Friday, October 31, 2008

Pilgrim Pies

Ok folks- here it is! It's Pilgrim Pie time, and I couldn't be happier! This is my FAVORITE time of year, the best holidays, the best weather and the best recipes. These are something special that I only make in November and December, and I always have special requests, so I end up making them several times. A soft pumpkin cookie with a creamy cream cheese frosting in between- oh, these are so yummy. Enjoy, friends.

Pumpkin Cookies
2 eggs
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Filling/Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 to 5 cups confectioners' sugar

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture a half cup at a time, blending each time until smooth.2. Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet
Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

3. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in a bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners' sugar a half cup at a time, until the frosting is spreadable.
4. When cooled, frost one cookie and top with another. EAT!

Chicken Divan

This is only one of two meals I actually cooked this week. The other was Poor Man's Steak, and it was good, and I will definitely cook it again and remember to take pictures this time. I have had some comments about liking the photos with the recipes, so I don't like to post without them. Anyway, crazy, crazy week- so, here is Chicken Divan. I had heard of this before but never knew what it was or what was in it, until I saw Paula Deen make it one time. My husband loves broccoli and he is NOT a veggie eater, so I make pretty much anything with broccoli in it to get the man some veggies!

Chicken Divan
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen broccoli, chopped
  • 6 cups shredded chicken, cooked
  • 2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (didn't have any, used Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Put broccoli and chicken in baking dish.

Mix soup, mayo, sour cream, cheese, lemon juice, curry powder, white wine and salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well together and pour over chicken and broccoli. Stir to combine.Mix bread crumbs, Parmesan, and melted butter in bowl and stir well. Sprinkle over chicken mixture. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.Enjoy!
I like the white wine and lemon juice in the sauce, because you can definitely taste a twang, but a good twang. I like this, but my husband said it didn't reheat very well when he tried it for lunch.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Brownie Cupcakes

My son had a Halloween party this week, and I didn't want to show up empty handed, so I checked the pantry and fridge, and whipped up some treats. These are brownies in cupcake form, with a cream cheese filling swirled in them. I totally cheated and used a brownie mix- just because I already had it!! And I am still searching for a good brownie recipe. I don't have a go-to from-scratch brownie recipe (do you? would you like to share?)

Brownie mix
Cream cheese filling
(2 packages cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and drops of yellow food coloring to make it orange and festive)
1/3 to 1/2 full of brownie batter, then a dollup of cream cheese mixture
Swirl slightly with a knife
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. I kept checking mine every few minutes after 25 minutes
These were YUM. I had a lot of cream cheese filling left over (can't wait to do something with it- I really, really, love cream cheese stuff), so maybe just 1 package of cream cheese would be plenty. This made 1 1/2 dozen brownie cupcakes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Patch Cake

I am not a cake decorator, I am NOT a cake decorator. I like baking, alot more than I used to. I am learning and trying, but sometimes it is NOT pretty. THIS is one of those times. I found a cute recipe for a pumpkin cake- not a pumpkin-flavored cake, a cake that looked like a pumpkin. I am sharing this with you so you will see, I am just a normal mom who loves to cook. I am still learning. I am learning that I am in need of some serious icing lessons....

Buttercream icing from my Betty Crocker cookbook;
colored green and orange with food coloring2 bundt cakes; I used the Spice cake recipe, also from my Betty Crocker cookbook
You turn the bundt cakes over, so the rounded part is the bottom and the top of the "pumpkin"
You also need 2 cupcakes with this. Just take a spoonful of batter from each bundt cake and fill 2/3 way full to make 2 cupcakes. You put the cupcakes, tops together, in the middle of the bundt cakes to make the "stem". Mine did not stick up enough, to make a good stem.Frost the stem with the green and the pumpkin with the orange. After it is smoothly frosted, you can run a spoon (use the back of the spoon) down the sides of the cake, to make "creases" on the pumpkin
This is a really cute idea, and if you are good with icing, then you should try it. The icing needed to be thinner, I will say that. Everybody knew it was a pumpkin and it tasted good, so that is something at least...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weekly Menu

Beef Tacos with Homemade Taco Shells
Refried Beans

Beef Tacos:
Saute onions (1 small) for several minutes until soft. Add spices- cumin, chili powder, and pinch cayenne pepper. Stir together and add ground beef to pan. Cook until no longer pink, and drain if needed. At this point I added a can of chili. I do this to make the meat thicker and hold together better, instead of dry, crumbly ground beef. I read in a cookbook that you can add tomato sauce and chicken broth and let that thicken it up. I will try that next time, but I already had the chili.
Homemade Taco Shells
I used flour tortillas, because I had more of them than corn (and I wanted to see how it would work with flour). Heat vegetable oil in skillet. Hold one side of tortilla in the oil, and hold up the other side, out of the oil.Flip tortilla and brown other side of tortilla.Stand upside down to dry and cool.

Mini chicken pot pies
fried squash
The pot pies were not great, I need to tweak the recipe I used. The fried squash was good, though. I dredged it in milk (seasoned with salt and pepper) and then flour, also seasoned with salt and pepper. Fried in vegetable oil- Yum!
Spaghetti with Simple Tomato Sauce

Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken
Full Bellies, Happy Kids

3 lbs. Chicken, cut into bite size pieces
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of cornstarch
4 beaten eggs with a little milk

1 1/4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of ketchup
1/2 cup of water
2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Beat 4 eggs together and add a little milk. Mix cornstarch, flour and garlic powder together. Dip chicken pieces in the flour then egg. Fry in hot oil until golden brown.

Place chicken in casserole dish.

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and ingredients are blended.

Pour sauce over chicken

Bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked thoroughly.

*Ok, this was GOOD. I love Asian food, but we don't have it all that often, so I love when I find a good recipe I can make at home. This is sweet, but tasty. Maybe more soy sauce next time, and less sugar or ketchup. But, I really liked it and will be making this again.

Pan seared steaks with worchestershire-butter pan sauce
Three Cheese Pasta Bake
(Sorry, no pictures. Didn't have my camera last night)

Three Cheese Pasta Bake
*from Southern Living
1 8-oz. penne pasta (I used 12 oz. accidentally, it was fine)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c half and half
4 oz. shredded white cheddar
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. shredded gruyere cheese
1 tsp. salt (needs more)
1/4 tsp. pepper
pinch of nutmeg

Cook pasta according to directions. Lightly grease 11x7 baking dish.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and half and half (do this slowly or sauce will not thicken at ALL), 3-5 minutes. Stir in cheeses, saving 1/2 Gruyere, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir together pasta and sauce and pour into lightly greased 11x7 dish. Top with remaining Gruyere.
Bake for 15 minutes until golden and bubbly (mine needed 20).
*This was really good. I knew my hubby would love it and he did. It went well with the steaks.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mrs. Claus' Cookbook

I remember seeing this site last year, and got an email about it today. It is the North Pole's website and Mrs. Claus has a section with her cookbook and it contains all different kinds of holiday treats. Yep, it's that time people!!!

(Speaking of holiday recipes- I promise, Pilgrim Pies are coming soon.)

Love This!

Mmmm, sweet tea. I make sweet tea about every other day in my house and what makes it so easy is this:

This stuff is great. SO EASY!

My sweet tea:
makes 2 quarts

2 Lipton Cold Brew Iced tea bags
6 Tablespoons sugar

Fill pitcher 2/3 way full of water and dunk tea bags. Leave submerged for 3-5 minutes. Heat one cup water (I do it in a Pyrex measuring cup) for 2 minutes in the microwave. Stir in 6 Tbsp. sugar and dissolve. Take out tea bags and squeeze excess from the bags into the pitcher. Add sugar water and fill with extra water to 2 quart line (if necessary). Stir and enjoy!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Simple Tomato Sauce

This my family recipe for tomato sauce. It is a basic tomato sauce and a great recipe to have.

Saute 6-8 garlic cloves in several Tablespoons olive oil. Saute for 1-2 minutes- don't let it get brown.Pour in one large can of crushed tomatoes and add dried basil (a few Tablespoons) or fresh if you have it. Stir together and let simmer on low for at least 20 minutes.
This is a great simple sauce- very fresh tasting. You can easily add mushrooms, olives, chicken- whatever you would like, but I always keep a batch on hand for pizza sauce, dipping, or just some good old spaghetti!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Love This!

I love my onion/garlic chopper!! I know, I know... Hey, cookin lady- you've got a knife, don't ya??? Why do you need some fancy chopper? Wellll, I don't. But, since my super sweet husband did give me one, I have found I love it. Why, you ask? Mainly, because it chops the onion small. I have talked a little about my aversion to big chunks of crunchy onion in my food. I thought I didn't like onions- however, what I really don't like is raw onions. I love the smell of onion sauteeing in a pan, and love the flavor of caramelized onions (they really do get sweet!! and they are SO good with steak). So, I like my onion chopper because it gets the onion diced up quite small, so you never bite down on a big chunk of onion! Also, it does garlic.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner

I made breakfast for dinner last night, again my daughter's request. Her birthday weekend is now over, and we can return to our usual life of NOT revolving around her every request (yeah, right).

Bisquik Banana Pancakes
I followed the recipe on the back of the Bisquik box for the " Melt-in-your-mouth" pancakes.
2 cups Bisquik
1 cup milk
2 eggs
For melt-in-your-mouth version, add:
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
I also added:
1 mashed banana

Heat griddle. Mix all ingredients. Pour a ladle full of batter on hot griddle. Flip when bubbly, about 1-2 minutes.I turn my oven on warm (170 degrees) and keep a plate in there. I add the pancakes to the plate as they come out, and they all stay warm. Enjoy!

Last weekend, I took the leftover homemade crescent rolls, and made french toast with them. I dredged them in a batter of milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla and cooked on a buttered griddle. YUM!

Monkey Munch

My daughter (and son) love this stuff!! She requested we make it this weekend, and since it was her birthday weekend, I said of course!! We saw this on Jon and Kate plus 8 (seriously, my kids LOVE that show!), and it is YUM!

Monkey Munch
9 cups Chex cereal
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c powdered sugar (I needed to use more like 2 cups)

Measure the cereal in a large bowl.
Place the chocolate, peanut butter, and butter in a microwavable bowl and cook uncovered on high for 1 minute. Stir, and cook for 30 more seconds. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal and stir until well coated.Pour chocolate coated cereal into a 2 gallon ziploc bag.Add powdered sugar: start with 1 1/2 cups, but I needed more. Shake well until coated.Spread monkey munch onto wax paper and let cool. Store in an airtight container.