I’m pretty sure any blog is incomplete without the obligatory corn casserole recipe around this time of year. Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy I call it a corn souffle. Because, you know, casseroles get a bad rap a lot of times (they really deserve more, if you ask me). And maybe sometimes I call it spoon bread. Just because. Who knows?! Regardless of whatever I decide to call it at the moment, I have to admit that I find myself drooling a little bit every time I see corn casserole/souffle/spoon bread. SO, SO GOOD! Most recipes use a corn muffin mix as a base, which is scrumptious. BUT this one is just as amazing and made completely from scratch! YAY!
I haven’t made this recipe more than like one other time in our marriage because I was SURE that Travis wasn’t a fan. It’s funny how notions like that get stuck in our heads because as it turns out he really does like it. He even asked why I haven’t made it more. At that point I wasn’t sure if I should cry a tear for all the missed corn casserole opportunities or jump for joy for the many corn casseroles in our future. I just played it cool in reality. Didn’t want to seem like a total food dork, even if I am one.
The real test was on our 1-year-old son, who has decided corn is on the “do not eat” list. He literally finds every piece of food he doesn’t like (a.k.a. almost every vegetable) and promptly drops them on the floor. I like to tell myself he’s a future scientist and is testing the laws of gravity, but I think I have to accept that he just likes dropping food he thinks is disgusting on the ground. We ate this casserole 3 times during different meals. The 1st two times the corn casserole ended up on the floor. BUT, 3rd time is a charm because….SUCCESS! My child actually ate corn! Without any sort of manipulation or begging on my part. Major win.
So I’ve learned a few lessons here. First, make sure to ask your husband/significant other/whoever you cook for if they like or dislike something before assuming one way or another. Next, persistence is key with a 1-year-old. Finally, I’ve learned that my love of corn casseroles is for reals and I will be making many more variations in my near future.
Side note…We ate a random helping of sides with this including orange pomegranate coleslaw and my recently posted Thanksgiving dinner rolls. Sometimes side dishes are where it’s at! I just realized my “side note” talked about sides. HA! I crack myself up sometimes.
As it turns out, there are lots of different kinds of dinner rolls. There are light and fluffy ones, flaky ones, enormous ones…The list could go on, of course. But let’s get to business. These dinner rolls are the kind of dinner rolls that stick to your ribs and fill your belly. They are dense and bread-y, but not in a hard-as-a-rock way. They’re definitely more of a wow-I-could-eat-the-whole-pan-but-there-are-7-cups-of-flour-in-there way. Yeah…I said 7 cups of flour. That’s a lot, right?!? But if you read the title of the post, you know these are for Thanksgiving and I’ve heard calories don’t count on Thanksgiving so we’re good. *Fact: My last statement was definitely NOT a fact. Calories, do, indeed count on Thanksgiving but shhhh…no one has to know.*
One of the reasons I love these dinner rolls so much are that they came from Travis’ grandma, who, you guessed it…made them at Thanksgiving (and basically every holiday). It’s definitely a most delicious tradition to keep alive for many future generations if you ask me. As soon as Travis took a bite of one of these rolls, he went quiet except for the, “These rolls are so good” interjection. I’ll take that as a win for me for following a recipe well. However, I must say this process was not without help from my mother-in-law and Travis’ grandma for advice, of course. There may have been a few calls/texts involved. We got there. And the dinner rolls turned out wonderful!
Funny story about these rolls…one time a few years back my brother-in-law unknowingly said to his grandma that he would’t need the recipe for her rolls since they were store-bought. Even after 20-some years of eating grandma’s beloved rolls, he was sure they had to come from the store because “they were so perfect” (that might be a paraphrase, but you get the point). Needless to say, he was quickly corrected and I’m pretty sure his appreciation of his grandma’s rolls grew even more. I’m also sure he won’t make that mistake again.
I know we’re a couple weeks out from Thanksgiving. There is a WHOLE lot to do on Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve (if that’s a thing). One great part about these rolls is you can take them out of the oven, cool them and freeze them. Then a day or so before Thanksgiving, defrost them, stick them in a warm oven for a few minutes to heat them up then brush the melted butter on top. So make them now and have them ready to go for Thanksgiving! Win, win!
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons shortening
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter, to brush on top
In a large bowl, combine warm water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and package of yeast. Stir in 2 cups of the flour, until the mixture is smooth. Let rise about 1 hour. The mixture should appear light and spongy when it's done rising.
While the sponge mixture is rising, scald the milk in a saucepan over medium heat (until tiny bubbles just begin to form on the outside rim). Remove from heat and add shortening, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir until the shortening melts. Let cool to room temperature.
Once the sponge has risen, stir the milk mixture into the sponge. Stir in the remaining 5 cups of flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place in a greased bowl and brush dough with oil or shortening. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 24 pieces (yes, this takes a little math planning. You can do it!). Shape each piece into a ball. Place all the dough balls in a greased 9x13 metal cake pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about another hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown on top and sound hollow when you tap on the top.
Brush the tops of rolls with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven.
If the rolls are getting too brown on top but don't seem done, you can cover them with aluminum foil and continue baking until they are cooked through.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
This could not be any easier, folks. There are some super tempting, most definitely delicious applesauce recipes out there that have all sorts of ingredients in them, including loads of sugar. Nothing against those applesauce recipes, but a couple of things to remember about unsweetened applesauce:
It’s Fall, so the apples are fresh and naturally sweet and AMAZING! Let the apple flavor be the star ingredient, not added sugar!
When you cook the apples low and slow, they literally melt apart and form into the most magical applesauce ever.
I have a 1-year-old and sometimes the simple, no sugar added option is the best for little bodies (and for big bodies too, really).
I can’t even concentrate anymore because my house smells like I live in a ginormous apple pie…I’m seriously having a brain fart here.
I used McIntosh apples because they’re so naturally sweet. If you use another variety of apples (such as Jonathan or Braeburn), or if the apples aren’t at all sweet for some reason, there’s a chance you MIGHT need a touch of sugar. However, I beg you to try it without the sugar first! You might just be surprised. I mean, I have a SUPER sweet tooth and 9 out of 10 times I don’t need to add sugar. If it needs a little something, try cinnamon first. Sometimes that gives it just the boost it needs to be perfect! Then, if it really does need the sugar, so be it. You can call me liar forever. I accept this possibility as long as you give it a try.
Fun fact about McIntosh apples that I learned from my sister — I guess McIntosh apples make an applesauce with a slightly pinkish tint to it. It makes sense since they turn a little pink once you peel and dice them. So interesting, though! Yeah, I know. I’m a nerd for being fascinated by simple food facts like that.P.S. I heated some of the applesauce up until it was warm and just starting to bubble. I sprinkled some granola on it and ended up with a healthy little dessert. It was so, so satisfying!
P.P.S. Extra credit if you noticed that the apples in the final pictures are Gala, not McIntosh apples, like I used for the applesauce. I got so carried away, I used all the McIntosh apples I had for the applesauce and left none for the pictures. Oops!
splash of water (enough to barely cover the bottom of the pot)
cinnamon, optional, to taste
Peel and dice apples into 1/2" pieces.
Put a splash of water in the bottom of a large pot (enough to barely cover the bottom) along with the apples. Cook on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. The applesauce should be slightly chunky but tender.
Add cinnamon, if desired, to taste.
Serve warm or chilled. Store in refrigerator.
Makes about 3 cups of applesauce
You can use other kinds of apples to make applesauce, such as Braeburn, Cortland, Jonathan, etc. However, I love how naturally sweet the McIntosh apples are. If you use a variety that is more tart, you may have to add a pinch of sugar.
If you want completely smooth applesauce, use an immersion blender or blender to blend until smooth. Make sure the applesauce is cooled before transferring to a normal blender.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
These lemon shortbread cookies…oh my. They are SCRUMPTIOUS! They literally melt. in. your. mouth. They just might be my new favorite cookie. Since the recipe is just a combination of household pantry/fridge staples, I find it real hard not to make these cookies every day of my life. I kind of want to go make them now. But I won’t. Self-control…
I made these little delicacies for a bridal shower for one of my bestest friends. Everyone loved them! I did something you’re never supposed to do though. I made these for the FIRST time for the shower. That’s risky business because you never know if they’ll turn out. I had faith though, and was well rewarded for my trust in these cookies. Whew!
I do have to be honest about these. They started out as a vanilla bean shortbread cookie that I had saved from another blog and I now I can’t find the blog! The link is broken or it doesn’t exist anymore or something. So whoever you are that inspired these cookies, THANK YOU! If you’re out there reading this, you changed my life for the better.
Random note that you might find helpful is that when you start mixing the dough together it will look like a crumbly mess. You might curse my name or start panicking. Take a deep breath. And another. And maybe by that time you will realize that the dough just needed to be mixed a little longer. It should become a nice smooth dough to roll out and everything will be well again. You might need to slightly press it into a ball to roll out, but it shouldn’t take too much effort.
I keep these pretty small because they’re so rich. Also a good excuse to eat a couple. Definitely not like 10 though. That’s *way* too many…cough, cough.
Melt-In-Your-Mouth Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Sweet and tart lemon shortbread cookies that will melt in your mouth
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice (or juice from about 1 large lemon)
lemon zest from 1 lemon
water (to thin, if needed)
Cream the butter, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Combine the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, salt) in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until well-combined but still crumbly, about 1 minute. Turn mixer to medium and mix for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the dough comes together*.
Roll the dough out into a 9"x12" rectangle between 2 pieces of parchment paper. It should end up being about 1/2"-3/8" thick.
Transfer the parchment and dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
After refrigeration, lift the dough from the baking sheet and cut it into 1 1/2" squares.
Place the cold dough on parchment lined baking sheets. You don't need much room between them (about 1") because they don't spread much.
Bake for 9-11 minutes, until pale golden brown on the edges.
Let cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Mix together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest for the drizzle in a small bowl. Add water, if needed, to create a consistency that is loose enough to drizzle. Use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cooled shortbread cookies. Let the drizzle harden before storing in an airtight container.
*When you start mixing, the dough will look crumbly. Continue to mix until the dough comes together...it will!
Try not to overwork the dough once you roll it out or to reroll because it will get bumpy. However, if you must, the drizzle will cover some imperfections!
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
I keep a list of recipes I want to try and potentially post to the blog if they go well. I’ll be the first to admit that they don’t always go well. I burnt soup this weekend. One time I made mini pumpkin pies that turned into mini pumpkin blobs. I’ve made caramel filled rice cereal bars that were so chewy they could probably take out a filling. *Sigh*.
I’ll end my pity party there because there are also those recipes that are SPOT ON the moment I try them and it makes my day. Sometimes my week…small victories, people. Small victories. Let’s talk almond orange biscotti. SPOT ON! I didn’t even really know I had any love of biscotti until I made these. Can I just say again how SPOT ON these are?! Okay, I think you all get it.
A few of my favorite parts of these cookies are:
They look super fancy and hard to make BUT they’re not. For reals.
I’ve heard rumors that properly stored these guys can last like a few weeks or a month. I may never know if this is true.
The almond orange biscotti are not overly sweet thanks to the nut and citrus flavors.
Biscotti make it totally appropriate for adults to dunk their cookies. In fact, that’s what they’re made for!
This is a fairly traditional recipe for biscotti but let me tell you, I am psyched to try new combinations of flavors! Granted, most will probably involve dunking them in chocolate. I’m pretty sure most everyone will be okay with that.
P.S. I don’t drink coffee because I’m weird like that. I dunked these in milk. YUM.
Almond Orange Biscotti
A traditional biscotti, or twice baked cookie, that's perfect for dunking!
1 tablespoon orange zest (or zest from about 1 medium orange)
1 cup whole almonds, toasted*
1 tablespoon water
chocolate chips, to dip biscotti (1-2 cups depending on how you dip them)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Beat in 4 eggs, vanilla, and orange zest until it forms a ball. It will start out looking rather crumbly so be patient!
Stir in toasted almonds.
With clean, damp hands form 2 logs on parchment-lined baking sheets. Each log should be about 4 inches wide and 3/4 inch tall.
Whisk together remaining egg and water for egg wash. Brush each log with egg wash.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top, rotating pans at the halfway point.
Transfer logs to a wire rack and let cool for about 20 minutes.
Use a large serrated knife to cut 3/4 inch slices. I cut mine on the bias, or diagonal, but you can also cut straight across.
Place the slices, standing up, on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for another 25 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Melt the chocolate chips (I used a double boiler but you could also microwave them, checking and stirring every 30 seconds). Dip* biscotti in chocolate and let cool on parchment paper.
Store in an airtight container.
*To toast the almonds, I just put the whole almonds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat and toasted them until they started to become fragrant
*I dipped my biscotti in chocolate along the bottom edge but you could also dunk them in the chocolate (like you would dunk it into a drink). I've even seen some with drizzle on them. I like the bottom coated because you get a little chocolate in every bite but it doesn't cover up the cookie so you can still dunk it in your drink!
By Flavor From Scratch
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/