Monday, November 23, 2015

Pie Dessert Bar with Bakers Square

We're down to the wire and Thanksgiving is a mere 4 days away! Have you planned, shopped and geared up for this year's feast? In our family, Thanksgiving is spent with my in laws and Patrick's aunt and uncle are our gracious hosts. Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or attending as a guest, why not serve/bring a pie to share? Besides, what's Thanksgiving with a pie?! In fact, my friends at Bakers Square and I partnered up to share how your Thanksgiving dessert table can be a quite the hit with their popular pies.

We love their pies and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to showcase a variety of pies as a sweet ending to the big meal. Picking up some pies at your local Bakers Square not only assures an awesome dessert to share but such a convenience to save you time and effort! Why not pick up a few pies and set up a Pie Dessert Bar for your guests this year. With nearly 30 pies to choose from, you'll find something to please every palate. Some of our favorites from Baker's Square include:

Caramel Silk Supreme

Built layer upon layer starting with caramel and pecan, then a supreme filing, a layer of delicious French Silk and topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel, and pecans.

Country Apple

Sweet, crisp apples seasoned to perfection with delicate cinnamon
make this award-winner an unforgettable treat.

Harvest Pumpkin

There's a secret to making a pie this tasty. It's the filling. We make ours from the finest
ingredients and spice it just right. The result: a seasonal favorite that's loved year-round.

Vanilla Cheesecake

Built from the bottom up with a tasty crust of crushed graham crackers
and made complete with our rich, baked vanilla cheesecake filling.

Once you have your pies, present them on cake stands of varying heights to create depth and visual appeal. Staggering the pies on the table makes it more interesting too, as opposed to lining them in a straight line.

Now that you have your chosen pies displayed, think about some additional ways to elevate them. Offering a variety of toppings, sauces, or even flavored whipped cream makes this a fun dessert table. The different options allows your guests to customize their slice of pie to their tastes and gives them the opportunity to be interactive too. I have fresh whipped cream flavored with maple syrup, caramel sauce, buttery toffee bits, mini chocolate chips and Bakers Square's Triple Berry sauce on my dessert bar. Some combinations to jazz up the pies could be...
  • Caramel Apple Pie = Apple Pie + Caramel Drizzle
  • Double Caramel Silk Supreme = Caramel Silk Supreme + Caramel Drizzle
  • Maple Toffee Crunch Pumpkin Pie = Pumpkin Pie + Maple Whipped Cream+ Toffee Bits
  • Triple Berry Chocolate Chip Cheesecake = Cheesecake + Mini Chocolate Chips + Triple Berry

So have fun with dessert this year and let Bakers Square help make it easier by picking up some of their amazing pies for your own Pie Dessert Bar! Like this idea? Pin the image below!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Recipe Round Up: Thanksgiving Desserts


We're coming down to the final days of preparation before the biggest food holiday of the year! Thanksgiving menus are probably being finalized; grocery lists are probably getting double checked one last time; and then before you know it, it's go time! For me, the ultimate moment is when I finally get a chance to sit down on Thanksgiving and enjoy some dessert with coffee. It's at that moment, I will take a look around me at the full and happy friends and family, smile and feel like all the prep work, time and effort is all worth it. I can't wait until then! But of course, decisions still need to be made... as in what dessert will I enjoy this year?! Here's a few of my favorites over the past several years and hopefully you'll enjoy Thanksgiving this year by having your cake and eating too after all is said and done!...

Praline Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Caramel Apple Crostada

Orange Cranberry Layer Cake

French Apple Pie with Butterflake Crust

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Sweet Potato Tartlettes

Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

Drunken Apple Cheesecake

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Creamy Parmesan Onions

I can't imagine cooking without onions and as much as I use it to start many of my dinner recipes, I often forget how they can also be enjoyed as a stand alone dish too. It's not until the holidays that it dawns on me how well they go with the common holiday fare. My favorite way to prepare onions as a dish that can hold it's own? Hands down, this recipe for Creamy Parmesan Onions. Tender sweet onions are cooked gently in water until tender, then baked with rich cream and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan. It couldn't be any easier...

I need to remind myself to make this throughout the year because it's just too good to only reserve it for the holidays! Not to mention how easy it is to prepare. If you wanted to make this for the upcoming holiday feasts, you can certainly prep it in advance by boiling the onions first. When you're ready to bake and serve, just place in your baking dish, add the cream, Parmesan and bake, If you have leftovers (which may not even be the case), the onions are great to add to sandwiches too!

Creamy Parmesan Onions
adapted from Nigel Slater

4 medium sweet onions, peeled and halved
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 springs fresh thyme
3/4 cup grated Parmesan

snipped fresh chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place onions in a deep pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, or until onions are tender. Remove from the pot with a draining spoon and put them cut-side down in an ovenproof dish. Mix the cream and thyme leaves and pour over the onions. Season with salt, pepper and sprinkle the grated Parmesan on top. 

Bake for 25-35 minutes until golden and bubbling. Garnish with chives before serving.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Twice Baked Caramelized Onion & Horseradish Potatoes

Grocery ads are all about getting consumers to stock up on ingredients to prepare their Thanksgiving feast. As a result, potatoes are on sale and well, people love their mashed potatoes to go with their turkey dinner! But if you want to venture out and try something new this year, how about twice baked potatoes? They seem to be a little more elevated than the usual mashed potatoes. Another bonus is that you don't have to worry too much about portion control since it's naturally portioned out for you! If you want to take it a step further, you can incorporate a lot of great flavor into the mashed potato filling the potato shells are stuffed with. I went with a bit of caramelized onion and horseradish, inspired by a mashed potato recipe I noticed on Cooking Light. So give these Twice Baked Caramelized Onion & Horseradish Potatoes a try for Thanksgiving or any time of year!

Many folks like to prep as much as they can prior to Thanksgiving day to cut down on the holiday kitchen chaos. The great news is that these twice baked potatoes can be made and prepped in advance where you can just bake the day of serving. To make ahead, prepare the recipe as directed below up until baking the filled potato shells. Once the shells have been filled, place in a disposable baking pan (for easy clean up!), cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, simply bake as directed below in a 350 degree preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, serving hot.

Twice Baked Caramelized Onion & Horseradish Potatoes
adapted from Cooking Light

4 baking potatoes
1 teaspoon canola oil
salt to taste
1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
4 cups chopped onions
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespooon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and rub with canola oil. Sprinkle with salt and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and brown sugar to the pan and sauté until onions are caramelized, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and lower the heat to 350 degrees.

Using a sharp knive, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides, leaving a small rim of potato intact. Place the potato insides in a mixing bowl - be careful not to tear the potato skin shell. Place the potato shells on a baking sheet

Transfer onion mixture to the mixing bowl with the potatoes. Add the milk, mustard, lemon juice, horseradish, mayonnaise, green onions and salt to taste. Mash to combine.

Fill the potato shells with the onion and potato mixture. Place filled potato shells back into oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Recipe Round Up: Thanksgiving Sides

We are now just shy of 2 weeks from Thanksgiving! If you're still looking for recipe ideas on what to serve with your Thanksgiving main dish, here's some of our favorite sides to bring to the table. From potatoes, rice, vegetables, stuffing, and breads, I got you covered!

My friends at  The Daily Meal, the world’s largest food and drink lifestyle site, recently published its list of 25 Essential Thanksgiving Sides. When it comes to Thanksgiving, the star of the dinner table is usually the turkey, but what makes the meal so special is all of the fixings surrounding it. To help you host a delicious holiday, The Daily Meal has unveiled recipes for 25 of the best Thanksgiving sides.

The Daily Meal included all of the classics such as candied yams and even a few stuffing variations, in their purest, most traditional forms. You’ll also find green beans, creamed spinach, sweet potatoes, and of course cranberry sauce.

“On the list, you’ll find some of the most widely searched for and regionally traditional sides you and your family have come to love,” said Colman Andrews, Editorial Director at The Daily Meal. “And if you're feeling adventurous, we've also included a few tips and tricks on how to kick your sides up a notch by adding flavorful ingredients, such as incorporating grated and sliced zucchini into corn bread.

The Daily Meal reached out to its Culinary Content Network and drew on its Best Recipes collection looking for the Thanksgiving sides most suitable for today's holiday dinner table:

Corn Bread
Parker House Rolls
Roasted Vegetables
Roasted Butternut Squash
Roasted Potatoes
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Creamed Spinach
Creamed Corn
Glazed Carrots
Glazed Pearl Onions
Green Beans
Green Bean Casserole
Candied Yams
Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Baked Potatoes
Scalloped Potatoes
Corn Pudding
Macaroni and Cheese
Oyster Stuffing
Sausage Stuffing
Cornbread Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Apple Sauce

Now with the top 25 list shared, here's some of our favorite Thanksgiving sides from our site that you can consider serving up this year!

Loaded Scalloped Potatoes

Mushroom Rice Pilaf

Spinach, Leek & Garlic Rice

Roasted Butternut Squash & Pear Mash

Roasted Chipotle Acorn Squash

Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Honey Ginger Carrots

Sage Sausage Stuffing

Garlicky Buttered Rolls

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Guinness Beef Stew (Slow Cooker)

One of the best things I love about dinner lately is that I can really maximize the use of my slow cooker. I've been working long hours at the pharmacy and having slow cooker meals has really made dinner easier for everyone. By having things ready in the slow cooker for Patrick to manage, we're not defaulting to take out dinners or eating out all the time. This Guinness Beef Stew happens to be one of our favorites this fall since we've made it a few times in the past couple of months! Beef is slow cooked with Guinness Draught beer to lend a complex, rich flavor with baby carrots and potatoes...

This is a hearty meal in of itself, especially with some garlic bread or warm rolls. But to stretch it a bit, it's also great over buttered egg noodles, rice or mashed potatoes. Leftovers are especially good because the flavor develops even more... that is, if there are even leftovers to begin with! 

Guinness Beef Stew
recipe adapted from Cook's Country

1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups Guinness Draught, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound baby carrots
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Season beef with salt and pepper to your tastes and place in slow cooker.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and garlic, stirring occasionally until softened, for 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomato paste and flour, cooking until most moisture is absorbed and pan is slightly dry, for 1-3  minutes. Whisk in the broth, 3/4 cup Guinness, brown sugar and thyme, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to slow cooker and pour over beef. Add potatoes and carrots, cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. 
Just before serving, stir in remaining 1/2 cup Guinness and parsley into slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Honey Cornbread Fritters

I absolutely love Thanksgiving because it's the biggest food event of the year! This is the time where I am in heaven with recipes because there are so many ways to enjoy popular Thanksgiving ingredients. One in particular is cornbread. There's cornbread muffins, cake, croutons, stuffing, etc... the various ways it can be served is endless! And to add another to the list is my recipe for Honey Cornbread Fritters. Not for calorie conscious, but definitely for the flavor minded! With help from my friends at Krusteaz, these Honey Cornbread Fritters are made by combining honey cornbread mix and sweet corn which is then fried up to perfection!...

We are huge fans of Krusteaz mixes at home, not only because they are easy and delicious time savers in the kitchen, but because they allow you to be creative too! The recipe is simple - combine Krusteaz honey cornbread mix, milk, eggs, melted butter and a can of sweet corn. Even with this recipe, you can add other ingredients to make it your own. Maybe some cheese? Fresh herbs? Whatever you decide, feel free to play around with add ins or enjoy the recipe as is. These are wonderful for the holidays or for any time throughout the year!

Get the ingredient list and full recipe over at Krusteaz's website here!
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