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.