Thanksgiving 2013

Hey everyone!  Long-time, no blog!  I’m getting excited about Thanksgiving though, so I had to share some stuff with you.  We do it up Reeeeaaal nice here in Moscow.

If you are looking for some inspiration on what to make for Thanksgiving, check out my Thanksgiving Inspiration post.  Lots of great ideas and recipes! Need a dessert that will wow?  Check out my post dedicated to Thanksgiving desserts! :)

So, what am I making for Thanksgiving this year?

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1. Chocolate Pudding Pie.  I make this just about every year, so its pretty much become a tradition for me.  I love how rich and creamy this chocolate pie is.  As a person who does not enjoy the most traditional Thanksgiving dessert, pumpkin pie (Gasp!), this has become my go-to Thanksgiving dessert!

2. No-bake Pumpkin (Chocolate Chip) Cheesecake.  I usually make a full-blown cheesecake,  but because I’m traveling in Scotland with our intern team from Sunday to Wednesday before the big day, I just don’t think I’m going to have time to make that one this year.  But I think this no-bake version will fit the bill nicely.  The link above is a non-chocolate chip version, but I don’t see the harm in adding some. :)

3. Sausage Cornbread Stuffing.  I was telling my friend Robi that I never sign up to make stuffing for our Thanksgiving meal, and I always feel disappointed that the stuffing is not what I was expecting it to be.  So I think I’ll have a go at it this year! :)

4.  Cheese Muffins.  Once again, no time for dough rising or anything like that this year due to spending my time singing in the Scottish hills and eating lots of haggis, but these muffins are quick, easy, and simply TO DIE FOR, and would be perfect for any Thanksgiving meal.

I’m also praying that someone brings Green Bean Casserole to dinner this year.

green-bean-casserole

I don’t think I’m going to have time to make it this year, but I loooove it.  So I’m praying someone else will have this idea! :)

Here’s to hoping this time prepping for Thanksgiving, fills each of us with even more thanksgiving for all the ways in which God has blessed us!

Oatmeal Banana Bread

I’ve recently started a little journey to get a bit healthier, move more, and drop some extra pounds.  But for someone who just loves to bake (fo myself and others), I wanted to be creative about finding ways to still get to enjoy that part of my life,while at the same time making wise eating choices.  I recently made this Oatmeal Banana Bread from the Weight Watchers website.  I just loved it.  So yummy and wholesome and good!  Now, I wouldn’t exactly call it celery, but a  slice a day paired with a banana was a pretty healthy breakfast for me. :)

Oatmeal Banana Bread from Weight Watchers

Oatmeal Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1/2 tsp.salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten
  • 3 large bananas, ripe, mashed
  • 1 C. uncooked oats

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add oil and egg to the dry mixture and mix thoroughly.

3. Add mashed bananas and oatmeal to batter.

4. Lightly grease a loaf pan.

5. Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch, 45 to 55 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Flip out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes.

I don’t like Pumpkin Pie

Ok so that admission probably isn’t going to win me any points for Thanksgiving, but its true!  I know you are shocked!  How can the cooking devushka not like one of the iconic centerpieces of the Thanksgiving meal? (5 days people, 5 DAYS!)

But do you know what I recently discovered?  Actually, there’s quite a few of us strange ones out there that when presented with a lineup of yummy pie goodness at Thanksgiving, would gladly pass over the pumpkin!  Even Pioneer Woman!

If you are looking for some fun Thanksgiving dessert alternatives for your feast, why not try one of these?

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie Fudge Brownie Bars

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Pumpkin Caramel Pie

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Pumpkin Pie Bars

 

 

A perfect soup for Fall

Just whipped up this soup this morning before I headed off to the university.  Took less than an hour to make, and SUPER yum!  I know some people only like pumpkin in dessert type things, but I am just LOVING this soup. Hope you’ll try it!

Pumpkin Chicken-Rice Soup from Sarah

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. onion, chopped
  • 3 TBS. butter
  • 2 TBS. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 C. milk
  • 2 C. chicken broth
  • 2 C. pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 Tbs curry powder
  • 1-1.5 C. chopped cooked chicken
  • 1-1.5 C. rice, cooked

Directions:

-Saute 1 chopped onion in 2-3 Tbs of butter.

-Take the pan off the burner to make a white sauce.  Blend in 2 Tbs of flour and 1/2 tsp salt into the sauteed onion mixture.  Slowly add 2 cups of milk, constantly stirring to prevent lumps from forming.  Return to heat and stir until the sauce bubbles and thickens.

-Add 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups pumpkin puree and all the spices to the soup.  Simmer for several minutes and let the soup thicken a bit, then add cooked rice and chicken. (I just threw in a couple of handfuls of both until it was the consistency I wanted.)

Liz’s Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

 


  • 2/3 C. Butter
  • 2/3 C. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 1 C. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 C. flour
  • 1 C. oatmeal
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 C. chocolate chips
  • 1 C. slightly chopped walnuts

Mix first 6 ingredients together with mixer.  In separate bowl add the next 4 ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients with dry ingredients.  Add chips and nuts.
Bake @ 350F for 10-12 minutes.

Jessica’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Jessica’s Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from Betty Crocker

 

 


  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 3/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1 C. butter, softened, NOT MELTED
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C. oat flour
  • 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 TBS. flax seed, ground (approximate….just sprinkle some to cover the dough before adding chocolate chips)

1.  Heat oven to 375 F.

2.  In a large bowl, beat sugars, butter, vanilla, and egg for a few minutes.  It is important that softened butter, NOT MELTED butter is used.  Stir in flours, baking soda, and salt.  The dough should be stiff.  If it isn’t – add a little more oat flour.  I usually use 1 C. of oat flour OR 1/2 C. of oat flour and 1/2 C. of whole wheat flour.

Notes:

-The more flour you use, the more easily your cookies will break after cooling.

-You don’t need to use all the different flours – unless you happen to have them on hand.  Before getting the oat flour, I used to make these with 2 cups of all purpose flour and then added oats until the dough was the consistency I like.

3.  On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded TBL. about 2 inches apart.

4.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown.  The centers should still be soft and may look a little undercooked.

5.  Cool 1-2 minutes on cookie sheet and then move to cooling rack.

Lemon Chicken Rice Soup

Hey everyone!  I’m actually posting a new recipe!  I know, you can lift your jaw off the floor now! :)  No excuses from me…life gets in the way sometimes, and sometimes other priorities have to come before the blog.  I know, bummer! :)  But I’m still excited about sharing recipes with you all, so don’t worry, the blog isn’t ending or anything!

By the way, what do you think of the new look? :D

Also by the way, if you haven’t stopped by in awhile, you’ll notice I have a page now dedicated to Crockpot recipes.  Click on over if crockpotting is something that tickles your fancy!

Seems like I’ve been making this soup non stop this summer.  Lemon is just so refreshing in the summer (well, anytime really) and you know my adoration for soup!  I have received a constant stream of requests for this recipe, so you know its good!

Lemon Chicken Rice Soup adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS. olive oil
  • 1 C. chopped onion
  • 5 C. chicken stock, plus 1 C. water
  • 1/2 C. rice
  • 1 pound skinless chicken breast, diced
  • Salt
  • 4 TBS. lemon juice
  • 3 eggs

Directions:

1 Heat the olive oil in a medium pot and saute the onions over medium-high heat until they are soft and translucent, 4-5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, prepare the rice in another pot.

2 When the onions are ready, add the chicken stock and water and bring to a bare simmer. When the rice is nearly done — drain any extra water from the rice and add it to the chicken broth mixture.  Add the diced chicken to the pot and let this cook about 8 minutes.  Taste the soup and add salt if needed.

3 Beat the 3 eggs in a bowl. Whisking constantly, add the 4 TBS. lemon juice to the eggs. You will need to temper the eggs before you add the egg-lemon mixture to the soup. (This is so that the eggs don’t cook too fast when you add them to the soup…resulting in “scrambled eggs” in your soup.)  It takes both hands to do this. With one hand, whisk the egg-lemon mixture vigorously. With the other, slowly pour in a ladle’s worth of hot broth. Do this three times.

4 Turn the heat off the soup. Whisk the soup with one hand while you pour the hot egg-lemon mixture in with the other.

 

When reheating soup for leftovers, you can reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.  Just make sure not to boil the soup so as to avoid scrambling the eggs.

Note: What’s the point of the eggs anyway?  They give the soup a creaminess without adding extra fat and calories by using cream.

ENJOY!

English Muffins are my FAVORITE!

Hi everyone!  It’s holiday and vacation time here in Russia Jan. 1-10 so I am thankful to have some extra time to bake some longer projects.  I tackled bagels during Easter holidays a couple years ago and those turned out stupendously, so I decided this time to try making English muffins.  These were definitely not hard to do, just a little time consuming.  I made 3 batches in about 6 hours!  But there was a lot of inactive rising time in there! :)

I’m not sure why I haven’t done this up until now.  English muffins are truly one of my favorite things!  When I’m in the states I’ll eat half an english muffin with a scrambled egg almost every morning.  Or if we make turkey burgers or something at home, I always want to use an english muffin for my bun!  I’m kinda crazy like that sometimes, but I can’t help it if I’m just lovin the muffin! :)

I actually tried out 3 different recipes for my english muffin baking adventure, but I’m only going to share one (the best one!) of them with you here and just give you some variations for how you can make different kinds.  The three recipes I tried out were all very similar, but the recipe from Annie’s Eats was the best so I think from now on I’m just going to use that one and adjust some of the ingredients for different kinds. :-)

I made so many English muffins I was able to package some up in some Ziplocks and share them with other friends in Moscow.  And we still have a whole bag to use ourselves in our own freezer!  I put them in the freezer so that we could just eat them a little at a time rather than having to worry about them going bad.  Real english muffins won’t last nearly as long as the one’s in the package from the grocery store (preservatives, preservatives!)  So if you make some too, after they cool completely, you can put them in a zip-top bag, store them in the freezer, then just defrost in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, slice and toast!

Here’s the recipe! You are going to love it!

English Muffins (+ some adaptations) from Annie’s Eats

(Makes 12 muffins)

Ingredients:
4 1/2 C. flour
3 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
2 TBS. butter, at room temperature
1 & 1/2 – 2 C. low fat milk, at room temperature (it is important to use low fat…if you use a high fat milk content, it will definitely affect the texture of the muffins)
Cornmeal, for sprinkling

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.  Use a mixer to mix in the butter and 1 & 1/2 C. of milk.  Add just enough of the remaining milk to form a dough and incorporate the dry ingredients.  Flour your hands and knead the dough for about 8 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and roll to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let the dough rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.  (Alternately you can mix the ingredients with a stand mixer and then switch to the dough hook to knead the dough for 8 minutes.  Sadly I do not have this option!) ;-)

3 batches rising of dough rising... (You can probably tell which one I started and ended with!) :)

After the dough has risen and doubled in size, gently pour the dough out onto a cutting board.  Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape into balls.  Lay parchment paper on a few baking sheets and spray or coat lightly with oil.  Sprinkle the parchment with cornmeal.  Move the dough balls to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly with room to rise.  Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap or a dish towel and allow to rise another hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  After the dough balls have risen again, sprinkle the tops with cornmeal as well.

Risen balls of dough

Heat a skillet on medium heat on the stovetop.  Brush the skillet lightly with oil (or use cooking spray) and gently transfer the dough balls to the skillet a few at a time.  Allow them to cook for about 5 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned.  Carefully flip and cook the other side for 5 minutes more.  They should flatten slightly as they cook.

Browning the muffins on the skillet!

Remove the muffins from the skillet and transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes.  Do not wait until all the muffins have been browned in the skillet before moving them to the oven.  As the first batch is baking, move the second batch to the skillet.

Transfer the baked muffins to a cooling rack and let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.  Store in an airtight container or in zip-top bags in the freezer.

Aren't they purrty?

 

Variations:

For wheat English muffins: Use 3 C. whole wheat flour and 1.5 C. AP flour.  Add in 1 TBS. of honey to the mixture as well.  You can use all wheat flour if you want, but it will turn out a much denser muffin.  You could even add in a Tablespoon or so of ground flax if you’re really feeling wild!

For Cinnamon Raisin English muffins:  Use 1/2 C. whole wheat flour and 4 C. AP flour to give  it a bit of a wheaty flavor.  Or use more or less based on your tastes.  Add 3/4 tsp. cinnamon and 3/4 C. raisins in with the dry ingredients.  Also add in 1.5 TBS. honey to the milk before adding it in to the dough.

The finished product!

2012 – Some Recipes I’m hoping to make this year!

Here are a few recipes I’m hoping to test out on Cooking Devushki in the coming year!  If it’s LIFE CHANGING- you know the recipe will be up on the blog for all of you to see.  If not….well, better luck next time!  If you end up trying one of these before I do, let me know!  I’ll let you guest post on here sometime! How fun is that!?

Clockwise from top left:

Snickerdoodle Sheet Cake

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Men

Milk Chocolate Ganache Tart

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

Cinnamon Roll Pumpkin Vanilla Sheet Cake

Creamy Chicken Baked Flautas

Low Fat Multi Grain Pancakes

Peaches and Cream Muffins

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bread

Baked Oatmeal

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Cranberry Coffee Cake (center)

Cranberry Orange Bread

There’s something about cranberry and orange together, isn’t there?  This bread kinda reminds me of the “Best Lemon Bread in the World.”  Except we’re exchanging lemon for orange and adding in dried cranberries.  Perfect for the holidays or really anytime!  I could eat this bread in the middle of July! :)

Cranberry Orange Bread adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4. C. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C. orange juice
  • 1/2 C. sour cream
  • 1 TBS. freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 C. AP flour
  • 1/2 TBS. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 C. dried cranberries
  • 1 C. powdered sugar (for the glaze)
  • 3 -4 TBS. orange juice (for the glaze)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter or spray one loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
  4. Add orange juice, sour cream, orange zest, and vanilla; mix until blended.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Add flour mixture and cranberries to wet ingredients, and mix just until dry ingredients are absorbed. (Do not overmix.)
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers of bread comes out clean, 70-75 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and 7 tablespoons orange juice. (Glaze should have consistency of thick syrup. If it is too thick, thin with an additional tablespoon of orange juice.)
  9. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a cooling rack set over a large baking sheet. Poke holes in the top of the bread using a fork. Drizzle with glaze so that it coats the top, runs down the sides, and seeps through the holes.
  10. Let bread cool completely, then slice and serve.

P.S. Want that awesome looking monkey bread pictured in the background above?  I have never posted a recipe for monkey bread on here before because I figured everyone in the world knows how to make it!  But if you really want to make it – like –  AMAZING – I.E. without using refrigerated biscuits – UGH! – the recipe is here!  Come on, you know you want to try it! :-)