Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Best Cheese Ball/Cracker Dip

Surely you've heard of  right?  Tell me it's true.  They have millions and billions of recipes (okay maybe not billions...) that are submitted by users and then rated and reviewed by lots and lots of people.  Basically, all the good recipes have thousands of ratings and you can tell it's gonna be a winner.

Well, last Thanksgiving I tried out this cheese ball recipe from and let me tell ya... it is SO a winner! I'm making it again this year and cannot wait! It is perfect with crackers (any kind) and is so addicting... not to mention a snap to put together!  Oh and it makes two cheese balls, which is perfect for me since I am going to my parents' house and my in-laws' house for two Thanksgivings.  One for each!

Cheddar Cheese Ball Dip

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (1 ounce) package Ranch-style dressing mix
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 4 pecan halves
In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, and dressing mix. Form into one large ball or two smaller balls. Roll in chopped pecans to coat surface. Decorate the top with pecan halves. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Warm Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie

So guess what.  Yesterday was my 100th post! Took me long enough ;) but I thought that was a pretty cool accomplishment!

Well.  I have one last pie recipe for you before you finalize your Thanksgiving plans and before you stuff your face on Turkey Day in three days.  Wait that's not just me, is it?  This is really a goodie.  Everyone who tried it said they loved it and that it was better than normal apple pie.  How is it different, you ask?  It's got a creamy, buttermilk custard filling that surrounds the sweet, cinnamon-sugar apple filling and is topped with a crumbly, buttery and sugary topping.  Did that do it for you?  :)

Warm Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie
from Cooking Light

  • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough or refrigerated pie crust (such as Pillsbury)
  • Cooking spray  
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces 
  • 5 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 pounds) 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 1 3/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • To prepare crust, roll dough into a 14-inch circle; fit into a 9-inch deepdish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under; flute. Place pie plate in refrigerator until ready to use.
  • To prepare streusel, lightly spoon 1/3 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1/3 cup flour, brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Place streusel in refrigerator.
  • To prepare the filling, heat a large nonstrick skillet coated with cookig spray over medium heat. Add sliced apple, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; cook 10 minutes or until the apple is tender, sitrring mixture occasionally. Spoon the apple mixture into prepared crust.
  • Combine remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, salt, and eggs, stirring with a whisk. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Pour over apple mixture. Bake at 325º for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300º (do not remove pie from oven); sprinkle streusel over pie. Bake at 300º for 40 minutes or until set. Let stand 1 hour before serving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Maple-Walnut Pumpkin Pie

With Thanksgiving just four days away, it's likely you already have your menu planned out. I don't blame you... I started planning for Thanksgiving about a month ago... and it's not like I'm having it at my house or anything.  Nope I'm just bringing some side dishes along to my parent's dinner AND my in-laws dinner.  Yup we're so lucky to have both of our families within 10 minutes of our home... it means Thanksgiving times two! My husband surprisingly considers this a bad thing, since he doesn't know how to eat small portions at the first dinner, ends up stuffing himself at both dinners and then regrets it.  Typical men.  I, on the other hand, am excited.  Hopefully I can eat small portions... but no promises, I mean it IS Thanksgiving! ;)

If you happen to be looking for a pumpkin pie recipe, this one really is special.  Not your average pumpkin pie, this recipe has a walnut streusel on top that is really delicious and adds to the wow-factor of this pie! I'd be making it again this Thursday if my mom wasn't already gonna make the pies.  

Maple-Walnut Pumpkin Pie

1 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons real maple syrup or maple-flavored syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cold butter or margarine
Topping: (I just used Cool Whip instead)
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
Chopped walnuts, if desired
1. Heat oven to 425°F. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on box for One-Crust Filled Pie. In large bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Pour into crust-lined pan. Bake 10 minutes.  
2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, the chopped walnuts and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside. 
3. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Sprinkle streusel over pie. Cover crust edge with 3-inch-wide strips of foil to prevent excessive browning.  
4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes longer or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Cool completely, about 2 hours. Serve or refrigerate until serving time. 
.5 To serve, in medium bowl, beat whipping cream and 2 tablespoons brown sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Serve pie with whipped cream; garnish with chopped walnuts. Store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Thanksgiving Favorite: A Paula Deen Staple!

My mom and I started a new Thanksgiving side dish a couple years ago that is not completely traditional to your average Thanksgiving dinner.  We made macaroni and cheese. Yes, you heard me! Creamy, cheesy, and fat-laden, Paula Deen's macaroni and cheese is the BEST macaroni and cheese I've ever had.  Hand's down.  It wins in all categories: cheesiness, creaminess, easiness and (unfortunately) probably unhealthiest as well. :/  But we are talking Thanksgiving here.... I'm sorry but that is no day to diet.  If you are only making this ONE day a year, then I think it's perfectly and marvelously allowable!

I LOVE green bean casserole, sweet potatoes and pie, don't get me wrong. But this is the dish I'm looking forward to most this year! It's my all-time favorite!
The only alterations we made to the recipe were that we left out the eggs, based on the reviews.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese 
adapted from Food Network

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (an 8-ounce box isn't quite 2 cups)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stuck) butter, cut into pieces
2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Boil the macaroni in a 2 quart saucepan in plenty of water until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. In a slow cooker, combine cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sourdough Turkey Pesto Panini

I am SO excited that Thanksgiving is just around the corner! It really gets me through frustrating or stressful parts of my day! I even made my very first homemade pie today (okay so the crust was Pillsbury's but no one knew and it was SO easy that way!)- recipe to come soon- and it got me excited for the best pie day of the year.  Mmm!  
So anyways... this sandwich.  Is amazing! It's probably the best sandwich I've ever had.  Well I guess it's technically a panini, not a sandwich although it falls under the latter category.  The key to this recipe is the sourdough bread.  You have to use it.  No substitutions.  I know it just won't be the same.  It might taste alright.  But not amazing, knock-your-socks off good! My husband and I both raved over it.  And the best part- it is so dang easy and uses very few ingredients!  A winner recipe for sure.  I'm sure this would be great with Thanksgiving turkey leftovers also!

Sourdough Turkey Pesto Panini
from Cooking Light

2 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise   
4 teaspoons basil pesto  
8 (1-ounce) thin slices sourdough bread   
8 ounces sliced cooked turkey breast   
2 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese   
8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices tomato   
Cooking spray  

Combine mayonnaise and pesto, stirring well. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture on each of 4 bread slices; top each slice with 2 ounces turkey, 1/2 ounce cheese, and 2 tomato slices. Top with remaining bread slices. 

Preheat grill pan or large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add sandwiches to pan; top with another heavy skillet (or you can put in a panini press or indoor grill). Cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Caramel-Apple Bread Pudding

Never did you see a treat so versatile (dessert, brunch, breakfast, snack...) yet so festive and appropriate (full-swing Fall and Thanksgiving preparations, anyone?)

Although it looks pretty with the ice cream, I think I preferred this sans a la mode and JUST with the dreamy, decadent BUTTERMILK SYRUP from Our Best Bites.  Oh my gosh it was caramel-apple heaven.  Just do it.  I think this would make a perfect Thanksgiving breakfast.  A "pre-gorge-yourself" kind of meal that, at the same time, sets the stage for a day that is only appropriate when it includes all-out, decadent, comfort foods.  Yes, this fits the bill.

Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

5-6 c. stale French bread cubes (about 1/2 of a standard loaf cut into 1″ cubes)
3 c. apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces
4 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. pumpkin or apple pie seasoning
1 Tbsp. butter, chopped
*If possible, cut the bread into cubes and leave it out for several hours or overnight. If not, place the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the bread cubes are dried out but not toasted.
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease or spray a 9×13″ baking dish with shortening or non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, toss together the bread cubes and the apple pieces. Transfer to the baking dish. In the same large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients except for the butter. When combined, continue to whisk while pouring over the bread/apple mixture (just to make sure the spices are evenly distributed). Gently combine the bread and egg mixture, making sure each piece of bread is soaking in part of the egg and milk mixture. Allow to stand for at least 15 minutes (longer, if you can; you could even do this the night before, cover it tightly, and then bake it in the morning).
When the egg/milk mixture has mostly soaked into the bread, dab the butter over the bread and place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the center is set but not dry or burned.
Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve with warm Buttermilk Syrup (and vanilla ice cream if you really want to walk on the wild side.)

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