Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Party Mix

I had to get this posted really quick so that you could grab the ingredients and make it this week before Halloween! I ended up taking lots of pictures of this, so hang in there!

I got this recipe from a friend and have been making it every year since, for probably about 7 years now.'s very addicting, and cute. What more do you need? It makes a great bit bowl full, so plan on giving some to friends or neighbors. Here we go....

First: Stir together in a large bowl:
11 oz Pretzels
½ C Peanuts
8-10 ½ oz package of mini Nutter Butter Cookies (“Nutter Butter Bites”)

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

(This is my new red candy making pan that I got for my birthday...isn't it cute? I've officially used it now! Thanks Mom)
Heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan until boiling:
1 C Sugar
½ C Butter
½ C Corn Syrup
2 Tbsp Vanilla
1 tsp. Baking Soda
Boil for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. This mixture will turn darker, to kind-of an orange-golden color. Remove from burner and add (this is optional, but I do it because I am in love with Peanut Butter) a heaping tablespoon of creamy peanut butter. Stir until peanut butter is dissolved. Pour mixture over pretzel/peanut mix.

At this point, it should be all shiny and glossy, like this.

Spray an 11x15 cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Pour coated pretzel mixture onto the pan and spread it out as evenly as you can. Bake at 250 for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until done.
When mixture is done, it should look more like this...not so shiny. But, will still turn out cute. Don't worry. Let this mixture cool completely. Be patient, I know you want to taste it, but you must let it cool so that it doesn't melt your cute candies.

When cooled, put your pretzel mixture in a large bowl and add: 10 oz Halloween Peanut M&M’s and 18 ½ oz Candy Corn or other Halloween mix. (I used a Brach's mixture that has the little cute pumpkins) Now you can taste it. Get a bite with a pretzel, an m&m, and a candy shove it in...perfect! Note to self: Try to keep all of the little fingers out of the bowl long enough to take a picture.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who are you?

I started this blog because I found myself forwarding on a lot of recipes to my mom and other people as I tried new recipes. I put a counter at the bottom of the page, just because I was curious to see if anyone was really looking at it. Is my mom looking at this page tons, or do I have other visitors? Leave me a comment and let me know! If you don't have a google account, you can still leave a comment, just try! It would be fun for me to see who checks my blog. Do you have any comments on the food? Is anyone trying these recipes? Any suggestions of recipes you would like to see? Let me know!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Harvest Pumpkin Dip

I am WAY into Fall right now, and Fall to me equals...pumpkin! I got this recipe from my husband's cousin Jessica. It is so yummy and great with apples and pears. I have used light cream cheese in this, and it works just fine. Make sure that your cream cheese is at room temperature.

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Apple and pear slices
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Gradually add the pumpkin, pie spice, vanilla and ginger; beat until smooth. Serve with fruit. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 3 ½ cups. (if you use light cream cheese, there are 2.5 Weight Watchers pts per ¼ cup)

Easy Caramel Sauce

This is my go-to recipe any time I need something sweet to drizzle (or pour) over ice cream or cakes or whatever. Some day I'll post my mom's recipe for Apple Pudding Cake, which is where this caramel sauce recipe came from. Don't stress...the sauce really is THAT easy!

1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter (please, please, please use real butter)
1/2 C Heavy Whipping Cream

Melt butter on medium-low heat in a small sauce pan. Add sugar and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved, 4-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the cream. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Re-heat in a sauce pan or microwave after it's been refrigerated.

Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

Despite what many people think, cheesecakes really are pretty easy to make. This one was a little bit involved because of all of the different yumminess that goes into it...but WELL worth it. I opted to cover mine with caramel sauce, as you can see. I'll post the recipe for the easy caramel sauce as well...hold your horses.

My two brothers and my in-laws were coming over for dinner a few Sundays ago, and I decided to test this out on them for dessert. As I started serving this cheesecake, the room all of the sudden became quiet, and then I realized that more than one person was going "mmmmm..." outloud. to my ears.

One of the big secrets to making a good, smooth cheesecake is to have ALL of the ingredients at room temperature. I would suggest setting everything out on the counter about 4 hours before you're ready to start making your cheesecake....yep, even the eggs. Oh, and don't even TRY to use light cream cheese...shame on you. I think that another great secret in making a deliciously smooth cheesecake is the water bath. BUT...don't stop reading now. I have made plenty of cheesecakes without the water bath. Don't freak out.

If anyone is a recipe blog stalker like I am, you will have probably heard of the "Tuesdays with Dorie" group. They all bake the same recipe out of one of Dorie Greenspan's cook books. This recipe is one of the recipes that the TWD group made, and then posted the recipe on their blogs. I wonder if Dorie is okay with all of her recipes being posted on blogs...oh well, at least I won't have to buy her cook book! She seems pretty brilliant to me, so far. Anyway, sorry for the ridiculously long post. This cheesecake is definitely Cheesecake Factory material. Try it...but beware that from start to finish, it took me about 3 hours.

For the Crust:
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs) (NO...use the gingersnaps. please.)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional) (I didn't add anymore cinnamon cuz my gingersnaps were really snappy)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

For the Apples:
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter (I had salted...whatev)
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar

For the Filling:
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apple cider (I just used apple juice, cuz that's what I had)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)

To Make the Crust:

Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you’re using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they’ll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. (I used 3 pieces of foil and mine stayed dry...yeah!) Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

To Make the Apples:

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. (I had a really big frying pan, so I just did this in one step...worked just fine) Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

Getting Ready to Bake:

Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. (I used an 11x15 Pyrex type pan) Put a kettle of water on to boil.

To Make the Filling:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan (at this point, the pan is STILL wrapped in foil) and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, (I used a 9 inch pan, and it took about 1 hour and 45 minutes) covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center–if the center shimmies, that’s just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.

Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan’s latch and release and remove the sides.

***it's me, Aubri, again***I found it easiest and prettiest when I sliced it with a knife that had been run under hot water for a few seconds. Do this between each slice, and you're cheesecake will look fabulous! Oh, and don't forget to drizzle it with caramel...yum.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Okay, this is for all of you who are scared of this yummy purple veggie. I decided to take pictures as I went along so that you can see that this is easy and NOT scary. Eggplant is kind-of like Zucchini in that it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. Eggplant Parmesan is usually fried, but this version is baked and very healthy. I got the original recipe out of a Weight Watcher's cookbook, and the tailored it to my tastes (and made it a bit easier by using prepared sauce and bread crumbs). My husband is a meat kind of guy, but he loves this dish. So, now that you're out of excuses...go ahead and try it!

1 medium-large Eggplant
2 large Eggs
2 Tablespoons Fat Free Milk
1 Cup Italian-seasoned Bread Crumbs
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
3 T grated Parmesan Cheese
Prepared Marinara Sauce

When shopping for an eggplant, make sure that your eggplant is firm, not squishy. The skin should be purple and smooth. You should plan on using your eggplant within 1-2 days of when it is purchased. Store it in the refrigerator in a paper sack. When you're ready to prepare the Eggplant Parmesan, wash your eggplant, chop off the stem end, and slice the eggplant into 1/4-1/2 inch slices. The thinner you cut them, the faster they will cook. Preheat oven to 375 and spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

Lightly beat together the eggs and milk in a shallow bowl. Place bread crumbs in another bowl. Dip the eggplant in the egg mixture, then in the bread crumbs, and arrange in one layer on the baking sheets.

Lightly spray the top of the eggplant with non-stick spray. Bake until the eggplant is softened, and lightly brown, about 25 minutes.

While the eggplant is baking, spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray, then cover the bottom with sauce. Grate your cheeses.

Remove the browned, softened eggplant from the oven and carefully layer your eggplant and sauce. The eggplant will soak up some of the sauce, so make sure you pile on the sauce! You should use the whole jar.

Sprinkle with cheeses and bake uncovered until hot and bubbling, and the cheese is golden, about 20 minutes.

Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with salad or a side of pasta with sauce. Makes 6 servings, 5 Weight Watchers points per serving.