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Pear Cranberry and Walnut Pie

20 Sep

It’s coming….

Can you feel it?


There’s just a hint of it in the air.

It teases me as I take my son to the bus stop every morning.

I feel it nipping at my legs as the sun sets.

I see it in the random crunchy leaf on the ground.

And my stomach is craving the warm filling foods it will bring.

Are you ready?

I know I am.

Pear Cranberry and Walnut Pie ~ (adapted from this recipe Family Circle Nov., 07)

For the Crust

2 1/2 C. All-Purpose flour
1 C. Butter (I used salted)
Ice Water

For the Filling

3 T. Butter
4-5 Pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 C. Brown sugar, packed
1/4 C. Dried cranberries
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Lemon juice
1/4 c. Chopped walnuts
1 Egg white
1 1/2 tsp Milk
1 T. Cinnamon sugar

**You’ll want to prepare your crust in advance as it needs time to rest in the refrigerator before it is rolled out.

To prepare the crust place the flour and butter in the food processor. Process until it resembles coarse peas. Gradually add ice water a tablespoon at a time until a ball starts to form. Avoid adding to much water and/or handling the dough to much. Shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 5 hours or overnight.

To prepare the filling add the butter to a nonstick skillet. Using medium heat allow butter to melt, add pear slices and saute’ until tender and beginning to brown. Stir in the brown sugar, cranberries, and cinnamon. Turn the heat to low. Cook until the sugar is dissolved. In a small bowl mix the corn starch and lemon juice. Stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cook for about a minute until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and add the walnuts.

Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and divide into 2 equal pieces. Return one to the fridge while you work with the first. Roll out into a 10″ circle. Place in the bottom of a 9″ pie plate. Shape into the bottom and up the sides.

Pour pear mixture into prepared crust. Roll out the other half of the crust. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes in the center of the crust, if desired. You can use your shapes to garnish the top of the pie. (If you don’t cut out shapes you’ll need to cut slits into the top crust in order for it to vent.) Place over the top of pear mixture, trim edges if required. Crimp edges to seal. Mix egg white and milk. Brush over the top crust and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Garnish with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.


Mexican Lasagna

13 Sep

The other night I dreamed about my Grandaddy.

In my dream we were at the ball field.

Just outside of the dugout.

I looked across the crowd and he was just standing there….

taller than everyone else.

and when I went to look for him he was gone….

Maybe I’ve seen one to many pictures of kids at the ball field and it has me all nostalgic.

Maybe I’m just missing my Grandaddy.

Maybe I know my sweet Granny isn’t well and is really missing him too.

Whatever the reason having him on my mind makes me feel closer to him.

I know if he was here he’d give me a hard time about not visiting enough.

Then he’d tell me how proud he is of me.

and that I should keep sharing yummy things with you.

this picture ran in our local paper. this was a church softball game. my grandaddy was actually there with the other team. he told me later even though he was there with the other team he always wanted my husband to do well. even if he was playing for the opposing team, lol.

You wanna know how to make this Mexican Lasagna?

I think Grandaddy would approve.

Mexican Lasagna ~ (adapted from Woman’s Day)

1 lb. ground beef
2 poblano chile peppers, seeded & diced
1 sm. onion, diced
2 T. chili powder
1 pkg. taco seasoning
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (15oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (10oz.) can enchilada sauce, mild
1/2 C. cilantro
4-6 flour tortillas
2 C. tortilla chips, crushed
1 C. cheddar cheese
1 C. mozzarella cheese

Prepare your casserole dish by spraying with cooking spray. I used a 2.5 qt. dish. Set aside

Cook beef, onion, and peppers in a skillet until beef is browned, onions are slightly translucent, and peppers are tender. Stir in the chili powder and taco seasoning. Cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, and enchilada sauce. Allow to simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Start by adding a tortilla shell and crushed tortillas to the bottom of your baking dish. Top with some of the beef mixture and cheese. Continue until fully assembled. (You can also divided this into two dishes and bake one now and freeze one for later. Will keep wrapped in plastic wrap and foil for 2 months.) Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and salsa if desired.

Breakfast Cookies

30 Aug

I’m not typically a breakfast kinda person.

Normally when I roll outta bed you shouldn’t approach me or talk to me for at least 30 minutes…possibly an hour if you want to be safe.

See I’m not really awake when I stumble outta bed.  I’m just pretending to be a functioning adult trying to get her child off to school so she can come home, sit on the couch for a few minutes,  drink a giant cup of iced coffee, and begin to feel like a human person again.

I’m fortunate that my son also shares my morning zombie affliction so we usually get along just fine most mornings.

We usually don’t do breakfast either.

Seriously….Who can eat when they are still half asleep??

but when I stumbled upon this recipe for cookies using cereal….

Portable breakfast!!!  Genius!!

These cookies use flax seed.  I’d never used it in baking before and let me tell you.

I am in LOVE.

It gives them a nutty quality and even though they spread more than I really wanted them to (I don’t think I crushed my cereal flakes enough) it kept the cookies chewy in the center which is a cookie must for me.

I must warn you though.  These cookies will call to you from the cookie container every time you walk by.

**Update ~ I made these cookies again crushing my cornflakes until they resembled the size and consistency of the oats.  They didn’t have as much spreading and held together nicely.**

Breakfast Cookies   ~ (Adapted From Family Circle)

1 C. + 2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. flax seed meal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 sticks butter, soft
1 C. white sugar
1 C. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 C. corn flakes (crushed with your hand. They should resemble your oats)
2 C. quick cooking oats
optional ingredients
1  C. chopped toasted walnuts, pecans, or other nuts
1  C. raisins, dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, or other fruit
1 C. coconut
1 C. chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 325. Combine the flour, flax seed, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium/high until well combined and mixture is pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Next add the vanilla and eggs to combine. Mix in the flour. Stir in the corn flakes, oats, and any optional ingredients by hand.

I used a slightly overfilled 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop out my  dough onto the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Let the cookies bake for about 12-15 minutes.  They should be set and have a slightly golden tint.  Cool cookies for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Store in an air tight container.  I also like to put a piece of loaf bread in the container after the first day to help the cookies keep their chewiness.  Just change out the bread as it dries out.

Blueberry Freeze

24 Aug

It’s hot here.

Not just hot.  Miserable.  Baking in the sun.  Steaming in the humidity.       H.O.T

Comfort food is not what I’m craving right now.

Cooling and refreshing is what I want.

Baking in this heat has me longing for cool fall days.  Sweaters and blue jeans.

Roasted marshmallows by a fire.  Pumpkins and Jack-O lanterns.

Thanksgiving pies and Christmas cookies.

I’m ready to turn my oven back on people.

Until then I made us something cooling and refreshing.

It only requires a small bit of oven time and even more freezer time.

Which makes for frozen deliciousness.

**This recipe uses a boxed cake mix for the crust.  I typically don’t use those, but I was feeling lazy so I went ahead with it and doctored it a bit.  Fill free to replace the cake crust portion with your favorite vanilla cake**

Blueberry Freeze   ~   (Adapted from Ladies’ Home Journal)

1 box white cake mix (I used yellow because that’s all I had)
1 C. Sour Cream
1/2 C. Vegetable Oil
3 1/2 C. Blueberries, more for serving if desired
2/3 C. + 1/8 C. Sugar
2 T. lemon juice
8 oz. Cream Cheese
1 Jar Marshmallow fluff
3/4 C. + 1 1/2 C. Heavy Cream

Pre-Heat the oven to 350.   Prepare a 9-in springform pan by spraying it with baking spray that contains flour. In a mixing bowl, mix the cake mix, sour cream and vegetable oil.   Pour about 2 1/2 cups of batter into the prepared pan.  (Fill free to use the rest for cupcakes)  Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling clean your springform pan.  Once cool return the cake to the pan placing it in top side down.  Use a long strip of wax paper or parchment to line the inside edges of the pan.  You’ll want this to extend past the top of the pan about 2 inches.  Make sure it fits tightly around the cake.  I actually placed my cake onto the bottom portion on my spring form pan, wrapped my parchment tightly around the edges of the cake; securing it with scotch tape, and then placed the side of my springform pan back into place.  Once your cake is wrapped in it’s wax paper/parchment sleeve place it in the freezer while you prepare the next step.

Process blueberries, lemon juice, and 2/3 cup of sugar in a food processor or blender until smooth.  In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add marshmallow fluff.  Mix well.  In an seperate bowl whip 3/4 cup of heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Stir the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.  Stir in blueberry puree, gently.

Remove cake from the freeze and spread blueberry mixture over the top.  Return to the freezer until set, about 8 hrs or overnight.

Before serving,  whip 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream with 1/8 C. of sugar until slightly stiff peaks form.  Dollop or spread over the top of the blueberry cake.  Re-freeze.  Remove cake from freezer and allow to come to room temperature for about 15 – 30 minutes before serving.

Garnish with additional blueberries and confectioners sugar if desired.

Cinnamon Rolls

17 Aug

We need to talk…..

K.  See this next recipe is one of those MANY I told you about last week that I’ve been saving, OK hording, for awhile now.

Now this recipe uses yeast.

Calm down.

Their is absolutely no reason to let this intimidate you or keep you from trying it.  Trust me.  When these bad boys come out of the oven you’ll be glad you did.

Now these do take some time if you consider the amount of time you need to let your dough rise, but it’s pretty simple and you can asseemble the buns the night before and let them hang out in the fridge and bake them the next morning if that strikes your fancy.

I personally couldn’t wait to try them.  So I baked them at 8 o’clock at night….

And had one for supper.  Don’t judge.

Cinnamon Rolls ~ Adapted from Family Circle

1 (1/4 oz.) Envelope active dry yeast
1/4 C. Warm Water
3 T. Sugar
1 C. Milk
2 Lg. Eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
4 C. All Purpose Flour + about an additional cup for kneading and rolling out
1/2 tsp. Salt


1 Stick butter, Soft
1/2 C Sugar
1 1/4 C. Brown Sugar
1 T + 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 C. Chopped Pecans

2 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
1-4 T. Milk

Pour your milk into a saucepan and heat on medium heat until the milk just starts to boil. Remove from heat and sit aside to cool to room temperature.

While your milk is cooling sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. (Do this in a large mixing bowl, or I did it directly in the measuring cup and transferred to the bowl of my stand mixer later so I would be able to use my dough hook) Add 1 T. of sugar and let it hang out for about 5 minutes until it’s foamy. (Now here is where I transferred it to my stand mixer.) Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, butter, eggs and the cooled milk. Beat all of this together. (If you are using your stand mixer use the whisk attachment.)

Now you’ll gradually add the 4 cups of flour and salt. (If you are using your stand mixer change to your dough hook before adding the flour/salt.)
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to mix until a soft dough comes together. Lightly four your work surface and turn dough out to kneed. Continue to kneed in up to 1 cup of additional flour if dough is sticky. You’ll want to kneed this for about 10 minutes until you have a soft smooth dough.

Grease a large bowl. Let your dough rest inside. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it hang out in a warm spot until it has doubled in size. That should take about 1 1/2 hours. (I let mine go a little longer.)

While the dough is rising prepare your filling and pans. For the pans you’ll need two 9-inch round baking pans or cast iron skillets. Spray them with cooking spray. I used a spray that also contained flour. You can also line the bottoms of the pan with waxed paper and spray that with cooking spray to further prevent sticking. I baked mine in 9-inch aluminum cake pans and didn’t have any issues not using the waxed paper.

For the filling mix the butter, sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside.

Once your dough has risen you’ll punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface to roll it out. Your going for approximately an 18 x 12 inch rectangle of dough here. Spread your filling mixture over the dough with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Sprinkle with pecans or other nuts if you’re using those.  Raisins might be good here too.  Starting on one of the long sides roll up the dough and pinch the seam to close when you’re finished.

Cut the roll in half directly through the middle of the roll. This will give you 2 short rolls.  Cut each short roll into 6 equal pieces. Place cut-side down 6 pieces to each prepared pan. If you plan to cook these now cover the pans with plastic wrap and allow the pieces to sit for about 35-50 minutes or until hey have doubled in size. If you are preparing the night before for the next morning wrap your pans in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

To bake heat your oven to 350. Remove the plastic wrap and bake until golden brown and bubbly. This should take about 30-45 minutes. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before adding the glaze.

For the glaze add enough milk one tablespoon full at a time until you have a thick, smooth, slow pouring glaze. Pour over the tops of buns and serve.

Squash Casserole

2 Aug

So awhile back I told you we would talk about Squash. See, I didn’t forget!  It’s just taken me a while.  Last week was a wedding cake weekend so I pretty mush lived and breathed wedding all last week.

I think things turned out pretty well

Hopefully the bride did too!

Anyway, working on this kept me distracted from almost everything else including the blog.

Let’s talk about squash.  Did you plant a garden this year?  Is it blessing you with tons of delicious things?  I wish I’d planted a garden, but fortunately I have people who love me and are willing to share.

Growing up I pretty much thought squash was one of the most disgusting things on the planet.  Every family reunion or Sunday family dinner someone would always bring squash casserole, YUCK!  It was always the same…mushy squash with cheese!  I just couldn’t force myself to like it.  Once I started cooking for myself I realized I didn’t have to cook squash the same old way I’d always had it.  I could change things up and create something I would like.

I pretty much sat down in front of the computer one day and looked at about 100 different squash casserole recipes. OK, maybe not that many, but it felt like it.  I decided what parts I liked in about 1/2 a dozen of them and this is what I came up with.

It has a crust…What?  You’re surprised I tried to turn it into pie?  Butter and Ritz crackers make a lovely crust.  You’ll save some of this for the top too.

Everything else gets mixed together and added to the bowl.  Sprinkle the top with more of the Ritz cracker mixture and cheese.  Cheese makes everything lovely…Bake it all up!


Squash Casserole

1 1/2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed
1 stick of butter, melted
1 1/2 – 2 lb. yellow squash, cooked, drained, and mashed
1 grated carrot
1 can cram of chicken soup
1 C. sour cream
1 C. sharp cheddar, shredded
1 sm. onion chopped, fine

In a small bowl microwave butter in 30 second increments until melted.   Mix the Ritz crackers with the butter.  Press part of this mixture into the bottom of a casserole dish, reserving the rest for the top.

In a separate bowl mix together the squash, onion, carrot, sour cream, and chicken soup.  Add in 3/4 of the cheese, reserving some for the top.  Pour squash mixture into casserole dish.  Top with remaining cheese and Ritz crackers.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until warm and brown.

Zucchini Relish

23 Jul

It’s been a crazy busy week here, but I still feel like such a slacker.  The pictures for this post have been sitting in my camera for almost a week now.

Ya know what, real life happens.  Things come up, people get tired and here it is almost a week late and I’m finally getting around to sharing this beautiful relish with all of you.

One of my oldest and dearest friends generously offered….OK so maybe I begged, just a little…for some fresh garden veggies.  I was really in it for the Zucchini, but she was nice enough to send squash (we’ll talk about that later), and some tomatoes…Ummm, yeah those just ended up in my belly courtesy of a lovely  ‘mater’ sandwich.  Not much to talk about there.

This relish is super easy and is beautiful just hanging out in the bowl.  It’s great with hot dogs, but don’t limit yourself.  My husband likes it with his black eyed peas and honestly I just think it’s so darn pretty I look for ways to incorporate it into meals just so I can have the pretty little jar on the table, don’t judge.

Zucchini Relish

6 lg. zucchini
4 lg. onions
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1/2 C. salt
1 sm. jar pimentos
3 1/2 C. Sugar
3 C. Vinegar
2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp turmeric

Wash, peel, and dice the zucchini, onions, and peppers into a large bowl. Add salt and cover with cold water. Allow the mixture to soak for 3 hours. Rinse and drain well, adding the mixture to a large stock pot. Add the pimentos. In a saucepan combine the sugar, vinegar, 1 cup of water, celery seed, and turmeric. Bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add to the vegetable mixture and bring everything to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes.

While the mixture is cooking prepare your canning jars.  I used pint sized jars. You’ll need a large pot that will cover the tops of the jars.  You’ll want a pot that will hold 6-8 jars.  Remove the lids and rings, set those aside.  Place the empty jars into the pot and cover them with water.  Set them on the stove top to simmer.  Your want the jars nice and hot.  Once your relish mixture has cooked for 10 minutes remove it from the heat.  Then remove one jar at a time from its water bath. Spoon the relish into the jars leaving about 1/4in of space in the top of the jar.  Wipe the rim clean and place on a lid and band, then return it to the water bath.  Continue until all jars are filled (you may need to remove some water from the stock pot to keep it from getting to full).  Let your jars cook for about 10 minutes in the water bath.  Remove to a clean kitchen towel.  Once the jars are removed from the water bath you should hear a little popping sound form each jar.  This lets your know the jar is vacuum sealed, no need to refrigerate until the seal is broken.  You can test the seal by  gently pressing on the the top.  It the top can be pressed down it isn’t sealed properly.  Reprocess it in the water bath.  It it still does not seal properly try replacing the lid with a different one and reprocess.

Reeses Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte

14 Jul

So what happens when pregnant ladies come home from extended travel assignments??  Well around here you promptly ask what they’ve been craving and then you do your best to create something that contains those ingredients.  In this case chocolate and peanut butter….perfect for me because I don’t think I could have forced myself to turn something like Brussels sprouts into a cupcake or something.  YUCK!!

You’ll need lots of these so prepare yourself.

16 of these bad boys are going into this rich chocolate goodness….Ok, maybe 15 because one of them may or may not have accidentally fallen into my mouth as I was unwrapping and chopping them.

Reeses Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte Adapted slightly from My Baking Addiction

1 C Coco Powder, unsweetened
1 C Butter, melted
2 C Sugar
4 Eggs
1 T Vanilla
1 C All-purpose Flour
1/2 T Salt
16 Reese’s Cups, chopped, reserve 1/2 for topping


6 T Peanut Butter
1/2 C Confectioners Sugar
1 T Vanilla
3/4 C. Heavy Cream

For Topping:

1/2 C Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips, Melted
2 T Caramel Ice Cream Topping
1/2 C Roasted Peanuts, or more depending on how much you like peanuts

Pre-heat your oven to 350.  Prepare two 8″ pans by spraying them with cooking spray that contains flour, such as Bakers Joy.  In a small bowl melt the butter.  Once melted stir in the coco until completely incorporated.  Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer.  With speed set to low gradually add the sugar in 1/4 cup increments.   Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until well incorporated.  With mixer still on low add the vanilla, salt, and flour mixing until the flour is just incorporated. Fold in 1/2 of the chopped peanut butter cups.  Pour equal amounts of the batter into prepared pans.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.  Allow layers to cool slightly in pans and run knife around pan edges before tuning out onto wire racks.  Cool Completely

Prepare frosting/glaze by combining the peanut butter, confectioners sugar, and vanilla.  Gradually add the heavy cream until the desired consistency is reached.  You want the glaze to be thick, but spreadable.  When it runs over the edges it should still hold it’s shape.

Once the layers are cool, assemble by placing the first layer on your cake plate.  Top with part of the glaze.  Sprinkle with some of the peanuts and peanut butter cups.  Place remaining layer on top of the first.  Top with the remainder of the glaze, allowing some to drip over the sides.  Sprinkle with remaining peanuts and peanut butter cups.  Drizzle with chocolate and caramel.  Refrigerate until serving..