Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas shopping for junk food makers

I've done quite a bit of online shopping the past 5 days and I noticed several "junky" kitschy kitchen appliances that folks don't need.

What caught my eye about the S'mores maker is the word "old-fashioned". Um, to make s'mores the old-fashioned way you need a stick and a campfire -- I don't see that here.

I assume this next product is popular with people who always want the corner brownie.

Does the manufacturer of the cupcake maker also sell a muffin machine?

I don't know about a muffin maker, but there IS a cake pop maker!

Cake pops are a trendy novelty treat right now. If you're doing it the "hard" way, without a special machine like the one above -- as I've read about it, never having done it -- you bake a cake and crumble it. You mix the crumbs with frosting and roll them in balls. You plunge a lollipop stick into them and freeze them, then you dip them in chocolate and sprinkles or other decorations.

Moving on ...
How many times a year do you make sundaes in waffle cones or bowls to need a special machine to make your own instead of just 1. buying them pre-made or 2. using your regular waffle iron???

Do you really need your waffles to look like circus animals?

Finally, the next products is one that probably someone somewhere needs. It's an attachment for a Kitchen-Aid mixer so it is probably quality. It's a grain mill.

Now, I have never ground my own grain into flour or wanted to. If I was an artisan baker, this might come in handy. As I am just a chowhound, the only time I can think of using this might be in September for the Buckwheat Festival to grind my own buckwheat. But you can buy buckwheat flour so why would I want to? I don't even grow my own buckwheat. Still, this is the most valuable kitchen "gadget" I've seen this holiday season. And I wouldn't return it if I found it under my tree ... . ;)

Happy holiday shopping!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Morning Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Happy Thanksgiving!

I made my 8-year-old a pumpkin pie smoothie and a Thomas' cranberry bagel this morning before she went to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with her grandmother next door.


1/2 banana (peeled, frozen, diced)
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
3/4-1 cup vanilla almond milk
Few shakes of pumpkin spice or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon allspice
Few shakes of cinnamon (optional)
Pinch of cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla
4-5 ice cubes
Sugar to taste -- I added 1 tablespoon.

Combine all in a blender. Serves 2 people.

I can't attribute the recipe because the re-pinner on Pinterest didn't give the original source. However, I added the sugar myself -- it needed something a bit sweeter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thinking Thanksgiving: Menu

I thought I broke the cranberry sauce.

When cooking, I don't usually work from memory or make things up as I go along. And certainly not when there is a holiday meal at stake. I wanted to make the cranberry sauce today and I couldn't find the magazine with the idea I had read. So I risked spoiling the sauce and struck out on my own, using the recipe on the bag of cranberries as a guide.

To the bag of Ocean Spray cranberries, I added 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water, per the directions. But then I wanted to add 2 cups of frozen mixed berries I had. And I felt like the sauce needed orange juice and cinnamon. So in went 1/2 cup OJ and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. I set it to boiling on the stove. It looked like a lot of really runny liquid. I worried for many minutes and tried to calm my fears with the mantra "It'll cook down. It'll cook down."

It cooked down. When I poured it out into a bowl to cool, my husband tasted it and pronounced it good. Whew!

So it is chilling in the fridge, it's flavors melding, for tomorrow when I host my mother for Thanksgiving dinner.

Tonight, before I leave for Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws', I want to share with you my menu for tomorrow and some accompanying recipes.

Roast Turkey
Traditional Bread Dressing with Herbs
Mashed potatoes (locally grown Yukon Golds and Kennebecs)
Sweet potatoes with pecan streusel (my mom's bringing this)
Brussels sprouts with cranberries and bacon
The aforementioned mixed-berry cranberry sauce
Rolls with WV Fruit & Berry pumpkin butter and my Aunt Louie's elderberry jelly
Libby's pumpkin pie
My mom's from-scratch butterscotch pie, which won me a blue ribbon three years ago

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ranch House Crock Pot Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes

It was a dark and stormy night -- again! The mid-Atlantic states have seen several days of nonstop rain. This morning, knowing I was going to be gone for most of the day, I put this recipe in the Crock Pot. Everyone came home to a house filled with mouth-watering aroma. I was running late so we made regular mashed potatoes -- not the recipe listed below with roasted garlic and Parmesan. I'll try that next time. There WILL be a next time! Even the 8-year-old said "This one's a keeper!" The pork chops were so tender even she could cut them with her fork. The only negative thing I will say is the "gravy" isn't very thick. But the whole meal was delicious. I added slices of Italian bread with butter and my Aunt Louie's homemade and canned elderberry jelly. Mmmmmm!

6 pork chops, 1/2-inch thick
1 packet dry Ranch Dressing Seasoning
10-ounce can Cream of Chicken Soup
4 pounds peeled, cubed potatoes
5 Tablespoons real butter
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves roasted garlic (directions are below)
1- 1 1/2 cups warm milk
1 Tablespoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste

Place pork chops, Ranch seasoning and soup into a medium-sized crock pot over high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 6 hours.

Place potatoes into a large pot of cold water. Place onto stove top over high heat and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, cook for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and transfer to the work bowl of a stand or electric mixer. Mix on low until potatoes are mashed then add butter, Parmesan, garlic, milk, salt and pepper. Season to taste if needed. For thinner mashed potatoes add more milk, slowly until your desired consistency.

Scoop mashed potatoes onto serving plates and top with pork chops and soup gravy from crock pot. I put a little parsley on top to serve.

Roasted Garlic
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place bulb of garlic with skins on, wrap lightly in tin foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove from foil and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove garlic from skins, place in a bowl and mash with a fork until completely mashed. Set aside. One garlic bulb will have around 12 cloves.

I found this recipe at RealMomKitchen.com by way of Pinterest.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ham and Cheese Sliders

It was a dark and stormy night, we were returning home from different activities and I needed a quick dinner. These ham and cheese sliders, paired with canned tomato soup, hit the spot. They are so yummy! (Well, my 8-year-old doesn't want the sauce touching HERS next time but her father and I like it!) I think the poppy seeds make them look so elegant they could be heavy hors d'oeuvres at a holiday party. I can see them appearing at a Super Bowl party too.

I found this idea on Pinterest and got the recipe from http://itsallinmyheadstefsblog.blogspot.com.

I made some changes, which I will put in parentheses.


24 good white dinner rolls (I used King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls)
24 pieces good honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise AND 1/3 cup Miracle Whip

(Knowing the picky people in my family, I didn't add any dressing. They can add their own if they want.)

Poppy seed sauce (I took the previous blogger's advice and made half this recipe.)

1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. Spread onto both sides of the center of each roll. (I skipped this.)

Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss inside of each roll. Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. Place very close together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes. Serve warm.

Sandwiches can be assembled a day ahead and kept in the fridge until ready to bake.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls Cooked in a Waffle Iron

I saw this on Pinterest. Spray your Belgian waffle iron with cooking spray and let it heat. Place four canned cinnamon rolls on the iron and close the lid, pushing down slightly. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

I worried the rolls would be doughy inside but they weren't.
The only advantage I see to baking the cinnamon rolls this way is that, in summer, you wouldn't heat up your kitchen by turning on the oven.

Though they have a crispy exterior, they taste much the same as oven-baked, which reminded me:

I don't like canned cinnamon rolls.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thinking Thanksgiving: Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Bacon

Bacon makes everything better.
Seriously, bacon is not the only thing that makes this Brussels sprouts dish palatable. Use the "petite" Brussels sprouts that are sweeter and more tender.
The cranberries are very "Christmas-y" against the green dish and add more sweetness and nutrition.
Lauren Graham of Morgantown brought this as her covered dish today to a scrapbooking crop held at Mountain Mamas Retreats.
This is very good and I will serve it to my family soon -- maybe as a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner side dish.

5 slices bacon
1 14-ounce bag Hanover Steam-in-Bag Petite Brussels Sprouts
1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Chop and fry bacon. Steam Brussels sprouts according to package directions. Add to bacon. Add cranberries and broth. Cook until the cranberries plump and the broth evaporates/absorbs.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Your Local Farmers' Market

The following post on NPR's food blog The Salt got me thinking that instead of just learning about the farm bill and talking about it (as the story recommends) or going to a pointless mass demonstration, use your dollars to protest against Big Food. Buy as much as you can from neighbors or local producers. See what you can get along without or make from scratch such as processed foods you might have previously purchased.

From Wall Street To Big Food, Occupiers Are Hungry For Change
by Eliza Barclay

Not all the people who have been protesting in New York's Zuccotti Park are trying to Occupy Wall Street. Some are trying to Occupy Big Food, and are ready to march. That includes boycotting that Thanksgiving icon, the Butterball turkey.

So far that group is tiny, with just two women: Kristin Wartman, who's a writer and nutrition educator, and Erika Lade, a graduate student in New York University 's Food Studies Program. But OBF has a blog and a Twitter feed and a goal: "To take our food back and out of the hands of just a few large corporations."

That goal echoes the aim of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, who want to wrest control of the financial sector from large corporations.

The business interests of the meat, dairy, and countless other agricultural industries have shaped our food system, and many activists argue that our health, environment and local economies have suffered from that influence. As a headline in Mother Jones put it last month, "Big Food makes Big Finance look like amateurs." That same article by Tom Philpott listed four reasons why foodies should head to Zuccotti Park.

Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thinking Thanksgiving: A child's perspective

My 8-year-old daughter brought home some classwork from school and I just had to share it because it is food-related. I delight in her wit and insight daily.

"If I could make an unappetizing pizza, I would start with the crust. It would have celery inside the crust. Then I would put peas, harvarte, pumpkin, acorn nuts and chopped up apples."
by A, age 8

She likes these ingredients individually (well, maybe not the acorns) and in other dishes but what makes it unappetizing is combining them. Her father hates peas. What other 8-year-old in my area knows about or has had Havarti??? I'm so proud.

Thanksgiving Acrostic Poem by A, age 8

Hot potatoes
Apple pie
Key lime pie
Sweet cranberry sauce
Giving Thanks
Ice cream
Ice Tea
Nice food
Glad to be me

I'm glad she's her too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thinking Thanksgiving: Roasted Vegetable Medley

Bear with me ... there's a recipe in here.

Thanksgiving is in one week. Since the beginning of the month, some of my friends on Facebook have been posting each day something for which they are thankful. I've thought about doing it but it seemed a little forced or hollow for me. I have always felt this way when I've been asked to tell what I'm thankful for at someone's dinnertable (this is not a tradition at my house) so I usually say 4-wheel drive (I am!) and coffee.

But this week I have had experiences that illuminated things I am thankful for that I take for granted. I am grateful my husband does not raise his hand or his voice in anger toward me. I learned of a family in my community that has to carry buckets of water to bathe and another family that has neither bathroom or kitchen sinks or a kitchen table. My trailer is a castle compared to where others live and I need to stop being ashamed of my circumstances. While I am watching the checkbook balance and working out who is bringing what to dinner to share the cost, there are some people for whom Thanksgiving is going to be just another day with no particularly special meal if they even have food at all.

I was happy to see another blogger who has a heart for those who have little or nothing. Scary Mommy sought $25 donations that she paired up and matched to people who said they needed help. Those folks will get $50 gift cards to buy their Thanksgiving ingredients. Read the comments on the blog and you'll see many of her readers gave more than $25. You'll also see the stories of some of the folks who will be getting the gift cards.

She's not even a food blogger. Really isn't this something food bloggers should embrace? Sometimes we talk about food and our enjoyment of it in ways that show we take it for granted. Last year I served a community Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who would come. This year I just donated groceries to the food pantry (good stuff like Campbell's soup and canned mandarin oranges -- no sauerkraut, beets or other cans of things few people like to eat). I have been in the place where I was looking at what I had left in the cupboard and trying to cabbage together meals out of it to last till payday. But no matter how bad my situation is, someone always has it worse. So to quote a Veggie Tales song, "I can love because God loves me; I can give because God gave."

Now, because you've been patient, gentle readers, I will give you a recipe.

Earlier this week, I made a pork roast in the Crock-Pot, shredded it and added most of it to this homemade sauce and served it on sandwich buns. I saved part of it to add to this pumpkin chili later this week.

For one of the side dishes, I made a roasted vegetable medley (recipe follows). I also served a salad topped with mandarin oranges, dried cherries and chopped pecans.

"This veggie dish is good with any meat, but I especially like it with pork. And because the vegetables can be prepared in advance, I have more time to enjoy my dinner guests," said Shirley Beauregard of Grand Junction, Colorado, who submitted this recipe to Taste of Home.

I got it out of the cookbook magazine they give to attendees of the Taste of Home Cooking School.

Because I am thinking Thanksgiving, I am considering this Roasted Vegetable Medley a holiday side dish. The potatoes in the mix might clash with mashed potatoes (and I wouldn't dare NOT serve mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving -- read about the near-disastrous time I changed up the potatoes one year) so why not swap the Yukon Golds for turnips? We usually save the marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes for Easter and I make either a sweet potato/dried cherry/bleu cheese/curry dressing or cinnamon honey coated sweet potatoes, the recipes for which can be found here.

Even if this roasted vegetable medley doesn't make the cut for Thanksgiving dinner, it's going to become one of my go-to fall side dishes.

7 Servings
Prep: 25 min. Bake: 30 min.

3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into small wedges
2 medium sweet red peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium red onion, quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, red peppers, squash, sweet potato and onion. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar and seasonings. Pour over vegetables and toss to coat.

Transfer to two greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans. Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 30-40 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Yield: 7 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 cup equals 152 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 347 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 2 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Product Review: The Gourmet Cupboard

The Gourmet Cupboard is one of those home-party baking-mixes companies, like Tastefully Simple. I hadn't heard of The Gourmet Cupboard until I met one of their reps, Sarah Jones of Eglon, WV -- the only one I know and one of eight in my state.

I've tried some of The Gourmet Cupboard's products and I will probably order some more. Do you need a mix to make these things? In many cases, no. Is it easier? Sometimes. Is it cheaper? It can be -- especially if nuts are included. These are time-saving and mostly reasonably priced -- most mixes are about $4 or $5 each. One, probably the most expensive, is $7.50. A pound of their flavored whole-bean coffee is $15.50; ground is $17.50. Way too steep for me.

Of all the things I've tried, the Chocolate-covered Cherry Hot Cocoa for $4 (makes 8 cups) is about the only thing I don't like. My opinion is that this is cherry Kool-Aid mixed with hot cocoa mix. It's rather fake-tasting and unnaturally red. I would not get it again.

I purchased the Apple Baklava for $7.50 and I can still taste it. It was that good. The mix is ground apples and nuts and sugar and spices. It's worth the price BUT this is a very rich dessert -- in calories and expense -- once you add the fillo dough, honey and ONE POUND of butter. I thought the directions were confusing but my dessert turned out fine. I have made baklava before so I figured it out. However, I think it's possible to use maybe a stick less butter and still have it turn out delicious. -- I can't believe I just recommended using less butter! I would probably get this again, even though I know how to make baklava and choc-lava from scratch without a hassle.

At a party, I have tried the Tomato Basil Dip and it was very good. I think the website says you mix half a package with 1 cup of sour cream. A package costs $3.75 and I think all the savory dips are well worth that price. Update: The savory Cucumber Dip was a hit as a Thanksgiving appetizer.

I tasted the Dreamsicle Pie ($4) and it really does taste like the old-fashioned orange Popsicle with ice-cream in the middle. It requires 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, 8 ounces of Cool Whip, and a pre-made graham cracker crust. For creamier, richer pie, add sweetened condensed milk.

I tasted the Pecan Pie Muffins because Sarah graciously saved me a taste at another event. I can see why these go fast. They are yummy. I looked up a pecan pie muffin recipe and it's not that difficult. But for the price of pecans alone at the grocery store, this mix might be worth $4.75 to make 9 regular-sized muffins. You add eggs and oil.

I poked around on the Gourmet Cupboard website and I found some novel things.

Funnel Cake Mix ($3.75) makes 6 cakes when you add 1 egg, milk, and a funnel. Yields 6 regular sized cakes.

I have always wanted to make beignets since I saw "The Princess & The Frog." I might try this mix ($4.25), although I do have a recipe for beignets. It's not the ingredients, but the technique that worries me about making beignets and Pecan Pralines, which the Gourmet Cupboard also has mix for ($6.50 -- you add whipping cream and vanilla.) Obviously the sugar and pecans merit the price. But in the case of the beignets, which requires you to add an egg, evaporated milk, shortening, and oil for frying plus powdered sugar and/or cinnamon for sprinkling, what are you getting for $4.50 -- flour and sugar? Maybe yeast?

They also sell a mix for Mardi Gras King Cake. Its description is not my understanding of what a King Cake is. You add frozen rolls, butter, and milk so it sounds like a take on Monkey Bread to me. I'm trying to figure out what exactly you get for $4.75 besides sugar or pudding mix and the small plastic baby that you will hide in the cake after baking and the icing mix packet. I would not get this.

If you want to make your own Kung Pao Chicken, there's a mix for that. It costs $4.50. You add chicken, rice vinegar, and olive oil. I read customers' comments and saw that some people serve it with mashed potatoes. *Shakes head in shock and awe*

From the website I also learned how the company started. Mother and daughter Judy Baker and Melissa Holmes started The Gourmet Cupboard in 2001 by making homemade mixes to give as gifts. When they saw how popular they were at craft fairs, they started making them to sell in a special kitchen Melissa's husband built beside their house. Now they are lodged in a bigger facility. The success of the company has enabled Melissa to stay home with her children. Melissa says some of their original mixes such as Heavenly Chocolate Pie, a recipe from my great-grandmother, and Mexican Meatloaf, are based on recipes that have been in the family for years.

If you're a serious cook, you might say "why bother", but if these fill a need for saving time in your life, they may be worth it. I had fun trying these at the party and I like Sarah so I will find something to order again.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Black Bean Burgers

The Blue Moose Cafe is a coffeeshop in Morgantown. When I was food editor at the local newspaper, we did a series of restaurant features. Each eatery had to give us a recipe. That's how I got this savory, healthy little wonder. My meat-and-potatoes husband doesn't mind that this burger isn't beef and even my 8-year-old likes it.


1 15-ounce can black beans (drained, rinsed, and mashed)
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup corn (whole kernel)
1 cup cooked rice
1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce, salt, and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil

Spray a skillet with cooking spray. Saute corn, roasted red peppers, and all spices in the cooking spray. Add cooked rice and mix thoroughly. Add hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and let cool. Add black beans and bread crumbs and form into patties. Brown patties in oil. Melt slices of white cheddar on top. Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato and southwest/chipotle mayo.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Having Italian heritage I'm proud that I can make sauce and gnocchi from scratch, but I learned it on my own from cookbooks, not from family. Gnocchi is an Italian potato dumpling. If you have made noodles, this is very similar. My daughter prefers these sprinkled with just grated parmesan cheese and she could eat almost a whole box of the storebought kind by herself. It's handy that I know this recipe.

Mixing the dough is not hard but the slightly time-consuming part is forming the gnocchi into rounded shapes and marking them with the tines of a fork by pressing them against the fork with their cut ends out.

I work ahead by cooking extra potatoes and mashing them without butter or milk or seasoning when I make mashed potatoes for one dinner. Then I have them for the next day when I start to make gnocchi. To cook them, you drop them in boiling water. They are done when they float to the top.


4 cups mashed potatoes (without added milk and butter)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
4 teaspoons olive oil
3 quarts water

In a large bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, flour and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yolk and olive oil; add to potato mixture. Turn onto a heavily floured surface; knead for 3-5 minutes or until smooth. Divide into fourths. On a floured surface, roll each portion into 3/4-in.-thick ropes; cut into 1-inch pieces.
In a Dutch oven, bring water to a boil. Cook gnocchi in batches for 45-60 seconds or until they rise to the surface. Remove with a strainer. Serve spaghetti sauce over gnocchi; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Yield: 8 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 3/4 cup gnocchi with 1/3 cup sauce equals 283 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 82 mg cholesterol, 934 mg sodium, 47 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 9 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2-1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat.

Originally published as Potato Gnocchi in Light & Tasty April/May 2006, p49

by Rachael Ray "365 No Repeats"

1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
1 teaspoon, 1/3 palm full, fennel seeds
1/4 cup tender sun-dried tomatoes (available in pouches or tubs in produce section)
1 cup, 20 leaves fresh basil, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some to drizzle
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, eyeball it in your palm
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 pound gnocchi, potato dumplings, homemade or from pasta or refrigerated or frozen foods aisles of supermarket
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, 1/2 cup – a couple of handfuls, plus some to pass at table
Crusty bread, to pass at table

Bring a pot of water to a boil for gnocchi. Salt boiling water but wait a while to drop in gnocchi.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place chicken in a medium bowl with grill seasoning and fennel seeds. Pile sun-dried tomatoes on top of each other in small stacks then slice into thin strips. Coarsely chop the thin strips and add to bowl. Stack the basil leaves together then roll them up into a log. Shred the basil by thinly slicing the log. Add the half the basil to the bowl. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the bowl. Mix chicken together, roll into mini balls, 1 1/2 inches across, and arrange on a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 to12 minutes or until firm and lightly golden.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. To the hot skillet, add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan then the garlic, onions and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and season sauce with salt and pepper.

Drop gnocchi in boiling water and cook 5 minutes or to package directions.

Stir basil into sauce to wilt it. Drain gnocchi and arrange on a platter. Remove balls from oven and add to gnocchi, equally distributing them. Sprinkle cheese over meatballs and hot dumplings then top with sauce by carefully ladling it all over and around the platter. Gently toss to combine then serve with crusty bread.

Nutrition Facts: 2/3 cup equals 232 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 68 mg cholesterol, 373 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1-1/2 fat.


2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced

Cook butter over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add garlic and sage; cook for 1-2 minutes or until butter and garlic are golden brown. Add gnocchi; stir gently to coat. Yield: 4 servings. Source: Taste of Home

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Product Review: Philadelphia Original Cooking Creme

Before you say "Geez, Cynthia, couldn't you take a more appetizing photo?" let me tell you this picture is worth a thousand words and all of them are "Blech!"

I tried the new Philadelphia Original Cooking Creme and it is disgusting.

This is the Lemon-Broccoli Rice with Chicken. Just looking at the photo now a few months after I tried it makes me feel queasy and like there's a brick in my stomach. The way-too-cheesy sauce makes this heavy and so rich you can stand only a few bites. Do not buy this.

You could make a lighter, more appetizing and more healthful sauce with a couple of tablespoons of butter, a couple of tablespoons of flour and some fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth.

I also bought the Tomato & Basil Cooking Creme and made the Easy Skillet Lasagna with it. (Sorry, no photos.) It was almost as icky. These are new convenience products that I won't waste my money or my calories on. These recipes sure make a lot of food though -- way more than we cared to eat.

But if you can't take my word for it, here are the recipes to try yourself. Just remember ... I warned you it's gross.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup each chopped green and red peppers
1 24-ounce jar spaghetti sauce
2 1/2 cups water
12 lasagna noodles, broken
1 10-ounce tub PHILADELPHIA Tomato & Basil Cooking Creme

Brown meat with peppers in deep large nonstick skillet; drain.
Stir in sauce and water. Bring to boil. Stir in noodles; cover. Simmer on medium-low heat 18 to 20 minutes or until noodles are tender, stirring occasionally.
Add cooking creme; swirl with spoon. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 3 minutes.

1 tablespoon oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1o-ounce tub PHILADELPHIA Original Cooking Creme
2 cups frozen broccoli florets, thawed
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cups hot cooked rice

Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken, garlic and pepper; cook 5 to 6 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring frequently.
Add cooking creme and broccoli; cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir in lemon zest.
Serve over rice.

Friday, November 11, 2011

German Apple Cake

It's the weekend! Bake something!

I got this recipe from my Aunt Lois. I didn't write down a frosting recipe with it so perhaps there is none. If you have to have frosting, find a cream cheese one. But I like this cake unadorned except for a crunchy top. Plus, with 2 cups of sugar, it's sweet enough to not need frosting.

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups chopped apples
1 cup nuts -- pecans or walnuts are equally good
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly mist a baking pan with cooking spray or brush with shortening.
Mix all dry ingredients together. Add the oil, eggs and vanilla and stir. Mix in the apples, nuts and raisins. Batter will be thick!
Spread into prepared pan.
Bake for 1 hour.

Farewell, My Hero (Burger)

One of my guilty pleasures -- the Hero Burger -- is gone from the market.

A Hero Burger is two hamburger patties on a six-inch hero sandwich bun, topped with grilled salami and ham, cheese, mayo, lettuce and tomato and grilled onions if you wish.

Late this summer I noticed that the Dairy Mart in my town became a Mountaineer Mart. Throughout the fall more Dairy Marts and All Star Expresses in my area became Circle K convenience stores. The Hero Hut sandwich stations in them closed. Finally this week I noticed that the standalone Hero Hut restaurant in Sabraton has also shuttered. Chico Enterprises sold 26 stores to Circle K and at least one to Mountaineer Mart. From now on, I will only get Hero Hut's signature sandwich, my guilty pleasure -- a Hero Burger -- if I make it myself and then it doesn't taste quite the same.

Hero Huts have been around since my childhood, if not before. I'm sad to see them go.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's For Dinner: Honey Lime Chicken

When I worked for a newspaper, the employees compiled their favorite recipes into a cookbook that they sold to raise money for the United Way. This recipe was on the same page as two that I contributed. It is flavorful, fast, can be light and elegant enough to serve for a special meal. I serve it with rice and stir-fried mixed vegetables.

1 20-ounce can pineapple slices
2 whole chicken breasts, split (I get boneless)
garlic salt (I use garlic powder)
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Drain pineapple, reserving 2 tablespoons of juice. Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt/powder. Broil until cooked. (I sometimes use my grill pan.) Combine pineapple juice, honey, lime juice, soy sauce and cornstarch in saucepan. Cook, stirring until thickened. Add pineapple to sauce. Heat through. Spoon over chicken.

Source: Cooking for a Cause, contributed by Marian Fisher

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's For Dinner: Maple Pork Chops with Lime Carrots

Here is a yummy, easy and not-very-expensive (when you find pork chops on sale) from-scratch dinner. I've made this recipe regularly since I found it in the January-February 2010 issue of Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious magazine. Apple dumplings would be a good dessert. Consider corn muffins for your bread.

On this particular night, I served the Maple Pork Chops with steamed broccoli, but a really good side is lime carrots (recipe follows).

4 boneless pork loin chops (6 ounces each)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, beat egg and ginger. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. Dip chops in egg mixture, then coat with crumbs.

In a large skillet, cook pork in butter over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Remove and keep warm.

Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Serve with chops.

Yield: 4 servings.
Source: Simple & Delicious Test Kitchen

1 pound fresh baby carrots
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dill weed

Place carrots and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 4-6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and keep warm.

Place brown sugar and butter in another microwave-safe bowl; cover and cook on high for 30-45 seconds or until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour over carrots; toss to coat.

Yield: 4 servings.
Source: Simple & Delicious contributor Steve Foy of Kirkwood, Mo.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Squashed" is a colossally good book

And now for something different ... .

If you like food -- and why else would you be reading a food -- I wager you like to find out where your food comes from. You read or you watch the Food network.

Here is a book you HAVE to read. Now, don't let the fact that it's Young Adult fiction put you off. I don't usually read that genre either. But I was drawn to the giant pumpkin on this book's cover in Frostburg's Main Street Books and once I read just a few paragraphs of the story, I was hooked!

This book is delicious. The writing is so good I tasted only a little bit at a time even though I wanted to scarf it down in one sitting. I didn't want it to be gone -- I was trying to make it last.

The writing is so bright I can't say enough about it! The humor is dry. And the story is one I've never explored. Ellie is on a quest to grow the biggest pumpkin in Iowa. A lot about this story will resonate with growers and farmers and anyone who has ever entered anything in an agricultural or county fair.

This is easily G or PG. I will let my daughter read it though she is half the heroine's age. There are some boy-girl issues in the subplots but they are handled very tastefully. I'm more concerned about the sad descriptions of the main character, Ellie, grieving for her mother, which had me sobbing uncontrollably at times.

But the witty and laugh-out-loud funny parts make up for the tears. The author, Joan Bauer, really gets inside the head of someone who grows vegetables competitively -- exploring and exposing her fears and her feelings toward her prized produce.

"Squashed" is thoroughly enjoyable. I hope you read it and come back and comment your impressions.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Homemade mixes save money, calories

Today I share more recipes from my pal, Karen Bright, Nutrition Outreach Instructor for WVU Extension Service in Preston County.

If you want to save money and cut preservatives out of your food, try these from-scratch mixes. I have used the homemade Bisquick for biscuits and pancakes and it works just like the store-bought mix. I have also used the cream-of-whatever soup mix in casserole recipes.

Use this homemade mix in any recipe calling for Bisquick or other commercial baking mixes.
8 cups flour
1 1/4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups shortening or 1 cup canola oil

Combine flour, milk, baking powder and salt in a very large bowl.

Cut in shortening until it resembles coarse corn meal. Store in tightly covered container in the refrigerator.


2 cups powdered nonfat milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup instant chicken boullion
(can also use powdered vegetable stock if you can find it)
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together.

To substitute for one can of condensed soup:
Combine 1/3 cup of dry mix with 1 1/4 cups cold water in a saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened. Add to casseroles as you would the canned product.

Makes the equivalent of 9 cans of soup.

Source: "The New American Diet", (c) 1986.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Extension Service offers free cooking classes

Even good cooks can still learn something. I'm getting a little bored in the kitchen and I need to find some new favorite recipes to add to my repertoire. So on Tuesday I'm going to attend FREE cooking classes from 10:30-noon at the WVU Extension Service Preston County office behind the courthouse in Kingwood. That is if the instructor will have me -- The introductory class started last week. You can join me. I'm going to call ahead to make sure she has room for me and you should too. The number is (304) 329-1391.

I've taken Karen's classes before. She is the Nutrition Outreach Instructor in the Family Nutrition Program. Her lessons are hands-on, money-saving and healthy. She amasses ingredients, assigns recipes and the students spend the class time preparing them. At the end, everybody eats. And they take home copies of the recipes and sometimes prizes.

In past classes, I have cooked something featuring ingredients from every state. But this series of classes takes students around the world. Caribbean is on Tuesday's menu. Following classes will feature Mediterranean, Oriental, Italian and English foods.

Here are three recipes Karen has given me in the past. The first two I learned in her class. The last is her mom's recipe.

I promise this one is good. And it has absolutely no fat.

24 asparagus spears or 1 10-ounce can asparagus, drained
1/2 cup salsa
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves (fresh)
2 garlic cloves
4 green onions, thinly sliced

In a blender or food processor or food mill, puree the above ingredients except the green onions. Add the green onions and pulse several times until chunky-smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl. Refrigerate, covered, until chilled, at least 1 hour.

Serve as a dip with baked corn chips or raw vegetable sticks.

22 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 96 milligrams sodium, 4 grams total carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 2 grams protein, 18 milligrams calcium.


1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup thinly sliced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons white wine or chicken broth
1 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 teaspoon EACH curry powder, salt, pepper, ground cumin and ginger


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 teaspoons cold butter or stick margarine
1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes

In a large nonstick skillet, saute the carrots, onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add chicken; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Combine the flour, water and wine or broth until smooth; add to the skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; stir in yogurt, peas and seasonings. Transfer to a shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray; keep warm.

For biscuits, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in yogurt and parsley. Drop eight mounds over warm chicken mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and stew bubbles around the edges.

4 servings.
Nutrition info: 1 cup stew with two biscuits equals 413 calories, 9 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 68 mg cholesterol, 895 mg sodium, 47 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 37 grams protein.

Disclaimer: This last recipe doesn't get the Eat Right With Karen Bright endorsement for healthy cooking, but it tastes so good you can have it once in a while.


2 pounds chicken breast, meat only, raw
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 cup margarine or butter

Dip chicken pieces in mixture of flour, salt, pepper and paprika. You can put everything in a Ziploc bag and shake.

Melt butter in a shallow baking pan in a hot oven (400 degrees). Remove baking pan from oven. As pieces of floured chicken are placed in pan, turn on both sides to coat with butter, then bake, skin side down, in a single layer. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn chicken. Bake another 30 minutes or until tender.

If chicken cannot be served at once, reduce oven heat and brush chicken with more melted butter. Or put it in a slow cooker on low.


1/2 cup onions
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Add to chicken after it has been baked for 30 minutes. Sauce can be doubled or tripled for more flavor.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Meat-and-potatoes: Elsa's Cider Beef with Cheddar Smashed Potatoes

This is a perfect fall recipe using fall flavors. I made it as soon as I brought home my 50 pounds of Kennebec potatoes and 50 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes from the family farm of my childhood friend, Debbie (Davis) Crawford. I wrote about the Davis sisters at the Davis Bros. Farm last year and reprinted the story here.
The cider makes the beef incredibly flavorful. I'm sharing this so you can savor it too. I also like how the stew is served in a bowl of mashed potatoes. This is food for meat-and-potatoes men, but the cider and white-cheddar potatoes give it a gourmet flair. My business partner told me her husband would love it. I have to plan to have them over for dinner.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 tablespoons butter
2 pounds top sirloin, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pound turnips, peeled and chopped
6 tablespoons flour
2 cups good quality apple cider (the dark cloudy ones always taste the best)
1/2 cup beef consommé

3 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and chopped (Use locally grown Yukon Golds or Kennebecs if you can get them.)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese (super-aged and super-sharp!)
3 tablespoons chopped or snipped chives

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.

Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add EVOO and butter. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add to pot. Brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes.

Add onions, carrots and turnips, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add flour, stir to combine and coat.

Add the apple cider and the beef consommé, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover and place in the oven for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Once the beef is about 3/4 of the way cooked (about 40-45 minutes after putting it in the oven), place potatoes in a large saucepot, cover with water by at least 1-2 inches and place over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, add some salt and cook potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain and return to the pot. Add the milk, sour cream, and the cheese. Smash with a potato masher to desired consistency. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the chives. Cover and reserve until you are ready to serve.

When the beef is done, remove from the oven. To serve, place a spoonful of potatoes in a wide serving bowl. Make a well in the middle of the potatoes and spoon the beef into the center.

Source: "Just In Time!: All-new 30-minute meals, plus super-fast 15-minute meals and slow-it down 60-minute meals" by Rachael Ray

Friday, November 4, 2011

Beef Quesadilla Casserole

This recipe comes together quickly and is hearty and tasty -- three of my favorite things. You could make it meatless or swap out the beef for ground venison or ground turkey.

The recipe is from spice company McCormick. I found it in their Recipe Inspirations line -- pre-measured spices in a pack with the recipe on the back. You do not have to have the Recipe Inspirations product to make this recipe. I have included the measurements for you below. From that line, I would like to try their version of the Indian dish, Chicken Tikka Masala.


Makes 8 servings.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (8 3/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, undrained
1 can (4 1/2 ounces) chopped green chiles, undrained
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional -- to your taste)
6 flour tortillas (8-inch)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brown beef and onion in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Add tomato sauce, beans, corn and green chiles; mix well. Stir in all of the Spices except Red Pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Add Red Pepper to taste, if desired.

Spread 1/2 cup of the beef mixture on bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking dish sprayed with no stick cooking spray. Top with 3 of the tortillas, overlapping as needed. Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef mixture and cheese.

Bake 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

per serving
Calories: 391; Fat: 19 g; Carbohydrates: 31 g; Cholesterol: 63 mg; Sodium: 950 mg; Fiber: 4 g; Protein: 24 g

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Black Bean 'n' Pumpkin Chili

This chili is as nutritious as it is delicious. We had it on a cold day and it hit the spot -- very filling. I had leftover roast pork so I cubed it and stirred it in instead of the turkey. The pork, black beans and cumin gave it a Cuban feel. And I served it on cubes of cooked Yukon Gold potatoes from Davis Bros. Farm in Masontown, WV. I didn't have to use the potatoes but I wanted to. The 8-year-old ate it with no complaints. I liked it because it's made in a Crock-Pot for those busy days.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey
1 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, saute the onion and yellow pepper in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
Transfer to a 5-quart slow cooker. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through.

Yields 10 servings.

Nutrition facts: 1 cup equals 192 calories, 5 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat) 28 milligrams cholesterol, 658 milligrams sodium, 21 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber.

Taste of Home, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I can't call this a product review because I've never used this product BUT I HAVE tasted the bread it makes and I pronounce it yummy.

I recently attended the Taste of Home Cooking School in Morgantown to advertise my new business, Mountain Mamas Retreats, Weekend Getaways for Crafty Ladies. Our booth was beside the EZ DOH booth.

The EZ DOH is a plastic bucket with a hand-cranked dough hook (called a kneading piece) on it. It's a manual bread maker fashioned after an antique bread bucket that EZ DOH's founders, husband and wife Ginny and Dave, bought at a garage sale. Ginny told me she was a chef or caterer and made bread in the big bucket but longed for something smaller to make only 1-2 loaves and also to give her friends who asked her to teach them how to make bread. Ginny said her EZ DOH invention is ideal if you want a little help mixing and kneading bread and you either don't have or don't want an electric bread machine.

Find out more about the EZ DOH and even watch videos of Ginny using it on her Facebook page and at the product web site www.EZDOH.com. Like I said, I didn't try to use it but Ginny did give me her leftover samples of cranberry bread and shaped dinner rolls and they were pretty good. She also sells bread mixes to use in the bucket and made-in-the-USA bakeware and accessories. The bread blade she sells is made in France. The bucket and two mixes retail for about $40.

And if it's important to you that your purchases support a greater good, this one will. EZ DOH donates a percentage of every sale to Please Pass the Bread, a world-wide feeding ministry of the World Challenge organization, that has established 60 feeding sites in 8 countries, serving meals to more than 6,000 impoverished children. The EZ DOH bucket is printed with a Bible verse: John 6:35 – “And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’" Ginny and Dave say on their Web site, "It’s a truth that fuels our lives and motivates our business."

Check it out -- and remember you heard about the EZ DOH bread bucket from Good Press first!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Dip -- Hot or Cold

Here are two ways to get pumpkin pie flavor without making a pie.
The "hot" recipe isn't really a dip -- it's Crustless Pumpkin Pie.
I broke a cardinal rule by making this recipe for the first time when I was serving it to a group. It was just "OK" not fabulous and it took longer to cook than the recipe said so I had guests waiting for dessert. The leavening in the Bisquick made it cake-y and puffed. I would omit it next time -- I don't see where it's really needed; you're essentially baking pumpkin pie filling in a crock-pot. And it did not make the house smell like baking pumpkin pie all day while it cooked. We barely smelled it. But, because I promised my friend Jeannie I would post it on the blog for her, here it is. May your experience with this recipe be better than mine.

1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup Bisquick-type mix
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Use a 4-quart crockpot. If you only have a big one, you can use it, but be aware that the batter will be spread out more and will cook much quicker. If you insert an oven-safe dish into the crock, it will work, but the batter will be quite thick and will take a VERY long time. Plan accordingly.

Spray cooking spray into your crockpot.

Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients, and whisk until fully blended. No need to use a hand or stand mixer, just some elbow-grease.

Pour the batter into the prepared crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for about 6. Check your "pie" after 2 hours on high, and 3 hours on low, then check every 30 minutes.

When fully cooked, the pie will look just like a finished pumpkin pie. The batter will have browned and will crack in a few places. The center will have set enough for you to touch it without getting batter on your finger.

Let sit in the crockpot until room temperature, then spoon into serving dishes and top with whipped cream.

I much prefer the taste of this cold pumpkin pie dip, a Taste of Home recipe. Besides gingersnaps, I think it would taste good on vanilla wafers and graham crackers.

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Gingersnap cookies

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin, sour cream, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and ginger until blended. Serve with gingersnaps. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 4 cups.

If you don't have pumpkin pie spice -- I didn't -- you can make a substitute by combining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon allspice. It equals the 1 teaspoon you need for the recipe.

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