Sunday, November 28, 2010

Caramel Corn


Wow, I feel like I haven't made anything in forever! Come to think of it, other than that lucious sour lemon pie I made for Thanksgiving, I really haven't. I hope everyone had a good holiday. We spent a wonderful couple of days at my parent's house and had a great time with family.

Sometimes I forget to post the simple recipes I make now and again that are as old as the hills. Enter caramel corn. We grew up eating this stuff, my mom has been making it forever and I've continued making it for my family. I believe the recipe came from tiny little Newdale, Idaho, where my mom grew up. It was from a church cookbook, if you could even call it that. The recipes were printed on colored index cards and held together with big metal rings. I believe the caramel corn was in the pink section!

This yummy treat is very quick to throw together and fun to eat. It's more of a gooey caramel corn, as opposed to the harder kind you bake in the oven. Most of the time I make it as the recipe says, but we also like to throw in vanilla and cinnamon once in a while.

Caramel Corn
1 stick butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 water

1 large bowl of popped popcorn, old maids removed (about 3/4 cup total popcorn kernels if air popping)

Put everything except the popcorn in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for 4-5 minutes. If you like it more gooey, stop closer to 4 minutes, more hard, stop closer to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir down the bubbles (now would be the time to add vanilla and cinnamon if you want). Pour over popcorn and stir, in a folding motion, until popcorn is totally coated. Let cool before eating.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sour Lemon Pie


I know this picture is not much to look at but if you're in to lemon, keep reading because this pie is lemony-licious. I'm not really a pie person usually unless it's lemon something or other. I've been making this pie for a few years now and my family all loves it. I got this recipe from a friend who invited us for Thanksgiving dinner one year where this pie was served. We make it every year now.

Sour Lemon Pie
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
3 egg yolks
1/4 butter
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups cool whip

1 baked and cooled pie crust


Warm milk and sugar in a saucepan. In a small mixing bowl, combine cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest and egg yolks and set aside. When milk mixture is almost to a boil, add lemon mixture, whisking constantly. Bring to a rolling boil, continuing to stir constantly. Take off heat and add butter. Let cool slightly then add the sour cream and cool whip. Whip until fluffy then Pour into baked pie crust and chill. Top with additional cool whip, if desired.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chicken Sausage


So, I was having a debate as to which picture to post for this recipe. Do I post the raw chicken with the spices mixed in, the cooked chicken or just the spices? I couldn't see posting a picture of raw chicken, and the cooked didn't do much for me, so the spice blend it is. It's a little more eye appealing than the others.

I got this recipe from my beloved Joy of Cooking book, it's kind of like the white bible of cooking, for me anyway. I don't know what caused me to search for a homemade sausage blend but I'm so glad I did. This is so much better than store bought and much better for you. Sausage can be like the mystery meat that you don't know exactly what's in it; that kind of grosses me out. This way you know exactly what goes into it so you can feel good about eating it.

You can buy already ground chicken but I like to grind, and when I say grind I mean put it in the food processor to chop up into tiny pieces, the chicken myself so I can trim the meat how I want. You can also use pork.

Make a bunch at a time and freeze some as patties for breakfast or portion out bits to brown up and throw into your favorite pasta dish. Either way, you'll find this sausage is very versatile.

Chicken Sausage
2 lbs. ground chicken
1 1/2 ounces dried apples (about 1/2 cup chopped up)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl and squeeze the mixture with your hands until well blended. Mixture is very sticky.

There are several options for cooking and storing.  For cooking, you could crumble and brown it all up for immediate use.  You could cook it all up then divide it and freeze it.  You could make patties for cooking and/or freezing as well.  For freezing, you can divide uncooked meat mixture into half-pound or 1-pound portions and place each in a zip-loc freezer bag; then just thaw before use.
Freeze for up to 2 months!

SOURCE:The Joy of Cooking

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Split Pea Soup w/ Smoked Ham and Kale

Sunday Soup

This soup is simple, savory and very satisfying, not to mention, healthy as well. I grew up eating my mom's split pea soup boiled in water with carrots and onions and a little bit of ham. While this soup is not much different, I used chicken stock instead of water to cook the peas and smoked some ham before I tossed it in. I threw in some greens at the end and it was absolutely amazing. I couldn't believe how such a few ingredients could make something so simple taste so delicious.

Feel free to make this soup your own. Change up the meat and add smoked sausage or make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth and omitting the ham. I liked using kale as my greens because it's very hearty and will stand up to the soup, but feel free to use other greens such as spinach, collard greens or Swiss chard. I also blended about half of the kale into the soup and then took out a portion of the soup for my girls, then added the rest of the chopped kale for my husband and I.

Split Pea Soup w/ Smoked Ham and Kale
1 16-oz bag dried green split peas (about 2 1/3 cups)
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
5 bay leaves
1 - 1 1/2 cups full cooked ham, chopped
4 cups chopped kale

Combine split peas, stock, and bay leaves in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until peas are tender, stirring occasionally; about 30 minutes. Puree soup either with an immersion blender or a regular blender (1 cup at a time).

Saute ham in a little bit of olive oil until slightly browned. Add ham and chopped kale to the soup and cook 3-4 minutes longer, or until kale is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

SOURCE:Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.

Linked to...
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower


If you still haven't finalized your Thanksgiving menu and need some more ideas, let me give you one. Cauliflower is in season right now, it's pretty inexpensive, easy to prepare and very nutritious. I got this recipe from my sister a while ago and made it to go with some curry, although I think this would be great along side just about any dish. My husband loves cauliflower and we both really enjoyed this dish.


Roasted Cauliflower
2 T minced garlic
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray. Spread cauliflower out on the tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle minced garlic, salt and pepper, and toss with fingers, making sure cauliflower is evenly coated. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring halfway. Top with cheese and parsley and return to the oven for a few more minutes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sweet Potato Pancakes w/ Pecan Butter

Ok, so I'm a little obsessed with pancakes. Because my daughter recently kept asking for pancakes all the time, I can't get them off my mind and I'm still collecting new recipes to try and thinking up others to create. How does orange buckwheat pancakes sound or strawberry sunrise pancakes? Or even peanut butter or egg nog pancakes. Seriously, the possibilities with pancakes is endless.

I usually try to make pancakes as healthy as I can by using all whole wheat flour, only adding a little bit of oil and sugar and making my own syrups or jams or using fresh fruit. I've been pretty lucky in that my girls have eaten every kind of pancake that I've thrown at them. Now, if I could only be so lucky at dinner time.

Well, on to these sweet potato pancakes. They are perfect for this time of year and highlight some of the wonderful flavors of fall. If you have any leftover sweet potatoes from your Thanksgiving feast, these would be a great way to use them up. The pecan butter really adds to the depth of flavor and takes them up a notch. If you're into fall fare, you've gotta try these!



Sweet Potato Pancakes w/ Pecan Butter
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 1/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Pecan Butter (recipe below)
Maple Syrup

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together and whisk until smooth. Cook in batches on an electric griddle or in a buttered skillet on medium high temperature until bubbles form on the surface; then turn over and cook until golden brown. Serve with pecan butter and maple syrup.


Pecan Butter
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans toasted and cooled
1/2 pound butter (8 Tbsp.), softened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey

Mix all ingredients together. Roll in parchment paper and freeze. Cut into slices and top sweet potato pancakes.


SOURCE:Pecan Butter from Food Network

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
Mom's Crazy Cooking

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Apple Cranberry Salad with Walnuts


I go through a lot of salad around here, trying to get my greens in, and I've realized if I don't mix it up once in a while, it gets old pretty quick. Over the past several months I have found some killer salads that I just love and have eaten a ton of, like this Asian slaw and this Greek Panzanella and this Mango Chicken Salad. This salad was a find last week or so and I've already made it twice. It's another keeper, I'll definitely be putting in my salad rotation. It was originally made with spinach, but I didn't have any on hand when I made the salad, but almost any leafy green would do.

Apple Cranberry Salad w/ Walnuts
3/4 cups craisins
1 cucumber, sliced
1 apple, sliced and diced
1 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
1 head romaine or green leaf lettuce, or 1 bag baby spinach

Dressing
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/2 cup light flavored olive oil

Put all salad ingredients, except the walnuts, into a large serving bowl.

Combine all dressing ingredients BUT poppy seeds and olive oil. Blend ingredients in blender or food processor. Slowly add in the oil. Add poppy seeds last.

Top with walnuts just before serving. You can pour the dressing over the salad just before serving if you plan on eating the whole salad, or add dressing to individual plates.

SOURCE:Adapted from Just Another Day In Paradise

Linked to...
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
Let's Do Lunch @ My Sweet and Savory

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Orange Essence and Walnuts


Sweet potatoes, in some form or another, make it on to just about any Thanksgiving menu. Growing up we always had the Betty Crocker candied "yams" with marshmallows and brown sugar and they were, and still are, so good! That used to be the only time of year or pretty much the only meal that we would eat sweet potatoes at our house. Now, I use them a lot through the fall and winter months. They are delicious and wonderful and very versatile.

If you're looking for a great sweet potato side dish for your Thanksgiving dinner, then look no further. These sweet potatoes are packed with healthy goodness and bursting with flavor. They are not too sweet and the orange is just subtle enough to not be over powering.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Orange Essence
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a large dice
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used almond milk to make it dairy-free)
zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1 TBS butter

Garnish:
chopped walnuts
brown sugar

Boil or steam potatoes in a large covered pan until they are tender (about 8 minutes). In a large bowl mash potatoes with the buttermilk, orange juice and butter. Stir in zest, salt and nutmeg. Serve the potatoes topped with a little brown sugar and chipped walnuts.

SOURCE:Perkins Recipes

Looking for more sweet potato recipes?
Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Ginger Sweet Potato Muffins
Sweet Potato Pancakes with Pecan Butter

Linked up to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cherry Almond Granola


I love a small bowl of homemade granola in the morning with a dollop of homemade yogurt. It tastes so clean and refreshing. What a healthy way to start your day. Granola is so versatile. You can change the grains, spices, binders & nuts and still turn out a wonderful and different granola each time.

This is a pretty simple granola with not too many ingredients. I just couldn't resist the combination of cherries and almonds. I love them together. The only thing that could make it better would be some dark chocolate, although I think I would have to reserve the chocolate addition for a special occasion or maybe as a snack.

Cherry Almond Granola
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2-1 cup flaked coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (or other oil)
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, and cherries together in a large bowl. Pour the coconut oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids. Pour onto a sheet pan. Bake, stirring about every 5 minutes with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.


SOURCE:Adapted from Ina Garten.

Linked to...
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
This Week's Cravings @ Mom's Crazy Cooking
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oatmeal Raspberry Pancakes with Berry Coulis


I know, oatmeal raspberry pancakes with berry coulis (koo-lee) sounds so fancy huh? It's really just raspberry syrup, but it's homemade and it's yummy and it's better than anything you could buy at the store.

Pancake fanatic that I am, I still try new pancakes often. Lucky for me my oldest daughter asked for pancakes every morning the past two weeks and I gave in. What can I say? I made some of my old faves (check them out at the bottom of this post), and tried some new ones as well. Now, I didn't end up making fresh pancakes EVERY morning, that just would be crazy. Some days we pulled the leftovers out of the fridge but I think we pretty much ate pancakes one way or another just about every day for those two weeks. And I still have pancake recipes I haven't yet tried. I am always up for trying a new pancake recipe.


Oatmeal Raspberry Pancakes
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups buttermilk, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 cups fresh raspberries, rinsed (you can use thawed, drained frozen as well)


In a bowl, mix oats and 1 cup of the buttermilk; let stand at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, remaining buttermilk, and vanilla to blend. Stir in flour and oat mixtures just until evenly moistened, then gently stir in raspberries.

Preheat your griddle or frying pan. If using a frying pan you may need to grease it. Pour batter in 1/4-cup portions onto griddle and cook until pancakes are browned on the bottom and edges begin to look dry, about 2 minutes; turn with a wide spatula and brown other sides, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer.

Serve the pancakes warm with berry coulis.



Berry Coulis
*2 cups rinsed fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
2 cups rinsed fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

In a 3- to 4-quart pan, combine blueberries, raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries begin to disintegrate and mixture starts to thicken, about 15 minutes. Press through a fine strainer into a bowl, extracting as much liquid as possible with the back of a spoon or a spatula; discard seeds and skins. Serve coulis warm; if mixture cools before you're ready to serve, reheat in a microwave oven. If it's too thick, stir in a little warm water.

*I only used raspberries this time because that's all I had but I think it would be fabulous with the blueberries too. Next time I will definitely make it with the blueberries.

SOURCE:Adapted from Sunset Magazine on myrecipes.com.

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin Seed Pesto


See, I can make healthy things! I swore after I made that pan of brownies the other night that that would be it until Thanksgiving. NO TREATS! I do have an ice cream post waiting to go up but I made it a few weeks ago so it doesn't count. So, if you see anything other than that between now and then, you'll know I'M CHEATING!

Anyway, on to this pesto. So yummy. I had been going through the Whole Foods Market blog and this was one of the first things I bookmarked. I liked the whole pumpkin seed thing because, you know, it's fall and pumpkin is in the air, not that it tastes anything remotely like pumpkin, but that's beside the point. I also liked it because it's dairy-free (and nut-free) and that's a plus because my hubby is lactose-intolerant.

This is a very versatile pesto. You can toss it with some pasta or steamed veggies. It's little thicker than a traditional basil pesto so it would also be good as a sandwich spread, or on some crackers or crostini. We just put it on some fettuccine but it makes quite a bit so I plan on using the leftovers with some gnocchi.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto
2 cups unsalted hulled (green) pumpkin seeds
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
3 garlic cloves
1 - 1 1/2 bunches fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss pumpkin seeds with 2 tablespoons of the oil and salt then spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast until seeds are puffed and fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes, then set aside to let cool.

Combine seeds in a food processor with water, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro and remaining 4 tablespoons oil. If you're not a huge cilantro fan, start with less then add until it's to your liking. Pulse until mixture forms a coarse paste then season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to use.

SOURCE:Whole Foods Market Blog

This recipe Linked to Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Butterfinger Bars


Looking back on the past several posts, I am now realizing why I have gained 5 pounds all of a sudden. I do eat real food, I even eat my veggies, but I think once fall hit the baking started and I just can't stop. There is so much good food around this time of year, I have a hard time holding back.

I have had this recipe almost 7 years and have never made it. I got it from my sister-in-law, Jaime. She made these for one of my bridal showers and has made them for family dinners here and there. If you are a chocolate and peanut butter fan, you will love them, but brace yourselves, they are a little gluttonous. You may want to wear an elastic waitband when eating these!

These make a whole cookie sheet full so you probably want to share them. I made them for my husband to take to work for a halloween treat.

Butterfinger Bars
For cookie layer:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

For topping:
about 1 cup peanut butter
chocolate frosting (I used the frosting recipe on the Toll House cocoa powder tub)
Butterfinger candy bar, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in peanut butter until incorporated, then add eggs and vanilla and mix until just incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients then add them to the butter and sugar mixture. Beat until well-combined.

Spread dough out into a cookie sheet. You may want to use waxed paper on your hand to help you spread it out because it is pretty sticky.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter over the cookie layer. Put it in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen a bit then spread the chocolate frosting over the peanut butter layer. Sprinkle with crushed Butterfinger candy bars (I think I used about 4-5 minis).

This post linked to Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Menu

Wohoo, it's November. Before we know it Thanksgiving will be upon us. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do for Thanksgiving this year. I would like to host it but since we live in such a small place, I'm not sure that will work out. I may have a few options though, so I'm crossing my fingers something comes through.

Keeping my hopes high, I went ahead and planned a Thanksgiving menu. I found some fabulous recipes in this month's Bon Appetit magazine that I think will make a great addition. I tried to include more veggies to keep the meal well-balanced and I'm keeping dessert more traditional and simple.

For the rest of the month I tried to keep it simple as well, focusing on things my girls are pretty good at eating.

The first part of this month's menu is a little carry over from what I didn't get to last month. Linked recipes are ones I have made previously and are on my blog. For the rest of the menu items, I will be posting as I make them.

Dinner Menu
Brown Sugar Bourbon Pork, Mashed Sweet potatoes with Orange Glaze and Walnuts, steamed green beans
Chinese Chicken Salad & Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Chicken w/ Tarragon & leeks, Pecan apple salad (w/o chicken)
Smashed Pinto Beans w/ rice and cornbread
Thai Veggie Lettuce Wraps, Mango Jicama & Cucumber Salad

Macaroni Grill's Chicken Cannelloni w/ Chopped Greek Salad
Cheesey Broccoli Bake & Jicama Apple Slaw
Zucchini Spaghetti w/ garlic bread and green beans
Pumpkin Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Soup
Honey Curry Chicken w/ Coconut Rice, steamed peas

Pasta w/ Pumpkin & Sausage, Spinach & Pear Salad
Tacos & corn
Moroccan Carrot Salad & Butternut Squash Gnocchi w/ Sage Butter
Mushroom & Lentil Pot Pies

Ham Beans & cornbread
Acorn squash w/ cornbread stuffing
Philly Cheese steak Pizza & Salad
Split Pea Soup w/ Smoked Sausage & Greens
Spinach Fettuccine w/ fresh fruit & veggies

Thanksgiving Menu (tentative)
Cider Roasted Turkey
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Green beans w/ toasted walnuts & dried cherry vinaigrette
Sauteed shredded brussels sprouts w/ smoked ham and toasted pecans
Sweet Potato Pudding w/ pecans & gingersnap topping
Cranberry sauce
Stuffing

Sour Lemon Pie
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie

Other things I'll be making this month:
Apple Cider Syrup & Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
Oatmeal Raspberry Pancakes w/ berry coulis
Vanilla Spiced Caramel & Pear Tart
Cranberry Spice Granola
Peanut Butter Granola
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