Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick Fix: Baked Brie

We had a spaghetti dinner Saturday night at our friends. I was asked to bring an appetizer, so I quickly looked through some of the food blogs I read for ideas. This Baked Brie recipe from Jaime stood out because it looked fast and extremely easy!

I made a quick list to jet out to the store and grab what I needed. At first, I thought I would need to pick up all the ingredients: brie, fruit preserves, puff pastry and crackers. However, I checked my cupboard and found that I already had raspberry preserves on hand. So, that was minus one item I would have to buy. Then, when I arrived at the store, the cheese lady told me that they use Pillsbury pie crust instead of puff pastry. Perfect! I had some of that at home! That meant all I had to pick up were crackers and a round of brie.

If you'd like to make an easy appetizer, yet impress, then this is definitely the one to make.

Baked Brie (adapted from Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats)


1 layer Pillsbury Pie Crust dough (1/2 of box)
1 round of Brie
12 oz fruit preserves (I used raspberry)


Preheat oven to 400F

Unfold the pie crust dough into a single layer on baking sheet. Use a roller to thin it out a little so it can stretch over the brie when folded.Spread the fruit preserves in the middle, then set the brie on top of the preserves.

Fold the pie crust dough over the top of the brie and seal.

Invert the brie into a baking dish so the seams are on the bottom.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with favorite crackers or sliced apples.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pumpkin Bars

It's that time of year again. The time where Ben puts on the pressure to make all things pumpkin. Right when the first day of chilly fall weather hit, he was already asking for these pumpkin bars. Now that one of his best friends moved to the area (who also loves these pumpkin bars) my fight to wait until October was lost. Ben was in such anticipation for these that when he was asked in our small group a few weeks ago "what are you looking forward to this fall?" he answered "My wife's pumpkin bars!" Then I knew it... it was only a matter of time.

So, I made them. I love to please my husband in making these, but I do not love that it makes such a huge batch. If I don't give them away, then they will be in my fridge awaiting my husband's consumption. Not that it's a bad thing, but it is when he has no discipline to stop! It's at this time of year that I consider getting a padlock for our refrigerator. And, swallowing the key so he can not wrestle it from me! :)

I'm really not that strict. But, be aware when making these. Have plans to give some to your neighbors or friends, because if you keep the whole batch in your house, your husband will be 400 pounds by the end of November!

Pumpkin Bars (Adapted from Better Homes & Garden Cookbook)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
15 ounce pumpkin, 15 oz can
1 cup cooking oil
1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting, See Cream Cheese Frosting recipe


1. In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the eggs, pumpkin, and oil until combined. Spread in an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

2. Bake in a 350 oven for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 2 hours on a wire rack. Spread with Cream Cheese Frosting. Cut into bars.


The original recipe also calls for 1/4 tsp ground cloves. I didn't have this the first time, so I do not use it.

I recently ruined my 15x10x1-inch baking sheet, so used a 17-inch and baked only 20 minutes. Worked fine.

Can also substitute one 15-oz jar of applesauce for the pumpkin if wanting to make Applesauce Bars. (Have not tried this yet)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Penny Pincher: Free Recipe Book from Jiffy

I found a new blog that helps you to save money. Bargain Briana posts penny pinching coupons and sales every day. Fridays are her 'freebie' days. Today, the one that caught my eye is the free recipe book from Jiffy. Click this link and sign up to receive your copy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)

I wanted to try something new. For our rehearsal dinner (3 years ago), we had different stations of food. At one of the stations they served miniature potato pancakes with different toppings. I remembered they were SOOO good and just had to Google for a recipe. After searching and comparing, I found this one to be the easiest with minimal ingredients.

One of the toppings served at our rehearsal dinner was crushed green olives. So, I threw a jar of green olives in the blender and chopped them up so we could have it as a topping option along with sour cream.. Other topping options I had for this meal were applesauce or butter.

These potato pancakes were very good! I did not make them miniature, like they were at our rehearsal dinner, but instead made them a full sized pancake. Be careful when topping with the olives, because it can be a very strong taste. Do not put too much on.

Ben loved this meal. He topped his with the olives and sour cream, then just ate the applesauce on the side. I served with green beans, but intended to serve it with eggs. I made a very last minute change because I didn't feel like making the eggs.

Next time I think I'll even try making a beef stew type topping. Ooohh yum.

The recipe comes from Sue Gregg website, but is a recipe by Ann Chandler. She cooks hers in her skillet and uses oil. I just used my nonstick griddle and no oil.

German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)
(adapted from

Serves 6 to 8

1. Blend Together:
3 eggs
1 Medium Onion Quartered

2. Peel, Chunk, & Blend:
5 Medium Potatoes

3. Add to Mixture & Blend:
1/4 to 1/3 Cup Whole Grain Flour to thicken
1 teaspoon Salt

4. Cook blended mixture in medium hot skillet. Spread as thin as possible with wooden spoon. Cook until golden brown turning only once. (Use about 1/4 cup batter for each batch)

5. Serve hot with choice of toppings such as:
Applesauce; Butter, Salt & Pepper; Sour Cream or Yogurt; Jam; Crushed/Chopped Green Olives

Penny Pincher: The Melting Pot

You are probably wondering how an expensive place like The Melting Pot can ever be in one of my Penny Pincher categories. Well, let me enlighten you...

If you live in the area, the Oakbrook Terrace location (on Roosevelt Rd) is shutting it's doors for good. This Saturday is their last day, because they have opened a new location in Naperville. So, in honor of this, they decided to go back to the year they opened (I believe it was like 1993) and charge the same price they charged then for their Signature Selection. So, instead of paying $54 per couple, you are only paying $34 per couple!

This is an excellent deal since the Signature Selection includes Filet Mignon, shrimp, teriyaki marinated sirloin, chicken and fish filet, along with the cheese fondue and salad!

Hurry, you only have a few days. And, first sign up on their website for Club Fondue so you can get the notice through email.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Enchilada Lasagna

Lately I haven't been motivated to take nice photos of our dinners. After working all day then coming home and cooking, I'm too drained to think of a cute, creative way to capture my plate on camera. And, the dark nights are now arriving earlier, so any hope of taking a picture in natural lighting is gone.

So, please, do not let my photos scare you away from making these recipes. I know how you are looking at this enchilada mix right now thinking...I'm not sure that looks so good. But, you will miss out if you do not make this meal! I've only made it a few times, but only because I've forgotten about it. It's super simple, yet soo soo soo tasty!This recipe comes from my best friend's aunt...(thanks Aunt Deb!) She has never made it for me, but she made it for my mom two years ago and my mom called me telling me all about it. She couldn't shut up about it, so I knew I had to make it! Luckily, before she left Aunt Deb's house, she was able to get her to jot down the recipe. I think Aunt Deb called it Enchilada Casserole.

There are probably a few differences in the recipe compared to Aunt Deb's, but only because some of the steps she wrote were not extremely clear...leaving me to guess. My guessing served well, though, because this dish is a treat!

Enchilada Lasagna


2 lb hamburger
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
garlic salt
1 16-oz can chili beans
1 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 small jar picante sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
2-3 cups shredded Mexican flavored cheese
8-10 10-inch tortillas

To Top the Casserole

sour cream


1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Brown hamburg, green pepper, onion, garlic salt, salt. Drain grease. Add chili beans, tomato sauce and ground cumin. Simmer 15 minutes. Stir in half of the jar of picante sauce.

3. Layer as follows in a 9x13 pan:
Small amount of mixture on bottom of pan
4-5 tortillas (loosely folded/rolled next to each other)
1/2 hamburg mixture
1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
Repeat layers

4. Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 5 more minutes. Let set 5 minutes then serve with sour cream, lettuce and remaining picante sauce.