December 5, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This week will be fairly short as we will be going out of town by the end of the week. To make it easy I'm sticking to our usual rotation of recipes.

Have you started your Christmas baking? I made these incredible brownies over the weekend.

Thanksgiving Recap

Thanksgiving has come and gone and I have not had a chance to share how it all went! I am very happy to report that there were no incidents, no melt-downs, and no mishaps. Every single dish came out perfectly! The desserts were made the night before. The sweet potatoes were made the morning of and hung out in the fridge until it was their turn to go into the oven. I had the turkey in later in the afternoon and basted it during it's final hour. The stuffing and carrots were made about an hour before we ate. Everything was delish- especially those sweet potatoes!! Oh, and the cranberry bars were AMAZING, I think I might make them again for Christmas because I am already craving them! All the recipes I used can be found here.

Here are some pictures of the day.

 The Proud Chef next to her turkey!

 Before the sweet potatoes went into the oven.

 Turkey is done and resting before carving.

 The buffet server all ready to go.
 The sweet potatoes were the first to go!

 Our beautiful table. :)

Hope your Thanksgiving went just as well! Now on to planning for Christmas!

November 20, 2010

My Thanksgiving Menu

My in-laws are flying in from Miami to spend Thanksgiving with us. As I mentioned in a previous post, last year was my first year hosting Thanksgiving. Now that I've got a year of experience under my belt I'm feeling pretty confident about least, I should be! :) My best friend helped every step of the way so without her I may feel a little lost. I'm counting on the hubby to help prep dishes the day before.

Our menu is pretty similar to the one from last year. I've already shared the sweet potato dish and the turkey. Here is our menu:

Main Course/Side Dishes:
Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Glaze
Maple Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Apple and Onion Stuffing
Maple Glazed Carrots
Buttered Up Corn on the Cob
Assorted Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
Cranberry Bliss Bars

Red/White Wine
Apple Cider

The sweet potatoes and desserts will be made ahead of time on Tuesday and Wednesday. The rest will be made on Thanksgiving day. The stuffing and sweet potatoes will go into the oven after the turkey is done and cooling. The veggies are both pretty simple and quick to make. My only concern is the turkey, I hope it will be just as good as last year!

Today and tomorrow I'll be prepping the house for our family. The turkey will be purchased on Monday to give it time to defrost safely in the fridge. I'm ready for the holidays to begin!

What's on your Thanksgiving menu? Are you feeling ready for the day? Have you done all your shopping?

November 14, 2010

Maple-Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Last year was my first time hosting Thanksgiving. It was my first turkey, my first sweet potato casserole, and my first pumpkin cheesecake. Our best friends from Miami flew up to spend the holiday with us. My best friend and I cooked up the best Thanksgiving dinner we've ever had. We spun around in the kitchen together, washing pots and pans, stirring this and mixing that. We jumped for joy when the turkey came out beautifully browned and as the meat fell off the bones. We made this sweet potato dish the day before and popped it into the oven after the turkey came out. When it was time to eat, we inhaled it. For days and then months after Thanksgiving we would call each other and say, "Remember those sweet potatoes!!" They.are.heavenly.

I swear this is THE BEST sweet potato dish you will ever have. And I'm SO excited to make it again, even though my best friend will not be here this year. I'll Fed-Ex you some love. ;p

  • 2 3/4  pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1/4  cup half-and-half
  • 3  tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3  tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8  teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup mini-marshmallows
  • 2  tablespoons chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork; place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool slightly; peel and mash in a large bowl.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
4. Stir half-and-half and the next 8 ingredients (through egg) into sweet potatoes. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the top with mini-marshmallows and chopped pecans; bake 12 minutes or until the mini-marshmallows are slightly melted. Serve immediately.

Menu Plan Monday

I'm taking it easy this week in preparation for Thanksgiving. With my head whirling with all the things left to do, I don't think I'm going to want to make anything complicated this week! And the hubby's birthday is next week! I need to find a scrumptious cake to make!

I've broken down my grocery shopping into three trips:

1. Desserts
2. Sides
3. Perishables & The Turkey.

All dessert components have been purchased as well as half the stuff for the sides. I'll be sharing my recipes for everything soon.

Here's the menu for the week. I picked up a rotisserie chicken from the store today to use throughout the week for dinners and lunches. Such a great time saver.

It's finally starting to get cold. I think we'll be having lots of hot chocolate. ;)

How are your Thanksgiving plans coming along? If you're not hosting, are you bringing something to a family dinner or potluck?

    November 13, 2010

    Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

    I know it's not time to be thinking about Christmas. We still have two weeks to go before Thanksgiving. But I've already finalized my Thanksgiving menu and have no need to test out any recipes. I'll be serving most of the same dishes from last year, with a few changes. I had a free Saturday morning, which is when I usually bake something for the week. So, I decided to try out a cookie recipe for Christmas! 

    • 3/4 c. butter, softened
    • 2/3 c. packed dark brown sugar
    • a little more than 1 1/2 c. oatmeal
    • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2/3 c. dried cranberries
    • 2/3 c. white chocolate chips
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.
    2. In bowl of stand mixer, combine butter and brown sugar and beat on medium high until light and fluffy in texture and color, about 3 minutes, while you gather other ingredients.
    3. In large bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, stirring to combine.
    4. To butter and sugar add eggs, one at a time, beating to combine well after each addition, then add vanilla.
    5. Stop mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn back on lowest setting.
    6. Add oatmeal mixture, then cranberries and white chocolate, beating just until barely combined. Remove bowl from stand mixer and bring over to baking sheets. Best way to do this is with your fingers (albeit messy) 7. Pick up loose balls of dough about 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter and place onto baking sheets at least 2 inches apart (I place 11 cookies on each sheet, dividing dough into 22 cookies total). If you have leftover cranberries and white chocolate chips, top cookies with a couple of each.
    8. Place in preheated oven and bake for exactly 10 minutes.
    9. Remove from oven, cookies will be slightly golden around edges and middles look a bit underdone.
    10. Let cool 5 minutes on cookies sheets and then place on wire racks to cool completely before serving.

    It looks like a lot of steps but it's actually pretty easy. And they are sooo good, I've already had four. :)

    November 9, 2010

    It's Like Christmas

    Yesterday I came home to find this in my mailbox.

    I was SO excited. I've been waiting for it to come for what feels like eons. Her magazine has got to be my all-time, and I don't even know why. I pour over the pages lovingly. I look for the longest checkout lane in the grocery store just so I can look through it. And now I have a subscription to it!


    Can you believe just a year ago I despised her recipes? The ingredient list was just too long. They never took me 30 minutes and I wasn't a fan of her quirkiness. Until I discovered her daytime talk show while I was unemployed with nothing to do. I started to look forward to her show everyday. I felt like I had made a friend during a rough, lonely time. Now I adore her.

    I stayed up late last night reading it. Until my husband found me with the light on. He has deemed me insane, but this is not as surprise. We both know I am.

    Look out for some of her recipes!! I've marked a ton. :)

    November 7, 2010

    Menu Plan Monday

    This week's menu plan has a bit more of a variety. We are huge pasta eaters (or, rather, I am) and have pasta waaaay too often. I'd like to limit the number of pasta dishes we have per week. This is not going to be an easy task for me... but there is only one pasta dish on the menu this week!

    My problem is coming up with sides. I rotate rice, pasta, quinoa, and potatoes along with a vegetable. Pasta is by far my favorite. What are some of your favorite sides?

    November 6, 2010

    A Shoutout to Santa Claus

    This wasn't supposed to turn into a Christmas post. I wanted to post my recent bookmarks and then I realized, I only had two new ones to share...

    Yes. I know.

    Another contender for Thanksgiving?

    The reason behind the lack of food related bookmarks?

    It's November. And that means everyone is already starting to ask, "What do you want for Christmas?" So I have begun my search...

    Have you started yours yet, or am I just crazy?

    Here are some things I want this year.

    I don't have any of her cookbooks. I really really want this one.

    This is not going to happen. We don't have space for it. It's really expensive. But I want it anyway, Santa.

    Please share any recipes you've bookmarked lately. I'm slacking and would like some new ones!

    November 1, 2010

    Menu Plan Monday

    There's a new recipe on the menu this week. I watched Rachael Ray make this Lazy Florentine Lasagna the other day and it looked pretty good and easy. I've been looking for some new dinner ideas, seeing as all I ever do it bookmark sweets and desserts. Have you tried anything new lately?

    I'm so excited that today is the first day of November! Thanksgiving, here I come...I've already planned out the menu!

    What's on your menu plan this week?

    October 28, 2010

    Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

    If you can recall a few of my previous posts, I really like to bookmark pumpkin recipes. I had the afternoon free yesterday and had the itch to bake. I've come into the habit of baking fresh goods every week (especially when the weather gets colder) and our Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies were out. I came across this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread and was sold.

    Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

    • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/4 cups canned or cooked pumpkin
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
    • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
      In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Gradually add sugar, eggs and pumpkin. Combine dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture and blend well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into a greased and floured 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until loaf tests done. Cool on a wire rack. 

      I omitted the walnuts and used pecans. It was what I had on hand. I also did not have ground cloves or ground ginger so I doubled the other spices (as well as the amount of chocolate chips!). It was perfect. It's best served warm, so heat up it in the microwave for a snack when you come home from work! That's what I just did, anyway. :)

        October 24, 2010

        Menu Plan Monday

        I'm going to try and stretch our grocery budget this week and use what we already have on hand for this week's menu plan. We've spent so much on groceries these past two months, it's ridiculous!

        • Cheeseburgers (already have ground beef, buns, and cheese)
        • Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples (have apples & pork)
        • Alaskan Baked Salmon with Quinoa (salmon, quinoa, check)
        • Chicken Parmesan (chicken, mozzarella cheese, check) 
        •  Crispy Panko Chicken with Corn Salad (chicken, corn, check)
        • Cheese Tortellini (pasta check)

        What are some creative ways you use to stretch your grocery budget? 

        Dance the Night Away. . .

        This weekend came early! Thursday night was the official start of our weekend. The birthday dinner that was set for Monday moved over to Thursday night. The main course was beef brisket, which was d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. Sorry, no pictures, but I did make these brownies for dessert.

        Friday night was Fall Ball!

        We ate, danced, and ate. It was a lot of fun. I love any excuse to dress up.

        Saturday we went to another pumpkin patch.

        And got four more pumpkins...

        No, these are not all of ours. We went with a group of friends! I'm not that insane...
        We came home and I made a big pot of chicken chili. Mmm. Perfect for a fall night.

        Tonight I will probably make Shrimp Scampi since I didn't get to it before. As for the rest of the afternoon...I plan on being lazy, reading my new book, possibly taking a nap.

        I'm ready for Thanksgiving break!

        October 19, 2010

        Recent Bookmarks

        I've been bookmarking apple/pumpkin recipes like a mad woman. I have a serious Fall baking problem. Remember this post? All pumpkin except for those chocolate chip cookies! But don't worry. This post has only one pumpkin recipe. 

        How good does this look! I love any kind of Mexican food.

        Yes, this is the pumpkin recipe. Come on, can you blame me!!

        I'd really like to make these and decorate them for Halloween.

        These cookies could potentially be a dessert for Thanksgiving.

        This sandwich looks SO GOOD!

        Can you believe I've never made chili before!? We're from Florida...we don't feel the desire to make soups or chili's! It's always HOT!

        What have you bookmarked recently?

        October 17, 2010

        Menu Plan Monday

        This week's menu is a bit short, with Monday and Friday night taken care of. Monday is a friend's birthday dinner and Friday is the medical school's Fall Ball (which I am so excited about!). Hubby and I chose the steak option when we RSVP'ed. We don't eat much steak. But that's not the only reason I'm excited. A chance to dress up and dance with my hubby? Can't pass that up. :)

        Last week's menu was followed through pretty well, 4 out of 5 were made. The highlight was definitely the Beef Dip Sandwiches, which will reappear on the menu quite often, we just loved them so much!

        Sadly, no baking was done this weekend. With all those donuts we ate that might actually be a good thing. But don't you worry, there's bound to be some treats made this upcoming weekend for our pumpkin carving party!

        Here's our menu for the week, in no particular order.

        Have a great week!

        October 16, 2010

        Pumpkins, Apples, and Sushi

        Strange combination you say? Well, this is how they all came together....

        Today we spent the morning at a pumpkin patch.

        And I saw this little beauty.

        We took him home along with a bushel of apples.

        I was very excited.

        But before this we stopped at the cider mill to get some donuts.

        More excitement. Can't you tell?

        Oh yes dip those babies into that glaze!

        We got an assortment of pumpkin, blueberry, and apple doughnuts. Oh My God they were SO GOOD.

        Into the bag they go.

        Why aren't there more!? Oh wait, because we ate them on the way home.

        And seeing as we were exhausted from a full day of apple picking, donut stuffing, and pumpkin hunting, there was no way cooking was going to be done tonight.

        This was some of the best sushi we have ever had. No joke, as you can tell, by the hubbs thumbs up.

        Perfect way to end a perfect fall day. How did you spend your Saturday?

        October 12, 2010

        Weekend Desserts

        On Sunday I made this applesauce at around 4:00 in the afternoon. . .

        . . .and then made these cookies at 9:00 at night.

        They are really really sweet by the way. And super buttery. So if you like that combination, go for it.

        . . . I am going to get fat.

        And tonight we made these, FINALLY!!

        O.M.G. They are SO good. Totally worth the wait. And by the way, this is NOT my picture (as you can tell), we were so excited to try them and blown away by the first bite that I forgot to take a picture. Not like you're missing the crappy iphone photos (we need a better camera!). But be reassured, they looked exactly like Joelen's. :)

        October 11, 2010

        Menu Plan Monday

        I am horrible with following my menu plan! 3/6 of last week's plan was followed through. I can't ever remember what I made instead of those three recipes. It's not like we had take out! This week I am looking forward to making a Tomato Caprese Salad, Whipped Sweet Potatoes, and the Beef Dip Sandwiches!! I still haven't made them and they have been on my menu plan for weeks!

          I have several recipes to share with you this week. I made the Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies I bookmarked earlier last week and the Maple Applesauce from How Sweet It Is. Both were really good, but the applesauce (well, more like sauteed apples in my case) was soooo goooood!! The cookies are super sugary and super buttery, take a look at the ingredients and you'll see why!

          Hopefully you are doing better with your menu plan. Is there anything you're looking forward to making this week? 

            October 9, 2010

            Alaska Salmon Bake with Pecan Crunch

            I have officially conquered the art of baking salmon. At least, with the Alaska Salmon Bake recipe I've been using! Salmon is a new adventure for me; I've never made it until recently. The hubby learned all about the Mediterranean diet during one of his sequences (he's in medical school) and demanded we start eating salmon for all its health benefits.

            How do you make salmon?!

            Fish and I don't have a relationship of any kind. Sure, I can make shrimp (that's frozen and only needs reheating), but I've never made any kind of fish fillet. I searched the interwebs for an easy, tasty recipe. After making it the first time, it was good. I was happy with the result. I've made it four more times since then and we both love it!

            Source: All Recipes

            3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
            3 tablespoons butter, melted
            5 teaspoons honey
            1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
            1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
            3 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
            6 (4 ounce) fillets salmon
            Salt and Pepper to taste
            Lemon wedges
              Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, butter, and honey. In another bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, pecans, and parsley.  

              Season each salmon fillet with salt and pepper. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush with mustard-honey mixture. Cover the top of each fillet with bread crumb mixture. 

              Bake for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at thickest part, or until salmon just flakes when tested with a fork. Serve garnished with lemon wedges.

                Do you have a favorite salmon recipe? What kind of fish do you like to cook? What's your favorite way to make it?