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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

How is it that Thanksgiving is just next week?! Although, it is definitely feeling more like Christmas when I gaze out the window... and see that white stuff falling from the sky.

I've been spending the last couple days planning out my Thanksgiving dinner menu. For the very first time, my husband and I won't be returning home to Illinois to visit our families for the holiday. (What?!) Might have to do with the fact that our little baby is due to arrive any day now! (In fact, he was due to arrive on Saturday, and has yet to make an appearance. Womp. womp. Hopefully soon!)

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However, I am excited at the chance for us to create some new Thanksgiving memories here in Lima. My parents will be coming for the holiday, so it will be pretty low-key, just the 4, well 5, of us. (Though I don't think the little guy will eat all that much turkey...) We ordered a smoked turkey from Boots BBQ (inside Chief Northland), so the hard work is taken care of! We just get to have fun with the sides and desserts.

I had some fun testing out this Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie as an alternative to the typical pumpkin or apple pie at the Thanksgiving table. It's got everything you could want in a dessert - crisp graham cracker crust, with a layer of caramel and toasted pecans, tender cinnamon apples, and then a gorgeous cheesecake topping. It's all topped with fluffy whipped cream, and man-oh-man it was delicious! The perfect combination of sweet & tart flavors, with a great contrast of textures with the creamy cheesecake and crunchy pecans and crust. If you dare to go outside the Thanksgiving dessert comfort zone, I highly recommend this recipe!

Start with a simple graham crust - graham cracker crumbs, a little sugar, some melted butter. Press it into a springform pan and bake at 350*F about 10 minutes until toasted. Once it cools, add a layer of caramel and toasted pecans in the bottom.

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Now for the apple filling. You could definitely use a canned variety, but the homemade is so much better! Cook sliced apples in a saucepan with some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until tender. Spread over the caramel-pecan layer in the crust.

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And then the cheesecake layer. Simple beat together a brick of cream cheese with some sugar, an egg, and a little vanilla extract. Spread that over the apple layer.

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Pop the cheesecake pie into a 350*F oven for about 30 minutes, and then chill at least 4 hours before serving. Then, whip up some cream into stiff peaks and spread over the pie. (You could also use Cool Whip... I won't tell!)

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Drizzle the whole thing with caramel and sprinkle with more toasted pecans. What a gorgeous presentation! You can definitely make this 2-3 days ahead of the holiday, too. Or, if you are really a planner, prepare the cheesecake pie except for the whipped cream, and double wrap it with foil and store in the freezer. The day of Thanksgiving, all you'd have to do is thaw, spread on the whipped cream, and serve!

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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

Yield: One 9-inch pie

  • For the crust
    • cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • For the apple filling
    • ½ cup caramel sauce
    • ¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted
    • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • ½ cup packed brown sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 6 tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • For the cheesecake layer
    • 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • For the whipped topping and garnish
    • ¾ cup heavy cream
    • cup powdered sugar
    • additional caramel sauce
    • additional chopped toasted pecans

Method

1. For the crust, preheat the oven to 375*F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Toss together until evenly coated. Press into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake 10 minutes, until golden and toasted. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, make the apple filling. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon and cook until bubbly, about 1 minute. Add in apple slices and toss well to coat. Cook over medium heat about 20-25 minutes, until apples are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Let cool slightly.

3. Spread caramel sauce into bottom of prepared crust. Sprinkle with chopped, toasted pecans. (To toast pecans, bake at 350*F for about 7-9 minutes until fragrant.) Spread cooked apple mixture over the top of caramel-pecan layer.

4. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F. To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add vanilla, egg, and lemon juice; beat until smooth. Spread cheesecake mixture over apples.

5. Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes until cheesecake layer is set. (A knife inserted in the center of the cheesecake portion should come out clean.) Let cool completely and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

6. To serve, remove cheesecake from springform pan. (Slide a knife around the edge before removing the outer ring.) Beat heavy cream using hand mixer or stand mixer until soft peaks form; add powdered sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread over top of cheesecake. Drizzle with additional caramel sauce and toasted pecans.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats 

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Smoked Sausage & Cheddar Gnocchi

I dread this time every year, when the temperature starts to drop. I've been struggling a little this week with the 40*F temps... I don't have a heavy coat or jacket that fits over my huge baby belly! (And I'm absolutely not buying one for 1-2 weeks of use... I'm just a little stubborn.) At least I can warm up with a hearty dish of Smoked Sausage & Cheddar Gnocchi!

I first made this back in March, and knew I wanted to share it on the blog. However, it didn't really seem to fit with fresh spring and summer recipes, so I've had to wait for it to become chilly again. Soft pillowy gnocchi are simmered with sauteed smoked sausage and onions in a creamy sauce. Peas add a pop of flavor, and the whole thing is topped with cheddar cheese and broiled until golden brown. Hard to resist, and it's ready in less than 30 minutes!

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Start by sauteeing a diced onion in a little butter in a cast iron skillet. Once the onion has browned, add your sliced smoked sausage. I used beef sausage from Chief Smokehouse, and it had such great flavor.

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Once the sausage has browned, add some water and the gnocchi to the pan. Cover and let it simmer about 5 minutes until the gnocchi are tender. (My pan doesn't have a lid, so I just covered it with foil. Gotta make do!)

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Once the gnocchi are tender, stir in a bit of heavy cream, peas, and salt & pepper to taste.

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Top with a bunch of grated cheddar cheese, and broil 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

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Make sure to let it cool a few minutes before serving... it'll be steaming hot! I hate to admit this... but my hubby and I devoured almost this whole pan. Hey, I am eating for two! ;)

Smoked Sausage & Cheddar Gnocchi

Yield: 3-4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 package smoked beef sausage, sliced
  • cups water
  • 16-oz package potato gnocchi
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-1½ cups freshly grated cheddar cheese

Method

1. Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook until softened and golden brown. Add sliced smoked sausage and cook until lightly browned.

2. Add the water; bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the gnocchi, stir well to cover the gnocchi with the water. Cover pan and cook about 5 minutes until the gnocchi is tender.

3. Add the peas, cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese over the top, and broil until golden and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

Source: adapted from Kevin and Amanda

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Mini Beef Wellingtons

I don't know about you, but it seems like as soon as November arrives, the holiday season is in full-swing! Christmas music playing, commercials for all the new gadgets and toys, and this year, we were even privileged enough to wake up to an inch of snow on November 1! :-P IMG_8126 With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve approaching soon, we're all in need of a great party bite recipe. Who doesn't love appetizers? Mini Beef Wellingtons are a grown-up version of the typical pigs-in-a-blanket. Swap hot dogs for beef tenderloin, and crescent rolls for puff pastry, and you've got quite the elegant little snack! Topped with a tangy horseradish cream sauce, these will surely be a hit at your holiday gathering. They do require a bit of prep, but can be prepared in advance and stored in the freezer until party time. Start by browning small chunks of beef tenderloin in a bit of olive oil. Set those aside, and in the same skillet, add some finely diced mushrooms and shallots. After they are browned, add some minced garlic; this is where the flavor's at! Then, add a bit of beef broth, cream, salt, pepper, and parsley and let it simmer until thickened. Add the beef chunks back into the mixture. IMG_8117 IMG_8118 IMG_8119 To prepare the appetizers take a thawed package of frozen puff pastry and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch square. (Each package comes with two sheets; do this with both.) Cut each square into 16 little squares. (You should have 32 total.) On half of the little squares, place a spoonful of the beef mixture. Cover the beef-topped squares with the remaining squares; and crimp the edges to seal. IMG_8121 IMG_8122 Place on a baking sheet, and pop into a 400*F oven for 14-16 minutes until browned. (At this point, they can be frozen and stored in freezer bags. Simply bake straight from the freezer for 16-18 minutes when ready to serve.) IMG_8125 While they are baking, prepare the horseradish cream sauce by combining some sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish, parsley, salt, and pepper. Serve the sauce on top of or alongside the beef wellingtons, and you've got one showstopper party dish! IMG_8128

Mini Beef Wellingtons

Yield: 16 appetizers

For the Beef Wellingtons
  • 1-lb beef tenderloin steak, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 2 diced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • cup beef broth
  • cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 package frozen puff pastry, (17.3-oz)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
For the Horseradish Cream Sauce
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoons horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Brown beef on all sides in oil; remove to a plate and set aside.

2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to same skillet. Saute mushrooms and shallots until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add minced garlic; cook 1 minute more. Add beef broth, stirring to loosen the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in cream, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until liquid is almost evaporated. Stir in beef chunks and parsley.

3. Preheat oven to 400*F. Unfold puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Roll each sheet into a 12-inch square. Cut each into 16 squares. (You should have 32 squares total.)

4. Place a large spoonful of the beef mixture into the center of half the squares. Top with remaining squares; press edges with a fork to seal. Place on greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.

5. Combine egg yolk with water in a small bowl; brush mixture over beef pockets. Cut a few slits in each with a knife. Bake at 400*F for 14-16 minutes until golden brown.

6. While wellingtons are baking, prepare the horseradish sauce. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish, parsley, and pepper. Serve on top of warm beef wellingtons.

Source: adapted from Taste of Home

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Pumpkin Cornbread

Holidays are full of tradition, and growing up my mom made a big pot of chili every single Halloween. My friends and I would fill up our bowls, topped with cheese, macaroni, and oyster crackers and fuel up for a big night of trick-or-treating. Of course, there was always cornbread on the side! pumpkin I can't remember what type my mom would make, but ever since, I've always associated chili with cornbread. And it has to be a sweet cornbread. Warm, sweet cornbread with a little bit of real butter might be in my top 10 favorite foods. When I first tried this recipe for Pumpkin Cornbread a few years ago, I knew I would love it. Combine two of my favorite foods? Heck yea! It's moist and sweet, and still has plenty of that cornbread texture we all love. It's actually a pretty healthy version of cornbread, since the pumpkin helps to keep it moist (rather than adding extra oil or fat). Pantry staples make it come together pretty quickly, too. IMG_7940 Let's get baking! It's really easy... mix up your dry ingredients in one bowl, and your wet ingredients in another. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, and spread into a greased 8x8-inch baking pan. Bake in a 400*F about 25 minutes until golden brown! pumpkin2 Mmmmm... I can taste it now. Can't wait for Halloween! I will definitely be whipping up a pan along with our favorite Crockpot Chili. ---

Pumpkin Cornbread

Servings/Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • dash ginger
  • dash cloves
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal; set aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, olive oil, and honey. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. (It will be thick.)

4. Spread the batter into the pan, smoothing out any lumps.

5. Bake at 400*F for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Source: Sweet Pea's Kitchen

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Crock Pot Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup

There's a chill in the air and that makes me very happy... it's soup season! One of my favorite ways to warm up in the fall and winter months is with a bowl of soup and big hunk of crusty bread. I love to make a big pot on Sunday night and then eat it for lunch all week long.

Today I'm sharing my family's favorite recipe for Crockpot Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup. My mom has made this ever since I was a kid, and it's completely irresistible! It's chock full of potatoes, veggies, ham, bacon, and full of cheesy flavor (thanks to a tasty jar of Cheez Whiz). While it might not be the healthiest soup out there, it definitely does the trick when you're craving a big bowl of comfort food.

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Another bonus? It's made in the crock pot! Start by layering potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, green pepper, bacon, and ham in a crock pot or slow cooker. (I used the Chief smokehouse ham steak, and it was phenomenal!) Pour 3 cups of beef stock over the top and let it cook on high 3-4 hours. (Or low 6-8). It will look funky, but I promise, it will turn out delicious in the end!

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About 30 minutes before you want to serve the soup, combine a bit of cornstarch with some water, and stir it into the soup. This will help thicken it up. Let it cook on high 20 minutes or so, then stir in a jar of Cheez Whiz. It goes from a brothy, chunky mixture to a velvety smooth cheesy soup!

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Perfect on a crisp fall day!

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Looking for other soup recipes?

---

Crock Pot Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup

Yield: Serves 6-8

  • 6-8 oz ham, cubed
  • 8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 6-8 potatoes, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 16-oz jar Cheez Whiz

Method

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in crock pot. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

2. Combine cornstarch with water; add to crock pot. Cook 20 minutes to thicken. Stir in Cheez Whiz until fully incorporated. Serve topped with shredded cheese.

Source: family favorite

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Baked Orange Chicken

I have been looking forward to sharing this recipe for weeks! I first made it back at the beginning of September... and have been thinking about it ever since. We don't have too many fabulous Chinese restaurants here in Lima, and I've been craving Chinese on a weekly basis during my pregnancy. I decided to take matters into my own hands, and whip up a dish of my own! Baked Orange Chicken is just like your favorite Chinese take-out - tender chicken pieces that are lightly breaded and tossed in a sweet & spicy orange sauce. Might I say it's even better than your favorite Chinese take-out? And healthier, too! IMG_7822 It does take a bit of time to prepare, but it's so worth it (and not all hands-on). Start by dredging the chicken pieces, first in cornstarch and then egg. (I know, it seems backwards, but it makes it so good!) Pan-fry the pieces just until they are golden-brown, and then add to a 9x13-inch baking pan. IMG_7814   IMG_7815 Mix up the sauce, a mixture of orange juice soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, and garlic salt. Then pour it over the chicken pieces in the pan. Bake at 325*F for 1 hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes to coat the chicken with the sauce. It will go from super liquidy to thick and flavorful, coating the chicken perfectly. IMG_7817 IMG_7820 While the chicken is baking, prepare your favorite rice to go alongside. Regular rice is tasty, but I love to serve it with Coconut Rice (recipe below). Add a few egg rolls and your meal is complete! IMG_7822

Baked Orange Chicken

Yield: 4-6 servings

For the chicken:
  • 1½-2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, diced into bite-size pieces
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper
  • 1-1½ cups cornstarch
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup canola oil
For the sauce:
  • cup brown sugar
  • cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha chili sauce
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Method

1. Preheat oven to 325*F. Season chicken pieces with salt & pepper.

2. Place the cornstarch and beaten eggs in separate bowls. Dip chicken pieces in cornstarch; then egg mixture. (Yes, it seems backwards. This is what makes it so good!)

3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and brown chicken 2-3 minutes on each side, until it is crispy and has some color. Place into a 9x13-inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.

4. In a small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients; pour over chicken.

5. Bake chicken for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cooks. Serve over fresh, hot cooked rice.

Source: adapted from The Recipe Critic

Coconut Rice

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups lite coconut milk
  • 1½ cups long grain white rice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Method

1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil. Add garlic and onion; cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in water and coconut milk; bring to a boil.

2. Once liquid is boiling, stir in rice and salt. Cover with the lid, and simmer 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Source: adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

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20-Minute Spinach Artichoke Pasta

I think a common need and request for busy families out there is to be able to prepare a healthy meal quickly. I don't know about you, but sometimes the thought of cooking and preparing an entire meal seems exhausting. (Perhaps this could also be the fact that I'm currently 8 months pregnant...) However, if I can pull off a meal in about 20 minutes, I can usually muster up the energy. And I mean a real meal, not just a grilled cheese sandwich or microwave cheese quesadilla. Let me introduce you to my new favorite 20-minute meal - Spinach Artichoke Pasta! This pasta dish comes together super fast, and only requires getting two pans dirty. One pot to boil the pasta, and one saucepan to make the sauce. The creamy sauce combines cream cheese, garlic, spinach, and artichokes and reminds me of my favorite spinach artichoke dip. It's quite the filling meal, and you can even add cooked chicken pieces or better yet, bacon! IMG_7863 Start by cooking your pasta according to package directions. I like mine with a little bite, so I always use the lower end of the time range. While the pasta is boiling, make the sauce. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt a bit of butter and add a few teaspoons of minced garlic. Let it cook about 30 seconds, just until it's fragrant. Then, add a brick of cream cheese, and stir until it's melted. Slowly stir in some milk, sour cream, a little bit of lemon juice, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir over medium heat until everything is smooth. Then, stir in some artichoke hearts, spinach (fresh OR frozen that has been thawed), and Parmesan cheese. IMG_7859 IMG_7860 As soon as the pasta is done; drain it and return to the pot. Stir the sauce into the pasta mixture, and your meal is ready to serve! This has become a family favorite since I discovered the recipe about a year ago. We usually pair it with garlic bread or breadsticks. It definitely makes this carb lover happy! IMG_7861

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

Yield: Serves 4-6

  • 12-oz box shell pasta
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
  • 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry OR 12 cups fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, optional

Method

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Slowly stir in milk, then add sour cream, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach, Parmesan cheese and chicken (if using).

3. Drain pasta and add to artichoke mix. Toss and season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice as needed. Serve with additional shredded Parmesan.

Source: adapted from Heat Oven to 350

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Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

Mmmmm, enchiladas. Who can resist a hot pan full of cheesy goodness? Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas are a fun twist on traditional chicken enchiladas. Add a little buffalo sauce, a few green onions, and some gorgonzola cheese, and you've got a new (Americanized) favorite! It makes quite a big pan, so being the smart one that I am, decided that I'd split it into two smaller casseroles to put one in the freezer for when the baby comes. I was definitely regretting that later that week when I had eaten all the leftovers! At least I have another version of a really tasty meal to enjoy a few months down the road. :) They're pretty simple to make, using a few convenience items. Start by mixing up your sauce. Combine a can of red enchilada sauce with about 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce, adding more to taste. It will taste pretty spicy when it's just the sauce, but when it's all mixed in with everything else, the flavor really mellows out. (I wish I would have started with more buffalo sauce.) Then, combine the meat from one rotisserie chicken along with about 4 diced green onions and 1/2 cup grated monterey jack cheese. Mix in enough sauce to coat the chicken mixture thoroughly. IMG_7846 Now, prep your pans. Pour enough sauce to coat the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Or, if you'd like, split it into two smaller casserole pans. IMG_7847 For the enchiladas, add a few spoonfuls of the chicken mixture to the center of a medium-sized flour tortilla. Roll it up and place it seam-side down in the pan, repeating until you've used all the chicken mixture. IMG_7848 Pour enough enchilada sauce over the top to coat the mixture. If you have any sauce leftover, store it in the fridge to serve with the leftovers. Finally, cover the whole thing with MORE grated monterey jack. (The more cheese, the better!) IMG_7849 [caption id="attachment_4102" align="aligncenter" width="307"]IMG_7850 I ran out of cheese on the freezer casserole... will definitely be adding more the second time around![/caption] Pop the casserole into a 375*F oven for 20-25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling, and the cheese is melted and crispy. Immediately after taking it out, sprinkle it with gorgonzola crumbles and garnish with more diced green onions and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with sour cream! IMG_7852

Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 8 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, chicken removed from bones & shredded
  • 28-oz can red enchilada sauce
  • ½-1 cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 2 cups monterey jack cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 6-8 green onions, diced
  • ½ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped

Method

1. Preheat oven to 375*F. Spray 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, combine enchilada sauce with 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce. Add more buffalo sauce to taste.

3. In a large bowl, combine shredded chicken with half the green onions and 1/2-3/4 cup monterey jack cheese. Pour in enough sauce to coat the mixture; mix thoroughly.

4. Pour enough sauce into the 9x13-inch pan to cover the bottom. Fill each tortilla with a few spoonfuls of the chicken mixture; roll up, and place seam-side down in the pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour enough sauce over the enchiladas to coat completely. (Store any remaining sauce to serve with leftovers.) Top enchiladas with remaining monterey jack cheese.

5. Bake at 375*F for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is golden brown. Immediately top with gorgonzola cheese. Garnish with remaining green onions and cilantro and serve.

Source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

It's no secret, I love to bake. I bake cupcakes for a living, and it's rare that I actually get the chance to bake for fun. When I do have the time (or energy) to bake something for fun, I tend to gravitate toward breakfast treats. Scones, cinnamon rolls, muffins... who doesn't love a warm, fresh-from-the-oven sweet treat in the morning? Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are the perfect treat to help kick off the fall season. Pumpkin muffins are spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and filled with a surprise cream cheese center. They've got a crumbly topping that is pretty much irresistible. I baked these this past weekend to share at church, and they were definitely a hit! They'd make a great addition to any breakfast or brunch celebration throughout the fall. (I'm thinking breakfast on Thanksgiving morning perhaps...) IMG_7844 There are a few steps involved. First, you have to make the cream cheese filling in advance and freeze it for at least 2 hours. This keeps it nice and gooey in the oven. Combine a package of cream cheese and a cup of powdered sugar until smooth; then form it into a log, and wrap it in saran wrap and place it in the freezer. I did the step the day before, which made the muffin baking process go much quicker on Sunday morning. IMG_7840 Then, mix up the muffin batter. It calls for pantry basics - canned pumpkin, oil, sugar, eggs, flour, and spices. Mix it up using a mixer, or a large bowl and a powerful whisk. IMG_7839 Finally, mix up the crumb topping. In a small bowl, combine a bit of flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in some butter pieces until everything is crumbly. You can use a pastry cutter, two knives, or simply your fingers. (I go the simple route - use my fingers to rub the butter into the dry mixture until it's crumbly. A little messy, but the easiest in my opinion!) IMG_7838 Now for the assembly - spoon a few tablespoons of the batter into the bottom of 24 paper-lined muffin cups. For the cream cheese filling, take the frozen cream cheese log out of the freezer, and slice it into 24 pieces. Place one in each of the 24 muffin cups. IMG_7842 Then, cover each cream cheese piece with another few tablespoons of batter, until the muffin cups are very full. Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of the crumb topping. IMG_7843 Pop the muffins into a 350*F oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the muffins have domed and are baked through.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Servings/Yield: 24 muffins

  • For the cream cheese filling:
    • 8-oz package cream cheese
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • For the muffins:
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon cloves
    • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 cups pumpkin puree
    • cups vegetable oil
  • For the crumb topping:
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • teaspoons cinnamon
    • ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Method

1. To prepare the filling, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log, covering the log tightly with the saran wrap. Place in freezer and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

2. For the muffins, preheat oven to 350*F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda. In a large mixing bowl or electric mixer, combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, and vegetable oil. Mix until smooth until well-blended. Add the dry ingredients, and mix on low just until incorporated.

3. For the topping, combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.

4. To assemble the muffins, spoon a few tablespoons of the batter into the bottom of 24 paper-lined muffin cups. For the cream cheese filling, take the frozen cream cheese log out of the freezer, and slice it into 24 pieces. Place one in each of the 24 muffin cups. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, covering cream cheese completely. Evenly divide the crumb topping over each muffin.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before serving.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

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Cold Spinach Dip

It's football season, and that means one thing - FOOTBALL SNACKS! Who doesn't love a complete spread of appetizers to enjoy while watching the game?! (It might just be the only part that I like...) IMG_7741 Cold Spinach Dip is a dip my mom has been making for years... it always makes an appearance at any big party or family get together. Cool, creamy sour cream and mayonnaise are combined with chopped spinach, vegetable soup mix, water chestnuts, and green onions to create a tangy dip with just the perfect amount of crunch. It's even green, which automatically makes it healthy, right? ;) To start, simply combine sour cream and mayonnaise with a packet of Knorr vegetable soup mix. IMG_7737 Then, stir in chopped spinach, green onions, and chopped water chestnuts (my favorite part). IMG_7738 Let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and then serve with your favorite chip! I love it with pita chips, and it's also really good with cubed Hawaiian bread. IMG_7744 Looking for other easy appetizer ideas? Check these out!  

Cold Spinach Dip

Yield: 4 cups

  • 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 package Knorr vegetable soup mix
  • 16-oz. container sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 8-oz. cans water chestnuts, chopped
  • 3 stalks green onions, chopped

Method

Stir together soup mix, sour cream, and mayonnaise until well-blended. Stir in spinach, water chestnuts, and green onions. Cover; chill at least 2 hours. Stir before serving. Excellent served with pita chips or Hawaiian bread.

Source: family favorite