Pecan Sage Corn Bread Stuffing

I grew up eating Stove Top stuffing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Stove Top. It is easy to prepare and very tasty. But 10 years ago I wanted to try a new stuffing recipe. I found a corn bread stuffing recipe attached to a Cornish game hen recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (page 411 of the 1996 version).  Whoa. Seriously, I crave this corn bread stuffing more than turkey, more than mashed potatoes. This dish is my favorite part of the meal. I make my version of this recipe every holiday since. It’s a family favorite.

Pecan Sage Corn Bread Stuffing

Pecan Sage Corn Bread Stuffing

The original recipe calls for chopped sweet green pepper and dried currants or raisins. I omit those, but you can certainly add them back in. I also (roughly) triple the ingredients. I love this recipe because it’s easy to make a day or two before the big meal and the flavors are heavenly paired with roasted turkey. I mean, really—toasted pecans, green onions, and fresh sage—unbelievably packed with flavor. The picture shows the stuffing before baking. It browns up a little more after baking. Here is my adapted version.

Pecan Sage Corn Bread Stuffing

Ingredients

–          About 6-8 cups crumbled corn bread. (I use three boxes of the classic Jiffy corn bread mix. If you use that mix, make sure you have a cup of milk and 3 eggs on hand. You can use any corn bread mix, but I like the Jiffy mix because it’s fairly dry and easy to crumble for the stuffing.)

–          1 ½ cups chopped, toasted pecans (I toast the pecans on a baking sheet in a 375° oven for 10 minutes)

–          ½ cup fresh chopped sage (you have to use fresh, you really do)

–          1 cup sliced green onions (roughly 2 bunches of green onions)

–          ¼ cup melted butter

–          1 can (14.5 ounces of chicken broth) [I use Swanson’s low sodium version]

Directions

–          Bake corn bread according to package directions. Set aside and cool. (For 3 Jiffy mixes, I divide the corn bread batter and pour 2/3 into a 9×13 pan and the remaining batter in a 9×9 pan. Spray both baking dishes with cooking spray. I use PAM.)

–          Toast the pecans on a baking sheet in a 375° oven for 10 minutes. Set aside and cool.

–          Slice the green onions and snip the fresh sage.

–          In a large bowl, combine the corn bread, pecans, onions, and sage. Pour the chicken broth over the dry ingredients.

–          Melt the butter and drizzle the butter over the mixture. Mix well and spoon into a 9×13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover the dish and chill overnight. You can make the dish at least a day in advance.

–          When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°. Bake covered for about 35 minutes.

I serve the stuffing with a traditional turkey dinner. But I’ll be honest with you. I would eat this as a main dish any day of the week. I am hosting Thanksgiving this year and here is our menu for 5 adults and two children:

–          Turkey seasoned with fresh rosemary under the skin, and rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper. I use my mom’s trick of stuffing the cavity with sliced onions, lemons, and oranges.

–          Mashed potatoes

–          Dinner rolls (I make Rhodes white dinner rolls)

–          Cranberry sauce (the jellied, sugary kind where you can still see the can indentations)

–          Sweet potatoes (this year I’m trying the whipped bourbon bacon sweet potatoes from How Sweet It Is. So excited!!!)

–          Pumpkin pie (I use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust and Moosewood Cookbook’s no-fault pumpkin pie recipe on pg 203)

–          Green bean casserole with the crunchy fried onions on top

–          Relish tray (pickles, olives, red and green pepper slices, and carrot sticks)

 

What’s on your holiday menu? Enjoy your time with friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Hard Cider White Chicken Chili

Do you ever start cooking, but you don’t really have a plan? I knew I wanted to make chili, but not much beyond that. I started with onions and chicken simmering in olive oil, added some Angry Orchard hard cider and a jar of salsa verde, threw in pinto beans and let it simmer. I’m really happy with how it turned out. The sweetness of the cider pairs nicely with the tangy salsa. This recipe is a winner. We served it with loaded baked potatoes, and more hard cider, of course.

chiliIngredients

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (chopped roughly in 2-3 inch pieces)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup hard cider

2 cans of pinto beans (total of 16 ounces)

1 jar of salsa verde (8-10 ounces)

2 cups of water

Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for a garnish

Directions:

In a large saucepan heat olive oil. Add onion and chicken. Simmer about 3 minutes and add hard cider. Simmer another 5 minutes until chicken cooked thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.

Top chili with shredded cheese and sour cream. We served it with baked potatoes loaded with more cheese, sour cream, and bacon.

I will make this again, and next time I’m tempted to put bacon in the soup. Yes, that will take this great chili over the top.

Simple Stacked Sugar Cookies for Valentine’s Day

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I secretly have a thing for Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s because my husband proposed to me on Valentine’s Day. In fact, that’s probably it. It could explain why I love baking heart-shaped desserts.

Today was definitely a baking day. I made cheeseburger pie, a spinach quiche, and these Valentine’s Day sugar cookies. Digging around in the pantry, I found a Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix and decided to whip up some cookies for my daughters. These are really easy because they look pretty and you don’t have to mess with icing.

To make these, you’ll need a sugar cookie mix, 1/3 cup of butter, 1 tablespoon of flour, 1 egg, red food coloring, and heart-shaped fondant or cookie cutters.

Valentine's Day Stacked Sugar Cookie Tutorial

Valentine’s Day Stacked Sugar Cookie Tutorial

Follow the sugar cookie mix directions. (Or, if you want to be healthier, you can try this whole wheat flour sugar cookie recipe.) Split the dough in half and place in two separate bowls. In one bowl, add several drops of red food coloring (use your best judgement–I lost count of the number of drops) and mix well. Roll out both colors of sugar cookie dough out on a pastry mat or clean surface. (Don’t forget to lightly coat the rolling pin with flour.) Use the cookie cutters to cut several different sizes of hearts and stack them however you please. I tried several variations. My favorite are the plain sugar cookies with a medium-size red heart stacked on top. Bake according to the directions, but you might want to add 1 more minute because the stacked cookies are a little thicker.

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I love the way these look. We didn’t miss the icing or sprinkles at all. You know, there’s something special about a simple sugar cookie.

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Happy (early) Valentine’s Day!

~Amy

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

I grew up in Colorado (among other places) and I collected several cookbooks from the Junior League of Denver. My favorite cookbook is Colorado Collage. I believe it’s still in print, so look for it online and snap up a copy. You can find this recipe, Chocolate Raspberry Tart, in the cookbook on page 350, but I tweak it a bit. I use the crust recipe from my other favorite dessert recipe, Almond Tart, on page 348. I don’t like to roll out and chill pie crust, so this crust recipe is actually fairly simple.

I love this dessert because it is delicious, not overly complicated, and perfect for a special occasion. But buckle up, because you’re going to need 2 sticks of butter and a special tart pan with a removable bottom. It’s worth it!

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

(inspired by Colorado Collage cookbook)

Crust:

1 cup flour

1 T sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 T vanilla

1 1/2 tsp water

Filling:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

4 ounces semisweet chocolate

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup half and half

Topping:

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

1 cup fresh raspberries, rinse and pat dry

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. You’ll need a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Lightly grease the pan. (I use cooking spray). In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Mix or pulse until it is crumbly. In a separate small bowl, combine the vanilla and water. Slowly add this vanilla mixture to the flour mixture while the processor is running. Process the dough until it forms a ball.  [Note: you can make the crust without a food processor, but I find it takes significantly longer.]

Press the dough into the tart pan. Pat the crust until it covers the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes. It will be light brown. Cool the crust on a rack and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. When melted, add the sugar, eggs, yolk, and vanilla. Stir until smooth, remove from heat, and stir in the half and half. Pour into the prepared crust. Bake for 25 minutes until set. Cool on a rack.

In a small saucepan, melt the raspberry jam over low heat. Carefully spoon half the melted jam over the tart. Decorate with the fresh raspberries and drizzle the remaining jam over the fruit.

You can serve the tart at room temperature or chilled.

Let me know if you make it. It really is divine, but with two sticks of butter, chocolate, and fresh raspberries it has to be amazing. Enjoy!

Swedish Wishing Cookies

Swedish wishing cookies with icing

Swedish Wishing Cookies

My friend, Gladys, gave me a recipe for Swedish wishing cookies several years ago. Gladys knows a thing or two about cookies. Gladys and her husband owned two bakeries in the area in the 1930s through 1960 something. She will be 104 in January and she’s still living in the South Minneapolis home where she raised her family.

Why did it take me 5 years to try her recipe? I don’t really know. Oh, except that the past few years I’ve been knee-deep in child wrangling and have not had endless hours to devote to making cookies from scratch.

I finally tried her recipe, and I’m glad I did. It’s like a cross between a sugar cookie and gingerbread. It took me all day to make these cookies–the recipe makes 100 cookies–and it was so worth it.

The story behind Swedish wishing cookies is very sweet. Once baked and cooled, place your finger in the center of the cookie to break it. If it breaks into three pieces, make a wish, eat all three pieces without saying a word, and your wish will come true.

Swedish Wishing Cookies

Ingredients

3 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

2 T molasses

3 T water

1/2 tsp grated lemon peel

For icing

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 T skim milk

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, stir dry ingredients–flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
  • Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat butter until soft. Keep mixer running and add sugar and mix on low-speed until fluffy. Add egg, molasses, and lemon peel. Once mixed add water one tablespoon at a time until dough forms a ball. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough and cut with cookie cutters. Star cookie cutters work especially well for this recipe. Place cookies on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Cool.
  • Mix icing ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until it is desired consistency. Pipe lacy designs on the cooled cookies. I used a round #3 tip and a pastry bag to pipe the designs.

I love these cookies. They are spicy, fragrant, and crisp. My daughters loved trying to break the cookies into three pieces and keep quiet to earn their wish. Make your holiday special, think of Gladys, and make Swedish wishing cookies.

Slow Cooker Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Wild rice soup is one of my favorite fall meals. It’s the quintessential Minnesota soup—wild rice is very abundant in Minnesota—and I would even go so far as to name it the Minnesota State Soup.

Don’t you love it?

It’s so creamy, hearty, and fragrant. I make a decent wild rice soup from scratch when I have the time, but I haven’t had a lot of free time lately. I’m back to working full-time out of the home and I live by my slow cooker for easy meals. I finally devised a pretty good wild rice chicken soup for the slow cooker. It was easy and very flavorful. We devoured it. I hope you like it too!

Slow Cooker Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Slow Cooker Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Ingredients

– 1/2 cup dry wild rice

– 1 cup chopped onion

– 1 cup sliced or chopped carrots

– 1/2 tsp black pepper

– 4 cups chicken broth

– 1 cup whole milk

– 1 12.5 oz can of chopped chicken (Kirkland brand from Costco is pretty good)

– 1/4 cup flour

– 1 cup frozen peas

Directions:

– In a large slow cooker, add the wild rice, onion, carrots, pepper, and chicken broth. Stir and cook on LOW for 9 hours.

– After 9 hours, stir in the milk, chicken, flour, and frozen peas. Turn the heat to HIGH and cook for another 10-20 minutes. It’s ready to serve and enjoy!

A couple notes:

– I used baby carrots and canned chopped chicken to save time, but you could easily use fresh carrots and leftover roasted chicken.

– I’m not sure the peas were necessary. I think I will omit them next time.

– Next time I plan to garnish with slivered almonds, or maybe popcorn, just to live on the edge.

If you make it, let me know how it turns out  for you and if you add any of your twists to improve it.

Drunken Chocolate Almond Bars

The incomparable Stephanie Meyer, aka Fresh Tart Steph, opened up her home on a glorious summer evening for the much anticipated Minnesota Food Bloggers’ Big Bar Bake Off Bash.  I get misty-eyed over food, but the baking competition struck a chord in my romance with food and parties. Amateur and professional food bloggers, foodies, and the people who love them gathered to feast on pork belly, spicy slaw, kabobs, Habanero pepper infused Fulton Beer, Kitchak Cellars‘ wine, divine chocolate truffles from Kate In The Kitchen, and seventeen(!) varieties of bars.  If you have to ask, “What’s a bar?” you are not from Minnesota. 

The lovely Kelli Abrahamian won with her apricot bar – rosemary shortbread crust, poached apricots soaked in rum and a toasted almond crumble.  Everyone enjoyed sampling the bars and marveling at the creativity. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and my sweet tooth was in heaven.

This is my entry – Drunken Chocolate Almond Bars.  Many thanks to Amy P. for sharing her photo!

Photo Credit: Amy P. from Green Your Plate blog

Photo credit Amy P from Green Your Plate blog

Drunken Chocolate Almond Bars

Ingredients

 Crust:

2 cups flour

2 T sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 T vanilla

3 tsp water

 

Topping:

6 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

1 ½ cup sugar

1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream

2 T Grand Marnier liqueur

1 tsp almond extract

1/8 tsp salt

2 cups sliced almonds

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees and grease 9×13 pan with cooking spray.  Combine flour, salt, sugar, and butter in food processor. Pulse until crumbly. Mix the vanilla and water in a small bowl and gradually add to dough by pulsing. **NOTE: Do not keep processor running while adding liquid or you will end up with a gooey mixture and have to add another cup of flour just to get it back to what it should be. Sigh** Process in pulses until dough comes together in a ball. Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and reduce oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle chocolate chips over the baked crust, wait until slightly melted and then spread gently over crust to make a smooth chocolate layer. 

In medium bowl use a fork to mix cream, sugar, Grand Marnier, almond extract and salt. Beat until thickened and add sliced almonds. Pour over chocolaty crust.  Bake at 350 for about 55 minutes. Remove from oven and cool thoroughly before cutting.

Rhubarb Crisp Muffins

To me, spring in Minnesota means venturing out to farmer’s markets to pick up fresh, seasonal produce and chat with local growers. Saturday we went to the Richfield Farmer’s Market for the first time. I highly recommend this market, especially for families – live music, plenty of picnic tables for snacks, restrooms nearby and a fantastic playground. It’s early in the season and offerings are slim, but we walked away with a big bunch of fresh rhubarb.

Rhubarb reminds me of my grandparents. Several rhubarb plants grew on the side of their garage. No matter where I am, if I eat rhubarb, I’m right back in South Fargo at a family picnic eating rhubarb crisp.

I made rhubarb crisp muffins and had enough leftover to freeze for another recipe.

Rhubarb Crisp Muffins

2 1/2 C flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 C packed brown sugar [NOTE: use 1 1/2 cups for the batter and reserve 1/2 cup for the crumble on top]

2/3 C vegetable oil [I use Canola oil]

1 C whole milk

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 C chopped rhubarb

1 C plain quick oats

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease two 12-cup muffin tins or use cupcake liners. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl combine 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar, oil, milk, egg and vanilla. Mix well. Stir the flour mixture into the batter and fold in the chopped rhubarb. Fill prepared muffin cups about 3/4 full.

Rhubarb crisp muffin batter

In a small bowl, mix remaining 1/2 cup packed brown sugar with about 1 cup of oats. Sprinkle the crumble generously over each muffin cup. Bake at 325° for 35 minutes.  The recipe yields 24 muffins.

Crumble topping added and ready to go in the oven

These muffins were perfect right out of the oven for brunch. Tart, sweet and delicious.

Rhubarb crisp muffins

For variations on the recipe, you can substitute buttermilk for the whole milk. My mom suggests keeping a can of powdered buttermilk in the pantry for the odd recipe that requires buttermilk. You can also vary the crumble mixture. Instead of oats, mix brown sugar, butter and toasted slivered almonds for the topping.

Quick tip: If you run out of batter and wonder what to do with the empty cups, simply fill them half full with water to ensure the batch of muffins cooks evenly.

Enjoy!

Deviled Eggs with Bacon

My mom has a sneaky strategy when she doesn’t want to bring home leftovers from a party. She brings a tray of deviled eggs. They always go fast. There’s just something special about a deviled egg. Poppable. Creamy. And, possibly my favorite way to eat an egg.

She tinkers with recipes and came up with a crowd pleaser. She brought a tray of these deviled eggs to a party and they disappeared in ten minutes. Her friend, and pastor of their church, declared these to be “deep center field.”  How often has your dish been blessed by a member of the clergy?

 

Kathy’s “Deep Center Field” Deviled Eggs

6 hard-boiled eggs

1/4 C light mayo

1 T sweet pickle relish

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 T chopped parsley

2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions

Boil eggs and let cool. I realize not everyone knows how to boil eggs, so this is how I do it. In a medium saucepan place eggs and add enough water to cover the eggs. Set the heat to high, bring to a boil and continue to boil for a few minutes; usually between five and ten minutes is good. Turn the heat off and let sit in the pan for a while until cooled. When cooled, remove from pan and refrigerate.

Peel the eggs, slice in half, and carefully remove yolks. Place yolks, mayo, relish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard in a medium bowl. Mash yolks and mix well. Spoon mixture into egg white halves. Top with bacon and chopped parsley to garnish. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Lemon Spaghetti

Lemon spaghetti is one of my go-to summer recipes. Spring arrived (mostly) in Minnesota, so I am adding this dish back into our meal rotation. I found this recipe in the back of a Cooking Light years ago. They listed it as a side dish and served with a caesar salad and bread sticks. I make it as a main dish and sometimes add grilled chicken or shrimp for protein and variety. This is a light, zingy and fresh pasta dish suited to almost any type of pasta – spaghetti, rotini, angel hair, campanelle, ziti, etc.

Lemon Spaghetti from Cooking Light

Spaghetti noodles (approx 12 oz)

2 lemons

1/4 C olive oil

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 C chopped fresh flat leaf parley

2 oz shaved Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Place pasta in large bowl.

In small bowl combine 1 tsp grated lemon rind, lemon juice, olive oil, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp red pepper. Whisk.

Drizzle sauce over noodles and add Parmesan cheese and parsley.

 

This recipe is very forgiving if you keep the ingredients in proportion. I usually use an entire box of pasta, the juice of 2 to 3 lemons (depending on size), an equal amount of olive oil, and a whole heckuva lot more cheese than the recipe lists. The cayenne pepper gives the dish a nice kick, but I use less when I make it for kids. For working parents, this dish is easy to prep in advance. I chop the parsley and make the sauce in the morning. When I come home from work, all I have to do is boil the noodles, drain and dump in the sauce, parsley and cheese.  I hope you all enjoy this dish as much as we do. Three cheers for spring!

Note: I lost my original copy of this recipe. I *think* it’s from the summer of 2008, but I’m not certain. I cannot find the recipe on Cooking Light’s site. If anyone can provide the source for me I will gladly update this post.