Monday, November 29, 2010

Oatmeal Spice Drop Cookies

It's cookie season! These are a delightful change of pace and I was so excited to find this recipe after remembering eating something similar as a kid. My parents have no recollection of this cookie so I don't know where I ate them, but they were good, and these are too! These aren't necessarily a Christmas cookie - but they look really festive with the spice drops. At this time of year you can get just red and green spice drops which would be especially appropriate during this season.

This recipe makes only 2 dozen so naturally, I doubled it. (I left the original recipe here, so feel free to double!)

Chop up the spice drops first. I tried to leave the work to my mini chopper, but these are so sticky and stiff that all it did was pulverize the sugar on the outside of the spice drops! So I'm afraid you'll have to chop them by hand. Try not to eat too many while you chop....

Next combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Melt the butter, then let it cool. Once it is cool, pour it into a large mixing bowl and add the brown sugar.

Beat together until well combined, then beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture,

then fold in the oatmeal

and stir in the spice drops.

Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

Bake for about 15 minutes until the cookies are golden but still soft on top.

Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

These cookies didn't flatten out all the way - if you want the spice drops to show more, you might want to just add them on top of the dough spoonfuls instead of mixing them in the batter. But regardless, they're delicious and a wonderful addition to your Christmas cookie collection!

Find more inspiration at Mouthwatering Mondays, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table , Tasty Tuesday and Whatcha Making Wednesday.

Oatmeal Spice Drop Cookies
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup spice gumdrops, coarsely chopped

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together butter and brown sugar until well combined. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in oats and gumdrops.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Bake at 350 until golden around edges but still soft on top, about 15 minutes. Let stand on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Makes 24.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

This cake (made with a vegetable!) is SOOOO good. I ate nearly half of the cake by myself over the last several days - for breakfast, for a snack, for dessert. For the sake of fitting into my clothes, I had to wrap it up and put it in the freezer yesterday since I obviously have no self control when it comes to this cake! It is delicious! I found this recipe from a southern cooking website, and I lightened it up a bit, using applesauce in place of the second stick of butter. And it's still SO good - you won't even miss those 8 Tbsp. of butter!

Start by preparing the sweet potatoes - I peel them and then chop them into smaller pieces so they cook faster.

Drain, then mash the potatoes. I used 2 potatoes and got the 2 cups required for this recipe.

Now, in a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, applesauce,

sugar and brown sugar

and cream together until well combined. Add eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Then beat in the sweet potatoes.

Now, in a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda,

cinnamon and nutmeg.

Add this to the batter alternately with the buttermilk

and mix until smooth and incorporated. Pour batter into a greased bundt pan and bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove it to cool completely on the wire rack. This cake is delicious as is, but if you like you can dust it with powdered sugar.

Enjoy this cake, whether you eat it at breakfast, lunch or dinner, or all 3!

Find more ideas at Mouthwatering Monday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday the Table , Tasty Tuesday, What's Cooking Wednesday and Whatcha Makin' Wednesdays, Ingredient Spotlight.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups mashed sweet potato
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Cream butter with sugars; beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and sweet potato until blended.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; stir into the batter, alternating with the buttermilk, until blended. Fold in chopped pecans, if using. Spoon the batter into greased and floured Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 for 55 to 65 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully unmold the cake onto the rack to cool completely.

Transfer to a serving plate, and dust with powdered sugar if desired. Serves 12.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spicy Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

This is an easy, fast, delicious soup, and a good way to get all those vitamins from sweet potatoes that doesn't involve a marshmallow topping. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for marshmallows, but sometimes it's nice to have a savory dish featuring sweet potatoes too. (Don't worry, next week I'll be showing you a sweet potato POUND CAKE. It's all about balance, people!)

I love the combination of flavors and textures in this soup - the smoked sausage, the bite from cayenne, the smooth sweet potatoes - go ahead and buy extra as you're planning your Thanksgiving menu, then you can make this soup! (And the cake next week!)

Start by peeling and roughly chopping the sweet potatoes - I usually use 3 large ones to get to the 4 1/2 cups required.

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Cover, then bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or so until very tender. While the potatoes are cooking, chop the sausage, then saute it in a Dutch oven or other large pot

for about 2-3 minutes, then add the onion.

Cook and stir for several minutes til the onions soften, then coat the sausage and onions with the flour.

Cook and stir until the flour is blended in, then gradually add the chicken broth.

Bring this to a light rolling boil as you stir, then add salt and pepper, and the cayenne.

(This recipe originally called for 1 tsp. of cayenne. Whoa, Nelly! That is TOO spicy! I find even 1/2 tsp. quite hot, so adjust the seasonings to your family's taste.)

Now drain the potatoes, and mash.

Add the potatoes to the soup pot,

and stir well to ensure a smooth soup - break up any big "globs" of mashed sweet potato.

This soup will warm you up on a chilly day! Enjoy with a tall glass of milk to help tame the bite.

Get more recipes at Cooking Thursday, Foodie Friday, Food on Fridays and Friday Food, Food on Fridays - Soup, Ingredient Spotlight.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

4 1/2 cups peeled, chopped sweet potato (about 3 large)
12 oz. smoked sausage or polska keilbasa, sliced or diced
1/3 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp. flour
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain and mash.

In a Dutch oven, saute sausage for 2 minutes. Add onion and cook until onion is soft and sausage is lightly browned. Add flour and stir until meat and onions are coated. Gradually add chicken broth and bring to a light rolling boil, stirring often.

Add the salt, pepper and cayenne; add the sweet potatoes and stir well to incorporate. Serves 4-5.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bacon, Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche

My friend Michelle gave me a great recipe for bacon and cheddar quiche and I adapted it - adding broccoli for color, taste and vitamins. It's a great combination, and easy to throw together, and equally delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner. (Pictured above with green beans with pine nuts.)

Start by cooking the broccoli until it is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and thyme in a mixing bowl and whisk well.

Add the drained broccoli

then the cheddar and bacon,

and pour into the prepared pie crust.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the eggs are set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Get more ideas at Mouthwatering Monday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table , Tasty Tuesday, Whatcha Makin' Wednesdays , What's Cooking Wednesdays, This Week's Cravings, Let's Do Brunch.

Bacon, Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche

8 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cups chopped broccoli
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 - 9" unbaked pie crust

Steam broccoli until crisp tender; drain. Whisk together eggs, milk, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the broccoli, bacon and cheddar and stir to combine. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pumpkin Custard Pie

I got this recipe from an Amish cookbook so I expected it to be a little different - maybe with a custard layer based on the title. Well, it's about the same as the recipe on the Libby can - but, no matter. It's a delicious pie, a little creamier than your usual run of the mill pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin pie, and this will be my go to recipe from now on. It's also simple and quick - I think it took me all of three minutes with a whisk and a bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk

then add the evaporated milk.

Add the spices next - cinnamon, ginger

and cloves.

Now add the salt and sugar

and whisk well, then finally the pumpkin.

Once it's all combined, pour the mixture into a prepared 9" pie shell.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Serve with cool whip, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.

Find more inspiration at Cooking Thursday, Foodie Friday, Food on Fridays, and Friday Food.

Pumpkin Custard Pie

1 unbaked 9" pie shell
3 eggs
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

Place pastry in a pie plate. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten, then add the evaporated milk. Add the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and sugar and whisk until blended. Add the pumpkin and whisk until combined.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serves 6-8.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Carrot and Potato Gratin

I love scalloped or au gratin potatoes so I was really excited to find this recipe that also included carrots. Usually I like to get my carrots in cake or bread so it's time for a vegetable-based recipe.

Start by making a basic white sauce - melt the butter in a medium saucepan and then add the chopped onions.

Cook for 3 minutes until the onions start to soften, then sprinkle with the flour and cook and stir until bubbly. Add the chicken broth and cook and stir until thickened, then gradually add the milk.

Cook and stir for several minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Now peel the potatoes and carrots, and slice them thinly. I used my food processor for the slicing.

Grease a 2-quart baking dish, and place about 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. thyme

and then 1/3 cup of the cheese.

Add a layer of carrots, and then another 1/3 cup of cheese.

Add a second layer of potatoes, another 1/4 tsp. thyme, and another 1/3 cup cheese.
Now, the rest of the carrots, then the potatoes and the remaining thyme. Top with the sauce

then cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered this time, for another half hour. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Find more recipes at Mouthwatering Monday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table , Tasty Tuesday and What's Cooking Wednesday, Ingredient Spotlight.

Carrot and Potato Gratin

2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp. flour
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 tsp. thyme
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
4 large carrots (about 3/4 pound), peeled and thinly sliced crosswise

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook and stir until bubbly. Add the chicken broth and cook until lightly boiling, stirring constantly. Gradually add the milk, stirring, until the mixture is slightly thickened.

In a greased 2 quart baking dish, arrange 1/3 of potato slices, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 3/4 tsp. thyme and 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat with carrot slices and another 1/3 cup cheese. Layer potatoes, 1/4 tsp. thyme, 1/3 cup cheese, then carrots and potatoes again, topping with the last 1/4 tsp. thyme.

Stir sauce and pour evenly over gratin. Cover with foil; bake at 350 until bubbling and vegatables just start to soften, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake uncovered 30 minutes more. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.
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