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.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PUDDING PIE

 adapted from: foodnetwork.com


INGREDIENTS:

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

    DIRECTIONS:

    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. 


    NESTLE TOLL HOUSE COOKIE PIE

    adapted from: verybestbaking.com

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 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)
    DIRECTIONS:

    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!

      CINNAMON ROLL CRUST
      adapted from:  taste-for-adventure

      INGREDIENTS:
      • pie crust
      •  1 1/2 tsp. sugar 
      •  2 tsp cinnamon 
      DIRECTIONS:


      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.

      PUMPKIN PIE

      adapted from:  allrecipes.com

      INGREDIENTS:
      • 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
      DIRECTIONS:


      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.



      WORLD'S BEST DINNER ROLLS
      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
      DIRECTIONS:

      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!

      TWICE BAKED SWEET POTATO WITH PECAN STREUSEL
      Recipe adapted from laurenslatest.com

      INGREDIENTS:

      • 3 large sweet potatoes
      • 3 TBSP packed brown sugar
      • 3 TBSP butter
      • pinch salt
      • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp vanilla
      FOR THE STREUSEL-
      • 3 TBSP flour
      • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
      • 2 TBSP butter
      • 3 TBSP packed brown sugar
      DIRECTIONS:

      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!  


      EGGNOG WAFFLES


      INGREDIENTS:

      • 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

      DIRECTIONS:

      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.

      BANANA CORNMEAL PANCAKES
      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
      DIRECTIONS:

      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.

      DUTCH APPLE PIE


      INGREDIENTS:

      • 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
      FOR THE TOPPING:
      • 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)
      DIRECTIONS:

      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. 



      CHICKEN CORN CHOWDER
      serves 5-6

      INGREDIENTS:
      • 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)
      GARNISH:
      • 5-6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
      • chopped scallions
      • cheddar cheese
      • sour cream
      DIRECTIONS:

      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



      INGREDIENTS:


      • 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
      CINNAMON BUTTER
      • 1 stick softened butter
      • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
      • 1/4 cup honey
      • 1 tsp cinnamon

      DIRECTIONS:



      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.

      SAUSAGE, APPLE, AND CRANBERRY STUFFING

      INGREDIENTS:
      • 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
      DIRECTIONS:

      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! 

      SCALLOPED CORN
      from Melissa Freeman

      INGREDIENTS:
      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)
      DIRECTIONS:

      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)

      INGREDIENTS:
      • 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)
      TOPPING:
      • 3 TBSP. Flour
      • 3/4 cup brown sugar
      • 2-3 TBSP butter
      • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
      • 1/2 cup coconut
      DIRECTIONS:

      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. 


      BUTTERFINGER BLONDIES WITH BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
      recipe slightly adapted from: cookiesandcups.com

      INGREDIENTS:

      • 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)
      BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
      •  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)
      DIRECTIONS:

      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.




      PUMPKIN KISS BLOSSOMS
      Recipe adapted from cristinecooks

      INGREDIENTS:
      • 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

      DIRECTIONS:

      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!

      Saturday, November 12, 2011

      Chicken Parmesan Bake


      This is a super simple dish that literally comes together in minutes.  I always kind of enjoy the layering process.  Something kinda fun about it.  (I know, I am lame and need to get a life!) Anyway,  it is super tasty and I will totally be making it again.  It does not really taste like Chicken Parmesan, but the flavors are fantastic together and we all loved the croutons on this.  The sauce gets diluted some from the chicken juices, but still had great flavor.  Make this dish! 


      CHICKEN PARMESAN BAKE 
      adapted slightly from: foodwishes.blogspot.com

      INGREDIENTS:

      • 2 tbsp olive oil
      • 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
      • hot red pepper flakes, to taste
      • 6 boneless skinless chicken breast (I halved mine in thickness, so I only used 3 large)
      • 2 cups marinara sauce
      • 1/4-1/3 cup chopped basil
      • 8 oz mozzarella, shredded
      • 4 oz Parmesan, grated
      • 1 (5-oz) package garlic croutons
      DIRECTIONS:

      Preheat oven to 350.  Drizzle olive oil in 9x13 baking dish.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes.  Put in raw chicken.  Pour sauce over chicken.  Sprinkle chopped basil over sauce.  Sprinkle half the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over sauce.  Sprinkle croutons over cheese.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the croutons.   Bake for 35-40 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown and chicken is cooked through.  Serve with pasta.

      Tuesday, November 8, 2011

      Caramel Apple Cider Cookies


      These cookies are very tasty.  They are really best warm,  so I gave them a zap in the microwave to soften them a bit.  They are like biting into fresh apple cider.  I halved the recipe and this still made a whole lot of cookies.  Bonus: I have 5 packets of Apple cider left to make more!  The original recipe calls for whole caramels in the middle of the cookie, which also sounds delicious, but I liked the bits of caramel as well.  A great fall cookie that is something other than pumpkin!  Thanks Cristine!




      CARAMELS APPLE CIDER COOKIES
      recipe from: cristinecooks

      • 1 cup softened butter 
      • 1 cup granulated sugar
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 box (7.4 oz) Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink mix -not sugar free- all 10 packets
      • 2 eggs 
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 3 cups all purpose flour
      • 2 bags Kraft Caramel Bits  (11 oz each)


      Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment or silpats.
      In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
      Cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.

      Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well.
      Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in caramel bits.
      Scoop cookie dough onto prepared sheet and bake 12 minutes or until edges are slightly brown.  Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet until set. Move to cooling rack and cool completely.

      Monday, November 7, 2011

      Pasta with Creamy Avocado Sauce



      If you like guacamole, you will love this pasta!  I love the freshness of this pasta.  The sauce is like a pesto/guacamole/ creamy sauce.  I bought this avocado at Publix that was huge!   It was just called a green avocado I think, not Hass, and was the size of 2 for sure. It was soft and lighter green and it was ready to be eaten.  I had intended to make guacamole, but then got the idea to make a pasta with it.  So glad I did!  My husband wanted me to call this Italian Mexican Pasta.  The whole time I was making this, I felt unsure if it was going to work.  I am glad I trusted my instincts!  It was creamy and so fresh tasting and just plain good.  Our family of 6 finished all but about 1/2 cup of this pasta.  Will be making this one again for sure!

      PASTA WITH CREAMY AVOCADO SAUCE

      INGREDIENTS:
      • 1 ripe green avocado or 2 Hass
      • 13-16 oz cooked pasta (reserve water to thin sauce)
      • 3 garlic cloves, minced
      • 2-3 TBSP fresh cilantro
      • 1/3 cup fat free greek yogurt
      • salt and pepper
      • juice and zest of 1 lime (I used lemon zest because my lime looked sad)
      • 1 onion, thinly sliced
      • 1/2-1 lb, sausages, removed from casing
      • 2 diced tomatoes

      DIRECTIONS:

      One huge avocado!  The pit off to the right.
      Place water on for pasta and salt it.  Place sausage in skillet over medium high.  Break up and cook until done.  Scrape into a bowl and set aside.  Add a bit of oil if needed to the same skillet and add the thinly sliced onions.  Cook onion until soft, sweet and caramelized slightly, about 12-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook pasta and place avocado in food processor, with 2 minced garlic cloves and puree until smooth, scraping sides as needed.  Add the yogurt, lime juice, a bit of salt and cilantro.  Puree until smooth and creamy.  Add last clove of garlic to onion for last few minutes of cooking and add the sausage back to pan.  Add zest and pasta to pan.  Add the avocado cream sauce and some pepper.  Mix and add splash of milk or pasta water if necessary to thin.  Toss to coat evenly.  Serve topped with fresh diced tomatoes and and Parmesan cheese, if desired.

      Gramma's BBQ Chicken



      This is one of the best grilled BBQ chicken's out there.  I have heard it is great on lamb as well, but I don't eat lamb, so I can't vouch for it.
      It can be prepared the day ahead for convenience, or even two days!  The longer it sits, the better it gets!  (I am so corny!) I have let this marinate for 2 days and the flavor is incredible and goes through the whole chicken.  My husband always says it tastes lemony, maybe because the vinegar brings acidity to every bite. We love this recipe and eat this chicken all summer long and even into the fall. 

      GRAMMA'S  BBQ CHICKEN

      INGREDIENTS:
      • 2 cups apple cider vinegar (sometimes I use balsamic)
      • 1 TBSP poultry seasoning
      • 4 TBSP salt
      • 1 egg
      • 1 tsp pepper
      • 1 cup canola oil
      • At least 8 large breasts, bone in and skin on, and any legs or thighs you want
      DIRECTIONS: 

      Place a large pot on the stove filled with water.  Add chicken to pot, as well as some salt and a bit of seasoning, if desired.  Cook on med-high 35-35 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and skin begins to shrink or pull away a bit.  Do not remove skin.  Whisk all but oil together.  Stream in oil while whisking.  Put in large bowl or ziploc with chicken, reserving 1/2 cup for brushing while grilling.  Chill while marinating; marinate for at least 24 hours for best flavor, turning after 12 hours of so to marinate all sides equally.   Brush remaining sauce on outside while grilling.  Sometimes we brush the outside with regular BBQ sauce for a change up.

      Sweet Potato Waffles



      These are excellent waffles.  Similar to my sweet potato pancakes, but obviously a waffle.  I love sneaking some power packed veggie in my kids food and this lets me do that.  I literally could not crank these our fast enough and every single one of the 14-16 this made were eaten this morning.  Next time I am doubling the recipe so I can stash some in the freezer.  Enjoy!

      SWEET POTATO WAFFLES

      INGREDIENTS:
      • 2 1/2 cups flour
      • 1 1/2 TBSP baking powder
      • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
      • 1/2 tsp. salt
      • 1 3/4 cup milk
      • 1 cup sweet potato puree
      • 3 1/2 TBSP canola oil
      • 3 TBSP brown sugar
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • 2 eggs, separated
      DIRECTIONS:

      Whisk dry ingredients except brown sugar in a medium sized bowl.  Whisk all wet ingredients and brown sugar, except egg whites, in a large bowl.  Whisk dry ingredients in wet until dry disappears.  Whisk or use mixer to mix egg whites to soft peak.  Gently fold into batter.  These seem to cook faster than any other waffle I have made (Bonus!), so check them before indicator light goes.  Serve with warm syrup, cinnamon butter or fresh berries!