Cranberry & Toasted Almond Brie En Croute

Cranberry & Toasted Almond Brie En Croute

Baked Brie or Brie en Croute is the perfect appetizer to impress your friends and family. It looks festive and it tastes amazing! Puff Pastry and brie…how can you go wrong? Add whole cranberry sauce and toasted almonds and you have a winning appetizer. I meant to take a picture of this beauty when it emerged from the oven, but it got whisked away and devoured so quickly, so this is the picture that you get! It still looks delicious!

Cranberry & Toasted Almond Brie En Croute

1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, mashed and divided
1/4 cup Dried Sweetened Cranberries, divided
1/2 cup Slivered Almonds, toasted and divided
1 (8 ounce) round brie cheese (about 4 inches in diameter)
assorted crackers

Directions:

1 Preheat oven to 350°F Spread almonds in one layer on ungreased shallow baking pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden. Set aside.
2 Reheat oven to 400°F.
3 In small bowl whisk egg and water; set aside. Unfold pastry sheet on lightly floured surface into a 12-inch square. Cut off corners to make a circle.
4 Spread cranberry sauce in center of circle the same size as Brie round. Top with 2 tablespoons each of cranberries and toasted almonds.
5 Place Brie over mixture. Repeat layering with remaining cranberry sauce, cranberries and 2 tablespoons almonds.
6 Brush edge of the circle with egg mixture. Fold pastry up over cheese to cover. Trim any excess pastry; press to seal. Brush seam with egg mixture. Place seam side up onto baking sheet.
7 Brush with egg mixture; sprinkle with ¼ cup almonds that have been coarsely chopped.
8 Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is soft and just begins to melt. Allow pastry to cool 30 minutes before serving. Serve with assorted crackers.

Recipe adapted from Crumbs in my Mustachio and Food.com

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TURKEY NOODLE VEGETABLE SOUP

TURKEY NOODLE VEGETABLE SOUP

Soup’s are the easiest meal you can make, especially when you already have a roasted chicken or turkey. This year hubs wanted a turkey all to himself. Just a little bird, eight pounds. We ate most of the white meat and I decided to make turkey soup with the dark meat and bones since it was snowing today. Yes, pure comfort food. The wood stove is crackling and the soup is simmering today, while I bake an assortment of desserts for Thanksgiving. Yes, it is a good day when I have been baking all day and we can actually have supper ready with a delicious comforting bowl of Turkey Noodle Vegetable Soup.

Turkey Noodle Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

Leftover Roasted Turkey (bones and dark meat)
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 bag of egg noodles
water
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, cover turkey bones and meat with water. Cover and boil for 1 hour over medium heat. Broth should look dark after boiling for 1 hour. Remove from heat. Chill overnight or let cool. Drain liquid into bowl, remove turkey from bones. Shred turkey, add back to broth. In another pot, add olive oil and chopped vegetables, saute for about 4-5 minutes. Add vegetables to turkey and broth, boil until veggies are softer, about 8-10 minutes. Add noodles and cook al dente, about 7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Caramel Cheesecake Cupcakes and a Cookbook GIVEAWAY!!

Caramel Cheesecake Cupcakes and a Cookbook GIVEAWAY!!

Do you love cheesecake? Do you love Caramel? Well you have come to the right place! These cupcakes are “healthier” than the average cupcakes. This recipe comes from The California Country Gal’s Cookbook, “Sweet Secret’s” written by Annabelle Lee. This cookbook caters to Paleo Friendly, Low Glycemic, and just delicious recipes! Annabelle has a wealth of information explaining how you can have whole foods cupcakes that are delicious and still good for you. Some of the ingredients I had never heard of before such as Erythritol, it’s a sweetener that is low on the glycemic index, and great for diabetics. Since I am all about creating recipes with ingredients that I have on hand, I remembered that I had Xylitol, which is still lower  than cane sugar on the glycemic index. I replaced Xylitol for Erythritol. ( Another sweetener that is zero carbs and low on the glycemic index.) The cheesecakes came out delicious, they are lighter in texture than most dense cheesecakes. The caramel sauce is a perfect addition, drizzle it on the plate and then over the cheesecakes when serving, for a pretty presentation.

Now on to the giveaway! You could win a SWEET SECRETS COOKBOOK just by entering my Rafflecopter!

CLICK HERE!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Caramel Cheesecake Cupcakes

Ingredients
makes 12 cupcakes

Crust:
Dried Cupcake crumbs ( I used 4 Organic Graham Crackers)
1/3 cup Pecans
2 Tbsp butter

Blend in Food Processor to a meal. If you don’t have cupcake crumbs, you substitute them with another 1/3 cup pecans and 1 Tbsp coconut flour
Press 1 rounded Tbsp into 12 buttered cupcake cups

Cheesecake

2 cups cream cheese
1 cup yellow squash or peeled zucchini ( I used 1 whole banana)
1/2 cup Erythritol ( I used Xylitol)
1/4 cup Evaporated Cane Juice or 1/8 tsp Stevia ( I used Truvia)
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp egg white powder
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract or Paste
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Almond Extract
1/8 tsp sea salt

Directions

Position oven rack to middle portion of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In food processor fitted with S blade, add all of the ingredients and blend smooth.

Divide batter on top of the crust. Bake for 12 minutes, then turn oven down to 325 degrees and bake another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with this mixture, if desired:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

Return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Turn off the oven and crack the oven door. Let rest about an hour before refrigerating.

Top with: Dark Coconut Palm Caramel

1 1/2 cups Coconut Palm Sugar ( I used Xylitol)
6 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp butter

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Cover and allow to boil, without stirring, for about 3 minutes, the steam will wash down the sides of the pan. Uncover and let boil another few minutes. The caramel will thicken as it cools.
If you wish to use a candy thermometer allow it to reach 238 degrees, the softball stage. My caramel isn’t dark like Annabelle’s, but it is still delicious!

This cheesecake is delicious with fruit too!

Pecan Almond Bars

Pecan Almond Bars

One of the most popular cookie bars from the Joy of Cooking cookbook is the Pecan Bars recipe. I thought I would switch it up a bit and add almonds, I know, I am wild, you didn’t think you would ever see this side of me did ya??? Welcome to my world! I thought these would be a perfect dessert for Thanksgiving because you can cut them into bars or slices, great finger desserts. It has a nice sweet buttery crust with a cinnamon nut filling.

Makes 48 1×2 inch sticks

Ingredients
For Crust
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

For filling:
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup finely chopped roasted sliced almonds
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For Crust: Cream butter and sugar until well blended, beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour and salt. Add in 3 parts to butter mixture, blending well. Use your hands to pat the dough evenly in a greased 9x 12 inch pan. Bake about 15 minutes.
For filling: In a heavy saucepan, beat egg whites over low heat until frothy. Sir in nuts, sugar and cinnamon. After sugar has dissolved, increase heat slightly. Stir and cook until mixture leaves the side of the pan, but remove from heat before it is dry. Spread it over pastry base. Bake about 15 minutes longer. When cool, cut into bars or sticks.

Recipe semi adapted from Joy of Cooking

CROCKPOT ROASTED CHICKEN

CROCKPOT ROASTED CHICKEN

By now, you may have heard, that my Crock Pot is my best friend. Yes, it hasn’t let me down, so I had to try this Whole Chicken recipe for the crock pot. It is a “roasted” chicken, roasted with quotes, because it is tender and moist, just like a roasted chicken would be in quotes, but not crispy skin, like a “roasted” chicken would be in quotes! I couldn’t believe how easy this recipe is, with fantastic results! I didn’t add and butter or oil because the chicken creates such delicious juices, you won’t miss it. Just set your crock pot timer and let your chicken turn into the moistest, juiciest chicken you have ever sunken your teeth into. If you really want crispy chicken skin, just place your chicken under the broiler for a couple minutes, but believe me, I didn’t miss it. You can do so much with the roasted chicken, you can make chicken salad, chicken soup, the recipes are endless, or just eat it as is!

 

 

 

Ingredients:
3.5 – 4 lb whole chicken, giblets and neck removed
1 Tablespoon Lawrys Seasoned Salt
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
6 ripped sheets foil, crumpled into balls

Directions:

Place foil balls in bottom of crock pot. Pat chicken dry and remove skin if desired to to lower fat content (chicken may be just slightly less juicy.) Sprinkle seasonings all over chicken, then place chicken breast-side up in crock pot. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-7, or until meat is tender, and thigh can be easily removed.

I do not add butter or oil, when the chicken bakes, it makes it’s own juice.

Recipe semi adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

EGGPLANT LASAGNA

EGGPLANT LASAGNA

Sometimes I have to step away from the carbs! Especially with Thanksgiving dinner around the corner. I have absolutely no willpower, I want to try everything! This casserole freezes really well if you want to double the recipe, which I have been know to do. You can also try this recipe with ground turkey or chicken, it’s all delicious.

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1 onion chopped
2 eggplants
1/2 container ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs
1/2 package Mozzarella Cheese, grated
1 jar Marinara Sauce ( I like Rao’s)

Directions

Slice eggplant long ways into slices, saute in a pan, on medium heat with olive oil until soft, about 2-3 minutes per each side. Set aside. Saute chopped onion and ground beef in a pan until beef is browned, drain fat. Set aside. In a bowl, beat eggs, add ricotta and parmesan cheese. Set aside. In a 9 x 12 baking dish, pour 1/4 marinara sauce on bottom of dish, place cooked eggplant over sauce, add dollops cheese mixture, gently spread, add sauce, meat and add eggplant and remainder of cheese mixture, sauce, cover with mozzarella cheese, bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

CORNBREAD SAUSAGE STUFFING

CORNBREAD SAUSAGE STUFFING

When I was a child, I wasn’t so fond of stuffing. I didn’t get what the big deal was? My family rejoiced as the stuffing was pulled out of the oven, one turkey stuffed, one tray just for eating, morning, noon and night! Now that I am an adult, I really understand the whole stuffing concept. I stuff my turkey with veggies. I bake the stuffing in a separate baking dish. You may call it dressing in your house, but it is called stuffing in mine. I have included my recipe for cornbread, I like my cornbread sweet, but for this recipe I have omitted the sugar. I prefer stuffing not being sweet. I have used Organic Greek Sausage from our Farmers Market, if you can’t find Greek sausage feel free to use your favorite sausage.

Easy Cornbread Recipe

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup corn meal ( I like Quaker Oats Yellow Corn Meal )
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease an 8 or 9 inch pan.
Combine dry ingredients.
Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until bread is light golden brown or a a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9 servings

Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

1 recipe Easy Corn Bread
1 pound Greek Sausage
1 onion chopped
1 stalk celery chopped
Chicken broth

Remove sausage from skin and break into small pieces into a saute pan over medium heat, brown sausage, drain oil, add chopped onion and celery, saute veggies for 2-3 minutes. Add broken up pieces of cornbread. Pour 1/2 chicken broth, mix, add another 1/2 cup broth checking to see that the stuffing is holding together. Add more broth if stuffing is dry. Spray a 9×12 baking dish with vegetable spray. Pour cornbread stuffing into dish, smooth out. Bake in oven for 20 -25 minutes, or until the outside looks golden and firm. Serves 12

CHICKEN FRIED RICE

CHICKEN FRIED RICE

Make the best Chinese Food at home! My Mom used to serve the BEST food at her Chinese parties when I was a kid. So when she came to visit us, we all begged her to make Chinese Fried Rice for us. My Mom doesn’t measure ingredients when she cooks or bakes, so I had to follow her around with a pen and paper and ask her to measure everything!

Ingredients

1 pound chicken breasts thinly sliced
2 bok choy stalks, leaves separated, leaves and stalks cut diagonally
1/2 Sugar Snap Peas (optional)
1/2 cup Bean Sprouts (optional)
1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
1 piece ginger, sliced
2 green onions, sliced diagonally (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
Oil for stir-frying
2 cups cold rice, Long Grain

Marinade:
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions

Cut all of the vegetables into similar size so that the cooking time will be the same.
Cut chicken into strips. Add the marinade to the chicken, let marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat wok and add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken. Stir-fry until it is cooked. Remove from the wok and drain on paper towels. Add eggs, stir until cooked, set aside.
Add 2 – 3 tablespoons oil to the wok. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry briefly and add the onions. Stir-fry until onions are tender, then add the bok choy stalks. Stir-fry a bit longer, then add the Sugar Snap Peas and finally the bok choy leaves and Bean Sprouts.

Push the vegetables up to the side and add the rice in the middle, turning up the heat. Return the chicken and eggs to the wok. Mix well and stir in the green onions if using. Serve hot!

Recipe from MOM

Caramel Apple Sticky Buns

Caramel Apple Sticky Buns

Give yourself some time to make these Sticky Buns, they are a bit of work, but well worth it. I made one batch with a Granny Smith apple and the second batch with a cup of pecans. I had my kids taste them and they are both wonderful. The buns are not heavy, but a lighter dough. These are perfect for a brunch party, or just when you happen to have a lot of kids in the house. Each sticky bun is a two bite size, so have a couple!

Ingredients

FOR THE ROLLS:
2 cups Whole Milk, (I used half and half)
1-1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Canola Oil, I used Vegetable Oil
1 package (2 1/4 Teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
4-1/2 cups Flour, Divided
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
3/4 cups Melted Butter
4 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
_____
FOR THE CARAMEL TOPPING:
1 stick Salted Butter
1-1/2 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Dark Brown Corn Syrup ( I used light corn syrup)
2 Tablespoons Cream
2 Tablespoons Apple Brandy Or Apple Juice (optional) I didn’t have either, still worked out perfectly
1 whole Granny Smith Apple, Peeled And Finely Diced

Preparation Instructions
To make the dough:
Heat milk, oil, and 1/2 cup sugar until warm (do not boil). Allow to cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle in yeast and 4 cups flour. Stir gently and cover with a tea towel, allowing it to rise for 1 hour. After 1 hour, add remaining flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

To make the caramel topping:
Add 1 stick butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, and optional apple brandy or apple juice. Allow to melt over low heat until totally combined. Allow to boil for a few seconds, then remove from heat. Set aside.
To make the rolls:
Roll out half the dough into a large rectangle. Pour on half the melted butter, half the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, and half the cinnamon. Roll into a long roll, then slice into rolls.
To assemble:
Spray 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Pour in half the caramel topping. Sprinkle diced apple over the top, then arrange sliced rolls all over the pan. Allow to rise for 20 to 30 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, covered in foil for the first 25 minutes.
(Repeat with the other half of dough if desired, or save the dough in the fridge for another use.) I substituted pecans for apples for the second batch. I used 1 cup roughly chopped pecans.
Invert on a cake pedestal or serving plate. Rolls will be very hot at first; allow to cool slightly before serving.

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Pepperoncini Beer Pork

Pepperoncini Beer Pork

The weather has been unpredictable. The first day of 21 degrees sent me into shock mode, it was just 60 degrees last week. How could winter be here already? Oh yeah, it’s Maine. I keep forgetting. Like the first year we lived here there was 3 feet of snow the week before Halloween. I really had to question our choices. Oh my God, what have we done? But the years have gone by and that hasn’t happened again, so here we are almost in the middle of November, it is so mild and beautiful. The leaves are still on the trees and I am feeling thankful for this.

This is a great Slow Cooker recipe that is full of flavor and my whole family gave it a big thumbs up. It’s a recipe that I will be making again.

Pepperoncini Beer Pork

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
5 pounds Pork Roast, Any Cut, Bone-in Or Boneless
1 bottle (12 Oz. Bottle) Beer
1 jar (16 Oz.) Pepperoncini Peppers (Greek Salad Peppers)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 whole Onion, Sliced Or Diced
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning

Directions

Heat a skillet or pan to medium-high, add olive oil and sear the whole pork roast on all sides. Place roast and any drippings in a large slow cooker. Pour the beer and the entire jar of pepperoncini with liquid over the roast. Sprinkle with salt, seasoning and layer onions and garlic on and around the roast. Cook on low for 12 hours.

Serve over Brown rice, pasta or Potatoes.
This recipe works well with beef, chicken or turkey.

Recipe semi adapted from The Tasty Kitchen