November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving and holiday revisits

Cooking a turkey? See here for an easy turkey "how-to" from 2010.

Use the pan drippings from your turkey for your gravy!

What to do with turkey leftovers?

  • This is a great slow-cooker soup for that leftover turkey: Fiesta Turkey Soup (scroll down to recipe 5 of that week - this was before I started posting each recipe separately)

Other fall/holiday food:

Crusty Dutch Oven No Knead Bread


  • Don't be scared! It's a bread recipe but it literally requires NO kneading!
  • I've been wanting a dutch oven for a long time and finally used a birthday gift certificate to Amazon and bought a middle-of-the-road cast iron, enamel coated dutch oven. It goes from the stove top (think stews, roast, etc.) directly to the oven but more importantly bakes this AWESOME loaf of crusty-on-the-outside, soft, chewy, and delicious-on-the-inside-bread. I made this simple bread for the first time mid-October and have probably made more than 10 loaves since then. It's that good.
  • Go ahead and double the recipe. Whatever you don't eat fresh will make great french toast!
  • Found the recipe on a blog called Alaska from Scratch

  • 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. warm water
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and stir with a wooden spoon until flour is mixed in (mixture will be sticky; this is what you want). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours (up to 24).  I have found that 12-16 seems ideal
2. Preheat oven to 425. Place a cast iron dutch oven with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.  While the dutch oven is getting hot, dump/scrape the risen dough onto a heavily floured surface (mixture will be sticky) and lightly shape into a round loaf (you can knead it here a few times if you want). Cover the bread with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for at least 20 minutes.
3. After dutch oven has been preheating for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven and carefully set in the dough. Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes. Then, remove the lid and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove bread from oven and from pot and place on a cooling rack.

November 12, 2012

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake with Ginger Pecan Crust

  • Great dessert for fall and Thanksgiving! It's relatively easy to make and is so much better than the regular old pumpkin pie.
  • Recipe is modified from Taste of Home
  • You will need a spring form pan or I would suggest cutting the recipe in half and using a pie plate if you do not have a spring form.
  • This can easily be made g-free by using g-free ginger snap cookies.
  • You make this ahead of time (needs to refrigerate at least 10 hours) and pull out right before serving so it's perfect for those who like to cook after the kids are in bed like me. :)
  • 1 cup crushed gingersnap cookies (about 20 cookies) plus extra for topping (place them in a ziplock bag and crush with a mallet or use a rolling pin to roll back and forth across the bag)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • Topping of choice: caramel syrup, whipped cream (my favorite is to whip 1 c. of heavy whipping cream with 3 tbsp sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice...use a chilled mixing bowl and whisk attachment for the best whip).

    1. Wrap a greased springform pan with two layers of foil (you are trying to make the bottom water proof). See notes above if you don't have a springform pan and want to use a pie plate.
    2. In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, pecans and butter. Press onto the bottom of prepared pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.
    3. For filling, in a large bowl, beat 1 package of cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in remaining cream cheese, one package at a time until smooth. Add remaining sugar and vanilla. Add 4 eggs; beat on low speed just until combined.
    4. For this next part you will need 2 more bowls (besides the mixing bowl with your plain filling). In bowl #1, place 2 cups of filling and stir in the pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In bowl #2, place 3/4 cup of the pumpkin filling that you just made and set aside. Pour the remaining pumpkin filling in bowl #1 over the crust then top with remaining plain filling left in your mixing bowl. Using a butter knife, swirl the two layers together. Then drop by spoonfuls the rest of the pumpkin filling in bowl #2 by spoonfuls over cheesecake and swirl with the butter knife.
    5. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan. Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer and refrigerate overnight. If using the springform pan, keep the cheesecake in the pan until ready to serve. Before serving, top with extra crumbled cookie crumbs and make cinnamon whip cream (see NOTES above).

    Pumpkin Cream Cheese-Filled Muffins (a must make!)

    • These are so worth it!! A friend (thanks Emily!) brought these over along with dinner after having my second baby last fall and I have been wanting to make them since!
    • The recipe makes 24 regular size muffins but if you're up to it, double the recipe and make enough to freeze. They are great thawed and then reheated just for 10 seconds. Keep them around for the holidays and special mornings....they are so good!
    • Recipe from Annie's Eats
    • For muffins at high altitude, I have been successful following the recipe exactly but baking at 10-15 degrees hotter and removing from the oven 5-15 minutes sooner.

    • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 1 c. powdered sugar

    For the topping:
    •  ½ c. sugar
    • 5 tbsp flour
    • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
    • 4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    1. Prepare filling: combine cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours. The other option, as read in the reviews of the recipe, is to fill a baker's decorating bag with a regular round tip (or use a ziplock bag then cut the bottom corner off) with the cream cheese mixture...I think this would be much less time consuming than the freezing method.
    2. Make muffins: preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda and whisk to blend.
    3. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
    4. Make topping: combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
    5. To assemble muffins: fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter (like 1-2 tbsp). Slice the log of cream cheese into 24 equal pieces and place a slice/chunk into each muffin well (or squeeze about 1 1/2 tbsp from your baker's bag or ziplock bag into each muffin well). Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.
    6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they are just golden.Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

    Pumpkin Pancakes

    • Yum! Perfect for this time of year. Make a double batch and freeze leftovers once cool. To reheat, thaw overnight in fridge, then heat on a baking sheet for 5 minutes at 350.
    • Serve with butter and syrup or try beating on high 1 c. of heavy whipping cream mixed with 3 tbsp sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Beat until stiff peaks form and it has the consistency of whipped cream (about 2-4 minutes).
    • Recipe modified from
    • 1 1/2 c. milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla

    1. In a large bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil, vanilla and vinegar.
    2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl. Mix dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just combined.
    3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle, electric skillet (my personal favorite for cooking pancakes!) or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.