Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu

For the first time in my life I am going to be making a real Thanksgiving dinner this year. Shocking. I know. I love food and cooking, but for some reason this holiday has always been too intimidating for me. And I refuse to touch raw turkeys, so that also makes it kinda difficult. So. In years past we've eaten Thanksgiving with extended family on those years we lived near them, bought prepared meals from Boston Market and Safeway, gone out to restaurants, and for I think 3 years running, when we lived on the East Coast, we went to Medieval Times (that was awesome!). Well this year I decided to confront my fears and make a for really reals Thanksgiving dinner. (Although my husband will be the one handling the raw turkey.) Here's my menu:

  • Cherry Cheeseball with Assorted Crackers
  • Munchie Tray: Olives, Mini Pickles, Baby Carrots and Ranch Dip
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Turkey (Alton Brown's "Brined Turkey")
  • Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
  • Corn
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Sweet Potato Casserole (my hubby's favorite)
  • Strawberry Pretzel Salad
  • Manly Pasta Salad
  • Lion House Rolls and Butter
  • Cranberry Sauce (the jellied kind in the can - I love that stuff!)
Beverages: Apple Cider, Sprite, and Milk

  • Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
  • Chocolate Pie Bars (aka "Chocolate Delight")

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

We had a Pumpkin Pie Show Down to decide which pumpkin pie we would make for Thanksgiving and this is the one that won. It was 4 to 1 in favor of this pie and dang this pie is awesome. My 6 year old loved the mellow Double Layer No-bake Pumpkin Pie which is made with vanilla pudding, but the rest of us loved this rich pumpkin cheesecake. I love that it is baked in a pie pan - spring form pans are intimidating to me. And the graham cracker crust on this one is the best. Thanks to Sister's Cafe for this great recipe.

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

2, 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
dash allspice
whipped cream for topping

To Make Crust:
Mix all crust ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. Press into a pie pan. Refrigerate for at last 1 hour before making the filling.

*You can make this graham cracker pie crust for other pies that require a prepared graham cracker pie crust - just bake it for 7 minutes at 375 and then let it cool completely before filling.

To Make the Cheesecake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of a mixer combine cream cheeses, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of batter and spread in the bottom of crust; set aside. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice to the remaining batter and beat on low until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until center looks almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream.

Double Layer No-bake Pumpkin Pie

We had a little Pumpkin Pie Show Down between this pie and Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake and this one came in second. It isn't that this one is not tasty - it really is! - but the pumpkin cheesecake one is just so dreamy and delicious! This one is very puddingy and mellow. My 6 year old loved it! I think he'll request it in the future, but as for the rest of my family we are all for cheesecake.

Double Layer No-bake Pumpkin Pie

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar
8 oz tub Cool Whip, thawed
graham cracker pie crust or baked pie shell
1 cup milk
15 oz can pumpkin
2 small packages vanilla instant pudding
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Prepare graham cracker pie crust or bake a pie shell and let cool completely.

Mix cream cheese, 1 tablespoon milk, and the sugar in a mixer until well blended. Fold in half of the whipped topping. Spread in the pie crust.

In a mixer combine 1 cup milk, pumpkin, dry pudding mixes, and spices. Beat well for 2 minutes or until well blended. Mixture will be thick. Spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. Top with remaining Cool Whip just before serving. Store in fridge.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cheeseburger Quiche

Here's a super good freezer meal recipe. I received this freezer meal from Laurel in my swap and she got the recipe from The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet: A Month of Meals Made Easy by Nanci Slagle. I use so many recipes from that cookbook and here's another winner. My whole family loved this one. We are big on breakfast-for-dinner.

Cheeseburger Quiche

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons diced onion
2 1/2 cups cooked ground beef (that's about a pound)
1 unbaked pie shell

In a medium bowl blend mayo, milk, eggs, and cornstarch. Fold in cheese, onion, and cooked ground beef.

Pour filling into a 1 gallon freezer ziplock. Seal, label, and freeze. Keep the pie crust in the freezer with it.

Thaw the filling at least overnight in the refrigerator. Thaw the pie shell. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out wet but clean.

Cranberry and Cream Cheese Salsa

Oooh I love this dip!! I got the recipe from my friend Carolyn and it rocks. I took it to a Halloween party last weekend and it was received very well. I think it will be my go-to appetizer from now on. (I just have to remember to buy a couple bags of cranberries while they are in season and freeze them). Thanks for the great recipe Carolyn!

Cranberry and Cream Cheese Salsa

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
12 oz fresh cranberries
4 green onions, chopped in big pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 bunch of cilantro, long stems removed
1/2 cup sugar
juice of 2 limes (juiced at room temperature)
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped in big pieces
tortilla chips

Combine cream cheese and sour cream until smooth and spread in a thick layer on a large plate, pie plate, or small platter. Set aside while you make the salsa.

In a food processor or blender combine: cranberries, green onions, garlic, salt, cilantro, sugar, lime juice, and jalapeno. Process until combined and cranberry pieces are very small. Spread over the cream cheese layer. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

Breakfast Casserole

This is my go-to breakfast casserole. I love it! You can use sausage, bacon, or diced ham for the meat or even sausage and bacon. yum. It's important to use 4% fat small curd cottage cheese to give it the right texture. I served it with a quick fruit salad. I just tossed together some halved strawberries, sliced Asian pear, and pomegranate seeds. My littlest loves pomegranate seeds or "granite seeds" as she calls them.

Breakfast Casserole

10 eggs, beaten
24 oz frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, plus a little more for topping
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 cup 4% fat small curd cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or a few drops of tabasco sauce)
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (red or green)
1/2 cup cooked and crumbled sausage, bacon, or diced ham

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together eggs, hashbrowns, cheese, green onions, cottage cheese, salt, pepper, cayenne, bell pepper, and sausage. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Top with some shredded cheddar and bake an additional 3 minutes.