December 31, 2013

Top 5 of 2013

Crockpot Ham and Bean Soup

I couldn't get enough of this soup when I made it.  Very simple and totally delicious, this was my most viewed recipe of 2013.  With the weather so chilly right now, I think I'll go make some.

Samoa Brownies

I fell in love with this recipe the moment I dumped a truckload of caramel coconut over the top and then drizzled it with chocolate.  How can you not love this?

Baked Potato Casserole

Everyone should keep this recipe in their recipe box for those unexpected visitors.  No strange ingredients and in fact you probably have them all available right at this very moment. Combine them together and you get a sure fire hit at the dinner table.

Pineapple Gelato

Number four most viewed recipe from my blog is this Gelato.  I'm thrilled that people were so drawn to it because it is mighty tasty.  Very cool and refreshing on a hot day.

Baked Old Fashioned Donuts

Last but not least, one of my favorite recipes for an old fashioned cake donut that is baked in my very own oven.  I used the baking part as an excuse to eat more.

Thanks to all of you who visit my blog, pin it on Pinterest or share it on Facebook.  I appreciate all of your support and hope to see you and all your friends in 2014!

December 30, 2013

Butterscotch Squares

If you've ever been, currently are or have ever lived in the Northwest you will recognize the name of "See's Candy".  This recipe is meant to be a copycat recipe of their butterscotch squares candy.

I thought this was a super easy recipe to follow and the end result was a super sweet, super yummy candy.  Now, pay close attention because I don't say this very often.  This candy is super SWEET.  So cut the squares very small.  I made mine about 1 inch square and literally had to eat it in sections with a break in between.  You might be able to lesson the sweetness a little if you used a darker chocolate coating but overall I like the milk chocolate.

I think this is a great treat to serve at a party since it doesn't take more then a bite to get your sweet tooth fix.  Overall, very yummy and I'm glad I tried it.

CopyCat Butterscotch Squares
Recipe from CrazyForCrust

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 16 ounces melting chocolate for dipping (like Candiquick or almond bark)
Cooking Directions
  1. Line a 9x9 or 8x8 inch pan with tin foil and then spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium high heat, combine the brown sugar, cream and butter.  Stir until melted.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.  
  3. Use a candy thermometer to bring mixture to 236º, stirring occasionally.  About 7-8 minutes.  
  4. Turn the heat off and stir in the vanilla and salt.  Whisk in the powdered sugar and pour into the prepared pan. 
  5. Let set at room temperature for a few hours or up a day ahead of time. 
  6. Remove the foil from the pan and use a large knife to cut the square into quarters.  Now cut each quarter into small squares.  Use a swift cut to avoid breaking pieces. 
  7. Melt the chocolate according to the package directions and then dip each square, tapping off the excess chocolate.  Place on wax paper and chill to set. 

December 27, 2013

Chocolate Covered Caramels

7-minute microwave caramels to be exact.  This was one of my favorite candies that I made this year.  My love for caramels combined with my love of chocolate made this a dangerous dessert for me to keep in my house.  I did give some away but I should have given it ALL away because I ate them like, well, like candy.  I kept them in the refrigerator but if you take them out about 10 minutes prior to eating they are perfect.  If you leave them out for too long the chocolate gets a little to melty, if you eat them cold the caramel isn't chewy it's brittle.  Trust me, I tested it both ways.

If you're timid about trying to make caramels then this is a great recipe to try since you don't need a candy thermometer and you don't have to think about what "stage" it's in.  If you follow the directions carefully you will have delicious caramels.

It is very important to read the directions carefully, all the way through, before you begin.  After reading the directions I was scared to deviate.  I'm glad I didn't.  You should make this when you can dedicate the 7 minutes to nothing but this process.  Do it when the kids are outside or napping, don't answer the phone, don't talk to anyone.  Concentrate on the process, it's only 7 minutes, you can do it.

Chocolate Covered Caramels
Recipe from Avery Cooks

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup (light colored variety)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • chocolate for dipping (I used half a bag of milk chocolate chips and 1/2 a bag of semi-sweet)
  • 1 to 4 Tbsp vegetable shortening (optional but will make them shiny and pretty)
  • sprinkles, jimmies, crushed nuts, sea salt, graham crackers, etc.
  1. Have all of your ingredients ready beforehand, this is fast moving. 
  2. Line a 8x8 or 9x9 square pan with tin foil, then spray with cooking spray. 
  3. Use a very large microwave safe bowl (it will get very hot).  You need room for the bubbling up that this will do in the microwave so just use the biggest one you have that will fit in the microwave. 
  4. Melt the butter for about 45 seconds or until completely melted. 
  5. Add the sugars, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk to the melted butter and stir until smooth. 
  6. Microwave again on high heat for 3 minutes 30 seconds. 
  7. Use a hot pad to remove the bowl from the microwave and scrape down the sides very well.  Even though it doesn't appear to be much on the sides, you need to get ALL the sugar crystals off the sides of the bowl otherwise your caramel will be grainy.  Once you've scraped down the sides, use a damp paper towel to wipe the sides down.  You don't want any sugar crystals on the sides of the bowl. 
  8. Return the bowl to the microwave for another 3 minutes 30 seconds. Watch this last cook cycle carefully so you can stop the microwave if it does begin to bubble up and might potentially go over the top of your bowl.  Use a hot pad to remove the bowl from the microwave and very carefully add the vanilla extract.  The mixture will bubble up when the vanilla is added.  Stir to incorporate - being very careful as it will be extremely hot and bubbly. 
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and then cover with tin foil and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. 
  10. When cool, lift the tin foil sides up and place it on a cutting board.  Use a sharp knife to cut the caramels into small cubes.  I did this by cutting the square into 6 long strips first, then 6 strips in the other direction.  If the caramel is still cold it will almost break off after the initial cut. As they warm, they will get softer. 
  11. Use the double boiling method to melt the chocolate, or use the microwave in intervals to melt it but not over cook it. 
  12. Make sure the caramels are still cold when you dip them into the chocolate.  You may need to refrigerate them while you are melting the chocolate so they are cold and don't melt while you are dipping them. 
  13. Use a fork to dip them into the chocolate, tap off the excess and place on wax paper or parchment paper. Sprinkle them with whatever you choose. 
  14. Place them into the refrigerator to set the chocolate.  Move them to an airtight bag or container. I would keep them refrigerated until about 10 minutes prior to eating. 

December 23, 2013

PW's Big Chocolate Birthday Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

My husbands birthday was this past Friday and this was his cake.  Four layers of deliciousness. He loves raspberry so the layers were slathered in raspberry jam and then the entire thing was frosted with chocolate buttercream.  It was yummy. 

He first saw this recipe while I was watching a DVR'd episode of The Pioneer Woman and told me this was the cake for him.  Of course he had my add some raspberry layers which I was happy to do for the birthday boy. 

I love this cake recipe, usually it's a sheet cake recipe but I've made it as cupcakes too.  It's divine, I love the texture and flavor.  I have posted this recipe on a smaller scale before, but it was nice and handy to have the appropriate measurements for this 4-layer version.  

If you're doing the raspberry jam layers, don't go too heavy on the jam.  If you do, the layers will start to slide off to the side. Not a good look.

Big Chocolate Raspberry Cake
modified slightly from The Pioneer Woman

  • 4 sticks butter, softened + more for the pans
  • 8 heaping Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder +  more for the pans
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 whole eggs
  • **Raspberry Jam (see below)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º, grease 4 - 9" round cake pans, then coat with cocoa powder
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Set aside. 
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and then add the cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Add the boiling water and allow to boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. 
  4. Add the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and stir will.  let cool slightly. 
  5. In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla extract and the eggs that been beaten. 
  6. Slowly add to the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. 
  7. Put and equal amount of batter into the four prepared pans. 
  8. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  9. Let cool completely before frosting, cool the layers in the refrigerator for best results before frosting. 
**If you're going to add the raspberry layers - I used a jar of my favorite raspberry preserves and put them in each layer - no frosting, just preserves.  Go easy on the preserves otherwise the layers will side off each other. 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Recipe from Savory Sweet Life

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
  1. In your stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy - 2-3 minutes. 
  2. Add the confectioners sugar, use low speed until the mix has come together (to prevent your kitchen from being covered in a cloud of sugar). 
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. 
  4. If you need a thicker frosting, add a little more sugar one Tbsp at a time.  If it needs to be thinned, add a little more milk. 

December 18, 2013

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows

This is what happens when I have nothing sweet in the house and my holiday baking day is only four days away but I just can't wait! I get myself into trouble.  It doesn't help that I've got a sweet's loving little girl who encourages this outrageous behavior.  She even helped!  Do you think I could blame it all on her and claim to be the victim?

Didn't think so.

People know me way to well to believe that malarky.

Even thought this isn't much of a "recipe", there are a million ways to dress these babies up and make them super special.

For example:

Crushed candy canes.

Sprinkles - this one is my daughters.  She loves some sprinkles, the more the better in her book.

You could also roll them in crushed graham cracker (like a Smore), drizzle them with white chocolate, roll them in those tiny little M&M's or any tiny or cut up candy, or you could melt mint chocolate chips which are plentiful during the holiday season.  I've also seen where you can dip them in caramel first, then in chocolate.  I will be trying that one later. I bet crushed up toffee would be awesome! The possibilities are endless.

Here's all you need.

1 bag of regular sized marshmallows.
1 bag of your favorite chocolate chips.
Cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper.

Just melt the chocolate in a double boiler, dip the tip of the toothpick in chocolate before inserting it into the marshmallow and dip, roll, sprinkle until your heats content.  Refrigerate when you're done dipping and decorating to set the chocolate.

December 16, 2013

Quick Queso

I know many of you will be attending a party of some sort this coming weekend.  I have a quick easy suggestion for an appetizer you can bring with you.

First of all, I saw these cute tortilla chips at WalMart.  Then I grabbed a cube of white Velveeta and a can of Rotel tomatoes and that's it!  I know many of you might already have this recipe, but if you don't you're missing out on some quick party magic.  Easy, delicious!

There is a slight "kick" with this, if you prefer no kick you can also just add some mild salsa.

Another suggestion is to brown some breakfast sausage or some Italian sausage and stir that in as well. So many possibilities.  The version above has the pretty red, green and white colors though. Very festive.

Quick Queso

  • I box White Velveeta
  • 1 can (10 oz) Rotel (tomatoes with green chilies)
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut the Velveeta in large chunks and put into a large saucepan.
  2. Begin melting over low heat.
  3. Add the can of Rotel, juice and all. Stir until smooth.
  4. Serve warm.

December 12, 2013

I met The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond!

Sorry for my lack of posting yesterday, but I was getting ready for this. 

Meeting Ree Drummond has been on the top of my list….well for years really, but mostly for the last month or so.  As soon as I found out she would be coming to Charlotte to sign copies of her new book, I knew I'd be going. 

Let me set the scene for you: 

I arrived at the bookstore around 4 pm (for a 6pm signing), bought the book, got my number (number 200) and waited to be called into my line spot at 5pm.  All of us women stood around chatting until Ree strolled into the bookstore at 6pm sharp.  Can I just say that my shock wasn't as much seeing Ree as seeing that she was completely ALONE!  Ree, if you need a personal assistant I'm here for you!! I thought she'd at least have an agent, publisher, friend, someone with her!  

She walked up the LONG line of people and stopped in front of my little section of the line and said, "I guess I'll just follow the line until I find my seat."  She waved and was so kind, big smiles; it was magical. 

Next was the waiting game.  I've never been to a book signing before so I didn't know what to expect but apparently they are all different based on the person.  Ree just happens to love to chat and take pictures with people and take her time with everyone.  It took about 2 1/2 hours to make my way to her after she started signing.  Of course, by the time I got her to my voice was gone and I sounded like that little "Charley in the box" toy on that Santa show.  I was squeaky and it was awesome.  I just handed over my books, squatted down with my daughter for a quick picture, chatted briefly about how strangely my name is spelled, and then I was off.  

Ree is really the nicest person.  Even after signing books for more than two hours, by the time I reached her she was pleasant, didn't rush us, and smiled brightly.  We were her last stop before heading home to Oklahoma to see her family for the holiday's, and yet she was so pleasant and beautiful.  I'm so glad my first experience at a book signing was with The Pioneer Woman.  I've read things about her, staying for as long as it takes to sign all the books, and I know that to be true.  The book store had closed by the time I left and they were going to stay open for as long as it took to get everyone in line.  It was fabulous.  If you ever get a chance to meet her, it's WELL worth your time!

Oh, and one more thing, it was the strangest thing, when I met her I felt like we were old friends.  Seriously.  I wasn't nervous and I didn't trip and land on my face.  After watching her on TV, reading her blog every day, and having all her books, it was just second nature to see her in person.  Very calming experience.  :)

Special thanks to my husband for occupying our daughter during the long wait, driving us, and taking our picture.  One of her "helpers" took my camera and took a picture also but it's fuzzy. Thank you honey!

December 9, 2013

Sweet Potato Casserole

This was by far my favorite dish on Thanksgiving.  I love sweet potatoes, but I also love sweet dishes so this one has all that covered.  I plan to make this every year from now on.

This is a super simple casserole to throw together.  It's as easy as boiling the potatoes until tender and then just mashing them with the rest of the ingredients, topping with marshmallows and baking.  Simple.

You can taste a little hint of the orange juice which doesn't overpower the flavor of the sweet potato.  The marshmallows get crunchy on top (my favorite part) and sort of ooze over the potatoes. It's just fabulous.  There's no other way to describe it.

This would be perfect on your holiday dinner table this year.

Sweet Potato Casserole
Recipe from AllRecipes

  • 5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 (10.5 package) miniature marshmallows
  1. Place the sliced sweet potatoes in a large pot and fill with cold water until about 1 inch above the potatoes. Cook over medium heat until boiling, continue to boil until the potatoes are fork tender. 
  2. Remove from the heat, drain. 
  3. Use a potato masher, a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand held mixer to puree the potatoes until smooth. 
  4. Add the butter, brown sugar, orange juice and cinnamon and mix well. 
  5. Spread into a 9x13 inch dish and cover with the marshmallows. 
  6. Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes or until the marshmallows are golden brown and puffy. 

December 6, 2013

Brined, Roasted Turkey Breast

Obviously this information might be more useful to you next year, but I've got to tell you, this recipe makes me want to cook turkey breast more than just once a year. It does require a bit of refrigerator space but the meat is so tender, juicy and perfectly seasoned.  This would work nicely for a large chicken or maybe even two small one's.

I followed the Butterball directions for cooking and it was nice because I didn't need to cover it and then baste it at all during the cooking process.  I coated ours with plain butter but you can certainly spice up your butter or add some orange zest or more rosemary so that the skin is infused with the same flavors that the brine had.  Although, we did detect notes of these flavors on the skin even though we just used plain butter.

Turkey breast was the perfect size choice for our family.  We didn't have so many leftovers that we were sick of them but we had enough to enjoy several turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving.

If you're looking for a new way to make a holiday turkey, this might be worth a try!

Turkey Breast Brine

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 medium orange rind, cut into strips
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary
  • 8 cups ice
Cooking Directions
  1. Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Stir to dissolve the salt.
  2. Turn off the heat and let sit to come to room temperature.
  3. Add the ice and the turkey.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
  5. Remove from the refrigerator, rinse the turkey with clean water.  Dump out the brine (you don't need it anymore) and refill the container with fresh water.  Let the turkey soak in the fresh water for 10 minutes. 
  6. Pat dry with paper towels. 

Roasting the Turkey Breast

Directions from the Butterball Fresh All Natural Whole Turkey Breast insert. 

For Turkey Breasts 3 - 5 1/2 pounds: 2 - 2 1/2 hours
For Turkey Breasts 5 1/2 - 9 pounds: 2 1/2 - 3 hours

Internal temperature should be 170º

  • Preheat the oven to 325º
  • Place the turkey skin side up in a flat roasting pan. DO NOT add water to the pan.  No need to cover it. 
  • Brush the top with oil, spray with cooking spray or rub with butter. 
  • Let turkey stand for 10 minutes after it's done cooking. 

December 4, 2013

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip

I'm just now getting around to some of the pumpkin recipes I have been wanting to try.  This one was sort of spontaneous since I wasn't sure if the Pumpkin Flan I made earlier was going to turn out.  I made this just in case.  Luckily it did turn out but this was a big hit with everyone anyway.  Easy to make and all I needed to buy were the ginger snaps that I used for dipping.

I loved how creamy the dip was.  The cream cheese blended with the pumpkin so you didn't taste the cream cheese necessarily but it sort of added a little something to the background flavor of the pumpkin puree. I kept the pumpkin pie spice to a minimum until I tasted it and then added more to my taste preference. Refrigeration really does help all the flavors meld together.

Definitely a great recipe for your holiday parties this year!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip
Recipe from My Baking Addiction

  • 1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 - 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Cooking Directions
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream the cream cheese for about 3 minutes on medium speed.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the confectioners sugar and then mix for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the pumpkin puree while the speed is on low until it's fully incorporated, then add the vanilla and the pumpkin pie spice and mix.
  4. Refrigerate the mix for at least 3 hours before serving.
  5. Some serving suggestions: gingersnaps, spice cookies, graham crackers or apples.

December 2, 2013

Spinach and Tomatoes

How was your nice long weekend?

Do anything fun?

Are you still eating leftovers? Well we are but that's because we had Thanksgiving on Saturday so they are still welcome and we're not sick of them yet.

I hate to even call this a recipe because there are only two main ingredients involved.  A while ago my friend Amanda came over and had dinner with me.  One dish we made took like 5 minutes and was very good.  Also, please note the nice Christmas colors here.

It's as simple as opening a bag of fresh spinach and a can of diced tomatoes.  Seriously, that's it.  OK, well there are some other minor ingredients.  You can cook the spinach until it's totally wilted or you can barley heat it at all, it's up to you.

Spinach and Tomatoes

  • 1 bag fresh spinach
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • Olive Oil for the pan
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish if desired
  1. In a large skillet add some olive oil, about 1 Tbsp or so. Add the garlic and sauté briefly. 
  2. Add the can of tomatoes and cook until heated through. 
  3. Dump in the bag of spinach and stir around.  Cook until desired doneness. The longer you cook it the more wilted the spinach will become. 
  4. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired. 

November 28, 2013

Pumpkin Flan

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I hope you've got some fun plans with family and or friends today.  My daughter and I will be heading over to my neighbors house today for dinner since my husband is out of town working. :(  Our Thanksgiving will be on Saturday when he's home.  

If you follow me on Facebook you might have read that I attempted this Pumpkin Flan for the first time yesterday to bring to my neighbors house today.  I mentioned I had already made a mistake on it.  So the mistake I made wasn't huge, I just forgot to cover it with tin foil before popping it in the oven.  I let it cook for the entire 50 minutes before I realized my mistake.  Well after 50 minutes it wasn't done…so I put tin foil on it and baked it for another 20 minutes and low and behold, that did the trick.  I think it looks beautiful, just like a flan is supposed to look.  The texture is perfect and the taste is much like a pumpkin pie, minus the crust.  The caramel topping really brings this one home. 

See the sides? It's perfect. :)

Now that I've made one I feel like making more, trying new and different flavors.  I love the fact that it's crust less because I'm not a huge crust girl. I also love the idea of having the top, on the bottom, until the cooking is over and then flipping it over.  It makes the caramel run over the sides and as you know, I'm a caramel lover.

Overall I'm very happy with this dessert and can't wait to share it with my neighbors today!

Pumpkin Flan

  • 3/4 cups sugar (for the caramel)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 - 15 oz can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 - 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 - 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Melt the sugar slowly and carefully in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  It will turn golden in color but will burn quickly so watch it carefully. 
  3. Once the sugar is melted and golden, pour it into a flan mold (or a pan you have). Swirl around the pans all the caramel is covering the bottom. 
  4. In a separate mixing bowl beat the eggs lightly and add the remaining ingredients, stirring lightly after each addition. 
  5. Mix well. 
  6. Pour the ingredients over the caramel in the pan and cover it with aluminum foil
  7. Place the dish inside of a large pan (like a jelly roll pan) that has boiling water in it until it reaches halfway up the outside of the pan with the flan in it. **You might find it easier to add the boiling water to the large pan after you've already placed it in the oven, so there is less spilling**
  8. Place the pan in the center of the oven. 
  9. Bake for 50 minutes. 
  10. You can test for doneness by inserting a table knife in the center of the flan and when it comes out clean, it's done. 
  11. Run a table knife along the edges of the pan to loosen it. Go all the way around. 
  12. Place your serving platter face side down, on top of the dish you cooked the flan in. (After you've removed it from the pan with the water in it). 
  13. Quickly flip the pan over so the serving dish is now on the bottom and the flan has been inverted.  You should hear and feel it plop down on the dish.  Carefully remove the dish, let come to room temperature then cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days. 

November 26, 2013

Some Thanksgiving Favorites

Sweet Potato Spice Cookies: I fell in love with the warm flavors of this cookie.  Not to mention it's packed full of yummy ingredients that you can feel pretty good about.  If you're looking for a perfect fall cookie, this is it!

Banoffe Pie: I don't know why I think about this for the holiday's but I do.  The creamy toffee flavors with the banana's makes me feel like it's a wonderful new pie for your family's dinner table.  

Apple Cider Caramels: If you've been trying to think of a little som'n som'n for your company to chew on, now's the time to make these caramels.  Do it while you can still find some cider!  You won't regret it, but you might want to save a little for yourself. 

Cranberry-Orange Vodka: Yes I had to slip a drink into the mix.  I mean, you are surrounded by a lot of family for up to a weeks period of time.  You'll thank me. 

Egg Custard Pie: This is a classic dessert for the holiday's and one of my husband's favorites.  Creamy and cold is so nice after a big heavy Thanksgiving meal!

M.S. Buttermilk Cornbread: My favorite recipe for cornbread so far.  I loved the moist caky texture and the little bite that the buttermilk gives.  I used this for my stuffing mix last year.  It was so good!

Simple Cranberry Sauce: This is the sauce that I will be making again this year.  My husband doesn't like really fancy shmancy cranberry sauce, in fact his favorite is the jellied variety.  So there isn't much experimenting I can do with the cranberries.  The up side to that is that my husband and my daughter and I love this version so I see no reason to look any further.  Yum!

Brined, Roasted Turkey: If you're looking to brine your turkey this year try this recipe.  We loved it!

Cornbread, Sausage and Apple Stuffing: This is an awesome stuffing that will take a day prior to prep as you need to dry out all the bread.  It's so worth it, the flavors are complex but melt together perfectly.  We had no problem finishing these leftovers. 

Fancy Potatoes: Who doesn't love some mashed potatoes and gravy with their turkey?  I have to tell you, these mashed potatoes are decadent but what other holiday can you have such decadence? The cream cheese is key because the leftover's stay smooth and creamy even when cold.  Just sayin. 

I hope these recipes give you a few little ideas for your Thanksgiving dinner.  Even if your dinner is usually traditional, it's always nice to add one little thing that is out of the ordinary. I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving, be safe!

November 25, 2013

Chewy Triple Chocolate Brownies

Sometimes you just gotta have a brownie right? I don't know what it is but every so often I just gotta have one and nothing else will do.  I've made some amazing one's in the past but there are so many different recipes that I feel it is my duty to try as many as possible.

I also like to change it up a bit by adding frosting to my brownies sometimes but I find it hard to find the perfect texture and flavor.  A regular cake frosting doesn't always do the trick for me.  I lucked out on that aspect by finding this frosting recipe.

The last necessity I have for a good brownie is that is chewy and fudge more than caky.  If I wanted cake I'd eat cake.  Know what I mean? I lucked out by finding this recipe too, it totally fits the bill in the texture department for me.

And most importantly it was the perfect thing for my craving.  I'm a very happy camper right now.

One last thing, I realize I have Halloween sprinkles on these brownies, I did in fact just make these this weekend and I could only find Halloween sprinkles, and sprinkles were a requirement of my daughter.  Feel free to use whatever sprinkles you have on hand, or exclude.  I leave that to your discretion.

Chewy Triple Chocolate Brownies
Recipe modified slightly from AllRecipes

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks (or nuts of your choice)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch dish
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder and mix until combined. 
  4. In a separate medium bowl combine the oil, eggs, corn syrup and vanilla extract.  Whisk together. 
  5. Pour the liquid mix into the flour mix and combine.  Fold in the chocolate chips (or nuts) and then pour into the prepared dish. 
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. 
  7. Set aside to let cool slightly while you make the frosting. 

Brownie Frosting
Recipe from AllRecipes

  • 6 Tbsp milk
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  1. Add the butter, milk and sugar to a medium sized saucepan and cook until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolving.  Bring to a full boil and boil for 30 seconds. 
  2. Remove from the heat immediately. 
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips and mix until smooth.  Add the vanilla extract and mix. 
  4. Pour over the warm brownies. 

November 21, 2013

Angel Biscuits

I'm sure I've mentioned how inept I am at making biscuits.  I keep trying though.  This recipe seemed different because of the yeast aspect so I gave it a whirl.  Low and behold, they turned out!  How about that, I made a biscuit!! 

Obviously this one takes slightly longer since you do have to allow some time to rise, but on the other hand you could make it the night before and let it rise in the refrigerator.  That would be much quicker for a morning breakfast. :)

The biscuits were great, the texture was perfect, flaky yet soft and not as crumbly as some other biscuits.  They had a very traditional biscuit flavor but the added butter on top was a nice noticeable difference in my opinion. I used salted butter on the tops and that flavor came through and helped the tops turn a nice golden color. 

Angel Biscuits
Brisbin Community Cookbook by Jerry Pierce

  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp warm water
  • 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • butter, softened (about 2 Tbsp)
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside for about 10 minutes. 
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Cut in the shortening with two forks or a pastry cutter. 
  3. Add the buttermilk and the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and knead slightly. 
  4. Lightly flour your works surface and roll the dough to about 1/2 inch thick. 
  5. Cut into round shapes and place in a greased 9x13 inch dish.  
  6. Brush lightly with melted butter and let rise for about 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 400º and bake for 30 minutes or until golden. 

November 19, 2013

Best Chocolate Cake

I can't believe I've never posted this recipe!  I make this chocolate cake ALL THE TIME, it's awesome.  Usually I make it in cake form but this time I tried it as a cupcake and it turned out perfectly just like all the other times I've made it.

As you can see, I made some cupcakes and decorated them as a turkey.  So cute and so easy.  My daughter gave me a hand and it was a fun project for the two of us.

You can buy these little sugar "eyes" from most grocery stores.  I might have even gotten these from WalMart, I honestly can't even remember. For the beak, just use an orange frosting with a very fine tip, you can also just buy this pretty much anywhere. Now, the candy corns you might have to search for.  I recommend buying some at Halloween when they are plentiful because once Halloween is over they disappear.

Now as for the chocolate cake.  It's a slight departure from your normal cake mix recipe in that you melt the butter and add the cocoa in with it while it's hot and cook it on the stove for a short time.  Then the rest of the process is fairly normal, but this one step must be the reason for it's greatness because I've never been disappointed with it.  It's pure heaven all the way from the first day it's made to a week later.  If it lasts that long!  It's moist, chocolaty, flavorful and perfect.  My favorite, by far.

I used this recipe here also.

Best Chocolate Cake
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp (heaping) cocoa
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside. 
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and then add the cocoa and mix until smooth, add the water and let boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. 
  3. Pour the hot chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and stir until smooth and it's begun to cool. 
  4. In the dish with the buttermilk, add the 2 beaten eggs, baking soda and vanilla extract.  Pour this mixture into the slightly cooled chocolate/flour mixture and stir until smooth. 
  5. I was able to get 21 regular sized cupcakes, cook at 350º for 12-15 minutes. If you're making a sheet cake bake for about 20 minutes on the same heat temperature.  
The frosting I used was from my earlier post found here, and I added about 4 heaping tsp of cocoa to it. 

November 14, 2013

PW's Beef Stew with Mushrooms

I'm happy to report that this recipe was the winner of the week.  I realize the week isn't over yet but that's how strongly I feel about it.  I know, without a doubt, that I cannot top this recipe this week. There, I said it.

There are many nice things to say about this Beef Stew recipe but honestly the thing that tickled me the most was that it took less than an hour to make.  The meat still turned out tender and delicious.  The second thing I like it that the only vegetable involved is mushrooms, and those are left whole, therefore no slicing and dicing needed.  Third, it's a one pot meal so better for clean up purposes.   Now of course you will need an additional dish to make the noodles or mashed potatoes that you decide to serve this with but two dishes to clean isn't much to ask.

My husband and I fell in love with this concoction after the very first bite.  Tender meat, thick flavorful gravy, we both love mushrooms and served on top mashed potatoes? Heaven!  If you're a meat and potato lover then this is for you.  Omit the mushrooms if you don't like them or even replace them with a veggie you do like.  A must try for this fall/winter!

Beef Stew with Mushrooms
Recipe from ThePioneerWoman

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat pieces
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 whole shallots, minced
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces Cremini or White button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I omitted this)
  • 1/2 can beef consomme (I used a whole can)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  1. In a dutch oven or a large stock pot, melt the butter an oil over medium high heat.  In a separate bowl, sprinkle the flour over the beef pieces and stir to coat. 
  2. When the butter has melted, add half the meat into the hot pan and brown on all sides.  Remove the browned pieces to a separate plate, then add the rest of the meat and brown it. 
  3. After all the meat is browned, remove it to the plate and set aside. 
  4. In the unwashed pot, add the shallots and garlic and sauté for about a minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes. 
  5. Add in the wine, beef consommé and half a can of water, salt and pepper to taste.  Add the beef back into the pot and reduce the heat to low.  Add the two sprigs of fresh thyme. 
  6. Simmer for about 30-45 minutes. 
  7. Mix the flour with a little water and add to the stew, let simmer for 10 minutes and then turn off the heat and let sit for about 10-15 minutes. 
  8. Serve over mashed potatoes or pasta like egg noodles or fettuccine. 

November 12, 2013

Gramma's Pepper Steak

I remember growing up with this meal, it brings back warm memories of my dinners at my gramma's house.  I'm happy to say that when I made it it turned out just like my gramma's.  This recipe is one she had published in the "Brisban Community Cookbook" so I feel like it's OK to put it here on my blog.

This little cookbook is a treasure, if you've never seen one of these little community cookbooks you've got to find one.  Talk about great recipes!  I can't wait to post more of them soon.

This recipe is quick once you get all the slicing done.  Much easier to have it all waiting for you.  I speak from experience. I think from start to finish this was done in about 30 minutes or so.  My husband says I can make it anytime I want.  Translation: Please please please make this again and don't change anything at all like you usually do that drives me so crazy.  See how I can read him so well? I have a bad habit of changing things around but this being one of my gramma's recipes, I wouldn't change it. I like to remember it just as she made it.

Just so you know, my gramma is alive and well at 93.  Though she doesn't cook anymore I'm sure she'd eat this up if it were made for her.  Hi gramma!

Pepper Steak
From my gramma Marge F.

  • 1 pound round steak, thinly sliced into strips
  • 1 can (12 oz) beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced celery
  • 1 medium bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, sliced (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. It's best to have all the ingredients sliced before you begin….
  2. Heat about 2 Tbsp of oil in a large deep skillet and add the beef.  Brown over medium high heat. 
  3. Add the broth, vegetables and soy sauce and reduce the heat to simmer, cover and let cook for 10 minutes. 
  4. In a small dish, combine the water and cornstarch and then pour over the meat and vegetables. 
  5. Cook until the vegetables are tender. 
  6. Serve over rice if desired. 

November 7, 2013

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Are you looking to shake things up for dinner?  Who isn't!  This recipe is fast and easy.  You can have it on the table in less then 30 minutes and it's totally delicious!

Most of us have had sweet and sour chicken at a favorite Chinese restaurant right? This is the same sauce (only without all the MSG) and it's over meatballs which can be bought frozen or even pre-mixed and shaped into balls for you at your local meat department.  How cool is that?

Serve with a nice salad, rice or noodles and you've got yourself a fast meal that will make your family happy.

Unless your family is like my daughter, who apparently doesn't like sweet and sour.  What can I say, I just keep trying!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Recipe from TasteOfHome

  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks
  • 3 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 30 fresh (cooked) or frozen meatballs
  • 1 large green pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces (optional)
  • Hot cooked rice (optional)
  1. Drain the can of pineapple into a measuring cup and set the pineapple chunks to the side for use later.  You are looking for 1 cup of pineapple juice, add water if needed to make 1 cup. 
  2. Add the pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar and cornstarch to a large saucepan and whisk until smooth.  
  3. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thick.  Add the pineapple chunks, green pepper and meatballs.  Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes or until heated through.  
  4. Serve over hot rice if desired. 

November 5, 2013

Sweet Potato Spice Cookies

I know I'm a little late, compared to other food bloggers, to be breaking out the fall recipes.  I wanted to try something different from the usual pumpkin recipes (but don't worry because I'll be getting some pumpkin this weekend). I happened to have all of these ingredients in my pantry so it seemed meant to be.

After the first batch was in the oven I was thinking, yea these are gonna be good.  The smell is so homey and holidayish.  Cinnamon just floods my brain with memories of gramma's house, so comforting.

There is every ingredient but the kitchen sink in these cookies, most of which are healthy.  Don't get me wrong, this isn't health food but if you're going to eat a cookie at least you can feel good about the added healthy ingredients, right?  And don't worry, if you're not a fan of some of the ingredients like coconut, you can't really taste that, it's more of a texture thing. The orange juice is a very faint background taste.  The best way to describe it is warm and comforting.  The spices are perfect and after two days they are still moist and delicious.  Definitely a new holiday favorite in my house.

Sweet Potato Spice Cookies
Recipe from TasteOfHome

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup finely shredded raw sweet potato
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice concentrate*
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats*
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Heat the oven to 350º
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, blend the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add in the egg and shredded sweet potato and blend. 
  4. Next add the orange juice concentrate and mix. 
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and then slowly incorporate it into the rest of the mix. 
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined. 
  7. Use a cookie scoop or two Tablespoons to place balls of dough onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 
  8. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until set. 
  9. Move to a cooling rack. 
*I didn't have orange juice, or orange extract, or a fresh orange.  I used one tangerine and I zested it and juiced it.  Seemed to work out just fine. 

*I didn't have quick cooking oats, I took old fashioned oats and cut them into smaller pieces. 

November 1, 2013

Key Lime Pie

I realize it's sort of a strange time to be posting key lime pie, I mean unless you live in Florida you're not even very likely to find key limes right?  Well, I didn't have key limes either and yet here I have this delicious pie.  Go to the juice section of your grocery store and look for "Nellie & Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice" and buy one regular fresh lime.  All your problems are now solved.  You're welcome.

As you can see by the picture above, I zested this time and then cut it up and made this nifty decoration on top of the pie.  No sense in wasting a perfectly good lime.

Flavor is an understatement here.  The key lime portion is creamy and smooth with a vivid lime flavor.  It'll make your mouth water, in a good way. The whipped cream is dreamy of course and the graham cracker crust is thick, buttery and delicious.  If you're not a huge graham cracker crust kind of person you can scale this one back a little or just use a store bought crust of your choice.

Freezing it for 20 minutes prior to serving helps to hold it's shape a little better.  I don't think you have to do it but you will have a little more "run" without the freezing step.

Key Lime Pie
Recipe from cook-eat-love

  • 3/4 pound graham crackers
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 sticks melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup key lime juice
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 325º
  2. Break up the graham crackers and place them into a food processor.  Pulse until they are finely crumbled and there are no large pieces. 
  3. Add the sugar and sea salt and then drizzle in the melted butter while pulsing.  Make sure to watch the mixture, once the graham cracker crumbs look like wet sand you can stop adding butter, if there's any left. 
  4. Press the mixture into a deep dish pie plate making sure the bottom and edges are as even as possible.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, then let cool on a cooling rack. 
  6. While the crust is cooling, use the bowl of your stand mixer to add the egg yolks and lime zest.  Use the whisk attachment and whip the yolks on high speed for  5-6 minutes or until light and fluffy. 
  7. Slowly add the can of sweetened condensed milk and mix for another 4-5 minutes until thick. 
  8. Lower the speed to low and add the lime juice, mix until blended. 
  9. Pour into the cooled pie crust and bake for 15 minutes, or until set. 
  10. Let the pie cool and then refrigerate for about 20 minutes. 
  11. To make the topping, place the ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer, using the whisk attachment and whip until stiff peaks form. 
  12. Spread over the cooled pie and refrigerate.  Freeze about 20 minutes before you plan to serve it. 

October 28, 2013

Samoa Brownies

If you've got any Girl Scouts in your life or your neighborhood then you've probably heard of or eaten those insanely good Samoa Cookies they have.  They are one of my favorites, so I was thrilled to see a brownie that mimics that flavor.  

Much to my dismay, my husband said he wasn't a huge caramel fan AFTER I'd already made a batch of these.  How he's been married to me for 14 years without my knowledge of this personality flaw is beyond me.  Caramel is by far one of my favorite flavors.  However, he's a trooper and still tried them to make sure they were edible.  After his third one, he agreed they are pretty fantastic.  Very chewy, gooey, sweet and flavorful all rolled into one brownie.  

My husband said that his only fix would be to have less topping.  So if you'd like to scale back feel free to cut that part of the recipe in half. This full recipe does pile on the caramel and coconut. 

Easy to assemble but do allow yourself some time for cooling the refrigeration time needed. 

Samoa Brownies
Recipe from SixSistersStuff

  • 1 box brownie mix, basic
  • 3 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 (14 oz) packages individually wrapped caramels
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp milk
  • 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips - add a tiny bit of shortening if you need it more pourable. 
Cooking Directions
  1. Bake the brownies as indicated on the box, use the 9x13 inch pan option. Let cool.
  2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees, spread the coconut all over a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 2 minutes, then stir and bake for 2 more minutes keeping a careful eye on it so it doesn't burn. Remove when golden brown and let cool.
  3. In a medium sized microwavable safe bowl, unwrap the caramels, add the salt and milk and microwave on high at 1 minute intervals, stirring after each minute until smooth and completely melted.
  4. Add the coconut into the caramel and mix thoroughly.
  5. Spread the coconut mixture over the top of the cooled brownies and let cool, then refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours or overnight.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator an hour before you plan to serve and drizzle with the melted chocolate. Let chocolate set before cutting.
  7. Store in the refrigerator but remove at least 30 minutes before you plan to serve because the caramel will be very hard.

October 22, 2013

Apple Danish

I finally used up all the apples my daughter and I picked several weekends ago.  I'm kinda sad about it actually.  This gives me permission to go pick more right? 

You know those little danish's that you see at the grocery store bakery section? I wanted to make that.  Turns out that this one is even better then the one's you buy at the store.  I know it's shocking but it's true.  The filling is so delicious, it's very much like eating an apple pie only it's more portable and it has a lovely glaze over the top.  The crust is tender and flaky and the leftovers were delish.  It doesn't get dry or anything if stored in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator (at least that's how I stored mine). 

Here's something I learned the hard way.  Make this dough and toll it out on a rimmed cookie sheet (jelly roll pan).  I did mine on the counter first but had trouble getting it moved over to the cookie sheet. I wasn't smart enough to cook it on a jelly roll pan, initially.  I learned the hard way. 

Make the apple mixture and pour into the middle.

Spread it out to the edges.

Top with the second crust.  Obviously you'll have to make this top crust on the counter.  I suggest making it on top of some waxed paper or else making sure it's not sticking to the counter top as you're rolling it out.  I was able to make it work but I got some tears and it didn't end up being a perfect rectangle.

Once baked, I was thrilled with how well it cut into squares.  Not messy at all and the glaze really takes it up a notch.

One heck of a dessert to end my apple making spree to use up all my Jonagold Apples.  By the way, I would highly recommend this type of apple if you can find it.  I loved baking with it!

Apple Danish
Recipe from TasteofHome

Pastry and Assembly

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup milk
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and shortening. Use two forks or a pastry cutter to cut in the shortening until it resembles coarse wet sand.
  2. Add the egg yolk and milk and combine just until a dough forms. Do not overwork the dough.
  3. Cut the dough in half.
  4. On a lightly floured surface (or on the jelly roll pan you are going to use), Roll one half of the dough into a 15x10 inch rectangle.  Or better yet, just use a 15x10 inch pan and spread the dough onto it.  Make sure to spray the pan first for easy removal. 
  5. Spread the fruit mixture over the top of the dough and spread out evenly. 
  6. Lightly flour your work surface and form the remaining dough into a 15x10 inch rectangle, make sure to move the dough frequently so it'll be easier to lift it off the surface and place on top of the apple filling. 
  7. Bake for 40 minutes at 375º. 
  8. Let cool before topping with the glaze. 

  • 6 cups apples - peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Cooking Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well so that all the apples are coated.

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Use a small bowl and a fork to combine the ingredients so there are no lumps.