Friday, December 17, 2010

Reindeer Food...also known as crack

Christmas just isn't Christmas until you've made some Reindeer Food - which is more commonly known amongst my friends as CRACK. They call it that for a reason: It's addictive! Consider yourself warned.


* 4 cups Cheerios
* 4 cups Rice Chex
* 2 + cups of mini pretzels
* 1 bag Christmas M&M's
* 1.5 cups lightly salted peanuts
* 1 package almond bark
* red & green sugars


1. Mix the Cheerios, Chex, pretzels, M&M's and peanuts in a LARGE bowl. (The biggest one you've got).

2. In a separate, microwave safe bowl, melt the almond bark. Start by microwaving for 1 min. and stir. Continue in 30 second increments until almond bark is melted & smooth.

3. Pour almond bark into bowl of Cheerio mixture. Mix very carefully or you'll make a huge mess! Quickly spread mixture into a thin layer on wax paper and generously sprinkle with red & green sugar.

4. Allow to dry completely while trying not to eat it all.

My Tid-Bits:

* I usually package this in cellophane bags & give it away as gifts to friends & co-workers at Christmastime.

* Feel free to adjust the dry ingredients to your liking. I add extra pretzels!

On another note...I have been such a blog slacker lately and for that I apologize. However, I have an excuse. All I've eaten for the past week is smoothies, yogurt & ice cream. Why? Wisdom teeth removal. Enough said. I promise to share more Christmas goodies next week!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving & Hot Crab Dip

I'm finally getting around to doing a Thanksgiving post. I know I'm behind! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving at our house with some of my dad's family. We had 8 people for dinner, but with as much the food as we cooked, we could have easily fed 16. Sometimes my mom & I have a tendency to overdo things. (I always say too much is better than not enough).

We turned our breakfast table into a place for appetizers & desserts. We kept the appetizers light with an assortment of cheese & crackers, veggies and a hot crab dip (recipe shared below). The desserts included mini coconut & chocolate fudge pies, pecan tassies, fudge & the oh-so-yummy Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle.

When the turkey was finally cooked & carved, we sat down at the dining room table (which has been used no more than 15 times in the 5 years we've been married) and enjoyed a HUGE lunch.

We had both turkey & ham, fresh (and canned) cranberry sauce, dressing, rolls, mashed potatoes with chives, a field greens salad with strawberries, green beans with shallots and portobello mushrooms and sweet potato casserole topped with a cornflake/pecan/marshmallow topping. It was all delicious. I ate entirely too much!

After stuffing ourselves, we enjoyed some time visiting & watching football before diving into the trifle. Our wonderful Thanksgiving day was made even better when my beloved Aggies beat the longhorns. WHOOP!! Cotton Bowl, here we come!

After having Thanksgiving week off, I'm trying to get back in the swing of things. The Hubs is happy that I've actually started cooking regular dinner again. Which also means I have recipes to share. For now, I'm going to try & get the rest of my Christmas decorations up so I can clean my house.

Now for the recipe:


Note: The recipe below makes 2 quarts and serves 12 - 16 people. I only made 1/2 of the recipe and it was plenty.


* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 cup chopped onions
* 1 cup chopped red bell peppers
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 2 teaspoons coarse salt
* 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Emeril's Original Essence
* 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
* 1 cup mayonnaise
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 1 tablespoon minced scallions
* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
* 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked through for shells and cartilage
* 1/2 cup saltine or butter cracker crumbs
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
* Toast points or crackers, for serving


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon Essence. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set vegetables aside.

3. Place cream cheese, mayonnaise, parsley, scallions, lemon juice, remaining teaspoon salt, and remaining tablespoon Essence in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. (I just hand mixed all of this in a large mixing bowl).

4. Fold in cooked vegetables...

and crab meat.

5. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish.
(Or put in a bowl & cover tightly with plastic wrap until you're ready to bake).

6. In a small bowl, mix together breadcrumbs and melted butter; stir to combine. Spread breadcrumb mixture over crabmeat mixture and bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

7. Serve with toast points or crackers.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Updated: OH MY HEAVENS, Y'ALL! This dessert was A-MAZ-ING!! You must make it! My mom & I laughed as we put the trifle together, thinking we'd made enough dessert for 15 people. We were wrong. It was gobbled up. I will definitely be making this dessert for Christmas with The Hub's family.


I am so excited to finally get to host a holiday at my home this year! My mom came in town early & I took the week off, so we've spent the past 3 days shopping & cooking.

For the most part, we're keeping our Thanksgiving meal pretty traditional...except for dessert. No pumpkin or pecan pies here. Instead we made mini coconut & mini chocolate pies, pecan tassies & a Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle. I can't tell you how excited I am about this trifle!!

It has several components - gingerbread, pumpkin mousse & whip cream - but each are easy to make. I promise. And it will be well worth it!

(I promise to update the recipe with step-by-step pictures after Thanksgiving. Right now I've got to go help my mom make the cinnamon rolls for tomorrow morning. YUMMY!). Update: I'm only going to do step-by-step on the mousse because the rest is pretty straight forward & I don't want to overload with pictures.

Gingerbread Ingredients:

* 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 3/4 cup plus molasses
* 2 large eggs
* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cups chilled whipping cream
* 3/4 cup boiling water

(Adapted from

Pumpkin Mousse Ingredients:

* 1/4 cold water
* 1 packet (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin powder
* 1 (15-ounce can) pumpkin (not pie filling)
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
* 2 extra-large egg yolks
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
* 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

(Adapted from

Sweetened Whipped Cream Ingredients:

* 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1 tsp vanilla

Gingerbread Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan.

2. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar and butter in large bowl until blended. Beat in 3/4 cup molasses.

3. Then add eggs 1 at a time.

4. Sift in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt; beat until blended.

5. Beat in 1/4 cup cream, then 3/4 cup boiling water.

6. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack.

Pumpkin Mousse Directions:

1. Place the water in a small sauce pan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for 10 minutes for the gelatin to soften.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg yolks, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

3. Put the sauce pan of water/gelatin over low heat and cook until the gelatin is clear. Immediately whisk the hot gelatin mixture into the pumpkin mixture.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture.

5. Try not to eat the mousse by the spoonful while you make the rest of the trifle.

Sweetened Whip Cream Directions:

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.

Trifle Assembly Directions:

1. Cut gingerbread into cubes. Arrange a single layer of cubes in circles on the bottom of a trifle dish.

2. Next, spread 1/3 pumpkin mousse over the gingerbread cubes.

3. Then spread 1/3 sweetened whipped cream over mousse.

4. Repeat layers two more times.

5. If desired, pipe whipped cream on for the last layer for a pretty finish.

6. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but over night is best.

7. Top with crushed gingersnaps or a sprinkle of nutmeg just before serving.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for a good fall dessert recipe to take to my sorority reunion when my sister recommended Paula Dean's Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake. She had made it on multiple occasions & it was a hit every time! Her only warning: Be sure that none of it is left over. You won't be able resist eating the rest & you'll gain 10 lbs. I love Paula Dean & a lot of her recipes sound divine, but I don't make many of them because of the one thing Paula is known for: butter. Don't get me wrong. I love butter. But take the first 4 letters of that word & you'll know where it winds up!

But every once in a while, you've gotta splurge & make the good stuff. So I did. And my sister was right, it's good. Unfortunately, I left the cake ON MY COUNTER AT HOME when I left for the reunion! Ugh! I was so mad at myself.

Anyway...the cake turned out very tasty & was quite simple to make. If you're looking for a rich dessert that will be a hit at a party, I'd recommend this one.



* 1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
* 1 egg
* 8 tablespoons butter, melted


* 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
* 3 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 8 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer.

(It will look like this when combined)

3. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

4. To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth.

5. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together.

6. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well.

7. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter.

8. Bake for 1 hour **(see note below)**. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.


My Tid-Bits:

* The original recipe says to bake this for 40 to 50 minutes. By 50 minutes, it was not even close to being done. I think I wound up baking it for close to 1 hr 15 minutes. Start checking the cake at about 1 hr & keep an eye on it until it has the right consistency. It should wiggle in the middle a bit, but not be liquidy. Think cheese cake.

* Paula also offers several variations on this cake:

For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Rice

Right now I should be trying to figure out what I'm going to make for dinner tonight because I've got no plan for this week. I spent the end of last week working on food for our tailgate & sorority reunion that we had in Aggieland on Saturday instead of menu planning for this week like usual. However, instead of scrounging through the pantry, I'm procrastinating and sharing with you all what I made last week!

Today I bring you yet another recipe from Martha Stewart's Everday Food. When I first saw the recipe for Asian Turkey Meatballs, I was quite sure about them. They sounded a bit odd, but I decided to give them a try and they were pretty darn good. The Hubs really liked them!


* coarse salt
* 1 cup long-grain white rice
* 1 carrot, shredded
* 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
* 1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey or pork
* 3 scallions, white & green parts separated & thinly sliced
* 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 4 tsp. fish sauce
* 4 tsp. hot-pepper sauce (preferably Sriracha)
* 4 tsp. sugar
* 1 large clove garlic, minced
* 2 tsp. vegetable oil
* lime wedges for serving


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 3 Tablespoons of water. Let stand 5 minutes.

3. Add turkey, scallion whites, cilantro, fish sauce, hot-pepper sauce, sugar, garlic & 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Gently mix to combine.

And form into 12 meatballs.

4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tsp oil over medium-high. In batches, brown meatballs on all sides, 10 minutes total. Add up to 1 tsp. oil, as needed.

5. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until cooked through, 10 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, cook rice according to package directions. Stir in carrots and scallion greens (and extra cilantro if desired).

7. Serve meatballs with rice and lime wedges.

My Tid-Bits:

* Martha suggests using long-grain white rice & cooking it traditionally, but you can use whatever rice you like best. I personally prefer Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Boil-in-Bag Brown Rice. It's impossible to mess up & tastes good.

* I also LOVE cilantro, so I added a bunch to the rice, in addition to the cilantro called for in the meatballs.

* If you use lean ground turkey for these meatballs, one serving (3 meatballs) has just under 300 calories and 5 g of fat, excluding the rice.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Pioneer Woman's Roasted Vegetable Minestrone

Want to know what's REALLY good? Especially on a cool evening??

The Pioneer Woman's Roasted Vegetable Minestrone

Want to know what makes it even better?

Serving it in a cute pumpkin bowl.

I won't bother sharing the step-by-step because Ree has already done that here. However, I highly recommend making this soup soon. Like tomorrow. Because it's finally cooled off in Texas. (Today it was even cool enough for me to wear this sweater that I bought at the beginning of August)!

I will offer a few Tid-Bits though:

* This recipe makes A LOT of soup. The recipe says it makes 8 servings. The Pioneer Woman must have some LARGE soup bowls.

* On the plus side, each of those large servings has less than 300 calories!

* The only changes I'd recommend are adding some garlic while sauteing the onions & celery, adding an extra can of tomatoes (more of a personal preference) and using low-sodium canned goods.

* Oh, and if you'd like some cute pumpkin bowls of your own, you can buy them at Macy's. They're on sale for $7.99, but we all know you can get an extra 25% off with one of their coupons.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Soy-Ginger Fish & Veggies in a Pouch

Last week, I made this delicious dish (inspired by a similar dish from my Cooking Light cookbook) for The Hubs & I for dinner. It's super simple - the hardest part is chopping the vegetables - and relatively quick to make.

I used several different vegetables, including green onion, carrot, red bell pepper, mushrooms & green beans. Feel free to substitute your favorite veggies.


* lime juice from 2 limes
*1/4 cups low-sodium soy sauce
* 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled & grated
* 1 jalapeno, seeds removed & finely diced
* 6 green onions (green & white parts), finely chopped
* carrots, shredded
* green beans (fresh or frozen)
* sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
* red bell pepper, thinly sliced
* 2 (6 oz) fish fillets (I used mahi mahi)
* 4 oz. spaghetti,
* chopped cilantro


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and chop veggies accordingly.

2. Combine lime juice, soy sauce, ginger & jalapeno in a bowl large enough to dip fish fillets.

3. Lay 2 (16 inch) pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil on a work surface.

4. Layer vegetables in the center of the foil in this order: carrots, onions, green beans, mushrooms & bell pepper. You can use as much or as little of each as you like. (I piled on A LOT of everything).

5. Dip fish in soy/lime mixture...

and place on top of the vegetables. Then spoon remaining mixture over the fish & veggies.

6. Fold foil around fish & veggies, creating a sealed pouch. Place on rimmed baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes. While fish bake, cook spaghetti according to package directions.

7. Let pouches stand for 3 minutes. Carefully open pouches and serve fish & veggies over cooked spaghetti noodles. Top with cilantro.

My Tid-Bits:

* This was FULL of flavor and had a great mixture of textures (which I love).

* Next time, I'll substitute sugar snap peas for the green beans. I just think they'd be better.

* Be VERY careful when opening the pouches. Steam will pour out & burn your little fingers!

P.S. Tonight I'm making The Pioneer Woman's Roasted Vegetable Minestrone to enjoy while we watch the Texans on Monday Night Football and wait for the cooler weather to arrive. I'll let you know how it goes.