Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Olive Dip


2 8oz packages cream cheese
1 4oz can black olives, sliced
1 8oz jar green olives
2 Tbsp green olive juice

Drain olives, reserving 2Tbsp of green olive juice. Quarter the green olives. Place the olives, cream cheese, and olive juice in a bowl and blend together until the olives are slightly chopped. Shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve with crackers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cheese Ball

I bought the corned beef for this recipe at the deli for no other reason than I was couldn't find it in the lunch meat section of the store I where I was shopping(Commissary on Buckley AFB). I ordered 4 oz of corned beef sliced for sandwiches. (I was doubling the recipe for Thanksgiving.) The lady behind the counter asked why I wanted my corned beef sliced that way so I told her about this recipe and how delicious it was. As she is repeating the recipe back to me (probably to make sure she has it right), I realize the guy standing behind me is also making a mental note of the ingredients. Boy, I love sharing recipes!

1 package cream cheese
1 bunch green onions, chopped really small
2 oz corned beef, sliced thinly as if for sandwiches, then roughly chopped

Combine these three ingredients. Form into a ball. Refrigerate overnight wrapped in plastic. Serve with crackers.

Cook's Note: See that cute plate? When I bought that plate I had no idea what to use it for, but it's the perfect size for a cheese ball and crackers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Yams

This is my great grandmother Ireda Heath's recipe. It was one of my favorites when I was a little girl. My mother would make it every Thanksgiving. She would put the corn flakes in a baggie and one of us would get the job of crushing the corn flakes with Mom's rolling pin. Oh, how we argued over who got to do this job! The rest of the day, the lucky girl would covertly and smugly remind her sisters that they had not gotten to crush the corn flakes. Isn't it strange which memories float to the surface when you eat a dish from your childhood?

For this recipe you will need:

6-8 fresh yams or 1 large can yams, well drained
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2c walnuts
9-12 large marshmallows
2-3c corn flakes, crushed

Peel and boil the fresh yams until soft. If using canned yams, you can skip this step. Mash the yams and brown sugar together with a fork until smooth. Fold in the walnuts. With wet hands, pack a small amount (about 1/8 cup) of yam mixture around a large marshmallow. Roll the yam ball in corn flake crumbs. Be sure to call one of my sisters and remind her that SHE didn't get to crush the corn flakes this year. Place in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 375˚F for 10 to 15 minutes (just until the marshmallows begin to melt.) Serve warm as a side dish.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

We've all been there...you've got a meeting to go to and realize at the last minute that it's a potluck. Here's a super easy recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins. They are delicious and low fat, too.

1 can pumpkin (14.5 oz)
1 box spice cake mix

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Combine the two ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until smooth. Spoon batter into a greased muffin tin. (I use those little cupcake papers.) Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy...everyone at the meeting will, too!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Pie (from scratch)

It is both a blessing and a challenge when your children believe that you can do anything in the kitchen. From the time that our pumpkins were tiny green babies on the vine, my daughter has been asking me to make "her" pumpkin into a pie. That presents a bit of a challenge because I've always made my pies from the can. (Psst....sometimes I even buy it at the grocery store, remove it from the tin, and pass it off as my own. Don't tell.)

Those days are in the past, because this pie from scratch tasted completely different than a pie made from canned pumpkin. The flavor exploded in my mouth. I could taste every spice and there was nothing bland or boring about it.

So yesterday...I popped two small pumpkins in the oven to give this whole pumpkin pie from real pumpkins the old college try.

While those pumpkins are roasting, let's talk pumpkins. "Pie pumpkins" are not the huge Jack O Lantern pumpkins you carve at Halloween. Although you can use those, too if you forgot to carve yours, just add about 25% more sugar. You want a smaller sweeter pumpkin. They are sometimes called sugar pumpkins and are usually sold in the grocery stores from October through December.

Honestly, making pumpkin puree was the hardest part of this project. (See the blog entry called Pumpkin Puree, it's under the "how to" label on the right side of the screen.) This time around I tried something a little different. Instead of running my pumpkin through the blender (this process requires me to add a little water to get the pumpkin mushy) I put all of the pumpkin in a bowl and pureed it with my handheld electric mixer. I didn't want to add any water to the pumpkin since the pie filling is so runny to begin with.

The rest of the recipe was super easy. The ingredients needed are:

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground all spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
3 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cans evaporated milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Note: In a pinch (like if you are stationed overseas and the Commissary has been out of cloves since October) you can substitute 4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and ginger; but I think you get better results when you use the separate spices.

Mix all your ingredients together. Pour into the pie crust. This is enough pie filling for two pumpkin pies. Don't worry, the filling is supposed to be that runny. It will firm up nicely as it bakes. I cover the top of the pie crust with aluminium foil to prevent it from burning.

Bake at (a preheated) 425˚F for the first fifteen minutes. Then turn down the temperature to 350˚F and bake another 60-90 minutes...until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the pie cool and enjoy!

Pumkin Pie (Crust)

2c flour
1/2c sugar
1t salt
2/3c butter, softened to room temp
6T cold water

Mix the dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry ingredients using a pantry cutter. Add water and mix lightly. Don't kneed it too much. Divide into two equal portions, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After thirty minutes, roll out the dough on the kitchen counter using a rolling pin and extra flour to keep it from sticking. Lay in the pie pan. It' will look naked until you have a chance to pour the pumpkin pie filling into the pan.

This recipe can be used to apple pie, peach pie, any kinda pie. It's enought to make crusts for two pumpkin pies, or a top and bottom for an apple pie.