Sunday, November 29, 2009

Flavor-of-the-Month . . . Goin' Retro

For our "traditions" theme, I wanted to share with you guys this very retro Jell-O salad that my mom had on the table at Thanksgiving when we were growing up. Every year, my plate was filled with my dad's smoked turkey, mom's cornbread dressing and this salad.

It's really pretty and a kid-pleaser, too.

I tried to scan my mom's recipe card, but our scanner (despite much yelling and bad language on my part) is not cooperating. is mom's recipe...

Strawberry Creme Squares

2 (3 oz) pkgs. strawberry-banana Jell-O
2 c. boiling water
2 (10 oz) pkgs sliced frozen strawberries (I could only find sliced in syrup, that's ok)
1 (13 oz) can crushed pineapple (only able to find 8 oz, so I guesstimated w/ 2 cans)
1 (8 oz) container sour cream

Dissolve jello in boiling water.

{Don't you love that RED?!?}
Add the frozen strawberries and stir occasionally until thawed. Stir in the pineapple.

Pour half of the mixture into an 8 or 9" square pan. Chill until firm.

Gently, spread with sour cream. (I used an offset spatula....I don't know how mom did it without!)

Spoon on remaining strawberry mixture instead of pouring so that it won't mix with the sour cream. Chill until firm.

{Pls ignore those floury fingerprints on the pan...I guess I was multi-tasking while taking pictures!}

I took a poll on Twitter and December's Flavor-of-the-Month will be...
Share any cookie: decorated, drop, bars, name it!

{As always, anyone is welcome to link to Flavor-of-the-Month; you don't have to ask. Click here to read through all of the previous posts for instructions.}

Ready to link up? I'll keep the linky open through December 2nd, then close it to avoid spammers.

Thanks for was so much fun! I loved reading EACH and EVERY one of those pumpkin recipes!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sweet Potato Pancakes

At our house, we eat these a lot as breakfast for dinner. For years, I told my son they were "fall pancakes" because I knew "sweet potato pancakes" wasn't going to go over so well. (He's 10 now, so he can handle the truth!)

Call them what you will...they are yummy!

These are made with canned sweet potatoes. They could certainly be made with fresh cooked & mashed sweet potatoes, but it makes me smile buying that can of Sugary Sam's. :)

Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 ¼ c. all purpose flour
¼ c. chopped pecans, toasted
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
¼ tsp coarse salt
1 c. buttermilk (or regular milk)
¼ c. packed dark brown sugar
1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (16 oz) can sweet potatoes, drained & mashed

Whisk together flour, 2 TBSP pecans, baking powder, spices and salt.

Combine milk through vanilla; add to the flour mixture. Stir until smooth. Stir in the mashed sweet potatoes.

Ladle about 1/4th cup batter for each pancake onto a non-stick griddle. Turn when edges are cooked and top is covered with bubbles.

Top with maple syrup....

...and maybe a little more syrup...

and sprinkle with remainder of pecans.

Related posts:

Flavor-of-the-Month link up is tomorrow, November 30th!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Little Pumpkin

I've made lots of what I call "baby face" cookies over the past several years....

In the back of my mind, I've always wanted to make a "little pumpkin" version. (As a matter of fact, I just tried to talk someone into them a few weeks ago for a fall baby shower.) :)

Well, my sister was kind enough to oblige me by having a baby on Wednesday!!! Isn't that nice?

Want to see him?

His name is Tony and he is the sweetest! He IS a little pumpkin!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was filled with new baby, family, lots of food and football. I am thankful to have a sweet new nephew and thankful for all of YOU. Thank you so much for joining me here on the blog!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

I'm pretty sure Debby Boone was referring to pumpkin and chocolate when she sang, "It can't be wrong, when it feels so right..."

{My apologies to those of you in your 20''ll need to google it.} ;)

Because I can't get enough pumpkin and pumpkin season is about to end, I give you...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
{recipe adapted from Everyday Food, Nov 2004}

2 c all-purpose flour (could use white whole wheat here)
1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1 c unsalted butter, room temp
1 & 1/4 c sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 c pumpkin puree
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom and side of 13x9" pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides.

Whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt.

Cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high until smooth. Beat in the egg & vanilla. Beat in the pumpkin puree (it will look not worry).

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using an offset spatula (or the back of a spoon), spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (or with a few crumbs, not batter). Cool completely in the pan.

Lift the bars from the pan using the foil. Peel off the foil and cut into squares.

{They are delicious!!!}

Alright...bring on the gingerbread!!!

Related posts:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Brown Sugar and Spice Cut-out Cookies

I don't mess with my cookie recipe much. Sometimes, I change up the extracts or add vanilla bean paste, but usually I stick with what works.

Fall spices were calling to me, though, and I thought I'd try to use them in a cut-out cookie. It worked!!! These cookies are lightly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. I replaced half with sugar with light brown sugar. The cookies ended up slightly softer, but still sturdy enough for decorating.

If you're making cookies for Thanksgiving, these are perfect!

Brown Sugar and Spice Cookies

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 c granulated sugar (I use sugar that I've stored vanilla beans in)
1/2 c light brown sugar (packed)
2 sticks butter
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and spices, set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix until well-blended.

Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom. (The dough will be quite may need to knead in stray bits of flour from the bottom of the bowl by hand.)

Roll on a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 9-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cutter. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

To decorate these cookies, I used pale green, ivory and light orange for the pumpkins. After being outlined and filled, they dried completely overnight.

For the sparkly accents, mix a small amount of meringue powder with water. With a child's paintbrush, paint the area you would like to be sparkle-d (that's a word, right?).

Then, shake on sanding sugar all over the cookie. Turn the cookie upside down and shake off the excess. (I do this over a basket coffee filter and use that to funnel the extra back into the container.)

These are waiting in the freezer to be donated on Thanksgiving for Drop In & Decorate. Are you making some, too? If so, I'd love to have pictures and details of where and how many cookies you donated by December 10th. Thank you!

OH...and did you guess? I have 221 cookie cutters. :)

Related posts:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cut-out cookies WITHOUT a cutter. . . .Works For Me Wednesday

Don't get me wrong...I love a good cookie cutter. In fact, I have a terribly hard time resisting a cute cutter. Anybody care to take a guess at how many I own? {I counted just for you.}

Sometimes, though....
  • ...the perfect shape is nowhere to be found,
  • waited too long to order,
  • ...or, $12.95 plus $8.00 shipping just isn't in the budget.

Here's where a template comes in handy.

Making one is simple. Sketch the design you want, trace the shape on a manila folder and cut.

Now, just place it on your dough and trace cut around it with a paring knife. (I always roll my dough on wax paper...a little extra protection for the counter tops if you're using this method.)

Templates are best for simpler cookies. I strongly advise against using a template to make a snowflake or the skyline of Dallas.

Yes, it does take a lot longer to cut out a batch of cookies with a template. I'm guessing about 4 times as long or more. Instead of "boop, boop, boop" with the cutter (yes, my cutters make that sound), you'll be tracing around the shape with a paring knife.

The edges of the cookies will be rougher than if a cookie cutter had been used (see above). You can always gently press the rough parts in, but be careful not to ruin the shape. I tend not to worry about it much.

Custom cookie templates work for me. Head on over to Kristen's to see all the other Works For Me Wednesday ideas!

I want to many cookie cutters do you own? And, any guesses as to how many I have?

Bake at 350's Works for Me Wednesday archives are here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Goat Cheese & Leek Tart

Hang with me, people...I went savory.

TidyMom is having a Love the Pie! party today and I decided to make something a little different because woman cannot live by cookies alone. (I've tried.)

The only requirement was that the pie had to be made with a Pillsbury pie crust. No problem here, I think I used them exclusively the first 50 times I made pie. ;)

Goat Cheese and Leek Tart
(modified from Nov. '03 Everyday Food magazine)

1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
1 bunch leeks, white & pale green parts only, thinly sliced into half moons and washed well (see tips below)
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt & pepper
4 oz. herb & garlic goat cheese, room temp
2 oz. plain goat cheese, room temp
2 oz. cream cheese, room temp
2 TBSP milk
3 egg yolks, divided
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 with rack on the lowest shelf. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Toss washed and dried leeks with oil, salt & pepper.

Beat together the goat cheese, cream cheese, milk, TWO of the egg yolks and thyme until smooth. Lightly season with salt & pepper.

Place the pie crust on the baking sheet.

Spread goat cheese mixture on top, leaving a 2-inch border.

Top with leeks.

Fold edge of crust over the filling, pinching folds together to seal.

With a fork, beat together th remaining egg yolk with 1 TBSP water. Use a pastry brush to apply to dough.

Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 45-55 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature.

TIP: To clean leeks....
(I know this not because I cook with leeks a lot, but because I have watched more than my fair share of FoodTV.)

Cut off the dark green tops and roots of the leeks. Cut in half lengthwise, then into half moon shapes.

Place in a bowl of cold water and swish around with your hands to loosen the dirt.

Let sit a few minutes and the grit & dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl.
I like to do this in a glass bowl, so I can SEE the dirt.

Scoop out the leeks and dry on paper towels.

I promise, back to sugar tomorrow. :) Be sure to check out all of the pie fun (and add your own) at TidyMom's Love the Pie! Party. more thing....this is a really good tart that will give you really horrible breath. If you're going to be smooching somebody, make sure your smoochee has eaten the tart, too. :)