Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Torte

I love the fall! I love the colors, the smells, the chilly nights by a warm fire, and especially the fall foods. Pumpkin is so versatile. Tell it what to do and where to go and it always turn out yummy. If you want a delicious fall dessert, try this one- our friend made it for us last week and it was so good I knew it was the dessert I wanted to do for the craft group I hosted this month. I fed it to 15 ladies and they loved it too, so that's pretty good odds. How can you not though? It's pumpkin immersed in sugary heaven.

  • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, divided
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 carton (16 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping (I omitted these and the nuts and sprinkled nutmeg on top)
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted


In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, 1 cup pumpkin, milk, eggs, oil and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar, and remaining pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice; beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.

Cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Place bottom layer on a serving plate; spread with a fourth of the filling. Repeat layers three times. Drizzle with caramel topping; sprinkle with pecans. Store in the refrigerator.

Don't judge me by my lack of layering skills. It tastes good, that's all that matters.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Grandma's Applesauce Cookies

These cookies are in memory of my Grandma, who recently passed away. She made these for years and they are one of the many things that will always remind me of her. I loved them growing up (it was always exciting to try and guess how old they might be in those zip lock bags in the freezer) and my kids love them now. They are like a little taste of home for me.
Applesauce Cookies
by: Dorothy Montgomery
3/4 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. applesauce
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cloves
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
chocolate chips
Cream together the shortening, brown sugar and egg. I mixed mine for about 2 minutes to get it nice and creamy. Add the applesauce and stir it well. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon and then add it to the creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoon full onto your baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. The good (or bad) thing about making them smaller this way, is that you can eat about a dozen and it really doesn't feel like you just ate 12 cookies yourself. Isn't that exciting?!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jacque's Pudding Dessert

This recipe comes from my old roommate, Jacque. It is loaded with all things good and lovely to eat, such as: pudding, whipped cream, cream cheese and butter. Mmmm. This is a great recipe for feeding many people. (Or maybe just a really hungry mommy and daddy after the kids are in bed. Not that I would know.)

Jacque's Pudding Dessert
For the crust:
1 c. flour
1 c. margarine (yes, you heard me correctly)
Cut the flour and margarine together with a pastry blender and then press into the bottom of a 9X13 pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes and then cool it completely.
Layer 1:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
Biggest container of Cool Whip-thawed
Soften the cream cheese. In a large bowl stir together until smooth the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Then add 1/2 of the Cool Whip and mix it gently. Spread on the cooled crust.
Layer 2:
1 small package instant vanilla pudding
1 small package instant chocolate pudding
3 c. milk
Beat both puddings and milk until blended. Spread over the cream cheese layer. You could also use 2 packages of chocolate pudding (rather than one chocolate, one vanilla) and this is also yummy.
Layer 3:
Other 1/2 of Cool Whip
1 chocolate bar
Take the other half of the Cool Whip and spread over the top of the pudding layer. Grate 1/2 of the chocolate bar on top of the Cool Whip. Then quickly eat the other half before your children notice.
Chill it in the Fridge for an hour or so.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Bonjour, et comment vous tous aujourd'hui? You may not know, but I don't really know French. Except I can count to ten. And I went to Paris one day (literally). I also don't really know if Chicken Cordon Bleu is a French food, but it sure sounds Francois-ish. This recipe is for a really easy chicken cordon bleu (hence the name). I got it from Kraft and have made it dozens of times. It is my go-to meal when I have to take a dinner to someone. It's easy, fast and yummy. J'espere que vous aimerez aussi. (That means "I hope you like it too." Thank you Google Translate).

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
adapted from Kraft by Carolyn

1 package instant stuffing mix
4 chicken breasts
8 slices of ham
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 Tbsp. honey mustard
1 1/2 c. shredded swiss cheese

Make the stuffing mix according to package directions and set aside. Cut your chicken breasts in half and place them in a 9X13 pan. Cover each piece of chicken with a slice of ham, like so: Mix together the soup and mustard and spoon it over the top of the chicken/ham pieces. Top it all with the prepared stuffing. Bake at 400 degrees fo 30 minutes. Sprinkle it with the swiss cheese and bake for 5 minutes more, or until chicken is cooked through. Sorry about the picture. I forgot to take one until I had already eaten half of it

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Perfectly Smoothie

Monica got me hooked on making smoothies when she told me how she makes them so easily, and they come out so yummy! She makes hers a little different than I do now, but I basically make them the same way each time. I like these much better than other homemade smoothies that use ice because they don't taste watered down at all- they're rich and thick and smooth, and so fast.

The Perfect Smoothie:
Frozen fruit of your choice
6 oz. container of yogurt of your choice
orange juice (optional, sometimes I splash some in for a different flavor)

Dump the desired amount of ingredients into a blender and blend until fruit is smooth. Add additional milk until it is the desired consistency.

That's it! Mmmm. I could eat these every night.

Margherita Burger

One of my favorite foods ever is a nice Margherita pizza! Thanks to Bobby Flay and his Burgers, Fries, and Shakes cookbook. I found this Margherita Burger recipe that I figured would be a nice happy medium for Matt and I. How can he resist a burger of any shape or size?

I tweaked it a little bit and here is what I came up with.

Margherita Burger:
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 tbsp. basil (optional)
whole-milk mozzarella cheese
fresh basil leaves
hamburger condiments

Mix ground beef or turkey with basil if desired. Divide meat into four equal parts and smash into a flat patty. To avoid getting a bulbous patty, put a thumb print in the middle of each to ensure the patty comes out even. Grill patties on a grill or broil in the oven until done. Put a slice of mozzarella cheese (and tomato and basil leaf if desired) on each during the last couple of minutes cooking until cheese is melted. Layer hamburger and enjoy!

Japanese French Toast

If you don't know about Panko, it's time to try it. I bought it a while ago for a recipe and have been working it into other meals to use it up. One of my favorite foods of all time is french toast. My husband can attest that I have probably ordered french toast off of a menu more than any other dish. As I was watching a commercial the other day on Hulu (this is what we live on with no satellite), an advertisement for Panko came on and it flashed a picture of french toast dipped in the yummy Japanese bread crumbs, and I knew I had to try it. It gives the french toast such a fun texture.

So, if the Japanese ever have french toast, I'm sure this is what it looks like.

my style Japanese French Toast:
(your regular french toast ingredients:)
bread (a thick Texas toast would be perfect for this)

Mix eggs, milk, vanilla and/or cinnamon in a shallow dish. Dip bread in egg mixture then dip in Panko to coat. Cook on griddle on medium heat, flipping to cook both sides. Serve with fresh fruit and syrup.

If you have fun ideas to make this even better let me know!

Coconut Pecan Chicken

I tried this recipe last night along with Carolyn's Thai Coconut Rice (that I added below) and it was so good. The chicken was so close to being wonderful, even after my tweaks, but we both thought it needed a little something to make it worth eating again- and we found it! Make this recipe along with this peanut sauce and it will be an amazing and easy dinner!

1 1/2 c. plain fat-free yogurt or sour cream
1/4 tsp. curry powder
2/3 c. sweetened coconut flakes
2/3 c. panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
2/3 c. finely chopped pecans
garlic or garlic powder to your liking (I used about 1-2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast, cut in 1-inch wide strips

1- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2- Put yogurt or sour cream in a small bowl and mix with curry powder, set aside. In a shallow pie plate, combine coconut, panko, pecans, and garlic.
3- Dip chicken strips in yogurt or sour cream mixture to cover, then roll in panko mixture. Place strips on an oil-sprayed baking sheet. Spray top of chicken.
4- Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, and bake 15 more minutes. Check that coating browns but does not burn. If desired, broil 2 minutes for an even crunchier top.

1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp. crunchy peanut butter (optional) (I used all crunchy)
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar (I used a little less so it wasn't as vinegary. If you use all of it, let it sit in refrigerator for a little while to mellow out the flavor.)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil (I used 1 tbsp. sesame seeds fried in some of the olive oil)
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger root
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I omitted this for a sweeter sauce)

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. (Easy enough)

Thai Coconut Rice
2 c. rice
2 c. coconut milk
1 3/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. dry shredded coconut
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 c. coconut

Cook in rice cooker until liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir occasionally if necessary because the milk settles at the top and the bottom may burn. While your rice is cooking, put a small amount of oil in a frying pan and lightly toast your 1/4 c. coconut over medium heat. Chop up your cilantro. When you serve the rice, serve the toasted coconut and cilantro on top.