Thursday, November 22, 2012

Moist Pumpkin Bread

Moist Pumpkin Bread

Makes 1 loaf.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!  I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating all you have to be thankful for.
Just like the title implies, this is a moist pumpkin bread.... and it has a sugary sweet cinnamon topping.  Yum!
Source: Food

1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 (15 ounce) pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

In a medium size bowl beat eggs and mix with sugar, oil, water and pumpkin.

In another bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients only until just blended. Do NOT overmix.

Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. This bread fits perfectly in an 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes.

For topping: In a small saucepan mix butter, brown sugar and milk. Boil only 2 1/2 minutes while stirring constantly. Immediately drizzle on top of loaf. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and press pecans lightly into topping.

Wrap and store until next day for serving. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wine Dinner

Wine Dinner

Serves 6.

Last year, The Mister and I invited our parents over for a wine dinner.  We had received a magnum bottle of wine as a gift from a friend of the family who loves and knows his wine.  Needless to say, this bottle was old.  And special.  Nice.  Really nice.  And it required a fancy night on which to open it.

So we planned a special meal, and enjoy it we did, with who better than our dear parents.  The little one went to bed shortly after appetizers, and we dined on beef tenderloin by candlelight, sipping the delicious cab.

Dinner menu:
Beef tenderloin with mushroom sauce
Roasted asparagus
Garlic mashed potatoes
Warm crusty bread and butter

And for dessert, a personal favorite of mine:
White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cowboy Casserole

Cowboy Casserole

Serves 6.

Don't be grossed out.  This is a family classic in some parts of our nation.  It's comfort food, and it's good, and it is truly a family pleaser when it comes to what your kids love.  So whip it up -- even the night before if you want -- and bake for dinner this week.  
Source: The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

1 1/2 pounds ground beef 
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (15.25oz) whole kernel corn, drained (I used 1-1/2 cups thawed frozen corn instead)
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 bag (30 oz) frozen tater tots (such as Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns)

If you can, let the tater tots sit on the counter to defrost for an hour or so. The original recipe uses frozen tater tots, but allowing them to thaw for a bit seems to help the cooking process.

In a large skillet cook the onion until tender and translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the beef and cook over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain the mixture and place into a large bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the soup, milk and sour cream. Whisk until smooth. Add to hamburger mixture and stir to combine. Add corn and 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Gently mix to combine.

Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer half of the tater tots on the bottom, pour the hamburger mixture over the top and then layer with the other half of the tater tots.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Spicy Chicken Soup with Wild Rice

Spicy Chicken Soup with Wild Rice

Serves 4-6.

The original name of this recipe is Chicken and Wild Rice soup, but the soup it made was a far cry from what I was envisioning.  The amount of rice was far too small to be considered a main part of the title.  I need to keep seeking for the soup I'm looking for, but this was still a good soup for a cool day.  And since it's a crock pot recipe, it simmers all day while I'm out and about doing other things.  It packs some heat, so hopefully you like spicy soups!
Adapted from: The Other Side of Fifty

1 TBSP olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
1-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced 
kosher salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken
1 (8 oz) can green enchilada sauce
1 (4 oz) can of diced green chiles
1/3 cup wild rice 
4 cups chicken stock 
1 TBSP cornstarch
2 TBSP milk or water

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the bell pepper, onion, jalapeno peppers and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 6-7 minutes then add the garlic, cumin and oregano. Saute for another minute or two.

Pour skillet contents into crockpot and add the remaining ingredients, except for the cornstarch and milk/water. Cook on low for 5-7 hours. Shred chicken with two forks. Mix cornstarch into cold milk/water and add to crockpot. Return setting to high and cook for another 30 minutes or until thick and bubbly.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes

Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes

Makes about 24.

Thanksgiving is in one week!  And I think you should consider adding this recipe to your line-up.  For breakfast on Thanksgiving morning... or before you head out shopping on Friday... or just for general snacking throughout Thanksgiving day.  If you put them out, people will eat them.  This is a fantastic recipe... delicious!!!  I made them as donut holes in a mini muffin pan, but see the original recipe, linked below, for instructions on using a mini donut pan.
I also made a pretty big goof-up, but, in my opinion, it didn't hurt the overall taste.  :)  Instead of dipping the donut holes in the melted butter, I actually dumped the melted butter all over the donut holes and then covered them in the cinnamon sugar mixture before shaking to coat.  I ended up with a bunch of very buttery, gooey, cinnamony-sugary delicious little balls.  I wouldn't say it was a bad mistake, but I may try making them "correctly" next time for a neater bite.  :)
Source: Blue-Eyed Bakers

For Donuts:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
For Coating:
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon (more if you're a cinnamon lover)
Preheat oven 350 F.  Grease a mini muffin pan and set aside.
In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices together and set aside.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the mixture and stir until just combined, careful not to over mix.
Fill each mini muffin cup, 2/3 full, with the batter.  The donut cups should be fairly full, but not overflowing. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until donuts spring back when gently pressed.  Turn donuts out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes.
While the donuts are cooling, melt butter in one bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another.  When donuts are still hot (but not too hot to touch), quickly dip each donut in melted butter, then coat in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Serve immediately.
*Note: If you're not going to serve the donuts immediately, you can bake them up to a day in advance and store them in an airtight container.  Do not coat them in the butter/cinnamon-sugar mixture until just before serving or they may get soggy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Great book.  I really enjoyed this.  It had my attention from only a few pages in, and held it all the way through.  Just a good, simple novel that makes you think enough, without being overly challenging on the mind.

Book description from Amazon:

In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other "friend" to confront a past they've buried for decades.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Teriyaki Meatballs

Teriyaki Meatballs

Makes about 15 meatballs.

A fun twist on traditional meatballs for the Asain food-lover in your household!
Source: Budget Bytes

Meatball ingredients:
1 lb. ground pork
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
2 inches fresh ginger
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 whole green onions
10-15 cranks freshly cracked black pepper

Teriyaki glaze ingredients:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 T. toasted sesame oil
1 T. rice vinegar
2 inches fresh ginger
2 T. corn starch
1 T. sesame seeds

Rice bowl ingredients:
2.5 cups dry jasmine rice
3.75 cups water
2 whole green onions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the ground pork in a large bowl. Peel the ginger and then grate it using a small holed cheese grater into the bowl. Mince the garlic, slice the green onions, and add them to the bowl. Also add the egg, breadcrumbs, soy sauce, and black pepper. Mix these ingredients really well until it is all evenly combined (clean hands work best).

Cover a baking sheet with foil. Roll the meatball mixture into small balls, about one tablespoon each. You should yield about 30 meatballs. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet as you roll them. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown (about 35-40 minutes).

While the meatballs are in the oven, begin cooking the rice according to the package directions: Place the rice and water in a medium pot, cover, and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Allow to simmer on low for 20 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the rice rest, undisturbed, until the rest of the meal is complete. The rice will continue to steam even after the heat is turned off, so don't remove the lid.

While the meatballs are in the oven, also prepare the teriyaki glaze. In a medium pot combine the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Peel and grate the ginger into the pot. Heat over a low flame until the brown sugar is dissolved (just a few minutes).

Dissolve the cornstarch in just enough water to make it pourable. Pour it into the pot with the glaze ingredients. Turn the heat up to medium high, stir and cook until thickened. It should thicken as soon as it begins to simmer. Once thickened, add the sesame seeds.

When the meatballs come out of the oven, transfer them from the baking sheet into the pot with the glaze. Stir to coat. Fluff the rice with a fork. Build the bowls by placing one cup of rice in a bowl, add five meatballs and a couple of spoons of extra teriyaki glaze, then sprinkle a few sliced green onions over top.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ultimate Pretzel-Crusted Peanut Butter Cookie Candy Brownie Bars

Ultimate Pretzel-Crusted Peanut Butter Cookie Candy Brownie Bars

Makes 24-30 squares, depending how you cut them.

Repeat the title over and over again.  You won't ever get frustrated at how long the name of this dessert is, because, well, let's be honest... everything in the name is pretty much awesome.  And when you put them together, things get even better.  I made the horrid mistake of purchasing too few Reese's peanut butter cups.  The package I bought had, what looked like, quite a few, but I was short, which is why I ended up chopping them into pieces and scattering them on top of the dough instead of placing them down whole as instructed in the recipe.  My way didn't take too much away from the ultimate goal, but I think I'll try the "right" way when making these again in the future.  
Source: Baby Gizmo

2 ½ cups crushed butter pretzels
1 cup melted butter
5 tbsp sugar
Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix and all the ingredients the mix calls for
Family size Brownie Mix and all the ingredients the mix calls for
Snack Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (2 – 10.5oz bags) ***Buy exactly this to have enough.  If you skimp on peanut butter cups, you'll be forced to face the tragedy I did: cutting them to make ends meet.  Avoid this, is possible.

Crush the pretzels in a food processor or however you like to crush pretzels. Any kind of pretzels will do but I recommend using crushed butter pretzels (you find them next to the regular pretzels and they are literally called “Synder Butter Pretzels”) for the recipe. I also recommend not crushing the pretzels to dust but keep some small pieces to keep the crust crunchy. Mix the melted butter (melt in microwave), sugar and pretzel crumbs. Press into lightly greased 13×9 pan. Set aside pretzel crust and make the cookie dough.

Make the cookie dough according to the package. Lightly press the cookie dough evenly on top of the pretzel crust.

Unwrap 24 snack-size Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and cover the cookie dough with the candy.

Whip up your brownie mix and pour evenly over the Peanut Butter Cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes and then enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pumpkin-White Chocolate Blondies

Pumpkin-White Chocolate Blondies

Makes 9"x13" pan.

Wait a minute... Thanksgiving is two weeks away??  Already?!?  Hope you are planning your menus, and including these blondies in the line-up!
I will make these again... probably every year... if not multiple times a year.  They were easy to make, easy to serve, and deliciously moist and flavorful.  The addition of white chocolate chips makes it even more desirable.  
Slightly adapted from: Pink Parsley

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (12 ounces) white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 28-32 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
Cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cubano Sandwiches

Cubano Sandwiches

Serves 1.

Here's a classic sandwich recipe to use up your leftover pork!

2 slices white bread
Leftover pork loin, thinly sliced
2 slices deli ham
2 slices Swiss cheese
Butter, for buttering bread

Assemble sandwiches while heating a skillet over medium heat.  Butter outsides of sandwich then grill on skillet, until bread is golden brown and sandwich is heated through.

Cut in half and enjoy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Oven Hot Dogs

Oven Hot Dogs

Makes 8 loaded hot dogs.

Here's a way to bring summer back, inside your oven.  It's also a great way to feed a crowd of hungry teenagers.  So tell your kids to invite a few friends over for Friday night dinner, and cook these.  You might even love them too.  :)  Just remember -- use a fork!  Picking up to eat may prove dangerous...
Source: Alyssa B. Young

8 hot dogs
8 hot dog buns
1 can of chili
1/2 an onion, diced
cheddar cheese
sweet relish
Line inside of hot dog buns with mayonnaise and sweet relish. Evenly add mustard. Fill with hot dogs and squish into a 13×9″ baking pan.
Top hot dogs with chili, cheese, and diced onion. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.
Carefully remove from the pan with a spatula.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Chicken Chili Enchiladas

Chicken Chili Enchiladas

Serves 3-4.

The original recipe linked below gives Weight Watchers points for her recipe.  Please note that I made changes after I found that the chicken filling would only fill 6 tortillas instead of 8.  I also wasn't able to find turkey chili without beans, but the addition of beans didn't bother us.  A good enchilada recipe that isn't too bad for you!
Slightly adapted from: Pointless Meals

1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can ( 4 oz) diced green chilies
8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
8 La Tortilla Factory Whole Wheat Tortillas
1 c. salsa
1 ( 15 oz) can Hormel Turkey Chili Without Beans
3/4 c. reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray.
Coat a large skillet with nonstick spray. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Let stand 5 minutes, then shred.
Beat cream cheese with green chilies; add chicken and mix.
Fill each tortilla evenly, fold and place seam-side down in the baking dish.

In a saucepan, combine chili and salsa. Heat through. Spoon chili mix over tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and bake 20 minutes or until heated through. Top with chopped cilantro.