Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Best Ever Sweet Potato Casserole

Shortly after my husband and I were married we went on a family vacation to Florida to visit family. We were there in the beginning months of December so we celebrated Christmas with them while we were there. My sister-in-law had an awesome Christmas Party where she invited all of her family, who kindly shared this recipe with our family. We were all drooling over it at the party, and couldn't believe that sweet potatoes could taste that good. When we arrived home we had to have this recipe for our Christmas dinner and we have been making it ever since. My husband who is not a big fan of Sweet Potatoes, loves this casserole. We took it to my families Thanksgiving 2 years ago, and boy was it a hit! Everyone gobbled it right up! It is made with the canned yams, which sure cuts back on time. Don't look too closely at the amount of butter, but realize that you probably could cut back a little. The topping is amazing! It will be the perfect side for your Thanksgiving dinner just like it will me for mine!!!

Sweet Potato Casserole
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Larg can Yams, pour 1/2 juice off and mash the yams
3/4 stick of butter, melted and cooled
dash of cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs well beaten
Combine milk and cornstarch and whisk together until cornstarch is dissolved. Pour yams in a large mixing bowl and mash well. Add remaining ingredients, including milk and cornstarch mixture, and beat well. Pour in greased 9X13 pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it sets pretty good. I test mine just like you would a pumpkin pie, with a knife in the middle to check if it is set. While that is baking, mix the following ingredients together for the topping.
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are best)
1/2 cup brown sugar
Add the topping to the mixture and bake for about another 10-15 minutes.

***I used Bran Flakes instead of cornflakes, and they worked well. They are healthier too!!! If you are doubling the recipe, bake in a larger pan, such as a lasagna dish or cookie sheet pan. If you double and bake in 9X13 pan it will take much longer than the normal baking time.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cranberry Casserole & Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

If you are looking for an awesome casserole to serve at your Thanksgiving dinner, this is the one!!! It is amazing! The sweet & tarty cranberries sugared with crunchy chunks of apples are delicious. The carmelized topping with pecans and oats just top this casserole off! It really is amazing! We look forward to this time of year so that we can eat this tasty casserole. This recipe comes from my husband's side. I have never been a fan of cranberries, until I was introduced to Cranberry Casserole. We made this for my family's Thanksgiving dinner 2 years ago, and boy was it a hit. We will be taking it again this year along with our Sweet Potato Casserole, which will be coming on monday...another casserole you do not want to miss out on. I halfed the recipe for my family of 4, but I will be doubling it for next week. Try a half batch now, then WOW your Thankgiving day guests! This casserole will not dissapoint you!

I combined my apple chunks, cranberries & sugar in the morning and let it sit all day. I have done this the night before too. You need to let it sit for some time so that the sugar dissolves and coats the apples and cranberries real well, stirring every once in a while. On to this wonderful recipe!

Cranberry Casserole

3 cups apples, chopped & unpeeled
2 cups cranberries, whole & washed
1 1/2 cups white sugar

Mix together and set aside. It is best to combine the night before and cover over night. You can also combine in the morning. Just make sure it sits long enough to dissolve the sugar completely to make a gooey syrup.

1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 stick butter (melted)

Combine topping ingredients and mix well. Place on top of apples and cranberries. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

***If your apples and cranberries are not juicy enough, add 1/2 cup water or apple juice before you cover with the topping. I have never had to do that. There is always plenty of juice. I realize that 1 hour of baking time takes away your oven, but you can bake it ahead of time and warm it up in the oven for 10 minutes before you serve. It is perfect!
If you have an over abundance of cranberries, use them in this delicious Cranberry Pumpkin Bread. It is awesome! I found this recipe at The Sisters' Cafe. Go to their link in our side bar. These sisters have got great recipes. We had quite the scare this week when my 3 year old decided to wander way too far from home. We were searching for him for 20 minutes. It was the worst feeling as a mother. I never want it to happen again, but I know that this was not the first time. I made this bread for a few people who came to help me search. It was a perfect treat with a thank you card for all their help. Thank you to Melanie at My Sisters' Cafe for the recipe. I will be making this for years to come. I just wish that I had some mini loaf pans. This recipe made 3 large pans. I put one in my freezer to take to my family this week. Find the recipe here: http://sisterscafe.blogspot.com/2008/11/cranberry-pumpkin-bread.html

Coming Monday... The Best Ever Sweet Potato Casserole!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sweet & Sour Meatballs & Rolo Cookies

Here is another excellent freezer meal! My boys devoured it. I got this recipe from a good friend who does freezer meals with her sister. They've been great to share their recipes with me. Thanks Alicia & Tori.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs
1 bag frozen meatballs (you can make your own).
1/2 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp corstarch
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c vinegar
1/4 c ketchup
1/2 c chunked onion
1 cup chunked red & green bell pepper

Mix brown sugar & cornstarch. Add water, salt, vinegar, and ketchup and heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cook & stir until thick. Add meatballs & simmer 15 minutes. Add onion & peppers. Remove from heat and let cool. When cooled, place in freezer bag. When ready to eat, thaw, heat in crockpot and serve over rice.

On to dessert....

These cookies are a family favorite. I made them last weekend to take to a neighborhood cookie bake off. We took 2nd, but I think that was because they weren't warm. The warm caramel in the middle gives these cookies a nice surprise. A big thanks to Kristy who shared this recipe with our family.

Rolo Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
Rolo candy pieces

Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa & baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix well. Wrap rolo in a spoonful of dough. Roll in sugar. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fabulous Butternut Squash Soup

This really is fabulous! When I had my second child my neighbor brought me this amazing soup. She not only shared with me the recipe, but she shared her Family Cookbook with me. It is an awesome cookbook. Any recipe that I have tried has been great! I always know that I can find a perfect recipe in that cookbook. This soup warms you from the inside out! It is perfect for a cold day. I love to serve it with my favorite Lion House rolls, but because of time, I made up these quick breadsticks, that were delicious for dipping. The spices in this are perfect. Thinking about this soup always makes my mouth water. The cream cheese makes it so creamy and rich. This soup also freezes very nicely. I got a 4 pound squash so I once and a halfed my recipe. I have just enough for another meal in the freezer. I love working hard once for 2 meals. It really is a simple recipe for how good it tastes. It really is fabulous! So, if you still have butternut squash that needs to be used, or if you are just like me and can't resist this soup, go buy a butternut squash. It is well worth every pound!

Fabulous Butternut Squash Soup

1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter
6 cups butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cubed
3 cups water
4 cubes chicken bouillon
1 tsp seasoned salt (Season-all, etc.)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper (less if you don't like it too spicy)
a dash nutmeg (optional)
1 (8 ounce) pkg cream cheese (2 packages for a richer soup)

In a large saucepan, sautee onions in butter until tender. Add squash, water, bouillon, and herbs. Bring to boil; cook 20 minutes, or until squash is tender. Add cream cheese. Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Return to saucepan, and heat through. Do not allow to boil.

***I always add extra cream cheese. I like it rich! You will love every drop! We had a little boy licking up the drips off the table. To him, this soup was "good stuff"!

Coming soon, perfect side dishes for your Thankgiving Feast!
Your guests will be licking off their plates!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Squares & a Sweet Swap

I made these little pumpkin pie squares for a sweet swap that I hosted last night. They were heavenly. If you love pumpkin pie, you will love these! The coconut, graham cracker crumbs, & pecans just add so much to these bars. With a crunchy crust, a soft pumpkin center, and a chewy topping...what could be better!!! I love pumpkin and coconut. My husband doesn't care for either, so this was a perfect opportunity for me to make something that I love, and be able to swap mine for something that he would enjoy. We had some great treats. Some of the yummy sweets were Oh Henry Bars, Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies, Layered Cookies, & Fudge Jumbles. It was a lot of fun. If any of you are up for a sweet swap, this is the perfect time to do it with the holidays right around the corner. If you do a cookie swap, it is easy to freeze your cookies and pull them out when you have unexpected company. Just make sure that you freeze them in freezer ziplocs.

My mother-in-law introduced me to this recipe. It was on the Eagle Brand web site. They have got some great festive treats that will be perfect for the holidays. Check it out at www.eaglebrand.com .

Pumpkin Pie Squares
Eagle Brand

1/4 cup butter (melted)
1 1/3 cup coconut
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 can pumpkin (2 cups)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, or 350 degrees for glass dish. In medium bowl combine butter, coconut, graham cracker crumbs & nuts. Mix well. Reserving 1/3 of the crumb mixture press remainder on bottom of ungreased 13x9 pan. In large bowl, combine remaining except reserved mixture; mix well. Pour over prepared crust. Top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or til knife inserted comes out clean. Cool. Serve warm or chilled. Store leftovers in the fridge.

***I made extra topping, because it was delicious. I also used 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice instead of 1/2 tsp each of ginger and nutmeg. (I didn't have the ginger). My improvising worked out well. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Best Potato Soup Ever & Apple Crisp

I can't believe that November is half way over! It seems like time is moving so fast these days. The other day I went to my first Parent Teacher Conference for my kindergartener. I can't believe that I'm old enough to be going to those. This was the first of many in the years to come. It went well. My oldest is a ball full of energy and seems to struggle a little with holding still and focusing for long periods of time. His teacher brought this up but she also said that he is a great friend. I'm thankful for that. He's a good kid. On to the food. I made this AMAZING Baked Potato Soup on Sunday night. It was absolutely fabulous. I called my friend to thank her for the recipe even before we sat down to eat it. A big thanks to Heather from Cooking Divas for this awesome recipe. We also had some homemade french bread that I posted a couple weeks ago. (Thanks again to Laura at Real Mom Kitchen for that great recipe). They were perfect together. Thanks for the wonderful recipes! I know that you'll all love this one!

Best Baked Potato Soup Ever
1-2 lbs. Bacon
2/3 cups butter
2/3 cups flour
5 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
4-8 potatoes-baked, peeled and cubed (You could cube half and mash the other half)
4 green onions--chopped
1/4 regular onion-chopped
1 garlic clove-minced (optional--but very good)
1 1/4 cup shredded chedder cheese (grate some extra for the garnish)
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Cook bacon, melt butter, add onions and garlic, saute. Add flour. Stir milk and chicken broth together and add to mixture--wisk until thick and almost to boil. Put in potatoes--wisk until boiling. Reduce heat, add sour cream, salt, and pepper. Finally, add cheese and bacon.

I was asked to help prepare a dinner for the teachers at my son's school. I was in charge of the dessert. I made a very yummy apple crisp. While putting them together I decided to make one for my family to enjoy too. I did mine a little different from the recipe because I like to have more of the topping than I do the filling. I halved the recip of the filling for mine and did the whole this for the topping. It was perfect! The ice cream topped it off.
Apple Crisp (Lion House Desserts Cookbook)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 cups apples (6-8 apples peeled & sliced. I used Jonathan & Granny Smith apples)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Mix topping ingredients using a pastry blender until crumbly. Place sliced apples in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Combine sugar, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle over apples. Place topping mixture over apples and bake at 350 for 45 minutes (mine was done in 40 minutes). Top with vanilla ice cream or whip cream.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spicy Honey Butter Salmon

This salmon is amazing!!! We got this recipe from Macey's one day. I think it was their grand opening, and they had a bunch of samples. The butcher was out making this recipe and passing it out. It was delicious then, and still is delicious now. We have been making it for about 2 years now. We make it once a month, usually for a sunday dinner. It is a treat. The honey butter just gets soaked into the salmon, making it so sweet. The Grill Mates Montreal Steak seasoning is perfect. It gives it a little kick. If you live in Utah, you can get Honey Butter in a nice squeezzable container. The kind I like to use is from Treasure Foods, and you can actually get it on-line. If you are interested, check out www.honeybutter4u.com . They also have flavored honey butters, and you can also buy it in bulk. You can also make your own honey butter by mixing equal parts of butter and honey. It's not quite the same, but it works! I buy my salmon at Sam's Club or Costco. They sell a 3 lb bag of Atlantic Salmon Center Cut Fillets individually packaged and frozen. They are very easy to thaw, and I just love having them on hand when I need them. This is what the McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning looks like. I have bought the spicy one, and love it too! It gives it an extra kick!

Spicy Honey Butter Salmon
Center Cut Salmon Fillets (thawed, and one per person you are serving)
Honey Butter
Montreal Steak Grill Mates Seasoning
Line baking pan with tin foil, and spray. Coat both sides of salmon with honey butter and sprinkle with Montreal Steak seasoning. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until salmon flakes when stabbed with a fork. Serve over rice.
***Salmon doesn't really keep well, so don't plan to make leftovers...it's better fresh out of the oven. I really like to go to town with the honey butter, so don't be afraid to drench it. It is delish!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pasta Fagioli Soup

I'm taking a break from making my freezer meals for this month. Here's a quick freezer soup recipe. This also came from the cookbook, "Girlfriends on the Go". It is delicious! When I make it, I'm able to split it into 2 meals.

Pasta Fagioli Soup
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup grated carrots (I buy the shredded ones)
1 cup diced celery
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15oz) cans beef broth
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped (I used dried parsley)
1/2 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 small bag shell pasta

Cook noodles according to package directions (I slightly undercook mine). Place all ingredients in a large pot. Mix together. If freezing, place in freezer bag. To prepare: thaw and let simmer until vegetables are tender (30-45 min). Top with sour cream and cheddar cheese. Sometimes I add a little bit of water to it, to make it not so thick. We love to eat it with bread sticks. The breadstick in the picture is a from a refrigerator package of Pillsbury breadstick. I rolled it in parmesan cheese, sprinkled parsley on the top and twisted it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mini Cheesy Meatloaves...the better way to serve meatloaf!

For all you meatloaf lovers out there, here is a new and improved meatloaf! For all you meatloaf haters, here is a new and improved meatloaf, that will make you love meatloaf again!!! Growing up, we had our share of meatloaf...I wasn't a big fan, and never made it after I was married, until my sister shared this recipe that she got from a good family friend. I make this once a month. It is super easy, a great way to get meat into the kids, they are mini, filled with cheese, oats, and topped with a mouth watering sauce! They are delicious! I will never stray from these mini meatloaves.
Mini Cheesy Meatloaves

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp onion (chopped)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp mustard
1/3 cup ketchup
Combine all ingredients very well. Shape into 4 mini meatloaves, packing together very tight. Place in greased, shallow baking dish. Cover with sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
***I usually make extra sauce, because it is really tasty, and I like my meatloaves covered.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

More Fall Comfort Foods

Well, I hope that everyone had a fun halloween. I can't believe that it's already November! I really do enjoy this time of year. Last week the weather was amazing! We were at a park enjoying the sunshine almost everyday. This week it's going to be cold and rainy. I don't do very well when I have to be indoors all day. Anyway, we had a great halloween and my boys got enough candy to last us until next halloween. They had a great time trick-or-treating around the neigborhood. They also got to stay up late for a halloween party we had with our neighbors. It was a very busy day for all of us. I'm so glad that it's daylight savings and that we gain an extra hour. If my kids are up really early tomorrow, I'll probably change my mind.

Well, here are 3 recipes that I tried this week. They were all delicious and easy. The first, pictured above, is a white chicken chili that I got from www.thecookingdivaideas.blogspot.com/. It was thick and good.

White Chicken Chili
1 lb. chicken, cubed
1/2 tsp. pepper1 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt1 TBSP. oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cans great northern white beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. cumin1 can chicken broth
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. whipping cream (or evaporated milk)
1 can chopped green chilies

Saute chicken, onion, and garlic powder in oil until chicken is done. Combine beans, broth, chilies and seasonings in large pot. Add chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and cream (or evaporated milk). This is very yummy and works great with breadsticks as a side.

This french bread was absolutely amazing! I don't think I will ever buy french bread from the store again. This recipe I got from Laura at Real Mom Kitchen(http://realmomkitchen.blogspot.com/. She made it to go with my Lasagna Rolls. It was a perfect combination! It was very easy to make and it turned out to be very light, not heavy like most homemade breads. Thanks, Laura for a great recipe, I love it!

French Bread
2 ¼ cup warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 pkg. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp soft shortening or vegetable oil
6 cups flour

In large mixer (I just do it in my kitchen aid with the dough hook), combine water and sugar then sprinkle with yeast. Allow to soften. Add salt, oil, and half flour; mix well. Add remaining flour. Leave mixer in dough. Allow to rest 10 min. Stir dough down and allow to rest 10 min. Repeat until dough has been stirred dough 5 times. Turn dough on floured surface. Knead 2 or 3 times. Divide dough in 2. Roll each dough into 9x13 inch rectangle. Roll from long side and pinch edges. Place on baking sheet with pam or cornmeal. Cover and allow to rise 30 min. With sharp knives cut 3 gashes at angle on top of dough. Bake 400 degrees for 30 min, check at 20 minutes (It only takes 20 minutes in my oven).

I had to put a dessert at the end of this post! This was the easiest cheesecake I've every made!(I think its the first cheesecake I've ever made). My husband said it was better than the pumpkin cheesecake we'd had a couple weeks ago at The Olive Garden. Anyway, it was good and super simple. This recipe also came from http://www.thecookingdivaideas.blogspot.com/.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 graham cracker crust
1 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 c. pure pumpkin
2 eggs
Mix the cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin pie spice on medium speed. Stir in pumpkin. Add eggs and mix until well blended. Pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.