Thursday, December 2, 2010

Comfort Food Part II

Another comfort food -- stuffed pork chops!  I think in this picture it looks more like pie, but it is actually a delicious thick-cut pork chop, stuffed with some regular old stuffing and drenched in a creamy sauce.  One of my most favorite meals that my mom would make when I was growing up was pan-fried pork chops!  This is reminiscent of those, starting out with pan-fried chops, with even more comforting stuffing added - yum!

Stuffed Pork Chops

4 to 6 thick cut boneless pork chops
olive oil
3 c. stuffing mix (your choice of flavor)
1/2 to 1 c. chicken stock
1 small can cream of chicken soup
enough milk to fill empty soup can
Mrs Dash, garlic & herb blend

Preheat oven to 350.
In skillet, heat olive oil.  Add pork chops and just brown on each side.
Remove chops from pan, cut through 2/3 of each chop (basically butterfly cut them, leaving them intact on one short side).
In a bowl, mix stuffing mix and chicken stock.  Place a large spoonful inside each "pocket" of the pork chops.  It's okay if you have stuffing left over. 
Mix cream of chicken soup and milk, pour over chops.  Sprinkle any leftover stuffing mixture over top.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and cook 10 additional minutes until pork chops are thoroughly cooked (no longer pink, internal temperature of at least 160)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fudgy Cookies

I needed a quick cookie recipe, and came across this on the Betty Crocker website
Since I had just about everything on hand, it was a perfect fit for what I needed!  The only thing is, I didn't have the Hershey Hugs, but I did have a bag of Kisses!  And they just made these cookies extra fudgy!  Is that even a word?!  I have seen people use the Candy Cane Kisses too, so as soon as I get me a bag of those, I'm going to try them (and I want to see how the caramel kisses work, too!)

Fiesta Fudge Cookies Recipes (from Betty Crocker):

1/3 c. butter
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (1 lb 1.5 oz) pouch sugar cookie mix
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
60 Kisses, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350.
In large glass bowl, combine butter and chocolate.  Microwave 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave 1 minute more, until you're able to stir chocolate smooth.
Add in sweetened condensed milk, stir until well mixed.
Add cookie mix and cinnamon, stir until fully combined.
Roll 1 level Tablespoon of dough into ball (you should get 60)
Bake 6 to 7 minutes, just until they start to lose glossiness (do not overbake!)
Immediately press 1 Kiss into each cookie and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes.
Remove from pan and let cool completely.

Comfort Food - Part I

I've been sick for the better part of this week, feeling pretty cruddy and not much like doing anything.  My kitchen is feeling neglected!  

What better to make when sick than comfort foods?!  I have a few that I like to make when it gets cold, or I'm feeling nostalgic or something.  This first one is probably a weird one to crave when sick, but it's what I've wanted all week.  I finally made it for lunch yesterday.  This isn't really a "recipe" but more of a guideline (I am so much more a baker than a cook -- I don't follow recipes or measure anything when cooking, sorry!).  I have been congested and stuffy, so I wanted something I could actually TASTE!

This is a different Taco Salad, but it's my favorite way to make it!

Isn't it pretty?
I made my own pico de gallo (recipe to follow)
and I mix my Ranch dressing up so it's a little spicy:

(I just add some taco seasoning to my ranch dressing...once I deplete this huge container of pre-made taco seasoning, I'm going to make my own from scratch.  I hear it's very good)

Taco Salad Recipe:

Ground turkey, browned and mixed with taco seasoning
Lettuce of your choosing
Shredded cheese
Pico de gallo
Ranch dressing mixed with taco seasoning
Tortilla chips or Doritos

I make a bed of lettuce on a plate, then layer on my cheese, meat and pico.  Drizzle dressing over top, then crush chips on top.  It's really very easy, and it's soooooo yummy!  Especially when I'm sick, and I just need something easy and yummy.

Pico de Gallo Recipe:
4 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced (I like red)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed, diced finely
fresh cilantro

Mix all together and cover tightly.  Keep refrigerated.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pumpkin Bisque

Bisque.  Pumpkin.  How could I resist??

I searched for a recipe...only found a couple (for "bisque" -- plenty for different types of soup)...and I ended up pulling from several different ones and making my own little creation.  I was worried no one would like it (it seems as if it would be an acquired taste), but my family (well, except my son) LOVED it!!!  My hubby couldn't get enough, and my girls - after tasting ours - all asked for their own bowls!  And ate it right up!  This recipe made a LOT, and there's only enough left over for one bowl (lunch for hubby tomorrow!).  


1 Tbs butter
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
5 c. chicken stock
32 oz. can pumpkin puree
1/2 to 1 tsp allspice (if you don't have allspice you can use equal parts of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves)
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 c. dry sherry (or substitute with apple cider vinegar)
1 c. light cream or half & half
Bacon, cooked crisply

Melt butter and sautee onion and garlic until soft and tender.
Pour in stock, pumpkin, spice, sugar and sherry.  Stir together over med-hi heat.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Turn off heat, let sit for at least 10 minutes.
Transfer soup to blender (may have to do in two batches); blend until smooth.
Return soup to pot, add in cream and cook until thoroughly heated.
Serve with bacon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cookie Dough Truffles......Sooooooo good!

I saw this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe
I HAD to try it.
Cookie Dough?!
Coated with CHOCOLATE.
So very decadent!
I ♥ Mel

I actually made these for a bake sale.  The recipe made over 6 dozen for me!!  So there were a couple to sample.  And I heard only good things from the people who bought some (and there were plenty who came back and bought MORE after they had sampled them!).  They are quick and easy (well, quick discounting the time in the freezer; and easy if you have even a little experience dipping things in chocolate).  

 Mmm...Cookie Dough!  Check out that yummy goodness!

 Here are the "middles" - chilling in my freezer.
 Dipped in chocolate, with a fun little drizzle.
 All dressed up for the bake sale.
A peek at the yumminess inside...mmmm!

Cookie Dough Truffles
from My Kitchen Cafe, adapted from Taste of Home

½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional, I did not add them)
1 ½ pounds semisweet chocolate candy coating, chopped (I used the chocolate almond bark)

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla; mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts, if using. Shape into 1-inch balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and freeze for 1-2 hours or until firm. (The dough softens quickly at room temperature so it works best if they are frozen, not just chilled in the refrigerator.)

In a microwave safe bowl, melt candy coating, stirring often until smooth. Dip balls in coating; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. If desired, melt remaining candy coating and drizzle over candies. Store in refrigerator.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Dump Cake

I was looking for something fairly quick and easy to throw together today to take to our friends' house after trick-or-treating tonight.  I'd heard of "dump cake" before, but I'd never tried it myself.  I got this recipe from a friend, and since I had everything on hand, I figured I'd give it a whirl.

It was easy to mix together, and "dump" it all in the pan, and the taste?  Sooooooo good!  Like pumpkin pie with a crispy topping!  It would have been excellent with a little whipped topping, had I thought ahead to pick some up.  But it's delicious by itself!

Recipe for Pumpkin Dump Cake:

1 (29 oz.) can pumpkin
1 c. sugar
1 (13 oz.) can evaporated milk (I used heavy cream, because that's what I had :))
3 eggs
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spices
1/2 tsp. salt
1 box yellow cake mix
1 1/2 cubes (3/4 c.) butter, melted
1 c. pecans, chopped (optional -- I left them off)

Combine pumpkin, sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, pumpkin pie spices and salt in mixing bowl. Beat well. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 13 inch glass pan. Sprinkle cake mix over pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle on the pecans. Pour melted butter over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Store in fridge.

(I actually only used one full stick of butter, and I didn't melt it, I just cut it up and placed it on top of the cake mix before putting it in the oven, and it turned out beautifully!)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Bars with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I decided I needed to make some pumpkin bars today.  I don't make them often, I usually leave the bars to my mom.  But I've been seeing them all over the place, and I am still on my pumpkin kick (don't worry -- if you're not a pumpkin fan, I'll eventually move on to different things), so I decided to whip up some bars today.  I wanted to bring something into work to share with my co-workers...they're always bugging me to bring goodies in!  I didn't want the same old cream cheese frosting, so I added my own little flair, and made a cinnamon cream cheese frosting - which, according to my hubby, is awesome.  The three spoonfuls I ate confirm his opinion.  Everyone at work LOVED them, and they were devoured in no time!

I used Paula Deen's recipe for pumpkin bars (found on, only I baked them in my Pampered Chef bar pan.  They turned out beautifully!  

Recipe (from Paula Deen, via
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 to 4 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs milk (more or less, based on how thin you want frosting)

Cream butter and cream cheese until fully combined.  Add in vanilla, cinnamon and 2 cups powdered sugar.  Continue mixing, adding powdered sugar and milk until frosting is your desired texture.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Homemade Applesauce -- Who knew?!

My mom has made homemade applesauce for years.  My grandma has made applesauce for even more years.  I have never once attempted it....until last night.  I've been present when my mom makes it (usually when there's a few bruised apples left in a bag, or when the family is gathered together), but I've never watched her do it.  If only I'd known it was SO EASY!  Seriously - easy peasy lemon squeezy - no lie!

The reason I decided to give it a whirl last night is my son.  He's sick (if you read the last post, you know my day turned into a whirlwind of picking him up from school, taking him to the doctor, getting a prescription filled for him, and shopping for soft foods!).  He has a horribly swollen sore throat, and we need to get him to eat all the soft foods we can get him to eat!  I knew applesauce was a good one - but totally forgot it when we were at the store!  I realized it when we got home, and I discovered I had NO applesauce in the cupboard either.  I did, however, have some apples left in a bag that needed to be used.

Applesauce is SO EASY!  Who knew?!  Okay, a lot of you probably knew.  All I did was core, peel and chop my apples (about 8 - they were assorted, because that's what I had), and I put them in my CROCK POT!  I added sugar, cinnamon and water, then let them cook overnight.  

When I got up this morning, my kitchen smelled homey and my applesauce was ready to be stirred and served!
 Mmmm...can you almost smell that cinnamonny goodness?

My mom informed me today that if I'd waited until after the apples had cooked to add the cinnamon, it wouldn't have turned out so brown.  She also uses brown sugar vs. white sugar....I'll have to try that next time!

And this is my sweet boy, patiently waiting for something he can eat that won't hurt his poor little throat:

Applesauce Recipe:

8 apples, cored, peeled & chopped coarsely
1/2 c. sugar
1 - 2 tsp cinnamon (depends on your taste)
1 1/2 c. water

Place in your slow cooker, cover and set on low for 8 to 10 hours (high for 3 to 4 hours).  Once done cooking, stir with a large fork to break up the cooked apples (they'll mash really easily!).  You can serve this warm, or let cool and put in container to chill in fridge.  Keep refrigerated.

(You can also make this on the stove top -- it's easier if you halve the recipe, combine in a saucepan, cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes until apples are soft.  Cool and mash)

No Bake Cookies to celebrate National Chocolate Day!

I got these in just under the wire!  My day got derailed when I had to go pick up one of my kiddos from school and take him to the doctor.  He's either got strep or mono or a virus...whatever it is, he's miserable!  So I did not get to spend much of my day in the kitchen at all.  After everyone went to bed, I decided I needed to make SOMETHING chocolate, so what better to whip up than no-bake cookies?!  They're quick and easy, you don't have to bake them (duh), and they're soooooooooo yummy!  I never seem to use the same recipe twice (are you noticing this is a trend with me) but it's a pretty basic formula: butter + sugar + milk + cocoa: boil, then add peanut butter, vanilla and oats!  Voila!  

First, you take your butter (and that is gen-u-ine buttah, folks!):

Add your sugar:

 And your cocoa:

 And your milk:

 Stir together (doesn't it look dreamy?!):

 Bring to a FULL rolling boil, and boil for exactly ONE MINUTE (less = runny cookies that don't set; more = dry, crumbly cookies):

 After 1 minute, remove from heat and stir in peanut butter & vanilla.
Then add your oats:

Stir together until fully combined.  Let rest for a few minutes (this will help the cookies keep their shape):

 Mmmm...don't you just want to eat it right out of the pan??  But CAUTION!  It is HOT -- boiled sugar is TOO hot to eat out of the pan!!!  Don't do it!!

 Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper, using the back of the spoon to flatten slightly (they keep their shape when you drop them)

 Let cool completely.  Keep in an airtight container.  Try not to eat them all in one setting!


1 stick butter
2 c. sugar
4 Tbs cocoa powder
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. peanut butter (crunchy or smooth - your preference)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. quick oats

 Combine butter, sugar, cocoa and milk in a heavy saucepan.  Bring to a full rolling boil, boil for exactly 1 minute.  Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter and vanilla.  Add oats and stir until fully combined.  Let set in pan for a few minutes, then drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper, flattening slightly with the back of the spoon as you go.  Cool completely, then enjoy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chili made with Pumpkin

Update for picture:

Okay, so I don't have a picture for this post (I'll try to get one up ASAP) but I really wanted to post this recipe.  I don't really measure or follow any exact recipe when it comes to making chili, I kind of wing it.  I'm going to outline my process below -- the end result was sooooooooo yummy!  It went quite nicely with a batch of beer bread made with a pumpkin beer (courtesy of my hubby).  

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or chopped
1 lb. ground turkey
1 small can diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1 small can diced tomatoes with green chilies (with liquid)
1 small can tomato sauce
2 c. pumpkin puree
small pinch of cinnamon
1 can red kidney beans (rinsed & drained)
1 can white kidney beans (rinsed & drained)
1 can black beans (rinsed & drained)
chili/taco seasoning as desired (I used Emeril's Bayou seasoning, plus some taco seasoning)

In a large pot, heat oil.  Throw in onions, peppers and garlic.  Saute until slightly transparent (this is my favorite part -- I love how this smells!!).  Add in ground turkey and cook until no longer pink.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, stirring.  Make adjustments as needed.  Once everything is all mixed together, cook until it starts to bubble, stirring occasionally.  Lower heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes (the longer it simmers, the better it is!  I let mine cook for about an hour while my beer bread was baking).

We serve ours with corn chips and shredded cheese on top.  It is a great meal for a cold and rainy night.  Also, if you leave the ground turkey out, it makes a great vegetarian dish.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Glaze

I happened upon this recipe, and I had to try it!  It does, after all, combine two of my most favorite things -- pumpkin and cinnamon rolls!  They were a hit with everyone I shared them with and I'm excited to make them again (maybe tomorrow!).  

2-3/4 to 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1/2 cup solid-pack pumpkin
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Hershey's cinnamon chips (optional)

In a bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour and yeast; set aside.
In a saucepan, heat and stir pumpkin, milk, sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and salt until warm (120°-130°) and butter is almost melted.
Add to flour/yeast mixture along with egg.
Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.
Stir in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Roll into a 12-in. x 10-in. rectangle.
Melt remaining butter; brush on dough.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough.
Sprinkle cinnamon chips on top.
Roll dough, jelly roll style, starting with the longer side.
Cut into 12 equal slices.
Place rolls, cut side down, in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan (I like gooey bottom cinnamon rolls, so I usually make a syrup of brown sugar and warm water and put that in the bottom of pan before placing the cut rolls in the pan).
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

For glaze:
4 Tbs butter
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 Tbs milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 - 2/3 cup powdered sugar

For frosting, melt butter in a saucepan; stir in brown sugar and milk.
Cook and stir over medium-low heat for 1 minute.
Stir in vanilla, salt and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar; beat until well blended.
Add more sugar, if necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle over rolls.

Yield: 1 dozen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

I don't know if you know this, but yesterday was National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!  My hubby mentioned this to me via chat while he was still at work, and I told him if only I had some cream cheese I could whip something up to celebrate!  Well, he brought me home cream cheese and ginger snaps so that I could make these mini cheesecakes that taste OH, so gooood!  I went with the mini ones because they only needed to bake for half an hour, then chill for about an hour, which meant we could still enjoy them on Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!  I searched online, and found this recipe from  I made it pretty much as directed, and added a homemade whipped cream topping.


18 Ginger Snaps
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 Tbs. corn starch
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, room temperature
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/3 c. light corn syrup

Preheat oven to 325.
Line 18 muffin wells with paper or foil liners; place 1 Ginger Snap in each.
Beat cream cheese, sugar, corn starch and pumpkin pie spice together until well blended.
Add eggs and mix well.
Add in pumpkin and corn syrup; beat 1 minute.
Divide filling evenly among lined muffin wells.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, just until set.
Let cool to room temp, then chill at least one hour.
Top each mini cheesecake with a dollop of Cinnamon Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
Sprinkle with nutmeg, if desired.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
2 c. heavy cream, chilled
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Chill mixing bowl and beaters.  Pour cream into chilled bowl, beat on high speed.  Slowly add in sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.  Beat until stiff peaks form.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Chips

Breakfast for dinner is a big hit in our house. We love to have pancakes, french toast, eggs, etc. Since I'm in the middle of my pumpkin frenzy, I decided recently to perfect my pumpkin pancake recipe. These are soooooo good - the result is a light & fluffy texture, with just a hint of pumpkin, and the cinnamon chips add a delicious element. We drizzled a little maple syrup on top, but they're just as tasty on their own.

Puffy Pumpkin Pancakes

1 cup milk

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 c. Hershey's cinnamon chips

In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and salt, stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine. Fold in cinnamon chips.

Heat a nonstick griddle over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake (batter should be thick - you'll want to spread it out into shape desired). Flip when surface is covered in bubbles and edges are dry.

This recipe made (for us): 3 large, 3 medium and 6 mini pancakes :)