November 24, 2014

17 Pumpkin Recipes! Pumpkin Cake, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Bars, Pumpkin Pasta and more

I posted these last month before Halloween - but with Thanksgiving just around the corner this week, I think they are worth posting again, don't you?

Autumn is here!  The perfect time to celebrate the awesome pumpkin.  Don't wait for Thanksgiving to make a pumpkin pie and call it 'done' for the season.  Here are over a dozen recipes from my website that I've posted over the years.  From cakes to cinnamon rolls, pasta to griddle cakes.  There is something here for everyone - as I even have an amazing pumpkin bread that can be served to those doing sugar free or low carb way of eating.    Enjoy!!

Pumpkin Cake with Broiled Coconut Topping
Perfect Pumpkin Bread
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Cupcakes
Mexican Pumpkin Dip
Flaxseed Pumpkin Bread (sugar free and low carb too!)
Pumpkin Butter Pie
Pumpkin Pie with an Oatmeal Crust
Homemade Pasta
Pumpkin Bars
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Griddle Cakes
Pickled Pumpkin
Pumpkin Dessert
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Two Ingredient Pumpkin Cupcakes
Pumpkin Pie Print Friendly and PDF

November 22, 2014

Cheesy Bacon Biscuit Pull-Apart Bread and an Elegant Garlic Herb Pull Apart Bread

This morning I'm posting two recipes in one... as they are soon going to become one recipe...  the first is a recipe I know I won't make as it involves canned biscuits, and cooking in a cast iron pan with bacon and cheese on top.  Yummy ingredients, but I would be more inclined to use a basic homemade bread dough, and layer the bacon and cheese into a bubble bread or true pull-apart bread, baked in the oven.

One of my favorite pull-apart breads is one I posted about a year or so ago, a beautiful folded, ringed bread with lots of garlic, butter and parsley.  When I think of a cheesy, bacony bread, I immediately wanted to marry the 'biscuit' version with this folded, bread dough based version.  So, I'm putting both here in one post as a reminder to myself - and also to keep the recipe handy - as I plan to make it this upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday week, when my college daughter is home on break and I know will absolutely love this bread. 

Cheesy Bacon Biscuit Pull-Apart Bread

2 T melted butter
One roll refrigerated biscuit dough, 8 count
6 thin slices fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch thick
1 c Smithfield cooked, crumbled bacon
1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and brush a 9-inch cast iron skillet with melted butter. Unroll biscuits from can and place into bottom of skillet. Top with slices of mozzarella cheese, bacon crumbles then shredded cheddar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and biscuits are cooked through. Serve warm.

Elegant Garlic Herb Pull Apart Bread

I loosely based my idea for a pull apart bread on this recipe - which you can find in the Taste of Home Christmas 2010 edition as I liked the idea of using eggs in the dough, however I didn't want to make them into rolls, nor did I want to use their idea of an Italian Herb base.  Instead, I pictured the buttery, garlicy, delicious pull apart bread our family loves.  This recipe made a nice large batch of dough.  So much so that I made this folded, garlic, herb bread as well as individual garlic and black pepper flat breads (recipe coming soon!).   So use it to make 2 loaves, use it for something else or half the recipe when you are mixing it up.

Elegant Garlic Herb Pull Apart Bread

4 1/2 t - (2 pkg.)  active, dry yeast
1/2 c warm water
1 t sugar
1/3 c additional sugar
1 1/4 c warm milk
1/2 c butter, melted
2 eggs
1 t salt
6 c flour (additional 1 cup on stand by)
1-2 T fresh, minced garlic
2 T fresh, chopped parsley or 2 t dried
1 t garlic salt (optional - cut out if you need to cut down on salt)
4 T butter, soft

In a large mixing bowl, place the yeast and warm water with the 1 teaspoon sugar.  Stir gently and let set about 1 minute to dissolve.  Add the milk, melted butter, eggs, salt, 1/3 c sugar and about 3-4 cups flour.  Stir by hand or use your bread dough hook on the electric mixer and stir to form a soft dough starting with 3 cups flour and adding more to get the dough to form.  This should be a total of about 6 cups.   Knead by hand on a floured board 6-8 minutes or by mixer with dough hook, about 4-5 minutes.  In a greased bowl, turn once to cover the dough with oil or grease, cover and let raise until doubled in height.  This could be 25 minutes to an hour or more depending on how warm the area you are letting it raise is.

Punch down dough and place on a floured surface.  Divide dough into 4 portions.  The bread I made above was using just 2 dough portions of the dough and using the other two for something else.

Roll each portion into a rectangle about 14 inches by 6 inches.  Spread about 2 tablespoons of the butter over the rectangle and use half your garlic, garlic salt and parsley to sprinkle over the dough.   Fold the dough up accordion style (back and forth, back and forth) about every 2 inches.  Cut the folded dough into slices about 1 1/2 inches wide with a very sharp knife.  Place them standing up in a round, greased pan with the folds showing upwards.  Continue with your dough to fill a round circle in the pan.

Cover loosely and let raise in a warm place about 15-20 minutes just until it starts to raise and get puffy.  Bake at 375 degrees about 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bread is done.  Let cool about 3 minutes in the pan before turning out to a wire rack.  Let cool about 5-10 minutes before serving warm.

A nice, tender bread dough

Rolling out to a rectangle shape

Covering with fresh, minced garlic, garlic salt and parsley

Folded accordion style and sliced

Placed in a greased baking pan to form a ring

Let raise

Baked and ready to serve


You might be interested in;

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November 19, 2014

Really Quick: Pumpkin Pie Bars

This photo is the bar with a dry cake mix crust instead of the simple butter, flour & sugar below

I've recently posted these bars using a dry yellow cake mix - but this crust is more 'real' like a pumpkin pie and I actually like it better as I can taste the 'cake mix' flavor in the other version. The filling is the real winner. Pumpkin Pie. This version of the bar is more like what your great grandma makes. Simple, easy and good.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

1 c butter
2 c flour
1/2 c sugar

2 c canned pumpkin
2/3 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground cloves
3 eggs
1 c heavy cream

Mix like pie crust and pat into a 13X9 pan. Try to bring he sides up the pan just alittle to prevent the filling from seeping under. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour filling over crust, before returning to oven.

Combine pumpkin, sugar and spices. Add eggs. In a separate bowl whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the cream into the pumpkin mixture. Spread over crust. Bake at 375° for 35 to 45 minutes or until filling is set!Print Friendly and PDF

November 18, 2014

5 Chocolate Cookies: From Caramel Chocolate Thumbprints to Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am not a fan of chocolate.  I'm not really even a fan of cookies.  But I know I'm an oddball and that most people love chocolate, and love cookies!  Including my own family! 

These are some recipes I've posted through the years on An American Housewife previously, but with Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, I decided to start featuring some of the recipes from 2006 - 2013 that deserve to see the light again and not stay hidden in the back files.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies

1 1/2 c flour
1 c. sugar
1/3 c cocoa
1 c peanut butter
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/3 c margarine
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 c chocolate chips
2 eggs

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Melt 1 cup chips in the microwave or in a saucepan over the lowest possible heat till smooth.

Beat sugar, 1/3 cup peanut butter and butter and vanilla in a large bowl, until creamy. Beat in melted chocolate, add eggs one at a time. beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in remaining chips. Cover and chill just until firm.

Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Press 1/2" deep centers with thumb. Fill each center with about 1/2 teasspoon peanut butter.

Bake in preheated 350° F. oven about 10-15 minutes or until sides are set but centers are still slightly soft. Let stand for 2 minutes.

Remove to wire racks to cool completely.  You should be able to get about 32 cookies from this.


Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

1 c real butter
2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 c flour
3/4 c cocoa
1 baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 c peanut butter chips

Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Don't over mix. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt all at once and slowly start the beater to mix it in together. Stir in the chips. Drop by tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes. They will be puffy and moist when they come out of the oven. Let them set for 1-2 minutes, remove from the pan to cool completely. They will flatten as they cool. If you like a crisp cookie, bake them 1-2 minutes longer. 


Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c real butter
2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 c flour
3/4 c cocoa
1 baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 c mini chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Don't over mix. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt all at once and slowly start the beater to mix it in together. Stir in the chips. Drop by tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes. They will be puffy and moist when they come out of the oven. Let them set for 1-2 minutes, remove from the pan to cool completely. They will flatten as they cool. If you like a crisp cookie, bake them 1-2 minutes longer.


Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

1 egg
1/2 c butter, softened
2/3 c sugar
2 T milk
1 t vanilla
1 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
16 vanilla caramels, unwrapped
3 T whipping cream
1-1/4 c finely chopped pecans
1/2 c (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate pieces
1 t shortening

Separate egg and place yolk and white in separate bowls. Cover and refrigerate the white portion until later. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat well. Beat in egg yolk, milk, and vanilla.

In another bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until well combined. Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or until easy to handle. In a small saucepan heat and stir caramels and whipping cream over low heat until mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Slightly beat reserved egg white. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in egg white, then in pecans to coat. Place balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 or until edges are firm. Repress the thumbprint if it baked out and puffed up again. Spoon melted caramel mixture into indentations of cookies. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.

In another saucepan heat and stir chocolate pieces and shortening over low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly. Drizzle chocolate mixture over tops of cookies.


Homemade Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

oil cooking spray
3/4 c flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 t salt
6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 large egg
1/2 t vanilla extract

Cookie Filling

Makes 1 cup (enough for 15 sandwich cookies)

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted)
peppermint or vanilla extract

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in one of the flavorings.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper; lightly coat with cooking spray. Whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating to combine. Divide dough in half; form into disks, and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. (Dough can be frozen up to 2 months; thaw in the refrigerator before using.)

Working with one disk at a time, roll out dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a 1 1/2-inch square biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out shapes, transferring to prepared sheets (1 inch apart) as you work. Chill in freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. Brush off excess flour. Gather together scraps; roll, chill, and cut out more shapes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer cookies, on parchment, to a wire rack to cool completely.

Spread a small amount of filling on the bottom of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies; gently press to adhere. Assembled cookies can be refrigerated up to 2 days in an airtight container.

You might also be interested in;
Kraft, Caramel Bits, 11oz Bag (Pack of 3)
Artisan (2 pk.) Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat Set, 16 5/8 x 11
Good Cook Set Of 3 Non-Stick Cookie Sheet
Kraft Caramel Baking Bits ~ 1 Lb Bulk


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November 17, 2014

7 Layer Salad (Seven Layer Salad)

This might be as old school as you can get but I love it!  You don't even really have to measure this one, you adapt it to your own preferences and for the dressing, do a taste test.  There are a few people who do not add any sweetener to the mayonnaise in the dressing, but I'm not one of them.  I think this salad is 'made' by two ingredients; the bacon and the dressing.  And the dressing must have just a smidgen of sugar or sugar substitute to it. (Try using Xylitol or splenda). 

This is a pretty layered salad so I like to serve it in a glass container (any shape - pan, bowl, it doesn't matter) but you can put it in any container you wish.   I don't always add onions because many people don't care for them.  But you can make this a 8 or 9 layer salad with the addition of onions and or green peppers added to the celery.  This is one of the many times you can play with your food and not get in trouble.  It will be delicious.

Seven Layer Salad

Frozen peas (if you use fresh, blanch and chill them first - but don't cook them)
Celery and or onions, diced
Mayonnaise sweetened with sugar, salt and pepper
Bacon, crisp and crumbled
Hard boiled eggs, sliced or diced
Cheddar Cheese, grated

In a container start with a layer of lettuce.  Top with a layer of frozen peas.  Add your optional celery, onions and green pepper if you wish to use them.  Mix about a cup of mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon sugar or substitute. A dash of salt and pepper (not much!).  Stir, let it sit about 3 minutes and do a tiny taste test.  You won't want it 'too' sweet but just enough to cut the tang.  If you've added too much sugar, just add another dollop of mayonnaise or even a little sour cream.  The amount of dressing you use is up to you!  I like a nice thick layer so I use about 1 1/2 cups for a 9X13" pan or a large bowl.  Add this and spread with a rubber spatula.  Top with your hard boiled eggs, bacon and cheese.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5-6 hours if you can.  Overnight is fine.  Serve with almost anything.

You might be interested in;

Bormioli Rocco Viva Salad Bowl
Prodyne Acrylic Salad Bowl with Servers
Luigi Bormioli Michelangelo Masterpiece 10-3/4-inch Serving Bowl

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November 15, 2014

How to calibrate a cheap, single kitchen thermometer

With all the cooking and baking I do, I've never owned, nor needed (nor wanted) a thermometer.  I make candies like toffee and other items that have to be cooked to a certain temperature but if you follow the 'soft ball" to "hard crack" testing of putting a drop of the candy into a glass of ice water, it tests perfectly.   I don't even need one for making my homemade soaps, as my foolproof 'grandma' recipes don't require one. 

When it came to making my homemade mozzarella and ricotta cheese however, I knew I was going to need one.  Being oh-so-frugal, I wasn't willing to purchase a digital version when a dial faced food thermometer would suffice.  I added one to my order of rennet tablets and citric acid and I have to say I have been quite happy with it.

IF you have one of this style however, you may need to know how to calibrate it.  It's quick and simple.

Take the thermometer out of the plastic casing it came in.  That is the thing that looks like a pen with a little metal pocket clip!

Put about 1/4- 1/2 cup of water into a glass and fill with ice.  Let it set for a bit to equalize the temperature.  Stick the metal prong down into it.

Check the face to see what temperature it reads.  If it reads anything but 32 degrees, you will simply adjust it using the same plastic 'pen' looking covering it came in.  It's NOT just a protector, but it's your 'wrench' as well.

Place the metal prong through the opening at the top of the plastic cover.
You will turn it as needed to fit directly and snugly down into the slots.
Turn it a bit to the right or left (you may have to use a tiny bit of muscle... it should not slide easily or your thermometer would always be off and never hold calibration!).  A tiny bit to the right or left will turn the dial.

When you have it reading 32 degrees while it's in the ice, then it's calibrated and you can proceed with your cheese or other cooking.

Various thermometers are available - all styles and all price ranges.  You can find these anywhere; from your grocery store to Walmart, to kitchen stores, even TJMaxx and Marshalls have them.  I ordered one (the middle one) online from Amazon because I was ordering cheese making items anyway and it saved me a trip to the store!


These are the products I ordered from Amazon and Used for Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese;

Lipase Powder-Italase-(mild) 1oz
NOW Foods - Citric Acid 100% Pure - 4 oz.
Organic Liquid Vegetable Rennet, 2oz.
Gerber Birdseye 10 Count Flatfold Cloth Diapers, White (24in x 27in)


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