Thursday, April 24, 2014

Coconutty Granola

This recipe came straight from the package of Let's Do...Organic Coconut Flakes. It's one of the best tasting granola recipes I've tried. There are so many wonderful flavors going on in this; toasted coconut, almonds, cinnamon, maple syrup and vanilla. Who could resists oats enveloped in all that yumminess?!

Coconutty Granola
3 cups Rolled Oats
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup sliced or shopped almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup vegetable or sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 F

Mix oats, flour, coconut, cinnamon and almonds in a medium bowl. Mix maple syrup, oil and vanilla in a seperate bowl. Combine the syrup mixture with the oat mixture and stir until evenly coated.Pour the mixture onto a greased baking sheet and spread to cover evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, stir and bake another 20-30 minutes depending on preferred doneness. Store in airtight container. May refrigerate or freeze to extend freshness.

Can substitute raisins or dried cranberries for some or all of the almonds.

Asparagus Gruyere Tart

This savory tart is not only sophisticated in appearance, it's simple to make and really quite tasty. The nutty, salty flavor of the Gruyere cheese pairs nicely with the asparagus and flakey puff pastry crust.

With asparagus being in season, this tart is a great way to use this delicious vegetable.
Source: Martha Stewart

Asparagus Gruyere Tart

Flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes.

Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with Gruyere. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 18 to 20  minutes.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mini Pancake Muffins

This recipe comes from the delightful Pioneer Woman Blog, found here. I just love her blog and cooking show and cookbooks. Every recipe I've made of hers has been delicious. These mini pancake muffins are no exception.

If you can whip up a batch of pancake batter, either from scratch or from the box, you can easily make these mini pancake muffins. Just pour your prepared pancake batter into mini muffin pan cups, coated with cooking spray, and bake at 425 for 8-9 until puffed and golden.

I love these pancakes because you can customize then anyway you would like. I tried plain, blueberry, dark chocolate-cinnamon and maple bacon. All combinations were tasty and my family and friends loved dipping them in warm maple syrup. These are fun for the kids and also great to serve to company at breakfast or brunch.
Mini Pancake Muffins

Ingredients
3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
3 Tablespoons Sugar
3/4 teaspoons Salt
2-1/2 cups Milk
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
2 whole Eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
Blueberries (optional)
Warm Syrup, For Serving
Preparation Instructions


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Stir together the milk and vinegar and let it sit for 1 minute. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients, then stir in melted butter. If batter is too thick, stir in a little milk.

Spray a mini-muffin pan generously with baking spray. Fill cups 2/3 full. If using blueberries, drop 2 to 3 blueberries into each cup.

Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let sit in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then turn them out of the pan. (Use a small knife if any are stubborn.)

Serve warm with warm syrup!

**425 will result in crisper edges. For a softer muffin, bake at 400 for 11 minutes.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Wow! These peppers are good. Really good. They will definitely being going into my usual dinner rotation.  And I love that it only takes a few ingredients to make such a delicious stuffed pepper.
Here's How:
Blanch bell pepper halves to soften them up.
Line each half with a slice of provolone cheese (my kids aren't a fan of cheese, so I only used cheese in some).
 Fill peppers with a delicious mixture of sauteed mushroom, onions and shaved beef.
 Top with another slice of cheese.
And bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Drool.



You can easily double or triple this recipe.

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Makes 4 servings
Ingredients
8 oz. Thinly Sliced Roast Beef
8 Slices Provolone Cheese
2 Large Bell Peppers, any color
1 Medium Sweet Onion
6 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms
2 Tbs. Butter
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Garlic – Minced
Salt and Pepper – to taste

DIRECTIONS
Slice peppers in half lengthwise, remove ribs and seeds. Place pepper halves in a microwave safe bowl and fill with 2-inches of water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and pierce 2-3 vent holes with a knife. Microwave for 5-6 minutes. Remove from microwave. Let peppers cool to touch, pat dry and place in 9x13 baking dish.

Slice onions and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat with butter, olive oil, minced garlic and a little salt and pepper. Saute until onions and mushroom are nice and caramelized. About 20-25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400*

Slice roast beef into thin strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture. Allow to cook 5-10 minutes so the beef can soak up all the yummy flavors. Line the inside of each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese.

Fill each pepper with meat mixture until they are nearly overflowing. Top each pepper with another slice of provolone cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown.

* Serve peppers over rice or cous cous and with a simple side salad.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

Luscious cheesecake is layered with raspberry jam and an irresistible crunchy almond coconut topping. All this sits a top a delectable buttery shortbread crust. Um...Yum!
Slightly adapted from Midwest Living

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars


Ingredients
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped sliced almonds
1/2 cup salted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups seedless raspberry preserves or other preserves or jam
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Directions
In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and the finely chopped almonds. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Set aside 1/2 cup crumb mixture.
For crust, press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges are golden.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, eggs, almond extract and vanilla extract until smooth. Spread over hot crust. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the reserved crumb mixture, coconut, and the sliced almonds. Spread preserves over hot cream cheese layer. Sprinkle coconut mixture over preserves.

Bake for 15 minutes more. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours before cutting into bars. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 32 bars.


* I used unsweetened coconut flakes. I like the texture and flavor of the large flakes.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cherry Jell-O Cookies

If the color of these cookies doesn't shout Valentines, I don't know what does!

These vibrant cookies get their festive hue from cherry Jell-O. The Jell-O gives these cookies a unique but tasty flavor that's a welcome change from your standard cookie. Both kids and adults will enjoy these!


 As I mentioned, the color of the dough is quite something.


 The Jell-O powder is divided and a part of it is mixed with sugar for rolling.

 Roll your neon balls into the sugar mixture to coat.
Place on a cookie sheet and press with the tines of a fork to make a criss-cross pattern.
Decorate with sprinkles if desired and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Drizzle with a mixture of powdered sugar and milk, if desired. And then, enjoy!


Cherry Jell-O Cookies

1 pkg. (3 oz.) Cherry or Strawberry JELL-O Gelatin, divided
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
  Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Sprinkles

Reserve 1 Tbsp. dry gelatin mix.
In a medium bowl, combine remaining dry gelatin mix with flour and baking powder, set aside.

Beat butter in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add granulated sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Blend in egg and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Shape dough into balls, roll in sugar mixture and place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Flatten with tines of a fork to make a crisscross pattern.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Glaze:
Whisk 2 cups powdered sugar, reserved gelatin mix and 2 Tablespoons milk until blended; spread or drizzle onto cookies. Top with sprinkles
.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Triple Chocolate Pudding Cookies

Pudding Cookies? Yes, Please! These cookies are chocolatey, chewy, rich bites of heaven. This is one chocolate cookie you must try! Plus, they are so simple to make.


 Triple Chocolate Pudding Cookies


Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (5.7 ounce) package of chocolate pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate, diced (opt)*

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. Drop cookies in rounded balls on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies may feel soft, but will continue to cook once out of the oven.


* I like smaller bits of white chocolate in my cookies instead of whole chips. The white chocolate bits add a little sweetness without being overpowering.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Salte Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Every once in a while, a dessert comes along that is truly delicious and makes you pause and take notice. The kind of dessert that everyone is impressed by and just raves about. This Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream is one of those desserts. The rich, distinct flavor of this ice cream is addicting and the creamy texture just melts in your mouth. It definitely beats out a majority of gourmet ice creams I've tried from fancy ice cream shops.

I've made many flavors of ice cream over the past year including; chocolate, vanilla, fresh mint chocolate chip, chocolate cookie dough, strawberry, blueberry, honey lavender, peanut butter cup and dark chocolate raspberry. And, this ice cream is probably my favorite. It's amazing just plain with no extras like chips or nuts.

This recipe comes from Annies-Eats.com.

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
Yield: about 1 quart

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream, warmed
4 tbsp. salted butter*, at room temperature
½ tsp. sea salt
2 cups whole milk, divided
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
Add the sugar to a medium saucepan in an even layer. Heat over medium until the sugar at the edges of the pan begins to melt. Use a heatproof spatula to stir the melted sugar from the bottom and the edges to the center, until all the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramel reaches an amber color. When the caramel reaches the correct color, immediately remove it from the heat. (Be vigilant here! Caramel can go from perfectly cooked to burnt in seconds – it is no fun when that happens, trust me!)


Add a bit of the cream in a slow drizzle down the inside edge of the pan, whisking to incorporate before adding more. If done slowly enough with warm cream, this can help prevent the mixture from seizing. Whisk in the butter. If the mixture has seized, don’t worry – just return the pan to the burner over low heat and stir gently, breaking up lumps as well as you can. If you can’t get rid of them all, it’s okay. Whisk in the salt and 1 cup of the milk.


Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup and whisk to blend. Slowly pour a bit of the warm caramel mixture into the bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Continue until most of the caramel has been mixed in. Return the custard to the saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon (about 170˚-175˚ F).


Pour the custard through the mesh strainer into a bowl or storage container. Stir in remaining 1 cup of milk and the vanilla. Let cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

*If using unsalted butter, increase the sea salt to ¾ tsp.
My Notes: My caramel mixture turned out really lumpy. As soon as I started to stir the melting sugar, big sugar lumps formed. I just kept stirring and breaking up the lumps. I strained this caramel mixture (with the butter, cream, milk and salt) before adding in the egg mixture. I strained it again into a bowl before chilling completely. So, if your mixture is lumpy, don't worry! You can strain it and you will still get an amazing caramel flavor and smooth texture.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dried White Peach and Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

This is my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe. It's soft, chewy and scented with heavenly spices. I've used this basic recipe to make Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Glazed White Chocolate Cherry Cookies. All delicious.

I had some lovely bags of dried white peaches and dried apricots sitting on the counter and with a temperature of -11 degrees outside, I thought it would be a good day for baking. The dried fruit caught my attention and I figured it would make a yummy substitute for raisins in these oatmeal cookies. The cookies turned out delicious and when I went to enjoy one this morning with my coffee, they were all gone! I guess my family loved them too. Luckily, I have some cookie dough balls in the freezer so I can always bake some more (if my husband and kids don't find them first!)
I used a combination of dried white peaches and dried apricots. You can use whatever dried fruit you like. 
This made a really yummy cookie dough. All the spices and brown sugar and bits of fruit were sooo good. I added a few extra spices, nutmeg and ground ginger, and a splash of almond extract to play up all the flavors.

If you like Oatmeal raisin cookies, give this dried fruit version a try!

White Peach and Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Good pinch ground ginger and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, white sugar and honey. Add eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Beat until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and chopped dried fruit. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light and golden. Do not overbake. Let them cool for 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheets to cool completely. Store in airtight container. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Crispy Pretzel Chicken

This pretzel chicken is a delicious twist on your average chicken finger (which I always have to have a bite of when my kids order it). I love the extra crispy texture and boost of flavor from the crushed pretzels. The simple, two ingredient dipping sauce is the perfect accompaniment. Pair this with a simple salad for a great dinner.

Source: blogher


Crispy Pretzel Chicken 

Ingredients
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
Flour for dredging 
2 eggs, whisked
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
2 cups pretzels, ground in the food processor
Vegetable oil for frying

Sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Combine mustard and honey for sauce. Mix well and set aside. How easy is that!

In a large pan, preheat oil to 350 degrees. Combine eggs with spices and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl and mix well. Pat chicken strips dry with a paper towel. Dip chicken in flour to coat and shake off excess flour. Dip into egg mixture. Allow extra egg to drip off. Add to pretzel crumbs and turn to coat evenly. Sprinkle coated chicken with a little salt. When oil is hot, add chicken in batches to oil and fry until deep golden brown. Chicken should be firm and have an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Place on paper towels or cooling rack after removing from oil.

Serve hot with dipping sauce

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Raspberry Coconut Macaroons

Here is another fun and tasty cookie recipe that would be great for giving or taking to your next get together! Use fresh raspberries and don't over mix the coconut 'batter'. 

Fresh, in-season raspberries work best here. I made these in December and they turned out quite runny with out-of-season berries. If you notice your mixture is liquidy (is that a word?), make sure to strain the coconut raspberry mixture and pat dry before you scoop into balls.


These dainty macaroons are truly addicting! They're sweet and chewy from the coconut with tart bits of fresh raspberry throughout. It's a unique and delicious combination of flavors that's sure to have you coming back for more!
Not only are these cute and yummy, they're super simple to make. Gotta love that!

Here's how to whip them up: 
Start with sweetened shredded coconut
 Blend it in a food processor with granulated sugar until light and fluffy
 Add in egg whites, almond extract and salt. 
Pulse, Pulse, Pulse!
 Gently fold in fresh raspberries
Do quick pulses until the raspberries are roughly chopped. You want good size pieces of raspberry to remain. You also want a mix of white and pink coconut. So, DON'T over blend this!
Shape into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. I didn't use parchment and these stuck like crazy! So, use parchment or a silpat.
 I love the bits of fresh raspberry!
 Bake for 25-30 minutes @ 325.
Don't be afraid to let these brown all over. It helps them maintain their shape and stay together. It's also give them a nice crispy exterior giving way to a soft, chewy center.
These would be yummy with the bottoms dipped in dark chocolate or white chocolate!

Recipe Source: Smitten Kitchen

Raspberry Coconut Macaroons
Makes 50ish 1 1/4-inch cookies

14 ounces (400 grams) sweetened, flaked coconut
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaked sea salt or level 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 pint (6 ounces, 170 grams or 1 1/4 cups) fresh raspberries (if washed, patted very dry)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a food processor, blend the coconut for a minute. Add sugar, blend another minute. Add egg whites, salt and almond extract and blend for another minute. Add raspberries and pulse machine on and off in short bursts until they are largely, but not fully, broken down. (I counted 13 pulses. I might have been a little obsessive, what with the counting.) Some visible flecks of raspberry here and there are great. When you open the machine, you’ll see some parts of the batter that are still fully white while others are fully pink. Resist stirring them together.

With a tablespoon measure or cookie scoop (I used a #70), scoop batter into 1-inch mounds. You can arrange the cookies fairly close together as they don’t spread, just puff a bit. Scooping a little of the pink batter and a little of the white batter together makes them look extra marble-y and pretty.

Bake cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, until they look a little toasted on top. Let them rest on the tray for 10 minutes after baking (or you can let them fully cool in place, if you’re not in a rush to use the tray again), as they’ll be hard to move right out of the oven. They’ll firm up as they cool, but still remain softer and less dry inside than traditional macaroons. 
Recipe: Smittenkitchen

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fresh Cranberry Lemon Cookies

With all the holiday parties and cookie exchanges coming up, I had to repost one of my favorite holiday cookies! These soft, cakey cranberry lemon cookies are delicious!
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These cookies are scrumptious! The combination of bright lemon and fresh cranberries are wonderful together. There's a great pop of flavor in every bite! If you're looking for a fun and delicious cookie to bring to a cookie exchange or for something different to give to the neighbors and friends, try these delightful cranberry cookies, you won't be disappointed! Plus, how often do you find a tasty recipe using fresh cranberries?
There's fresh bits of cranberry in every soft, cakey bite of these cookies. I added a little coarse sugar on top of the dough for sparkle and to round out the tart flavors. Don't be scared of the lemon though! It truly is delicious paired with the cranberries. I thought about making these with orange zest (and a pinch of nutmeg), which would be yummy too, but I'm glad I stuck with lemon. 

My family and the ladies at my book club loved these! I'll be making these again soon!

Fresh Cranberry Lemon Cookies

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, diced

Lemon Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
directions:

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until moist and fragrant. Add the butter to the lemon sugar and beat until light and fluffy – 3-5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until smooth. Add in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in the cranberries by hand. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Gently form the dough into balls and bake for 13-15 minutes on parchment lined cookie sheets. Let the cookies cool slightly before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together, and drizzle over the fully-cooled cookies.


Inspired by: What Megan's Making

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Sides

Cooking Club: October 2013
Theme: Thanksgiving Side Dishes

I've been attending a local Cooking Club for three years now and our October cooking soiree was one of the most fun and tastiest ones I've been to! Sometimes with cooking clubs, you never know what array of dishes will show up, but this time everyone brought something different and delicious and we had a full Thanksgiving spread. It was hard to choose a winner as all the dishes were really good and tasted great together. In the end, a traditional Thanksgiving vegetable beat out the competition.




Winning Dish
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions

A lot of ladies weren't big fans of Brussels sprouts, so they were very pleasantly surprised when they tasted these and really liked them. Of course bacon makes everything taste better, but these didn't have an overwhelming bacon flavor. I think what made these special was the splash of red wine vinegar at the end that balanced out all the flavors and gave them a nice zing.


2nd Place
Green Beans with Ham

This was just a really tasty pairing. Green beans are pretty mild so the bits of salty, succulent ham made them stand out.



3rd Place
Brie En Croute

It's hard not to love soft, melty brie cheese topped with jam and wrapped up in a buttery pastry. Served with crackers and you've got a great appetizer or side.


Spinach and Cheese Casserole

This casserole was a family tradition for one of the ladies and their Thanksgiving dinner wouldn't be complete without it. This could become one of your family favorites too!


Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

I loved this dish. The crispy tender broccoli covered in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce and top with a crunchy bread topping, I went back for seconds. 







Bacon Macaroni and Cheese w/ Herb Topping

Bacon...Mac N' Cheese...Crispy Bread Crumb Topping...Nough' said.

Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries and Walnuts

This wasn't your typical pumpkin bread. It had loads of spices and a great pumpkin flavor. The cranberries and walnuts made it really something special and had you going back for more.

2-Ingredient Pumpkin Brownies

Beside the vanilla frosting, the brownies actually contained only two ingredient, pumpkin puree and brownie mix.  No eggs or water or oil. Just pumpkin puree and brownie mix, mixed together. They were moist with hint of pumpkin flavor. A little cinnamon and nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice sprinkled on the frosting would be perfect.


And what Thanksgiving feast would be complete without turkey? We had that too. The only 'traditional' thing I can think of that was missing was sweet potatoes, but really, we didn't miss them.

Happy November and Happy Cooking!



Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions 

2 ½ lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 sprigs thyme or savory, plus 2 tsp leaves, divided
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tsp lemon juice (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. If sprouts are very small, cut in half; otherwise cut into quarters. Cook the sprouts until barely tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until brown but not crisp, 3-6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel. Pour out all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan.

Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft but not browned, reducing the heat if necessary, about 4 minutes. Stir in thyme (or savory) sprigs, salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high, add the Brussels sprouts, and cook, tossing or stirring occasionally, until tender and warmed through, about 3 minutes. Remove the herb sprigs. Add the bacon, thyme (or savory) leaves and lemon juice, if using, and toss.


Spinach Cheese Casserole 

2 (10-oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, drained dry 
1 (16-oz) tub of sour cream 
1 small onion, chopped 
8 oz Chicuahua cheese, grated 
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated 
2 T butter 
Parmesan cheese 
cracker crumbs 

Cook spinach and drain very dry. Mix with sour cream, onion, and Chicuahua and cheddar cheeses. Pour into 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dot with butter. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes. 


Brie en Croute 
1 puff pastry sheet 
flour 
5- or 6-inch brie 
about ¼ - 1/3 of a jar of good preserves 
toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts (optional) 
1 egg 

Thaw pastry sheet about 30-45 minutes. Roll out sheet on a lightly floured surface. Place the brie wheel (with rind on) 2-3 inches from the top of the sheet and 2-3 inches from the side of the sheet. Generously spread preserves over the top of the brie. Sprinkle toasted nuts over top of preserves, if desired. Then trim the other two sides 2-3 inches from the edge of the wheel so the brie wheel is in the middle of a square. Fold the edges of the pastry onto the top of the brie; press edges to seal. Brush a lightly beaten egg over all the pastry (except bottom). Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve alone, with crostini, crackers, etc. 


Pumpkin Brownies 
1 box (family size) brownie mix 
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree 

Combine the dry brownie mix with the pumpkin puree and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Adorn each brownie with a dolop of cream cheese topping if you like 



Bacon Mac N' Cheese
Recipe Inspired by America's Test Kitchen

Bread Crumb Topping:
6 Slices Bread, torn in pieces
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder 
Pinch Paprika

Pulse bread, butter, and garlic powder and paprika together in a food processor until a fine crumb forms.

Noodles, Cheese and Bacon
1 pound elbow macaroni
salt
5 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablesppons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (opt)
5 Cups milk
8 ounces Monterey cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
6-8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions:
For the bread-crumb topping: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are about 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.

For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler.
Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken).

Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Stir in bacon. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes. This allows the noodles to absorb all the yummy cheese flavor.

Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 13x9 inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning.

Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

2 bunches of broccoli (chopped)
1 stick of butter, divided
8 oz Velveeta
22 Ritz crackers

1) Steam chopped broccoli
2) Melt 4 oz (1/2 stick) of butter with velveeta in microwave until fully melted
3) Mix broccoli with cheese mixture
4) Crush Ritz crackers
5) Melt remaining 1/2 stick of butter and mix with crackers
6) Pour broccoli cheese mixture into casserole dish and top with crackers
7) Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

This recipe can easily be doubled for Thanksgiving.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Mini Loaded Potato Bites

These mini potato bites are everything you love about a loaded baked potato, but in a delicious pop-able bite! They make for a great appetizer or a fun side dish to go with grilled meat. These are like a good salty potato chip, you can't stop at just one!
Cut new potatoes in half and then trim off small piece from rounded bottom so they stand up.
Toss trimmed potatoes with olive oil to coat and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. In the last 6-7 minutes, you can flip the potatoes and sprinkle cheese on the 'presentation' side of each potato and bake until cheese is melted.
Cool slightly. Place on platter and top with chive and onion cream cheese, crumbled bacon and chives. These are best served warm.
Inspired by: Kraft.com

Mini Loaded Potato Bites
12-15 new potatoes, cut in half and cut small piece from rounded bottom so they stand-up
1 container Chive and Onion Cream Cheese
4 slices Bacon, cooked, crumbled
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

Two option for cooking the potatoes:
1.) Cook potatoes in boiling water for 15 min. or until tender o
or
2.) Toss potatoes with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika and toss until evenly coated. Place potatoes presentation side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Potatoes will be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.*

Place 1/2 container of chive and onion cream cheese mixture in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. You could also use a plastic ziploc bag with a corner cut out or just spoon the cream cheese mixture on. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Cool potatoes slightly. Place, bottom sides down, on platter; top with cream cheese mixture, bacon and chives. Sprinkle with a little black pepper if desired. Best enjoyed warm.

* Opt. The last 6-7 minutes, flip over the potatoes so they are all 'presentation' side up. Sprinkle a small amount of cheddar cheese on top of each and continue to bake until cheese is melted and potatoes are tender.

I used Philadelphia chive and onion cream cheese. It had great flavor and I didn't have to make my own cream cheese mixture.

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