Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Bars

I've been drooling over these pumpkin pie bars from Joy the Baker (recipe adapted from Kraft) ever since they popped up in my reader. I had planned to make them for Thanksgiving, but I made them Thursday night instead.

I think I was distracted or rushing because I really wanted to be watching Survivor (but it's ok, we have DVR), and I made a mistake. The recipe says to bake the crust for 15 minutes. I read it - a couple of times even! But, I never did it. I started mixing the filling and poured it right on top of the unbaked crust, followed by the topping and butterscotch chips. By then it was too late. But, there wasn't much I could do at that point but pray they would still be ok and not fall apart. So, I ended up baking them about 35 minutes instead of 25, and they came out just fine! I'm glad I saved 15 minutes!

1-1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) cold butter or margarine
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I didn't add, but will try next time)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons bourbon (optional) (I didn't use)
a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips for sprinkling on top (optional)

HEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides; grease foil. Mix flour, 1/4 granulated sugar and brown sugar in medium bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and nuts.

RESERVE 1 cup oat mixture; press remaining onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 min. Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, pumpkin and spice with mixer until well blended. Pour over crust; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture and a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips (if desired).

BAKE 25 min.; cool 10 min. Use foil to transfer dessert from pan to wire rack; cool completely.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

South of the Border Casserole

This is the first "casserole" I've made since being married, or even knowing Aaron for that matter. For some reason, he has something against anything called a casserole. I don't quite understand it. I know there are some bad casseroles out there, but I know plenty of great ones, too. This can be classified as a great casserole. When I printed this from my Google Reader, I actually meant to change the name so it didn't say casserole in big bold letters. But, I got lazy and thought...eh, what are the chances he is going to actually look at the recipe. Well, chances were good. I had it sitting on the counter and he informed me he will not eat casserole. I said ok, and made it anyway.

Turns out - we aren't allowed to call it casserole anymore, but we'll be making this again! I almost didn't add the sour cream as it was cooking, but I am glad I did! We loved this stove top dinner, it was quick, very tasty and easy to clean up (bonus!). I also got to use the last of our fresh peppers from the garden. I was sad the garden is no more for this year.

From: Cooking This and That
Serves 4

1 pound of lean ground beef (I used 1/2 lb chorizo and 1/4 lb ground beef)
1 mild jalapeno, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
28 oz can tomatoes (I used a big jar we canned from the garden)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons of cumin
2 cups fat free sour cream (I probably only added 1 cup)
8 oz penne, ziti or any small pasta (I used shells and bowties)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cilantro, minced (I skipped, we didn't have any fresh)

In a deep skillet, brown the ground beef, drain fat, if necessary. Add the peppers, onions and garlic, and cook on medium-high heat. Saute until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add chili powder and cumin.

Add the can of tomatoes, breaking up the whole tomatoes with a spoon, but still leaving big chunks. Add sour cream, stir until mixed. Add pasta. Cover and cook until pasta is al dente, about 25 minutes. This took me about 20 minutes over med-high heat. Make sure to stir frequently so the pasta doesn't get stuck to the bottom.Serve with the cheddar cheese and cilantro sprinkled on top. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Oven Fried Chicken

I've been asked to make fried chicken a few times by my husband. Don't get me wrong, I like fried chicken, but not the calories that come with it. I figured I could try Oven Fried Chicken as a compromise to keeping it healthy by baking and hopefully still get the crispiness of fried chicken. I started with this recipe from Cooking Light, but made a couple of modifications. I used thigh and breast pieces, substituted bread crumbs for flour, but still added 2 TBSP of flour to the breading mixture. I omitted the cumin and red pepper. I did not spray the once coated pieces with cooking spray and then re-coat. Instead, I coated each piece one time, and then gave each piece 2 sprays of Spray Butter before baking.

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 chicken breast(about 1 pound), skinned
2 chicken drumsticks (about 1/2 pound), skinned
2 chicken thighs (about 1/2 pound), skinned
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Cooking spray


Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine flour, salt, peppers, and cumin in a second large zip-top plastic bag. Remove chicken from first bag, discarding marinade. Add chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour; lightly coat each chicken piece with cooking spray. Return chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour.

Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 35 minutes or until done, turning after 20 minutes.

Nutritional Information
Calories:263 (15% from fat)
Fat:4.4g (sat 1.2g,mono 1.1g,poly 0.9g)

Mummy Dogs

Just in time for Halloween, I got this idea from Pillsbury's website. I used Turkey hot dogs and reduced fat crescent rolls to make them a little healther. I prefer no cheese, but Aaron wanted cheese in his. I shouldn't have given him the option because trying to keep the cheese in place as I wrapped the dough around was a challenge, but definitely doable. We had mummy dogs and veggies with ranch for dinner in front the of tv as we watched Vantage Point - a really good movie! I made a couple extra and sent them as leftovers for Aaron's lunch. Hopefully nobody made fun of it haha!

My only tip, as you're wrapping the crescent rolls around the hot dog, leave more room than you'd think you need for the face. As the dough bakes, the space will become smaller. You can see I forgot to account for that and barely had room to make eyes!

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations™ refrigerated flaky dough sheet
2 1/2 slices American cheese, quartered (2.5 oz)
10 large hot dogs
Cooking spray
Mustard or ketchup, if desired

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate at perforations, creating 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut into 4 rectangles.

3. With knife or kitchen scissors, cut each rectangle lengthwise into 10 pieces, making a total of 40 pieces of dough. Slice cheese slices into quarters (1/2 slice cheese, cut in half).

4. Wrap 4 pieces of dough around each hot dog and 1/4 slice of cheese to look like "bandages," stretching dough slightly to completely cover hot dog. About 1/2 inch from one end of each hot dog, separate "bandages" so hot dog shows through for "face." On ungreased large cookie sheet, place wrapped hot dogs (cheese side down); spray dough lightly with cooking spray.

5. Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until dough is light golden brown and hot dogs are hot. With mustard, draw features on "face."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Weight Watchers Skillet Beef and Beer Stew

I keep meaning to make more Weight Watchers recipes and blog about them, but as you can tell from the lack of updates this month, I haven't been very motivated to make new things lately. We've been pretty busy this month, so I'm falling behind on cooking in general. I started making this stew in the crockpot by cooking the meat with the beef broth, garlic, and some salt & pepper. But, I couldn't even get myself to finish this the same day! Pathetic, but it just didn't sound good last night. So, I finished cooking the beef and put it in the refrigerator for tonight.

I made a few changes to the recipe. First, I couldn't get Aaron to drink the rest of the beer I opened, so I added 12 oz. instead of 8 oz. Then, I added mushrooms as it cooked, and frozen peas at the last minute. Lastly, I found out too late that the can of evaporated milk I had was expired, so I ended up throwing that away and used regular 1% milk instead. Worked just fine!

If you remember, I made buttermilk biscuits on Sunday and thought I really should make some more to go with the beef stew. So, I made 1/2 batch this time and they came out even better than the first batch. I was careful with the flour this time, and added 2 tablespoons of butter to the shortening and the dough was much more sticky, as the recipe says it should be.

POINTS® Value: 5
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 40 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

This hearty one-pot meal can be prepared in just one hour. Double the recipe and freeze for too-busy-to-cook days.


1 spray(s) olive oil cooking spray
12 oz lean beef round, roast, cut into cubes
1 medium onion(s), chopped
1 medium bell pepper(s), chopped
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced (or 1 tsp jarred minced garlic)
2 medium potato(es), peeled and diced
24 medium baby carrots, about 1/2 lb
1 cup(s) fat-free beef broth
8 oz light beer
1/4 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp paprika

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, pepper and garlic; cook until beef is browned, stirring, about 3 minutes.

Stir in potatoes, carrots, broth and beer; bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir together evaporated milk, cornstarch and paprika in a small cup; add to beef mixture and stir to combine. Cook until slightly thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more.

Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Growing Garlic

Purple Stripe Garlic

To ward off the vampires and werewolves in our area, we planted some garlic in the garden. Ok, not really. We just went to a Garlic Festival where we talked to some garlic farmers who talked us into trying it. We also ate garlic ice cream and if you're wondering, it doesn't taste any better than it sounds.

Even though garlic is one of the most inexpensive things in the grocery, we thought it would be fun to give it a shot. Besides, this isn't the normal supermarket garlic (that's a common garlic - softneck, italian, or silverskin), but the Italian Purple Stripe variety, which is a hardneck garlic and less common. I read a little about this kind and found that it makes for a very sweet baking garlic. I'm thinking warm garlic bread with fresh tomato sauce from the garden. Nom Nom Nom.

So, all you do is plant the garlic in the fall, about 6 weeks before the first freeze and let it do it's thing all Winter long. Once the leaves die off, it's ready to harvest. Each garlic clove can be planted again and should grow into a new head - so it just keeps multiplying! I hope it works!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Buttermilk Biscuits

I don't make breakfast much in our house, so this is a rare occasion to have a breakfast post. Yesterday we bought a jar of pumpkin butter at an apple orchard and I needed an excuse to try it today. I thought it would be great on warm biscuits, so I tried this recipe from the Paula Deen Celebrates cookbook. They were good, but I think mine turned out a little dry. I may have used too much flour as I was patting the dough out to cut it. I've never had pumpkin butter before, but it's pretty tasty!

I made Aaron a breakfast sandwich with a biscuit, thin chorizo patty, fried egg, and cheese.

Update: I made these again and now love this recipe. I only made 1/2 batch and I used 1 cup of bread flour (with baking powder & salt), 1/3 cup of buttermilk substitute, 1/4 cup shortening, and 2 tablespoons of butter. I completely forgot the sugar, as I tried to make it from memory. They were soooo good. Reminds me of the frozen grands biscuits!

2 c. self rising flour (I don't have this, so I made my own using 1.5 tsp baking powder and 0.5 tsp salt PER CUP of flour)
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
2/3 c. buttermilk (I subbed milk/vinegar)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. In a bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Using two knives (or food processor), cut in the shortening until it's combined. Add the buttermilk and stir until mixed. The dough will be very moist. (Mine wasn't...)

3. Using a floured board and floured fingers, pat the dough into a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut the dough with a knife (I used a drinking glass) into 12 biscuits. (I only got 10). Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Another Fall Cookie here...and I promise, we do eat food that is good for you, but I haven't made anything new lately to blog about.

In addition to the Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses that are now out, I found a bag of the Candy Corn Hershey Kisses. They look so cute. It's a good thing they look cute, because I didn't care for the flavor much. I wouldn't buy another bag, but they were great for this recipe I found on Blake Bakes. These were fun to make and the kiss combined with the chocolate cookie was really good. I used the option of rolling in sugar before baking, instead of using the egg whites/nuts.

Source: Hersheys.com

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts
VANILLA FILLING(recipe follows)
26 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates or HERSHEY’S HUGS Brand Chocolates or pecan halves or candied cherry halves

Beat butter, sugar, egg yolk, milk and vanilla in medium bowl until fluffy. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. With fork, beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white; roll in nuts. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Press thumb gently in center of each cookie.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Meanwhile, prepare VANILLA FILLING. Remove wrappers from chocolate pieces. Remove cookies from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon filling into each thumbprint. Gently press chocolate piece in center of each cookie. Cool completely. About 2 dozen cookies.

VANILLA FILLING: Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon softened butter or margarine, 2 teaspoons milk and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl; beat until smooth.

VARIATION: Omit egg white and chopped nuts. Roll balls in granulated sugar. Bake as directed.

Top with VANILLA FILLING and Hershey Kiss.

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses

Have you tried the Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses yet? I found a bag at Target and let me tell you, I wanted to eat the whole bag! Thankfully, I didn't. Instead, I used them to replace the raisins/chocolate chips in an oatmeal cookie. I love how chewy they came out, and just a little crispy on the edges.

2 sticks of butter, softened at room temperature
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 c. chopped Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter & sugar until fluffy (2-3 minutes)

Beat in eggs one at a time.

Mix flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt together, then combine with the butter-sugar mixture.

Stir in oats and Pumpkin Kisses.

Form dough into 1- 1.5 inch balls, and place on cookie sheet. Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

We had some leftover canned pumpkin that I needed to use up, so I went searching for a recipe that only used 1-2 cups. I didn't search long before I found these cookies. Rated at 4.5 stars by over 750 people on allrecipes.com, these pumpkin cookies are terrific!

I was hesitant to make pumpkin cookies after the batch I made last year - they were more dense, but also sticky. They were ok, but not great and definitely not good without some type of icing. My neighbors won't let me live that one down. So - A new year, a new attempt. I doubled the batch and they are by far the best pumpkin cookie I have had. They are soft and cake-like with just enough pumpkin flavor. I made up a couple of huge plates for Aaron and I to take to work, and gave some to the neighbors again to enjoy (and hopefully make up for last year's).

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy.

Mix in dry ingredients.

Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.

To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.
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