Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gingerbread Cake with Quick Caramel Sauce


This cake originally came from Chickens In The Road and is called Gingerbread with Nutty-Buttery Broiled Topping. I changed it up a little, because I can NEVER leave good enough alone, and this is what I came up with.

Perfect for this time of year, no?

Recipe:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup water
1 egg

Combine first 6 ingredients, mix up to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a blender for 30 seconds to combine. Turn the mixer on high for 2 minutes. Pout into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Here is where she adds the broiled topping, but I opted to skip this step and do a sauce instead.

Quick Caramel Sauce:

8 Tablespoons butter
8 Tablespoons Brown sugar
(equal parts of any measurement will work, just adjust the flavoring up or down to taste)
1 teaspoon Vanilla, Rum, Eggnog or other extract ( 2 teaspoons rum or whiskey!)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

Melt together the butter, nuts and brown sugar; add flavorings and cook until it gets thick, stirring occasionally. Stop stirring and let it cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Pour over cake and garnish with ice cream or whipped cream.

This is so good and so easy and just says Christmas to me.

If you think you don't like gingerbread, or gingersnaps, give this one a try. You just might change your mind!

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Begining To Look A Lot Like Christmas!


This is the mountain I look at off my front porch every morning. It's lovely :)

So, because Christmas is getting nearer and a lot of you (and me too) will be getting your trees soon, I thought I would share a couple recipes of a different sort today.

These recipes will make ornaments for your tree! How fun is that?

Salt Dough:

1 cup salt
1 cup really hot water
4 cups (or so) of flour

Mix the salt and hot water together and let sit about 5 minutes so the salt starts to dissolve. Add the flour gradually, using a mixer is best here it gets really hard to mix by hand, until it is no longer sticky. Put it in a zip top bag at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Poke holes with a straw or toothpick and bake in a 275 degree oven for 4 hours, or until completely dry. After they have completely cooled, you can decorate them with paint or glitter.

Also, while you are mixing these, you can add food coloring or glitter to the dough if you want to skip the painting step at the end.


Cinnamon Ornaments

1 cup cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1 Tablespoon white glue

Mix it all together and knead it well. Sprinkle your counter with cinnamon and roll them out to 1/8 of an inch thickness. Alternately, you could roll them out between waxed paper. Be sure to poke a hole with a straw before you let them air dry for 24 hours. Paint, glitter, etc and hang from ribbon or thick thread.

Both of these ornaments look cute on a tree or to use as a gift tag.

Have you sent in your recipe so you can be entered to win the Giant Gingerbread House Kit? Send your recipe (up to 5) to cookesfrontier@yahoo.com before December 1st! :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Prize!!!

I am so exited to be having my very first give away on this here lil ole blog of mine!

So, are you ready to see what it is?


The prize I will be drawing for is a pre-baked GIANT gingerbread house from Wilton!!!

Wilton has generously given me one of these to review on this blog for you, so you can see how fun and simple they are to do AND they are giving one of them to you!

Here is the link to their Gingerbread Shop so you can see all of the other houses that they offer.

This kit includes:

Pre-baked house pieces

2 Gingerbread boy cookies

Icing

7 bags of colorful candies for decorating

Bags and tips

There are instructions for 3 different decorating options included as well as instructions

This is a $39.99 value and one of you is going to get it for FREE!

I'll be making and reviewing mine before the end of the virtual cookie exchange, so you will have a chance to see it all up close and personal.

Remember, all you have to do to win is email me a cookie recipe, "like" Cooke's Frontier on facebook and be a US resident! You can send up to 5 recipes and get 5 entries, so send, send,send! How easy is that?

The email address for the blog is cookesfrontier@yahoo.com

Good luck and I can't wait to see the cookie recipes you have to share :)





Thursday, November 25, 2010

Virtual Cookie Exchange on the Frontier!

This is going to be fun!

I thought this out for a while so I could make it as easy as possible for everyone to participate.

Here is the skinny:

I'm going to showcase 7 of my favorite cookies from December 1-7th. Each day will be a new cookie recipe with pictures and step by step instructions.

BUT

That isn't even the best part. No, no- the best part comes from you, the readers. I want you to email me your favorite cookie recipes STARTING today and no later then December 1st.

AND are you ready for this?

Each recipe that you send to me is an entry into a drawing for a very special FREE PRIZE!!! (Limit of 5 entries per person)

There are only 3 rules:

1) You must be a US resident

2) You must "like" Cooke's Frontier on Facebook

3) You have to participate to get an entry

At the end of the Virtual Cookie Exchange, I will make all of the cookie recipes that you send in available to all of you in a handy printable format.

So, how easy is that? You send me your favorite recipes, get entered to win a VERY cool prize and discover a whole bunch of new cookie recipes just in time for holiday baking!

The email address for the blog is cookesfrontier(at)yahoo(dot)com

The winner will be announced on December 8th no later than 10 AM PST.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone has to send in! Let the game BEGIN!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh NO, I Forgot To Get _______!!!!



Hot artichoke dip for munching tonight.

It never fails, I always end up needing something extra. Usually it's french fried onions because the sneaky kids have opened them without peeling the metal top all the way back, eaten half of them and put the lid back on. When you look at it, it looks unopened. Hmmm, stinkers.

This year it's whipped cream. I made an extra pie at the last minute and it calls for more whipped cream than I had on hand.

Here is a little list of things that I have been known to forget, maybe one of these will trigger your memory and you can go get it before it's too late!

*Ice
*Soda
*Wine
*Paper Towels
*Whipping Cream
*Cool Whip
*Chicken Broth
*Fruit Cocktail
*A Roasting Pan
*Sparkling Apple or Grape Juice
*Pumpkin Pie Spice
*Paper Plates for Dessert
*Booze
*Butter
*Jello

I'm sure there are 1000 more things I could list, but really once you get to the booze, you just don't care anymore ;)

I have all of my pies baked, my side dishes made and refrigerated to be baked, turkey out drying, wine chilling and jello doing it's thing. All I have left is to make rolls, shape them and pop them into the fridge to raise overnight.

See you here tomorrow for the Cookie exchange details!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!



Recipe Round-up

In case you missed any of my Holiday food recipes this week, here they are again all in one place!















Happy Thanksgiving!

Keep your eyes peeled for a post tomorrow, it has details about the cookie exchange (AND GIVE AWAY!!!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Easy Cheese Danish


Cheese danish in an easy to make casserole? Yes, please!

You will need:

2 cans of refrigerated croissant rolls
1 (8 oz) packs of cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla (or almond!)
sugar for sprinkling

Unroll one can of croissant rolls and pinch seams together. Fit it into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Mix the cream cheese, sugar, egg, lemon juice and flavoring in a bowl until well combined. Pour onto croissant rolls. Unroll second can of rolls and pinch seams together, placing over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle the top generously with sugar and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top rolls are golden brown. Let sit 5 minutes and serve.

I often make these the day before and chill them overnight. I take them out about 30 minutes before I cut them, we seem to enjoy them more cooled than a little warm, but eat them however you wish! :)

This will be my last post until after the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with family, friends and loved ones.

Look for the post on Thanksgiving day about the cookie exchange, there's going to be a BIG surprise!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hokey Pokies


I call these Hokey Pokies because you will feel like breaking out in song and dance when you eat them! Oatmeal cookies with added coconut and pecans. I was going to give them a chocolate drizzle when they were all done, but I tasted them and decided against it. Feel free to add some if you want though. I think it would be gooooooood.

The recipe:

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream shortening and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, salt and baking soda, stir. Mix in oats, coconut and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until they are starting to turn brown around the edges. Cool on wire rack and keep in an airtight container.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Calm Before The Storm


This is what we woke up to on Saturday morning!

I have been a little slack on my posting the last couple days haven't I? I keep meaning to get on here and get something typed up and sent out over the internets, but I never quite get to it. I know that the next few weeks are going to be busy, crazy and insane. I have so many projects to get done that I should have started a lot earlier.

So, I'm soaking up the last moments of nothing-ness. I'm spending a lot of time with the kids, the hubs and the family all together.

I'm not lacking in ideas, or recipes, or fun stuff for y'all. I have some really cute stuff lined up for December.

The virtual cookie exchange is coming up soon, I will post the details on Thanksgiving day, keep an eye out for that!

And last- Did you know that we have a Facebook page? We do! Just click over here and "like" us! Please pass the page on to anyone you think would enjoy it :)

I hope you all are having wonderfully relaxing weekends, the craziness starts Monday!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quick Coffee Cake


This is a good recipe to keep stored in the back of your mind. It's great when you need a quick snack or dessert on short notice, and, like all of my recipes couldn't be simpler!

Recipe:

Cake

1 box of white cake mix
1 egg
1 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix it together and place it into a greased 9x13 inch pan.

Topping

Mix together 1/2 cup of flour
 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  3 or 4 tablespoons of melted butter

 Gently mix it together until it makes crumbs, adding a little more butter if you need it. Spread on top of the cake and put it into a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Let cool and serve.

I got this recipe from a friend and she sometimes adds berries or finely chopped apples to the cake mix. It is such a nice treat with coffee or tea!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

7 days

7 days from today, I will be getting up at dawn to put my 95 lb turkey in the oven. I will be debating on the blue or the black elastic waistband pants, and go with the black because black is slimming don'tcha know? I'll be watching the streaming video of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on my laptop while I cook. I'll be thinking about every. single. thing. we have to be thankful for this year. And most importantly, I'll be spending the day with my family, doing nothing, making memories with food.

Sadly, it is NOT 7 days from today. It is today, and I am planning my strategy now. By doing a little bit each day, I can save myself a lot of hassle the night before or the day of Thanksgiving!

Here is what I will be doing in the next 7 days to get myself ready for Thanksgiving:

Today- Finalize my menu, check my pantry for items I already have, make a grocery list for what I need. I'm also going to make sure that I have something easy planned for dinner the night before, and breakfast the day of.

Friday- Make my pie crust, put it into the pans and freeze it. I'm lucky that my pie plates are ok to go in the freezer. If yours aren't, just make your dough, wrap it in plastic and drop it into a zip top bag.

Saturday- Finish any cleaning that I didn't get to yet. Run any serving ware, silverware or glassware through the dishwasher. Clean out the fridge.

Sunday- My normal shopping day. Get all of the groceries and back to the ranch I head. Make sure I set the turkey in the fridge to be brined on Tuesday morning.

Monday- Have the kids make the table decorations (hand print turkeys, finger print indian corn, pilgrim hats, etc). Set out the serving plates that you are going to use and put a sticky note into each one labeling it with the dish that goes in it.

Tuesday- Put the turkey in the brine and cut up the bread for stuffing and leave it out overnight. Pre-chop anything I am going to need on Thanksgiving and put it into zip top bags in the fridge. Put pie crusts into the fridge for the next day.

Wednesday- Bake pies, mix candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry relish and hash brown casserole, wrap and put in the fridge. I'm going to make the dough for our dinner rills, shape them and let them raise in the fridge overnight. While I am waiting for them to raise the first time,  I will slice the cheese, drain the olives and pickles for the nibbly bits tray as well, and place them in zip top bags in the fridge too. Take the turkey out of the brine, place it in the roasting pan in the fridge overnight to let the skin dry out (makes such a good, crispy skin!)

Thursday- We made it! We aren't going to have a major meltdown either because we are ready. I'm going to pop the hash brown casserole into the oven, take a shower while it cooks, get out and make some french toast to go with it. Next, I'll chuck the turkey in there. While it cooks, I'll peel potatoes and place them in a bowl of water in the fridge. Everything else is in the fridge and ready to go in the oven about the last hour of the turkey's baking time.

It's a lot to to the day before and the day of Thanksgiving, but it is a lot less than if you waited until the last minute to do it. This is how I have been doing it since I started cooking our Thanksgiving meal at home, and it works wonderfully for me. Of course, you can change it to better suit your schedule, your menu or your time constraints.

The best thing about having a plan is that you know what has to happen, there are no surprises and in the end you have more time and don't look like a madwoman (or madman) running around your kitchen.

That's how I am tackling Thanksgiving, I hope you can use some of my strategy in your own planning as well!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Green Beans and Garlic


This is one of my favorite ways to make green beans. It also just happens to be really simple, although if you aren't a garlic fan you may not be so impressed!

I don't take the time to snap the ends off when I am in a hurry, I just line them up and chop them off, followed by chopping the green beans in half. This is about 2 pounds of fresh green beans. You are going to add these to salted, boiling water and let them cook until they reached your desired tenderness. For us, I cook them about 15 minutes. What can I say? My kids like them to be starting to get pretty soft.


While those are boiling, you want to heat up 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and 1 HEAPING teaspoon of chopped garlic (this is actually more like almost a Tablespoon, but we really, really like garlic.) Adjust the garlic amount up or down to suit your tastes.


Take the beans out of the boiling water and add to the hot oil, turning to coat them in all that delicious garlic. Let them hang out in the pan for a couple minutes.


I like to eat these with rice, but they make a really good side dish for meat or chicken. I also think they would be a nice fresh (lighter!) option for Thanksgiving instead of the traditional green bean casserole.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stuffing/Dressing

I've thought a lot about how to tackle the stuffing/dressing issue. In all honesty, we usually have stove top or something similar because it's Kevin's favorite.  So, I decided to do some searching and put together a post of links to other recipes. Not that I don't think that you could pick out a recipe for yourself, but it's just easier to have them all in one spot, don'tcha think?








Have one to share? Leave a link or recipe to your favorite stuffing/dressing in the comments!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sour Cream Apple Pie



Sour cream apple pie. I have never had an apple pie like this before and I have to tell you I was sceptical. Would it be very tart and creamy? Would it be like a custard pie? Would it be really juicy and runny? It turned out to be none of those things. This pie is really divine, there is a slightly sweetened cream filling that surrounds the apples and gives the whole thing a wonderful creaminess without being overly sweet or juicy.

This is also a good time to point out that this pie has to be completely cool for serving so that the filling can set up so it's a great candidate for make ahead and stash in the fridge cooking.

I pretty liberally adapted this recipe to better suit our tastes and here is what I came up with:

Make you pie crust, put it into your pan and crimp the edges.


Peel, core and slice 6 cups of apples. I used 7 medium sized apples, it was a little over 6 cups. Mix it with 1 1/4 cups sour cream, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon almond extract (you could use 2 teaspoons vanilla also), 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 egg. Pour into your unbaked pie shell. Place it into a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake the pie an additional 30 minutes.


After the additional 30 minutes is up, take out the pie and cover it with the crumb mixture. You could use the one that they have or you could use my standard topping for crisps and crumbles: 1 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 6 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix it all together and crumble onto the pie. Place the pie back in the oven for 2025 minutes more, or until the apples are to your desired tenderness.


There it is. Let it cool on a wire rack and refrigerate the leftovers or bake 1-2 days ahead and refrigerate. Bring back to room temperature before serving.


How good does THAT look??

Mile High Peanut Butter Pie


Peanut Butter Pie + Brownies = Sinful

That's exactly what this pie is, brownies baked inside of a pie crust the topped with peanut butter pie filling. I added more whipped cream to the top because I figured, hey, if I'm going to go this far I may as well go all the way.

Easy. Impressive. Make ahead. Uncomplicated.

I knew when I saw this recipe that I would be making it. I knew you would love it, I knew my family would love it, I knew that I had to make it in time for Thanksgiving so that if anyone needed to take a dessert somewhere they would have time to gather the ingredients. I think that if you have ever been labeled "The One That Doesn't Bake" you should make this pie and impress the socks off of your guests/hosts.

I found the recipe here. I made some modifications to the recipe and used my favorite pie crust and I used my favorite brownies. You can also use store bought pie crust and boxed brownies and this will be just as fabulous. Use what you are comfortable with!

Get your pie crust into the pan.


Make your brownies and pour them into your shell. If you are using my recipe, only put half in there. I did all of them and it was too much. If you are using a mix, get one that is for a 9x9 pan. Place it into a 350 degree oven for about 2025 minutes, or until it is set.


It'll look like this if you use the whole recipe. This is 9" deep dish pie plate, so it wasn't quite full. Almost, but not quite. At this point you are going to stash it in the fridge until it is completely cool.


When it is cool, mix 1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter and 1 cup powdered sugar together. Mix in 1 (8 oz) tub of whipped topping that has been thawed and spread it on top of the brownies. I chose to add half of another carton of whipped topping to mine, just to make it truly spectacular!


And there it is! I told you it was easy.


This would be a great addition toThanksgiving or Christmas (or any get together for that matter!)

I've linked up this recipe here at Tidy Mom as part of her Love The Pie linky party! Go look at all the other wonderful looking pies! :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What I Have Been Doing

Good morning everyone and Happy Sunday! I hope you have all had a wonderful weekend thus far. I thought that since I haven't posted all weekend, I would drop you a note and tell you what I have been doing.

Yesterday, I went off to the big city to finish getting all of the craft supplies I needed to make our 25 days of Christmas Extravaganza and the rest of the stuff I needed to finish the kids' presents. I had to get a lot of stuff. I had to go to a lot of stores. It was kind of fun.

In case you didn't know this, I am trying to make our holiday handmade. I'm trying to maximize our Christmas budget by making things for the kids that are going to last a while longer than store bought toys, etc. Plus, I'm kinda having fun doing it.

So here is what I have to make in the next few weeks:

2 Quilts

2 matching doll quilts

1 play mat (for driving cars on)

4 aprons

crochet 4 pairs of slippers

other assorted gifts that I can't post here because the recipients will read this and know what they are getting.

An advent calendar

and a partridge in a pear tree.


I know this is primarily a cooking blog, but I think I am going to post pictures of my finished crafts too, just so you can see what else I have been up to besides cooking and baking.

Anyway, this is what I have been up to this weekend. I'm off to go cook my hungry family breakfast before they eat the furniture. :)

I'll have a new post up tomorrow!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Golden Dinner Rolls



What Thanksgiving meal would be complete without the tender, soft, yeast dinner roll? Not mine! So here is the roll for you. It is tasty, simple and oh-so-satisfying.

As always I have to give credit where it is due, and I got this recipe off of Chickens in the Road. This is my standard recipe for bread now. I make loaves for lunches, rolls for dinner, sweet breads, savory cheese breads all with this same very versatile recipe. And, to make it even better, it only takes water, yeast, sugar and salt. 4 ingredients, how nice is that??


3 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon yeast (or 1 packet)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
7 cups flour

Yeast breads have a basic standard process. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the sugar and let it sit until it's bubbly (about 5 minutes). Add the salt and some of the flour, beat. Add the rest of the flour, 1 cup at a time until it makes a ball that shouldn't be sticky to the touch anymore. Turn it out, knead it for 10 minutes (or let your KitchenAid do it!). Place in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and let it sit until it doubles, about an hour. Once it has doubled, take it out of the bowl, shape it into loaves or rolls and cover those for about another hour. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread, 24 rolls or 1 loaf and 1 dozen rolls.

A couple notes about bread making-
1) the amount of flour is always approximate. In the summer it may take less, in the winter it may take more. You shouldn't worry too much about it. You just need your dough to be able to be handled without it sticking to your hands.

2) As long as you know your yeast is fresh, and it bubbled up when you dissolved it in the water, you shouldn't worry about how long it takes to raise either. Sometimes, in the winter, when our old house is pretty cool in the kitchen it can take 1 1/2 hours to get the job done. You mostly need to worry about it doubling in size (or close to double)

3) If you have never made yeast dough: It is easy. Once you make it you will see how easy it is and wonder why you haven't done it before! 

Suzanne has a whole Grandmother Bread Recipe Page with a TON of great bread recipes. If you have some time, you should go check it out! :)


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Talking Turkey Today

I had a lot of requests about how to make the perfect roast turkey. Well, I couldn't make 40 turkeys for each of the ways I could find to cook it, so I decided to simply tell you how I make mine instead. Below you will find my tips and then there is a list of great resources with more recipes and ideas than I can begin to count. These few simple things that I do really make a big difference in how the turkey comes out, think about trying one of them out this year!!

I think in order to make the perfect turkey, you need to brine it. What is brine? Well, it a salt water solution often with added flavors and herbs. It starts to break down the muscle tissue to make the meat tender, and it's salt water. What does eating salt do to us? It makes us retain water, and water retention in a food you are going to be roasting for a pretty long time is a good thing.

This is the recipe that we have been using for a brine for the last couple years: Good Eats Roast Turkey Brine. It comes from Alton Brown (YAY AB!) and really does make the juiciest, most tender turkey ever. Plus, it's really simple. (we don't follow the recipe for any of the rest of the recipe, but the brine is spectacular!)

I take my turkey out of the brine the night before Thanksgiving, put it into the roastin pan with all of the veggies and put it UNcovered in the fridge overnight. This makes the skin dry out and get really crispy and brown when you roast it the next day. Also, and this goes against everything you have ever heard about roasting a bird, is that I roast the turkey breast side DOWN for most of the cooking time. When the turkey is getting close to being done (maybe has about 30-45 minutes left), I take it out, drain off the juices for making gravy and put the bird back in the oven breast side UP so the skin can brown. What happens is that all of the fat and juices run down the breast, which is white meat and very lean, during most of the cooking time. It sucks up a lot of those and it helps to keep it moist. If you are still worried about the breast drying out, you can lay bacon on it post flip and that will help. It will also add some great flavor. Be cautioned, though, that the bacon may keep the skin from browning up.

As to what to put into the bird; I don't stuff a turkey. I personally don't think that the stuffing ever has a chance to really cook all the way through and if you think about it, raw poultry juices are dripping into the stuffing and if it doesn't cook all the way through.....well. There is going to be quite the fight for your bathroom in 6-8 hours if you catch my drift. However, if you aren't a giant baby like me and you stuff your turkey, more power to you and keep on keepin' on. To each his own! What I DO put inside of my turkey is a couple onions cut in half and 2 or 3 oranges cut in half. If I have any (or can get any that doesn't look pathetic) I may throw in a couple sage leaves. Lastly, do not forget to salt and pepper inside the cavity of the turkey. It needs to feel important too.

Here are a few links to some more turkey tips, recipes and tricks:







I'm sure there are many, many more out there but I'll leave it at that for now. It's time to plan your turkey roasting strategy now!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cranberry Relish


Tired of the plate of jellied cranberry sauce? Want a recipe for a cranberry dish you can use more than once or twice a year? Well, here it is. This surprised me when I first tasted it. It's sweet and sour and perfect. It's delicious on pork chops, chicken or turkey. It also makes the best leftover turkey sandwich you have ever tasted.

Did I mention it was easy?

Pour one can of whole berry cranberry sauce into a bowl. Mix in 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries that have been thawed and coarsely chopped.



I decided to take them out and chop them after I took this picture.
Add 1/2 cup crushed pineapple that has been drained really well.


Put it into a bowl, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but I usually make it the night before.


This is a dish that isn't the same old thing. It's so good, different and really tasty. Your guests will thank you for putting this on your table!


Mashed Candied Sweet Potatoes


These could not be simpler. I started doing this when my oldest was littler because at holidays she would just eat the marshmallow topping off of the sweet potatoes. Then I got smart and started putting the marshmallows INTO the potatoes. I've never looked back!

Open one large can of sweet potatoes and mash with a fork.


Add 2 Tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon and I cut up 6 large marshmallows into small pieces, but you could also use about 24 mini marshmallows. Also, you could throw in some roughly chopped pecans.


Stir it up and spread it into a buttered dish. I used a pie plate here, but I really should have doubled the recipe to fit in it better. A small casserole dish would work really good here, or a bread or meatloaf pan would be perfect.



I cut up a few extra marshmallows to decorate the top because I love the ones that get crunchy and brown on the top. You could leave this out if you wanted to.



Awww, how cute! Now you would just pop it into the oven at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes until the potatoes are hot and the marshmallows are golden brown.

When this bakes, the marshmallows that are inside melt and make these little pockets of gooey sweetness. Mixed with the brown sugar and butter, it really is a treat!



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hot Artichoke Dip With Spinach


This is the stuff my dreams are made of. Hot, creamy, cheesy...everything I love in a food. Not to mention easy and always a crowd pleaser. We have this every year at our Christmas party and it just wouldn't be the same without it.

It really couldn't be simpler. The recipe comes off of the back of a package of dry vegetable soup mix. What a find this was, it is awesome!


Here is what you will need:

1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese
3/4 cup mayo (don't use no fat here)
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 package of vegetable soup mix
1 can of artichoke hearts (not marinated ones), drained and chopped
3 cloves chopped garlic
4-5 small green onions, sliced thin

Mix everything except the cheddar cheese and pour it into a pie plate or a 8x8 baking dish. Top with cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, remove from oven and enjoy! I usually serve this with chips or baguette toasts.

So simple and so good!







Monday, November 8, 2010

Using Up Extra Pie Dough


After making my Macadamia nut pie with coconut, I had some leftover pie crust to use up. I decided to make some little lunch pies to pop into the freezer for lunchbox treats this week. It was a very simple process, but I though maybe you would find it helpful as well. Roll out your pie dough and cut out some circles. I just cut around a bowl with a knife. Put the circles onto a cookie sheet and fill with you favorite filling, these I made apple. Cut a couple slits in the top for steam to escape and sprinkle with a little sugar.



Bake in a 350 degree oven about 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Let hem cool on a wire rack and then wrap in plastic wrap and foil and freeze. Thaw them in the fridge overnight and pop into your lunchbox for a treat. You could also heat them in the microwave for a few seconds.

This is just another way to use what you have on hand to make a little something for the freezer for dessert, snacks or lunch time.

Angel Biscuits


Once again, I found one of my families new favorite foods over at Chickens In The Road. These are angel biscuits and they are a hybrid yeast roll/biscuit. They have all the flakiness that you expect from a biscuit and yet the tenderness of a yeast roll. I made these for biscuit sandwiches, and I though I would share the recipe and what I did with you. This is another make ahead and stash in the freezer breakfast idea for the upcoming busy weeks. I know for us, it is very convenient to have some of these in the freezer at all times because it keeps us from spending money on fast food.

Here is the link to the recipe on Farm Bell Recipes. I really do encourage you to go over and have a look. There are so many great recipes submitted by Suzanne's readers (and herself of course), I find something new to make every time I visit.

Recipe:

1 Tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup shortening, butter or lard
3/4 cup milk or buttermilk

Mix the yeast with the water and sugar in a glass measuring cup. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda to a mixing bowl. Mix it up to make sure it is well combined then add the shortening and mix until it looks kind of sandy. Add the yeast and milk and stir. Turn out on to a floured counter and knead a couple times. Roll or pat out and place onto a cookie sheet. Bake them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

To make breakfast sandwiches, I take them out of the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack. When they are cool, I split them in half, add a pre cooked sausage patty (or a slice of ham) and a slice of American cheese and put the top back on. Then I wrap them in plastic wrap followed by tin foil. I pop them into a zip top freezer bag and into the freezer they go. To reheat in the microwave, we take them out of the foil and plastic and wrap in a damp paper towel. Microwave for 30 seconds and check on it, adding time as you need it. To reheat them in the oven, I take them out of the plastic and re-wrap them in tinfoil and place in a 350 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes, checking often.

This is such an invaluable tool to have when you just don't have time to cook breakfast, but you need something fast.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Macadamia Nut Pie with Coconut


Here I am again to sing the praises of Foolproof Pie Crust that I saw over on Chickens In The Road a while back. Honestly, I was the worlds worst pie crust maker until I found this recipe. I love it, it tastes great and it is so easy I would feel comfortable telling a first time pie maker that you really can't mess it up!

I had a pie like this a couple years ago at a Christmas celebration at my parents house. One of my Grandmothers made it and it was fabulous. So, I took it and added a little something to it.

I use the recipe out of my favorite cookbook for pecan pie and switched out the pecans for macadamia nuts. The addition of coconut adds a sweetness that is very very good with the nuts.

Recipe:
Adapted from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook

Pastry for 9 inch pie (I used 1/4 of the Foolproof Pie crust recipe)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup macadamia nuts
2/3 cup shredded coconut

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. While you are waiting on that roll out your pie crust and put it into your pan. Crimp the edges however you choose.


When the butter is melted, add the rest of the ingredients right to the saucepan, no need to dirty another dish after all! Pour it into your waiting pie shell and put it on the bottom rack of a 375 degree oven.


Bake it for about 45 minutes or until the edges are pretty set and the nuts are starting to turn brown. Let cool completely.

I made some Pineapple rum whipped cream to go along with this by adding 1 Tablespoon of pineapple rum to a pint of heavy whipping cream. I mixed it together for about a minute then added 1/4 cup powdered sugar and beat it until the cream thickened up to my liking.

This was VERY good and such a nice change from a plain pecan pie. The addition of the pineapple rum whipping cream almost gave it a pina colada flavor. It's a keeper for sure!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hashbrown Casserole


Welcome to another installment of Holiday food made easy! This is the BEST breakfast side dish and would be so good with the Stuffed French Toast I posted about yesterday. Both could be made ahead and both could make your Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast one to remember. We had this with ham for our dinner and it was such a hit with my family. I got the recipe from my sister and tweaked it to fit our families tastes and I encourage you to do the same!

The recipe is simple:

1 (2lb) bag of frozen hash browns, thawed
2 cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups sour cream
5 or 6 green onions, sliced thin
2 cups shredded cheese, I used cheddar
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix the hash browns, condensed soup, sour cream, green onions, salt, pepper and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Mix well and pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until the cheese is starting to brown and the casserole is bubbly and hot. Let it sit 10 minutes and enjoy!



This is the creamiest, cheese-iest, most delicious side dish to serve. I have yet to make it for company and not have them rave about it.

*NOTES* Make this and instead of putting it in the oven, cover with tinfoil and refrigerate overnight. Bake as directed, but add 10-15 extra minutes to the bake time.

Add bacon, ham or any other veggies you think might be good. It would make a great main dish with the addition of a meat or some more veggies.

Use whatever cheese you like best. I happen to always have cheddar on hand, so that is what I used.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Caramel Applesauce



This is one of those times that I have a brilliant idea that turns out to be delicious. I was making applesauce for dinner when I remembered that I made caramel apple butter a couple years ago and a light bulb went off in my noggin. I could make caramel applesauce! It would be wonderful! The heavens would shine down and the angels would sing! OK, maybe not that last one, but it was pretty good.

Here is the ridiculously simple method:

Peel, core and roughly chop 6 apples. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Add enough water to cover and set on medium-low heat. Give it a stir once in a while and keep mashing it down with a potato masher or a fork. Keep an eye on the water level and just simmer it until it is soft and applesauce-like.

  I think these 6 (smallish) apples took about 30-45 minutes to cook down, I wasn't really timing them and I kind of cheated and cranked up the heat to medium for a while. This is such a nice change from plain applesauce!




Stuffed French Toast


Maybe I am way behind the wagon train here, but have you had stuffed french toast? Well, I hadn't. Then someone said how good it was and I started poking around until I found a recipe that I could change and make my own. Kinda.
What I saw in this recipe was possibilities. I can see a lot of variations and changes so that it will suit everyone and their tastes.

This is not overly sweet, I want to make sure that you know that. I wanted to have the filling be a little more savory than sweet. This is easy and so delicous, I know this would make a perfect breakfast for a Holiday or any special occasion for that matter.

Here is what I did:


I bought a loaf of french bread and I cut it into about 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces. A loaf of bread yielded 9 thick slices.




Cut a pocket into the bread. Don"t cut all the way through the bottom or the side or else your filling will get out.



Mix 8 oz of cream cheese with 1/4 cup orange juice and about 1/4 cup sugar. Put it into a plastic zip top bag and snip off the corner. This will make filling your pockets a lot easier. Fill your pockets with a couple Tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture. This is where it gets user friendly, if you fill the pockets and cover them tightly, you can refrigerate overnight! Maybe put them in a zip top bag stashed in the fridge would work too. That makes it a whole lot easier in the morning :)
When you are ready to make your french toast, beat 4 eggs with 2 Tablespoons of milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper. Dip the bread into it and cook on a hot griddle or in a pan with a little melted butter. Try not to soak the bread in the egg too long because it is really thick and you run the risk of not cooking the eggs all the way through if it's really soaked up the stuff.


Here is what I made for my sauce:


It's a 1/2 cup of apricot jam mixed with enough orange juice (or water) to thin it out. Heat it so that the jam melts and it is warm. Pour over your stuffed french toast and enjoy!

I think you can see what kind of possibilities there are here:

Use a tub of the flavored cream cheese for the filling, or mix your own.

Top with fresh fruit and whipped cream.

Yop with warm honey and pecans.

I think you can continue on your own from there.

This will be what we are eating on Thanksgiving morning, and I hope some of you do too!