Monday, August 31, 2009

Swiss Potato Beef Bake

If you made a pot roast yesterday and have lots of brown gravy left over, this easy casserole is a great way to utilize it for tonight. If you don't have brown gravy made and ready to go, make your own from the ground beef drippings.

Swiss Potato Beef Bake

1 lb ground beef
2 cups brown gravy
1 32 oz bag Potatoes O'Brien or Southern Style Hash Browns, defrosted
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Brown ground beef, season to taste with salt and pepper and drain. Add potatoes to a 13x9 baking dish and spread out evenly. Spoon ground beef over potatoes and pour gravy over entire dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, add Swiss cheese and continue baking an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch Pudding

5 Tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 level tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cream or half and half
3 large egg yolks, beaten (reserve whites for meringue)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter in a medium saucepan and stir in brown sugar until butter is absorbed and mixture resembles apple butter. Remove from burner.

In a large bowl, whisk flour and salt with milk and cream, until smooth. Add beaten egg yolks and whisk until frothy. Add flour mixture to saucepan with sugar/butter mixture and whisk well. Return to burner and cook over medium-low heat until pudding thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Sunday Dinner, Part 1

Sunday dinner at our house has become an official event over the last few months though we've actually been having it for years. It started not long after we were married. My husband would mow the lawn, we'd both do laundry and I would make a big dinner to cap off the week. There wasn't any particular significance to the day for us, it was just the end of the weekend when we had the time and energy to put into chores and the making of a big meal. It seemed to happen the same way on the same day every week for years. Eventually we decided that instead of letting things like laundry and big meals fall on Sundays by chance, let's just plan on them. When we actually gave these mundane tasks and the gluttonous meal the titles of "Sunday Chores" and "Sunday Dinner", they became something to be counted on, a familiar benchmark of the week that we each looked forward to and planned on. No longer did I ponder when the grass would be cut. No longer was there any doubt of when there would be a freshly laundered batch of towels in the linen closet. No longer would I question when I was going to use that roast in the refrigerator or wonder if I should go ahead and freeze it. We now know that no matter what happens during the week, we will have clean clothes on Sunday. We know that the weeds might be creeping into the yard on Saturday but by Sunday they'll be gone. And we know that no matter what we throw together for dinner during the rest of the week, on Sunday we will eat like kings.

Our Sunday dinners aren't fancy or particularly gourmet. The meal is usually traditional home cooked food that can be found on the plates of thousands of other families in middle America. The differences between our Sunday dinners and our Thursday dinners are the amount of time, effort or ingredients involved in making the meal and dessert. Weekends afford us more time to roll, knead, baste and slow broil a dish. There is freedom in the fact that there aren't any time constraints telling me that dinner can't be served earlier than X o'clock but really no later
Y o'clock. On Sundays dinner is ready when it's ready, no apologies needed.

When we finally do sit down to eat we enjoy each forkful that crosses our lips, we grab second helpings, we clean our plates with pieces of bread, mopping up any residual flavors and juices, making for one last perfect bite. It's a meal that is savored and carries over into the work-week ahead. On Mondays at noon I know my husband is sitting at his desk at work, enjoying the meal for a second time and looking forward to the next Sunday Dinner. And that's why we do that way.

Occasionally here on the blog I will post a Sunday Dinner menu, complete with a main dish, at least one side or bread recipe and a decadent dessert. This first one is a classic for a reason.

Pot Roast

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 lbs boneless chuck roast or rump roast
1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups baby carrots (about 12 ounces)
2 ribs of celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 pound small red potatoes, quartered (can leave skins on or peeled if preferred)

In a Dutch oven or stock pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Season roast with salt and pepper on each side and add to Dutch oven. Sear/brown each side of roast, turning occasionally to prevent burning, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from pot and let rest on a plate.
Add onion, carrots and celery to Dutch oven and cook until onions are translucent and carrots & celery begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Add water and tomato paste and simmer for 5 minutes . Return roast to the pot and add broth, thyme, sage, cumin and bay leaves. Cover with lid and bake at 325 for 2 hours. Add the potatoes and continue baking for 45 minutes.

Remove bay leaves. Transfer roast and (using a slotted spoon) vegetables to a large plate/platter. Keep warm.


4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons flour

Place pot with beef broth on a stovetop burner on medium heat. In a medium bowl mix melted butter and flour until a thick paste or slurry forms. Whisk into broth and simmer until thickened (5-10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper as desired.


1 3/4 cups ground cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups milk (whole or 2%)
1 eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Place an 8 inch square baking dish in oven while preheating to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Whisk together. In a large bowl (or in measuring cup) whisk the milk, egg and butter. Stir into dry mixture until well blended.
Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and grease bottom and sides of pan with butter or non stick cooking spray. Pour and spread the batter in the pan and bake at 425 degrees for 23 minutes or until lightly browned.

S'More Cake with Coconut Frosting

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs plus 1 yolk
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 oz package semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
Butter the bottom of a 13x9 pan. Line bottom with waxed paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in all eggs, milk and vanilla. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the flour mixture a little at a time. Gently stir in chocolate chips and marshmallows

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake cake about 25 to 30 minutes, or until center is springy to the touch. Cool Completely.


3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla (or 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp coconut extract)
3 teaspoons light corn syrup

1/2 cup flaked coconut

Place all ingredients except vanilla and coconut, in top of double boiler (over boiling water). Beat with electric hand mixer for about 15 minutes, or until icing is stiff enough to stand in peaks. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Gently stir in coconut.


2-4 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs

Frost top of cake and sprinkle with graham crumbs as desired.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Orange Chili Chicken Breasts

It's not exactly traditional orange chicken, but it's just as delicious. Marinating the chicken for at least 4 hours helps to keep the chicken moist, tender and loaded with flavor. You can adjust how spicy it is by adding more or less chili powder and cayenne pepper.

Orange Chili Chicken Breasts

4 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder.
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, mix orange juice, oil, chili powder, orange peel, garlic, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Pour all but 1/4 cup of marinade in a large resealable, plastic bag or glass dish. Add chicken and turn several times to coat. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Remove chicken from marinade and pour reservered mixtue over chicken breasts. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time, until cooked through.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Caramel Pear Cake

Caramel apples are so overated, this Caramel Pear Cake is a moist and flavorful new autumn classic. If you don't want to make the topping yourself you can heat up a jar of caramel ice cream topping in a medium bowl and procede as directed for homeade topping.

Caramel Pear Cake

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 cups peeled and diced pears

Cream white and brown sugars, vegetable oil, applesauce, eggs, butter and vanilla together in large mixing bowl. Mix in flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and allspice. Stir in pears gently.
Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes and remove.

Caramel Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 lb butter

In saucepan mix all ingredients and bring to a slow boil for 3 minutes.
Pour over warm cake and return to oven for 4 minutes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Apple & Bleu Cheese Salad w/ Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

A light and flavorful salad has a place before or along side almost any meal. The sweetness of the apples contrasts nicely with the pungent bleu cheese and bitter greens. The Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette plays off all of those flavors and the addition of bacon brings this simple salad into a taste-bud tingling dish that's strong and satisfying enough to stand on it's own.

Apple and Bleu Cheese Salad

4 cups Spinach
4 cups arugula leaves
2 large apples, roughly chopped
1/2 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
1 cup crispy cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

Toss all ingredients together with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette (below)

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup good-quality aged balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon spicy brown or Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a medium bowl whisk together balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, water, maple syrup, sugar, mustard, garlic, and pepper. Add olive oil in a thin stream, whisking until emulsified.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Root Beer Icing

This glaze is the perfect topping for a chocolate or marble bundt cake. It's rich root beer flavor but chocolate like appearance will have people questioning "what's in this?". For even more root beer flavor try substituting root beer for the water in your cake. This will work whether you use a mix or make it from scratch.

Root Beer Icing

1 stick of butter
1/3 cup root beer (not diet)
1 box powdered sugar

Cut 1 stick of margarine into several pieces and melt in a medium saucepan with 1/3 cup root beer. Bring to a boil and add 1 box of powdered sugar. Mix well and pour over the cake once the cake has cooled for 3 to 5 minutes (but while both the cake and the icing are still warm).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Steusel is a German word meaning "something sprinkled or strewn" such as the crumb topping sprinkled on these muffins. You can find struesel topping on everything from muffins to pies to coffee cakes and doughnuts. Adding a crumb topping to these various baked goods is a simple alternative to the more common powdered sugar glaze. Or in the case of muffins, it just makes a delicious morning staple even more delicious!

Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil or applesauce
1/2 cup cinnamon chips (optional)


1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Stir in milk, vanilla, egg and vegetable oil. Fold in cinnamon chips. Spoon into greased or paper lined muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way up the sides.

For topping mix together the sugars, flour and cinnamon, then cut in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Mixture should be slightly crumbly (use a fork or a pastry cutter/blender for best texture). Sprinkle over muffin cups.
Bake muffins at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fried Mashed Potatoes

These addicting little bites of heaven make a fabulous appetizer or even a decadent side dish. It's also a fun way to use up those leftover mashed potatoes. They are very reminicent of a traditional potato croquette.

One of my favorite things about getting a new recipe is taking it, twisting it and making it my own. I encourage you to take this basic recipe and make it your own by adding and substituting ingredients that fit your tastes. Below I've listed a few ideas for interesting additions/substitutions to get you started (you don't have to fry your mashed potatoes to try these additions either, they all work great with regular mashed or baked potatoes as well).

Crumbled Bacon
Bleu Cheese
Minced garlic
Roasted Red Peppers
Feta Cheese and Black Olives
Broccoli with cheddar
Diced Jalapeno Peppers and Monterrey Jack
Curry Powder (omit any cheese)
Hot Sauce
Chives and Cream Cheese
Sour Cream
Creamy Horseradish

Leave a comment and let me know if you have any other quirky, fun or just plain yummy additions for mashed potatoes!


2 cups prepared mashed potatoes (leftovers work great)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup grated Cheddar or Velveeta cheese
2 cups cracker crumbs
Vegetable Oil for frying

Stir mashed potatoes, eggs, flour and cheese together. Roll mixture into balls. Take the balls and roll in cracker crumbs. Deep fry in 375 degree vegetable oil for 3-5 minutes or until all sides are golden brown.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crunchy Caramel Cheesecake Bars

Crunchy Caramel Cheesecake Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
6 oz caramel topping or dulce de leche
3 large eggs
1 cup toffee bits
12 oz jar hot fudge topping

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add sugar, beating well.
Combine flour and salt, add to butter mixture beating until fine crumbs form.
Press into bottom of a lightly greased 13x9 inch pan.
Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Cool.
Meanwhile, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add yogurt, peanut butter and caramel topping, beating until blended. Add eggs and mixing well. Gently stir in toffee bits. Pour over prepared crust.
Stir hot fudge topping to thin out slightly and spoon dollops of the hot fudge evenly over cream cheese mixture. Swirl batter gently with a knife to marble.
Bake at 325F for 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool, cover and chill for at least 8 hours.
Cut into squares.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Apple Butter Pork Chops

These sweet and savory pork chops are a zesty alternative to the classic pork chop and applesauce dinner of the past. The smell of apple butter mingling with the scent of garlic and pork chops wafting from the oven will fill your kitchen with an aroma guaranteed to bring every one to the dinner table early!

Apple Butter Pork Chops

4 pork chops (thick or medium cut)
salt and pepper
3/4 cup apple butter
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon orange (or pineapple) juice

Rub both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper (or seasoning salt) and place in a casserole dish. In a small bowl combine apple butter, juice and minced garlic. Pour over top of pork chops. Cover with aluminum foil and cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue cooking for another 15-25 minutes (depending on thickness of chops).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Triple Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

These gooey little bits of goodness are perfect all year round and not just during the winter holidays. The dried cranberries add an unexpected hint of tartness to an otherwise sinfully sweet cookie. If you want to try a "Quadruple Chocolate Cranberry Cookie", try dipping half of a (cooled) cookie into melted white chocolate!

Triple Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
16 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate and butter. Remove from heat.

Using a mixer on medium speed, beat together eggs, vanilla and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted chocolate mixture and mix until combined.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together and add to "wet" ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Gently stir in chocolate chips and dried cranberries.

Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
When ready to bake, roll dough into balls and place on a well greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pineapple Salsa

This is a fairly basic salsa recipe. You can adjust the amount of jalapenos and cilantro according to how much heat you want from it, as well as adding more or less pineapple to alter the sweetness of it.

Pineapple Salsa

1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped and seeded as well as possible
1-2 jalapeno peppers chopped and seeded (can remove membrane for milder salsa)
5 sprigs of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
The juice of 1 lime (make sure no seeds slip through)
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of pineapple chunks
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Pulse blender 3-4 times. Refrigerate 2 hours.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rummy Banana Hand Pies

This yummy, rummy hand pie is a fun and different dessert I came up with during a longing for some Bananas Foster. They turned out to be everything I hoped they'd be! Try serving with some vanilla or cinnamon ice cream and a drizzle of caramel ice cream topping for a sigh inducing experience. You can use any type of pie or pastry dough, though I've given you a basic vanilla flavored recipe below. Use bananas that are fully ripe, a little brown is better than a little green for this recipe. Also, if you want to fry the hand pies instead of bake them (heat oil to 375 and fry for 3 minutes turning frequently), the result is magical and you won't be disappointed!

Rummy Banana Hand Pies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons shortening
1 large egg
4 1/2 tablespoons ice water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the shortening until coarse crumbs form. In a small bowl, beat together the egg, ice water and vanilla. Incorporate into flour mixture a little at a time (you may not need all of the liquid)until the dough comes together. Roll out 1/16 inch thick on a floured surface. Use a 4 inch round biscuit cutter or an upturned, large drinking glass (or tin can, a lid to sour cream container, peanut butter jar lid, whatever you have handy in a 4 to 6 inch diameter), cut several circles out of the dough. Refrigerate for 5 minutes and prepare filling.


12 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large firm-ripe bananas, mashed
2 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons rum or 3/4 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Mix together softened cream cheese and mashed bananas. Add in egg yolks,rum and cinnamon;mix thoroughly. Slowly add brown and powdered sugars until all ingredients are blended.

Spread 1 teaspoon of filling in center of each circle, spreading it out a little. Brush a little cold water around the circumference of the dough and fold it in half, creating a semicircle. Seal the hand pie and make a decorative edge by pressing the edges of the dough together with the back of a fork. Place sealed side up on ungreased baking sheet. Brush pies with an egg wash (1 beaten egg mixed with 3 tablespoons of water) and sprinkle pies with cinnamon sugar (3 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon). Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Monday, August 17, 2009

2 Bean chili

This is my husband's favorite chili. We usually enjoy it with crushed crackers and shredded cheese. I've also added diced jalepenos before for a bit more of a bite.

2 Bean Chili

1 lb ground beef
1/2 of a white onion, chopped
1 large can tomato sauce (29 oz)
2 cans of chili beans (15 oz ea.)
1 can black beans (15.5 oz)
1 carton Sweet Red Pepper Soup (18.3 oz)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown ground beef and onion and drain grease. Add rest of ingredients. Simmer on medium-low heat for at least 20 minutes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Maple Glaze

Maple Glaze

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon maple extract or 2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk

Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Drizzle over warm cake and let harden.

Apple Pie Coffe Cake

Nothing spells warmth like the smell of apples and cinnamon wafting from your oven. My Apple Pie Coffee Cake is the perfect breakfast confection for a crisp fall morning and will fill your kitchen with those warming scents. If you like your breakfasts to be a bit more on the savory side than this cake makes a delicious dessert when served with ice cream.

This recipe came about one morning when I wanted an apple danish but didn't want to go through the work to make up a batch. Never one to totally deny a craving,I gathered up some ingredients from the pantry and started mixing. I crossed my fingers and hoped that something edible would come out of it. It did, oh it did! The recipe is not that imaginative but it's sweet, aromatic and absolutely delectable!

*A couple of notes: In place of yellow cake mix you can use spice cake (in this case, omit cinnamon and allspice) or white cake instead. I also usually use 2 tablespoons of apple butter or applesauce in place of the oil, any of them will work just fine. If desired you can add the pie filling to a food processor before adding it to the cake batter. This provides a more even flavor and texture to the cake, though it is not necessary. If you prefer to make your own apple pie filling I listed a recipe at the bottom of the post.

Apple Pie Coffee Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 box of butterscotch pudding mix (3.4 oz)
1 can apple pie filling (21 oz)*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Mix together: cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil*, spices and apple juice/cider. Slowly stir in apple pie filling, incorporating well. Pour into greased 13x9 baking dish and cook at 350 for about 33 minutes (it will be a little wobbly in the middle so don't expect it to be as firm as a typical cake). Let it cool for 5 minutes and drizzle with glaze.

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract
2 tablespoons water

Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Drizzle over warm cake and let harden.

*Homemade Apple Pie Filling

6 medium Cooking apples about 2 lbs
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Brown sugar
2 tablespoons Flour
2 teaspoons Lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. In a large bowl, toss with the other ingredients. Let stand for 30 minutes. Cook over medium heat till mixture begins to thicken.
For a printable version of this pie filling recipe visit the link below:
Apple Pie Filling

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Maple Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is one of those universal dishes that nearly every culture has left a mark on. From China to Brazil and Sweden to Pakistan, rice pudding is enjoyed in areas all over the globe. You can find it flavored with rosewater in Egypt and orange peel in Italy. The flavors vary but the concept is the same. This is one of my favorite variations of rice pudding, made with maple and brown sugar.


Maple Rice Pudding

3/4 cup white rice
2 3/4 cups cups whole milk
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt (a pinch)

In a large saucepan bring water, milk and rice to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until rice is tender (about 25 minutes). In a small bowl beat the egg, brown sugar and maple syrup. Temper the egg mixture by slowly adding two tablespoons of warm, rice mixture to the egg mixture and then add it all back to pan. Add spices and butter and simmer mixture on low heat for another 10 minutes or until thickened. Can be served warm right away or after chilled in refrigerator.

For more information about types of rice visit at the link below.

What is rice

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cheddar, Brat and Potato Soup

This is the perfect soup for a chilly Autumn night or anytime you want a big bowl of love!

Cheddar, Brat and Potato Soup

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk (whole or 2%)
1/2 cup chicken stock
16 oz Velveeta Cheese, cubed
4 large russet potatoes
1 pound bratwurst, casings removed
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt to taste

Peel potatoes, cut into cubes and boil until soft. Meanwhile remove casings from bratwurst and brown meat. Melt butter in large stock-pot, add flour and mix until a thick paste forms. Whisk in milk and continue stirring until mixture begins to thicken. Add cheese and stir until melted and incorporated into soup. Add spices, potatoes and bratwurst. Continue cooking for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

This dish is delicious served with croutons or toast dipped into soup

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brown Sugar Pie

Killer Cabinets

About a month ago my husband became terrified of opening our kitchen cabinets. It wasn't the stereotypical "men are scared of anything in the kitchen" kind of fear. Far from it actually. What he was afraid of was that upon opening any given door in the kitchen he would be belted on the head with tupperware, spatulas, cups and any of the other denizens of items that sat perilously atop stacks of other items in our kitchen cabinets. After a week or so of this a thought finally entered my thick skull, five and a half years of cooking in the same kitchen, collecting gadgets, utensils, baking dishes and pans had filled my kitchen to it's unorganized brim. It needed an overhaul and badly.


It started as a Wednesday morning project and I figured on it taking all day. If I had only known, I probably would have just bought my husband a helmet and let it be. I began emptying the contents of the first cabinet, that took an hour. In that one cabinet I had our everyday plates, melamine, outdoor plates, salad plates, stacks of trays and serving platters, cereal bowls, soup bowls, salad bowls, dessert bowls, ramekins, salt and pepper shakers, a handful of gadgets and most curious of all five deviled egg trays. How one accrues FIVE deviled egg trays (especially if one has never used any of the deviled trays even once) is beyond me. I knew immediately that I needed to box some of these items up and that I did and it took the entire day. In total it took me over a week to complete this process on the entire kitchen. I found things I didn't remember owning, I found hand-me-downs from friends and relatives that I never wanted, I found duplicate wedding gifts that we never dealt with at the time. There were lids to Cool Whip containers that had long since been thrown out and funny, silvery doo dads whose purpose of use is lost to time. In the drawers I found enough corn-on-the-cob holders to keep the hands of all of Iowa's citizens free of buttery drippage, not to mention a number of soy sauce packets and chopsticks that would enable PF Changs to cancel their order for the next year.

I ended up throwing away 2 garbage bags worth of items, putting away one moving box worth of things to donate and packing another 2 boxes away for future use. If that didn't tell me something then my husband's obvious proclamation that I am a pack-rat did. I realized that just because someone give me some "I never use it anymore, here you take it" kind of thing, I don't have to keep it or use it or even accept it. I came to understand that if I only use a gadget or special pan or tin a couple times a year, it needs packed away. I also realized I also came to the conclusion that I can never enter a Williams and Sonoma again.

Super sweet,simple and delicious


Brown Sugar Pie

3 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup butter, melted

Mix all ingredients together, beating well. Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Apple and Turkey Sandwiches

Reading is a passion of mine and I don't descriminate against any genre. Historical narratives, classic literature or socio-linguistics, it doesn't matter to me. I can derive some knowledge or pleasure out of just about anything on a page. One of my favorite things to read though are cookbooks. I sit in bed and read them like others might read a mystery novel, I scan their contents at breakfast where someone else would read the paper. I start at the introduction and read each recipe all the way through to the index at the back of the book. Reading recipes can be a calming, if not tempting pastime. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who reads cookbooks not necessarily looking for a recipe but for the shear enjoyment of it. I'm guessing there has to be at least one other person out who does this as well. That thought got me thinking aout cookbooks in general so I started doing some research and came up with some pretty interesting facts...


The first cookbook by an American for the American palate (earlier works were of old, standard British recipes)was American Cookery by Amelia Simmons in 1796. Actually the full title of the book is: American Cookery, or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards, and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to plain cake: Adapted to this country, and all grades of life, but let's just call it American Cookery from here on out. The book was rather popular and was in continuous publication for over 30 years, with over 13 known editions. The masterpiece was even plagiarized by being copied word for word and given a new title New England Cookery by Lucy Emerson in 1808. In 1996 a Bicentennial edition of the cookbook was reprinted with the inclusion of historical notes stories by culinary historian Karen Hess.

Ms. Simmons' original publication included indigenous vegetables, fruits, game, grain and herbs. Squash, cranberries, turkey, and corn were not items commonly found in the British Isles but were quite plentiful on US soil. In fact Amelia Simmons' work includes the first known pairing of turkey and cranberry sauce. Many of our Thanksgiving meals and post Thanksgiving sandwiches can be attributed to American Cookery. The tome also showcases the first application of cornmeal in print, in a recipe for Johnny Cakes. We can also attribute the popular use of chemical leavening in dough to Ms. Simmons through her use of pearlash, the predecessor to baking powder.

first cookbook

Cookbooks are a glimpse into the culture and society of it's time as a time capsule might be. In American Cookery some of the recipe titles are indicative of the chaotic struggles of a budding nature. Election Cake, Independence Cake and Federal Pancakes offer us an insight to the patriotism that flourished in Amelia Simmons day. The Joy of Cooking, first published in 1931 provided the depression era reader useful tips on cooking with squirrel, racoon and possum. In 1969, then editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Helen Gurley Brown published The Single Girl's Cookbook. It evoked a new type of home cook, not the harried housewife with kids whirling around her and a hungry husband to please, but a single, adult woman who had disposable income and time that was all her own. A book full of recipes encompassed the women's lib movement in a simple title.

single girl's cookbook

The cookbooks of today often include the name of a "celebrity chef" with a recognizable face in the title or the latest diet craze as the catch. I actually prefer the Gooseberry Patch line of cookbooks. The recipes are sent in from cooks all over the country and the books include stories and tips for decorating. In fact I was partially inspired to write this blog by the Gooseberry Patch books. Hey who knows maybe someday this web page will be considered an innovative culinary selection? Nah.

Here is a recipe in honor of Amelia Simmons' original pairing of Turkey with cranberry sauce. It comes from Gooseberry Patch Autumn in the Country.

turkey cranberry sandwich

Apple and Turkey Sandwiches

2 Tablespoons Cranberry sauce
2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
8 slices sourdough bread
1 lb deli turkey, sliced thin
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Mix together cranberry sauce and mayo; spread evenly over bread slices. Arrange bread on an ungreased cookie sheet. Divide turkey evenly amongst the bread. top turkey with apple slice; sprinkle with cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and golden.

View the Gooseberry Patch blog here ==> LINK

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pineapple Maple Ham Glaze

It seems that in most families each member is designated a role early in life. The screw up, the funny one, the ditz, the clutz. These roles are often defined by a handful of instances that mildly reflect our overall personalities. We are stuck/burdened/blessed by these labels for life, no matter how hard we try to break out of them or perhaps in spite of it. Family stories are often peppered with lines like "That's such a classic Nancy thing to do!" or "Only James could have done that!". Our labels are known by our great-aunt in Kenosha and our cousin down the block. It's part of familial lore and might as well be posted on our birth certificates. Being voted "Most Likely to Be a Millionaire by Thirty" by our graduating class means nothing if our family has pegged us as the airhead of the clan. Just being gathered with family can turn us into caricatures of ourselves, over-emphasizing every little personality quirk. It feels natural and easy to act as you are expected to, whether that's still who you are or not.

Our labels will always be waiting for us at holiday gatherings and like quicksand, the more we struggle with them, the further we sink into them. Over time we begin to accept our roles in the family, even embrace them if we're lucky. We become our own stereotypes, if only when surrounded by our loved ones. I think the reasons we all continue to play our parts year after year are simple:

1. It's habit, of which we are creatures of

2. It's part of who we are, we weren't just assigned our roles at random

and of course...

3. It's expected of us and who are we to disappoint family?


Nowhere are these labels more noticeable than at the dinner table. Family Reunions, spontaneous Sunday brunches and Christmas Dinners all have a way of reverting us into our designated roles.

Take me for instance (if you silently thought "take you where?" then you must be one of my relatives). As the oldest of three girls and the oldest of all the cousins in the family, I naturally became an unofficial babysitter and entertainer to ankle-biters of all kinds. At the kid's table I had a good four years on everyone else there and my part in the family dynamic was set before me. During meals I entertained the younger ones by telling stories, making jokes, singing songs and even trying to teach them a little something. I did what I could to keep the kids happy, eating and avoiding meltdowns so the adults could get through dinner in peace. I wasn't forced to do this or even asked to. The most direction I ever received was "Keep an eye on the little kids". The role of entertainer came organically through my own natural personality and a little bit of necessity. I didn't want my sisters and cousins fighting over the chicken drumstick or engaging in a mashed potato throwing contest any more than my parents did. If coming up with goofy cheers and nonsensical portmanteaus avoided all that AND put the attention on me, well then that was just about perfect.


As time passed, I became well known for those silly stories & songs and the tendency to try teach some trivial bit of knowledge to all who would listen. Through the years the stories evolved into elaborate yarns involving decades worth of inside jokes, the songs leaned towards the risque, and the lessons stemmed from real life experience. Today as an adult who is clinging to the last moments of her youth, I still find myself slipping into that performer persona, exhausting as it is. At family dinners I can still be found at the kid's table, putting on a puppet show with knives and forks, speaking in bad, fake accents, regaling tales of the triumphs of great historical figures and belting out little ditties glorifying the wonder that is glazed ham. What do you expect? After all, I am the entertainer.



Pineapple Maple Ham Glaze

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon brown mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine and stir all ingredients together in medium bowl. Brush onto ham during last 30 minutes of cooking, reserving half. Add remaining half to a small saucepan and heat on med-low. Once ham has finished cooking, slice and serve with glaze spooned on top.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pumpkin Bread and Comfort Food

Last night while rattling around in my house I found myself in need of some comfort. Being an emotional eater I naturally headed to the kitchen. It's siren song beckoned me to come and bask in the warmth of it's fluorescent lights and ceramic tiled back-splash. Never being one to resist a culinary embrace, I floated in and began to rummage through cabinets, the pantry and refrigerator. I found absolutely nothing that yielded properties that could soothe my soul, so I decided to make some comfort of my own.


Comfort food is blanket term that encompasses almost anything you can imagine. It's personal and entirely different for each individual. Mashed potatoes and brownies, Pop Tarts and Twinkies, and couscous and hummus are all comfort foods for someone out there. These dishes harken back to a time when life was simpler, sweeter and safer. They draw on your past and reconnect you with old emotions that have long since buried. Comfort Food is like therapy on a plate.

My comfort food of choice last night was Pumpkin Bread. It was never something I had as a kid, my mom never made it, it was never served in my school cafeteria. It's origins in my life date back to when I was 19 and had just moved out of my parent's house into my very own apartment. Once I had unpacked most of my boxes I realized that there was no food in kitchen. Being on my own for the first time I was excited at the prospect of doing my own grocery shopping so I headed out to the nearest super market. Carousing through the aisles I came upon a small recipe booklet brought to you by the good people of Bisquick. I flipped through it, hoping it would offer some suggestions of what kind of food a person should stock their kitchen with. I eventually spied a recipe for pumpkin bread. Scanning the ingredients I was immediately intrigued. It contained only basic items like pumpkin, eggs and sugar. I always loved pumpkin pie and banana bread for breakfast made my mornings brighter, so pumpkin bread had the potential to be something I might really enjoy.

Once I returned home, I unloaded my groceries and immediately began mixing,baking, and christening my virgin kitchen in one fell swoop. The kitchen began to fill with a spicy aroma and I waited with bated breath for it to finish baking. When the bread was finally baked,cooled and sliced, I bit into that first piece and my taste-buds were singing! Nothing could have tasted better to me. I've come to realize that it was because this was something I made with MY own ingredients, from MY "own" recipe, in MY own pan, served on MY own plate, in MY own apartment! This was MY pumpkin bread and nothing had ever tasted so delicious.


Years have passed since that night and I have acquired many other pumpkin bread recipes but I always go back to that old Bisquick one. To me that recipe represents freedom, independence, and the fact that I don't need to rely on someone else for my own needs or happiness. That recipe brought to me the strength and courage I needed to make it on my own. Last night when I tasted the warm, spicy, wonderfulness of that first slice out of the oven, all of those feelings and emotions came flooding back and I knew it would all be ok. In my comfort food, I found exactly that.-Andrea


Pumpkin Bread

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 eggs
2 1/3 cups Bisquick Original Baking Mix
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Greast bottom of loaf pan. Stir all ingrdients together until moistened and beat vigorously for 1 minute. Bake 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife around side of loaf to loosen;transfer from pan to wire rack. Cool completely.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Swedish Meatballs

I spent my morning trying to decide what recipe I wanted to post today. I began going through a list in my head of my family's favorite meals and it occurred to me that I don't actually have written recipes for most of them. I cook the way I think most home cooks do, without measuring anything.


When you've made the same meal a hundred times before, there is no need to get out measuring spoons because you just know when you've added enough. Sense memory is perhaps a cook's most useful tool. My hand retains muscle memory of how many shakes of onion powder to add to my classic meatloaf, my eyes tell me when there is enough ground pepper in my sausage gravy and my nose never fails to detect when I've added just enough garlic to my creamy Alfredo sauce. Frankly I wouldn't want it any other way. It would only slow me down to measure out exactly 2 teaspoons of salt or 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, not to mention the extra work of cleaning those measuring spoons every night. The problem that exists with this phenomenon though is that I can never give someone a recipe for those dishes, I can't tell my husband how to make it when I'm sick and in bed, I can't leave a record for posterity of my world famous chili, and I can't of course post it here.


Now I have a project set in front of me. Each time I make one of these entrees from here on out, I will try to measure seasonings before I add them to the dish and record it. It's a worthwhile project to undertake if not an annoying one.-Andrea

Below I've listed my version of Swedish Meatballs. One of the few home-grown recipes that I actually have measurements for. Enjoy!

Swedish Meatballs


1 egg
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 lb Ground Beef

Blend ingredients together in a bowl. Form into small to medium balls. Brown in hot oil (oil should reach about 1/3 up the sides of meatball) until fully cooked. Drain oil, place meatballs on paper towels.


2 tablespoons butter/margarine
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup of sour cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt butter in warm saute pan or skillet. Fold in flour to form a thick brown paste. Whisk in the beef broth until it just begins to thicken. Combine everything else, adding the sour cream last. Bring sauce up to a simmer on medium heat, stirring often. Add meatballs. Cover and continue simmering for at least 15 minutes. It makes a great meal when served with egg noodles, white rice or even mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Welcome! Pumpkin Tart

Welcome to my new blog!
I have always basked in the glory of Autumn and the sights, smells, and flavors that go along with it. It always seems to me that Autumnal food is equivilant to a cozy blanket or fuzzy socks, familiar and comforting. It's usually the smell that hits you first, warm and spicy, rich and sweet. Whether it's a bowl of sausage and potato soup or a slice of moist pumpkin bread the delicacies of Fall are able to calm and caress the worries of the world away, if only for moment.

I am always prowling through book stores and cruising the internet looking for new fall recipes. Sometimes I want something completly different than I've ever had before. Other times I'm looking for a new twist on a traditional dish. Either way it seems I'm always hopping from one place to the next, recipe cards scattered around me, pages of websites bookmarked. I have more recipes than I have time to bake them!

Here at Pumpkin Tart you will find many of my recipes full of the bucolic essence of Autumn. Some recipes will be of my creation, some will be old family recipes or taken from the pages of favorite cookbooks and hopefully some will be from readers like you. If you find that I harbor some nepotism towards recipes that include my beloved pumpkin, please don't hold it against me. With a flavor as versatile and delicious as the famous gourds' who can blame me?

In honor of my new blog I thought we would start with the site's namesake.

Pumpkin Tart

Tart Shell

3 oz (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1/4 cup sugar
2 extra-large egg yolks
1 cup all-purpose flour

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. About 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and mix until well blended. Add the flour and mix again until blended. Remove from bowl and press the dough into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm but malleable, at least 1 hour.

Once chilled, sprinkle your work surface and the top of the disk with about 1-1/2 tablespoons flour. Roll the dough into an even 1/8-inch-thick circle with a 12-inch diameter.

Fold the dough in half, center it in a 9-inch tart pan, and unfold. Using your fingers, gently fit the dough into the sides of pan. Trim the excess dough on the sides so it is even with the top of the pan.

Cover the shell with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (but no more than 8 hours) before filling and baking.

When ready to partially pre-bake your tart shell, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line the bottom of the tart shell with aluminum foil making sure the sides of shell is still exposed. Weigh down with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the shell for 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights. Continue baking for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before adding the filling.


1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup (15 oz) Pumpkin Puree
2 Tbl Pure Maple syrup
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice*
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

* Pumpkin Pie spice can be substituted with 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp ground cloves.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Whisk or beat well to dissolve the sugars. Pour into crust. Bake on middle rack for 15 minutes. Turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 30-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted near middle of pie comes out clean. Cool and chill until ready to serve.
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