Happy November!! I hope you all are enjoying this lead up to the holiday season. I am totally not ready for Christmas, but the kids sure are. Victoria tells me almost everyday how many days are left until Christmas…ahhhhhhhh! I prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving to start getting excited about Christmas, so much to Victoria’s chagrin, I still have some time left. The last few weeks have been pretty busy, but I have managed to experiment with some recipes, so let’s get right to it.
The first recipe is for chocolate ricotta muffins. I came across the recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. I love muffins, and I love chocolate, so as soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I’d have to make it. I don’t routinely have ricotta cheese in the fridge, so I had to pick some up especially. I am glad I did, because these muffins were really good. I don’t use ricotta that much in sweet recipes, so I’m always a bit concerned that unless I am really sweetening the ricotta up, that you’ll be able to taste the cheese. Happily, these muffins are dense and chocolatey, and don’t taste at all cheesy. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2013/04/Chocolate-Ricotta-Muffins-Cleo-Coyle.html?m=1
The next recipe was for a brown butter pear crisp. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a TON of pears, thanks to the annual “Pears Gone Wild” party that Jim and Kim host. The hard part about having so many pears, is that they all tend to ripen at the same time. With that in mind, I decided on this recipe because it requires a lot of pears… 6 cups of pears to be exact. I actually made two pear crisps (one for the elementary office and one for home), so I needed 12 cups of pears. This recipe is simple, and I had all the ingredients. I will definitely make it again, because it is DELICIOUS!!! Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/brown-butter-pear-crisp/#_a5y_p=1002204 The only substitution I made was that I used a baking dish instead of a cast iron pan.
The next recipe I experimented with was for chocolate coconut cream cake. I made it for my sister Amy’s birthday. Amy loves all things coconut, and her birthday was coming up, so I decided to make her a cake. This is a pretty simple recipe too, and I had most of the ingredients in the pantry. The only ingredient that I had to buy especially for the recipe was cream of coconut. Honestly, I’d never heard of cream of coconut before. I’d used coconut milk and coconut extract, in recipes before, but never cream of coconut. I needed to go to Trader Joe’s anyway so whist there, I picked up a can. I am happy to report that this cake is AMAZING!!! Amy loved it, and requested it be served at all parties from here to infinity. The cake is chocolatey and full of yummy coconut flavor, thanks to that cream of coconut. The icing is simple, just some “Cool Whip” sprinkled with toasted coconut. YUM!!! I will definitely make this again. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://insidebrucrewlife.com/2012/04/chocolate-cream-of-coconut-cake/
The next recipe I experimented with was for candy corn cupcakes. I LOVE candy corn, and every year I buy a few bags of “Brach’s Autumn Mix” which contains candy corn, Indian corn, and pumpkins…YUM. When I was growing up, my Grandma Ann always had candy corn at her house, and she called it “witch’s teeth.” I remember liking it, but being a little concerned about the name. ☺ I only buy candy corn in the fall, but every time I eat it, I think of her. Anyway, this year I decided to make candy corn cupcakes on Wednesday October 30th as it was “national candy corn day.” It also worked out great because the next day was Halloween, and I was sure the elementary office would be flooded with treats. So as a special “calm before the Halloween storm,” I took the cupcakes to the office on Wednesday. I am happy to report that they came out great. They tasted good, and looked even better. I LOVE the striped cupcake that mimics the look of candy corn. I have only done striped cakes and cupcakes a few times before, but I always love the way the finished treat looks. Here is the link to the recipe that I used:http://www.chocolatemoosey.com/2011/10/09/candy-corn-cupcakes/
The next recipe I made was ricotta cheese cookies. This recipe was part of my first blog “Cookie of the Week.” If you are interested you can read that entry here: http://chris-cookieoftheweek.blogspot.com/2011/06/week-28-ricotta-cheese-cookies.html Anyway, I had some ricotta left over from making the chocolate muffins, so I decided to use it up by making these cookies again. They are soooooo good. The ricotta cheese makes the cookies soft, and happily the cookies do not taste cheesy at all. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Ricotta-Cheese-Cookies/Detail.aspx These cookies remind me of my Aunt Rose’s Italian cookies that I also wrote about in the above mentioned blog. I LOVE her Italian cookies so I was happy to make these again. Since I only had about 8 ounces of ricotta left, I cut the recipe in half. It made just over 2 dozen cookies. The original recipe makes a TON of cookies, so if you don’t want a TON of them in your house, just halve the recipe like I did. ☺
The next recipe I tried was sweet potato pie. I’ve only had sweet potato pie once in my life and it was years ago. A coworker made it for an office Christmas party, and I loved it. I decided to make this pie for dessert for gingerbread day. For those of you unfamiliar with gingerbread day or g-day for short, I will explain. Nine years ago, my good friend Connie and I decided that in lieu of exchanging gifts for the kids, we’d get together to make gingerbread houses to kick off the holiday season. We take turns hosting the event every year, and this year g-day was at my house. As the hostess you are responsible for dinner, assembling the gingerbread houses, and making the royal icing. As a guest, you are responsible for bringing the decorations, aka the candy and all the yummies used on the gingerbread houses. At the time we started this tradition the kids were little. The oldest (Connie’s daughter Sarah) was only 6, and the youngest (my son Ryan) was only a year old. Sarah and Ryan are now 15 and 10 respectively. A few years ago, we recorded the kids promising that they would never be “too old or too cool” to participate in g-day. Now that the girls are actual teenagers, and infinitely cooler than when they swore that oath, I am happy to report that we don’t need the video evidence. The kids love g-day just as much now as they did when we started…p.s. the boys love it too. Anyway, this year I decided to have a Mex-fest for dinner. I made taco soup, salsa (for dipping chips and veggies), and quesadillas…pronounced “kay-sah-dill-ahs.” Yes, if you said it the right way, I’d correct you and make you pronounce it as stated above. Why? Just because it cracks me up to say it wrong. ☺ In addition to the Mex-fest, I decided to make a sweet potato pie. First, it was gluten free (Connie is trying to eliminate gluten as much as possible…I also used a gluten free crust), and it was also a new recipe that I wanted to try. The pie came out great, and I would totally make it again. Here is a link to a recipe that is similar: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sweet-potato-pie-i/ To make the pie the exact way I did, eliminate the cinnamon, and add 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger. Also, eliminate the butter and the milk, and add 1 cup of evaporated milk. Lastly, cut the sugar to 3/4 cup. I topped the pie with a little whipped cream. YUM.
The last two recipes creamed spinach and mini vegetarian meat loaves, I made last night for dinner. The mini veggie friendly meat loaves I have been making for years, it’s just been a while since I made them last. The creamed spinach was a new recipe for me. I LOVE spinach. I LOVE going to a restaurant, and ordering spinach dip too. What I don’t LOVE is how much salt and fat are usually in a creamed spinach, or spinach dip you get at a restaurant. This spinach recipe has very little fat and almost no salt, so it was totally guilt free. As an added bonus, it’s a really simple recipe too. The mini meat loaves are simple as well. I love that you make them in muffin tins so they are perfect for a light dinner, or even a quick snack. Ryan of course doesn’t eat either of these dishes, but the rest of us LOVE them. Since Ry doesn’t partake, and the recipe for the mini loaves makes a dozen, each of us gets 4 mini loaves. We never eat 4 at a sitting so there is usually left overs. I LOVE LOVE LOVE left overs. I always say that my absolute favorite breakfast is a left over dinner. So today I happily ate mini veggie meat loaf and creamed spinach for breakfast…DELISH! Here are the links to the recipes for both: http://www2.gooseberrypatch.com/gooseberry/recipe.nsf/55e548eeef8c89b9852568d4004c5ffe/833D04288BC1A2F28525784E0071FDA8 and http://weelicious.com/2012/01/23/a-healthier-creamed-spinach/ I made a few substitutions to the recipes. First, the creamed spinach was a bit bland for my taste, so I added pepper, garlic powder, and grated parmesan cheese to the recipe. Also, the creamed spinach calls for chicken broth, and I used low sodium vegetable broth instead. Additionally, the mini loaf recipe says that it yields 10 little loaves. Well I always get 12. Here’s why. I use crescent rolls instead of refrigerated biscuits, and I never use a whole triangle per muffin cup. Most crescent rolls come 8 to a package, but I am able to stretch the dough to line 12 muffin cups. I have found that if I only use the 8, there ends up being way too much filling left over, and the loaves are too doughy for my liking. So if I really stretch the dough from 8 to 12, I find they come out perfect.
As I reflect on the fall so far, I am happy to report that it’s been great. Here in Michigan, we’ve had lovely weather just until a few weeks ago. The last few days have been pretty cold. As I write this there is still a dusting of snow on my deck. That said, on Sunday it’s supposed to be 57 degrees with rain. Well ya know what they say about Michigan, “…if you don’t like the weather here, just wait 5 minutes!” Okay so maybe it takes longer than 5 minutes, but just last year, the kids had a snow day on a Friday, and by Monday it was 60 degrees! OOF… holy allergy and migraine season. Unfortunately, in our house we have both, and these crazy weather shifts are brutal. I am thankful that we have medications that help, but the weather really causes issues. Despite all that, it’s been a good fall. We had a great albeit really wet Halloween. I’ve been fortunate to take some really awesome pictures of the kids outside. I ADORE fall pictures and the kids really indulged me this fall. My Spartans and Lions are rocking it every weekend, and g-day was a smashing success. Dan and I had a lovely anniversary, and now I am looking forward to a great Thanksgiving. October and November really are my favorite months of the year, as they contain some of my favorite things. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family, health, love, and of course some really great food. Enjoy! ♥♥