Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

I saw an episode of Good Eats awhile ago and on it the host Alton Brown was making a pumpkin pie from scratch. Im talking roasting a pumpkin in the oven to make the puree from scratch and it actually looked really easy.

I am hosting my first Thanksgiving this year and I am SO excited! Not only have I been asking to host it for like 4 years now and my in-laws are finally giving in and relinquishing the rights to Turkey Day BUT its the first Thanksgiving I can actually DO everything and BREATH while doing it so I want everything to be PERFECT!

So since I have never made this pie before I wanted to make a practice pie to see what everyone thinks so I didn't have a Thanksgiving Day disaster on my hands with a crappy pumpkin pie!

Its not like the traditional pumpkin pie everyone is used to because its made with REAL pumpkin and out of the people who tried it, it was 50/50 on whether or not they like it. My father-in-law LOVED it especially the ginger snap crust. My husband liked it but said there was something "off" about it. That seemed to be the consensus of the people who didn't care for it. So my suggestion would be that if you think you want to try this pie for the big day make it ahead of time to see if you really like it or not.

Here is the recipe!

Pumpkin Pie



  • 6 ounces gingersnap cookies
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter, melted


  • 16 ounces Pumpkin Puree, recipe follows
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust: Combine the gingersnaps, brown sugar, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the cookies are fine crumbs. Drizzle the butter into the crumb mixture. Pulse 8 to 10 times to combine.

Press the gingersnap mixture into the bottom, up the sides, and just over the lip of a 9-inch glass pie dish. Place on a half sheet pan and bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool crust at least 10 minutes before filling.

For the filling: Bring the pumpkin puree to a simmer over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the half-and-half, nutmeg, and salt. Stir and return the mixture to a simmer. Remove the pumpkin mixture from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk the brown sugar, eggs, and yolk until smooth in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the prepared filling into the warm pie crust and bake on the same half sheet pan until the center jiggles slightly but the sides of the filling are set, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 2 to 3 hours before slicing. Pie can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. Pie is best the day after it is made.

Pumpkin Puree:

  • 1 (4 to 6-pound) baking pumpkin, rinsed and dried
  • Kosher salt

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice a small piece of skin off the one side of the pumpkin so when laid on its side, the pumpkin will lay flat without rolling. Remove the stem and split the pumpkin in half from top to bottom, using a large cleaver and a mallet. Scoop out the seeds and fiber with a large metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Cut the fibers with kitchen shears if necessary. Reserve seeds for another use.

Sprinkle the flesh with kosher salt and lay the halves, flesh side down, on a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan. Roast until a paring knife can be easily inserted and removed from the pumpkin, 30 to 45 minutes. Test in several places to ensure doneness.

Remove the half sheet pan to a cooling rack and cool the pumpkin for 1 hour. Using a large spoon, remove the roasted flesh of the pumpkin from the skin to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the flesh is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

**To make the whip cream on top I just used 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tbs. confectioners sugar. But you can use good old fashion cool whip if you prefer! :)

Cowboy Casserole!

This casserole is as delicious as it is easy!

My husband is from Minnesota. Home of the "hot dish" so I have had my share of tater tot casseroles and to be honest I have never really been a fan. But this one is REALLY good! The only thing I think I will change and try next time is when I am browning the meat I think I will throw in some chopped onion and a few cloves of minced garlic. Just because lets be honest garlic makes everything taste better! :)

Well, here is the recipe! If you try it leave me a comment I would love to hear what you think!!

Cowboy Casserole


  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 can (8-3/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2/3 cup condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups frozen Tater Tots


  • In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Stir in the corn, soup, 1/4 cup cheese, milk, sour cream, onion powder and pepper.
  • Place 1 cup Tater Tots in a greased 3-cup baking dish. Layer with beef mixture and remaining Tater Tots; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

**Just a quick side note: This recipe is for 2 servings so if you are a family of four you will want to double the ingredients!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Crisp and Creamy Baked Chicken!

The other night was one of those nights where shockingly enough I didn't have a plan of what I was going to make for dinner. So I thought about what I had in the pantry and went from there. I have made this meal a handful of times and its great every time! Its fast, easy and like I said it can be made with stuff you can just keep in your pantry for those nights you just don't feel like being Julia Child or Martha Stewart in the kitchen!! :)

Crisp-and-Creamy Baked Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 pouch Shake 'N Bake Extra Crispy Seasoned Coating Mix
1/2 can (10 3/4oz) of condensed cream of celery soup
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar & monterey jack cheese

1. Coat chicken with coating mix as directed on package; place in greased 13x9 baking dish. Discard any remaining coating mix.

2. Bake 20 min. or until chicken is done.

3. Mix soup and milk until well blended; pour over chicken. Top with cheese. Bake 5 min or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

I usually serve this meal with Velvetta Shells cause Danny LOVES them and a green vegetable! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Banana-Nut Bread!

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile! Between going to Gainesville for a check up (it went GREAT!) and still dealing with major lower back pain I haven't done much of anything lately! Last week I did start physical therapy so hopefully with time that will help!

I have TONS of dinner recipes/photos to blog about I just have to actually sit down and do them...the one problem I have had the last couple times I have cooked dinner is that I either forget to take a picture of my ingredients OR I am so hungry I start eating before I take a picture of my final plate so when I finally get to those blogs they might be a few pictures short...opps! :)

Anywho....Danny had a few bananas that were a little on the dark side so he decided that he wanted me to make banana bread for him. Well I don't eat bananas. I find them repulsive, the smell, the taste, the texture...they all just make me want to gag! LOL BUT...being the good wife that I am I powered on through and baked my man some bread!

I found a basic recipe online and then added a few things that I thought would make it better. I did try a piece and it wasn't horrible but I could definitely taste the banana so one bite was enough for me but Danny enjoyed it and that's all that matters!

Banana-Nut Bread
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9x5 inch pan.
2. Cream margarine and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, then bananas. Add flour and soda, stirring just until combined.
3. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour (or until toothpick comes out clean). Remove from pan and let cool, store in refrigerator or freeze!

**What I changed** Instead of 1 cup white sugar, I used 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar. I also added 1 tsp of vanilla extract and a couple shakes of cinnamon. Plus 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts mixed in.

The smell of the cinnamon baking in the oven was so good!! If you are a fan of bananas or banana bread I say give this recipe a try its fast and very simple to make. Next there is a recipe I found for cinnamon raisin bread that I think has my name ALL over it!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Classic Pot Roast

I have been making Pot Roast in my crock-pot for years and while I love a good roast, I haven't been able to find that ONE recipe that surpasses anyone that I have tried before. It seems almost every recipe I have ever found/tried has one of the following ingredients: cream of mushroom soup, french onion soup packet or beef stock or water with some herbs. That's it!

So when I was flipping through a new magazine I just got in the mail last week and came across this recipe for classic pot roast I knew I had to try it. I mean between the pictures and the list of ingredients it just sounded/looked delicious! I thought...hmm....could I have possibly found my recipe?? So here it is....

Classic Pot Roast
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 boneless chuck roast, trimmed, seasoned with S&P (3-4lbs.)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
2 cups sliced onions
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves

1) Heat oil in a saute pan over medium-high. Sear roast on all sides, 10 minutes total. Transfer roast to a 4 to 6 qt slow cooker.

2) Stir flour into saute pan; cook 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook 1 minute more.

3) Deglaze saute pan with wine, cooking until liquid evaporates. Stir in broth and worcestershire; bring mixture to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits.

4) Transfer broth mixture to the slow cooker; add onions, carrots, celery, and cook until meat is fork tender, on high heat setting for 4-5 hours or on low heat for 8-9 hours. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves before serving.

Now generally when I make a pot roast I throw potatoes in the crock pot with the roast but this recipe had mashed potatoes along side the roast so I went with that suggestion for something different....

Mashed Potatoes & Peas
2lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and white pepper to taste
minced fresh chives

1) Boil potatoes in a pot of salted water until tender, 12-15 minutes; drain. Return potatoes to pot; cook, stirring, over low heat for 1 minute to remove moisture. Mash potatoes until smooth.

2) Stir in milk, butter, peas, salt and pepper; serve immediately topped with chives!

And here is my plate! I served it with some biscuits and honey...YUM! This roast was very flavorful and a nice change of pace from the old cream of mushroom soup roast. I will definitely be making this roast again but I am still on my journey to find the PERFECT roast recipe so if you have one I would love to hear it!! :)

P.S. In case you were wondering the potato and roast recipes both serve 6 people!! I do have another recipe from Saturday I am going to try and get up tomorrow but I am going to Gainesville for a couple of days for a check up so I am not sure if I can post it before I leave. If I don't I will do it when I get home and update you all on how my appointment went as well!!

Good Night!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops!

Last night we had pork chops for dinner and this recipe is by far our FAVORITE way to have them! They aren't dry at all and are so yummy and really easy to make. That Giada really knows what she is doing! :)

I forgot to put my EVOO bottle in the picture of ingredients and I usually don't use the lemon wedges and to be honest it doesn't really make that big of difference in the meal its still delicious!

Also, when I bread them instead of having three separate plates I just use two. One for the eggs and one for the parmesan cheese and italian breadcrumbs~I just mix them together. I used to do it separate but somewhere along the way I decided to mix it and it turns out the same so its one less dish that needs to be washed!

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle thepork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

I almost always make this meal with Velvetta Shells and Green Beans. Try it. Trust me you will LOVE it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Southwest Pasta Skillet

Here is last nights dinner. Its made with the new Philadelphia Cooking Creme (Santa Fe Blend) thats out now and I have to say its pretty good!

I have made this dish once before and the last time I made it I didn't have a green pepper like the recipe called for so I used green onions instead and it turned out great so this time when I went to the store to get the ingredients I just used green onions again! If you try this recipe and use the peppers let me know what you think....

Southwest Pasta Skillet

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1 can (14.5oz) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
1 pkg (10oz) frozen corn
1 tub (10oz) Philadelphia Santa Fe Blend Cooking Creme
2 cups hot cooked rotini pasta
1 cup Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

1. Cook and stir chicken and peppers in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat for 6 to 7 minutes or until chicken is done. Add tomatoes, corn and cooking creme; cook and stir 3 minutes.

2. Add pasta and 1/2 cup shredded cheese; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

3. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand until cheese is melted!

**because I used green onions instead of peppers I didn't stick them directly in the pot with the chicken, I cooked the chicken until it was almost done then I put in the onions. I also served this dinner with some texas toast...we love bread in this family if you couldn't tell! :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sweet N Sour Sirloin Stir-Fry!

Well, its taken me a few days to get Thursday's dinner up but here it is!! :)

I had watched an Episode of 30 Minute Meals where Rachael Ray makes this recipe but on the show she puts the stir-fry ontop of ranch mashed potatoes. Now call me crazy but a sweet n sour stir-fry over mashed potatoes just doesn't cry out "MAKE ME" in my mind so I decided to go the more traditional route and poured it over brown rice instead!

The sweet n sour sauce that I made was great and I was a little shocked because all it is, is ketchup, mustard, brown sugar and soy sauce! YUM!

This is a VERY quick and easy meal...once you have all the meat/vegetables chopped the actual cooking time is like 10 minutes for the whole meal~including the rice! I do suggest that you prep everything before you start cooking cause it does go so fast once you start you will want everything ready to dump in the pot.

Sweet N Sour Sirloin Stir-Fry


  • 1 1/2 pound piece sirloin, 1-inch thick
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable, peanut or canola oil
  • 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces on bias, greens and whites
  • 2 cups shelled frozen edamame
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup ketchup


Pop the meat in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen it up for slicing.

Halve the steak lengthwise then very thinly slice the meat. Heat the oil in a very large skillet over high heat. When oil wafts smoke and ripples, add the meat and stir-fry until caramelized 3 minutes. Add peppers and stir-fry 2 minutes then add in scallions and edamame for 2 minutes more. Stir together the sugar, soy, mustard and ketchup and pour over stir-fry the last minute of cooking. Season, to taste, if necessary.

Here is my final plate! :)

I couldn't find frozen Edamame when I went grocery shopping (dumb neighborhood walmart!) so I just substituted frozen snap peas and it worked out fine! All in all it was a good meal and a nice change from the usual chicken or pasta dishes that Danny loves and ALWAYS wants to have! :)

Have a great week ya'll!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner!

OK I am going to let you all in on a little secret here. Although I LOVE to cook....I don't really "do" breakfast. That's more Danny's thing, which he is AWESOME at btw! Except for fried potatoes and onions...I can make a mean batch of those. :)

Anyway, I get side tracked easily. So last weekend I was watching Food Network (shocking I know!) and Cooking for Real was on with its host Sunny Anderson. She was making the best looking breakfast and I decided right then and there that we were having THAT for dinner one night that week! So here are the recipes!

Open-Faced Breakfast Sandwich



Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small saucepot over medium heat add the oil, rosemary, thyme sprigs, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Heat until the garlic begins to brown and thyme is crisp. Strain the oil and remove the thyme to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard the rosemary and garlic, but reserve the oil.

Brush one side of each piece of bread with the oil and place them oiled-side up on a wire rack fitted inside a baking sheet with sides. On another wire rack place the strips of speck ham and brush the top of each with maple syrup. Bake in the oven until both the toast and ham are golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile make the eggs. In a nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat, add a few tablespoons of the reserved olive oil. Crack each egg over the pan and allow to fry until most of the whites are cooked, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and a grind or two of pepper, then lower the heat and cover until the top of the eggs are cooked, but the yolks are not, about 2 minutes more.

To assemble the sandwiches: Spread a tablespoon of grape jelly on the oiled side of each piece of bread. Top with a few strips of folded over ham, an egg and a few sprigs of the reserved fried thyme.Garnish with the shredded Parmesan cheese.

Sunny's Sweet and Spicy Breakfast Sausage



In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, fennel seed, paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Break the beef into chunks and add to a large bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning evenly over the top then with your hand gently mix the beef until the seasoning is evenly distributed. Divide the mixture into 8 even portions and roll gently into balls. Place back in the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Remove the sausage from the refrigerator and one by one place each ball between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Using a meat pounder, flatten out the sausage balls into 1/8-inch thick patties.

In a large saute pan or griddle over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and cook the sausage patties in batches. Sear on one side until caramelized and golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes, then flip to cook just a minute more on the other side.

Sunny's Saturday Special Hash Browns



Using a box grater or a food processor with the shred attachment, shred the potatoes and place them in a colander over a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water and agitate the shredded potatoes and rinse with water until the water runs clear from the colander. Strain the potatoes and pour into a clean kitchen towel, gather the edges and twist the towel around to squeeze the excess water out of the potatoes. Do this as hard as possible, changing towels if needed to remove the most moisture. Transfer the dried potato shreds to a large bowl. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, Hungarian paprika, 2 teaspoons of salt, and a grind or two of pepper. Toss with your hands to combine.

In a large nonstick saute pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and shredded potatoes. Spread the potatoes evenly and allow a bottom crust to build before tossing to cook some more. Continue to cook while tossing until most of the hash browns are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Pour into a serving plate.

And here is the final meal plate!!! :)

**I did change only a few things slightly. One is I couldn't find Hungarian Paprika so I just used regular, I used bacon instead of the cured ham and I really cheated by using a bag of frozen hash browns that I thawed out before hand!

Also, I don't know about you but when I saw the grape jelly Danny and I thought that was a little strange but went ahead and added it anyway to see what it was like and it was surprisingly good! The sausage to me was REALLY spicy so next time I make them I personally will only add 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper instead. But if you like spicy you will probably think its fine Danny did....maybe im just a wuss?

OK well thats it....have a good night!!