Friday, December 23, 2011

Peppermint Bark

This peppermint bark is fabulous!  I used a good chocolate and made it a bit thicker, so it didn't quite fill the jelly roll pan.  I found the recipe on my friend Cristine's blog,  and as always, a great recipe!  Don't pay lots of money for the stuff in stores...  seriously easy to make!  Enjoy!

  • 12 oz bitter sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 12 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp Peppermint extract
  • 6 oz peppermint candies
Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with foil( use non stick foil), make sure you let the sides overhang so you can pull the bark out when its done.
In a heavy duty zip lock bag, crush the peppermints.
In a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate, peppermint extract and whipping cream and stir until smooth. Pour the dark chocolate into the baking pan and evenly smooth out.
Place in the fridge for about 15 minutes to firm.
In a double boiler, melt the white chocolate and stir until smooth.
Remove the dark chocolate from the fridge and with a paper towel, blot off and moisture that has accumulated on the top. Pour the white chocolate over the dark chocolate.
Sprinkle the peppermint candies over the white chocolate.
Place in fridge to firm for about 1 hour. Remove and cut to your desired shape and size.
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Friday, December 9, 2011

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

I first saw these cookie on pinterest.  Can I just say, I love pinterest!  Then, looking at the bhg website, where the recipe was originally found, I saw they got 4 out of 5 stars, which did not impress me.  But some people raved about them.  I read the reviews and made a few adjustments based on the bad reviews.
I am not a huge shortbread fan, but these cookies are delicious.  The almond flavor and the white chocolate/cherry combination is really fantastic.  They are buttery and just the right amount of sweet.  My kids, who all are not fans of maraschino cherries, all ate these and were surprised that they liked them so much.  But, I was not surprised.  I don't think my kids have ever met a cookie they didn't like. ;-) One note:  Do no skip the kneading step.  Makes it all a lot easier, and doesn't take but a minute.

 adapted from:

  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • 2 tsp cherry juice
  • 1 pkg ghirardelli white chocolate chips, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons shortening
  • White nonpareils, sprinkles and/or red edible glitter (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Dice cherries.
 In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 ounces (2/3 cup) of the chopped chocolate (I ran a knife through the white chocolate chips. Stir in almond extract and, if desired, food coloring. Knead mixture until it forms a smooth ball.
Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to 1-1/2-inch rounds.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 13 minutes or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
In a small saucepan, combine remaining 8 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. If desired, roll dipped edge in nonpareils and/or edible glitter. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set. Makes about 60.

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

These cookies are just so pretty, that I had to make them and didn't much care how they tasted.  But chocolate, pecans and caramel. . .  how can that possibly be bad?  These cookies are just like the title says: turtles.  I doubled the recipe and got 4-5 dozen cookies.  I made them quite small, as I wanted the caramel to be a significant part of the cookie.  I did not need the extra egg white as well.  They are a delightful little cookie that are as tasty as they look!



yield 2-2 1/2 dz.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated, plus possibly 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, chopped fine
  • 14 soft caramel candies
  •  2 TBSP heavy cream
  • 3/4-1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp shortening, add more if needed to make drizzly


Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Refrigerate dough until firm, at least 1 hour.
 Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.
Whisk egg white(s) in another bowl until frothy. Place pecans in another bowl. One at a time, roll dough into 3/4-inch balls, dip in egg whites, then roll in pecans. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using teaspoon measure or your thumb, make indentation in center of each ball. Chill any remaining dough while cookies are baking.
  Bake until set, 10 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.
Meanwhile, microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently press existing indentations with teaspoon measure, or your fingers. Fill each with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon caramel mixture. I used a spoon and carefully drizzled it in the centers.  Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.  Melt the chips and shortening in the microwave in 30 second increments, mixing after each, until smooth and drizzly.  Drizzle with a whisk or spoon over the cookies.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lentil Soup

I made this soup a few weeks ago and left my husband to take pictures and they made the soup look kinda gross.  But there is no real way to get a good shot, because it is just not pretty. It is such a shame, because this is a delicious soup!
I love soups because they take a little prep and then you can just kinda leave them to stew about and get all delicious.  This soup is pretty simple and I love the heartiness of it.  The secret is to puree a little bit of it, to make it a bit more creamy.   As a soup, I don't think you could get much more nutrient packed or figure friendly.  So, go ahead and get the second bowl, because you are sure to want one!  Bonus:  all done in one pot, so easy clean up!


  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 32 oz. low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 cups water (I just refill the broth container 3/4 of the way w/ water)
  • 1 bag lentils, rinsed and picked over (I used mixed lentils)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP Parsely- more if fresh
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • opt. 1/2 tsp each onion powder and garlic powder
For variation- add 1 cup dry pasta and cook until cooked.  Or add some chopped spinach to put it over into the superfood category!


In a large stock pot, add oil and heat over medium high heat.  Add carrots, onion and celery and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Add potatoes and garlic and cook an additional 3-5 minutes, stirring more often to prevent sticking.  Add broth and water and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add lentils, garbanzo beans and tomatoes, reduce heat to med. and cover and let simmer 30-40 minutes.  Take hand blender and puree in pulses about 3-4 times.  Season to taste.  Reduce heat to low to med low and let simmer at least another 10 minutes or until ready to eat.  (I let mine sit another 30 minutes).  Can serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good sprinkle of Parmesan cheese with some crusty bread.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sophie's Sweet Bread (with Raisins)

This is a bread my grandmother used to make and give to her loved ones around Christmas time.  It was a labor of love for her, in which she started early in the morning and finished late at night.  This bread is very light in the center and is fabulous right out of the oven or toasted with some butter is my favorite way to eat it.  It did not take me all day to make.  It actually only took me 6 hours, and would've taken less, but it wasn't rising because my house was too cold.  I put it near the oven and it started to rise wonderfully.  I love this bread with the raisins, but they can be omitted easily.  She made 6-7 loaves, and I made the recipe for 2 loaves and adapted the directions a bit to be more user friendly.
My Aunt Mary got me this recipe and I am grateful to be able to make it!  A great recipe from Grandma... we miss you Bessie!

from my Grandmother, Thanks Aunt Mary!

  • 1 cup warm water 
  • 1 packet of yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 TBSP salt
  • 1/4 cup+ 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1/4 cup+1 TBSP canola oil
  • 1/3 cup + 1 TBSP evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 5-6 cups flour

In a glass measuring cup, place water with 1 TBSP sugar and yeast.  Let sit without mixing for 10 minutes.  If it doesn't foam, get new yeast.  Meanwhile, in a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix remaining sugar, salt, oil, eggs, egg yolks, and evaporated milk.  Add yeast/water mix and 2 cups of flour.  Mix for a minute on med. high until smooth, scraping dough down the sides.  Add a cup of flour at a time until dough begins to pull away from the sides.   Dough will still be a bit tacky/sticky.  Change to kneading attachment and knead for 5 minutes, adding raisins for last minute if using them. 
Turn down onto floured surface and knead lightly a few more times working a bit more flour in if needed to prevent from sticking.  Grease a bowl and place down in it.  Cover with a towel and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (mine took like 3 hours because my house was cool).  Punch down dough and grease 2 bread pans.  Divide dough in half and place dough in each pan and  cover with a towel.  Let rise until rising up over the top in a nice dome shape. 
Bake @ 350 for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown on top.  Remove from oven and rub butter over the tops.  Turn out onto a rack or cutting board to cool and serve warm or toasted with butter.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup (Like Olive Garden's)

I can't really say if this is like Olive Garden's, because I have never had Olive Garden's, but this soup ranks up there with the best I've ever had.  The gnocchi's are like little pillows of heaven and the soup creaminess and the richness of flavor all combined for something I think I could live on for the rest of my life.  I wanted to seriously dive in and swim around it this soup.  And the bread to sop it up...  ugh!. . .almost put me over the edge. 

The other bonus, this soup is SO quick and easy.  A few pointers:  I baked some chicken breasts drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and Trader Joe's 21 season salute @ 350 for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through (I used 1 and a half large breasts).  And I used Trader Joe's whole wheat gnocchi which was divine!  I WILL (sorry to yell) be making this again and again.

adapted from

  • 1 cup chicken breasts, baked and diced (you can use a rotisserie chicken)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 can evaporated 2% milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (ish) skim milk
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth (depending how creamy you want it)
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 cup carrots, finely shredded
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped (or 1/4 block frozen)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound potato gnocchi, you can buy this in the gourmet section of many supermarkets

Saute the onion, and celery in the butter and olive oil over medium heat, sprinkle with some salt.  Cook until the onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two.  Add the flour and make a roux. Let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding evaporated milk and skim not boil, but let heat until thickens, then add carrots and chicken.
Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Once the mixture becomes thick, add the chicken broth. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasoning; simmer until soup is heated through.  Serve topped with lots of Parmesan and with bread.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Double Chocolate Pudding Pie

This is my favorite chocolate pudding pie.  My kids love it and it is almost always the first pie to be gone.  My kids adore this pie too.  
I like that it is a little "lighter" than the average pudding pie, because it cuts the yolks out.   But word of caution:  Must have milk standing by.


 adapted from:


For Crust:

  • 14 graham cracker squares (7 full sheets)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon water
For Pie:
  • 1 tablespoon (1 Packet) unflavored gelatin
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk (I used skim)
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used chips)
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract


    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.  In a food processor, process the graham crackers until finely ground. Measure 1 cup sugar and remove 1 TBSP and add that TBSP to the graham crackers.  Add butter and water and process until the crumbs clump together. Press the crumb mixture into bottom of pie plate and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes, then let cool.
    In the meantime, make the pudding. Put the gelatin in a small bowl, add the boiling water and stir until dissolved. Set aside.  In a saucepan, mix the remaining sugar (the 1 cup minus the TBSP), cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Gradually add half of the milk, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the rest of the milk. Turn the heat on to medium and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 10 minutes.
    Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted, getting down into the corners of the pan. Stir in the vanilla and 1/2 of the reserved gelatin (I throw out the rest). Also, can add a TBSP of butter here for added richness; stir in until melted and incorporated. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and let set for 3 hours in the refrigerator.  Garnish with whipped cream.
    Note:  Using all of the gelatin like the original recipe calls for gives it a more jello like consistency, verses pudding like.  It have been making this for several years and found that half the gelatin helps it set up, while keeping the texture more pudding like.

    Nestle Toll House Cookie Pie

    My mom made this pie every Thanksgiving as long as I can remember.  It was the only one my brother would eat for along time.  It may still be the only one he will eat.  It is like a big cookie baked with a pie crust surrounding it.  My kids love this pie, as about every kid would.  It is easy to throw together and is certain to be a crowd pleaser. 


    adapted from:

    • unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell *
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 cup (6 oz.) Nestle semi sweet Chocolate chips
    • 1 cup chopped nuts
    • Sweetened whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

    Preheat oven to 325° F. Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter and vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into pie shell.

    Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean.  Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired.

      Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Roll Crust

      We LOVED the flavor of the cinnamon swirled through the pie crust.  Even though I don't really eat crust, I ate some of this crust.  I just used a pillsbury crust to make it easy, but you can use your favorite crust.  It looks so pretty on the plate and the crust is so easy to make.
      I had a little mishap with my pumpkin pie...  a few bags of chocolate chips fell into it after it was baked.  opps!  Glad it was just us for Thanksgiving.  I just smoothed it best I could, and topped it with whipped cream.  Was thankful for the whipped cream to cover my flaws.  But pumpkin pie does not get much better tasting than this one.  Enjoy!

      adapted from:  taste-for-adventure

      • pie crust
      •  1 1/2 tsp. sugar 
      •  2 tsp cinnamon 

      Roll out crust, or unroll Pillsbury variety.  Sprinkle the crust with the cinnamon and sugar.  Roll back up, very tightly.  Cut into 1/4" thick circles.  Press into pie plate.  Fill with filling and bake as usual.


      adapted from:

      • 1 sugar pumpkin or 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
      •  2 eggs
      • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
      • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
      • 1 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp. ginger
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • pinch fresh nutmeg
      • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

      Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel.  Either mash, or puree in small batches in a blender. 
       OR use a 15 ounce can like I did. 
      Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C.)  In a large bowl, slightly beat eggs.  Add brown sugar, flour, salt, 2 cups of the pumpkin puree, spice, vanilla, and evaporated milk. Stir well after each addition.  Pour mixture into the unbaked pastry shell. Place a strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the crust to prevent over browning.  Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C), then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the strip of foil about 20 minutes before the pie is done so that the edge of the crust will be a light golden brown. Cool pie, and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

      World's Best Dinner Rolls

      I did not name these.  But they are pretty darn good.  I am not the best bread baker, but mine came out beautifully, and HUGE!  They kept rising more and more.  I am always afraid of yeast, and have had what I deem as a few not so great turnouts with recipes.  But these didn't give me an ounce of trouble.

      These have about the perfect texture for what I personally like in a dinner roll.  The amount of salt was fabulous and the sweetness was about right on.  So, pretty darn good, and pretty darn easy too.  I liked these better than the Texas Roadhouse knock off rolls.  It was the best roll I have had in a really long time... so might just be the "World's best dinner Roll".  You be the judge.

      Recipe from:  ourbestbites
      • 2 c. whole milk (if you’re in a pinch, you can use 2%, but whole is best. Don’t use 1% or skim)
      • 1/2 c. + 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
      • 1/3 c. (5 1/3 Tbsp.) butter
      • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
      • 2 pkgs. active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.), preferably bread machine yeast
      • 2/3 c. warm (105-115-degree) water
      • 8-9 c. all-purpose flour
      • 3 beaten eggs

      Combine milk, 1/2 c. sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts.
      Remove from heat. Allow to cool to lukewarm. (Put pot in a bowl full of ice cubes to cool faster) Don't skip this cooling or you can kill the yeast.

      While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast and 1 Tbsp. sugar in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes. If the yeast hasn’t bubbled, you’ll need to repeat this step–moving on so yeast can be activated properly.
      In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 c. flour and milk mixture. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Add yeast mixture and beat on high for 3 minutes.
      Add beaten eggs.
      Stir in as much remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough. This dough will still be very soft–it will be coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still stick to your finger when you touch it. Mine took 8 1/2 cups.  It will firm up some during the rising process.  Place the bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean towel; allow to rise 1 hour, or more, if you forget or get busy like me.

      Punch down dough.  Flour your work surface and turn dough out onto surface. Divide in half.
      Spray 2- 9×13 glass pans with cooking spray. I used a huge heavy bottomed pan for most of them, and a round cake pan for the last of the dough.  Roll first portion of dough into a rectangle and then cut it into 12 equal-sized pieces. A pizza cutter works great for this.  Shape each piece into a ball and place in prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough in the second pan.
      Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or longer is fine too :). When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go (depending on your oven), preheat oven to 375.
      Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown.
      When done, remove from oven. Rub a stick of cold butter over the tops of the rolls and eat one while it's hot!

      Saturday, November 26, 2011

      Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Streusel

       Because I just made sweet potato casserole last week, I decided to change it up.  While the candied yams with marshmallows has it's place, I am always up for new.  And streusel, I mean come on!  I would put steusel on everything if I could.

      These potatoes were incredibly delicious and may be showing up each year at my Thanksgiving table.  The streusel got all crunchy and the nuts get all toasty and um, YUM!!!   These were like dessert.  My 4 year old, who is my pickiest eater, went, "MMM!" with each bite.  A great addition to any meal!

      Recipe adapted from


      • 3 large sweet potatoes
      • 3 TBSP packed brown sugar
      • 3 TBSP butter
      • pinch salt
      • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp vanilla
      • 3 TBSP flour
      • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
      • 2 TBSP butter
      • 3 TBSP packed brown sugar

      Prick sweet potatoes with a fork or knife and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until soft. Or you can microwave the sweet potatoes on high for 13-15 minutes.
      Once sweet potatoes are cooked, slice in half and scoop out the centers into a bowl leaving a 1/4 inch border of sweet potato with the skin. Mix in brown sugar, butter, salt and cinnamon until smooth. Using a large tipped pastry bag, pipe filling back into sweet potato shells. {Or spoon it back in}  You will have one shell  (half a sweet potato skin) that is empty if you fill them nice and full, which I didn't because I didn't read the directions.   So, you will have 5 instead of 6.  Got it?  Note to self: read the directions!
      In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except nuts for streusel and mix together until crumbly.  Add nuts and stir until incorporated.  Sprinkle the filled sweet potatoes with the streusel and bake 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.

      Eggnog Waffles

      Eggnog is one of those things you want to have every holiday season, but  can never drink the whole carton before it goes bad.  This is a great way to use some of it up!  Tis the season!

      I love the smell of eggnog, but can't seem to choke it down.  I think it is a texture thing for me.  But I love the "idea" of eggnog, and the smell.  I wanted to try it in a breakfast dish, so I came up with an eggnog waffle.  I loved these. . . even without syrup.  I love that I could taste the eggnog in each bite!  In these,  I used lowfat eggnog, but you could use pumpkin eggnog, or whatever!  



      • 2 1/2 cups flour
      • 2 cups eggnog (I used lowfat)
      • 1/4 cup milk
      • 2 TSBP sugar
      • 2 large eggs - beaten
      • 4 TSBP butter, melted
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • 2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
      • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
      • dash nutmeg


      In a bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
      In a seperate bowl, mix together eggnog, eggs, milk, vanilla and melted butter until well mixed.   Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until smooth. Cook waffles in well-greased preheated waffle iron until deep golden brown.  These seemed to rise a lot, just fyi.

      Banana Cornmeal Pancakes

      I had some leftover bananas ad thought about making banana pancakes up, but then I thought about the possibility of cornmeal.  These pancakes were delicious and I loved how they were something different.  the first bite, I was not sure if I liked them, then I took another and settled into the cornmeal flavor.  I think my palette was surprised, even though I knew what I was eating.  Funny how that is.  My kids chowed them, and my husband really liked the combo of the banana and cornmeal.

      Adapted from Emeril Lagasse, Food network
      • 1 cup cornmeal
      • 1 cup flour
      • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
      • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
      • 3 TBSP brown sugar
      • pinch of salt
      • 1 cup greek nonfat yogurt
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • 1 1/4 cup milk
      • 1 ripe banana
      • 2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
      • 1 egg
      • 2 egg whites

      In a medium size bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, combine yogurt, egg yolk, vanilla and milk.  Using a wooden spoon, add dry to wet ingredients.  Lightly fold in bananas and the melted butter.  In a separate bowl, beat 3 egg whites until soft peak forms.  Gently fold egg whites into the rest of the batter.  Cook on preheated, greased griddle.  Serve with warm syrup and butter.

      Friday, November 18, 2011

      Dutch Apple Pie

      I am not a huge pie fan.  I find the crust mostly a waste of calories.  However, I love the fillings.  Often times, I will eat the filling and chuck the crust, unless I am in the mood for the whole slice.  But I am well aware that not everyone shares my tastes.  For instance, not much in life makes my husband happier than a good slice of pie with ice cream and whipped cream and of course, a tall glass of cold milk.  I do love me some apple crisp though!  So, this pie makes us both happy.  He gets the crust, I get the filling and the yummy crumbly top.  I like my apple filling very soft, melt in your mouth like, and this was perfect!

      This pie does its baking in a paper bag.  Yes, you heard correctly.  Not sure why, maybe the steam, or protects it from browning while still allowing the topping to get crunchy.  I have made this pie over a dozen times without the bag, and the topping often gets a bit to brown.  This time it was perfect.  Go ahead and try it and see what you think.



      • 1 pie shell- uncooked
      • 8-10 granny smith apples (or your fave baking apple)
      • 1/3 cup white sugar
      • 1/3 cup brown sugar
      • 2 TBSP flour
      • 1 tsp cinnamon (I like cinnamon, so I used 1/2 TBSP)
      • 1 TBSP lemon juice
      • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • 1 stick butter
      • 1/2 cup flour
      • 1/4 cup brown sugar
      • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
      • handful of oatmeal (OPT.-  if not using, add 1/4 more flour)

      Peel and slice apples thin.  Microwave for 4 minutes to soften.  If you like a firmer apple, skip the microwave.  Add sugars, flour, lemon juice, vanilla and spices.  
      Preheat oven to 425.
      In a separate bowl, use a pastry blender or fork to mix cold butter with sugars and flour.  
      Give apples another stir to distribute the juices and dump into pie shell.  Sprinkle crumb topping over the top evenly.  Place paper bag on a baking sheet (Catches run off for easy clean up) and place pie  inside.  Fold opening over and staple or use a metal paper clip to seal shut.   Bake at 425 for 1 hour.  (I took mine out the last 10-15 minutes to let it brown some.)

      VARIAION:  You can add some chopped pecans to the topping for a switch up!

       NOTE:  If you have a gas oven, I might recommend using brown parchment paper or cooking without paper and cover if it is browning too much.  Can use white parchment, but reduce heat to 400 and cook for 70 minutes. 

      Chicken Corn Chowder

      This soup warmed us through and through, even though it was already 80 here in GA.  Pathetic in Nov...  dying to wear my boots...  but enough whining... back to the soup.  errr... chowder.
      This was pretty easy.  Some chopping and adding this and that and shredding and poof!  Chicken Corn Chowder.  I love the chilies in it, but the whole can was a bit too much heat for my young family and my sensitive stomach.  The flavor was superb though and I loved the coolness of the sour cream against the heat of the chowder.  A nice change from the mundane. 

      serves 5-6

      • 3 chicken breast, roasted, or roaster chicken
      • 2 TBSP olive oil
      • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
      • 1 onion, finely diced
      • 1 med red bell pepper, finely diced
      • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
      • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced in 1/2" chunks
      • 20 oz. frozen or canned creamed corn
      • 1 can whole corn
      • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
      • 1 tsp dried parsley (2-3 TBSP fresh)
      • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (1 TBSP fresh)
      • salt and pepper
      • 32 oz. chicken broth
      •  3 TBSP flour
      • 2-3 oz light cream cheese
      • 1 1/2 cup milk
      • 1 can green chopped chilies (1/2 can for less heat)
      • 5-6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
      • chopped scallions
      • cheddar cheese
      • sour cream

      Season and roast chicken for 35 minutes or until cooked.  Shred meat from roaster chicken or the chicken you roasted.  In a large stock pot, place oil, diced onion, red pepper and celery.  Cook for 5-6 minutes over med heat.  Add potatoes and garlic and cook additional 5 minutes. Add broth and corn to vegetables.  Add spices.  Simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Add chilies to soup.   Place  a few TBSP milk in a bowl and whisk in the flour.  Add to soup.  Add remainder of milk and cream cheese to a microwave safe dish and heat until cream cheese is soft and whisk/ mix together until smooth.  Reduce heat so not to burn/boil.  Cook for anther 15-20 minutes over med-low/low heat, to allow flavors to meld.  Serve topped with garnishes.

      Texas Roadhouse Rolls (Copycat)

        Are these really like Texas Roadhouse?  Not quite... but they are good.  Maybe if I had made them not like the pull apart kind?  I just read another post that says to add 4 tsp. of wheat gluten and some honey.  Maybe next time.  
      Anyway, although they are not quite like Texas Roadhouse's, they were still very yummy rolls and I would make them again.  And the cinnamon honey butter will not disappoint!

      TEXAS ROADHOUSE ROLLS - Copycat Recipe


      • 4 tsp. active dry yeast
      • 1/2 c. warm water
      • 2 c. milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
      • 3 Tbl. of melted butter, slightly cooled
      • 1/2 c. sugar 
      • 2 quarts all purpose flour (7-8 cups)
      • 2 whole eggs
      • 2 tsp. salt
      • 1 stick softened butter
      • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
      • 1/4 cup honey
      • 1 tsp cinnamon


      Dissolve yeast in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar.  Add yeast, milk, sugar and enough flour to make a medium batter.  Beat thoroughly.  Let stand until light and foamy.  Add melted butter, eggs and salt.  Beat well.  

      Add enough flour to form a soft dough.  Sprinkle a small amount of flour onto counter and let dough rest.  Meanwhile, grease a large bowl.  Knead dough until smooth and satiny and put in greased bowl; turn over to grease top. (I used the dough hook on my Kitchen-Aid to knead this for about 4-5 minutes).  Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.  Punch down.  Turn out onto a floured board.  Divide into portions for shaping; let rest 10 minutes.  Shape dough into desired forms.  (I pinched off golf size balls and placed them in a pan for pull apart rolls. They rise a lot, so make them small!!)  Place on greased baking sheets.  Let rise until doubled.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Baste immediately with butter.  Yield: 5 to 6 dozen.  Serve with Cinnamon Honey Butter. 

      For the Cinnamon Honey Butter:  whisk it all together, w/ mixer or by hand,  for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy. 

      Thursday, November 17, 2011

      Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

      What Thanksgiving meal can happen with stuffing?  I never liked stuffing growing up, not sure why, I mean it is bread and spices and it is so good.  Thank God my taste buds grew up! 
      This stuffing is fantastic.  It is some my grandmother's recipe and a bit my own.  A wonderful addition to any holiday meal.


      • 1/2 lb. breakfast sausage
      • 1/2 lb. regular sausage (hot)
      • 1 pkg. onion soup mix
      • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
      • 1 onion, finely diced
      • 2 TBSP butter
      • 2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced 
      • 3-4 TBSP white wine
      • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
      • 1/4 cup. fresh parsley, chopped
      • 2 tsp poultry seasoning
      • 4 c. stuffing (cubed or crushed, your preference)
      • 4 cups cornbread stuffing or crumbled cornbread
      • 1 egg beaten
      • 3-4 cups chicken broth

      Cook sausage into crumbles.  When fully cooked, place sausage in dish and set aside.  In the same skillet add onion, and celery and  butter.  Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium high heat and add the apples.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring as needed for another 5-7 minutes.  Add white wine and cook another 2-3 minutes. 
      In a large bowl, mix stuffing, cornbread stuffing, poultry seasoning, onion soup mix, parsley and cranberries.  Add sausage, beaten egg, onion mixture and about 2 cups of broth.  Stir, and add little bits of broth until all of the bread is moist.  Place into greased 9x13.  Cover and bake 20 minutes.  If you prefer crispy top, uncover and bake additional 25-30 minutes, or leave covered for softer stuffing.  Increase cooking time for  full oven.

      Scalloped Corn

      I am not a big fan of corn.  I love it in soups, bread, dips even, but by itself, don't eat it much.  Growing up, it was always on the table.  My parents would buy several bushels at the end of the summer, and then cook it a little, then we would cut it off the cob.  I remember helping shucking the corn, and cutting it off the cob and bagging it, and there was a whole shelf designated for corn in the freezer.  We had it with dinner several times a week all winter long.  I liked corn them.  Not sure what happened, maybe overload, but now I will have maybe one ear of sweet corn a year.  Pathetic, I know. 
      Enough about corn, and onto this dish!  This is a great dish!  My mom got the recipe from her neighbor Melissa.  I brought this to a potluck last night and every morsel was gone.  I made a slight change to it by adding green chilies, but even before that, still a great dish!  The green chilies compliment it wonderfully though!  Delicious! 

      from Melissa Freeman

      may not look pretty, but tastes great!
      • 1 stick butter
      • 8 oz sour cream (I used light, but am going to try some greek yogurt next time too!)
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 can creamed corn (no salt or low sodium)
      • 1 can whole corn (no salt), DO NOT DRAIN!
      • 1 Jiffy Corn muffin mix
      • (opt.) 1 can green chilies (or 1/2)

      Melt butter.  Add everything else and mix.  Place in greased casserole of you choosing (7x11 will produced shorter cooking time then round casserole type which I used).  Bake @ 350 for 45 min to an hour.  Top will be brown and crunchy and center will no longer jiggle (Mine in a round casserole went 1 hr. and 15 minutes with other things in the oven.)

      Sweet Potato Casserole (low-fat)

      The mass of Thanksgiving recipes is about to begin!  We had a church potluck last night, so I took it as an opportunity to blog some recipes before the holiday gets here.
      I grew up with the traditional sweet potatoes with the buttery brown sugar glaze, topped with gooey oozey marshmallows.  It is hard to improve on those, but sometimes change is good.  My sister-in-law first introduced me to a new sweet potato casserole.  I got the recipe and after realizing there was over 2 sticks of butter in it, I realized that while it was delicious, it also was terrible for me.  I am fine with butter in dessert, and a bit in meals from time to time.  But with all the other fat laden things served during the holidays, did I really need one more thing?  Nope...  so I found a lightened version which I think is every bit as delicious with almost 1/4 the butter!   A great addition to the Thanksgiving table!

      SWEET POTATO (or YAM) CASSEROLE (low-fat)

      • 2 1/2 lb.sweet potatoes (3-4 med.  I did 3, wish I had done 4).  peeled and diced, or 3 cans unsweetened sweet potato puree
      • 2 eggs
      • 1/2 cup sugar
      • 2 TBSP butter
      • 1/2 cup milk
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1/2 tsp butter flavoring
      • OPT. 2 tsp orange zest (I OMIT)
      • 3 TBSP. Flour
      • 3/4 cup brown sugar
      • 2-3 TBSP butter
      • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
      • 1/2 cup coconut

      Dice sweet potatoes (smaller the dice, faster they will cook.  I did 1/2" dice)  Steam the sweet potatoes until tender all the way through and fall off the fork.  Preheat oven to 350.  Place sweet potatoes in a food processor.  Add the rest of ingredients and blend.  Scrape down sides and pulse until smooth with no lumps.  Spread evenly in a 9x13 dish.
      In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and flour.  Add cold butter and using a pastry blender or fork, mix until a coarse crumb. Add nuts and coconut.  Mix with hands.  Sprinkle evenly over sweet potatoes. Bake covered for 25 minutes, and uncovered for another 20.  NOTE:  If your oven is full, like mine is during the holiday's, you will need to bake longer.  Add at least 10 minutes to cooking time.  I added almost 20 with 3 things in the oven.    Enjoy!

      Monday, November 14, 2011

      Butterfinger Blondies with Buttercream Frosting

      These are wonderful blondies!  Super sweet, and are even better on day 2.  They are full of chunks of butterfinger and topped with a creamy buttercream.
      They are evil, because I want to keep eating them.  My kids love them, and my husband too, but just a little bit does him.  Wish a little would do me!  My instincts told me to cut the butter by a couple of TBSP, and I wish I had cut it by a half stick, because I found them a bit too buttery at first.  The butter has kinda reabsorbed now, but I still think I will cut it next time.  Then again, when you are talking 2 sticks and another stick for the icing, plus some crisco, so what's a couple of TBSP?  Worth the extra laps you will have to do. 

      recipe slightly adapted from:


      • 1 c. butter (I will do 3/4 cup next time)
      • 1 c. light brown sugar
      • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
      • 2 tsp. vanilla
      • 2 eggs
      • 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
      • 1 tsp. baking soda
      • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
      • 2 c. coarsely chopped Butterfinger Bars (about 5 full size candy bars, or 20 small)
      •  1/2 c. butter, softened 
      • 1/2 c. vegetable shortening
      • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
      • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
      • 1 T. milk (more as needed)
      • 2 1/2 - 3 c. powdered sugar
      • 1/2 c. butterfingers, chopped (about 1 full size candy bar)

      Preheat oven to 350°F.
      I couldn't wait til they were cool, so I cheated and frosted a few early.
      In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.  Beat butter and sugars until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in flour mixture until just combined, followed by chopped butterfingers.  Spread the batter into 9x13 pan.  Bake 25- 33 minutes, or until the center is set and doesn't jiggle.  They will be a nice golden brown. Cool completely.

      Whip frosting and top cooled bars (I only used half the icing, so could half the recipe, if desired).  Sprinkle with crushed butterfinger or mix candy bars in frosting for variation.

      Pumpkin Kiss Blossoms

      I saw these and knew instantly I wanted to make them.  This is a soft pumpkin cookie with a pumpkin kiss in the center.  I am not a fan of the pumpkin kiss by itself, but with the cookie, it is delicious.  But I am a girl who doesn't like chocolate kisses either (love chocolate, just not a Hershey's girl).   But my kids loved the pumpkin kisses by themselves.   I really like the sugar on the outside because it looks pretty and I like the tecture.  Just a note:  these are not the same texture as peanut butter blossoms, more like a soft pumpkin cookie, but delicious, nonetheless.

      Recipe adapted from cristinecooks

      • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 cups granulated sugar
      • 1/2 cup brown sugar
      • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
      • 1 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
      • 1 large egg
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • Turbinado sugar
      • Bag of Hershey pumpkin spice kisses


      Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl. Beat sugars and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. 
      Bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks and stick a pumpkin kiss in the middle.  (Pumpkin kisses are a bit softer chocolate and it is a good  idea to chill them before sticking them in the cookie.)  ENJOY!