Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nutmeg Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Let me just tell you a story about my experiences with Swiss Meringue Buttercream (otherwise known as SMC).  When I first started really concentrating on baking I knew I needed to find a new frosting for my cakes and cupcakes.  I am not a big fan of the really sweet American Buttercream (lots of powdered sugar).  After doing some research on the internet I found that SMB was my best option.  I had never really had a SMB before and so I had no idea what it should look or taste like.  My first batch actually came out perfectly but I didn't know that at the time.  I was expecting it to a lot like American Buttercream, really sweet, not what it actually was, buttery and silky.  I LOVED it!  I could eat it by the spoonfuls.  But, because I was thinking it would be more like the American Buttercream I was confused as to why it didn't have powdered sugar in it, so I added a little bit, and then a little bit more, and then some more.  I have probably crossed some SMB honor code by adding powdered sugar to mine.  The thing was...I loved it even more after adding the powdered sugar, so now, all my SMB has powdered sugar in it.

Nutmeg Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
adapted from Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 sticks butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup powdered sugar


  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
  2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. Add nutmeg, cinnamon and powdered sugar at this point and mix on medium speed until incorporated.
  5. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Eggnog Cupcakes

Growing up we never had eggnog in our house, maybe my parents didn't grow up with it or maybe they just didn't like it, but whatever the reason I had never tried it until I was in my twenties.  Even after trying it I wasn't crazy about it.  It's funny, I have read so many blogs and people say that you either love it or hate it. For me I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either, it was just ok.  My husband, however, likes it so he bought a carton of it the other day and then left for North Dakota without drinking any of it.  So I have a carton of eggnog, which I won't drink and had to figure something to use it for.  What better way to use it then to make CUPCAKES!  Yum!  And to make them even them with Swiss Meringue Buttercream!

Eggnog Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar
3 wholes
1 egg yolk
1 cup eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon bourbon
Nutmeg Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.  In a large measuring cup, add eggnog, vanilla and bourbon.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Reduce speed to medium.  Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of  bowl as needed.  Add yolk and beat until thoroughly combined.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of eggnog mixture, and beating until combined after each.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes, turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

Chicken Broccoli Poppy Seed Casserole

My husband has been working up in North Dakota for the last couple of months.  He went up there the end of September and just came home November 16th.  He was home with us for 2 weeks.  The living arrangements aren't the best up there for him.  He is living in a motel and eating out (usually fast food) for most meals.  So his last night home I asked him what he wanted me to make him for his last home cooked meal.  His answer "Chicken Broccoli Poppy Seed Casserole."  Out of all the things I make this is what he wanted to eat...its no where near my favorite meal but he loves casseroles.  So, since he loves the dish so much I figured I better post it in case there are other huge casserole lovers out there.

Chicken Broccoli Poppy Seed Casserole

2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 cup uncooked rice, cooked and cooled
14 oz can cream of chicken soup
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
frozen broccoli
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 sleeve of Ritz crackers

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Spray a 13X9 casserole pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large mixing bowl, pour contents into casserole pan.
3. In a ziploc bag break up the crackers into small pieces, pour melted (and slightly cooled) butter into ziploc bag and toss to coat all crackers with the butter.  Sprinkle buttered cracker crumbs on top of casserole mixture.  Bake 30-40 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and cracker crust is slightly browned.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey and Cranberry Pizza heard me correctly...turkey pizza.  And it was really good!  If you can believe it I'm almost out of leftover turkey!  Thank goodness because I'm starting to get sick of it and its only the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Now I'm not really sure what the definition of a pizza is...does it have to have sauce?  Does it have to be on dough?  Hold on a sec while I look it up.  Oh, ok here is the definition...

pizza: a flat, open-faced baked pie of Italian origin, consisting of a thin layer ofbread dough topped with spiced tomato sauce and cheese, often garnishedwith anchovies, sausage slices, mushrooms, etc.

Ut oh...based on that definition I better change the name of my dish.  Nah!  I like to think that I had a turkey pizza, even if I didn't have the right ingredients.

Turkey Pizza

1 8" whole wheat tortilla
2 1/2 tablespoons cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons soft goat cheese (or cream cheese)
2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup chopped turkey

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place tortilla on baking sheet and place in preheated oven, 4 minutes per side to get crispy.
2. Put cranberry sauce on toasted tortilla and spread around, top with turkey, crumbled goat cheese and mozzarella.
3. Place tortilla pizza back in oven until turkey is warm and cheese is melted, about 8-10 minutes.

Butternut Squash Cake

I have amazing in-laws...what makes them so amazing you ask?  Well lots of different things but one of those things is their devotion to gardening every Spring and Summer.  Starting in about June I am supplied with fresh veggies until about the end of October.  Last year my hubby told his dad that butternut squash was his favorite of all the squashes they grow so this year my father-in-law planted almost three times as much as he did the year before.  The end of October my father-in-law stops by with two big boxes full of butternut squash.  My first thought..."what in the world am I going to do with all of this???"  Honestly, most of it is still sitting in my garage.  The good thing about squash is that most of them have such thick skins that you can keep them in a cool, dark area and they will stay good for a couple of months.  A week before Thanksgiving I was searching the internet for new recipes that might be interesting for Thanksgiving day.  I'm a recipe junkie, I love recipes, I always print out a ton of them and end up making one or two of them.  My husband loves this about me...NOT! LOL.  While searching through the Betty Crocker website I stumbled onto a recipe that used butternut squash...a CAKE recipe.  I'd never heard of a butternut squash cake before so of course I printed it out.  I honestly figured it would end up in my stack of printed-but-not-yet-tried recipes but lucky for me it didn't.  Some how it ended up on my kitchen counter.  My hubby probably brought it down off the printer and left it there.  So the day before Thanksgiving I was looking through my recipes and there it was, the butternut squash cake.  I looked over the ingredients and I had everything I needed right there in my pantry so I had to make it.  And what I'm telling you right now HAVE to make this cake.  Its moist and delicious!

Butternut Squash Cake
Adapted from: Betty Crocker

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 buttermilk (I make my own buttermilk, I put 1 tablespoon distilled vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup, then fill the rest of the measuring cup with milk.  Let it sit for 2-3 minutes and....tada buttermilk)
2 cups shredded peeled butternut squash
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup butter, softened
3oz cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 to 4 Tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons maple flavor
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bottom of 13X9 inch pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs until fluffy.  Beat in baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add flour alternately with buttermilk, scraping side of bowl.  Beat 1 minute.  Stir in squash and 1/2 cup walnuts.  Spread in pan.
3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and the maple flavor.  Beat until smooth and creamy, adding additional milk if needed.

Frost cake.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup walnuts. Cover and refrigerate.

Poached Eggs in Chunky Tomato Sauce

This is a recipe I learned for my step-father, Rocky.  He made it for us when we were visiting him and my mom in Arizona.  I was a little weary about it at first, I'll admit it doesn't look that appetizing when you first see it, but it is so good...just trust me on this!  You'll need some really crusty bread to mop up all the yummy juices, my favorite is sour dough.

Poached Eggs in Chunky Tomato Sauce

8 slices of bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup diced celery
2 10.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes w/green chilies (If you can't find the can of tomatoes with the green chilies you can get regular diced tomatoes and add a small can of diced green chilies)
6 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large skillet (you'll need a lid) render bacon for a few minutes, add onion and celery, cook until tender and bacon is crispy.  If your bacon has a lot of bacon fat you might want to drain some of it out.
2. Add both cans of tomatoes with juices to the skillet and bring to a boil.  Sometimes I find that the tomatoes don't have enough juice in them so I add a little bit of water, about 1/2 cup.
3. Once the juices have started to boil add the eggs, you should be able to add about 6 eggs at a time if your skillet is large enough. Season eggs with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium and cover skillet with lid.  Cook until eggs are done to your likeness.
4. To serve, scoop out 2 eggs and some of the tomato sauce, I like to put mine in a bowl then enjoy!

Turkey Pot Pies

Of course we had tons of turkey leftover from Thanksgiving.  That's what happens when you cook two 12lb turkeys for 6 people!  I've always wanted to try my hand at making my own pot pies but never got around to it so last night I finally did it.  And I'm not bragging or anything but they were YUMMY!!!!!  My hubby really liked them, of course he likes most of the stuff I make :)

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

Note:  These are estimations because I didn't measure anything as I was making the pies! 
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
3/4 cup diced celery
2 medium carrots, diced
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 quart chicken broth/stock
10.5 oz can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
3 cups diced turkey
1/2 cup frozen peas
3 pre-made pie crusts

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large skillet sauté onions, celery, carrots and potatoes in butter until tender, approximately 7-9 minutes.
2. Add flour and salt and pepper, cook for a minute or two to get the flour taste cooked off.  After two minutes add approximately 2 cups of the chicken stock to the pan.  Let simmer for 5 minutes until its starts to thicken.  Once the mixture is thick add can of soup, turkey and peas.
3. In individual pie pans put a piece of pie crust on the bottom, fill with turkey mixture and top with more pie crust.  Make sure to cut a slit in the top of the pie crust so the steam has a place to escape while baking.
4. Bake pies for approximately 30 minutes, or until pie crust on top is golden brown.

Note:  I only had 2 pie crusts when I went to make these (1 box has 2 crusts in it) so when I ran out of pie crust for the tops of my pies I had to improvise.  I dug through my refrigerator trying to find something to use for the top of my pies.  I came across a can of crescent rolls that I had leftover from Thanksgiving.  I popped them open, took two of the triangles, rolled them together and put it on top of the pie.  If you do this, like I did, make sure you either turn down the temperature of your oven and/or reduce the cooking time.  My pies with the crescent rolls on top were down within 20 minutes.  I tried both pies and I preferred the ones with the crescent rolls on top, they were flakier.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Coffe Cake

Ok, so this is another family recipe.  I grew up eating this wonderfully-full-of-fat breakfast.  I'm not sure where my mom got the recipe but I know that this is one recipe that my kids will be passing on to their kids and so forth.  I remember the first time I made this for my step kids, they were in heaven!  It's definitely the go to breakfast for my 13 year old right now..."Bailey, what do you want for breakfast this morning?"  "Ummm, that cinnamon cake thingy you make!"  We always called it Coffee Cake when I was growing up but I've since come to realize that its really nothing like a normal coffee cake so I gave it a little different name.  I don't like coffee, but from what I've been told this cake is very good with a strong cup of coffee.  So, if you are looking for a very indulgent breakfast treat on Christmas morning (because we ALWAYS had it Christmas morning in my house growing up) this is what you should make for sure!

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake

3 cups Bisquick (plus extra for rolling out)
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons water


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine Bisquik, egg and milk in a bowl and mix until a dough forms.  Spread a little bit of Bisquick to roll the dough on.  Roll dough to 1/4" thick.

2. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Brush melted butter on rolled dough and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over dough.

3. Roll dough up and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Using kitchen scissors cut slits in the dough about every inch (not all the way through the roll, just about half way through).  This will help the cake cook in the middle.

4. Bake for 20 minutes.

5. Mix powdered sugar and water in a small bowl.  You are looking for a semi-runny consistency to the topping, easy enough to stir but not really watery.

6. Serve pieces of the cake topped with the powder sugar mixture. (we put more butter on ours but that's just us LOL).  I also recommended drinking a large glass of really cold milk with it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pecan-Caramel topped Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving.  This post might be a little late for you to make it tomorrow for your Thanksgiving table but if you are like me you think Pumpkin Pie is good whenever, no need to only eat it on Thanksgiving!  One of these days I'll get better at taking pictures of my food, for now I hope you can just trust that these recipes are YUMMY! even if they don't look that great in the pictures.  The pumpkin pie I made is directly from the Libby's pumpkin can, I've just added the topping.

Pecan-Caramel topped Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie
from Libby's Pumpkin can

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 can (29 oz) pumpkin puree
2 cans (12 oz each) evaporated milk
2 unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie shell

1. Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a small bowl.  Beat eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture.  Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
2. Pour into pie shells.
3. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees, bake 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack for 2 hours.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Note:  I've made these pumpkin pies several times and for some reason it always takes mine about 1 hour and 15 minutes to cook all the way through...but the can says 40-50 minutes so make sure you watch the pies closely when it gets to that amount of time being cooked!

Pecan-Caramel topping

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon distilled vinegar
1 cup pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a large saucepan combine brown sugar, heavy cream, light corn syrup, butter and vinegar.  Bring to a boil of high heat stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat, stir in pecans and vanilla.
2. Pour hot mixture over cooled pie.  Mixture will harden as it cools.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Open-Faced Enchiladas

These enchiladas have been in my family since I was born, or at least as long as I can remember.  My mom learned how to make them from my Grandma Riley (her mother-in-law).  I've changed the recipe a little because, honestly, when I moved out of the house I wanted to make them and couldn't remember exactly what went into them.

Open-Faced Enchiladas
6 servings

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 lb ground beef
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 4.5oz can diced green chilies
1 7 oz can diced olives
1 cup salsa (I used Pace)
10 oz can red enchilada sauce
12 corn tortillas
mixed shredded cheese
sour cream (optional)

1. Sautee diced onions in oil for a few minutes to make them soft.  Add ground beef and brown.  Add salt, pepper and cumin.
2. Once beef is browned add green chilies, olives and salsa.  Warm through.
3. In a separate small pan warm the enchilada sauce.  Place one tortilla at a time in the sauce until soft, approximately 30 seconds.  (Personally I like to fry my tortillas to a crisp before I put them in the sauce but its a personal preference).
4. To stack the enchiladas place one tortilla on a plate, top with 1/2 cup of meat mixture and shredded cheese and then repeat with another tortilla, 1/2 cup of meat mixture and more cheese.  Top with a dollop of sour cream if you like.