Archive for November, 2010

…was yet another pumpkin miracle: pumpkin crumb coffee cake.  Believe me when I tell you this is a miraculous discovery and don’t wait to try it!

Begin by making a topping for the cake.  You need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks

To make the topping, simply combine the dry ingredients.  Then, add the butter and mix it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until crumbs form.  Keep the topping in the fridge while you make the cake.

For the heavenly crumb cake you need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 15 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs @ room temperature, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter and flour a 9×13 and set aside.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin, oil, sugars, vanilla, and applesauce.  Whisk in the eggs.

Then, add the flour mixture to the liquids, stirring just until combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared dish and top with the crumb mixture. Proceed to bake the cake  for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out of the middle clean.  Set the cake on a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes before serving (if you can wait!).

When the painful wait is over, cut the cake into slices and ENJOY.

I’m sure you know by now that we love all things pumpkin, and this dish is certainly no exception.  If you are a fan of the wonder that is coffee/crumb cake, you will absolutely love this.  It’s breakfasts like these that make me glad there are only two people in our household–more leftover cake for us!!


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…was a dish created by Cracker Barrel that my mom absolutely adored when it was available at the restaurant.  I don’t believe it is still on the menu, but I found a recipe for it and we were excited to make it for her.  I’m not sure if it was up to Cracker Barrel’ standards (as I never tried the real recipe), but Mom loved it and it is indeed a delicious cake, regardless!

For Coca-cola cake you need:

  • 1 cup Coca-cola
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Start by bring the Coke, oil, butter, and cocoa to a boil.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt.  Pour in the boiling liquids and mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 9×13.  Bake the cake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

While the cake is baking, make some rich chocolate icing:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 6 tbsp. half-and-half
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar

Combine butter, cocoa, and cream and stir over heat until the butter is melted.  Then, add the rest of the ingredients, adding the sugar slowly so it becomes well-incorporated.

When the cake is done, smooth the icing on top and serve warm or at room-temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This is one of the richest cakes I have ever eaten, much less made!  It is probably a cavity waiting to happen, but it is absolutely divine.  If you are looking for a new version of chocolate cake, I recommend trying this–it is ooey, gooey, chocolate goodness that is pretty tough to beat!


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…made into meatballs is one of the best ideas Rachael Ray has had yet!  It is pretty hard to go wrong with anything dealing with chicken parmesan (especially if you are Schatzi, who could live off the stuff), and this dinner is indeed ridiculously tasty.

For chicken parmesan meatballs you need:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 box chopped frozen spinach, defrosted, wrung dry in towel and separated
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/8 teaspoon
  • About 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped(we used a few tbsp. of dried)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn or shredded
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Start by combining the spinach and chicken and preheating the oven to 400.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Add a clove of grated garlic to the chicken and grate about 3 tbsp. of onion right into the bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup cheese.  Mix in just enough milk to moisten the mixture–don’t use more than 1/4 cup of liquid.  Add the mixture to the chicken, then stir in 2 tbsp. tomato paste, the egg, parsley, and some salt and pepper to taste.  Use your hands to get everything well-incorporated and mold the mixture into a large oval.  Divide the meat into 4 portions, then make 3 meatballs out of each section.  Then, whisk together 1 tbsp. tomato paste and 1 tbsp. oil.  Brush each meatball with the oil mixture and bake on the prepared baking sheet for about 20 minutes, until the meatballs are golden.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook the pasta to al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain the pasta and toss with the butter and the rest of the cheese.

Meanwhile, heat a few tbsp. of oil in a large skillet and add the remaining garlic and the rest of the onion, chopped finely.  Cook the veggies for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat.  When they are a bit soft, add the tomatoes and wine, mashing the tomatoes as you go.  Season the sauce with some salt and pepper and the basil.  Add the sauce to the pasta and toss well to incorporate.

Serve up a plate of pasta topped with 2 or 3 meatballs.

It is hard to wait for the meatballs to come out of the oven–they smell so good while they are roasting!  This is one delicious plate of pasta, and *bonus* it is a tad healthier than a typical plate of chicken parmesan, as the meat isn’t fried. Make a batch and enjoy!


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…is abundant this time of year, and our house is no exception.  We made Paula Deen’s cranberry salad earlier this week with a few tweaks and it was incredibly tasty!

For Paula’s salad you need:

  • 4-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 3-ounce package black cherry gelatin
  • 6 ounces dried cranberries, rinsed (we used fresh cranberries)
  • 1 cup broken pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Start by draining the pineapple and pouring the juice in a small saucepan.  Add 1/2 cup of hot water and bring the mixture to a boil.  Meanwhile, dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water.  Add it to the boiling liquids and let the mixture cool and begin to set.

Chop the cranberries in a food processor, then add them to the cooled gelatin mixture.  Stir in the pecans and sugar.  Pour the mixture into a small baking dish or mold and refrigerate until the salad is completely set.

When the salad has chilled, cut into squares and serve it up!

This is a delicious cranberry salad!  Using real cranberries adds a nice tart punch, so it isn’t too sweet, as cranberry salad can often be.  Give it a try for Thanksgiving this week!


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…is hard to beat when you are craving a creamy bowl of pasta.  But, that pesky guilt factor is almost always present when I try to enjoy it!  Alas, Rocco makes quite the excellent version of fettuccine, so now I can have my comfort food and eat it, too!

For Rocco’s fettuccine alfredo you need:

  • 8 oz. whole-wheat fettuccine
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley, for garnish

Boil some salted water and cook the pasta for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and cook just until it becomes fragrant.

Combine the cornstarch and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk in the broth.  Add this mixture to the garlic and bring to a simmer over medium-high, whisking occasionally.  Then, whisk in 1/2 cup of cheese until it melts.  Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the yogurt until smooth.

Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and garnish with a bit of parsley and the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.

Serve a plate of pasta along with a spinach salad and some crusty bread.

You won’t believe how good this pasta is until you try it!  And, with 10 vs. 75 grams of fat and 336 vs. 1,220 calories, it just tastes all the better!


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…is one of our favorite foods, and my family has, without a doubt, the best recipe for mac and cheese available on this planet.  We make it in the crock-pot with plenty of cheese and milk and it is about as close to culinary perfection as you can get.

For our family’s crock-pot macaroni and cheese you need:

  • 1 & 3/4 cup macaroni, cooked/drained
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To start, combine the milk, eggs, and butter and season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the macaroni and 2 cups of cheese.

Pour the mixture in the crock-pot and top with the rest of the cheese.  Cover the crock-pot and cook on low for 3 hours.  Enjoy!!

Anyone who has eaten a meal with my extended family and had this mac and cheese will tell you it is the best Earth has to offer, hands down!  And, it couldn’t be easier to throw together.  Try it for Thanksgiving this year–it is sure to be a hit!!


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…was a wonderful Fall/pre-Christmas season rendition of pancakes.  These gingerbread-oatmeal pancakes are a real reason to get out of a warm bed on Saturday morning!

For gingerbread pancake delight you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh-brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • vegetable oil, for cooking
  • maple syrup, for serving

Begin by adding the buttermilk to the oats and letting them soak for about 10 minutes.  Next, beat the egg whites until they have soft peaks.  Then, add the lemon juice, egg yolks, coffee, water, and melted butter to the egg whites.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.  Add the dry ingredient mixture to the liquids, stirring just until everything is combined.  Mix in the oats and let the batter stand for another 10 minutes.

Heat a bit of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high.  Pour 1/3 cup batter in the skillet, cooking until bubbles form on the surface.  Flip the pancake and cook for another 2 minutes.

Serve up a plate of pancakes drizzled with butter and maple syrup.  Hint: heat the oven to 250 to keep the pancakes warm as you are cooking them!

Who wouldn’t love a pancake/cookie concoction for breakfast?!  These gingery pancakes are a real treat and are sure to delight all who eat them!


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…for pumpkin pie!!  Our first pie of the season was one we have been waiting to make for quite some time–“triple-chocolate pumpkin pie” from marthastewart.com.  Let me tell you, the wait was worth it (and we could NOT be more glad that pumpkins had a better season this year!).  This amazing dessert has a homemade buttery graham cracker crust topped with a layer of dark chocolate, then filled with a smooth pumpkin-chocolate filling, and finally is topped off with a drizzle of milk chocolate.

For this delicious pie’s crust you need:

  • 2 cups ground graham cracker crumbs (16ish crackers)
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (we used dark chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350 and combine everything but the chocolate.  Press the crumb mixture along the bottom and sides of a deep-dish pie dish and bake for about 10 minutes, until firm.  Then, spread the chocolate over the crust and pop it back into the oven for another minute, just until the chocolate is melted.  Smooth the chocolate over the bottom and sides of the crust and set it on a wire rack to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325.

For the filling you need:

  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 15 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 oz. milk chocolate, melted

Melt the semisweet chocolate and butter in a double-boiler, stirring often.  If you don’t have a double-boiler, simply melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  But, if you like to bake, I highly recommend investing in one of these–it makes things so easy!  Anyway, once the mixture is smooth, take it off the heat and try not to eat it.

Next, mix the pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, cornstarch, vanilla, and spices.  Whisk about a third of the pumpkin mixture into the chocolate, then add the rest.

Pour the pumpkin-chocolate filling into the prepared crust and bake for 55-60 minutes, until the middle is set but still slightly jiggly.  Cool the pie on a wire rack for about an hour, then cover it tightly in saran wrap (it helps stop that pasty layer from forming) and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.

When the horrible wait is over, drizzle the luscious melted chocolate over the pie.

Oh my goodness, this is heaven in a pie!!!  If you love pumpkin pie and chocolate, trying this is not optional.  Note: if you are like us and don’t have a deep-dish pie dish, you will have extra batter.  Simply pour it into a couple of ramekins and bake alongside the pie for about half an hour.  Now you have individual chocolate-pumpkin custard treats!  Try this.  Taste bud heaven is a wonderful place, and this pie is your ticket there.


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…combine quite nicely to make a cozy, satisfying dinner.  This weekend, we made RR’s sausage and fish one-pot meal–it is super-easy and delicious!

For this quick fish dinner you need:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound bulk Italian hot sausage, casings removed
  • 2 large cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 white fish fillets (ours were small, so we used 8 whiting fillets)
  • A handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped (we used dried)
  • 1/2 lemon

Heat a tbsp. of oil over medium-high in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid.  Add the sausage and crumble it as it browns.  Then, toss in the garlic, onions, and potatoes and season the mixture with some salt and pepper.  Mix in half of the wine, cover the skillet, and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and place the fish on top of the mixture.  Pour the rest of the wine over the mixture, season with a hint more salt and pepper, and cover the pot again, cooking until the fish is opaque, about 7 minutes.

Top the dish with the parsley, lemon juice, and a drizzle of oil.

We made a tomato-cauliflower mixture from Food Network Magazine to serve with the fish.  You need:

  • 7 cups small cauliflower florets
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric or dry mustard
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Cilantro, chopped

Simply toss everything but the lemon juice and cilantro together and roast in a 425-degree oven for about 25 minutes.  Then, toss in the lemon juice and cilantro.  Warning: you will want to eat the entire baking sheet!  This stuff is ridiculously tasty.

Serve up a juicy bowl of fish and sausage with the cauliflower and some crusty bread alongside.

Roasted cauliflower, where have you been all of my life?!  And, I had never thought to combine fish and sausage, but I am so glad RR did–this is one delicious, comforting bowl of soup!  And, make sure you serve this fish dinner with bread to mop up the tasty juices–you will be one sad panda indeed if you go without.


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…is absolutely one of our favorite chefs.  We recently made his Chicken Cobb Burgers, and wow.  This is burger PERFECTION (even if it is a chicken patty!).

These tasty burgers begin with a vinaigrette.  You need:

  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup finely shredded romaine lettuce

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, and oil.  Cover and refrigerate the vinaigrette for 30 minutes, then stir in the lettuce.

For Tyler’s chicken burgers you need:

  • 8 strips bacon(we used turkey bacon)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 4 burger buns, split
  • 1 large ripe beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 slices
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 8 slices

Cook the bacon in a drizzle of oil over medium heat until crispy.  Place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Season the chicken with some salt and pepper and mold the meat into a rectangular mound.  Score it into 4 equal portions and shape 4 patties.  Place them in the same skillet you cooked the bacon in and drizzle the tops of the patties with oil.  Cook them for about 5 minutes a side, then top each patty with some of the blue cheese.  Cover the skillet to melt the cheese.

Place a patty on a toasted bun and top it with some of the romaine “slaw”, along with slices of bacon, tomato, and avocado.

These burgers are ridiculous–just LOOK at that!  We will be making them again and again–you MUST try them for your next burger night!!


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