Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Sides: Sweet Potato Casserole

Do you love Sweet Potato Casserole? I definitely do. I know people either love or hate sweet potatoes, but this is my all time favorite recipe.  It comes from my mother-in-law Jolene and she is an awesome cook.  The first time I tried these, it was one of those moments where I could not get enough. These are perfect for Thanksgiving because they are so quick to put together, but make them as a side dish with any dinner, and you will not be disappointed.

I hope you love them as much as I do-enjoy.

Sweet Potato Casserole
4 1/2 pounds Sweet Potatoes, cooked
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla (Mexican is my favorite)

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup softened butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions- Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Remove sweet potato skins and place potatoes in a large mixing bowl. (If using using canned make sure and drain) Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Place in a 9X13in. baking dish.  Mix topping together in a small bowl and sprinkle on top.  (Pecans are optional, but so so good!) Bake for 25-35 minutes until top is slightly crispy.

Quick, but so delicious people will never know how easy these were!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Sides: Sweet Creamed Corn

How many of you have tried the old school canned cream corn? Well, I remember the first time I tried that... it was not my fondest memory! Needless to say, I did not try it again for many many years.  This recipe comes from my mother-in-law, Jolene, who has shared countless recipes with me.  When she put it on the table and said it was a family favorite, I politely put a very small portion on my plate. I didn't want to be rude, so I took a bite, and was so surprised! It was delicious! I quickly added a heaping spoonful to my plate-no need to pretend now! This is the perfect combination of a little salty, a little sweet and it really equals  a completely scrumptious side dish. It is the sweeter version of this creamed corn recipe posted awhile back. It is really quick and simple too.  Feel free to try and lighten it up if you choose, but for Thanksgiving I'm all about that cream!

Sweet Creamed Corn

30 ounces of frozen corn
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
6 tsp sugar

Allow corn to thaw some before adding whipping cream (otherwise the cream turns to ice).  Bring all ingredients to boil 5 minutes.  Mix 2 Tbls melted butter together with 2 Tbls of flour.  Add this mixture to the corn mixture.  Reduce heat and it is ready to serve after about 10 minutes.
* If it seems thick add more milk and/or more whipping cream until it becomes a nice smooth consistency.

For Au Gratin, place corn in a 9 or 10inch shallow casserole dish.  Sprinkle corn with 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.  Brown under broiler.  Serves 4-6

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy as my daughter would say!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Homemade Apple Pie

One of my all time favorite things about fall is going to the orchards. I love the apple cider, the donuts, and of course, picking delicious apples. I must confess, that in my younger years I wasn’t a huge fan of apple pie.  It seemed like most of the ones I tried were just too mushy or too tart.  Well I am here to tell you that I have finally come up with a recipe for the best apple pie.  It’s a great blend of sweet and tart, and the apples are just right (not too hard, not too soft).  I have included a pie pastry recipe at the bottom.  If you have never made a pie crust before, I encourage you to try!  It is a lot of fun and the more you do it the better you will get. Hope you like it!

Apple Pie

6-8 tart apples ( I always use at least two kinds of apples. These are some that work great for pie- Honey crisp, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Rome, Macintosh
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
dash of cloves (1/8 tsp)
dash of nutmeg (1/8 tsp)
3 Tbls flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel apples and slice thinly in large bowl and set aside. Mix together in another bowl the remaining ingredients. Pour and toss mixture over the apples. Arrange the apple mixture in pie shell, and dot with one tablespoon of butter. Place top pastry on and sprinkle top of pie with sugar.  Place in hot oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn down oven to 350 degrees and continue to bake until apples are tender but not mushy (about 45-60 minutes.

* If the edges start getting dark and the apples are not tender you can either use an edge shield or gently place foil around the edges of the pie.*

Here is a pie crust that works for me all the time:

Pastry Dough

(makes two 9- inch shells or one double crust pie)

2 cups sifted unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter or shortening
4 tablespoons water

Mix flour and salt in bowl. cut  in Crisco using a pastry cutter or fork until mixture is uniform and fine (pea-like shaped). Sprinkle water over mixture 1 teaspoon at a time, tossing lightly with a fork.  Mix until dough holds together.  Divide dough into two parts.  Roll half of the pastry 1/8 inch thick on a floured board or pastry cloth (a large piece of canvas in my favorite thing to roll my pies on). Line a 9” pie shell with pastry and trim off at the edge.  Roll out other portion and place on top of fruit filled pie shell and cut off pastry 1” from edge of pie pan.  Fold under the top pastry under the bottom and flute the edges. (sealing it with fingers or fork).

**Two secrets when making pie crust-  1) Always use cold shortening, butter, or lard, and cold water. (use cold water with ice cubes in it. Just make sure not to use actual ice cubes in the pastry. 2) Do not over mix.  What gives a pie crust the flakey, yummy layers are the clumps of  Crisco, butter, or lard.  If they are completely mixed you will have a very heavy pastry, which is why you cut the butter into the flour making small pea-like sized pieces of butter coated in flour. 

                            What are your favorite apples to use in Apple Pie?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Buttery Herbed Biscuits

I am still over on Little Lake County today-writing up some more delicious Thanksgiving side dishes. Today I am bringing you these buttery herbed biscuits. They are so light and fluffy, and the flavor is perfect.

I know, I know, homemade rolls? Doing the whole homemade bread thing can be daunting, but I promise you, these are easy. If you are going to work with yeast for the first time, these are the rolls to do. They are simple, impressive and delicious.

I always made the same bread recipe for Thanksgiving every year, but felt a need for change. After playing around with a few different recipes, these little beauties were born. Slather them with some butter and you have a true Thanksgiving indulgence.

Check out the recipe on Little Lake County today, and if you try them, let me know what you think in the comments below. Or, tell me what your favorite holiday bread recipe is. I love hearing what everyone else is making!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Green Beans with Bacon and Shallots

I am doing a series over on Little Lake County this week on Thanksgiving -"out of the box". It is all about making delicious Thanksgiving recipes, but without all the canned, boxed, and processed ingredients. The first recipe I shared is a fresh recipe for green beans with bacons and shallots. It is a tasty alternative to green bean casserole and full of flavor. I usually double or even triple this recipe and it goes really fast!

Check it out on Little Lake County today and stay tuned for some more delicious recipes in the Thanksgiving-"out of the box" series!