Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 - The Eating

We both managed to burn ourselves right before dinner, I grabbed the stainless steel lid to a pot that had apparently been in the oven, then dropped it on the floor as soon as the message went from my hand to my brain. Scott then picked up the same lid from the floor and burned HIS hand.

Fortunately the burn didn't affect the delicious flavor of the food.

We are all in various states of recuperation. I admit that I am not helping put things away, I wouldn't be able to do much one-handed anyway.

Our dinner table, made by my brother-in-law and set by my sister-in-law.

The Williams Sonoma Pear Cranberry Chutney

Traditional Green Bean Casserole

Quadruple Bypass Mashed Potatoes

Grandma Virginia's Sweet Potatoes



Mixed Greens Salad with Candied Walnuts, Pear and Herbed Goat Cheese

There is still Apple Pie and Pumpkin Cheesecake to come...

Thanksgiving 2011 - Prep

We are enjoying this holiday week at Scott's sister and brother-in-law's home in Virginia.

The traditional meal has been a co-op between Scott, his Mom, his Sister and myself.

The Menu:

Turkey - Scott and his sister are team-cooking this, the turkey sat in a brine made of low-sodium soy sauce, salt, brown sugar and red wine for two days. They are putting 1/2 lemon, onion, sage, rosemary and butter in the cavity, and a few sprigs of rosemary here and there under the skin. They are rubbing a sage-butter on the outside.

Jeremiah's Vegetable Gravy - Turkey drippings with a little flour to create a roux, then the veggies (carrots, celery & onion) that were roasted in the pan alongside the turkey get "mashed in."

Stuffing - two loaves of white bread, cubed and left in a bowl to dry out a bit the day before. Vegetable broth, onion, celery, sage, butter and a few other things.

Grandma Virginia's Sweet Potatoes - peeled and cut into chunks, baked at 350F with orange zest, brown sugar and a few other secret items.

Pumpkin Cheesecake - I still couldn't find my recipe, and apparently the one I used last year I never wrote down my modifications, so I adapted another existing recipe.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

At one time I faithfully used a friend's Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe. I haven't been able to find that version for several years now, and generally end up adapting something I find online, instead.

This year when I discovered that I still couldn't find the old one, I thought "no problem, I'm sure I made notes from last year." WRONG.

I've learned my lesson (only took me 3 years) and am writing down what I'm making this year so I can repeat it!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 premade crusts (I used graham-cracker today, but it would be tasty with chocolate or ginger-snap, too!)


  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/16 tsp ground ginger

  • In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugars until smooth. 
  • Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. 
  • Whisk in pumpkin, cornstarch, vanilla and spices just until blended. 
  • Pour into crust. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until center is almost set. 
  • Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. 
  • Refrigerate overnight. 

Quadruple Bypass Mashed Potatoes

I've never posted this recipe in it's own entry, only in context with other Thanksgiving posts. I figured it was time to give it the honor it deserves!

These potatoes are not particularly healthy. You'll notice that shortly. You can, however, use lower-fat versions of the fattening ingredients to not feel quite so guilty about things.

These are amazing on their own, AND with a delicious gravy (like Walt's Mushroom & Wine Gravy)

Quadruple-Bypass Mashed Potatoes
(so named because there are four heart-stopping additions to the potatoes - butter, goat cheese, cream cheese and sour cream)

I based my quantities on enough for 8 people - calculated at one and a half potatoes per person.


  • 12 Idaho baking potatoes 
  • 11oz log of goat cheese 
  • 6oz sour cream 
  • 8oz butter 
  • 1 pkg cream cheese (I used neufchatel) 
  • Salt to taste 

  • Set butter, cream cheese and goat cheese out to soften. 
  • Rinse and peel potatoes, dice into 1.5 inch cubes and place in large cook-pot.  
  • Add just enough water to cover and boil on med-high until potatoes are soft when poked with a fork. 
  • Drain potatoes in a strainer and transfer to VERY large mixing bowl. 
  • Add softened butter, goat cheese and neufchatel or cream cheese. 
  • Mix with hand mixer just until blended. 
  • Add sour cream and mix again just until combined. 
  • Salt to taste.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reese's Sweet Potato, Green Chile & Black Bean Enchiladas

While I was in Phoenix almost a month ago, I had the pleasure of dining at a fabulous restaurant with my cousin Mandi (and not just because she picked up the tab!).
One of the things we enjoyed was a sweet potato enchilada with a tomatillo sauce. It really was amazing.
I decided to see what I could come up with that would be similar, yet different.

They are REALLY good.

Reese's Sweet Potato, Green Chile and Black Bean Enchiladas


  • 1 29oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup Homeward Bound Hot Sauce SparkPlug
  • 1/2 cup Homeward Bound Hot Sauce PattyCake
  • 1 tbs cumin

Filling (see Assembly instructions before continuing)

  • 3 sm/md sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into approximately 1" cubes. 
  • 14oz (2 7oz cans) diced green chiles
  • 1 - 15oz can black beans, drained
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (I used a "Mexican 4-Cheese" blend)
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 24 corn tortillas (the Mission brand are a great consistency)

  • Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add sweet potatoes.
  • Cook on a high boil for about 12-13 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.
  • While potatoes are cooking, Combine sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl
  • Remove potatoes from heat, drain and rinse with cold water, let cool for about 5 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine filling ingredients in a medium bowl, add sweet potatoes and cut potatoes into approximately 1/4 inch chunks as you combine them with the rest of the filling ingredients.
  • In a microwavable container with a lid, microwave about 10 tortillas at a time with a few drops of water for 45 seconds. They will be HOT - do not burn your fingers!
  • Pour about 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish (9x12).
  • Spoon a heaping soup spoon of filling into warmed tortilla, wrap and place in baking dish with folded side down to help keep it wrapped up.
  • Fill baking dish with enchiladas, pour another 1/2 cup to cup of sauce over the top and sprinkle about 1 cup shredded cheese over the whole dish.

  • Bake at 350F until cheese is bubbly (about 30 minutes)

This made two 9x12 dish and two small dishes of enchiladas.

Reese's Sour Cream & Green Chile Enchiladas

This is a very old recipe. Okay, I guess the term "old" is pretty relative... I came up with it when I first started cooking for myself. I think I was probably 19... so this recipe is legally old enough to get it's driver's license.

I was looking for the actual recipe today and can't seem to find it, so this will be mostly from memory (oooh scary!).

The "secret ingredient" is Taco Bell mild sauce - not from the grocery store, but actual sauce packets from the fast food restaurant. Now that we are sauce makers ourselves, I will probably try to replicate the flavor with other items, but this is an attempt at the original version of my recipe.

You will notice pretty quick that these are not particularly healthy. But boy are they tasty! :) I particularly enjoy them with some guacamole on top, but that's true of most things.

Reese's Sour Cream & Green Chile Enchiladas

  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 30-40 packets of Taco Bell Mild Sauce
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 8oz (1 bottle) Ortega green taco sauce
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 7oz cans diced green chilis
  • 1 16oz container sour cream (as high or low-fat as you like)
  • Approx 1lb shredded cheese (I usually use a blend of cheddar and jack, or a "Mexican" blend)
  • Remaining 1/2 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1/2 onion, diced (optional)
  • 1 can sliced black olives (optional)
  • 24 Corn tortillas (try to pick a brand that is pliable)
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl
  • Combine filling ingredients in a medium bowl
  • In a microwavable container with a lid, microwave about 10 tortillas at a time with a few drops of water for 45 seconds. They will be HOT - do not burn your fingers!
  • Pour about 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish (9x12).
  • Spoon a heaping soup spoon of filling into warmed tortilla, wrap and place in baking dish with folded side down to help keep it wrapped up.
  • Fill baking dish with enchiladas, pour another 1/2 cup to cup of sauce over the top and sprinkle about 1 cup of filling over the whole dish.
  • Bake at 350F until cheese is bubbly (about 30 minutes)
This recipe was usually eyeballed, and would usually NOT come out even in terms of sauce to filling to tortillas. But it would freeze nicely and I would use the filling for something else sometime (makes a lovely quesadilla).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Leftover Roasted Veggie Soup

I make the Cumin Roasted Carrots and Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic recipes somewhat frequently, periodically we end up with leftovers.

I currently have leftovers of both (just a little bit) and decided to experiment with a soup. There is no salt added to this recipe because both of the roasted veggie recipes have salt.

This made two large mugs worth of soup. Also very good with a little Homeward Bound Hot Sauce added! (any flavor would be good - specifically PunJab or SparkPlug)

Leftover Roasted Veggie Soup

1 tbs olive oil
1/2 white onion, minced
1 stick celery, minced

2 cups water
1 pkg George Washington Broth

1 cup (approx) Cumin Roasted Carrots
1/2 cup (approx) Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic

  • In a medium saucepan over low/medium heat, saute onion and celery salt in olive oil.
  • In a small microwave-safe cup or bowl, heat 2 cups of water.
  • Add broth package contents to heated water and stir to dissolve.
  • Once onion starts to soften, add broth and bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  • Put leftover roasted veggies into a blender or food processor and add broth and onion mixture. 
  • Blend until creamy, add Homeward Bound Hot Sauce of your choice
  • Serve.

Easy Granola

We've been eating a lot of granola around here this summer. The main thing I've discovered besides that it is very filling, is that it is very EXPENSIVE to purchase already made. 

I remember my Grandma making granola in her kitchen when I was a little kid, and the smell that filled the house always made me hungry.

Since I've been tackling other things lately, I decided that if Grandma could do it, I surely can, too! I did a google search for low-sugar granola recipes, and while I'm not convinced that the original recipe I based my version on is very low in sugar at all, I've made some adjustments that should cut down significantly on the sugar but not sacrifice any flavor.

I intend to use UN-sweetened coconut next time, but sweetened is what I had on hand.

Reese's Nutty Granola

2 cups Bob's Red Mill rolled oats 
3/4 cup whole unsalted almonds, roughly chopped (approximately into half)
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup raw cashews, roughly chopped 
1 tbs ground flax seed
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Smart Balance Buttery Stick
2 tbs honey
1 tbs vanilla

1 1/2 cup dates, pitted and cut into approximately 1/4 inch pieces

  • Preheat oven to 300F
  • Combine oats, nuts, coconut, flax seed and spices in a medium mixing bowl.
  • In a small microwavable bowl or cup, melt butter and honey together (about 25 seconds at a time, stirring well in between)
  • Add vanilla to butter/honey mixture
  • Pour butter/honey/vanilla mixture over oat/nut mixture and toss well to combine.
  • Spread mixture on baking sheet.
  • Bake 20 minutes, stirring about every five minutes.
  • Add dates, stir and break up large clumps
  • Bake an additional 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes.
  • Cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reese's Butternut Squash Soup

We have had a butternut squash hanging out in the kitchen for awhile. I was worried it would go bad soon, and we're low on groceries, so it's time to make amazing things out of what's left!

I also discovered a neat trick for getting the squash out of it's shell in the process.

To give credit where it is due, I started with this recipe, and following is my version, adapted since I am a vegetarian, and I didn't have any ginger.

Reese's Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash
olive oil (I use an olive oil sprayer)
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
4 tbs Smart Balance Buttery Sticks w/ EVOO
3 cups water
1 1/2 cubes Not Chik'n boullion 
2 cups water
1 tbs Homeward Bound Hot Sauce SparkPlug
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Light Sour Cream for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 450F
  • Cut squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  • Spray bottom of large baking dish with olive oil, lay squash cut side down
  • Roast for 10 minutes at 450, reduce heat to 350 and continue to roast for another 30 minutes.
  • While squash is roasting, melt butter in a medium saucepan and add onion, saute over low/medium heat until slightly soft.
  • Add 3 cups water and Not Chik'n boullion cubes. Stir to dissolve cubes, raise heat to medium and simmer, covered for about 10 minutes and reduce heat to low.
  • When squash is done baking, remove baking dish from oven and cool for a few minutes, until you can touch the skin of the squash without it burning you. You SHOULD be able to pinch the skin and pull it away from the squash in one piece. Cut pulp into chunks to cool faster.
  • Allow squash chunks to cool about 10 minutes (should be around the time the broth & onion is simmering).
  • Add slightly cooled squash pulp to onion & broth mixture, stirring to break down squash further.
  • Transfer mixture to blender or food processor, and puree until smooth (I was able to get all of it into our Ninja blender).
  • Add remaining 2 cups water, SparkPlug, about 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper (you may need to add more and blend again depending on taste preference)
  • Blend to combine and pour into bowls to serve.
  • Add a dollop of sour cream.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Goat Mac - No Goat, No Mac

I bought some goat cheese the other day, and wanted to make something interesting and new (to me) with it.  I've also been craving baked macaroni and cheese.

As is usually the case, I don't have all the ingredients for something, so I get out what we DO have and go from there.

Here's what I came up with - a macaroni and cheese kind of thing, without any macaroni. 

Goat Mac
24oz Penne pasta (I used 1 & 1/2 16oz boxes)
4 tbs butter (we use Smart Balance with olive oil)
4 tbs flour
1/2 a head of garlic, peeled and minced fine
2 cups milk (I used skim)
11oz log of goat cheese (with or without herbs - mine was without this time)
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely diced
1 tbs butter, melted

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add noodles and cook as directed (about 11-12 minutes). Drain, rinse with cold water and transfer to large mixing bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • In a medium/large saucepan on low/med heat, melt the 4tbs of butter/margarine. 
  • Slowly whisk in the flour, one tbs at a time. 
  • Add minced garlic and continue to stir regularly.  
  • Add milk and raise to medium heat, stirring constantly.  
  • Gradually add goat cheese in 1/4 inch chunks, stirring and whisking to melt. 
  • Gradually add 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for topping).  
  • Gradually stir in freshly ground black pepper.
  • Pour cheese mixture over noodles and stir/toss gently to coat.
  • Pour noodle and cheese mixture into large baking dish (9"x11").
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine Panko, basil, and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  • Stir in 1 tbs melted butter.
  • Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over noodles.
  • Bake approximately 30 minutes, until bubbly and topping is lightly browned.
We served it tonight with the Cumin-roasted carrots.

Scott (of course) anointed his with some hot sauce. I recommend Homeward Bound's SparkPlug.

Caramelized Cumin-Roasted Carrots

This recipe was given to us by Reese's Mom, who got it from a Culinary workshop, and they claim to have gotten it from Bon Apetit magazine.

Here's what we use, and it's a GREAT way to get in some vitamin C and fiber!  We eat them with the Tahini-Yogurt dip.

Caramelized Cumin-Roasted Carrots

Yield: 6 servings

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
12 medium carrots, peeled, cut on diagonal into ½-inch thick pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.      Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a full-sized baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2.      Combine carrots and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl, and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Roast carrots until tender and lightly caramelized, turning carrots over once, 35 to 40 minutes.