Monday, January 27, 2014

Another Pantry Winner


In my perfect freezer world, I would keep a pork roast, beef roast, pork tenderloin, flank steak, chicken breasts, bacon, whole chickens, ground beef, cubed beef stew meat, etc. In reality, I have different combinations of these items in my freezer at different points in time.

As it so happened, I had some pork tenderloin in there that was due to be used up...and this is the recipe I decided to make with it.

Weight Watchers Sweet-Hot Pork Medallions


1 pound pork tenderloin
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Vegetable cooking spray
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar


Trim fat from pork. Cut pork into 1-inch-thich slices. Place slices between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and flatten to 1/2-inch thickness, using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle with pepper and garlic powder.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add oil. Place skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add half of pork medallions, and cook 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Remove pork from skillet; set aside, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining half of pork meallions.

Add water, soy sauce, and brown sugar to skillet. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until bubbly. Soon sauce over pork.

Yield: 4 servings.

Source: Weight Watchers 15-Minute Cookbook, ISBN 0-8487-1822-4.

Notes: I had discovered this recipe a few years back in my cookbook. It is easy and so flavorful. I haven't quite found the best side dishes to go along with it. I served this with a salad, egg rolls, and, I kind of mixed my ethnic cuisines here, and I don't think it worked too great. I mean, it all tasted great, but I don't think it paired well together. Other than that, this is so delicious, and so easy to make.

I like to increase the sauce (I usually double or triple it).

Something a Little Different for the Slow Cooker

Do you know what is irritating? When you have everything but one ingredient for a recipe, so you go to the store for that ingredient...and then you forget to use it in the recipe. Ha ha! That's what I did with this recipe. I bought golden raisins because it was the only thing I was missing...and then I forgot to use them. I really liked it and thought it tasted good, but I thought, "This might be missing something..." I realized what it was missing the next day. I added the raisins to the leftovers, and it was very nice.

What I learned is that this dish is great with the raisins, but if you leave them out, it won't be the end of the world either. Ha ha! Besides, I love golden raisins. They will make a good snack for me.

Spiced Chicken Stew with Carrots


2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
8 skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total) or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted, if desired
Chicken broth, optional (see notes below)
Additional salt and pepper, to taste
Couscous, for serving (optional)


Place carrots in slow cooker. In a bowl, toss together chicken, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; add to slow cooker. Cover, and cook on high, 4 hours (or on low, 8 hours), adding raisins 15 minutes before cooking is done.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and carrots to a dish (remove cinnamon stick); top with cilantro and almonds. Season cooking liquid with salt and pepper; spoon over chicken. Serve with couscous, if desired.

Alternate method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 5-quart Dutch oven or ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid, adding 1 cup water. Cover, and bake until chicken is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Proceed with the second step of the recipe.

Source: Martha Stewart Everyday Food, March 2009. You can find it here.

Notes: I like to have a lot of sauce and this doesn't really create that much liquid. So, I would suggest adding one can of chicken broth, or 1 to 2 cups of water (and perhaps a cube or two of chicken bouillon). This was very simple to throw together, and a very nice change of pace for a slow cooker meal.

Season each portion with salt and pepper to your taste.

Above: Don't forget the raisins! Ha ha!

We Do This a Lot


What would a fall/winter Sunday evening be like without a chili night? We have to have at least one every season...sometimes up to three or four! Oh, and always new chili recipes. Very few repeats in our family! Here are our most recent chili findings.

Killer Chili


1 (1 pound) package bacon
3 pounds ground beef
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups red wine (or beef broth, which is what we used)
3 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (14 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 green bell peppers, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 (19 ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 (19 ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (19 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
6 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ground cumin
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
3 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons dried oregano
12 dashed hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste 
Favorite chili toppings, such as cilantro, shredded cheese, diced avocado etc.


Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble and set aside.

Heat a large stock popt over medium-high heat and cook and stir the ground beef until the beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Drain and discard any excess grease. Stir in the bacon and minced garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the red wine (or beef broth), diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce.

Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the green bell peppers, celery, and chopped onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir onion mixture into the stock pot. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a near bowl. Mix in the kidney beans, white beans, and black beans. Season with chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, paprika, Italian seasoning, vinegar, basil, dried minced onion, parsley, red pepper flakes, oregano, hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring often.

Serves 25.

Source:, submitted by hoeguy. You can find it here.

Chiliville Chili


1 pound Johnsonville Italian ground mild, sweet, or hot Italian sausage
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions
2 (16 ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can beef broth
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Shredded Cheddar cheese, optional


In a large saucepan, cook sausage and ground beef over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the onion, celery, and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with cheese, if you like, and serve immediately.

Serves 10.

Source:, submitted by The Kitchen at Johnsonville Sausage. You can find it here.

Notes: This was great. Spicier than the other chili, in my opinion. Feel free to top it with and of your favorite chili toppings.

Oh, and don't forget to serve your favorite chili with some cornbread muffins (mini ones for the kiddies too!).

The Meatballs are Back

I know I went crazy a couple of months ago and made a ton of different kinds of meatballs, but what can I say? My youngest son just keeps asking me for meatballs when I say, "What should I make for dinner?" Besides, there are so many different kinds of meatballs out there!

Beef Stroganoff Meatballs


Coarse salt and pepper
3/4 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large shallots, diced small
1 pound ground beef chuck (80 percent lean)
1 pound mushrooms, such as button or cremini, trimmed and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, divided


Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 2 1/2 cups pasta water; drain.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, milk, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In a large heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer 1/4 cup shallots to breadcrumb mixture, along with beef and stir until just combined (do not overmix). Form into 1-inch balls and place, 1 inch apart, on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes, turning halfway through.

Add mushrooms to pot with remaining shallots and cook, stirring, over medium, until mushrooms are softened, 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add reserved pasta water, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, and bring to a rapid simmer. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and 2 tablespoons dill. Add meatballs and toss to coat. Divide pasta among four bowls and top with meatballs, sauce, and remaining 2 tablespoons dill.

Source: Martha Stewart, Everyday Food, October 2012. You can find it here.

Notes: My grocery store didn't have any fresh dill, so I used parsley instead. This was so good. Really easy to make, quick to throw together, and really tasty.

Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast

I've found that on the mornings when my son has preschool, it is really hard for me to find time to eat breakfast. This is a great breakfast for mornings like that. I've seen other versions online that add in milk, among other things.

This, however, is the super easy version. I'm a big fan of super easy these days.

Overnight Oatmeal


1 container (5.3 oz) Greek yogurt or regular yogurt, any flavor
1/4 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon chia seed, optional
Desired mix-ins (see ideas below), optional


In container with tight-fitting cover, mix yogurt, oats, and chia seed, if using. Add desired stir-ins, if using.

Cover; refrigerate at least 8 hours, but no longer than 3 days before eating.

Stir-In Ideas:

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds.
1 tablespoon honey or 2 tablespoons comb honey.
1/4 cup banana slices
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup blackberries
1/4 cup raspberries
1/4 cup mandarin orange segments
1/4 cup pineapple tidbits
1/4 cup chopped kiwi fruit
1/4 cup sliced grapes

Source: Pillsbury website. You can find it here. There is an almost identical recipe on the Betty Crocker website here.

Notes: First of all, I didn't use chia seeds. This recipe is as easy as it gets. If you choose a yogurt that already has mix-ins or fun flavors, you don't need to add any additional mix-ins. For instance, if you use pineapple Greek yogurt, you are good to go. There is no need to add anything else. I made some with vanilla yogurt and topped it with a little honey, and it was great.

Mix-ins such as fresh fruit would be really tasty too...but not really necessary. If you use just Greek yogurt and oats, it will make for a thick, chewy, and filling breakfast. If you want it a little thinner, use regular yogurt, or stir in a little milk.

Check this blog out for some other great flavor/stir-in ideas and another method for making overnight oatmeal. Check out her second post too.

Pantry Dinner Winner!

I've said this before, but I plan some meals specifically, and some meals are basically luck of the draw based on what I have in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. This is one of those recipes.

Apricot-Lemon Chicken


1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray
1/3 cup apricot spread
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind


Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; rub mixture over chicken.

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Cook chicken 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan, and keep warm.

Add apricot spread, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons water to pan, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat 1 minute. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle with lemon rind.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half and about 1 1/2 tablespoons apricot-lemon sauce).

Nutrition information: 245 calories, 2 g fat, 39.4 g protein, 14.5 carbo, 0.3 g fiber, 99 mg cholesterol, 14 mg iron, 402 mg sodium, 24 mg calc.

Source: Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast cookbook. ISBN-10:0-8487-3264-2. You can find the recipe online here.

Notes: Well, I forgot the lemon zest/lemon peel garnish. Other than that, I made it as is, and it was great. I would increase the sauce in the future though. Good stuff!

Freeze Ahead

My sister, Laurie, sent me a bunch of recipes that she made and froze prior to the birth of her second baby. I am slowly, but surely, making and photographing them. Here is one of them. It was super yummy and survived despite the fact that I misread the bake time and baked it waaaay longer than it was supposed to be. It still turned out great though!

Tamale Pies


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds ground dark-meat turkey
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 minced jalapeno chiles (seeds and ribs removed for less heat, if desired)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
4 cups fresh (from 6 ears) or thawed frozen corn kernels
Cornmeal Crust (recipe below)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Make filling: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. In two batches, brown turkey, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet. Cook onion, jalapeno, and cumin, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes; season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Return turkey to pan; stir in tomatoes and corn until combined.

Make crust. Pour 1/8 of the crust (1/4 cup) into the bottom of each of eight 10- to 12-ounce ramekins. Smooth tops with a spoon; cool 5 minutes. Top each with turkey filling, dividing evenly; sprinkle with cheese.

Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until filling is bubbling and cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.

Freezing instructions:

To freeze this dish, do not add cheese in step 3. Let pies cool completely; do not bake. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; freeze up to 3 months.

To cook small pies from frozen: Remove plastic wrap from frozen pies, and cover with foil; bake 45 minutes. Remove foil, top with cheese, and bake 30 minutes more.

To cook large pies: Defrost overnight in refrigerator. Sprinkle with cheese; bake, uncovered, 45-60 minutes.

Serves 8.

Source: Martha Stewart. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: I don't have 10- to 12-ounce ramekins. I only have 4- and 6-ounce ramekins. I also opted to make some of it in a 9-inch pie plate. I would say you could make this in two 9-inch pie plates and cut it into wedges for serving.

Cornmeal Crust


1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
4 tablespoons butter


Whisk cornmeal with 1 1/2 cups cold water.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups water, salt, and pepper to a boil.

Gradually stir in cornmeal mixture. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring often, until very thick, 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat;stir in butter until melted.

Source: Martha Stewart Everyday Food, September 2004. You can find it here.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Comfort Zones

You might feel that certain foods can only be eaten in a restaurant because you're worried that you might screw it up at home. It's easier just to make certain foods that are within your own personal comfort zone. However, trying is how you learn, right? Sometimes you learn that, yes, sometimes certain foods are only for restaurants (for instance, authentic Thai recipes have a TON of ingredients, and can often be pretty labor intensive, and the end product isn't quite as good as what you get in a restaurant anyway--like a certain massaman curry I made years ago).

Other times, however, after trying something new, you realize there was never really anything to worry about at all. Prime rib is one of those things.

We followed the tips for making prime rib found on the website. You can find that full article here. (This article contains links to specific recipes as well as a video guide for preparing your prime rib roast).

Here are some highlights from that article.

Preparation Tips:
  • Prime rib isn't usually labeled as such in a grocery store. Most likely, you will find prime rib labeled as "rib roast," "eye of the rib roast," or "standing rib roast." A boneless rib roast may be called "eye of the rib roast," or if the ribs are still attached, "standing rib roast."
  • Bone-in meat is usually more flavorful, but a boneless roast is easier to carve.
  • Each serving (per adult) should be at least six ounces of cooked, trimmed meat. A boneless roast gives you about two servings per pound, and a bone-in roast gives you one to one-and-a-half servings per pound.
  • Prime rib doesn't need to be marinated, and it doesn't require complicated or in-depth preparations. You can prepare a simple seasoning rub, if you like. If you use a spice rub, it can be applied up to 24 hours in advance. If you use a spice rub, wrap the roast tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to begin roasting. However, all that is really needed is some coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, and maybe a hint of rosemary. Don't salt the roast until right before cooking.
  • Dijon mustard and horseradish cream sauces are nice pairings with prime rib.
  • To infuse even more flavor into the meat, sliver fresh garlic, make tiny slits in the roast, and insert the garlic slivers into the slits.
  • Place the roast in a roasting pan that is only slightly bigger than the roast itself. If the pan is too large, the juices will evaporate. 
  • If you use a boneless roast, you should use a roasting rack. The bones can act as a roasting rack for a bone-in roast.
  • One side of the meat will have more fat on it. Place the roast fat side up so that the meat will baste itself as it cooks.
  • Do not add water to the pan.
  • Do not cover the pan while roasting.
Roasting Tips:
  • There are two ways you can roast: at a low temperature for a long time, or at a high temperature for a shorter time.
  • Your roast will shrink less if you roast it at a low temperature, but you won't get the same flavorful, well-browned exterior that a high roasting temperature gives you.
  • You can combine the two roasting methods by starting at a high temperature to sear the outside, then turning down the oven after 30-45 minutes to finish.
  • If you roast at 325 degrees F, the meat will take about 17-20 minutes per pound.
  • If you start the roast at 450 degrees F for the first 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F., allow about 13 to 15 minutes per pound.
  • Use a meat thermometer. For an accurate reading, push the thermometer into the middle of the roast, making sure the tip is not touching fat, bone, or the pan. For medium rare, roast to 130 to 140 degrees F; for medium, 145 to 155 degrees F. The roast's temperature will rise about five degrees after you remove it from the oven.
  • Let the roast stand for 15-20 minutes before carving to let the juices return to the center.
  • The slices taken from the ends of the roast will be the most done, and the middle will be the least done, so one roast will have varying degrees of doneness (that can suit different taste preferences).
  • Serve with pan drippings and horseradish sauce on the side
Horseradish Sauce


1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. Stir until well mixed.

Refrigerate for at least two hours to let the flavors come together. About 15 minutes before you want to serve it, you can take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature, just so it isn't ice cold.

Makes about 1 cup of sauce, which will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Source: We found this recipe on You can find it here.

You Can Change It Up

This is one of those desserts that you can get creative with by changing up the flavors of pie filling and Jell-O that you use. So, have fun, and make it however it sounds good to you!

1-2-3 Cherry Poke Cake


1 loaf (16 oz.) frozen pound cake, thawed
3/4 cup boiling water
1 pkg. (3 oz.) Jell-O Cherry Flavor Gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 oz. Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, optional
2 cups thawed Cool Whip whipped topping, divided
1 1/2 cups cherry pie filling, divided


Remove foil lid from cake package. (Do not remove cake from pan.) Pierce cake with skewer at 1/2-inch intervals, poking skewer through cake to bottom of pan.

Add boiling water to gelatin mix in small bowl; stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water; pour over cake. Refrigerate 1 hour. Meanwhile, make curls from semi-sweet chocolate, if using.

Invert cake onto platter. Cut cake horizontally in half. Spread bottom half of cake with 1/3 cup Cool whip; cover with 1 cup pie filling, and top cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining Cool Whip. Garnish with remaining pie filling and chocolate curls, if using.

Recipe Notes: This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 12 hours before serving.

Source: You can find the recipe here.

Notes: As mentioned before, you can get creative with this dessert idea. We used raspberry Jell-O and raspberry pie filling instead of the cherry. You could also use real sweetened whipped cream as well. Do what you like! 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Living it Up

Well, ever since we found out that my son has outgrown his almond allergy, and his allergist asked that we reintroduce almonds into his diet, I have been doing it quite happily! Just following doctor's orders! Almonds are one of my favorite things ever. Oh, how I missed them. This pasta was so good. This is a great, filling, and satisfying meat-free dinner.

Linguine with Toasted Almonds, Lemon, and Parsley


8 ounces whole-wheat linguine
Kosher salt
1 cup raw almonds, toasted and chopped
1 cup parsley leaves, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons almond oil or extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pecorino Romano (1/2 ounce) grated, for serving


Cook pasta in generously salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Toss pasta with remaining ingredients. Adjust consistency with reserved pasta water as desired. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheese.

Source: Martha Stewart Whole Living, January/February 2011. You can find it here. I actually found it in the new Meatless cookbook, which you can find information about here.

Notes: I used a whole pound of pasta, and I didn't use whole-wheat pasta either. Just regular pasta. I also didn't have any almond oil, so I used olive oil. Since I increased the amount of pasta used, I also increased the amount of lemon zest and juice that I used. However, I didn't increase any of the other ingredients. I would suggest adding the lemon, salt and pepper, and grated cheese to your taste. I also used Parmesan cheese, because that is what I had on hand.

The cookbook I found this in described this recipe as a deconstructed pesto. I really, really liked it. The lemon/almond combination was so satisfying and delicious. Good stuff!

The Last of the Eggnog...or Is It?


Ahhh, eggnog. Why are you only available a few months of the year? I will share a great recipe that uses store-bought eggnog. Then, I will show you how you can make a very easy version at home if you are craving eggnog in January...or July!

Eggnog Tres Leches Cake


1 package white cake mix (regular size)
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 egg whites
2 cups eggnog
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup 2 percent milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg


In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, water, oil, and egg whites; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 13x9-inch baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Using a skewer, poke holes in cake 1-inch apart.

In a large bowl, combine the eggnog, sweetened condensed milk, and 2 percent milk. Pour a scant 3/4 cup mixture over cake; let stand for 20-30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Repeat four times. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Spread over cake. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Refrigerate leftovers.

Yield: 15 servings.

Nutritional information: 1 piece equals 394 calories, 19 g fat, 62 mg cholesterol, 309 mg sodium, 51 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 6 g protein.

Source: Taste of Home. You can find it here.

Ice Cream Eggnog


Vanilla ice cream (amount depends on the number of servings you wish to make)
Milk, to achieve desired thickness
Rum extract, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
Yellow food coloring, optional


Place vanilla ice cream and milk in a blender (the amounts you use are dependent on how many servings you wish to make, and how thick you would like your eggnog to be). Flavor with rum extract and nutmeg to your taste.

Sprinkle with additional nutmeg, if desired.

Serve immediately.

Source: I was inspired by this recipe that I found in an Everyday Food magazine.

Notes: The ice cream helps you achieve a texture similar to that of store-bought eggnog. You can use any kind of milk you would like (skim, whole, half-and-half, etc.). You can make it thick (using less milk) if you want more of an eggnog shake. Or you can use more milk to achieve more of an eggnog thickness.

I would suggest starting out with about 1 teaspoon of rum flavoring, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and then adjusting this to your taste. I used more than 1 teaspoon of rum flavoring.

You can use yellow food coloring to make your eggnog look more like the store-bought variety, or you can keep it white. It's up to you!

Above: Ice cream eggnog (without yellow food coloring)

Above: Ice cream eggnog with a little yellow food coloring.

This really tastes just like store-bought eggnog. If you have a serious craving for eggnog when none can be found in the store, this easy recipe is for you.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pie Night!

Pie night was awhile ago, but I'm not going to lie to you, just looking at these pictures, I feel like I should loosen my belt just a little. Lots of amazing pies!


Cake Batter Pie



1/2 package Golden Oreos or 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 11 graham cracker sheets)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted


3 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons Funfetti Cake Mix

Whipped Cream:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
Rainbow sprinkles

To make the crust:

In a large food processor, grind up the Golden Oreos into fine crumbs. You should have 2 cups of cookie crumbs. Put the crumbs in a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Mix the ingredients together. Then add the melted butter and mix to coat all of the crumbs with butter.

Put the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Press the crumbs into the sides of the pie plate and into the bottom. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.

Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack before filling with the pudding.

To make the Funfetti Cake Batter pudding:

Pour the milk into a large saucepan. Heat the milk over medium heat until almost simmering. Make sure you watch the milk so it doesn't overflow while you work on the next step.

In a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment (a handheld mixer works too), mix together the egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar, and kosher salt for 4 minutes on medium speed. The egg mixture should be thick.

On low speed, carefully pour the milk into the mixing bowl.

Continue to mix until the milk is combined with the other ingredients.

Pour the mixture back into the large saucepan and heat over medium low heat and constantly whisk the mixture. The pudding should take 7-10 minutes to thicken.

Once the pudding has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat. Add in the unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Whisk.

Put a sieve over a large bowl. Pour the pudding mixture into the sieve and using a spoon or spatula, press the pudding through the sieve. This will help eliminate any lumps in the pudding. Then whisk in the cake batter mix. Make sure you whisk the ingredients thoroughly to avoid lumps of cake batter mix in your pudding.

Pour the pudding into the cooled pie crust. Evenly spread it out with a spatula.

Cover the pie with plastic wrap. Be sure to press the plastic wrap against the pudding in order to avoid a film forming on the pudding.

Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 6 hours.

To make the whipped cream:

Pour the heavy whipping cream in a large mixing bowl with the whisk attachment (a handheld mixer works fine too). Turn the mixer on high speed while it is mixing. Slowly add the sugar. Mix until stiff peaks form.

Once the pie is done chilling, top the pie with the whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles.

Source: This recipe was found on Pizzazzerie. You can find it here.

Notes: This was so good. Definitely the surprise of the night. I think no one expected this to be as good as it really was. Tasty stuff. Oh, and if you want a much easier version of this recipe, you could simply make a package of vanilla pudding and mix some Funfetti Cake mix into it.

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie


One 9-inch pie crust
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup apple butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3/4 cup half and half

Streusel/crumble topping:

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecan pieces, optional


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare or thaw a 9-inch pie crust and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until yolk and whites are combined and no strings remain. Add pumpkin, apple butter, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and combine well. Stir in half and half.

Pour into pie shell and place in oven. After 10 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Bake until center of pie no longer trembles and has set, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature and then transfer to refrigerator.

Prepare streusel/crumble by combining flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Using a cheese grater, grate the very cold butter into small pieces directly onto flour mixture.

Rub between your hands to turn streusel into small lumps, and consequently into crumbles. Stir in pecans, if using.

Spread evenly onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in a 350 degree F. oven until fragrant and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir mixture halfway during baking for even baking results. When cooled, store in a plastic bag.

To ensure a crisp streusel/crumble, sprinkle this topping generously on the pie right before serving.

Source: Imperial Sugar website. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: We used almonds in place of the pecans because my son is allergic to pecans.

Vinegar Pie


Flaky pastry dough
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Cinnamon, for dusting
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving, optional


Make pie shell:

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Fit dough into pie pan or tart pan and trim excess, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang inward and press against side of pan to form a rim that extends 1/4-inch above pan. Prick bottom shell all over with a fork and chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in middle of oven until edge is pale golden and sides are set, about 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake shell until bottom is golden, 8 to 10 minutes more.

Make filling while shell bakes:

Whisk together eggs and 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl until blended well. Whisk together flour and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then whisk in water and vinegar. Bring to a boil, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Add to egg mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly.

Pour filling into saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until filling coats back of spoon and registers 175 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer, 12 to 15 minutes (do not boil). Immediately pour filling into a 2-cup glass measure. If pie shell is not ready, cover surface of filling with a round of wax paper.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F, then pour hot filling into baked pie shell in middle of oven and cover rim of crust with a pie shiled or foil (to prevent overbrowning). Bake pie until filling is set, 15 to 20 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack. Dust evenly with cinnamon.

Source: We found this on You can find it here.

Recipe notes: You can make this in a pie pan or in a fluted tart pan.

Old-Fashioned Fudge Pie


2 squares (2-ounces) semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar, then the eggs; beat well. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 25 minutes, or until just set. Serve warm or cols, with ice cream or whipped cream.

Source: Food Network. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: We decided to top our pie with both whipped cream and mini chocolate chips. This was good, but beware, this was also sooooo rich!


Tangerine Chess Pie


1 (14.1 ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plain yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons tangerine or orange zest
1/3 cup fresh tangerine or orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Garnishes: sweetned whipped cream, tangerine slices, and/or tangerine zest


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Unroll piecrusts; stack on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 12-inch circle. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp. Prick bottom and sides of crust with a fork. Bake 8 minutes; cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together sugar and next 8 ingredients until blended. Pour into prepared piecrust.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes, or until center is set, shielding edges with foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool 1 hour.

Source: Southern Living, February 2012. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: If you love citrus, this pie is for you. It is bright tasting and tangy.

Lazy Caramel Pie


1 prepared graham cracker pie crust
1 can (14 ounces) Dulce de Leche
Sweetened whipped cream, to taste


Soften dulce de leche slightly by stirring it or microwaving it in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds (this makes it a lot easier to spread it in the graham cracker crust).

Spoon dulce de leche onto prepared graham cracker pie crust and spread over bottom. Refrigerate to allow dulce de leche to set (this makes cutting/serving easier).

When ready to serve, top with sweetened whipped cream and cut into wedges.

Source: The inspiration for this pie recipe came from a cookbook of mine. I can't seem to find it online, but it is a Cooking Light recipe that came from a cookbook called Cooking Light Cook's Essential Recipe Collections: Slow Cooker. You can find more information on that cookbook here.

Notes. This was so easy. Really tasty stuff too. Everyone who tried it really liked this one. Dulce de leche can be found in the baking aisle next to the sweetened condensed milk. In the cookbook, a can of sweetened condensed milk was cooked in a slow cooker for hours until the can's contents turned into dulce de leche caramel. I just skipped that step and simply bought a can of dulce de leches instead.

Old-Fashion Oatmeal Pie


1 (9-inch) pie crust
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 to 1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal (uncooked)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat eggs until frothy.

Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.

Add eggs; mix well.

Add corn syrup, melted butter, and vanilla.

Mix in oatmeal.

Pour into uncooked shell.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Source: You can find it here.

Recipe notes: "This great pie recipe goes back over 100 years. The recipe came from my grandmother's grandmother who was living in Charleston, South Carolina during the 1860's. Family history has it, that during the Civil War, since pecans were in short supply in the south, oatmeal was substituted for the traditional pecan pie, and the results were astonishing. Now served at every family gathering since that time."

Source: We found this on You can find it here.

Notes: This was like a pecan pie, just with oatmeal in place of the pecans. Count me in for caramel anything!

Key Lime Pie


1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
1 teaspoon orange peel
1/2 cup lime juice
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 baked pie shell of pastry or graham crackers


Blend milk, lime juice, lime peel, and salt. Mix with egg yolks slightly beaten. Beat egg whites with sugar and orange peel until very stiff. Fold into milk mixture. Pour into shell and sprinkle with orange peel. Bake in oven 15 minutes. Chill and serve. Makes one 9-inch pie.

Source: I'm not quite sure where my mom got this recipe from.

Notes: So good. Fresh citrus flavors. A nice and fluffy key lime pie. Very refreshing and delicious!


Above: I'll have a piece of that.


Above: Maybe just a little bit more.

Kool-Aid Pie


1 (0.13 ounce) package unsweetened fruit-flavored drink mix (such as Kool-Aid)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust


Whisk fruit-flavored drink mix with sweetened condensed milk in a bowl until thoroughly combined and thick. Gently fold whipped topping into mixture until light and fluffy. Spread filling into pie crust and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Source:, submitted by blue. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: We made this literally so we would have a kid-friendly pie. The kids naturally just gravitated towards it. They liked the color and the texture and fluffiness was really kid-pleasing.

Faux Pecan Pie



4 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Deep dish pie shell, unbaked


1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For Filling:

Place first five ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix with wire whisk until well combined. Pour into pie shell.

Combine all topping ingredients in medium bowl and stir well with a spoon to coat pretzels.

Sprinkle topping evenly over pie.

Bake in 350 degree F. oven for 1 hour, covering with foil after 30 minutes to prevent over browning.

Allow to cool completely before serving. Can be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in refrigerator.

Source: Christy Jordan's Southern Plate. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: Wow, the woman who created this recipe is a genius! The pretzels were such a good stand-in for the pecans. My husband said this is probably his new favorite pie. Fantastic stuff!

Above: Mine didn't look as pretty as the recipe creator's, but who cares? it was super delicious!

Cookie Dough Pie


1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Transfer the pie crust to a 9-inch pie dish.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Add the vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and salt until well combined; then stir in the chocolate chips and nuts (if using), until combined.

Transfer to the prepared pie shell, and bake for 60 minutes or until set.

Place the heavy cream in a large bowl and use mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Add the mini chips and stir to combine. Serve the pie with the chocolate chip cream spread over the top or on the side.

Source: We found this recipe on this site.

Notes: We divided this up and made it in mini pie pans for the kids. We skipped the walnuts because of my son's allergies.