Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sausage-pumpkin Corn-bread Stuffing

This has become one of our favorites through out the years. I have not made it this year yet, but have been having pregnancy cravings for it. We found this recipe in a Real Simple Magazine, so I guess it is supposed to be easy to make.


To Make it.....
Hands-on time: 35 minutes/total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Serves 8

3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 jalapenos, minced (with seeds)
12 corn muffins or two 8 1/2-ounce corn-bread mixes, prepared and crumbled (10 cups)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 14 ounce can chicken or vegetable broth
l cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage or 1 heaping tablespoon dried sage

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage and jalapenos, breaking up the meat and cooking until it is no longer pink. Drain the fat. Add the corn bread,. Fold in the pumpkin, broth, cranberries, and sage (Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) For drier stuffing, omit the broth.

This is not your traditional stuffing, but you wont be disappointed.

Monday, December 17, 2007

holiday salad

i am a salad lover. when i find a good salad, i eat it to death. i came up with this one a year ago. i had to do the salad for thanksgiving, and i wanted it to be different and feel holidayish. it was a take on one i had at my in laws at a church social. this can be used as the main dish with a warm crusty bread, or as the star of a beautiful traditional holiday meal. it has a rich flavor to it, enjoy!
the dressing is a key star here. you use this (good seasons - italian) and use balsalmic vinegar instead of regular, (the instructions are on the box) and 5-6 raspberries. it is best if left overnight.

there are a lot of ingredients here, so be patient - it is so worth it.
-greens of your choice, i like to mix an organic spring mix with some romaine.
-avacado - diced with some lemon juice over top to keep from browning (tip- cut avacado in half(remove pit by securing a knife in the pit and pulling out) and cube while inside the peel - cut crosswise and then lengthwise, squirt lemon juice over top and then spoon out. this is a super fast easy way to handle an avacado
-grapefruit - in small bite size sections
-gorgonzola cheese
-shrimp, cooked and cut into tiny bite size pieces (if you want to marinate them in some of the salad dressing before, it adds more flavor)
-sugared pecans - i like to fill a cooking pan with white sugar, cover the pan, and wait until the sugar turns to caramel, a beautiful golden color. then add your pecans and coat with the caramel. lay them out on a plastic surface or a nonstick surface - i usually use a large lid to one of my plastic bowls. let this cool for a bit and then break the pieces into small bits. you can also use store bought sweetened nuts to save on time.
-red onions diced ever so small so there is only a subtle hint of onion in any given bite.

you can garnish this salad with whole shrimp on the edges of the salad, also avacado slices would be great too. let guests spoon salad dressing to their liking, it is a rich dressing. ENJOY!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday Cookies

One of our family to traditions is to decorate sugar cookies each year around Christmas. We generally always try to invite another one or two families to come and do it with us. This year we had Todd's sister's family over to join in the fun. I've tried a LOT of sugar cookie recipes over the years searching for one that I really like. Today I tried a recipe that I got from my sister-in-law and I really loved it. I like my sugar cookies thick and super soft, and that is exactly how these turned out.

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat. Add remaining ingredients and mix together. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours. Roll out to 1/4" thick and cut into shapes. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

6 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. (4 cups sifted) powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

If you're daring, you can try doing some of your sugar cookies the way Todd's family has his whole life - you brush the tops of the dough with milk and then sprinkle with any flavor jell-o powder before baking. It gives you all kinds of great flavors and isn't quite and sugar-sweet at going the route of tons of frosting and sprinkles, etc. We like both kinds in our house.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pumpkin Ice cream Dessert

My mom made this for us a few Sundays ago and it is heavenly! If you are having people over and need a yummy dessert-you gotta try this.

9X13 pan
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1 small can pumpkin
1 C. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. each-nutmeg, ginger and ground cloves
30 vanilla wafers and 30 ginger snaps crushed
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1/4 C. melted butter

Set out vanilla ice cream to soften.

Mix butter, cookies and nuts. Press half of the mix into a 9X13 pan and reserve the rest for the topping.

Mix spices, sugar and pumpkin together and add to the softened ice cream. Spoon into 9X13 pan and sprinkle the remaining topping on top and freeze for several hours.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

christmas brunch bake

corn dogs~!

just kidding folks........
sausage bake

why do i consider this holiday - well there is sage in it, that to me is holiday.
sage makes me salivate, i love it. it is a husky, deep, earthy flavor and oh, it sings with this combo. plus sous chef becca prep (interpretation - night before prep)
so, here it goes, enjoy with a sweet breakfast food. danish, donuts, glazed bread....

8 slices bread, cut up in small cubes
2 c. shredded cheese
1 1/2 lbs. Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage
12 eggs
1 ½ c milk
¾ t. dry mustard
1 can cream of mushroom soup
½ c milk
2-4 TBSP dried onion -

Brown sausage and onion. - drain

In a 9 X 13 put the bread cubes down first.
2nd layer- spread 1 cup cheese
3rd layer - sausage and onion
4th layer - spread 1 cup cheese
5th layer - beat eggs, milk and dry mustard. Pour evenly
Prepare the night before. Leave in fridge overnight.
Before you put in the oven the next morning, combine ½ c milk with soup. Pour evenly over the top.
Bake covered at 300 degrees for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 45 minutes. Should be golden brown on bottom.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Holiday Party Foods

Tonight we had some of our med school friends over for a night of appetizers, desserts, games and fun. It just isn't the holidays for me without throwing a party. I really enjoy planning parties and this was just what I needed to get my party planning in for the season. Being 38 weeks pregnant, I found that I didn't really have the energy to plan a whole dinner, so we had the party later in the evening and I asked everyone to bring a favorite holiday appetizer or dessert. I made wassail, stuffed mushrooms and pecan tarts. I forgot to snap pictures, but these are three of my favorite holiday foods, so I thought I'd share the recipes for the tarts and mushrooms here. The wassail recipe I used is the classic wassail recipe from the Lion House cookbook.

Pecan Tarts
Cream together:
1 Square Butter
4 oz. Cream Cheese
1 Cup Flour

The mixture will be crumbly until you mash it together with your hands. It is a press pastry dough. Press about 1 tsp. into each mini muffin cup being careful not to get it too thin on the bottom.

Mix together and pour over about ¼ tsp. chopped pecans in each shell:
1 egg beaten
¾ Cup Brown Sugar
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Tbsp. Butter-melted

Bake 325 for 25 minutes. This recipe makes about 24 miniature tarts.

I 'm not usually a huge fan of spray whipped cream, but it goes great with these tarts and I actually prefer the spray whipped cream for these.

Stuffed Mushroom Caps

This is my favorite stuffed mushroom recipe. They are SO easy and SO yummy. They are always a big hit at any party and happen to be a family favorite.

2 Large Containers of Whole Mushrooms
1/2 Lb. (8 oz.) Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage (The hot sausage doesn't taste spicy, but adds a lot of flavor, so buy the hot even if it isn't what you usually buy. The cream cheese really tones it down)
1/2 pkg. (4 oz) Cream Cheese

Wash and de-stem mushrooms. Discard stems. Place mushrooms on a cookie sheet so they are ready to stuff. Put sausage and cream cheese in a bowl and mash together with your hands until well combined. While your hands are sticky, stuff each mushroom cap. This made about 36 mushrooms.

Bake at 375 appx. 20-30 minutes or until the sausage is golden on top.

Happy Holiday Cooking!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Party Night - Holiday Treats

Oh my word - I'm such a slacker! I think Fridays have just been skipping right by me and disappearing. Forgive me for being late. Here are a couple of easy recipes for some festive holiday treats we like to have made up for when we have people over during the holidays.

bite-size waffle shaped pretzels or ring (round) pretzels
Hershey's hugs
M & M's - preferably the mint ones you can find this time of year

Heat your oven to 170 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment and place pretzels in a single layer on baking sheet. Top each prezel with an unwrapped Hershey's hug (or you could use kisses). Bake for 4 to 6 minutes (white chocolate melts more quickly), until the chocolates start to get shiny. Remove from oven and quickly press an M & M into the center of each hug or kiss. Allow treats to cool for a few minutes, then place in refrigerator to set, about 10 minutes.
Another variation of this recipe is to use caramel kisses on the pretzel and press with a nut on the top (turtle). Yummy!

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup karo syrup
1 big box Rice Chex
1 big box Golden Grahams
2 cups slivered almonds
2 cups shredded coconut

In a medium pan, melt butter and then add sugar and karo syrup. Bring mixture to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Pour immediately over dry ingredients. Make sure everything is coated. Spread our on a cookie sheet to dry - can be a little sticky when done.

Magic Bars

There is nothing special or secret about this recipe. It just happens to be my favorite holiday treat.

2- 2 1/2 Cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick of butter melted
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
10oz. pkg of Semi Sweet Chocolate chip
1/2 pkg. of bakers coconut
*1/4 Cup chopped pecans


Mix Graham crackers and melted butter in bottom of 9"x13" pan. Press and make a crust. Cover with Chocolate chips (save a handful for the topping) and about half of the nuts. Coat with the entire can of sweetened condensed milk. Cover with coconut and sprinkle rest of nuts and chocolate chips on top. Press down lightly on the top to make it all stick together. Cook at 350 degrees F until coconut is slightly golden. Cool and cut in squares. I can eat the entire pan myself.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes

I discovered this recipe through my good old Everyday Food magazine. This recipe is so tasty! The flavors in it are just perfect for this time of the year.

1/4 C. flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I just used breasts)
coarse salt and pepper
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 piece ginger, peeled (2 inches long)
1 cinnamon stick
1 can chicken broth
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 T. fresh lemon juice
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Place flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper; dredge in flour, shaking off excess. In a 5 quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add chicken, and cook until browned, 4-6 minutes per side; transfer to plate.

Add onion, ginger and cinnamon to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to soften, 2-3 minutes. Return chicken to pot. Add broth and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sweet potatoes are tender (10-15 minutes). Discard ginger and cinnamon stick. Stir in lemon juice and season stew with salt and pepper.

While stew is simmering, prepare couscous according to package instructions. Serve chicken stew with couscous and garnish with cilantro.

*I took my own picture of this dish, but the one on my magazine looks so much prettier! So, if you want a picture of the finished product, check it out here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Festive Food Tuesday: mmmm....smells good!

Cooking legend Julia Child put it best: "There is hardly a man alive who does not adore soup, particularly when it is homemade. Hot soup on a cold day, cold soup on a hot day, and the smell of soup simmering in the kitchen are fundamental, undoubtedly even atavistic, pleasures and solaces that give a special kind of satisfaction."

Yes, filling my family's bellies with warm soup on a winter's night is about as good as it gets. I don't love living in the cold, but I absolutely love cooking in the winter, just because of the endless possibilities of soup! My husband, Shane, gave me Julia Child's cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and I thought I'd break it in with one of my favorite dishes, Leek and Potato Soup:

Just a couple of notes: Leeks are a little hard to find, but bring fantastic flavor! I add leeks to any veggie soup I can. To prepare the leeks, I cut off the ends and the dark green stems, keeping only the very light green and white ends. I slice these sections crosswise and clean the leeks by dumping them in a big bowl of cold water.
Another thought: dinnertime is always a little chaotic, so I really try to take some pressure off by chopping up the veggies the night before. I stick them in the fridge, submerged with water, so the potatoes stay fresh. Ooh, I love pulling out the veggies all ready to go the next day.

So, here's the recipe!
3 to 4 cups potatoes, sliced or diced
3 cups thinly sliced leeks
2 quarts of water
1 tablespoon salt (I use coarse salt)
4 to 6 tablespoons whipping cream
2 to 3 tablespoons minced parsley or chives

Simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered for 40 to 50 minutes.
Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork, or pass the soup through a food mill (how I wish that I had a food mill...maybe next Christmas!). Correct seasoning. Set aside uncovered until just before serving, then reheat to a simmer. (I had to add a bit more water, so the consistency was more soup and less mashed potatoes)
Off heat and just before serving, stir in the cream by spoonfuls. Pour into bowls and decorate with herbs.

Just add a toasty baguette, some nice cheese, and some fresh fruit, and you have a beautiful French supper, perfect for a blustery winter's night!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

festive holiday turkey

my mom tried this recipe a year ago and was so apprehensive to try it. it goes against a traditional turkey approach, but let me tell you, we are so glad she did!
it is deceptive because it is simple and the flavors tend to seem unturkeyish. all of these spices seem to be on heand around this time of year, plus the smell is so welcoming. the sauce is divine, i could drink it and feel happy, so without further adu;


1 boneless turkey breast (3 to 4 pounds) halved
1 can (16 oz)whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c apple juice
1 TB cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 TB all purpose flour
1/4 c cold water
1/4 teaspoon browning sauce, optional

place the turkey, skin side up in a 5 qt. slow cooker. combine the cranberry sauce, sugar, apple juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard, cinnamon, cloves and allspice; pour over turkey. cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.
remove turkey to a cutting board; keep warm. strain cooking juices. in a saucepan, combine flour and water until smooth; gradually stir in strained juices. bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. stirin browning sauce if desired. serve with sliced turkey. 12-16 servings.

the sauce is a rich golden brown, such great color and flavor!