   If you have any remaining butter left over, pour over the top.  (I don't usually have any leftover because I butter each sheet generously). 

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until deep golden brown.

When golden brown, remove from the oven.  Immediately, pour the cool syrup over the top until all the syrup is absorbed.   Let cool and cut through again to allow the syrup to be absorbed.

I think this tastes best if you let this sit for at least 24 hours and serve at room temperature.

** Remember:  9 piles of nuts - Use 4 sheets of dough for each layer.  Butter the top layer after it has been cut.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies

These cute Gingerbread boys are sure to liven up any Christmas cookie platter. 

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup dark (full bodied) molasses
2 TBS vinegar
5 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves

Cream butter; add sugar gradually.  Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Combine the dry ingredients and blend in.  Separate into 3 flattened discs of dough, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.  Chill several hours or over night.  Roll 1/8-1/4" thick on powder sugared surface*; cut into desired shapes.  Place on greased cookie sheet (or parchment lined sheet...then you don't have to grease). 

Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes, depending on size and thickness of cookie.  Make sure you don't over bake them.  I prefer these cookies a little thicker and softer, rather than thin and hard. 

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie cutter used.

Royal Icing:
2 egg whites
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat egg whites and gradually add powdered sugar.  Beat til soft peak forms.  This may take about 10 minutes or so at high speed.  Place icing into pastry bag with a small tip. 

* When rolling and cutting out cookies, my Mom would always use powdered sugar instead of flour to dust the rolling pin and counter.  This way the cookies don't get tough and dry because of the additional flour.  They get sweeter from the sugar.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wrapped Chicken

This is very good served with mashed potatoes or rice and green beans.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts - sliced into 1/4" thickness (cut to make 8 pieces) 
(Or purchase the chicken already thinly sliced)
16 pieces dried beef
8 pieces of bacon

8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cups cream
2 can cream of chicken soup

Place 2 pieces of dried beef on top of a thin piece of chicken.  Roll up chicken.  Roll bacon tightly around chicken.

Place a little bit of soup in bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Arrange chicken rolls in pan.  Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken.

Bake covered in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake another 35 minutes or until done.


Potato Fans

When you want something other than a simple baked potato, this recipe does the trick.

4 medium potatoes, peeled
2 TBS butter, melted
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 TBS Parmesan cheese
2 TBS breadcrumbs

Set potato on a large spoon and slice potato into 1/8" slices (do not slice all the way through).  Place potatoes into a bowl of cold water.  Meanwhile, mix paprika, salt, pepper, cheese and breadcrumbs together.  Set aside.  Drain potatoes and place in a greased 9" pan.  Brush with melted butter and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle potatoes with seasoning mixture.  Bake another 20 minutes or until done.

* If you are short on time, instead of baking the potatoes the entire time in the oven, microwave them until almost done, sprinkle with seasonings and then place in the oven until browned.


Gingerbread Cake

A delicious fall dessert.  This is an absolute favorite at our house.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 TBS instant coffee
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan.  Sift together the flour, coffee powder, spices, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Cream butter and brown sugar with mixer until light and fluffy.  Add egg one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add molasses and beat about 2 minutes, scraping bowl often.  With mixer on lowest speed, add sifted dry ingredients in thirds alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Scrape sides of bowl frequently and do not overbeat.  Pour into baking pan and bake until gingerbread tests done with a toothpick, about 50-55 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Top with applesauce, lemon sauce (recipe below), canned lemon pie filling, caramel, whipped cream or other favorite topping.  I like mine warm with a little butter.  Mmmmm...

Lemon Sauce:
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup cold water
2 TBS lemon juice
4 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp shredded lemon peel
yellow food coloring

Combine sugar, cornstarch and cold water.  Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.  Cook 2 minutes more.  Stir in shredded lemon peel, lemon juice and a few drops of yellow food color.

Source:  More Family Favorites - Mary Beth Roe (QVC)


Monday, December 5, 2011

Chickpea, Ham and Swiss Chard Soup

A satisfying good-for-you soup that warms the tummy on a cold winter day.  Serve with a crusty bread drizzled with olive oil. 

3 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large carrot, diced
1 (6-ounce) piece smoked ham steak, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 small bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and sliced into thin ribbons
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
2 (16-ounce) can chickpeas or (black-eyed peas), drained & rinsed-mash some if desired
1 (15-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 lb mushrooms, cut in large chunks (optional, this is my addition to the recipe)
Grated Parmesan, for garnish

Add the bacon to a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Fry until crisp, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve. To the same Dutch oven, add the onion, garlic, and carrot, and sauté until the vegetables are tender, roughly 4 minutes. Add the ham steak and red pepper flakes and adjust the seasonings with salt and black pepper, to taste. Add the Swiss chard and sauté until it begins to soften.
Stir in the chicken broth, chickpeas or black-eyed peas, and the canned tomatoes with their juices. Cover pot and bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes; adding the mushrooms the last 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese and bacon.

Source:  Modified from Pat and Gina Neely - TV Food Network


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Acorns

So fun and easy to make.  I made these little acorns for Thanksgiving.

Melt a small amount of mini chocolate chips in the microwave.
Dip the flat end of a Hershey's Kiss into melted chocolate.
Place on top of a Nutter-Butter Bite cookie.
Dip the flat end of a mini chocolate chip into the melted chocolate and place on top of the cookie.

Source:  http://sixinthesuburbsblog.blogspot.com/


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Icing

Make sure you have a cup of coffee or milk with this rich and decadent cake.

Cake Ingredients:

12 TBS (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 TBS brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Icing Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
8 TBS (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
3/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup + 3 TBS heavy cream

Cake Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Line bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with waxed paper.  Grease and lightly flour the waxed paper.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and two sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream and coffee.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix only until blended.  Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to make sure it is completely blended. 

Divide the batter between the two cake pans.  Bake in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, remove from pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Directions:

Combine powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in a mixing bowl.  Mix on medium-low speed until creamy.  Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth. 

Serves 8-10

Source:  Barefoot Contessa At Home - Ina Garten


Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup

Not only is this soup delicious, it is very good for you also.

7 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 large onion, cut into large pieces (about 1 1/2 inches)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 (15.5 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp Tabasco
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 375.  Toss the tomatoes, onion and garlic with the olive oil, 1/2 tsp of the salt and 1/4 tsp of the pepper in a large bowl, then transfer to a baking sheet.  Roast until the garlic cloves have softened, the edges of the onions are browned and the tomatoes have collapsed, 35-40 minutes, stirring once after the first 20 minutes.

Transfer the roasted vegetable mixture to a 4-quart saucepan.  Add the broth, beans, cumin, chili powder and the remaining 1/2 tsp of the salt and 1/4 tsp of the pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender.  Stir in the hot pepper sauce.  Pour soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.

Source:  So Easy - Ellie Krieger


Fig Bran Muffins

These bran muffins are moist and delicious.

1 1/2 cups bran cereal (All-Bran)
1 cup low-fat milk
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup natural applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
2 TBS unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 cup chopped dried figs, plus 2 whole dried figs, thinly sliced (you can also use dates)

Preheat oven to 400.  Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the cereal and milk.  Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.

Add the applesauce, honey, oil, molasses and egg to the cereal mixture and stir until combined.  Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Gently stir in the chopped figs (or dates).  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and top each muffin with a fig slice.  Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  If necessary, run a knife around the muffins to loosen from the tin.  Unmold the muffins and cool completely on a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Source:  So Easy - Ellie Krieger


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Every Halloween I roast the seeds from the pumpkins that I carve.  This year I decided to kick it up a notch and try something different than just butter and salt.  I nibbled on these and drank hot cider while passing out Halloween candy today...it kept me away from the candy bars!

2 cups pumpkin seeds - washed and lightly patted dry
2 TBS butter, melted
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 - 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

In a bowl, toss pumpkin seeds with butter and Worcestershire sauce.  Combine the sugar, salt, garlic powder and cayenne; sprinkle over seeds and toss to coat.  It doesn't look like there is enough coating for the seeds but it is plenty.

Line a 15x10x1 inch baking pan with foil; coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.  Spread the seeds in pan.  Bake at 250 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until seeds are dry and lightly browned, stirring every 15 minutes.  Cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Makes 2 cups

Source:  Taste of Home's Halloween Party Favorites


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Frightening Fingers

Kids absolutely LOVE these goulish finger cookies.  They are a delicious buttery almond cookie.  They are so creepy!   

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Red decorating gel
1/2 cup sliced almonds

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and extracts. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Divide dough into fourths. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into 1-in. balls. Shape balls into 3-in. x 1/2-in. fingers. Using the flat tip of a table knife, make an indentation on one end of each for fingernail. Gently squeeze and shape the finger to form a middle knuckle (makes them look a little arthritic).  With a knife, make three slashes on the knuckle.

Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 3 minutes. Squeeze a small amount of red gel on nail bed; press a sliced almond over gel for nail, allowing gel to ooze around nail. Remove to wire racks to cool. 

Makes about 40 fingers

Source:  Taste Of Home's Holiday & Celebration Cookbook, Annual 2001


Corn Puff Caramel Corn

Because you don't need to pop the corn or use a candy thermometer, this is faster and easier than more traditional caramel corn recipes. This caramel corn is so addicting!


1 pkg (8 oz) puffed corn snack
1 cup salted peanuts (optional)
1 cup butter, cubed
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda

Place puffed corn and peanuts in a large roasting pan or 2 - 10x15 pans; set aside.  In a large heavy saucepan, bring the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil, stirring occasionally; cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add vanilla and baking soda; stir well (mixture will foam up).  Pour over corn snacks and toss well with a rubber spatula.  Make sure most of the caramel is off the bottom of the pan or it will get too brown.  Toss well to coat.

Place pan on middle rack of the oven and bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes (scraping caramel off the bottom of the pan each time).  Spread on waxed paper to cool.  Break apart and store in airtight containers. 

Makes about 10 cups

Source:  Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook, Annual 2002


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple Crumb Bars

Here's another great way to enjoy all those apples you picked at the apple orchard.

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cup butter, divided
6 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (I use Jonathan)
1 cup sugar
3 TBS cornstarch
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.  In a bowl combine brown sugar, oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter.  Reserve 2 cups for topping; lightly pat remaining crumbs into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Arrange apples on top of the crumbs; set aside. 

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, water and remaining butter.  Bring to a boil and cook until thick; stir in vanilla and cinnamon.  Spread mixture over apples.  Sprinkle reserved crumbs on top of apples.  Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until top is lightly browned and apples are done.

Serves 18


Roasted Tomatoes

I grow plum tomatoes in my garden specifically to make these delicious and sweet roasted tomatoes.  You can add these to pasta dishes, casseroles or serve them as a side dish.  I freeze these tomatoes so I can enjoy them all winter long.

12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds (not cores) removed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450.  Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer.  Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle with the garlic, sugar, salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-45 minutes, until the tomatoes start to caramelize.  Remove the tomatoes from pan immediately after you take them out of the oven or they may stick to the pan.

Serves:  4-5

Source:  Barefoot Contessa-Back to the Basics - Ina Garten


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

Cake for breakfast, what could be better?

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pkg (18.5 oz) plain butter recipe golden cake mix, or plain yellow or vanilla cake mix (no pudding in the mix)
1 pkg (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 TBS milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly mist a 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray, then dust it with flour.  Shake out the excess flour.  Sprinkle the pecans or walnuts in the bottom of the pan and set the pan aside.

Make the filling: Place the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir until combined.  Set the filling aside.

Make the cake:  Place the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, water, eggs and 1 tsp of vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds.  Scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter for 1 1/2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed.  The batter should look smooth and thick.  Pour one third of the batter into the prepared bundt pan.  Scatter half of the filling evenly over the batter.  Pour another third of the batter evenly over the filling.  Scatter the remaining filling over the batter.  Pour the remaining batter evenly over the top, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula.  Place the pan in the oven.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 55-60 minutes.  Transfer the bundt pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes.  Run a long, sharp knife around the edges of the cake, shake the pan gently, and invert the cake onto a wire rack.  Let the cake cool completely, 25-30 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, make the glaze:  Place the powdered sugar, milk, and 1/2 tsp vanilla in a small bowl and stir until smooth.  Slide the cake onto a serving plate and spoon the glaze over the top so that it drizzles down the sides, then slice and serve.

Serves:   12-16

Source:  The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!


Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

What a great fall dessert. The citrus in this apple crisp adds a fresh flavor.

5 pounds McIntosh apples
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 TBS freshly squeezed orange juice
2 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter a 4 quart baking dish.

Peel, core and cut the apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar and spices. Pour into the dish.

To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.

Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for one hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.

Serves 10

Source: Barefoot Contessa Parties! - Ina Garten


Pork and Peanut Burgers

Not your typical burger, but boy are these delicious.

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 TBS snipped fresh cilantro
1 TBS grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 pound lean ground pork
1 TBS sesame oil (not toasted)
1/3 cup Asian sweet chili sauce or chili sauce
1 TBS creamy peanut butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup baby spinach (or baby bok choy leaves)
Pita bread, rolls, or hamburger buns (split and toasted)
Chopped dry-roasted peanuts

In a medium bowl, combine onion, the 1/4 cup peanuts, cilantro, ginger, the three garlic cloves, salt and crushed red pepper.  Add ground pork; mix well.  Shape mixture into four 1/2-inch thick patties.  Brush patties with oil; set aside.

For sauce, in a small bowl, combine the chili sauce, peanut butter and the 1 clove garlic; set aside.

For a charcoal grill, grill patties on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 10-13 minutes or until done (160), turning once halfway through grilling.  (For a gas grill, preheat grill.  Reduce heat to medium.  Place patties on grill rack over heat.  Cover and grill as above.)

To serve, place some of the spinach on the pita bread or bun.  Top with the burger, sauce, additional peanuts and more spinach.

Makes 4 servings

Source:  Grill It! - Better Homes and Gardens Magazine


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Muffins

These muffins are delicious warm with a cup of coffee.

1 cup flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 TBS unsulfured molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted raw pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 400.  Coat a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking soda, salt and spices.  In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, molasses, oil and one of the eggs until combined.  Add the other egg and whisk well.  Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla.  Stir in the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk, just until combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each about two-thirds full and sprinkle the tops with the pumpkin seeds.  Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and remove from pan.  Enjoy warm or let cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Makes 12 muffins

Source:  The Food You Crave - Ellie Krieger


White Chocolate Macadamia Blondies

These blondies are so rich and delicious.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 2 quart (9x9) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until well combined.

Mix together flour and baking powder.  Gently stir flour mixture into creamed sugar until batter is free of lumps.

Fold white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts into the batter.  Pour batter into the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center has risen well.  Cool at least 1 hour on a wire rack before slicing.

Source:  Hot Recipes in Cool Dishes - Tara McConnell


Moist & Chewy Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies

I love my cookies moist and chewy and this cookie really lives up to it's name.  Yum!

1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup Crisco solid shortening
2 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
6 TBS milk
3 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine peanut butter, Crisco, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl.
Beat at medium speed with mixer until well blended.
Add egg and beat just until blended.
In a separate bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda.
Add to creamed mixture and mix well with mixer on low speed.
Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Flatten slightly with a fork dipped in white sugar.
Lightly sprinkle tops of cookies with sugar.
Bake 7-9 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown.  Do not over bake.
Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet before removing.
Store in airtight container.

Makes 6 dozen

* Optional:  May add 2 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips or white chocolate chips

* I always line my cookie sheets with parchment paper.  The cookies don't get too dark on the bottom and they don't stick to the pan.  Cleanup is a breeze!

Source:  www.food.com


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pasta with Chicken and Creamy Vegetable Sauce

I found this recipe on cooks.com and have made it several times.  However, each time I made it I modified the ingredients.  I finally now have it the way I really like it.   Of course, you can use any vegetable you wish or even leave out the chicken.  This is a good dish to take to a pot-luck dinner.

12 oz bow-tie pasta, fettuccini or curly egg noodles
3 TBS butter
1 – 8 oz package sliced fresh mushrooms
10 oz bag of frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1/2 cup carrot circles (cut circles in 1/2 or 1/4 if too large)
1 1/2 pkgs cream cheese, softened (12 oz total)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp parsley
1 1/4 cup milk
2 cups cooked cubed chicken

Cook noodles according to package - set aside.
Melt butter in large pot.
Add mushrooms and cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes
Add broccoli and cook for 2 minutes til tender.
Lightly cook the carrots in the microwave for a few minutes in a little butter and water.
Add cooked carrots to the pot.
Add cream cheese and spices.  Cook, stirring constantly until the cheese is melted.
Reduce heat.  Add milk and chicken.
Simmer, stirring for about 3 minutes until hot.  You may need to add a little more milk if it seems too thick.  Also, adjust seasonings if needed.
Drain pasta.
Toss pasta into the vegetable mixture.  Spoon into a casserole dish.

Serves 6


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stuffed Shells Florentine

Since we are always tweaking recipes, this recipe is a combined effort of Eileen and Kimberly.  This is a great dish to make the night before or bake a pan and freeze one for later. 

1 pkg - 12 oz Jumbo Shells, cooked and drained (don't overcook)

Shell Filling:
2 beaten eggs
2 lbs ricotta cheese
1 TBS dry parsley
2 cups shredded Mozzarella
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp pepper
1 pkg - 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry

Meat Sauce:
1 lb ground chuck - cooked and drained
32 oz Spaghetti Sauce (24 oz jar and an 8 oz jar)

24 oz jar Spaghetti Sauce
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 cups shredded Mozzarella

Combine all the shell ingredients. Stuff the shells with the cheese/spinach filling. 
** (see tip below) 
Simmer the ground chuck and spaghetti sauce together for 15 minutes.
Pour 1/2 of the meat sauce into a 9 x 13 pan (or two 9x9 pans)
Add the stuffed shells in a single layer.  Pour the rest of the meat sauce on top of the shells.  Pour another 24 oz jar of sauce on top.  Top with Parmesan cheese and then the Mozzarella cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.

**Tip:  Place the filling in a Ziploc bag, snip off the corner and squeeze the filling into the shells.  Also, it is easier to gently lay all the shells out in a single layer onto wax paper.  Fill the shells and place back onto the wax paper.  This makes it easier to make sure that each shell is filled evenly before placing them in the pan.

Spaghetti sauce used to come in 32 oz size jars....which is the reason for using a 24 oz AND an 8 oz jar in the meat sauce.

If the shells have been refrigerated overnight before baking, you may need to bake longer or finish them in the microwave to ensure that the dish is completely heated through in the middle.

Serves 8-10 (Makes 44 shells)

Eileen and Kimberly

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Aunt Lois' Peanut Butter Bars (no bake)

All of my aunts are wonderful cooks and bakers.  I remember Aunt Lois Johnson making these often.  They are like Buckeye candies in a bar form.  No wonder I love them so much!

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
12 oz bag of chocolate chips (or a 12 oz Hershey candy bar)
2 tsp peanut butter or shortening

In a saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in peanut butter. Mix well.  In a large mixing bowl combine the powdered sugar and graham crackers.  Add the melted butter/peanut butter mixture.  Mix well.

Press into a 9x13 pan. (I prefer to line my pan with parchment paper)

Place chocolate chips and shortening (or peanut butter) in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring until melted and smooth.  Pour chocolate over peanut butter mixture and spread evenly.

Place pan in fridge just until the chocolate is set and then cut into bars.  Can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature. 

Cut into small pieces as they are very rich.