Monday, November 30, 2009

Maple Monday-Baked Maple Custard

A good custard is one of life's true pleasures. The silky texture, the creamy taste, the little jiggle it gives on the spoon, it's all part of the experience. Custard, pudding or flan, they all achieve the same effect. There's such an elegance in their simplicity.

This maple flavored custard won't disappoint. If you don't have custard cups or large ramekins then a small to medium casserole dish will do. Whatever you use make sure it will fit inside another larger dish so you can make the water-bath for it to cook in.

Baked Maple Custard

2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan warm milk and cream to almost boiling (medium heat for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally). In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Slowly pour in hot milk mixture and whisk together. Ladle into lightly buttered custard cups about 3/4 of the way up.

Place the cups in a large glass baking dish and pour 4 cups of boiling water into the pan surrounding the custard cups. The water should come about halfway up the outside of the cups.

Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in center of one of the cups, comes out clean. Cool in water bath for 30 minutes, then remove from water and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for 3 hours before serving.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pork Tortilla Casserole

I found this recipe on another blog (Lynn's Kitchen Adventures) and my husband and I both really liked it. For no other reason, I decided to share it here.

Pork Tortilla Casserole

1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups chicken broth
1 can rotel tomatoes, any variety
4 or so cups tortilla chips (about a third of a bag)
4 cups cooked shredded pork
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Mix together soups, broth, and tomatoes until combined. Grease a 9×13 pan. Place a layer of chips in the bottom on the pan. Layer 1/2 of meat on top of the chips and pour 1/2 of the both mixture over top. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until bubbly.

Friday, November 27, 2009

After Thanksgiving-Creamed Turkey in Stuffing Casserole

I found this recipe at and it's a delicious way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey and dressing (stuffing). I made this last year and used 1 cup of evaporated milk and 1/2 a cup of leftover gravy and omitted 1/2 a tablespoon of flour, I also topped the dish with leftover mashed potatoes. If you do this you may need to add another 5-10 minutes to the cooking time.

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Creamed Turkey in Stuffing Casserole

2 cups leftover stuffing
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup cubed cooked turkey
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1 dash poultry seasoning

Preheat oven to 350F. Press stuffing in bottom of a greased baking dish. Saute onion and celery in butter. Stir in flour until well mixed.

Gradually stir in evaporated milk over low heat until sauce thickens. Stir in remaining ingredients; mix well. Spoon on top of stuffing and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

After Thanksgiving-Pumpkin Cornbread

The subtle pumpkin flavor in this recipe adds a wonderful richness to the cornbread. My husband says I can find a way to add pumpkin to anything and this dish proves it! Perfect for any leftover pumpkin in your pantry.

Pumpkin Cornbread

1 cup yellow corneal
2/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons cup butter, melted

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl stir together pumpkin, eggs, milk and syrup or honey. Add to first mixture. Swirl melted butter in a 8x8 or 9x9 glass baking dish to grease. Add pooled butter to batter. Pour batter into dish and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until done.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving-Brined and Roasted Turkey with Garlic Herb Butter

Brining your turkey before cooking is the best way to infuse flavor and guarantee a moist bird. I've tried a few different brine recipes over the years and some are better than others so I'm offering you up two different ones. The first is Alton Brown's recipe, his brine has a lot of loyal followers who swear it's the best. This was also the first brine recipe I ever tried, I didn't love the ginger or allspice flavor it gave (although the flavor was subtle). The second brine recipe is my own. The liquid smoke and beer infuse just a hint of "something different". Try one at Thanksgiving and if you don't like it, try out the other one at Christmas. The directions for preparing are the same for both brines (for ease, I used Alton's directions).

Below the brine instructions you will find my recipe for aromatics to stuff the turkey with and Alton Brown's directions for roasting the turkey. I've also included an easy recipe for a garlic and herb butter to rub under the skin of the turkey. It's just another layer of flavor and helps to keep the turkey moist.

Alton Brown's Turkey Brine

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water


Andrea's Brine

1 1/2 cups kosher salt
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 gallon chicken stock
1 bottle beer/ale (your favorite, I use Guinness)
2 tablespoon liquid smoke
4 cloves of garlic
3 bay leaves, chopped
4 sprigs of thyme, chopped or crushed
2 tablespoons black peppercorns

Combine all brine ingredients (from ONE of the above recipes), except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve salt and sugar, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket or ice chest. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement or cool garage) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

Andrea's Aromatics

1 tart apple, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 cups water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
2 bay leaves

A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, garlic, celery and 2 cups of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 6 minutes.

Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.

Garlic and Herb Butter

2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced herbs (thyme or rosemary)

In a medium bowl combine softened butter with minced garlic and herbs. Rub this butter under the skin along the thighs, breasts and legs of turkey. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally canola oil.

Roasting the Turkey

Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary, sage and bay leaves.

Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving-Cran-Raspberry Relish

This is an easy, make ahead recipe for a cran-raspberry sauce/relish. The addition of chopped apples and orange marmalade is what really makes this dish stand out. You can prepare this up to a week ahead of time.

Cran-Raspberry Relish

1 lb fresh cranberries, finely chopped
2 cans whole cranberry sauce
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled,cored and chopped
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 package frozen raspberries, thawed and drained (10 ounces)
1/4 cup white grape juice (can substitute apple juice)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and blend together in a food processor for 15-25 seconds or until well blended. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving/Maple Monday-Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I never really liked sweet potatoes in the past but after some urging from my mom recently, I relented and tried them again. It turns out I actually do like sweet potatoes! It had been so long since I last tried them my taste buds must of changed since then.
A few days ago I cooked with these orange tubers for the first time and they turned out really delicious! I found a recipe for mashed sweet potatoes on and I spruced the recipe up a little by adding maple syrup and a little apple butter to the potatoes before mashing them together.

For the sake of holidays the recipe below is double of what I made so it should serve about 10.

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

8 medium sweet potatoes, about 4 pounds
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons apple butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
cinnamon, to taste
1/4 cup milk

Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water until tender. Let cool slightly and then peel. Mash together with salt, butter, apple butter and maple syrup. Add cinnamon to taste then Continue to mash with the milk, adding a little at a time, to desired consistency. Garnish with a sprinkling of brown sugar. Serve warm.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving-Italian Style Green Beans

If you ever get tired of traditional green beans or green bean casserole, this Italian inspired dish is a wonderful change of pace. Not only are these green beans delicious served with turkey but the dish also provides wonderful green and red colors to your holiday table.
The recipe should yield about 8-10 servings.

Italian Style Green Beans

1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can stewed tomatoes (14 1/2 oz), chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt (+ more to taste as desired)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (+ more to taste as desired)
3 cans Italian style green beans (15 oz)
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender and almost translucent. Add the tomatoes, water, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Continue cooking on low heat for an additional 10 minutes.
Place the green beans plus the liquid from 2 of the cans in a large saucepan. Add the onion/tomato mixture and simmer over med-low heat for 20-30 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about half. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.
Remove from heat and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving-Pumpkin Biscuits

I found this recipe in the Taste of Home Thanksgiving issue. The biscuits turned out buttery and perfect with just the right amount of pumpkin flavor. I added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of white sugar to half the dough and they tasted like a completely different recipe, yet just as delicious. I served both versions with maple butter and it really made them sing! Whether on your Thanksgiving table or used for turkey biscuit sandwiches the next day, these biscuits are a delightfully tasty and quirky addition to your holiday weekend!

Note: Try to handle the dough as little as possible for the best results. Depending on what size biscuit cutters you use this recipe only makes about 6-8 biscuits. You can easily double the recipe as needed.

Pumpkin Biscuits

1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup + 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, cold and divided
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup buttermilk

In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl combine pumpkin and buttermilk, stir into crumb mixture until moistened.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface, knead 8-10 times. Roll out to 1 inch thickness, cut with a floured biscuit cutter, re-roll and repeat with additional dough. Place 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Melt remaining butter and brush over top of biscuits. Serve warm.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving-Rhonda's Dressing

I call this Rhonda's Easy Dressing since it was my Aunt Rhonda who gave me the recipe. She actually received it from a co-worker, whom I assume never called it "Rhonda's Dressing"!

I love to have this with chicken as a main course or without chicken as a side throughout the entire year. It would also make not only a tasty addition to Thanksgiving dinner but an easy one as well. You could also make this after the holidays and add leftover turkey for something a little different yet completely familiar. Somehow the combination of flavors just blend together perfectly to create a wonderfully rich dressing. When serving as a side I will sometimes amp up the flavor even more by adding a tart, diced apple to the mixture before baking. It adds just the right amount of sweetness.

Rhonda's Easy Dressing

1 package Stuffing, Chicken Flavor
1 package Stuffing, Cornbread Flavor
1 can Cream of Celery Soup
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can French Onion Soup
1 can Evaporated Milk

Make stuffing according to directions on the box/s. In a large bowl combine all three soups and evaporated milk. Stir in stuffing. Add to a large, lightly greased baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.

As a main dish you can add 4-5 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed and follow the above directions.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving-Mashed Potatoes Supreme

These potatoes are so incredibly good you won't ever want to make regular mashed potatoes again! I received this recipe from my Grandma and think of her whenever I make them. My mom also makes this dish every year at Thanksgiving and other various gatherings throughout the year. It never fails that the next day someone will be staring in the refrigerator and yell out to no one in particular "Where are the leftover potatoes?". The answer is always the same "There weren't any left, we ate them all last night"!

Mashed Potatoes Supreme

9 large Russet Potatoes, peeled, boiled and drained
1 8 oz package Cream Cheese, softened
1 8 oz container Sour Cream
1 stick butter, divided
2 teaspoons onion powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mash the potatoes as normal. Blend in the cream cheese, sour cream, 1/2 stick butter, onion powder. Salt and pepper as needed. Mix well. Pour the mashed potato mixture into a large, lightly greased baking dish. Cut up remaining 1/2 stick of butter into 4-6 "pats" and place on top of potatoes. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving-Creamy Corn

Over the next few days I will be posting recipes appropriate for your Thanksgiving table. Most of these dishes will be a slight variation on classic turkey day sides.

Take this version of creamed corn for example, it's a little sweet and little savory. The cream cheese acts as thickener in place of flour and creates a tangy and creamier sauce. The chives are also an unexpected addition though they add a brightness in flavor and nice subtle contrast to the rest of the dish. You can make the sauce as thick or thin and as salty or sweet as you want by the amount of milk, salt and sugar you add. I suggest using this recipe as baseline and go from there.

Creamy Corn

2 1/2 cups corn kernels (2 10oz frozen packages work well)
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
6 ounces cream cheese, cubed
2-3 tablespoons chives, snipped

In a large saucepan, combine milk, sugar, salt and butter. Stir over medium heat until sugar is disolved and butter is melter. Add corn and simmer until corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Turn down heat to low and stir in cream cheese. Continue stirring until cream cheese is fully incorporated and sauce has thickened (you can add more milk if you desire a thinner consistency). Remove from heat and season with additional salt if desired. Gently fold in chives, reserving some for garnish.
This dish serves 6-8 people.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Tart-100th Post!

Today I celebrate my 100th posting here at Pumpkin Tart! It's not always easy coming up with new recipes, trying out ones I find and tweaking ones I already have but I love it. It's brought variety to my kitchen table and my life. Thank you for your support of this blog and me. I hope you have all found something on here that you have enjoyed making, eating or just reading about. If there are any recipes out there you want me to try and post about let me know! Leave a comment below or on any other posting and I will do my best to blog about it! I will try to continue posting everyday through the end of the year and will be a 200 postings before you know it!

In honor of this occasion I decided (with the help of a suggestion from my mom) that the recipe I share today should be what else but a pumpkin tart recipe! As you may remember my very post was also for a pumpkin tart, so for the sake of something different this one contains an ingredient that makes everything better...chocolate. I use Nabisco chocolate wafers in this recipe which you can usually find on the cookie aisle of most stores, though I have seen them with ice cream toppings for some reason as well. If you aren't able to find them you can use Oreo cookies (minus the filling of course) instead.

Pumpkin Chocolate Tart

20 chocolate wafers
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Add chocolate wafers and 2 tablespoons of sugar to a blender or food processor and pulse 4-5 times until cookies are finely ground. Add melted butter and pulse repeatedly until the crumbs are moistened. Lightly grease the bottom of a tart pan (or a spring-form pan) and press crumb mixture into it to create the crust (you can use the bottom of a drinking glass to help even it out if needed). Place the pan on a cookie sheet (this makes it easier to move the pan bottom around) and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
In the microwave or a double boiler, melt the semi sweet chocolate and pour over crust, carefully spreading to the edges with a spatula. Place in refrigerator or freezer for 10 minutes or until the chocolate sets.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together pumpkin, egg, cream, brown sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt. Grease sides of tart/spring-form pan and replace on top of crust (which should still on the cookie sheet). Pour pumpkin mixture over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set. Cool and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove sides of pan before serving.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Maple Monday-Maple Glazed Carrots

Perfect for Thanksgiving, this recipe from Bon Appetit serves 8-10. A sweet side that pairs well with just about any meal.

Maple Glazed Carrots

4 lbs carrots, peeled, cut on the diagonal into ovals (about 11 cups)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped (optional garnish)

Combine 4 1/2 cups water, carrots, 4 tablespoons butter, sugar, and coarse salt in heavy large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until carrots are just tender when pierced with knife, about 10 minutes. Drain. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add maple syrup and brown sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Add carrots and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3Transfer carrots to large bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

This warm pumpkin drink is a festive way to fight the November chills. It's like a mug of pumpkin pie!

For a party try serving a frosty version of this drink (blend with ice or ice cream in a blender until frothy) in martini glasses. Dip the rim of the martini glasses in water and then in graham cracker crumbs, garnish drink with a dollop of whipped cream and a cinnamon stick!

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

2 cups whipping cream
6 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 12 oz package of white chocolate chips
1 15 oz can of canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Blend together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, pumpkin and spices in a crock-pot or stock pot until the pumpkin filling is well blended. Add white chocolate chips and stir to combine.
Cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally until the mixture is hot and the chocolate has fully melted.
Garnish with whipped cream sprinkled with additional pumpkin pie spice if desired.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bacon Cheesy Breakfast Bake

With the holidays coming up and guests arriving, everyone needs a good make-ahead recipe for breakfast. This recipe makes enough for 3-5 people depending on appetites, though it can easily be doubled to serve more.

For extra flavor, try using a teaspoon of the grease left over from the bacon to grease the baking dish instead of flavorless non-stick spray.

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Bake

6 slices of bacon
4 pieces of white bread, crusts removed
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon snipped chives (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon crispy and drain on a paper towel. Place bread slices in a greased 8x8 baking dish, pressing seams of bread together. Meanwhile combine eggs, milk, mustard powder, cayenne, chives, and salt and pepper (as desired); beat all ingredients together. Pour egg mixture over bread in baking dish. Crumble the cooked bacon over entire dish, cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator, uncover and set on counter while oven heats to 350 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes, add cheese and bake another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Buttscotch Toffee Bars

These bars are great to tote with you to holiday parties and the upcoming cookie exchanges throughout the season.

Butterscotch Toffee Bars

1 box spice cake mix
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup oil
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup toffe bits
1 cup butterscotch chips

Cream together oil, butter, eggs and water. Beat in cake mix and brown sugar. Stir in toffee bits and butterscotch chips.
Pour batter into a greased 13x9 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until middle has set. Don't overbake. Cool and cut into bars.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pepper Jack Potato Puffs

These potato puffs are delicious not just as appetizers but as a side dish too. I often make extra mashed potatoes just so I have enough left over to make these puffs the next night! Of course I could make mashed potatoes just for the purpose of making this dish but since the potatoes can't be hot or even warm, I find leftovers are easier. Plus we get 2 nights worth of potatoes for only 1 night's work!

As I mentioned earlier, make sure your mashed potatoes are not hot when putting this dish together since it prematurely "cook" the eggs.

You can substitute creamy horseradish for the sour cream if you want a little extra kick!

As a variation try them fried! Just follow the directions for combining the ingredients below, then roll the mixture into 2 inch balls, dip each one in an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of water)and roll in bread/cracker crumbs. Deep fry in hot oil for 3-4 minutes.

Pepper Jack Potato Puffs

3 cups mashed potatoes (cold or room temp)
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 egg + 1 egg white, separated
3/4 cup pepper jack cheese
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chives, snipped

Separate egg yolks and whites, reserve 1 yolk. Beat both egg whites until stiff and set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine mashed potatoes, milk, 1 egg yolk, cheese, cayenne and chives. Gently fold in egg whites. On a greased cookie sheet place large dollops (about 3 tablespoons each) of potato mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are puffed and lightly golden.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Molasses Cookies

I found this recipe in an Amish cookbook that I inherited from my great-aunt Jean a few years ago. The little cookbook was published in the mid 1950s and contains some amazingly delicious recipes (like these cookies) and some recipes that give me nightmares (Rabbit Kidney Stew!). Old cookbooks are often like that though, filled with sweet samplings reminiscent of grandmother's kitchen and peppered with the horrors of a VERY different time and culture. I love visiting second hand book stores and flipping through those old recipe troves. You never know what unexpected treasure might find it's way to your hands. Dishes that have been published, handed down and cooked by generations of women all with one common purpose, to nourish their family with something they can look forward to.

These molasses cookies must have been a special treat for children at one time. I always try to remember that when I bake them, and even though I can have these cookies or others any time I want, somehow these still seem special because of that.

I updated this particular recipe a little bit to work in modern kitchens and made them a tad bit sweeter to appeal to modern tastes. Take note that the dough will be softer than you would expect so no need to panic over it.

Molasses Cookies

4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons allspice
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar

Stir together flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, allspice and cinnamon. In another bowl beat together butter and 2 cups sugar until fluffy. Add molasses and eggs and beat until well combined. Gradually add in flour mixture, continuously beating.

Form dough into balls and roll in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Arrange on lightly greased cookie sheets about 4 inches apart and flatten slightly with bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake cookies in batches at 325 degrees for 13-15 minutes, or until lightly puffed and golden. (Cookies should be soft).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beef Enchilada Casserole

I came up with this recipe one night when I was craving enchiladas and realized my husband had been snacking on the tortillas and had left me with only one. I simplified my enchilada recipe into a casserole and my craving was satisfied.

You can substitute the white rice and Rotel in this recipe with cooked Spanish rice. I usually make this using Uncle Ben's Ready Rice-Spanish Rice that comes in a pouch and you microwave for 90 seconds. It is surprisingly good and not just for microwaved rice, but just good in general (some of the other flavors don't fare half as well). This easy dish tastes like a lot more work than it is, thanks to the flavorful enchilada sauce and nacho cheese soup.

Beef Enchilada Casserole

1 pouch of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice-Spanish Rice (cooked)
1 1/2 cups white rice, cooked
1 can Rotel Tomatoes with Green chilies

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 lb Ground Beef
1 can Enchilada Sauce
1 can Nacho Cheese Soup

In a skillet, heat olive oil and saute onion until transparent. Add ground beef and brown, season to taste. Add enchilada sauce to skillet and cook over low heat for 3 minutes. Meanwhile in a medium bowl toss together the rice and Rotel (or prepare Ready Rice according to package). Add rice to a medium size casserole dish. Spoon ground beef mixture over rice and pour Nacho Cheese Soup on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Maple Monday-Maple Syrup Pudding

This is a pudding in the sticky, spongy British sense not in the creamy, custardy American sense. I always think of this dish as falling somewhere between a coffee cake and a bread pudding.

You can add raisins, currants, cranberries, dates or nuts to the batter and make this recipe even richer!

Maple Syrup Pudding

2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup water

Stir together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and brown sugar. Beat in milk, vanilla and melted butter. Pour batter into a greased 8x8 glass dish. In a medium saucepan, bring maple syrup and water to a boil. Pour syrup mixture over the batter (it will soak in during baking) and bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream if desired.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chocolate Toffee Truffle Pie

This is the type of pie that people will ask where you picked it up at. It looks and tastes like a bakery or restaurant style dessert. The total prep time is about 10 minutes and it's easily worth twice that. You can use any flavor dairy coffee creamer (the liquid kind NOT the powdered) for this recipe. Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Peppermint-Mocha and Italian Sweet Cream all taste great as well.

Chocolate Toffee Truffle Pie

10 squares semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup Toffee flavored coffee creamer
Powdered sugar and toffee pieces for topping (optional)

Melt together chocolate and whipping cream in a double broiler or in the microwave(in 30 second increments, stirring in between). Once chcolate is completly melted, whisk in eggs, sugar, flour and creamer. Pour mixture into a lightly greased pie plate. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes. Let cool and dust with sifted powdered sugar and sprinkle with broken toffee pieces. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of cider vinegar
6 tablespoons of canned pineapple juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of corn starch
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
8 boneless pork chops
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, vinegar, pineapple juice, garlic, corn starch and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer until sauce beings to thicken.

Lightly brown the pork chops on stovetop, seasoning with the salt and black pepper. Arrange chops in a large baking dish and pour sauce over them. Cover dish with foil and bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

This frosting is a sumptuous addition to a spice cake, apple dump cake and even a plain, old yellow cake. The brown sugar helps elevate it beyond a basic buttercream and adds a definite fall flavor.

Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

5 egg whites
1 2/3 cups brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 sticks butter, softened

Create a double broiler by placing a large glass bowl over a pan of boiling water (water should be at a slow boil or simmer). To the top bowl combine egg whites, brown sugar, and salt. Continuously whisk mixture for 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and beat with a mixer on high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating on medium speed after each addition (the mixture will deflate slightly as butter is added). Beat until frosting is smooth and glossy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Honey Barbecue Cups

I believe this is a variation on a old Pillsbury recipe but it's very good. These cute little "cups" make great appetizers or a tasty meal.

Honey Barbecue Cups

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon honey
1 can refrigerated biscuits (12 oz)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar

Brown and drain ground beef (season to taste). Stir in barbecue sauce, onion and honey. Continue to cook for another 3 minutes, then remove from heat.

Lightly grease a muffin pan. Separate dough into biscuits and place 1 biscuit in each muffin cup. Firmly press in bottom and up sides. Spoon about 1/4 cup beef mixture into each biscuit-lined cup. Sprinkle each with cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees 10 to 12 minutes or until edges of biscuits are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from muffin cups.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chocolate Flan Cake

Today is my seventh wedding anniversary and I think it's a good day to relate this story and recipe with you. My husband my not be super handy when it comes to cooking in the kitchen, but he is super handy in dealing with the fall-out of ME cooking in the kitchen!

I saw a recipe for a Chocolate Flan Cake online a few months ago that piqued my interest, so I copied down the recipe and tucked it away. Last week while going through my recipe box I stumbled upon it and couldn't believe it had taken me so long to try it out. I decided I would rearrange and substitute a few ingredients and techniques that made better sense to me and better suited my tastes so I wrote my notes in the margin of the recipe and went to work. Little did I know what I was in for.

First, I began to pull out all of the ingredients I would need. Gathering eggs, milk, vanilla, and so on I felt very organized and ready to go. As I reached into my French pantry to retrieve a can of evaporated milk, one of my dogs brushed up behind me and I faltered and knocked over a full jar of raspberry jelly. Broken glass and crimson jam speckled my kitchen floor...and my bare feet. I called for my husband to help me clean up the mess before the dogs began gulping down shards of raspberry flavored glass. We spent a good 10 minutes on our hands and knees sweeping up the jar fragments and the sticky jelly, and another 5 minutes mending my cut up feet.

Once we finished, I sent my husband away thanking him for his services and started again on the dessert. Making the cake batter went smoothly and it was on to the flan mixture. Since my mixing bowl still had the batter for the cake in it, I decided I would combine the flan ingredients in the freshly cleaned blender that was air drying near the sink. I added in my eggs, 3 types of milk and vanilla and blended away, feeling a little cocky at my ingenuity. I hit the pulse button one last time and removed the blender pitcher from it's base. Suddenly, the contents contained within came flowing out the bottom of the container in one big gush. Apparently, the piece that screws into the bottom wasn't tightened after it cleaned and I had missed it. Now I had an eggy mess all over my counter, my floor, and my cut up feet. A frustrated yelp and a few choice words brought my husband out of hiding and back into the kitchen. Dutifully, he was on his hands and knees again helping me wipe up my second mess of the day.

Exasperated and on the verge of tears from the clean up and hassle, I decided to give it one last go. I remade the flan mixture and went on my way. All I had left to do was put everything together in the bundt pan that sat in the back of one of my cabinets. Easier said than done. I reached into that cabinet and felt a sharp pain on the tip of one of my fingers. Quickly, I pulled my hand back to reveal a large laceration and blood pouring down my hand. Looking into the darkness of my cupboard, I noticed a glass baking dish that I frequently used was mysteriously broken in two. I obviously sliced my finger on it's rough edge. For the third time in an hour, I called for my husband. He helped me doctor my finger and wipe up the blodd that had stained my arm all the way up to my elbow. Before I made it back to the kitchen I already needed a new bandage since the finger was bleeding so profusely. We cleaned it up a second time and re-bandaged it, crossing our fingers that I wouldn't need stitches (well, I might of needed them but I never did get them).

At this point I was ready to give up on my adventure in baking. It seemed the fates didn't want me to complete this cake. After standing in the middle of the kitchen, staring up at the ceiling for a couple of minutes I came to the conclusion that I had gone through so much by then that I just couldn't quit yet. I knocked on wood figuring it couldn't hurt and set back to task. I was able to get through the rest of the process unscathed and the cake came out perfect. I literally shed blood, sweat and tears to make that dessert happen and I think it really did taste sweeter because of it.

After all of that, I would still recommend this divine confection. It is one of the moistest and most unique cakes I've ever had and worth every bit of trouble I went through!

Chocolate Flan Cake

1 box Devil's Food cake mix
1 can Cola (Coke, Pepsi, RC, etc)
1 can Evaporated Milk (12 oz)
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 oz)
2 Tablespoons Milk (whole or 2%)
4 Eggs
1 tablespoon Vanilla
1 cup Dulce de leche or Caramel Sauce(like Smuckers ice cream topping)

Make cake according to package directions, substituting cola for water. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute.

In a greased bundt pan, pour in the caramel coating the entire bottom. Add the cake batter then slowly pour the milk and egg mixture down one side of the pan. Set the bundt cake pan inside a larger one (a roasting pan works well), and add enough hot water to come about a third of the way up the bundt cake. This is a water-bath to help cook the custardy-flan evenly.

Place pan/s in oven and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until the cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan.

When done cool the cake for 30 minutes and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, run a knife around edges of pan loosening the cake. Place a serving platter or plate on top and invert cake pan. The caramel and flan will now be on the top and the cake on the bottom. The caramel will drip down the sides of the cake, this is normal. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, though after a night or so of being inverted the flan may begin to fall off the top of the cake.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Maple Monday-Maple Butter

Have you ever gone to a restaurant that served bread with flavored butter? You know a pasta house that offers up thick slices of Italian bread with garlic butter, a country kitchen serving airy buttermilk biscuits with honey butter or a BBQ joint that gives you doughy, yeast rolls with cinnamon butter? These are the type of places that when you're waiting on your food to arrive someone at the table inevitably says that they could "make a meal out of the bread alone". When the name of said restaurant is brought up in casual conversation, the first thing out of your mouth is "Oh, I love their butter". Obviously I've been to those type of places and know them well. I covet those little cups of butter that many restaurants are so miserly with.

A few years ago I got tired of eating at places I didn't particularly care for in order to devour some of their amazing compound butters, so I decided to start making my own. I make garlic, Parmesan butter, cinnamon butter, sage butter, and brown sugar butter to name a few. Some are whipped and some are not, but they are all delicious. Closer to Thanksgiving I will post some of these recipes and techniques. For now you'll just have enjoy this maple butter on a warm biscuit while you wait...

This recipe is remarkably easy. The only thing you need to be careful of is the speed at which you pour the syrup into the whipped butter. If you pour it too fast, the syrup and butter will separate. Just drizzle it down the side of bowl while the mixer is going and you should be fine.

Maple Butter

1 stick butter, softened
pinch of salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Whip the butter and salt with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly pour the syrup down the side of bowl, beating constantly. Continue mixing until well incorporated. Refrigerate, covered for up to 3 weeks.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip

As a dip this can be served with graham cracker sticks, marshmallows, fresh fruit, or Nilla Wafers. As a spread this creamy mixture is delicious served on bagels, biscuits, toast or as a filling for a spice cake.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip

1 package cream cheese, softened (8oz)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl with a mixer on medium speed, until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
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