Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole

It's officially fall!!

Which means, it's time for soups and stews and...


I love sweet potatoes. I remember only eating them at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners when I was little and then having to wait an entire year before getting to eat them again.

No more! I made this last week the same night I made my Gingery Apple Pie for some of our friends. They were a hit and, while I do plan on making them for Thanksgiving this year, I will be making them even on non-holiday dinners.

The ingredients:
2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped; 3/4 C. sugar; 1/4 C. evaporated low-fat milk; 3 Tbsp. butter, melted; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1 tsp. vanilla extract; 2 large eggs; 1/3 C. flour; 2/3 C. brown sugar; 1/8 tsp. salt; 2 Tbsp. melted butter; 1/2 C. chopped pecans or almonds. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Okay, let's start with those sweet potatoes.
Peel them. Then stare at their perfectly autumn-y orange color. Chop them into big chunks.
Throw them into a large pot of boiling water. Boil for about 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Drain the potato chunks and throw them into a mixing bowl.
Add the sugar...
the evaporated milk (and please make sure you only use 1/4 C. of it. I just noticed that part when I was posting this. Using the whole can would explain why my potatoes were candy like in sweetness...we still ate them all...)...
the salt...
the vanilla...
and the 3 Tbsp. of melted butter.
Mix at a medium speed until smooth.
Add the two eggs and mix until they are blended. Pour the potatoes into a greased 9x13 baking dish.
Now make the topping by mixing the flour, brown sugar, and 1/8 tsp. of salt.
Once the dry ingredients are mixed, add the remaining melted butter and whisk together. Pour the topping over the potatoes as evenly as possible.
Then sprinkle the nuts on top.
Bake for 25 minutes. Then, taking the casserole out for a minute, turn the oven to broil. Once the oven's at a broil, allow the sweet potatoes to cook for 45 seconds until the top is bubbly. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving so no one burns the roofs of their mouths.

We ate ours with grilled pork chops, salad and a fantastic potato salad that our friends brought to eat with dinner. And, of course, we had apple pie for dessert.

The potatoes were delicious! It was like eating a candy vegetable, which I now realize is because I added the whole can of evaporated milk instead of just the 1/4 C. But, I'll remember that for next time. Elisabeth deemed them the best sweet potatoes ever. Our friends loved them too and asked for the recipe.

So, whip up a batch for Thanksgiving, but I definitely recommend trying them out on a non-holiday dinner too!!!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gingery Apple Crumb Pie

I bought some ENORMOUS honey crisp apples at the store the other day. Seriously, they were the size of softballs. I decided not to waste them on feeding my beautiful daughters when they each daily ask for an apple. They would never have been able to finish them. So, instead, I used them for a better purpose: apple pie.

I'm more of an apple crisp kind of girl, but Evan loves apple pie. We were having some friends over for dinner, so I thought apple pie would be an excellent dessert since fall is just around the corner.

Nothing says fall like apple pie.

Except for pumpkins. And cider. And leaves changing colors. And football.

The ingredients:
One pie crust; 1/2 C. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces; 3/4 C. plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled; 3/4 C. sugar; 2 1/2 lbs. apples, peeled and thinly sliced; 1 Tbsp. grated ginger; 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon; 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. Set your oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Start with the topping. In your handy-dandy food processor, pulse the butter...
3/4 C. of flour...
and 1/4 C. of sugar. Pulse until large clumps form.
Yeah, I know. Those are not clumps.
Here's the thing. I don't feel like I processed it too long, but my topping never got crumbly. It went straight into a dough. Almost like a cookie dough. It was very yummy. But, I continued to follow the directions and put the topping in the refrigerator until it was time to be used. If yours does get crumbly, great! I'll tell you what to do with it. If yours also turns to dough, please tell me. I need to know I'm not the only crumble topping reject.

Next take a look at this apple. It's HUGE!
Take whatever size apples you found to use, and peel them.
Then core them and slice them.
This is how thin I sliced mine. Throw them in a large mixing bowl.
Add the ginger...
the cinnamon...
the salt...
the flour...
and the sugar.
Stir! Stir! Stir!
Take a pie crust (either store bought or homemade, whatever makes you happy) and put it in the pie dish.
Pour the apple mixture into the pie crust.
Take delight in the smell and look of the cinnamon and ginger on the apples. It is heavenly.
Take the crumb topping out of the refrigerator. Curse its dough-y-ness if you are me.
If your topping turned out correctly, then you sprinkle it on top of the pie and go about your merry little way.

If your topping turned to dough like mine did and you didn't know exactly what to do with it and you didn't have another pie crust to just put on the top of the pie and you were panicking because you were going to have company that night and you didn't want to serve them a gross toppinged pie...

You can do what I did and improvise. I took a topping that I was familiar with and used it instead.

Take 6 Tbsp. of flour...
1/2 C. brown sugar...
1/4 C. of shortening...
and 1/2 C. of oatmeal.
Sprinkle onto your apple pie. Pat yourself on the back for not flipping out and giving up on the pie.
Then dream of how delicious this pie is going to be!
Place the pie on a cookie sheet (to catch any drippings). Bake the pie for 55-60 minutes until the apples are tender and a bit bubbly.

When I took the pie out (which I have no pictures of because I was forgetful and already working on dinner), I felt that the topping was too dry. So, I took a stick of butter and melted it and then drizzled it on the still hot pie. It was perfect and it settled the dry topping into the pie.

I apologize for this picture, but I hurriedly took it while serving it at the dinner. The lighting was off and I didn't adjust my camera setting. Forgive me please.
The pie was DELICIOUS. That kick of ginger was such an added bonus to an already wonderful melody of flavors. The topping was fantastic and I may just make it the permanent topping (unless one of you tries the original topping and has success and tells me to try it again). It was a huge pie and I ended up having to dole some out and make my friends take some home. They were glad I did so. Definitely a pie to impress the family during the upcoming holiday season!!


Monday, September 20, 2010

This Week's Menu

This week's menu is only kind of permanent. My parents are coming this week, so there will be some restaurants and a birthday party thrown in there. I'm excited!!!!

Monday: Chicken Roll-Ups

Tuesday: Chicken Enchiladas
Rice and Beans

Wednesday: Tomato Soup
Grilled Cheese

Thursday: Fargo's!!

Friday: My Birthday Party!

Saturday: Hamburgers and Hotdogs
Baked Beans
Oven Fries
Corn on the cob

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Easy Guacamole


It is food of the gods.

I do not make it enough. Usually it's because, if they aren't in season, avocados are EXPENSIVE. Also, you only have a short time to make the guacamole while the avocados are ripe and I always end up buying ones not ripe enough, leaving them out to ripen, forgetting about them and then having to throw them out because they've rotted. Plus, you have to eat the guacamole all right away because it does not keep well and until Elisabeth decided she liked eating it, it was too much for Evan and I to eat all by ourselves.

Life is rough, I tells ya.

But, we were eating tacos for dinner the other night and Elisabeth really wanted guacamole, so I decided to try out a recipe I hadn't used in ages.

The ingredients:
3 medium avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed; juice of one lime; 2 roma tomatoes, diced; 1 tsp. salt; 1 tsp. minced garlic; 1/2 C. diced onion; 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro; 1 pinch ground red pepper (cayenne).

Take your avocados and a sharp knife and cut them through the middle to the pit all the way around. The avocado should just peel apart.
Take a spoon and scoop out the avocado deliciousness. It should be super easy to scoop. If it's not, it's not ripe enough.
Put the avocado in a dish. Smash it. I like to leave mine kind of chunky.
Take half an onion (or a quarter, because my onion was large and half of it would have too much for my liking) and chop it up.
Add it to the guacamole.
Add the salt,
the cilantro (I had no fresh cilantro, so I used my freeze dried cilantro).
the garlic,
and the chopped tomato.
Don't forget that pinch of cayenne pepper!
You may have noticed that I have not said a thing about the lime juice. Well, I forgot it. DO NOT BE LIKE ME! Please, remember to buy a lime and squeeze the juice of it into your guacamole. It is an important ingredient. But, I didn't have time to go buy a lime and I had a 7.5 year old patiently waiting for her guacamole, so I made it anyway.

After you've stirred everything together, cover the guacamole and let it sit in your refrigerator for about an hour before serving. That way the yumminess of the ingredients (except for the lime juice, if you were me) can blend together into deliciousness.

I want to show you this:
It's my garbage bowl. If you've ever watched any of Rachel Ray's shows, you know she uses them all the time. I can not really watch any of Rachel Ray's shows because it kind of makes me want to pull my hairs out one at a time. I enjoy her recipes...but, she's just so...chipperly obnoxious. Anyway...I do love the idea of a garbage bowl. It makes the kitchen a lot cleaner while I'm cooking and I'm not running back and forth to the garbage can all the time.

And here it is:
Definitely missed the lime juice, but the avocados were perfect!!! Elisabeth was perfectly happy and declared I should make it more often. I really should, it's a super easy dish to make. Plus, you have to eat it all. Them's the rules.