Raspberry Ricotta Cake

I keep telling myself that one of the best ways to eat healthier is to quit making desserts at home. After all, if it’s not there to eat in the first place you….. But, then I still do things like this. Don’t get me wrong, this was a good dessert but I ask myself, was it really necessary?  Now, I’m not going to get into that debate but I will say that he’s, it was kind of necessary. See, I found this recipe and thought it perfect as I had a container of ricotta that needed to be used up. And I didn’t want to just end up throwing it away like the last container of leftover ricotta that had turned into some weird science experiment. 

But I digress. The point is that this “worked out” to make yet I feel a little guilty for making it. And we are coming up on Christmas which means more desserts (cookies). But I have told myself that I’m not going to go overboard like the last two years. But we shall see. 

Now, for this recipe, it was really good. I didn’t make any changes to it and even went out and got frozen red raspberries. I did have a bag of frozen berries, which included red raspberries, that I almost just used but chose to go the “correct” way. I did add the berries at the end and mixed it for a few seconds with the stand mixer. It didn’t crush the berries so the end result was still the large berries spread throughout the cake. And speaking of that, they did stay pretty well through the cake as opposed to sinking to the bottom. I was pretty happy about that. 

I baked this for 50 minutes to start as you can always add time. It was done at 50 minutes. I let it cool and it came out of the pan really well. I can’t say that the parchment paper in the pan really helped as it actually stayed in the pan but it certainly didn’t hurt anything. 

I would recommend this recipe, whether you have leftover ricotta or not. 

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Travison’s Shepherds Pie

Recently I found that we had this little recipe book- Traditional Holiday Celebrations: Recipes & Inspiration for a Festive Christmas. I have no idea where it came from or how long we’ve had it. But I started flipping through it and and came across this recipe. Which was fortuitous as we still had some leftover mashed potatoes that needed to be used up. 

Since I don’t have a link to a website, I’ll outline the recipe and then tell you what I did differently. 

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen baby beans
  • 1 cup frozen baby carrots
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, slices
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, untrained
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar beef gravy
  • 2 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Paprika 

Brown beef and onions. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Drain well. Stir in frozen vegetables, mushrooms, tomatoes, gravy, chili sauce, basil, and pepper. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Spoon beef mixture into greased 8″ square baking dish (or 2 quart baking dish). In a small bowl, whisk egg until beaten. Mix egg with the mashed potatoes, spoon over the beef mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until beef mixture is bubbly. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. 

I made a few changes. Partly, okay mostly, because I hadn’t read the recipe close enough and didn’t buy all the ingredients I needed. And of course I wanted to make it now so I could wait a day or two and go to the store. So, here is what I changed or adjusted. 

I did get the vegetables but all I did was buy a one pound bag of mixed vegetables. It had everything it called for and I figured that I would measure it out and if I was short on the four total cups, I would add more corn (that we already had). Happily, the bag had just about four cups and I decided I didn’t need to add anything else. I forgot the mushrooms so those were out. I looked to see if we had any of those little cans of mushrooms in the house but we did not. I also didn’t buy any gravy. So, I mixed 1 1/4 cups chicken broth with cornstarch to create my own. It worked so-so. I never felt like it really thickened how I wanted it to (I was hearing it on the stove) so it maybe added to the runny-ness of the dish. Plus it was chicken rather than beef (although I’m a little less worried about that). 

For the potatoes, well, I ended up making instant. The potatoes from Thanksgiving had gone bad. I used what we had which was a bag of instant baby reds. Ultimately, it said it made about 2 cups total so I had less than I needed. It did cover it just fine but having some more would have been nice. For the cheese, I used a micro plane grater on the block of Parmesan and evenly covered the top of the potatoes. Probably used more than it called for. And lastly, I didn’t add any paprika at the end. 

So….overall this was okay. It wasn’t “awesome” or a “great” meal. It actually could have used a bit more flavor (IMO) and maybe it would have if I would have used the mushrooms and beef gravy. I also thought it to be a bit runny. I might suggest draining the tomatoes to lose some of the liquid. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t have been that way if I would have used the right gravy. 

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Turkey Pot Pie

Believe it or not (I didn’t really believe it) I only had 3-4 pounds of turkey leftover. Which meant that after measuring out what I needed for this recipe, I had about enough left for the second round of the turkey salad and – no more leftover turkey. It was nice to not have to freeze any and have to remember it was there. But I digress. 

I will say that this recipe was inspired by a recipe for Moravian Chicken Pie that was from the website Cooks Country. I had saved the recipe to make itself but then decided I could adapt it for the leftover turkey. Now, I didn’t save a link to the recipe. Sometimes when I follow a link to that website I get a pop up that I have to be a member of the website and sometimes I don’t. This time I didn’t but I took some quick screenshots of the recipe in case when I came back to it, it would let me see it. 

The gist of the recipe is cooking chicken breasts and thighs in broth, turning the broth into gravy, and combining some of the gravy with the chicken (shredded) in the pie crusts. Oh, and making the crust from scratch. All good, and what I was going to do. But leftovers made it easier. 

Here is what I did. I cheated and used premade pie crust. It was simpler. I weighed out about 25 ounces of leftover turkey (around what they said to use for chicken). I shredded it and combined it with about two cups of leftover gravy and two cups of vegetables- peas and corn). The vegetables were my addition. It seemed odd to just have chicken (or turkey) without anything else. 

I assembled the pie over lunch and out it in the fridge. When it was time for dinner, I didn’t let it come to room temperature or anything but I did bake it according to their directions. It went in at 450 degrees for 18-20 minutes and then 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. 

It wasn’t overly bubbly but since everything was cooked in it to begin with I wasn’t worried about how it would be. Plus it was plenty hot. Overall, this was pretty good. There was a lot of flavor and most of that came from using the gravy leftover from Thanksgiving. And there wasn’t anything fancy about that. I just poured off the drippings from the turkey and heated it up with some cornstarch to thicken it. I didn’t separate the fat or anything. It was a decent use for the leftover turkey. 

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Crescent Roll Cornucopia with Turkey Salad

Cue the turkey leftovers. Yes, I am behind on my posting but that’s what happens when you cook a lot and only post once a day (if that). Rest assured, I used up the turkey in a reasonable amount of time. I even didn’t need to freeze any. Anyway, back to this recipe. I stumbled across this somewhere and thought it was the perfect use for leftover turkey. It even still fit the theme of Thanksgiving. 

I did make some changes though to the actual recipe. I only made four of the cornucopias out of the crescent roll dough. That worked really well and it makes me wonder how I would have done six. I guess they would have been smaller. It worked well to wrap the dough around the ice cream cone. A few of them stuck a little but they came apart without damaging they rolls. And yes, I took a picture of the best one. 

For the turkey salad itself, I did measure out 3/4 of a pound along with a 1/4 cup of the cranberries. And I measured out the mayo but then added a lot more (without measuring) as it seemed like it was too dry. I added until I liked the consistency. And I traded the red onion for celery (one stalk chopped fine). 

Overall, this was really good. Everyone loved the turkey salad and I ended up making more of that. I did it pretty much the same way although I was not as concerned with measuring the ingredients. I would definitely recommend this recipe. I’m even considering making it again but with chicken (as we are now out of turkey). 

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Cheesy Corn Casserole 

As we were looking for something else to take to my family’s Thanksgiving I decided that I could make this corn casserole. There were a couple of reasons mainly though it was because I had the recipe and I had leftover corn from Thanksgiving. You can read the recipe here. It is one of those recipes that gives you a few instructions and ingredients but then tells you to “figure it out” and make what ever adjustment you want. I like those kind of recipes. Which, technically, could be any recipe. 

So here’s the deal – you add a bunch of cheese, including cream cheese, to a pot with corn and then bake it with a breadcrumb/cheese topping. It’s actually pretty simple.

I didn’t make any changes except using my own quantities for the cheese, etc.  I chose to take the seeds out of the jalapeño although there still was a little bit of a kick. I added a little more cheddar (technically it was Colby Jack as that is the package we had open). 

For the corn itself, I used what we had leftover from Thanksgiving. And this is where it got a little “off” if you will. The recipe calls for two cans of regular corn (not creamed corn). I figured that I would just weigh out 30 ounces of corn (each can being 15 ounces) from what we had leftover. Eyeballing it told me there was plenty. Well, there wasn’t. It was only about 20 ounces of corn. Now, I could of added more corn from a can or unthawed some more, bit I didn’t. I should have though. As a result, itwas a little extra cheesey. 

And, I decided to not use the 13×9 pan as it seemed like it would be a really thin layer. So I used a 11×8 pan. It worked better. The issue there though was that the topping was really thick. It needed more space to spread out. Now, I should have just not used all of it, but of course, it didn’t do that. The overall end result was that the topping never browned, crisped, melted, whatever. Which made it hard to take a picture. 

So, overall, this was good. Everyone liked it so the “issues” I had really were not that big of a deal. 

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Apple Cheddar Rosemary Beignets 

Thanksgiving at for my side of the family usually takes place the Saturday or Sunday after the holiday. And with that, each of us brings one or two food items. Sometimes it’s an appetizer, sometimes for the main meal, dessert, whatever. This year I decided that it was a good opportunity to try this recipe. 

I had high hopes for it and it turned out okay, but not great. Most people liked the end product. My kids didn’t and I was so-so about them. There wasn’t anything wrong with them, they just were not as good as I thought they would be. 

For the recipe, I didn’t make any change although I used dried rosemary in the dough. It didn’t specifically specify fresh or dried. I will assume that it meant fresh since it calls to fry some fresh at the end but I had not found fresh rosemary at the store (two different ones) and was set to use the dried. 

While in the end I think everything turned out okay, I will say that I had trouble with the dough coming together. I may needed to have added more flour as the dough was pretty sticky. It stuck to the bowl after the first rise and then stuck to the counter when trying to roll it up. In fact, rolling it up didn’t work out at all. With it sticking, it was tearing and being problematic. I wound up just sort of scraping it all together and putting it back in the bowl. 

Frying them went pretty well once I got the hang of it. I had opted to buy a small fryer rather than try to do it in a pot on the stove. I can’t say how much I will use the fryer but it was on sale and pretty cheap. It worked out well. For serving, I piled them up on a plate and drizzled some honey on each layer. I did not fry any rosemary to sprinkle on. I had thought about trying to fry some dried but I didn’t feel like experimenting that much. 

The last thing I will say is that this recipe made a lot. You can kind of see from the picture that the plate is piled pretty high. I also probably made them bigger than I was supposed to but it didn’t really matter. Smaller ones would have meant more quantity. 

I would say that this is worth a try but bear in mind some of the issues that I ran into. 

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Orange Scented Cinnamon Rolls

Rounding out the cooking while family was in town was breakfast Saturday morning. While there were leftovers from the previous breakfast and I could have made anything, I went with this recipe for some cinnamon rolls. 

Overall, these turned out really well. I had a little trouble with the rise. That seems to be a common issue for me. It really didn’t appear to rise during the first one. I would have left it to go longer but I didn’t have the time. For the second rise, once they were cut and in the pan, they got a little puffy but not as much as I would have thought. However, in the end, once they were baked, they came out just fine. They filled the pan nicely. 

These were a little different as you put a sauce on the bottom of the pan, which then became the top of the pan once you flipped it. It worked out pretty well. Only a minor mess. Luckily I had a platter big enough to old all of them at once. Speaking of the sauce, it was good but a little interesting as it seemed to harden pretty easily. It wasn’t a bad thing, just different. It wasn’t your typical icing for cinnamon rolls. 

I only made one change and that was to use dried orange peel (2 teaspoons) instead of fresh. In the end I couldn’t taste any orange (or smell any) which may have been a result of using the dried. But they were still good. I also didn’t measure outnthe honey for the topping. I feel that I used about the right amount but I just drizzled it out of the bottle. That seemed to be a better/easier option. 

Overall I was very happy with how these turned out an would recommend this recipe. 

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