Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: MaryLou’s Sweet Potato Casserole

19 Nov

This is MaryLou. She makes a kickin’ Sweet Potato Casserole!

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 22, 2011:

Who is MaryLou, you ask? She’s my mother-in-law and she makes the best sweet potato casserole EVER!!  She knows how much I love it, and even if it’s NOT Thanksgiving, she’s often made it when we visit. I am always sure to sit myself next to the Sweet Potato Casserole at the table, whenever she makes it.

Since 450 miles is a LONG way to go for a bite of her casserole, she let me have the recipe in November 2004. I am now sharing it with you. You are very lucky. :)

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups sweet potatoes boiled and mashed

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup margarine

Mix thoroughly and pour into buttered casserole dish.

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

1 cup light brown sugar packed

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans (this is a 6oz. pkg. halved pecans or so my notes say)

1/2 cup margarine melted

Mix with fork and sprinkle on top

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes

“Sit down and enjoy!”

Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

17 Nov

Done….

Originally posted on November 14, 2011

The recipe I’m sharing today is one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Each year this is what we have for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, and we grill it, which is superb! The kids all watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade while they eat their grilled bread. I also usually make mini loaves of this to give the individual teachers as a gift, as well as two loaves to put in the faculty rooms at the kids’ school and my husband’s school as a thank you to everyone. Last year I think I tripled the recipe, if I remember correctly and had to mix it in a huge stock pot. Not sure what my plan of attack will be this year, but I have already stocked up on my cranberries and my pumpkin!

Enjoy!

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY BREAD

INGREDIENTS

2 cups pumpkin puree (1 can of One Pie Pumpkin = 2 cups)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
4 eggs, large
1/2 cup Canola or Vegetable oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
12 ounce package of fresh or frozen cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan(s). You can either use two large loaf pans or 3 mini loaf pans.

Beat together pumpkin, sugar, water, eggs and oil.

Sift in remaining ingredients except cranberries. Mix just until smooth.

Gently fold in cranberries.

Pour into loaf pan(s) and spread evenly.

Bake in the center of oven for 60 – 70 minutes for large loaves, less time (40-50 minutes) for smaller loaves or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Do not overbake or bread will be dry.

Cool in pan on a rack for 10 – 15 minutes. Turn bread(s) out onto rack and finish cooling.

Bread may be made in advance, covered and chilled for up to four days.(When I make two loaves for us I often save one to eat and keep one to freeze to eat at a later date.)

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals

12 Nov
Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted our two weeks of meals menu, and I always get great feedback from readers when I do. Therefore, I’m sharing our current menu plan with you today. Hopefully it will provide you with some dinner ideas and inspiration.

If you’re a new reader, this is how we generally try to plan out our grocery shopping every two weeks on pay day. We create a two week menu and try to stick as closely as we can to it. It almost never stays 100% on track, so we almost always have some carryover for the next two weeks of meals.

We have found that this is the best way for us to stick to a budget and to always have a (relatively) healthy, homemade meal for our family to eat together every night. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s better for us than not planning at all.

Week 1:

Sunday: Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots

Monday: Tacos  *This lends itself well to taco salad or seven layer dip with chips for lunches the next day. This time around it was the dip, last time we had them, I did taco salads.

Tuesday: Lasagna

Wednesday: Pork chops and applesauce (homemade)

Thursday: Choice of hot dogs, hamburgers or chicken burgers

Friday: Pot luck dinner at Girl Scouts

Saturday: BBQ Ribs

Week 2:

Sunday: Dinner at friends’

Monday: Shepherd’s Pie (this was a ‘cook once, eat twice’ extra Shepherd’s Pie frozen from a previous month)

Tuesday: American Chopped Suey pasta bake

Wednesday: Lemon Basil Meatballs and egg noodles (this is from the make ahead meals Pampered Chef party that I attended in September)

Thursday: Dinner out, Girl Scouts are touring a local eatery, so we’ll be eating there afterwards

Friday: Pizza

Fun Friday: Weelicious Pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting

7 Nov
We needed a Fun Friday snack. It was only Wednesday, but we needed it.

We needed a Fun Friday snack. It was only Wednesday, but we needed it.

We’re having an awfully rough semester. Since August 26, we’ve been hit with “flu-like” viruses, pneumonia, sinus infections and bronchitis. We’ve had ambulance rides, hospital visits, doctor visits and prescriptions galore. My husband had two weeks of jury duty. I think I visited my local CVS at least 25 times in October alone, and I’m not really even exaggerating. We get a $5 reward every time we fill ten prescriptions there. We have three people (the maximum allowed) registered for the reward program and I think I’ve earned $15. Throughout all of it, I’ve been fighting something upper respiratory, myself and I can’t really say I’m coming out the winner in this fight, either.

It’s only November 7.

It’s been a long couple of months, with trying to still stay on top of work, school, birthdays, holidays, food drives and all the other daily “stuff,” but we’re surviving. We’re getting through it and trying to keep all our chins facing in the upward direction. We’ve had plenty of bright spots mixed in throughout the rough spots and we try to make those our focus. We have wonderful friends and family who check in daily, weekly, and more. We know of people who are worse off than we are. Things could be much worse.

Even still, some days we need a little bit of help.

Enter the delicious pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting from Weelicious.

I have been getting the Weelicious emails in my inbox for a couple of years now. My wee little ones are not so wee or so little any longer, but I find that her recipes are great for all ages.

Because we needed even more help seeing the bright spots on this particular day that I tried these, I made them into Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins with cream cheese frosting, because chocolate chips make everything seem better.

And they did.

It leads though, to our previous conversation: are they a muffin or a cupcake?

I put in chocolate chips, so that might mean cupcake. If they were just pumpkin, that could mean muffin for sure. But with chocolate chips AND frosting for those who chose to use it, it might be a cupcake.

Honestly, with the week we have been having, I didn’t care.

Pumpkin-chocolate chip-frosting-muffin-cupcake.

They were our after-school snack, late night snack, breakfast and lunch.

Whatever they were, they were delicious. Weelicious did not disappoint. She never does.

Here is her recipe, so that when you’re in need of a pick-me-up you can give them a try. We loved them!

If you love them too, you might want to sign up for the Weelicious emails as well.

WEELICIOUS PUMPKIN MUFFINS WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I used “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to suit our dietary needs.)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cream cheese icing:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 fat cream cheese to suit our dietary needs.)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. 2. Place the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. 3. In a separate bowl whisk the remaining ingredients.
  4. 4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until just combined. *This is where I added in about a cup of chocolate chips.*
  5. 5. Pour into greased muffins cups 3/4 full.
  6. 6. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. 7. To make the frosting, combine all ingredients and beat for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy
  8. 8 . Cool, frost and serve.

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Soup for everyone

5 Nov
Three soups that are quick, easy and can all be done simultaneously.

Three soups that are quick, easy and can all be done simultaneously.

Earlier in the school year I did quite a bit of food preparation ahead of time, making and freezing foods for future use. One thing I’d wanted to do but hadn’t had time to do, was make and freeze some soup.

Recently when I had one child home sick for an extended amount of time, I had an afternoon where I’d have a couple of hours to make some soup. The only question was, what kind of soup? Everyone has a favorite. I love cream of broccoli and creamy cauliflower soup, as does my oldest daughter, who happened to be the one home sick. But, my other daughters and my husband, they love the cream of tomato soup that I’ve been making lately and my middle daughter in particular had been asking for it quite often.

When I thought about the recipes though, they were all pretty similar. Other than the actual vegetable for each soup, namely broccoli, cauliflower and tomato, the base ingredients and instructions were all pretty similar: onion and chicken broth. The tomato soup had a few extra spices thrown in, and the broccoli soup had celery added in and some milk and flour at the end, but ultimately I realized that I could actually make all three at the same time, almost like an assembly line: cut up all the onion, divide it into the soup pots, cut up each veggie and add them in, and then simmer. If any additional steps or ingredients were needed, it wasn’t all that hard to do. Nothing was complicated, expensive or time-consuming. In an hour I’d be done. The tomato soup has an option to put in tortellini and shrimp at the end, but this time around I was doing it without those last two ingredients mostly because that is what had been requested.

Just like that...three soups, done and everyone's taste buds were happy!!

Just like that…three soups, done and everyone’s taste buds were happy!!

Although I cried a lot of tears cutting up all those onions, overall it was a great experiment and all went off as planned. I had enough soup for whoever wanted whatever kind they wanted over the next couple of days, and then using quart-sized bags, I froze the rest. We already had a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon where a few of us had soup for lunch from the freezer, and there’s still more for whenever we need it, whether it’s for an after school snack, a lunch or a dinner where someone doesn’t like what’s on the regular night’s menu.

Since these soups have already been featured on my blog, I’m putting the links below so that you can refer to them if you’d like to make any or all of them for yourself. The weather here is starting to cool down and it will be nice to have some soups for the upcoming chilly days and nights ahead!

Here are the links for you.

If you’d like to make the Cream of Broccoli Soup, click here.

If you’d like to make the Creamy Cauliflower Soup, click here.

If you’d like to make the Creamy Tomato Soup, click here.

Enjoy!

Go Orange: it’s a wrap

3 Nov

whole bag of chips go orange 4This weekend marked the end of another Go Orange for No Kid Hungry fall food drive for our family. We reached far and wide this year and our drive expanded even further than we had imagined possible.

Next year, we’ll plan to reach even further and wider!

Please take a moment to read all about it on my new Go Orange for No Kid Hungry page, which you can find at the top of The Whole Bag of Chips. There you’ll find a recap of this year’s event as well as an earlier post with other important links and statistics about hunger.

I’ll add to that page in the future as well, so I hope you’ll stop by often!

Fun Friday: Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars

24 Oct
Talk about getting a bang for your buck! These treats have it all!

Talk about getting a bang for your buck! These treats have it all!

I’m not sure if I’m an emotional-stress eater or not, but I’m definitely an emotional-stress baker and cooker. I always crave the opportunity to get into the kitchen and cook something or bake something (or in a perfect world, both) to relax after a tough day, week or lately, a tough month. I like cooking and baking for others and trying out new things to get myself to chill out and relax. Oftentimes after my initial piece of whatever I’ve baked, I’m pretty happy and relaxed til the next time. I don’t need to eat the entire thing, just a taste.

Last weekend, after two particularly tough weeks scattered with illness, elementary school death threats, jury duty for my husband and all the usual daily work and school stress, I was in quite a mood, looking to bake SOMETHING good for the family to take the edge off. I went onto Pinterest, a place I hadn’t visited in a while, found their search bar (which seemed slightly different than the last time I’d been on) and I typed in all the things I was currently craving: pumpkin, Nutella, chocolate chips.

All those things had to go together in something, I was sure of it.

I was in luck! Sure enough, Parsley, Sage & Sweet had a recipe for me! I knew someone would. It’d be hot and out of the oven in just an hour or so.

Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars.

Yes, seriously.

I got to work, feeling better and better by the minute.

I won’t lie, the recipe has some steps to it, but believe me, it was worth it in the end!

Through this baking experience, I also learned a valuable lesson that I’ll pass on to you, just as I shared it on Facebook that same evening:

“If you try to put the plastic jar of Nutella into the microwave to soften it up for baking, all the while thinking just how smart you are thinking of this little shortcut, you must remember that the wrapper over the top was originally metal and that there might be some left on there which will potentially catch fire and giant, bright blue sparks will fly inside the microwave, scaring you and your children half to death while making your husband jump higher and run faster than you’ve seen in a long time when you gasp out loud in the kitchen. You’re welcome.”

That said, this was a delicious treat! Everyone was anxious to try it out so I served it warm, waiting just ten minutes to cut into it, rather than the suggested hour cooling time, and it was a hit. However, I had one more piece a day or so later, after the whole thing had been refrigerated, and YUM!! Even better cold, in my opinion, just like pumpkin pie.

I plan to make them again this weekend for a get together I’ll be attending on Saturday.

Here’s the recipe as it’s seen on the Parsley, Sage and Sweet blog. The only thing I did differently was to use regular sized chips instead of mini. I really don’t “do” mini chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars
Adapted from Megan’s Cooking via Julia, author Of Dozen Flours- with my revisions

Snickerdoodle Layer
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup mini-chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.

Pumpkin Pie – Nutella Layer
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups fresh roasted or canned pumpkin puree
1/2 to 3/4 cup Nutella

Topping
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:
1.  Lightly butter or oil spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or dish.  If desired, line with parchment paper, two edges hanging over, so you can lift the whole uncut bar out of the pan for easier cutting.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture into the egg mixture until uniform. Stir in the mini-chocolate chips. Spread the dough as evenly as you can on the bottom of the pan.

3. In a mixer bowl (you can use the same one you used to make the snickerdoodle dough) with a paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar (You can also use a hand mixer, or a just a spoon) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. This mixture is looser, so pour/scrape over the snickerdoodle layer, smoothing out the top. Preheat oven to 350F.

4.  Drop tablespoons of Nutella over the top of the pumpkin pie mixture.  About 4 rows of three dollops.  Marble gently with a knife or spoon.

5. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

6. Bake at 350F for about 35-45 minutes, (depending on your oven..for some, it has taken longer) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bars cool completely (about an hour).
.
7. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into bars.  Drizzle cut bars with melted chocolate (better to drizzle them when cut so some chocolate drips down every side).

8. Let chocolate set or eat them before the chocolate sets (which we did). Store any remaining bars in a covered container, preferably in the fridge so they last longer.

 

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