Wednesday, November 30, 2011

pumpkin chocolate chip bars









I just had to sneak in one more pumpkin recipe this season.  My family loved these.  I would say I prefer chocolate chip pumpkin bread to these bars but I bake for my family and not for myself.  I would say my kids preferred these bars to both pumpkin chocolate chip bread and chocolate chip pumpkin cookies.  These are easiest to make so hooray for me!

pumpkin chocolate chip bars (Dinners, Dishes and Desserts)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 bag chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a 13x9 pan.
Mix together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt (or use 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice instead of all the spices).
Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Add in the egg and vanilla.  Beat in the pumpkin puree.  Add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Spread the batter into your pan.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes.  Cool completely in pan before cutting.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

gingerbread waffles









I'm sure I don't have to tell you just how divine our home smelled yesterday morning as I made these gingerbread waffles.  These waffles are wonderful any way you choose to eat them but if you'd rather have them for dessert, serve them with buttercream syrup topped with vanilla or egg nog ice cream and top with your favorite gingerbread house toppings.  What a treat!  The holidays have never tasted so good.  By the way, thee waffles freeze fantastically.  Simply warm them in your toaster.

gingerbread waffles (Family Fun Magazine, April 2010)
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
fresh whipped cream and fruit, optional


With an electric mixer, beat the eggs until they're light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the sugar, molasses and buttermilk and mix until blended about 1 minutes.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir until smooth.  Stir in the butter.  Cover and refrigerate the batter overnight or cook immediately in a waffle iron until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes (I put 1/2 cup batter in at a time).  Serve with whipped cream and fruit, if you like.  Made about 8 large round waffles.


buttermilk syrup (my friends Linsy J. and Danielle O.)
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla


Boil all ingredients except vanilla for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and then add vanilla.




cocktail meatballs









We invited the sister missionaries to have dinner with us last night.  We had a couple appetizers out and dinner was ready on time but the sisters were running a little late.  My kids were starving so I let them have a few meatballs.  A few turned into quite a few which turned into a meal (my kids eat fast- the sisters weren't really all that late).  My kids liked them so well I had to force them to leave just a few in the crock pot.  As my grandpa always said, when it comes to waiting for everyone to come to the dinner table, "We wait like one pig waits for another."

cocktail meatballs
your favorite meatballs
1 (8 ounce) can jellied cranberry sauce
3/4 cup chili sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice


In a slow cooker or large saucepan over low heat, blend the cranberry sauce, chili sauce, brown sugar and lemon juice.  Add cooked meatballs and simmer for 1 hour before serving.


clam dip









This is a great clam dip. Our friend Karen tried it and said to my husband, "Have you tried this clam dip?  It tastes like it came from a restaurant."  He tried it and agreed.  I had to make this dip while Karen was in town because she reminds me of the ocean (Hawaii) which reminds me of seafood (does this remind anyone of the story If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?).  While she was in town she told us when she was younger she and her grandmother would walk a quarter of a mile down to the ocean and go clamming then take the clams home and make clam chowder.  Doesn't that sound dreamy?  It was sad to see her drive away this morning.

clam dip (allrecipes.com)
3 (6 1/2 ounce) cans minced clams
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup butter (I halved this)
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 (8 ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the clams, lemon juice, onion, butter, pepper and breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl and stir until blended.  Pour the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle the top with Cheddar cheese.  Bake until the mixture is bubbly, about 20 minutes.  Serve warm.

turkey noodle soup




















I went into my second oldest daughter's classroom for a fun presentation of Where The Wild Things Are followed by some poems and songs.  After a look around the classroom my daughter presented me with this delightful gift- turkey noodle soup in a jar.  I wondered what kind of project they were going to do with the box of tri-colored rotini that was requested!  This soup was surprisingly flavorful (come on, it came from a jar!) and delicious.  It is definitely a soup we will make again and even share with friends!

turkey noodle soup (my second oldest daughter)
3 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried whole thyme
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 or 2 bay leaves
4 cups tri-colored spiral pasta

Layer the ingredients in the order given in to a wide-mouth 1-quart canning jar.  Set the bay leaf against the side of the jar before filling with noodles. 
Attach a gift tag with the cooking directions:

cooking directions
1 jar turkey noodle soup mix
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup minced onion (I used 2 tablespoons dried minced onion)
3 cups cooked, diced turkey 

Place the turkey noodle soup mix in a large soup pot.  Add 12 cups water.  Add the carrots, celery and onion and bring to a boil.  Cover, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf.  Stir in the turkey and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

Friday, November 25, 2011

dutch apple pie









Undoubtedly and undeniably Hall of Fame!  My friend Shelli gave me two huge boxes of freshly picked apples from her dad's tree in California so I was inspired make another pie for Thanksgiving.  The trouble was, I hate making pie crust.  Hate is a strong word but really, that's how I feel about it.  I just can't get it right.  I found this recipe and knew I had it made in the shade.  The crust is so easy and it's THE best pie crust I have ever tasted.  Auntie Karen is here with us for Thanksgiving and she said this is by far the best apple pie she has ever had.  My husband said I need to enter it in the next county fair because I'll win for sure.  You've really got to try this pie.  Next year I will make my pumpkin pies this same way!!

dutch apple pie (allrecipes.com)
2 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

filling
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups water
3 cups peeled, diced tart apples
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the first four ingredients; set aside 1 cup for topping.  Press remaining crumb mixture into an ungreased 9-inch pie plate; set aside.
For the filling, combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan until smooth; bring to a boil.  Cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened.  Remove from the heat; stir in apples and vanilla.  Pour into crust; top with reserved crumb mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

swiss green beans









I have really fond memories of our first Thanksgiving in St. Louis.  Our friends Camille and Rob invited us over for dinner and I'll never forget when our friend Steve walked in carrying a scale.  He said it was tradition in his home growing up that everyone would weigh themselves before dinner then again after dinner.  Whomever had gained the most weight was the winner.  Although my memory has faded a wee bit I am almost certain I did not weigh myself before or after dinner but I do believe Steve was the winner!  A proud winner at that.

Camille made these green beans and I thought they were the yummiest vegetable I'd ever had on Thanksgiving day.  In fact, I've spent the last several years trying to make them taste the way Camille made them to no avail.  Except I do have to say this year I was pretty close.  They were excellent.

swiss green beans (my friend Camille)
2 packages French cut green beans, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
dash of pepper
1 cup sour cream (not light)
8 ounces Swiss cheese, grated


Melt butter on the stove.  Stir in flour, salt, sugar, pepper and sour cream.  Mix cooked green beans, sauce and most of the cheese together and put in a casserole dish.  Top with the rest of the cheese and put in a 350 oven for 30 minute or until heated through and the cheese is bubbly.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

simple roasted turkey

















The turkey is in the oven and smells delightful.  Last year our turkey turned out so moist and absolutely delicious that I decided to use the same recipe from Real Simple.  I have to be honest- I haven't always cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving.  My husband and I have never been fans of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner so we've done our own thing which sometimes didn't include stuffing, mashed potatoes or corn.  In fact after I bought our turkey this year my husband and kids were trying to get me to make tacos this year instead.  I said no way- last year's turkey had me looking forward to turkey all year so turkey it is.  What's nice about keeping it small (Auntie Karen is our only guest!) is that we can have whatever we want.  We don't have to have yams with marshmallows on top if we don't want to.

Menu-
roasted turkey with gravy
mashed potatoes
swiss green beans
buttered peas (we have to have peas!)
greens with blue cheese, cranberries and pecans 
dinner rolls
pumpkin cornmeal muffins
cranberry fluff
candy corn coolers
pumpkin pie
dutch apple pie
pumpkin fudge

Story- I was in charge of a Thanksgiving dinner for the "over 50" group in our ward in the first year my husband and I were married.  I handed out recipes except for the sweet potatoes/yams.  As you can assume they came back in casserole dishes with marshmallows on top.  My husband looked at them and whispered in my ear, "Are those marshmallows?  What are they doing in the yams?"  He was serious.  He had never seen that before.  EVER.  I still find it hard to believe but he's a pretty honest guy so I'm forced to believe him.

simple roasted turkey (adapted from Real Simple
12 pound turkey, thawed if frozen
12 sprigs fresh thyme
3 large onions, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
kosher salt
2 pounds baby carrots
4 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
bag for cooking a turkey


Heat the oven to 375.  Working on a baking sheet, remove the giblets and neck from the cavity.  Discard.  Using a paper towel, pat the turkey dry of juices.  Stuff with thyme and half the onions.
Rub the turkey all over with the butter and season with salt, making sure to reach the crevices of the legs and wings. 
Place the turkey in the bag and place it in a disposable turkey pan.  Fill the turkey bag with the rest of the vegetables and extra thyme if desired.  Tie the bag.
Follow the cooking directions on the box that came with the turkey bag (for me it meant cooking the turkey for 4+ hours). 
Tilt the turkey to empty the juices into a saucepan.  Transfer the turkey to a carving board, tent with foil and let rest for at least 25 minutes.  Reserve the pan and its contents for basic gravy.


basic gravy  (adapted from Real Simple)
4 cups turkey broth from turkey drippings
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup flour
salt and pepper


Remove the vegetables from the roasting pan and reserve to eat with the turkey.  Carefully strain the pan juices into a large fat separator.  Let stand 5 minutes, allowing the fat to rise to the top.   Pour the juices into a large measuring cup, leaving the fat behind.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the butter and flour to create a roux.  Cook the roux, whisking frequently until deep brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  The darker the roux the richer the flavor.  Whisk in the 4 cups of liquid and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Season the gravy with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Strain just before serving if necessary.



What I have to say- our family loves lots of vegetables so I changed the amounts for those.  What's great about the turkey bag is you will not have to worry about the turkey or vegetables burning.  This is an EASY way to cook your turkey.  This is another slight variation from the original recipe.




Wednesday, November 23, 2011

cranberry fluff



I was never a fruity fluff kind of a girl but my grandma always had some kind of fluff on the table at family dinners- usually raspberry.  I never touched the stuff but this recipe grabbed me.  I think it was the cranberries and maybe there's something about having something sweet and desert-like on the table.  This recipe easy to make and I love that it can be made in advance.  My kids had no trouble licking the bowl and the spoons- I think they're totally into fruity fluffy stuff.  Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

cranberry fluff (blog: Taste and Tell)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 (14 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (8 ounce) container whipped topping

In a large bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice.  Add in the cranberries, pineapple and nuts.  Fold in the whipped topping.  Freeze for 20 minutes before serving.  If making ahead, keep in the freezer and bring out 30 minutes before serving.

What I have to say- take note that this salad took about an hour to thaw and I had divided it into two bowls!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

starlight mint tree decorations













I am so happy today!  It's raining and we're stuck between two fantastic holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas- baking pumpkin pies and making Christmas decorations while the younger kids are running around crazy with friends.  Ah... I love the rain and the holidays.  Perfect combination.
I've had these three empty candlesticks in my bathroom waiting for a burst of inspiration or at least a color scheme for the master bedroom/bathroom.  After a couple more trees I think we'll be good to go until we come up with something a little more permanent.  I think my daughter did a great job.  I wonder if she's up for a half dozen more.

starlight mint tree decorations (blog: Home Based Mom)
cone shaped styrofoam (any size will do!)
starlight mints (red or green)
glue gun with plenty of glue sticks on hand

Simply glue the mints to the tree.  I wish I would have referred to Home Based Mom before we started because we started at the bottom and we probably should have started from the top.  Oh well.  It turned out just fine and my daughter had fun!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

taco burger









When I told my husband burgers would be on the menu this week he said, "Then let's put some avocado on them or something to make them a little more interesting."  We didn't just put on avocado, we put on the works.  Cheese, lettuce, fresh salsa, pepperoncini, and sour cream.  They were absolutely delicious and everyone agreed.

taco burger (yours truly)
2 pounds ground beef
McCormick's taco seasoning
Rhodes frozen roll dough
cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
your favorite salsa, drained (we used Rojo's and it was fantastic)
sour cream
pepperoncini, sliced
avocado, sliced

Thaw then bake frozen rolls as directed.
Shape ground beef into small patties.  Place patties in a grill pan (or on the grill) and sprinkle with taco seasoning.  Grill until almost done.  Place a slice of cheese on each patty and cook until cheese is melted and patty is cooked through.  Place a patty on a roll that has been sliced in half lengthwise.  Top with the works!

What I have to say- the salsa we used made them as delicious as they were.  My oldest kept saying, "Wow this is good salsa!"  We used Rojo's Medium Fresh Cut Salsa.  My new favorite!

Friday, November 18, 2011

mini thanksgiving pies









My kids left preschool yesterday with chocolate-covered faces.  If I said the chocolate pies were a hit that would be an understatement.   When I told my daughter no she couldn't have a fifth pie I think I ruined her day.

mini thanksgiving pies  (blog: Preschool Alphabet)
pumpkin pie filling, apple pie filling, chocolate pudding (I plan to use Nutella)
2 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crusts
bowl or round cookie cutter 4 inches in diameter
muffin tin
whipped cream

Prep your dough.  Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles from your pie crust doughs.
Place each circle into a greased muffin tin.  Press them in, letting the sides come up.  Score the bottom of the dough with a fork to keep the crust from bubbling up as it cooks.
Pour your filling into each muffin tin cup.  Fill them to the very top.
Bake your muffin tin pies at 425 degrees for 15 minutes then turn the heat down to 350 and bake them for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for a couple of hours to let the pumpkin filling set.  Add a dollop of whipped cream to each pie.  (If you plan to use pudding or Nutella, bake the crust then fill after the crust has cooled).

What I have to say-  My friend Lindsy used mini muffin tins whereas the recipe is for regular muffin tins so if you make mini pies you'll need to adjust the time somewhat.

pumpkin play dough












We went to my friend Lindsy's house for preschool yesterday and had lots of fun making turkeys with paint swatches as feathers, playing with play dough, eating mini pies, etc.  This is a great recipe for pumpkin playdough.  It smells delicious!  Almost good enough to eat but don't!

pumpkin play dough (blog:  Preschool Alphabet
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1/3 of the jar of pumpkin pie spice (the tiny jar)
maple extract
vanilla extract
food coloring


Combine the dry ingredients and the oil.  Slowly add the water.  Add a few dashes of each of the extracts and a few drops of red and yellow food coloring.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until stiff.  As it mixes you can see if you'll need more food dye.  Turn out onto wax paper.  


What Lindsy had to say- The pumpkin pie spice was too spicy by itself; the extracts made it smell sweeter like a pumpkin pie.  Sniff the dough and if it smells too spicy add more extract.  If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour.  If it's too dry add a few drops of water.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

spinach chicken bowtie salad









This salad is gorgeous and delicious.  My friend Leslie brought it to my home last year for a get-together and it's one of my very favorites.  Leslie is a great cook and now that I've moved away I miss seeing what she wears to church each Sunday.  She always looked so polished and wore everything so well with great accessories.  I tried not to stare but I couldn't help it.  Back to the salad- I can't believe I forgot to add the oranges and sesame seeds!  I had them in my cupboard all ready to go.

spinach chicken bowtie salad (my friend Leslie from my days in Hershey)
16 ounces bow-tie pasta, cooked and cooled
1 big bag of spinach from Costco
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
6 ounces honey roasted peanuts
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
3 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained (oops!  I forgot to use them- drat!)
1 (6 ounce) bag craisins


dressing
1 cup oil
2/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
2/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


Marinate pasta in dressing for 2 hours.  Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour over pasta mixture.  Approximately 20 servings.

overnight rolls

















If you're going to make homemade rolls for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter these are the rolls for you.  They are always a hit and are especially delicious served with homemade berry jams or honey butter.

overnight rolls (my friend Jannika M. from my days in St. Louis)
Stir and set aside:
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
2 tablespoon sugar


In a heavy mixer beat together the following:
1 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 well-beaten eggs
yeast mixture
6 cups flour


Refrigerate dough overnight or for at least four hours.
Next day, make three balls equal in size and roll each round out.  Using a pizza cutter, cut into 12 pieces (I always cut mine into 8) and roll like a crescent roll.
Place on parchment paper- covered cookie sheets and cover with clean dish towels.  Let rise for a few hours.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

crab delight dip












This is my mom's recipe that I've always enjoyed except today I thought it was missing something so I threw in some Old Bay seasoning (maybe because I used light mayo and sour cream this time?).  Dips are a must around the holidays.

crab delight dip (my mom)
1 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 (6 1/2 ounce) can crab meat
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
salt and pepper to taste


Combine.  Chill for 2 hours then serve with crackers.


Monday, November 14, 2011

southwestern grilled chicken









I remember making this dish for the first time almost 11 years ago when I received a cookbook as a wedding gift.   Tonight my 2-year old gave it a two thumbs up and had seconds then thirds.  Oh how I wish I would've thought to serve it with my new favorite side dish:  creamy cheesy grits with chiles!  Now that would've been a perfect meal.

southwestern grilled chicken (cookbook:  Junior League Centennial Cookbook)
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
2/3 cup soy sauce
6 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
4 to 5 large chicken breasts, boneless skinless
chopped fresh parsley for garnish


Place the tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic, cilantro, soy sauce, oil, lime juice and black pepper in a blender of food processor and process for 30 seconds.  Pour the marinade over the chicken breasts and marinate, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours, turning frequently.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill over medium coals for 20-30 minutes, turning frequently and basting with the marinade.  Sprinkle the breasts with parsley before serving.  Serve with black beans.





sweet and sour smokies









The year is winding down (or is it speeding up?) and this "cookbook" is almost complete.  It would not be totally complete without this recipe as my kids LOVE their little smokies.  I promised them I would make them again Thanksgiving morning.

sweet and sour smokies (cooks.com)
1 (6 ounce) jar prepared mustard
1 pound little smokies
1 (10 ounce) jar currant jelly

Mix mustard and jelly in a double boiler and cook until jelly is melted.  Add little smokies to sauce and heat.

What I have to say-  Do not make these in a crock pot.  I did the last time and it did not work as the sauce turned into a runny, soupy, tasteless mess.