Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lemon Velvet Cream Pie

Oh yes, you read that right...Lemon. Velvet. Cream. Pie.  I swear it's like eating cheesecake but there isn't any cheese in it at all.  Awesome!  I am partial to lemon desserts, so when this one showed up at pie night I was pretty happy.  It's more sophisticated than your typical lemon meringue.
While it doesn't require a springform pan per se, you may want to use one because the filling is really too much for a standard size pie pan.

Lemon Velvet Cream Pie

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 Tbsp. cold water
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk (2 cups)
1/4 c. whipping cream
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. lemon juice

1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1.  Crust: Combine all ingredients and press against sides and bottom of springform pan.  Set aside.
2.  In a small bowl soften gelatin in water 5 minutes. Heat in microwave for 14 seconds; set aside.
3.  In large bowl combine egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk. With an electric mixer, beat on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until well combined.

4.  Beat in gelatin, whipping cream and salt on low speed. Add lemon juice and beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Pour into prepared crust.
5.  Bake at 375 for 22 to 25 minutes or until center of pie looks set when gently shaken; cool on wire rack 1 hour. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  
6.  Topping: Place the heavy cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip until the whisk begins to leave tracks in the bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip until the cream holds a medium peak.  Spread on top of pie.

Lemon Velvet Cream Pie
source:  Susan T. via plainchicken.com

Monday, November 21, 2011

Roast Beef Italian Soup

This is my favorite recipe to make when we have leftover pot roast. I found it on the internet years ago.   I keep the stock that comes from making the roast to use in the soup.   Sometimes I vary the amount of peppers, or sometimes I mix it up and use red and green peppers.  Depending on the seasoning in the Italian diced tomatoes, you may need to adjust the seasoning.   I have also adapted it for the slow cooker by sauteing the onion and peppers and then tossing all the ingredients in the slow cooker for about 4 hours.  
 It is so good with a crusty bread on a cold night.

Roast Beef Italian Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 c. beef stock
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes, italian recipe
2 c. cubed leftover roast beef
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
salt & pepper to taste
fresh basil

1.  Heat oil in the bottom of a large pot.  Saute onions and peppers about 5 minutes or until tender.
2.  Add remaining ingredients.  Simmer for about half an hour. Toss a handful of fresh chopped basil over the top before serving.
source: unknown

Pineapple-Rhubarb Pie

For our annual "Pie Night" last year, this pie was our unofficial winner.  We don't actually hold a contest for best pie on pie night, but my husband and I generally discuss our favorites when the evening is over and this one was easily our favorite.  

Pineapple-Rhubarb Pie

2 c. raw rhubarb (in pieces)
1 c. sugar (scant)
1/2 can crushed pineapple
1 egg beaten
2 Tbsp. flour
Double pie crust

1. Beat egg.  Add sugar and flour.  Stir.  Add pineapple and rhubarb.  Stir to cover fruit.  
2. Put in uncooked pie crust.  Cover with top crust and bake 425 degree for 15 minutes and then 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Freezes well. 

source:  Susan T.


"Wassail, wassail, all over the town.  Our bread it is white and our ale it is brown.  Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree., With the wassailing bowl we'll drink to thee."

I was in a Madrigal troupe at one point and this was one of the songs we often sang.  I can't have wassail, or any spiced cider without singing it.
This recipe is my own.  It is a combination of a number of recipes I've seen over the years.  The important thing is to start with good cider.  Good cider is dark and may have small bits that settle to the bottom, and you have to shake it up before pouring.  If you can see through it, it is not good cider, but just apple juice.
The key is to let it simmer for a long time to allow the flavors to come out of the cinnamon sticks and cloves.  Your house will smell amazing!!
You can do this on the stove if you like, just bring it to a boil in a large pot and then turn down to a low simmer.


2 quarts apple cider
2 cups orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice (sometimes I just drain a can of pineapple and use that juice)
5 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg

1.  Place all ingredients in the slow cooker on high.
2.  Allow to come to a bubbly simmer (about 2 hours) then turn on low for 2-4 hours.  Serve hot.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

I really am not a big fan of the candied yams with marshmallows on top and never have been. Still, I do like sweet potatoes. I wanted to find a way to make them last Thanksgiving that was simple, but still special. I googled around until I found this recipe from Tyler Florence and I hit the jackpot. They were amazing! They were everyone's favorite part of the meal and have now become the recipe we plan on using every year. As a bonus, they are easy to prepare, and much healthier for you than the usual version.
The recipe below serves 4, so you may need to double or triple the recipe.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling potatoes after cooked
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 tsp, ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.  Lay the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a roasting tray lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle the oil, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper over the potatoes. 
2.  Roast at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes in oven or until tender.
3.  Take sweet potatoes out of the oven and transfer them to a serving platter. Drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil before serving.
source: Tyler Florence

Cheeseburger Soup

This recipe comes from one of the teachers at the school where I used to work.  She brought it to a potluck and everybody raved about it so she forwarded on the recipe.  My husband also raved about it and has deemed it blog-worthy. 
I usually buy ground beef in a large family size package or two when it goes on sale and brown most of it up immediately and then freeze it in 1 lb. packages to make for easy recipes.  This one came together pretty quickly as a result.  

Cheeseburger Soup

3/4 c. chopped onions
3/4 c. chopped carrots
3/4 c. chopped celery
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. parsley
1 Tbs. butter
3 c. chicken broth
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
4 c. peeled, diced potatoes

3 Tbs. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. sour cream
12 oz. processed American cheese (Velveeta or sliced American cheese)
salt & pepper 

1. In large saucepan, saute onions, carrots, celery, basil, and parsley in butter until tender, about 10 minutes. 

2. Add broth, potatoes, and beef.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until potatoes are tender.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until bubbly.  

4.  Stir in milk and sour cream.  Cook until thickened, stirring often.  Add cheese and heat on low until melted smooth.  
5.  Add cheese sauce to soup. Stir until well blended.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

source:  Allyson M.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Scones

I enjoyed making these scones so much this summer, that when I found a recipe for pumpkin scones I had to try them. 
I made them one afternoon and had them ready when my kids came home from school.  They devoured them very appreciatively.  I decided never to underestimate the power of home-baked snacks to make for happy children!  It works for husbands too.

Pumpkin Spice Scones

5 c. flour  (I used 1 c. whole wheat and 4 c. all-purpose)
1 c.sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, cut into cubes

1/2-3/4c. canned pumpkin
1 c. buttermilk

Cinnamon sugar: 5 1/2 tsp. sugar +1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1.  Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender (you can also use a food processor)  until you have coarse blend.  Add buttermilk and pumpkin and gently fold to combine.
2.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and work gently until dough comes together.  Pat it into a 1 inch thickness.  

3.  Combine 5 1/2 tsp. sugar with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the dough. 
4.  Use a knife or roller cutter to slice into squares.  ( I usually get about 2 dozen small scones.)
5.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving.

source:  Good Cheap Eats

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Salsa Black Bean Chicken

Since school has started, I have found more use for recipes that require almost no time whatsoever.
I like this one on top of rice with a little cheese, and sour cream, and maybe avocado.  You could even tuck it into a tortilla if you like.

Salsa Black Bean Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 16 oz. jar of salsa
1 15 oz. can of black beans

1.  Place chicken in slow cooker.  top with salsa and black beans.
2.  Cover and cook on low 8 hours.  Serve with rice and other desired toppings.

source:  crockpotgirls.com

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake and Frosting

I made this cake for my husband's birthday this year.  It took me most of the day.  It was clearly not as easy as a mix, and I'm not sure the kids appreciated it, but I think my husband did.  It makes quite a rich cake, with lots of chocolatey goodness and we couldn't come close to finishing it with our family of six.  It makes a beautiful cake, though.  The kind that deserves a really great cake stand, not just my Rubbermaid cake taker. (although it came in handy when taking the cake to work to let them finish it off!)

Because the recipe originates at Cook's Country (the America's Test Kitchen People) I recommend following all of the steps as outlined.  They are all there for a reason.
Also, don't make the frosting until the cake is cooled already, and then frost it right away.  Once frosted though, you can refrigerate it and serve it the next day.  Just let it come to room temperature first so that the frosting softens and you can really taste the chocolate.
Also, note that the directions call for a stand mixer.  I do not have one, and it worked out just fine.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsley chopped
1/4 c. dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 c. hot water
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. table salt
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round by 2 inch high cake pans with butter; dust pans with flour and knock out excess. (or line with parchment paper)

2.  Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate ins melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate and stir until glossy, 1-2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
3. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. 
4. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl.
5. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining 1 1/4 C sugar, increase speed to high, and whis until fluffy and lightened in color, 2-3 minutes. 
6.  Replace whisk with paddle attachment. Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30-45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. 
7.  Add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition.
8.  Add about 1/3 of flour mixture; followed by half of buttermilk mixture mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds.) Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated.) Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. 
9.  Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.
10.  Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25-30minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45-60 minutes

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Frosting

16 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 1/4 c. cold heavy cream

1.  Melt Chocolate in heatproof bowl set over a saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
2.   Meanwhile, heat butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Increase heat to medium; add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt and stir with heatproof rubber spatula until sugar is dissolved, 4-5 minutes. Add melted chocolate, butter mixture, and cream to clean bowl of stand mixer and stir to thoroughly combine.
3.  Place mixer bowl over ice bath and stir mixture constantly with rubber spatula until frosting is thick and just beginning to harden against sides of bowl, 1-2 minutes (frosting should be 70 degrees). 
4.  Place bowl on stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Stir with rubber spatula until completely smooth. 

 *If you find after beating, your frosting is still too soft for your liking, try chilling in the fridge until it sets up a little more.
source:  Cook's Country via Our Best Bites

Slow Cooker Western Omlet Casserole

This would be a good recipe for when you have to serve breakfast to a large group or if you just didn't have a lot of time in the morning and still wanted a hot breakfast.  Or like me, you may just want to have it for dinner.

The recipe itself is very basic and you can feel free to put in all kinds of add-ins: peppers, mushrooms, salsa, etc.

Slow Cooker Western Omlet Casserole

32 oz. bag of frozen hash brown potatoes (I used the 26 oz. one at Aldi and it turned out fine!)
1 lb. cooked sausage or cubed ham
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 c. shredded cheese
12 eggs
1 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

1.  Spray slow-cooker with cooking spray.
2.  Layer 1/3 of each hash browns, meat, onions and cheese (and any other add ins) in the slow cooker.  Repeat two times.
3.  Beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Pour over mixture in slow cooker.
4.  cover and cook on low 8-9 hours. Serve immediately.
source:  crockpotgirls.com

Plum and Cinnamon Crumble

Back in the summer of twenty-ought-six, I used to love to hang out at my Mom's house and watch her cable T.V.  One of the shows my Mom and I liked to watch was Take Home Chef starring Curtis Stone, before he was a big star.  The premise of the show was that Curtis would go up to people shopping at the grocery store (usually Whole Foods) and ask them who they were cooking dinner for tonight and then he would offer to do the cooking and pay for the groceries.   One day he made a dessert that looked so easy and yummy that I immediately went to the show website and printed it.
And then it sat in my recipe book for 5 years.
I scored some yummy plums for a great price at the farmer's market this year and decided that it was finally time to try this recipe, and I am so glad I did!  It's wonderful!
You must serve this with vanilla ice cream.  I tried it with white chocolate macadamia nut and it was weird.

Plum and Cinnamon Crumble

For the fruit filling:
2 lbs. plums, halved, pitted, each cut into 6 wedges
1/3 c. sugar
2 cinnamon sticks

For the crumb topping:
3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 c. sliced almonds, coarsely chopped

Vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  In an 8-inch square baking dish, toss the plums, sugar and cinnamon sticks.  Arrange the mixture evenly over the dish, tucking the cinnamon sticks beneath the plums.
 2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar and oats to blend. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until moist clumps form. (I've also used a pastry blender for this to get it started.) Mix in the almonds. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the plum mixture.
3. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the juices bubble, the fruit is tender and the topping is golden brown.  Allow the crumble to stand at room temperature for 5 minutes to cool slightly.  Spoon the crumble into bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread/Muffins or Pumpkin Muffins

Late last summer, when everyone was basking in garden fresh zucchini, I kept seeing friends post on facebook that they were making Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins.  Finally I asked for a recipe and Cari, whose recipes are usually a pretty sure thing, posted this one.

I scored several pounds of zucchini at the farmers market at the end of the summer this year and froze it, so I am still making zucchini muffins, much to the delight of the family.  I also adapted the recipe for pumpkin, by simply substituting a can of pumpkin for the zucchini.  If it seems too dry with the pumpkin, you can add a bit of water.  It's often depended on the brand of pumpkin I'm using.

I usually don't include nuts in mine, so I have listed them as optional.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread/Muffins
or Pumpkin Muffins
3 c. flour
1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
3 eggs
2 c. grated, unpeeled zucchini  (or 1 can pumpkin)
3/4 c. oil
1 T. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
6 oz. chocolate chips

1. Mix all dry ingredients together; then mix eggs, oil, vanilla and zucchini in a large bowl.  Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease pans.  This batter can be poured into 2 loaf pans (50-60 minutes), or 4 - 5 mini-loaf pans (30 minutes), or muffin pans (15 - 20 minutes) or mini-muffin pans (13 - 15 minutes).
source:  Cari C.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

There are a number of versions of this recipe going around.  I have probably 3 different ones in my inbox right now.  I'll share the way we made it, and you can tweak as you like.

I like to serve this either on a tortilla with fillings or as salad.  Toppings we like include lettuce, taco rice, black beans, tomatoes, avocado and Creamy Tomatillo dressing.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

3 lbs. pork roast
1 16 oz. bottle of salsa (or can of red taco sauce)
1 can Coke or Dr. Pepper 
1 c. brown sugar

1. Place pork in crock pot and fill it half-full with water. Cook on high for 5 hours. 
2. Drain off water. Cut pork in thirds. Mix together sauce ingredients and pour into crock pot on top of pork. Cook an additional 3 hours on high. 
3. Shred pork with fork. Leave meat in crock pot on low until ready to serve.

source:  Angie P.

Applesauce Pork Roast

The local grocery store often has pork loins on sale.  Whole pork loins.  The whole loin comes packaged in this large 9-ish lb. package that looks like it's almost a yard long.  I've seen a number of people see its size and then just walk away, daunted.  What they don't know is that the meat department at the store will butcher the loin up for you however you like, roasts, chops, whatever, at no additional cost.  So I usually walk out of there with three roasts or maybe two roasts and a pkg of chops, which will all fit nicely in my freezer.

This recipe for pork roast is so easy, it's amazing I haven't shared it sooner.  It literally takes a minute to prepare. I might suggest removing the pork from the slow cooker and letting it sit for a few minutes before slicing, so that it retains it's juiciness.  I like to serve it with pork flavored stuffing (the instant kind!) and green beans.

Applesauce Pork Roast

1 2-3 lb. pork loin roast, trimmed of excess fat (leave a little on there for flavor, but you don't need a thick pad of fat like you would for an oven roast.)
1 24 oz. jar unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1.  Place roast in slow cooker.
2.  Pour applesauce over pork.
3.  Sprinkle brown sugar, then cinnamon on top.
4.  Cover and cook on low approx. 8 hours.

source: crockpotgirls.com