Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Glazed Carrots with Thyme

1 lb carrots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp chopped thyme
1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled

Place the carrots, orange zest and juice, butter, sugar, and garlic in a small saucepan, and season with salt and pepper.  Add enough cold water to barely cover the carrots.

Bring to a boil, then cover and cook over a medium high heat for 8 - 10 minutes, or until the carrots are just tender.

Remove the cover and boil until all the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are glazed and golden at the edges, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent sticking.  Just before serving, sprinkle in the thyme leaves.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bacon & Thyme Biscuits

I found this recipe on P. Allen Smith's website.  It sounded so good, I just had to give it a try.  This is a good one!

8 oz smoked, thick-sliced bacon (uncooked)
4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup baking powder
1/4 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
3/4 lb butter
14 oz buttermilk
1/2 cup all purpose flour (for rolling out biscuits)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the raw bacon into 1/2" pieces and place them on a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven for 18 - 22 minutes.  The bacon should be cooked through, but not crisp.

Turn the oven up to 375 degrees when you remove the bacon so it will be ready for the biscuits.

Combine the dry ingredients and thyme in a mixing bowl.  Whisk thoroughly.

Cut the butter into 1" cubes and add to flour mixture.  Using a pastry cutter or a large fork, blend the butter and flour.  The texture will be coarse with pieces of butter still visible.

Add the buttermilk and stir until the flour and butter are evenly moist.  The key to flaky biscuits is to NOT over mix.

Sprinkle flour on a work surface or pastry cloth and then turn the biscuit dough out of the mixing bowl.

Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 3/4" thick.  Fold the dough in half, bringing the two short ends together, turn it a half turn, and roll it again.

At this point layer half the bacon onto the biscuit dough.

Repeat the fold, turn and roll two times and then add the rest of the bacon and turn and roll two more times, a total of four times.  This may seem like extra work, but it's worth it.  Your biscuits w ill melt in your mouth.

On the fourth and final roll, use the pin to roll the dough to a thickness of approximately 1/2".

Cut the biscuits using a 2 or 3" round biscuit cutter.  The dough should be layered with butter and bacon.

Bake the biscuits at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

This dough freezes well.  Just cut the dough and wrap the unbaked biscuits in two layers of plastic wrap.  Defrost for 15 minutes before baking.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2011 Thanksgiving Menu

This year it took me a lot longer to decide on my menu.  Although I've already done my shopping, I just finalized the menu tonight.  At least I have one more shopping day in the event I'm missing an ingredient.

We'll be making Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, Jell-o Magic Salad, and Pies.  If you're looking for recipes, you may use the search feature on this blog to find the following posts:

Pecan Pie
Perfect Pumpkin Pie
Turkey Time
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch
Thanksgiving - Pear Apple Chutney
Green Bean Casserole
Turkey Stock - A Healthier Version
Jell-o Magic Mousse

I've not posted recipes for stuffing or mashed potatoes.  We like ours the good ol' fashioned way.  There are just some things that shouldn't change.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope your day is filled with more blessings than you can count.

Jell-O Magic Mousse

This is a recipe I found ages ago on the Kraft Foods website.  It's just fun!  My kids love this because it looks so cool when it's finished.

I like to make this as a molded gelatin salad, so I've taken a few liberties with Kraft's recipe, but it's still pretty close.  Use any flavor Jell-O you'd like.  For Thanksgiving this year, we'll be using orange, lemon, and lime.

Bring one cup of water to a boil and add it to your first flavor Jell-O (3 oz size).  Stir until dissolved.  Add 3/4 cup cold water and stir well.  Pour into bottom of Jell-O mold and refrigerate until set.

Bring three cups of water to a boil and add it to two (3 oz size) packages of Jell-O.  Stir until completely dissolved.  Add Cool Whip (16 oz tub) to the hot gelatin.  Whisk until Cool Whip is completely melted and mixture is well blended.  Allow to cool slightly and then pour over the gelatin that has already set in the mold.

Place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight to allow it to set completely.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

This is one of those recipes I had to make a few times in order to perfect it.  I heard this original recipe on Food Network one day and made it as instructed.  It was a little too gritty for my taste.  Give the following a try if you're a fan of portabella mushrooms.

12 medium baby bella mushrooms (each about 2" wide)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped spinach leaves
1/4 lb pork sausage (crumbled and cooked)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup cream cheese (softened)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Gently remove the stems from the mushrooms and set the caps and the stems aside.

Lightly spray a small baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Place the mushroom caps on the sheet, rounded side down.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat.  Drain and set aside.  Chop mushroom stems.  Chop onion and garlic and add them to the skillet used to cook the sausage.  Cook over medium heat.  Saute until softened.  Add spinach and continue to cook and stir until wilted.  Drain, if necessary and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, cream cheese, nutmeg, salt, and mozzarella cheese.  Mix well.  Add the cooked veggie mixture, and stir until blended.

Evenly distribute the cheese-veggie mixture among the mushroom capes.  The will be super-stuffed and the mixture will be piled on top!

Bake the stuffed mushrooms in the oven for 20 minutes until the topping begins to brown.  Let cool slightly and enjoy!!!

Note:  The recipe actually calls for 2 Tbsp Parmesan-style graded topping and 1 tsp garlic powder mixed together and sprinkled over the top before baking.  I didn't care for that.  Feel free to give it a try if you like.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Feature Added

Start the video on the right to listen to Christmas music as you look for recipes.  Scroll down below the blog list and click on the arrow.  Happy listening!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roast Pork with Pear & Cranberry Sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees,

2 lbs pork loin
2 Tbsp orange zest (minced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (minced)
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
3 pears (quartered)
1 medium onion (diced)
2 carrots, cut up into 1" pieces
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chicken broth

In a small bowl, combine zest, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
Set aside.

Remove pork loin from packaging and pat dry with paper towel.

Rub the salt into the pork loin until well coated.

Place the loin into a roasting pan with pears, onions and carrots and roast until internal temp is between  150 - 160 degrees (approximately one hour).

Remove pork loin from pan.  Let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

Put the pan drippings and the vegetables into a blender.  Blend on high until smooth.  (Add more chicken broth to achieve desired consistency.)

Stir in the dried cranberries and spoon sauce over medallion slices of pork.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie is a traditional dessert for our Thanksgiving meal.  This is a recipe that I never change.

5 1/2 cups pecan halves
3 Tbsp flour
12 Tbsp butter (at room temp)
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 plus 2 Tbs light corn syrup
4 large eggs (slightly beaten)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 pre-baked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread 1/2 cup of the pecans on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes until lightly browned.  Let cool  (Do not turn off the oven.)  Put the cooled nuts in a food processor or blender and process until smooth and butter.  Scrape the nut paste into a large bowl.  Add the flour and work it in with a fork until completely incorporated.  Set aside.

Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it starts to foam and turns a light nutty brown.  Pour into a small bowl.

Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla, and browned butter to the nut paste and stir until well blended. Fold in the remaining 5 cups pecans.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie shell.  Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until the filling is slightly puffed and the crust is golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pineapple Cherry Minis is my hero this week!  I found two recipes that sound perfect for our Thanksgiving meal this year.  If you agree, I hope you'll pirate them for your own meal.  I plan to use this for our salad.

1 can (20 oz) Dole crushed pineapple
2 cans (6 oz) Dole Pineapple Juice (1 1/2 cups)
2 pkg (3 oz each) Jell-O Cherry flavor gelatin
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed, quartered and drained

Drain pineapple, reserve juice.  Heat reserved juice plus canned pineapple juice to boiling.  Add gelatin; stir at least 2 minutes to completely dissolve.  Chill until mixture thickens slightly.

Fold in pineapple and cherries.    Spoon into 12 - 14 foil-lined muffin cups, lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Chill until firm.  Store leftover gelatin in refrigerator.

Makes 12 - 14 servings.

Mini Upside Down Pineapple Cakes

I found this recipe (and another one) at  I don't know about you, but I love pineapple.  I think we may end our Thanksgiving meal with these cakes.

1 can (20 oz) Dole Crushed Pineapple
1/3 cup butter (melted)
2/3 cup brown sugar
12 - 13 maraschino cherries (cut in half)
1 pkg yellow cake mix

Drain pineapple, reserve juice.

Stir together melted butter and brown sugar.  Evenly divide sugar mixture into muffin cups sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (or use paper inserts).  Evenly divide drained pineapple over sugar mixture.  Place cherries in center, sliced side up.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions, replacing amount of water called for with reserved juice and water.  Evenly pour batter (about 1/4 cup) into muffin cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes.  Loosen edges and invert onto cookie sheets.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving is Approaching

This is by far my favorite time of the year.  The weather is changing and the sweaters are coming out.  I love the cooler weather.  Put me in my jeans and a sweatshirt and I'm a happy camper! :)

There hasn't been much time this year to look for creative new ideas for our family Thanksgiving dinner.  Life has become so busy.  The past two years have been packed full of just way too much to do.  So, tonight I decided it's time to stop and make my list of blessings for the year.

     Luke and Emily graduated from high school - Woo Hoo!  They made it!
     Paul & Katy are expecting a new baby girl, Elisabeth, on January 25th.
     Baby Liam was born on June 24th.
     Liam had the best of care at Cardinal Glennon Hospital and is a healthy little boy.
     Christian learned to say my name.  He calls me "Bammy", and I wear my title
     Luke started school at Jefferson College in August.  He's majoring in Automotive
     Emily started Culinary School at Le'Ecole Culinaire in October and she loves it!
       I want to go!!!
     I have a great job and I work with really terrific people - my daughter-in-law included.
     Eddie watches Christian and Liam during the week, so I get to see my grandchildren
     Paul & Katy bought a new house.  What a great home they have!
     I have wonderful parents and a brother and sister I love dearly, not to mention
       their spouses and children.  We manage to love each other in spite of ourselves :)

Just putting these things in writing makes me feel better.  Sometimes the busyness of life throws us into a tailspin and we don't appreciate the good things around us.  My blessings keep me busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

I sure hope your list of blessings is long and that life is good for you, my friends!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

That's a long title for a really fabulous cookie.  I found this recipe in the January 2011 issue of Taste of Home.

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 6-ounce pkg of Craisins
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, mixing well.  Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl.  Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Apple Quesadillas - A great Fall treat

This makes a great after school treat!

Slice three apples thinly and place in a skillet with 1/2 stick of butter, 1 Tbsp Pampered Chef Caramel Sprinkles, 2 tsp Pampered Chef Cinnamon Sprinkles, and 2 tsp Pampered Chef Vanilla Sprinkles.  Simmer over medium low heat until apples are tender.

Using your quesadilla maker, place one tortilla on the press.  Top with a spoonful of apples on top and then sprinkle with just about 1 ounce of cheddar or another shredded cheese of your choice.  Top with another tortilla and close the quesadilla maker for about 2 minutes or until your quesadilla is slightly browned.

My first reaction to this recipe was - No cheese.   Don't be fooled.  The cheese really adds flavor and holds your quesadilla together.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Apple/Cranberry/Turkey Salad

Here is a head start for your after Thanksgiving menu ideas to use up that turkey!  This is a light and healthy recipe to change things up just a bit.

1 lb of Romaine lettuce
1/2 head of Iceberg lettuce
2 cups cooked skinless turkey breast (torn)
2 apples (peeled and sliced)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
Sweet Italian Dressing

Tear the lettuce(s) into bite-sized pieces in a large serving bowl.  Add all ingredients but the dressing and toss to mix well.

Allow everyone to drizzle dressing over their own salad.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Candy Apple Cupcakes

I found this recipe on  What a great idea for a fall dessert to share!  It's just so much fun!

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs

1 pkg (14 oz) caramel candies
2 Tbsp heavy cream
Ice cream sticks

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  You'll need 24 muffin cups lined with paper liners.

Combine flour, banking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat applesauce, sugars, butter, sour cream and eggs in a bowl with mixer on low speed just to combine in flour mixture until well blended.

Divide batter among muffin cups.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick insert in cupcakes comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely.

Glaze:  Heat caramels in a medium saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly until melted.  Add heavy cream and stir until combined.  Cool 2 minutes.  Working quickly, while mixture is still warm, spread top of each cupcake with 2 tsp of glaze.  If glaze gets hard to spread, heat on low,,  stirring until more melted.  Insert an ice cream stick into center and top with sprinkles.  Place in freezer for 5 minutes to set.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chicken with Chive Dumplings

From last night into this morning we went from incredibly beautiful weather to "Oh, Baby, it's cold outside!"  That makes it time for comfort food again, and this recipe certainly falls into that category.

2 whole chickens cut into 8 pieces - remove skin
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 large stalks celery (cut into 1/4" slices)
1 lb carrots (cut into 1" pieces)
2 3/4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives plus additional for sprinkling
3 cups milk
2 large eggs
32 oz chicken broth
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 (10 oz) package frozen cut green beans

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss chicken pieces with 2 Tbsp oil, 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper.  Arrange chicken on jelly-roll pan.  Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until juices run clear when thickest part of chicken is pierced with knife.

In a 6 quart or larger Soup pot, heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil on medium until hot.  Add celery, onion, and carrots, and cook about 18 minutes or until all vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally.

While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the dumplings:  In a medium bowl, with fork, mix 2 1/2 cups of flour with baking powder, 1/4 cup chives, and 3/4 tsp salt.  In small bowl, mix 1 cup mil and eggs.  Stir milk mixture into flour mixture just until blended.

Add broth, water, bay leaf and 1/2 tsp salt to the vegetables.  Heat to boiling on high.  Drop dumpling mixture by rounded Tablespoons into broth to make about 20 dumplings.  Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through.  Remove the dumplings from the broth and set aside.

Debone the chicken once it has cooled.  Add it to the broth and vegetables.

In a medium bowl, whisk 1/4 cup flour with 2 cups of milk until blended.  Stir into broth mixture.  Heat to boiling on high; boil 1 minute to thicken slightly - stir constantly.  Stir in the frozen green beans and heat through (about 5 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf.  Add the dumplings back into the broth and sprinkle with fresh chives.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (divided)
2 Tbsp Orange juice
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
3 lbs sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1" chunks)
1 cup dried cranberries
6 Tbsp butter (divided
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, orange juice, vanilla, 1/2 tsp each of the cinnamon and ginger, and salt in large bowl.  Add sweet potatoes; toss to coat well.  Spoon into 13 x 9" baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with cranberries.  Dot with 2 Tbsp of the butter.  Cover with foil.  Bake 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix flour, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and remaining 1 tsp each cinnamon and ginger in medium bowl.  Cut in remaining 4 Tbsp butter with a fork until coarse crumbs form.  Stir in pecans.  Remove sweet potatoes from oven and stir gently.  Sprinkle evenly with pecan toppings.

Bake, uncovered, 25 - 30 minutes longer or until sweet potatoes are tender and topping is slightly browned.