Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie

 I'd only heard of sweet potato pie a few months ago (true story).  It intrigued me.  Then, a few weeks ago, one of my gingersnaps found a book at the library titled Sweet Potato Pie.  We brought the book home, read the delightful story with colorful illustrations, and came to the end of the book to find none other than a recipe for sweet potato pie.  "Let's make it!!"  Ok!

Making it was as easy as . . . ahem . . . pie.  And I'm pretty sure this pie is my new obsession.  I don't know what it is, but I like it so much I've decided I'm making this on Thursday instead of a pumpkin pie (and if you know me, you know how much I love pumpkin).  The texture is similar to pumpkin pie, but the flavor is subtly different, a little less sweet, and so delicious!  So if you're looking for a change on your Thanksgiving table and sweet potato pie is a new concept to you like it was to me not long ago, I suggest this yummy dessert (topped with whipped cream, of course!).

1 pie crust
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (approximately 3 large)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp butter at room temperature
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into chunks.  Boil or steam until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain off water and put hot potatoes into large bowl.  Mash well.

Add all remaining ingredients except cinnamon and beat sweet potato mixture until smooth.  Pour warm filling into pie crust and sprinkle top with cinnamon.

Bake for about 1 hour, until filling is firm and crust is golden brown.  Let cool then serve slightly warm with whipped cream!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Butternut Squash Lasagna

My husband and I really liked this vegetarian version on one of our favorite dishes.  It was delicious with a light hint of cheese and herbs.  And once all the ingredients are prepped (which many can be done ahead of time), the lasagna isn't that hard to put together.  I used one butternut squash and one acorn squash, doubling the recipe to put a pan in the freezer for later.  

2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or purchased
9 lasagna noodles, cooked
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
2 cups roasted winter squash 
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

Preheat the oven to 350F.
In the bottom of an 8×10 (I used 8x8) casserole, spread 1/2 cup of marinara sauce and top with three lasagna
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, salt and pepper together until foamy. Add the roasted squash and beat it into the egg until combined. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps.
Sprinkle the thyme and the Parmesan into the squash mixture and mix well. Spread the mixture over the lasagna noodles in the pan. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
Layer another 3 noodles in the casserole and top with 1 cup of marinara sauce. Place the remaining 3 noodles in the dish and spread the last 1/2 cup of sauce over the top of them.
Finish the lasagna with 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Top with 5-7 roasted tomatoes, if you wish.
Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the cheese is golden and the sides of the lasagna are bubbling.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pumpkin Waffles

My youngest gingersnap was too bothered by the mud from the pumpkin patch and couldn't make it out on her own.  But despite the mud, we are big fans of pumpkins around here - both picking them and eating them!  You can usually find a random amount of pumpkin puree in my fridge these days, just waiting to be used.  And I'm so glad I used some to try out these waffles!  I made them twice in one week and wised up the second time, doubling the batch to freeze some for a quick breakfast in the near future.  The hints of spice are just right and the cornmeal gives the waffles a good texture (less so if you grind the cornmeal very fine).  I like a dollop of yogurt and warm maple syrup on top, but my gingersnaps gobbled them up plain as snacks!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, finely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp brown sugar (packed)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (make your own using lemon juice)
1/2 cup fresh or canned pumpkin purée
4 Tbsp butter, melted (plus a little more for brushing the waffle iron)

Preheat your waffle iron.
In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until there are no more brown sugar clumps. Add the buttermilk, pumpkin purée, melted butter and whisk until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.
Brush a little melted butter over the wells of the hot waffle maker (to make it easier to remove the waffles.) When your waffle maker is hot, working in batches, ladle the batter onto the center of the waffle iron wells, not all the way to the edge, and slowly lower the top lid of the waffle iron. Cook until your waffle iron indicates that the waffles are ready, or until steam stops coming out of the sides of the waffle iron, about 4 to 5 minutes. Open the waffle iron and carefully lift the edge of a waffle with a fork to remove the waffles from the waffle iron.
Serve with warmed maple syrup and a side of apple sauce or apple butter.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pasta Shells with Mushrooms and Asparagus in Boursin Cheese Sauce

This recipe wasn't on my menu from Jessie last week, but it does come for her site and it is delicious! My husband and I made it together for an at-home date night.  If you haven't tasted the goodness of Boursin cheese, it's worth your attention!

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (5.2 ounce) package pepper Boursin cheese
3/4 pound uncooked pasta shells
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and heat the olive oil. Cut the mushroom caps in half, and slice 1/4 inch thick. Cook mushrooms in the skillet 8 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. Season with salt. Stir in the chicken broth and Boursin cheese. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until well blended.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add shell pasta and cook for 5 minutes. Place the asparagus into the pot, and continue cooking 5 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the asparagus is tender; drain. Toss with the mushroom sauce to serve.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Toffee Fruit Dip

Mmmmmm . . . this dip was so yummy!  I may have used a spoon to take a few more bites after the fruit was gone.

1 8oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tbsp. vanilla
Toffee pieces (crushed up Heath candy bar works well)

Blend cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla together.  Stir in toffee pieces.  Voila!  Top with a sprinkling of more toffee bits and serve with fruit slices (apples and pears worked well!).  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pork Verkenshaas

It was a difficult decision, but this ended up being my favorite meal from Jessie's menu.  The pork is tender and juicy, something I rarely manage unless I use the crock pot.  And the sauce was deliciously rich.  It was simple to put together, but tasted special, especially served next to a heaping mound of garlic mashed potatoes.  

2 pork tenderloins (1 1/2 pounds total), trimmed (I only used one tenderloin that was a little over a pound and didn't trim it)
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1/4 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves (1/2 tsp. dried)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (didn't use at all)

Preheat oven to 400° F.
Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet heat oil and 4 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork on all sides. Reduce heat to moderate and cook pork, covered, turning occasionally, 10 minutes. Transfer pork to a shallow baking dish and roast in oven until a meat thermometer registers 155° F. for barely pink meat, 10 to 15 minutes.

While pork is roasting, add remaining tablespoon butter and shallot to skillet and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add wine, broth, and mustard and simmer, scraping up brown bits, until reduced by about half. Add cream and basil and simmer until thickened. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
Cut pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Pour sauce over pork and serve with mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Italian Tacos

My middle gingersnap said this was her favorite meal from Jessie's menu.  I admit I raised one eyebrow at the thought of an Italian-style taco, but they were so simple and good!  I liked the beef/sausage combo. 

1/2 pound Italian sausage
1 pound ground beef (I just used 1/2 pound)
1 (16 ounce) jar tomato pasta sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
8 taco shells, heated
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning

Combine the ground beef and Italian sausage in a large heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease, and season meat with Italian seasoning.

Heat the pasta sauce in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through. When the sauce is warm, stir in the sugar.

Fill taco shells with the meat mixture, spoon pasta sauce over, and top with mozzarella cheese.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Revel Bars

I asked Jessie how it was that we've been friends as long as we have and I had never had these?!   They are amazing!  Truly.  Make a batch right now.  The gals from my Bible study kept me from eating the entire pan myself and couldn't stop saying how good they were!  I thought the bars were best having cooled just a little from the oven while the top was still a little crunchy.

3 cups quick cooking oats
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, beat together 1 cup butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. In another bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt; stir into butter mixture. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in walnuts and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
Pat 2/3 of the oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over the top, and dot with remaining oat mixture.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in preheated oven. Let cool on a wire rack, then cut into bars.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Carne Adovada

Jessie's photo
Thank you, Jessie, for introducing my family to this deliciousness!   My oldest gingersnap walked in from school and exclaimed, "It smells like another country in here!"  Talk about tasty, moist, versatile meat.  I could easily have just eaten a spoonful of the meat (and did!), but it was also delicious served with rice and beans, and wrapped up in a tortilla with other burrito-type fixings.  You have to marinate the meat overnight and then have your oven on for at least four hours, so it's a great meal to make as the weather is getting cooler.

2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons New Mexico red chile powder
2 1/2 cups warm water
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/3 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt (I would cut this in half next time)
3 pounds cubed pork stew meat (I used a 2-pound pork belly slab, trimmed the fat, and cut into large chunks)

In a skillet or frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in flour and brown until light golden brown. Blend in chile powder. Slowly add water, stirring until lumps are removed. Add garlic, oregano, cumin and salt. Simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Place pork in a large baking or casserole pan. When chile mixture has cooled, add it to pork and mix until pork is covered with chile. Cover and marinate pork for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
Bake pork, uncovered, in preheated oven for at least 4 1/2 hours, or until meat is well cooked, tender and falls apart.

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