Sunday, November 29, 2009


i know...i've been gone for too long again. i have no excuse. i'm not too busy. i'm making tons of food and have crafts planned and started. i'm just feeling pretty "meh" on blogging. i know part of it comes down to my photos. i feel like they look the same or worse as they have in the past. i don't see improvement anymore and can only pick out flaws. i'm hyper critical, but i know a good picture when i see it, and one hasn't been on my blog in awhile...

so i'm still here. i'm working on getting pictures edited and some posts written. i've just got to get back into this and like it again. it feels like work, not fun...and i don't want to blog unless it's fun. it's not my job and i don't make any money doing it.

stick around for some holiday crafts, foods a plenty, and hopefully a cheerier outlook :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

fall brownie spectacular

yes, you read that right. pumpkin+cheesecake+brownie. take it from someone who doesn't like pumpkin pie or plain brownies...these are so worth it. i do enjoy brownies with a twist, like cheesecake, mint, or turtle, so when i saw these i just had to give them a try.

i first saw them from the beantown baker, who adapted a recipe from cara's cravings. i used the adjusted measurements in this batch.

pumpkin spice cheesecake brownies (cara's cravings via beantown baker)
brownie batter:
3/4 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c special dark cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

cheesecake batter:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp + 2tsp flour
2/3 c pumpkin puree
1/3 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground ginger
1/3 tsp ground cloves

1. beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time
2. combine dry ingredients, then gradually stir into butter mixture with a wooden spoon
3. in separate bowl, beat together cheesecake batter ingredients
4. spread about 2/3 of chocolate batter into greased 8x8 pan
5. spoon cheesecake batter over top
6. dollop remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter, then swirl by running a knife back and forth through the pan
7. bake at 350F for 40 minutes, or until center is set
8. cool completely on wire rack and chill before cutting and serving

couldn't wait for pictures...

seriously. seriously! these are so good. i waited as long as i could to cut the brownies for photos (and a sample), but the center was still a bit warm. all was still ok and after being chilled, everything set nicely.

i've made a lot of desserts. i can't remember one being all that bad, but these are memorable for being that good. husband and i polished these off in record time, spoiling ourselves and missing our nightly dessert once they were gone. he has requested them for his coworkers, so i'll be making them at least once more this season.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

quick, simple apple cranberry sauce

in my quest for all things cranberry, one thing i need to have is a lot of cranberry sauce. i don't save this treat for thanksgiving - i make it about once a week during the late fall. before i could get my hands on fresh cranberries, i ate at least one can of whole berry sauce every week for the past few weeks... you could chalk it up to a pregnancy craving, i guess, but really not, because i do this every year :) however, that canned stuff is loaded with preservatives and high fructose corn syrup! i feel guilty about that and really, it's cheaper to make my own and i enjoy it more.

this is a super easy recipe from the november 2009 issue of real simple. just 4 ingredients and about 15-20 minutes of prep and cook time.

apple cranberry sauce (real simple)
1 lb cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 c apple cider
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar

1. in a small saucepan, combine all ingredients
2. simmer until berries burst and sauce thickens (12-15 minutes)
3. cool a bit before serving (if you can wait!)

from whole berries to sauce

have i mentioned the time i made cranberry sauce using orange juice (a favorite of mine) and forgot the OJ and sugar were boiling...for like an hour?! i'm pretty sure i blogged about it, but if not, suffice to say i burned the sauce to a blackened crisp and had to practically crawl on the floor to get to the kitchen because the smoke was so thick and strong. it was bad. so don't forget you have something like this on the stove!

luckily, i made no errors while cooking this sauce and it came out delightful. the apple cider is subtle, so much so that i might add some cinnamon next time, but the overall flavor was great. i ate this straight from the bowl, but also used it on some turkey, cranberry, lettuce, and cheese wraps for husband's lunches. who needs leftovers when you can get it fresh whenever you want?

Friday, November 6, 2009

seriously, the best.

i have only had chicken enchiladas once before. i had never made them and have no real way to prove the following information, but i am pretty sure these are the best.

we have mexican food every week (i have it even more) for dinner and this week i decided we should try enchiladas. there are a lot of recipes, a lot with cream cheese and jarred enchilada sauce, and i just wasn't feeling that. so i went in search of a from-scratch version and found it in one from america's test kitchen.

homemade sauce is the way to go

chicken enchiladas with red chili sauce (america's test kitchen)
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
12 ounces bones chicken thighs OR chicken tenderloins, cut into 1/4" strips
2 cans tomato sauce
1/4 c water
1/2 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c pickled jalapeno pepper, drained and copped
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
10 corn tortillas
vegetable cooking spray
3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
sour cream, avocado, lettuce, green onion, tomato, salsa, limes, etc.

1. heat oil in a medium saucepan for 2 minutes, then add onion, cook until browning
2. add garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, salt, and sugar, cook for 30 seconds, stirring
3. add chicken, stir to coat, and cook for 30 seconds
4. add tomato sauce and water and stir, simmer uncovered for 8 minutes
5. pour mixture through a medium mesh strainer, pressing chicken and onions to extract sauce
6. set sauce aside and transfer chicken mixture to large plate, cool in freezer for 10 minutes
7. combine chicken with cilantro, jalapenos, and 8 oz cheese into a bowl
8. coat bottom of 13x9 baking pan with 3/4 c chili sauce
9. place tortillas on baking sheets, coating both sides with cooking spray and warm at 300F for 4 minutes
10. scoop 1/3 c filling into center of each tortilla
11. roll tortillas tightly and place seam-side down in baking dish
12. pour remaining chili sauce over enchiladas, coating fully, and sprinkle cheese over center
13. cover with foil and bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes
14. serve immediately, topping with condiments of your choice


seriously, please make these. i don't know if it's because i am 20 weeks pregnant (!) or if they really are that good, but these were like heaven on a plate. the sauce was amazing - perfectly spiced and the right consistency. i want to eat these again. worth it to make them yourself, to take the time to strain the sauce, and enjoy how i think enchiladas are supposed to taste.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

pumpkin cranberry goodness

hello november! it's fall for real now and with it comes my desire to have pumpkin, spices, and cranberries. not always together, but in this case, yes. i love fruit bursts in muffins and cranberries are probably the best for that. i had first wanted cranberry orange muffins...but that doesn't scream fall to me. enter canned pumpkin puree!

i used a simple recipe from cooking light and whipped these up for a week's worth of breakfasts. the recipe says it makes 1 dozen, but i got 12 full size and at least 12 miniatures.

pumpkin cranberry muffins (adapted from cooking light)
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 c sugar
1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c low-fat buttermilk
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
1 large egg
1 c fresh cranberries, cut in half

1. combine flour, baking soda, and next 5 ingredients, though cloves; stir well
2. beat granulated sugar and next 5 ingredients, through egg, at medium speed until well blended
3. add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until combined
4. fold in cranberries.
5. spoon batter into muffin tin with liners
6. bake at 375°F for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center
7. remove muffins from pan immediately and place on a wire rack to cool

fall muffin bowl

i loved these. so moist, full of pumpkin and spice, tart with fresh baked cranberries...these are good for a snack, dessert (warm with vanilla bean ice cream?), or breakfast. they stay fresh if well contained and last through the week. i treated husband to some mini "cupcake" muffins with the remainder of the batter (no cranberries left, bowl scrapings) and a half of a mini peanut butter cup in the middle. i'm really not sure if he liked the cranberry of the pb version better.

you must try these!