Monday, November 30, 2009

honey wheat dinner rolls

These rolls are great, not only because they're delicious, but because they don't require much work and you can make the dough the day before to cut down on rising time the day of your dinner. Or Thanksgiving in this case. And in the case of Thanksgiving, anything you can make ahead of time is a very, very good thing.

Overnight Honey-Wheat Rolls
recipe from Taste of Home Holiday magazine

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees), divided
2 egg whites
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
melted butter, optional

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add yeast mixture, honey, oil, salt, whole wheat flour and remaining water. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes or until smooth. Stir in all-purpose flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky). Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a well-floured surface and divide dough in half. Shape each portion into 9 balls. To form knots, roll each ball into a 10-inch rope and tie into a knot. Tuck ends under. Place rolls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about 50 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter if desired.

I served these rolls with honey butter and they were seriously delicious and really easy to make for a yeast bread. They will absolutely be on the menu again someday at the Anderson home.

And in case you're wondering about that honey butter I mentioned...

Honey Butter
recipe by Our Best Bites

2 sticks butter, (close to room temp - works best when slightly chilled)
2/3 cup honey
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Put all ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer for about 30 seconds. Serve with warm rolls. Or basically anything. This stuff is amazing.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

sweet potato casserole

Oh, there's SO much to write about from Thanksgiving dinner. I tried new dish after new dish after new dish after new dish after... You get the picture.

But I had to start with my favorite. And my brother-in-law's fave too. And I think I know why.

Double the topping.

Yep, I did it. I doubled the best part, cut down on the sweet potatoes a bit, and ended up squeezing a dessert into the main course. A to the awesome. Whatever that means.

And I know it's more than a little counterproductive to post these recipes after the holiday, but I thought someone might want to try them out for a Christmas dinner, or at the very least, you'll be armed and ready to go for next Thanksgiving.

Sweet Potatoes
recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman

3 good-sized sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup flour
1 1/2 sticks butter

Wash and dry sweet potatoes. Poke holes in them in a few places with a fork. Bake in a 375 degree oven until fork tender. (Mine took about an hour.)

Slice sweet potatoes open and scrape out the flesh into a large bowl.

Add white sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla extract and salt to sweet potatoes and mash with a potato masher to combine.

In a separate bowl, add brown sugar, pecans, flour and butter. Using a fork, mash all together until thoroughly combined.

Spread the sweet potato mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Much more Thanksgiving goodness to come this week! And a huge thanks to my brother-in-law, Mark, for taking the pics of the food on the big day with his camera that's about a thousand times better than mine. You did a really great job. :-)Post Options

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

easy homemade cranberry sauce

I'm hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner this year and I am excited. To say the least. I don't want to leave anything out and I just realized I'm making almost three dishes per person. Crazy. Trust me, I know. But I love this stuff.

I've been scouring food network and foodie blogs trying to find just what I want to make for our dinner. This recipe for cranberry sauce from Our Best Bites caught my attention because of the way it's prepared. Instead of having to hover over the cranberries while they cook on the stovetop, you can stick them in a baking dish in the oven and forget about 'em. I like that.

I went ahead and made mine yesterday to have another dish out of the way before all my major cooking tomorrow and Thursday. Not only is it convenient, it's good too. I'd definitely recommend this recipe for a traditional cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Sauce
by Our Best Bites

1 bag fresh cranberries
1 cup orange juice
1 cup water
1 stick cinnamon
1 very small pinch ground cloves
1 cup white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash cranberries and place in 9x13 baking dish. Add orange juice, water, cloves, and cinnamon stick and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 1 hour. Remove from oven, remove cinnamon stick, and allow to cool.

If you like it with more texture, mash berries with a potato masher; if you prefer it smooth, process in blender or food processor until desired consistency is reached. Or if you have an immersion blender, use that. That's what I did. What a good purchase. I highly recommend them. Saves dishes. Who doesn't like that?

Monday, November 23, 2009

braised short ribs and creamy polenta

When we have mixed feelings about a dish, I usually find myself at a loss for words. So today I'll start with the recipes, then I just might have a little something to say.

Braised Short Ribs
recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman

Serves 4

8 beef short ribs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 slices bacon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Salt and pepper ribs then dredge them in the flour. Set ribs aside.

In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy and all the fat is rendered. Remove bacon and set aside.

Add vegetable oil to the bacon grease and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, then remove and set aside. Turn heat back down to medium.

Add the chopped onions and carrots to the dutch oven and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and then cook for 2 minutes.

Add beef broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Throw the bacon back in the pan. Add thyme and rosemary and stir. Then add the ribs to the liquid. They should be almost completely submerged.

Put on the lid to the dutch oven and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and cook for an additional 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 20 minutes with the lid on before serving.

Creamy Polenta with Goat Cheese

4 1/2 cups water
1 scant cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces goat cheese

Bring water to a boil.

Slowly add cornmeal to the water, whisking constantly as you pour.

Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, adding salt and extra water as needed if it looks to dry.

When finished cooking, stir in the butter and goat cheese until melted.

Serve with the braised short ribs on top.

These ribs are fall off the bone tender and very flavorful. We both really enjoyed them and the sauce they were cooked in. In fact, usually I'm not a fan of cooked carrots, but the ones submerged in this sauce for hours were spectacular. Truly. I think I would have been in love with this dish had I served mashed potatoes in place of the polenta. Oh polenta.

Not that you all wouldn't like it. You just might. It's different, something we're not quite used to, and I'm glad we tried it so we know what it takes like. But both me and Mr. Anderson wanted mashed potatoes. And I think my creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes would've brought those succulent ribs to another level. So if we have these ribs again, that's the plan. But I'm not saying you shouldn't try the polenta. If you're feeling adventurous, go for it. Just might surprise you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

how to quickly frost cupcakes with style

Ever wonder if there is an easier way to frost cupcakes, something that doesn't take as long as smoothing it on with a knife? Honestly, it never crossed my mind until I found this post and put the tutorial to good use, making cupcakes and frosting them at record speed, well, for me at least. And the super speed was only for the frosting. Baking the cupcakes didn't go any quicker, just for the record.

To frost cupcakes quickly and with bakery style, you'll need a Wilton 1M star tip, a gallon freezer bag and frosting. Wal-Mart carries the Wilton line, but my Wal-Mart only had the tip in a kit of many tips, but I did find it at a kitchen specialty store for less than $2.

The tutorial shown on Our Best Bites is great. Simple to understand. And I seriously think I frosted 12 cupcakes in under 90 seconds. Maybe. I didn't time it so I can't be sure. But super speedy fast. Now don't those look cute, and it was only my first time. So if I can do it, you can definitely do it. Check out the tutorial and if your special someones want cupcakes for Thanksgiving dessert, you can fancy them right up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

pumpkin crumble

Sometimes I get this determined look on my face. Like I'm gonna tackle my husband and his many, many dislikes in the world of food. He better watch out.

I've gained a fondness for pumpkin pie over the past couple years and really wanted to make something he would like too that we could have for our first Thanksgiving together when we're actually doing the cooking. So excited, by the way.

I came across this recipe for Pumpkin Crumble, which the author said she loves even though she's not a fan of pumpkin pie, so I thought I had a chance with the hubby and went to battle.

I followed the instructions exactly for this one and it was very simple to put together.

I had high hopes.

I liked it. It would be a great dessert for your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner if you want something a little different than the traditional pumpkin pie, but still desire those classic flavors.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same for my husband. He didn't even take a bite when I served it. I basically had to force him to try it, just one bite, after our company had left for the evening. I felt like I was in negotiations with my toddler. All I got was an "Eh, it's alright...I guess."

So I admit defeat in this battle. My guy might never like pumpkin anything. I figure we're going to have to start having more people at our holidays so if he doesn't like something I want to make, it isn't such a big deal.

I've also decided it might be a good idea to include the recipes in my posts as well as linking to them, so I'm going to give this a try for now. We'll see if the kiddos give me enough time for this extra step.

Pumpkin Crumble
recipe from Our Best Bites

1 box of yellow or white cake mix - pick whatever brand you like
1-2 sticks butter
1 16 oz can pumpkin - or make your own puree
2 eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t ginger
1/8 t cloves
1/8 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 t additional cinnamon for topping

Preheat oven to 350.

Place 2 cups of the cake mix in a bowl. Cut in 3 tablespoons chilled butter. Use your fingers to crumble the butter until it's in small crumbly pieces. Place mixture in a 9x13 baking dish and press it flat using your fingers.

Mix pumpkin, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and spices until smooth. Pour on top of the cake mixture in the pan.

Measure the rest of the dry cake mix (they're all a little different.) Mix 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the rest of the dry cake mix together. Sprinkle it all over the top of the pumpkin mixture.

Next sprinkle on the chopped pecans.

For every 1 cup of cake mix you sprinkled on top, you'll need 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Drizzle it right on top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. The topping should be golden brown when done.

I served it with homemade sweetened whipped cream. Who doesn't like pumpkin with whipped cream on top? Well, except the guy I married.

So what's the one dish you're looking forward to gobbling up on Thanksgiving? (If you can pick just one.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

cranberry orange scones

When I think of scones, the first thing that comes to mind is something that's very dry and crumbly. And Starbucks. I think that's the only place I ever see those things and they never look very appetizing to me. Not exactly my idea of a good pastry. But when I was looking for recipes to use a bag of fresh cranberries in my fridge (we'd gotten tired of cranberry sauce and were longing for something different) this one caught my attention, and I'm thrilled it did.

I'm not even sure I'd call this a scone, it's more like a sweet biscuit. Warm (well that's how I'd recommend eating them). Flaky. Moist. Buttery. Sweet. Yum. Ina Garten's Cranberry Orange Scones are by far the best scone I've ever tasted.

You'll notice that this recipe calls for dried cranberries, but I thought I'd try it with fresh and they turned out great. I roughly chopped the cranberries and used the same amount as called for of dried ones in the recipe. I increased the sugar by 3 tablespoons to account for the substitution. (I halved this recipe because I only had 1/2 cup heavy cream, but when we get to the store next, I'm planning to make another batch, and a whole recipe this time because they freeze wonderfully. More on that in a bit.) I pulled my scones out of the oven on the short end of the time suggested, probably right around 21 minutes, because I was worried they might get too dry. They really were perfect, so check yours a little early just to make sure they don't get overdone.

Now to this freezing business. Scones, so I hear, are really only good the day of baking. Maybe the day after, but you might be pushing it. So I only baked what I knew we'd eat that day, and froze the rest on a plastic plate (or you could use a cookie sheet if your freezer is bigger than mine) in the freezer until frozen, then I moved them to a freezer storage bag. I froze the cut out dough, before eggwash and sugar sprinkle, just for the record. I'd do those steps right before baking. The next morning I was able to bake the frozen scones straight from freezer to oven, with only about a 2 minute increase in bake time. Worked like a charm. So I think from now on I'll need a supply of these in my freezer for a decadent breakfast, well, anytime. Oh, and one more note on my frozen scones, I had used the last of our orange juice earlier in the morning so I juiced a lemon to make the drizzle for the topping and it was just as delicious as the orange one.

So if you need a way to use up some extra cranberries, here's one excellent solution. I'd even buy a bag to make these. Without question.

Friday, November 13, 2009

white chicken enchiladas

White Chicken Enchiladas were on the menu this week when we had friends over for dinner. From the moment I read the recipe, I just knew I had to try them, and fast. Originally, I was planning to make a simple pasta for our company to make it a little easier on me since I knew I'd be cleaning too before our guests arrived. But no, once I saw these and my mouth started watering, it was the end of me. I buckled up the kids and away we went to the store for the ingredients.

Now this took way longer than the pasta I'd been planning. Like an hour and a half longer. But it was totally worth it. I'm already wondering how long I have to wait before I whip 'em up again. Maybe tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow sounds perfect. My husband even recommended we skip a traditional turkey for Thanksgiving and make these with turkey in them instead. Not a bad idea.

Only two recipe modifications...I used flour tortillas instead of corn because that's what we prefer and I skipped putting the jalapeno pepper in and used a yellow bell pepper. I don't think I'd put a bell pepper in them again. The flavor didn't mesh as well as I'd wanted, but other than that, these are delicious.

And I'm sorry there's no picture for these, but sometimes we're too hungry for pictures. Pioneer Woman never leaves us lacking for pictures though, so check hers out in the recipe.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

french breakfast puffs

I don't even recommend reading this post unless you're in the mood to indulge. Know that after we snacked on a few, I knew I had to throw the rest out. Yes, we wasted food and I need to have my hand slapped for it, but it was for our own good. These are yummy, very yummy indeed, but oh so heavy and soaked in butter...did I mention that yet?

I knew from the beginning that these were going to be bad news, but sometimes, I just can't resist. I have fallen in love with Pioneer Woman and her blogs, and this was my first attempt trying one of her recipes. Many more to come, I'm sure. Everything she makes looks divine.

Okay, now to the recipe for French Breakfast Puffs. I started by cutting the recipe in half and making 24 mini muffins instead of 12 big ones. The mini muffins cooked for 15 minutes and came out perfectly. The only other change I made was only lightly tossing the muffins in the butter rather than letting them soak for 20-30 seconds like Pioneer Woman recommends. I just couldn't do it. Mine were only in there for 2-3 seconds, or plenty long enough, for my tiny cakes.

As you might expect, these are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. But unless you have the metabolism of a 13-year-old, I'm warning you, they may come at a price.

Monday, November 9, 2009

white chicken chili with a cheddar hushpuppy crust

Recently we've found quite a few 'keepers' to add to our list of regulars from our kitchen. White Chicken Chili with a Cheddar Hushpuppy Crust is no exception. Matt and I had been wanting white chicken chili for a couple weeks now, but I've never made it before and didn't have a recipe for it. This is what I found that sounded worth trying on Now, I have no idea who Gaynell Lawson is (the author of the recipe), but I do know he makes a rockin' chicken chili and just the sound of the word hushpuppy makes me drool.

Both the chili and the cornbread crust had fantastic flavor on their own and together... yum. I had a second helping and my husband, the guy who eats like a bird compared to most men, went back for thirds! Now if that doesn't shout, "Try me!" I don't know what will.

Recipe notes:

1. As far as ingredients in the chili go, I used northern beans instead of cannellini and I shredded the cooked chicken instead of cubing it.

2. For the hushpuppy crust, I used a box of Jiffy cornbread mix instead of the recommended brand and didn't put it all in since those boxes are a couple ounces more than the box the recipe calls for. I was nervous about how it would turn out since I didn't measure exactly, but for no reason. It was yummy and cooked up quite well.

3. I don't have a cast iron skillet yet, so I used my Dutch oven and it worked beautifully. I love that thing :-)

4. We garnished the dish with avocado and sour cream. And in my daughter's case, she garnished her sour cream with some chili. My brother would be so proud.

So, thanks, Gaynell Lawson, for adding to our list of 'regulars'. Well, for the fall and winter at least. Anyone who knows me well knows that, as a rule, I DO NOT eat chili in the summer. It just isn't right.

Friday, November 6, 2009


You might think all we eat are sweets. I could understand why too, based on what I blog about. But I promise, we have our dinner before dessert almost every night. I've been wanting to try these classic brownies from smitten kitchen for a few weeks now, and finally got around to making them on Wednesday. From the look of her pictures and what she had to say about them, I thought these would be the best brownies to hit our kitchen.

Not so much.

Don't get me wrong, they weren't bad, but when I think I'd rather have the Wal-Mart brand fudge brownie mix that costs less than a dollar and comes in a little pouch than something that came out of Cook's Illustrated magazine, well, then I'd say don't bother wasting your time on the extra effort. My overall favorite brownies are still my Grandma's recipe, but I don't make them often because I will seriously eat the whole pan by myself in less than 24 hours. And I just don't want to look pregnant when I'm not, so I try to exercise a little self-control. And I don't have much self-control when they're sitting on my counter. If I were you, I'd be wondering about my Grandma's recipe right about now, you know, if you're going to have a bunch of people to feed sometime soon. There's something about that cocoa powder and the immense amount of powdered sugar on top that's awesome. And I know what you'll be thinking when you see how much oil goes into these, but the soft, chewy texture it creates...mmmm...they just melt in your mouth. And I love that about a brownie.

Grandma Pease's Brownies
Note: I often halve this recipe since it makes such a large pan of brownies. A half portion will fit in a small jellyroll pan nicely.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into a greased rimmed cookie sheet and bake only 15-20 minutes. Do not overbake. Sprinkle, or spoon large amounts of powdered sugar on top. Just be careful not to inhale when you take a bite. :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


When I saw these, I just knew we had to try them. I'd never made Snickerdoodles before, and wanted a good recipe for my collection. This sure is it; I won't need to try any others. We even mailed some and turns out they'll hold up well being shipped. I did bake and ship in the same day which helped them stay fresh longer for the birthday girl. (I whipped up the dough the night before and let it chill so the balls would be easy to handle when baking in the morning, just like the recipe suggests.)

These cookies are crisp on the outside and cakey in the middle and a wonderful bundle of cinnamony-sugar goodness. They didn't last long in our house and I'm going to guess they won't in yours either.

On a completely unrelated note...

I think this month of not eating out really had an effect on us. I've always been one to LOVE eating out, I'd pretty much always choose that over eating in, even with my love of cooking. I think I liked the event of it, something different AND not having to do dishes. But Monday night we went out to dinner for the first time in weeks, and I found myself wishing we were back at home, eating something I'd cooked up and just enjoying time around our own dinner table, folding chairs and all. And the surprising thing is, when I shared with my husband what I'd been thinking, he said he'd felt the same way. I never would have guessed all we'd want to do after a month minus restaurants is to stay home, but I'm pleasantly surprised that that's the case.

Monday, November 2, 2009

we're still here, just a little under the weather

the cold and flu season struck our house a couple weeks ago, and has yet to leave. when matt and i got sick too last week, it pretty much put an end to just about everything around here, including trying new recipes. that's why i haven't been posting. i don't have anything to write about. we have made some recipes over again. the chocolate-hazelnut smooches, buttermilk pancakes and chicken pot pie are still awesome, even with a raw throat. my daughter and i also tried making the pumpkin bread again, but something went wrong. i'm not sure what, but it ended up dense and not like bread at all. we were bummed, to say the least.

anyways, matt's back at work today and i'm starting, some moments i think so at least, to feel better. there's a chance for new recipes this week, so don't count me out. in fact, i'm going to turn on food network right now and see what's cooking. until later, my friends...

oh, wait, one more thing. we finished our month-long no eating out challenge this weekend. we made it! i was, however, disappointed that we only saved $200 on our food budget from the previous month. we still think it's too high and are trying to figure out how we spend so much in this area. yesterday i went to the grocery store and bought enough chicken and ground beef for the month because they were both $1.99/pound and that's cheaper than what we've been paying. i separated them out into meal-size portions and froze them all. if i only buy meat when it's on sale, that should help a little more, right?

if anyone has any money-saving tips on grocery shopping, i'm all ears.