Thursday, November 19, 2009


I always look forward to November! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, for many reasons that I won't go into right now... but one of them is (obviously) the food! I love how Jeremy and I have to sit down weeks before Thanksgiving and plan out the menu--we have a lot of fun in the kitchen together :o) I thought it would be fun to post our menu, along with the recipes (ones in italics are links) we use, for anyone in need of some inspiration--or if you just want to try something new!

We are not gourmet people, so don't be intimidated... I admit--I use stuffing from a box, so there! Here's what we have down for this year:

  • Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey: Jeremy told me I have to mention that, to date, there are over 2300 5-star reviews of this recipe on Food Network. We have yet to be disappointed...
  • Stuffed Sweet Potatoes: I make this recipe with a few variations. I don't use pecans, and I cook the potatoes at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. It makes them smushier :o) and easier to eat, I think!
  • Mashed Potatoes: We use large red potatoes, cook them as usual, but keep the skins on and add milk, butter, sour cream, Lawry's season salt, dry ranch dressing powder, or whatever else we feel like. See what you can come up with!
  • Stuffing: We've tried different recipes over the years and haven't found anything we really love. So we keep looking! This year, I'm making Trader Joe's cornbread stuffing--I'll probably add some celery, onion, etc. but keep it simple :o)
  • Fresh Cranberry Compote: I'm usually the only that eats this--no, that's not true. Bennett eats it, too... But I just have to have it on the table! It's so pretty, and I think it tastes good :o) I don't care what anyone else says!
  • Peas and Pearl Onions: This is a tradition from my mom's family. I hated them growing up, but now I will search far and wide to find pearl onions for this recipe. I basically just cook the peas and the onions according to the directions on their respective packages, put them together in a dish and put a little bit of butter on them. They're so pretty!
  • Corn: My mom used to make this Amish sweet corn, but it took a lot of time and I haven't replicated it yet... Our friends are bringing a corn pudding this year, so I'm excited to see what it's like! Otherwise, I might just leave it off the menu (way too much starch already :o)
  • Lion House Rolls: These are Jeremy's specialty! I just stay out of his way, and prepare to enjoy the fruits of his labors at the table.
  • Apple, Craisin & Feta Salad: I have to have something fresh on the table or else I go crazy. It's the mom in me :o) And this one is so pretty, it fits just right on the table...
***Now, I must explain the number of pies... In Jeremy's family, the Thanksgiving menu is not complete until there are at least 2 pies per person, I kid you not. We have scaled things back a bit in our family, but we still have way more than we need... Tradition!
  • Apple Pie in a Paper Bag: Always a huge hit... I can't remember a Thanksgiving without it. Just make sure you've got vanilla ice cream to go along!
  • FlyLady's Pumpkin Cheesecake: I've made this one every Thanksgiving for about 5 years now. It's really easy, cheesecake-speaking, and I love how different it is from the rest of the desserts. Best with fresh whipped cream on top!
  • Janelle's Toll House Pie: Our friend Janelle brought this one last year, and it will be joining us permanently from now on. Requires ice cream as well...
  • Sopapilla Cheesecake: This one is new to the menu this year. I might try it in a pie plate, as opposed to a 9x13 as the recipe calls for... We'll see how it goes!
  • Pumpkin pie: We haven't found anything that beats Costco's--for the time it takes to make :o) Anyone have any great ideas???
I hope this is helpful to you. Let me know if you'd like clarification on anything...

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Toll House Pie

Our friends brought this to Thanksgiving dinner last year, and it was so popular that we have decided to make it a permanent fixture on our holiday menu :o) Thanks, Janelle! It's a very simple recipe, so it's nice for Thanksgiving Day--and it's amazing right out of the oven! So just throw it in while you're eating dinner...

Janelle's Toll House Pie
2 eggs
1/2 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
3/4 C butter, softened (not melted!)
1 C chocolate chips (semi-sweet; milk is too sweet!)
1 C walnuts, pecans or almonds (optional)
*pre-made 9-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 325. Beat eggs, add flour and sugars. Add butter and blend well. Stir in chips (and nuts if you want) and pour into pie shell. Bake for 1 hour; let sit for 15-30 minutes to settle. Serve hot with ice cream.


Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is one of my very favorites at Thanksgiving...

FlyLady's Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 1/4 C gingersnap cookie crumbs (crush about 20 cookies in a plastic bag with a rolling pin)
1/4 C butter, melted
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temp
1 C sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 16-oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, mix the cookie crumbs and butter. Press evenly into the bottom of a 9" spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300.

In another large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon and ginger on medium speed until smooth. Add pumpkin puree. Then add in the eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Pour into the cookie crumb pie shell.

Bake cheesecake until center is firm, about 1 hour and 15 minutes (perhaps longer, just watch it). Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours. To loosen cheesecake from the sides of the spring form pan, unbuckle the side and carefully remove.

Serve with a dollop of whip cream on top!

Sopapilla Cheesecake

One of Jeremy's favorite co-workers brought this in last month--his wife had made it and set some aside for us :o) Thanks, Stacy! We loved it so much, we asked for the recipe, and I've made it a few times already. Bad, bad idea... But it's soooo good!

Stacy's Sopapilla Cheesecake
2 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
2 8-oz. blocks cream cheese (room temp)
1 1/2 C sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan with 1 can crescent rolls, pinching seams together so it's all one piece. Blend cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla till creamy; spread on top of crescent rolls. Put other can of crescent rolls on top, pinching seams together again. Combine melted butter and remaining 1/2 C sugar; pour over crescent rolls. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes (till top is brown and bubbly), then take out and let cool entirely. Best when served chilled, so if you have time to put it in the refrigerator for a while, do it!

Italian Wedding Soup

I made this for a little lunch I hosted yesterday... It's really easy and REALLY good :o) You can never go wrong with the Barefoot Contessa, IMO.

Click here for the link to the recipe at Food Network... Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brooke's Banana Bread

Our senior year, my friend Brooke compiled a book of recipes from women in the ward for her Laurel project. She gave one to each of us who were graduating, and I still have mine... It has been much-used and well-loved! I don't know who gave Brooke the recipe for this really yummy, no-fail banana bread, so she's been getting the credit all these years :o) Love you, Brookie!

Brooke's Banana Bread
1/2 C butter or margarine
1 C granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 C mashed bananas (abt. 2 whole)
1/4 C milk
1 tsp lemon juice
2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and beat. Add bananas, milk, and lemon juice. Sift dry ingredients, add all at once, and mix till thoroughly combined. Stir in nuts or chocolate chips, if desired. Bake in well-greased and floured loaf pan for 1 hour.

**My favorite thing to do with this bread is to sprinkle brown sugar on top just before baking. It gives the top a sweet, crispy edge (see the picture above)--YUM!


For the last 2 years, I've been working hard to teach my Mia Maids (14/15-year old girls I work with at church) the value and importance of home skills so that when the day comes, they will be proud of their roles as mothers and homemakers. But in this day and age, it's a hard sell--so I've been easing them into it little by little... and what better way to start than with donuts! I had them over to my house last fall for a Mutual activity, and we had such a blast--although I was finding oil and powdered sugar all over my kitchen for the next month :o) Everyone helped out, and we had different toppings you could put on them when you were done. The girls were so surprised by how easy they were to make, and that they did it!

It's not something you want to do often (obviously!), but still a really fun group activity--whether for Mutual, Family Home Evening, or a day off school with the kids. Add some cider or hot chocolate, and you're in for a good time :o)

Here's the link to the recipe we used, but feel free to look around other sites and see if you like something else better. I just wanted to get the idea out there!

Easy Lemon Cake

I was trying to think of something to make for a get-together at my house recently, and my mom said, "You should make Grandma's lemon jello cake!" All of a sudden, the memory of this cake came flooding back and I knew she was right. Mom couldn't find her recipe, so I looked online and found that lots of grandmas used to make this yummy dessert :o) I found one just like my Grandma Gege's at Click here for the link, or look below for a couple variations... It's especially festive in the spring, but you can find a good excuse to make it anytime!

Easy Lemon Cake
1 box yellow cake mix (or use white for a different look)
1 small pkg. lemon jello
3/4 C water
4 eggs, well-beaten
3/4 C oil

Juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 C powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a jelly roll pan (I just use my cookie sheet with high sides). Combine cake mix and jello powder and mix to remove lumps. Add eggs, oil and water. Mix together till combined--but don't overmix. There will still be lumps. Pour batter onto pan (or sheet) and smooth it out evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes till toothpick comes out clean.

While cake is baking, mix juice and zest with powdered sugar till it's smooth--try not to have lumps. When cake comes out and is still warm, pierce all over with fork and pour glaze on top. When cake is cooled, cut into squares and serve with dollop of whip cream. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Homemade Oreo Cookies

Just a quick one tonight... We made these on Halloween and they were so yummy and so easy! You can change the color of the frosting to match whatever holiday you're celebrating. We're already dreaming about green (mint) ones for Christmas... Thanks, Lolli!

Homemade Oreo Cookies
1 box devil's food cake mix
1 stick of butter
2 eggs

Directions: Mix ingredients together. Roll into small balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. After cookies have cooled completely, spread frosting on one cookie and sandwich with another.

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 Tbsp butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Directions: Beat ingredients together until smooth, and then spread between two cookies.