Holidays

Yay, my very favorite time of the year has finally arrived! I’m so excited! We have so much fun in our house at this time of year. It helps to have our awesome five kids. We do tons of crafts and baking and playing games. My kitchen and hallway end up covered in pictures and projects that the little ones have made and the weather cools off. Oh, and everyone starts burning fires at night and the air smells so amazing all the time. Then all of the baking we do makes the house smell so warm and inviting – like cookies :). Not to mention that I love shopping for Christmas. I have the worst time trying to keep everything a surprise. I start shopping so early because there is so much to do. Then I spend all the time leading up to Christmas trying to resist the temptation of showing the kids their presents early and re-wrapping them. I’m so terrible at keeping surprises. If you have a good one don’t tell me because I get excited like I’m going to pop if I don’t tell. I’m the opposite with secrets though - huh, go figure. Anyway, YAY the holidays are here and here are some of my favorite recipes for this time of year. I hope you love them. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find a new family tradition or two :D

Spiced Pecans

White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Hot Homemade Apple Cider

Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Pecan Bread Pudding with a Sherry Cream Sauce

Ninjabread Men – Gingerbread with a Kick – WA-GA!

Grandma’s Apple Pie (Plus My Healthier Version)

Champagne and Sparkling Wines

Christmas Cookies (traditional and whole wheat)

Pumpkin Eggnog

Pumpkin-Crumb Muffins (Whole Wheat) with Cream Cheese Filling

Cranberry-Pecan Muffins (Whole Wheat)

Pecan Pie – Grandma’s (Oh yeah!)

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Pumpkin Pancakes

 

Pumpkin-Crumb Muffins (Whole Wheat) with Cream Cheese Filling – Recipe

Posted by on Dec 1, 2011 in Breakfast, Food Journal, Holidays | 0 comments

Pumpkin-Crumb Muffins (Whole Wheat) with Cream Cheese Filling – Recipe

Pumpkin-Crumb Muffins-The toughest critic of my food in the house is definitely my baby. She is one and a half or I guess technically 19 months old. She is a great gage on how well a recipe turned out because she is completely honest and does not worry about sparing my feelings. If she likes the food, she eats it. If she doesn’t like the food a very dramatic display of her wiping out her mouth and scraping her tongue with her fingers ensues, she follows up by throwing the said food onto the floor and screaming as if she’s been insulted or injured. It’s much cuter than it sounds! Anyway, every now and then, I get the reaction where she completely stuffs her mouth and then points and grunts for more. If she really loves it, these grunts turn into insistent screams. Today, I got the insistent screams and so I must say that these are currently, in the baby’s humble and quiet opinion (LOL), the best pumpkin muffins around. Oh, and there’s an optional cream cheese filling! Happy Cooking!!!!!

crumb topping

crumb topping
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 cup light brown sugar
4 Tablespoons butter (room temperature and cut into chunks)

Instructions for Crumb Topping
1. Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir them with a fork.
2. Start mashing and stirring the butter with the fork until it looks like you have crumbs.
3. Set this mixture to the side.

Ingredients for the Muffin Batter
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice *see note

1 stick butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon maple extract

Instructions for Pumpkin Muffin Batter

The wet ingredients look like this when mixed.

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F and prepare a muffin pan with cooking spray or butter and flour.
2. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin spice in a large bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar.
4. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
5. Add the eggs, pumpkin, milk, and maple extract to the butter and sugar and mix-this will not come together, just mix it until it looks uniform.
6. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and add your wet ingredients into the well.
7. Mix to combine.
8. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way.
9. Spoon about 1 Tablespoon of crumb topping onto each one and mash it down a little tiny bit into the batter.
10. Bake your pumpkin muffins at 350°F for about 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

well in the dry ingredients

Filling for the Pumpkin Muffins (optional)

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces powdered sugar

Instructions
1. Cream the cream cheese and butter together.
2. Mix in the vanilla.
3. Mix in the powdered sugar adding it half at a time.
4. Fill a piping bag fitted with a #2 tip with the cream cheese filling.
5. Pipe the filling into the pumpkin muffins from the bottom – see video.

yield 12 muffins

*You can make your own pumpkin pie spice by combining equal amounts of nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice and half as much ground cloves.

i.e. – 1 tsp nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice and 1/2 tsp ground cloves

**You can also roast your own sugar pumpkin instead of using canned pumpkin puree, but most of us don’t have the time- especially in the morning!

Check out this “how to” video!



Cranberry-Pecan Muffins (Whole Wheat) – Recipe

Posted by on Nov 28, 2011 in Breakfast, Food Journal, Holidays | 0 comments

Cranberry-Pecan Muffins (Whole Wheat) – Recipe

Cranberry-Pecan Muffins (recipe and instructions with video tutorial follow)- Every year at Thanksgiving I make a giant batch of cranberry sauce for the family dinner. This year, while shopping at my neighborhood wholesale store (where mayo comes by the gallon), I bought my cranberries. They had a five pound bag for the same price I usually get two pounds for and I am one of those people who doesn’t pass up a good deal or a sale. Lost in the excitement of getting more than twice as much for the same price, I didn’t consider that this bag would be occupying the better part of my fruit drawer in the fridge. When I got home, I realized that I would be making a double batch of my delicious spiced cranberry sauce that night or the rest of my fruit would suffer the consequences. I began going over in my head all the cranberry creations I could come up with and that’s when these wonderful whole wheat cranberry-pecan muffins were born. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 stick butter
1/2 cup Splenda
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon orange zest
2 eggs
1 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed if possible)
2 cups cranberries (chopped)
1 cup pecans (broken up)


Instructions

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.
2. Prepare your muffin pan with cooking spray or butter and flour it.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.
4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, splenda, brown sugar and orange zest.
5. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
6. Blend in the eggs and scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.
7. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix them together.
8. Add 1/3 of the orange juice and mix to combine.
9. Continue alternating the dry ingredients with the orange juice 1/3 at a time beating each addition until it’s combined and scraping the bowl frequently.
10. Stir or beat in the cranberries and pecans.
11. Spoon the muffin batter into prepared muffin cups.
12. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

yield 12-15 muffins

Please enjoy this “how to” video!


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Pecan Pie – Grandma’s (Oh yeah!) – Recipe

Posted by on Nov 23, 2011 in Holidays, Pie | 0 comments

Pecan Pie – Grandma’s (Oh yeah!) – Recipe

Grandma’s Pecan Pie! – Grandma’s pecan pie is a Thanksgiving tradition in our house – like a must have Thanksgiving dish. We also sometimes we make it for Christmas or just because we are craving it too. My whole family loves it including my 3 year old food critic who is very hard to please at the dinner table :)- always a bonus. I have to admit though that when I was 3 I wasn’t really a fan. But, I love this pie so much, now. It’s kind of funny that as a little girl, I never really appreciated it. I can remember everyone around me talking about how wonderful it was, and I just never liked it. However, as an adult, I leer at people from across the table and wonder what their problem is if they don’t love this pie from the first bite. LOL. This is my daughter Vanessa’s favorite pie and her only request for Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

Grandma’s Pie Crust

Ingredients

1 cup and 2 Tablespoons A.P. Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 Tablespoons lard (Crisco)
3 Tablespoons cold water

Instructions
*Please also note that I have included a recipe and instructions for a Whole Wheat “Poured Crust” at the bottom of this recipe after the video.
1. In a small bowl, mix the flour and the salt. Stir.
2. Add in the lard (Crisco) and mash it into the flour with either a fork or a pastry blender. Continue mashing until the consistency looks like cornmeal mixed with small chunks of lard (about baby pea size) coated in flour.
3. Add the water and stir. The dough should come together into one lump, kind of like a ball. If you have time, wrap your dough in plastic wrap and chill your dough for one hour. This helps with the flakiness. If you don’t have time, that’s OK, it’s ready to roll.

5. Form your dough into a disc shape about 1 1/2 inches thick. Roll your dough in a “+ X” pattern. This means that you start by rolling upwards from the center, then down from the center, then to the right from the center, then to the left from the center. That is the “+” part of the pattern. Next, do the x pattern starting from the center with each direction change. Using the “+, X” pattern helps your pie crust stay in a circle shape. Also, when you are rolling, be sure to stop just before you reach the edges of the crust. If you run over the edges, you will end up with thin edges on your pie shell, so, go just to the edge each time and stop.
6. Carefully move your crust to the pie pan. The easiest way to do this is to roll the crust about halfway onto your rolling pin and then unroll it into your pie pan starting from the middle.


Pie Filling

Ingredients for Pecan Pie Filling
1 c dark corn syrup
1 c light brown sugar
1/3 c melted butter
1 c pecans, broken into fours
3 eggs
dash vanilla
dash salt

Instructions for Pecan Pie Filling

1. pre-heat oven to 350°F
2. measure all ingredients
3. in a large bowl, beat eggs
4. add in all the other ingredients
5. stir well to combine
6. pour into a pie shell
7. bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes
8. allow to cool before serving

yield – one 8″ pie

Check out this “how-to” video! Yummy!


*Whole Wheat Poured Crust
Ingredients for a Whole Wheat Poured Crust

1 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp splenda
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c milk

Instructions

1. mix flour, salt, and splenda together in a bowl
2. add the oil and stir until well combined
3. add the milk and stir until combined (the crust should come together into a ball)
4. place crust into an 8″ pie pan and use the palm of your hand to spread across the bottom
5. work the crust up the sides of the pan (try to keep it all even)
6. once you have it all spread, dock it (poke some holes in it with a fork)
7. add your filling
*there is a “how to” video of the pie crust on my Quiche Lorraine recipe
**This is not Grandma’s crust!!!

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Spiced Cranberry Sauce – Recipe

Posted by on Nov 23, 2011 in Food Journal, Holidays, Sides | 0 comments

Spiced Cranberry Sauce – Recipe

Spiced Cranberry Sauce (recipe and instructions with video tutorial follow) - Cranberry sauce is one of those things that for some reason most people don’t make at home from scratch. I’m not quite sure why though so I’ve thought it through and tried to understand. So, I think these may be some of the reasons. Reason one, you’re being bullied by relatives who like the can shaped cranberry sauce and are afraid to show up at their house with something that doesn’t hold it’s shape and also doesn’t need to be sliced.  Or reason number two, maybe you’ve just never had fresh cranberry sauce so you don’t know what you’re missing. OOOrrrr reason number three, maybe the reason for this is that you don’t realize how easy it is to make cranberry sauce from scratch. Or, reason four, maybe you have some kind of Thanksgiving contest to see who can build the most interesting cranberry sauce sculpture. Kind of like the “Gummy De Milo”.  If you’re being bullied, or haven’t had it, I think you should just go for it. If you are one of those who is afraid to attempt the cranberry sauce – don’t worry, help is here, fear not the cranberry sauce, it’s so simple. If you can sculpt something – well, that’s pretty cool and I think I want to encourage you to continue – I’ve always been a supporter of the Arts. You should save it for the center piece though and not for eating. Not to mention that when everyone shows up at Thanksgiving dinner with their homemade dish do you really want to be the one in the kitchen asking where the can opener is so you can open the cranberry sauce that you were supposed to bring? Then later, after everyone has eaten too much they all give you a hard time about what you brought. Except some of them who are in the other room talking about it behind you r back :) I think not. No, not really everyone, they won’t be talking bad about you – they’ll be too busy wishing they hadn’t eaten so much and watching “the game” right. So anyway, here we go everyone, a holiday tradition that is easy to make at home and will not be in the shape of a can sitting on a plate! Happy cooking!

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 cup fresh cranberries
1 Tablespoon orange zest chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 clove


Instructions

1. Combine the  sugar and water in a sauce pot.
2. Bring them to a boil.
3. Add the cranberries and stir.
4. Add the orange zest and spices and stir.
5. Return it to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat to medium.
7. Keep it at a slow boil for 10 minutes stirring often. Make sure to scrape the bottom as you stir.
8. When the cranberry sauce is thickened remove it from the heat and place it in a dish.
9. Cover the cranberry sauce and allow it to cool.
10. Refrigerate the sauce after cooling it until you are ready to serve it.

*The cranberry sauce can be made 1 or 2 days ahead of serving so you have one less thing to worry about on Thanksgiving. It is also really great as a spread for turkey sandwiches the next day. I like to take the left over cranberry sauce (I double the recipe so there will be left over) and mix it like half and half with cream cheese in the food processor and then use that as the spread for our turkey sandwiches. It’s also great with butter on toast and muffins and stuff like that. Use your imagination, go wild ;).

yield 2 1/2 cups

Check out this “how-to” video! So simple!


Pumpkin Pancakes – Recipe

Posted by on Nov 10, 2011 in Breakfast, Food Journal, Holidays | 0 comments

Pumpkin Pancakes – Recipe

 

The pumpkin pancake story/recipe – On Sunday mornings I always make a big breakfast for my family. This past Sunday I woke up craving pancakes. So, I got out of bed while the house was still nice and quiet (the kids were all still sleeping) and went to the kitchen to start the batter so everyone could wake up to the smell of pancakes. Well, to my dismay, when I went to the refrigerator to get the buttermilk, we were out. Dag-gone-it! Yes, I say Dag-gone-it (I got it from my Mom)! Anyway, I still wanted pancakes, and I didn’t have time to run to the store, nor did I want to, before the baby would be up. So, I started digging around my cabinets and came across a can of pumpkin. I love pumpkin! So, I decided to make pumpkin pancakes. I had no recipe so I just made it up as I went (this happens all the time in my kitchen)! I don’t want to sound conceded, but these are some of the best pancakes in the world, provided you like pumpkin of course! They will be a new regular at our breakfast table and may even show up at dinner. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Ingredients

3 c self – rising flour

1/4 tsp salt

3 eggs

2 1/2 c milk

4 Tbsp butter, melted

1/2 c sugar

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 can pumpkin (15 oz)

1 tsp orange zest chopped fine (optional)


Instructions
1. in a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and spice

2. in a separate, small bowl, beat the eggs a little and add the milk and beat a little more

3. melt the butter in the microwave

4. pour the egg mixture into the flour and beat until combined

5. add the butter and sugar and beat

6. add the pumpkin (and orange zest if you’re using it) and beat until combined

7. pour out 2 oz portions on a griddle heated to 300 or cook on the stove- it is easier if you use a 2 oz ladle – also make sure you use butter or cooking spray on your griddle/pan because these will stick – I use cooking spray

8. the pancakes are ready to flip when the edges start to look a little dry and bubbles are rising to the surface and popping

9. butter them as they come off the heat while they’re nice and hot so the butter melts

10. we used maple syrup on these but they would be good with others like orange

yield about 24 pancakes

*you can make your own pumpkin pie spice by combining equal amounts of nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice and half as much ground cloves

i.e. – 1 tsp nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice and 1/2 tsp ground cloves

**you can also roast your own sugar pumpkin instead of using canned, but most of us don’t have the time- especially in the morning!

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