Crock Pot Dressing

>> Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm from the school that I don't stuff my turkey. I know this is a subject of great debate! My reasons are is that it takes so much longer for the turkey to cook and there is such a risk of not getting the stuffing cooked all the way through. I discovered several years ago that you can make REALLY great dressing in a crock pot. You don't have to use that coveted oven space for your dressing. It is also great because you make it and forget about it until dinner time. Wonderful!

*Note: as a time saver the night before prepare all your vegetables for the next day. Cut your carrot sticks, broccoli, celery, etc for your veggie tray and while you have your cutting board and knife ready prepare your onions and celery for your dressing and turkey (I always put onions, celery and herbs inside my turkey while it cooks). Put your cooking onions and celery in a zip lock bag already for the next day.

Crock Pot Dressing
(Large Recipe, adjust as needed serves approx. 20)

2-3 tab olive oil
3-4 stalks celery finely chopped
1 large onion finely chopped
2-3 leaves of Sage
2-3 stems of Rosemary leaves
2-3 stems of Thyme leaves
3 boxes of stuffing/dressing mix
2-3 cans of chicken stock
2 eggs
1 Crock-Pot cooking bag

In a large stock pot heat your olive oil and add in your celery and onions. Cook until tender, but not brown. Add your fresh herbs that are finely chopped and allow them infuse your onions and celery. If you don't have fresh you can use a couple of teaspoons of poultry seasoning that is available in your supermarket.

Add the stuffing/dressing mix. I use the already seasoned mixes and add more flavors as described above. I also mix bread and corn bread mixes as you like. Add the chicken stock and mix until starting to moisten, add eggs mixing well. The mix should be moist, but not too wet. You can always add more liquid as it cooks if you think it appears too dry.

Place the crock-pot bag in to your crock pot and add the dressing mixture. Of course you can cook it without the bag, but it makes cleanup a snap. Be sure to spray your crock with cooking spray if your don't use a bag. Cook on high for 1.5 hours and then turn down to low for 2-3 hours. If you want your dressing to have more of a "crust" around the edge leave it on high for longer.

Some fun things that can be added to dressing: cooked sausage, pecans, walnuts, or dried cranberries. The simple dressing above is a winner, but adding one or two of the things above makes it even better. Good eats from the Queen of Yum!


Sweet Potato Casserole

>> Monday, November 16, 2009

My husband is retired from the Navy and our first real duty station (together) was Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina. It was so different than Oregon! The history there is amazing, the weather in the summer is stiffling, but the culinary experience was AWESOME! I found this wonderful little recipe back in the very early 1980's. We have enjoyed it every Thanksgivng since. I hope you give it a try. It is a favorite of almost everyone who tries it. The pecans are very important part of this recipe. Pecans are a favorite nut of the south.

Sweet Potato Casserole
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes (I use canned and mash them)

1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans

Beat eggs, granulated sugar, and butter until smooth. Add milk and vanilla. Combine with the mashed sweet potatoes; spoon into a greased 2-quart casserole. Combine brown sugar, flour, tablespoons softened butter, and pecans, mixing until crumbly; sprinkle over sweet potatoes. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.


Pumpkin Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Icing (click here to go to website)

>> Friday, November 6, 2009

I've added a new cake to my website. It is perfect for the holidays. If you live locally let me bake one for you, but if you are out of the Salem-Keizer area of Oregon here is my recipe to make your own.

If you would like to order the edible image that goes on the top, check out my website and I'll mail it to you for the top of your cake! You can personalize it with your own message at no additional charge.

Pumpkin Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 med. Apples, peeled and diced
2 cups pumpkin
4 c all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 /2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
l/2 tsp. cloves
l/2 tsp. ginger

In large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla, apples and pumpkin. Blend in dry ingredients. Cut wax paper circle for bottoms of three 8” or 9” cake pans. Spray pan, place wax paper in bottom, spray pan and sides again. Bake 350 for 28 minutes checking until done. Let cake cool 5 minutes in pan and then turn out to rack to cool.

Orange Syrup: l/2 cup butter, l/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 tab water, 2 tsp grated orange peel – bring to boil. Remove from heat stir in 2 tab orange juice. Spoon over warm cake. Refrigerate cakes overnight.

Cream Cheese Icing:
l/2 cup butter – softened, 8 oz pkg. cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, 1 lb of powder sugar, 2 tsp vanilla. Beat until smooth. Frost cake.

This cake gets better over the next couple of days as the flavors marry together. It is a very moist wonderful cake!

Here is another example of an edible image for the top!


Cookie Maker

>> Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sometimes you want to make a cookie that you don't have a cookie cutter that will work. I've found if you get the copper pipe strap (plumbing department at the hardware store) and bend it around a clipart image it works pretty well. Be sure to wash your copper very well before use. Just start at a semi-straight part of the image and bend the strap around the image. It can be a little bit diffiucult, but take your time - YOU CAN DO IT!! I glue it together with very strong 2 part epoxy. Be careful not to epoxy your clip to your new cutter while you are attaching the ends!

You may have to simplify your image when working in frosting. Even images that look pretty basic can be difficult. I hope that you will give this a try when you need a specialty cutter next time. - Happy Baking


Fun with Glitter and Color

>> Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I thought you might like the recipe of the Royal Icing I use.
Royal Icing
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup meringue powder
Whip with a mixer until peaks form.

4 cups powder sugar
Add the powder sugar and whip together for approx. 5 minutes.

I really like Americolor gel colors the best. The most difficult part is remembering to do the colors you would like the night before! The colors intensify overnight. I must admit that I don't get this done very often!

I used a wonderful food grade glitter on these called "Disco Dust." It adds so much sparkle which is hard to see in the photos.

Happy Baking ....


Graduation Cupcake

>> Wednesday, August 5, 2009

These were made for a wonderful non-profit organization here in Salem, Oregon. They work very hard to acquire grants for other non-profits. Their work has been so appreciated by many here in Salem. When the grant period comes to an end, usually 3 years, they have a graduation party.

If you would like to make these they are easy. The bottom of the graduation cap is a mini-peanut butter cup, the top is a Ghirardelli square, the tassel is fruit by the foot cut (with scissors) into small strips. To attach it all together melt some chocolate candy melts and put the melted chocolate in a pastry bag. Add a dot of melted candy on top of your peanut butter cup and place your chocolate square on top. Next place the fruit by the foot on top of the chocolate square and add a dot of chocolate on top to attach it to the square.

Make your favorite cupcake (these are brownie cupcakes with buttercream frosting) and place on top!! Simple, fun and of course delicious! Happy baking - Cindy


50 and Fabulous

>> Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The biggest tip I have for these cookies is you don't have to run out and buy more cutters. Be creative with the ones you already have.

The sand dollar was cut round by a large drinking glass. I then used my "Christmas" star cookie cutter to position 5 points around the circle. Using a small cutter - cut out a small triangle shape so that your once round circle now has 5 notches.

The flip flop is my Easter egg cutter that I squeezed in on one side. I used the smaller top of the egg at the bottom of the flip flop and you can see it worked well.

The starfish is my Chistmas star cookie cutter, but before it was baked by hand I moved each leg to look more like a starfish and less like a regular star.

I hope that you have as much fun as I do when you are doing your baking - Cindy


Happy Birthday

>> Saturday, August 1, 2009

I had the great honor of baking a batch of cookies for a client's 50th birthday. I made this card for her and the inside read: "Happy 21st anniversary of your 29th birthday." One of my other loves in life (besides baking) is photography and photoshop. This is a vintage photograph of a cute little girl and surrounded by textures (lace) and brushes (the scroll work), lettering and a little more photoshop magic. Flickr has inspired my work and helped me to increase my knowledge in photography and photoshop work. You can check out much more of my work on Flickr by clicking the link that is on the top of my page.

I'll be posting photos of the cookies for this order soon ... - Cindy


Nectar of Life

>> Monday, July 27, 2009

Many people love coffee and have their own special way they like it! I have found that to make a really good cup of coffee it is important to have FRESH roasted beans. If you live in an area that does not have coffee roasters that roast coffee daily try to find a place online that will ship to you freshly roasted beans. I live in Salem, Oregon and we have many, many coffee roasters in town. I know, I'm very lucky! I have found coffee you buy in a grocery store is less than fresh. If you purchase fresh roasted beans they can be kept for a week or two, but as more time goes by it will affect your cup of coffee.

Purchase whole beans and grind them yourself daily. This really helps to preserve their freshness. The added bonus is the aroma of the beans grinding is amazing. It will fill your kitchen with the best perfume! Don't grind a week worth at one time ... keeping the beans whole it truly will help preserve freshness. If your just getting started purchase a simple inexpensive grinder - one that does one pot at a time is fine. It should be around $20.00 or so. This is a good place to start. As you find out what you really like, you will move up to better equipment eventually.

If you are using a drip coffee maker, grind your beans to a medium grind (not too fine). If you are using a French press like shown above a larger medium grind is best. When I'm using my French press I allow the coffee to steep for 4 minutes before I press the coffee. It is such a wonderful treat to yourself to prepare your own carafe of coffee.

How do I like my beans roasted? Costa Rican beans French roast is my favorite. It has the darkest most rich flavor that I've found. Buy beans that are shiny and have a fragrance that makes you smile and say MMMmmmm that smells so good! French roast beans that are dull are old and stale and should be avoided. How much do I use? For a 10-12 cup pot of coffee I use a full cup beans.

You must drink your coffee while it is fresh in the pot. It can be left in the pot for approx. 1 hour. If you are not going to drink all the coffee before that 1 hour, turn it off and microwave a cup later or use a thermos type container. This is less ideal, but it is still good.

I'll talk more about coffee another time, but this is a great place to start. I would love to answer any of your questions or to hear your comments about your favorite coffee. - Cindy


Roses and Tea Cookie

>> Monday, July 20, 2009

This cookie is decorated with marshmallow fondant. I was new to this technique and found a wonderful 2 part tutorial on YouTube. The links are below. When rolling out the fondant use powder sugar on your board and pin. I also color small amounts of the fondant at a time. For this particular cookie I used two white discs cut with a round scalloped cookie cutter in two sizes and the hand formed the roses by cutting a strip of pink fondant about 1/2 inch by 4 inches and rolling it up into a rose. I use just old fashion butter cream frosting to attach the fondant to the cookie and to itself. To add a little depth I used a darker rose/pink dust and applied it with a very small brush down into the center of the flowers. I hope you have fun with this new technique. I would love to hear how it works for you! - Happy Baking - Cindy


Lazy Daisy and Lemonade

>> Friday, July 17, 2009

I just did a bunch of cookies for a picnic I'm going to tomorrow. Some of them were these lovely little daisies. I tried two new techniques that I would like to share with you - painting and markers. I floated the white icing on the cookie and when it was completely dry (12 hours or so) I took a drop of food color and just the about 2 drops of water and a brushed around the edge to add the color. It looks a little like watercolor - translucent and not a solid coverage. It worked very well and was very easy. After the food color paint dried (about 10 minutes 0r so) I used food safe markers to make the little black lines. Both of these techniques made the entire process very quick and really easy. PS. You can buy the markers anyplace that sells cake decorating supplies. I hope you will give it a try! - Cindy


Lady Bug Picnic

>> Thursday, July 16, 2009

These little cookies are just a small fraction of those mailed to a wonderful friend of mine who is lounging around (as much as you can lounge while entertaining) on a lake in Wisconsin with over 20 members of their family. This little cabin has been in their family for several generations. It is an amazing family tradition that has gone on for generatons also.

I would like to share with you how I arrived at such wonderful colors. They were from a small set of AmeriColor soft gel paste food colors, the "Electric Color Kit." As you can see they are very saturated, bright, wonderful colors. One tip is to mix your frostings the day before you use them because the colors intesify after a few hours.

I hope you enjoy your own decorating. - Cindy


Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti

>> Monday, July 13, 2009

Here are some of my favorite things - my Fiestaware, good cup of coffee, wonderful biscotti and the morning paper.

Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Pistacios
1/2 cup dried cranberried

*addition if desired - zest of 1/2 an organge

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat eggs and sugar until sugar is dissolved (3-4 minutes) add flavors. Combine flour and remaining ingredients and add to egg mixture. Lightly flour hands and shape dough into 8 in long by 4 inch wide by approx. 1 1/2 inch high log. Place on a baking sheet covered in parchment or a silpat. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool. Cut into 1/4 inch slices (if you want slightly larger pieces - slice on the diagonal). Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes on each side or until crisp.



Dolly Dingle Paper Dolls

>> Saturday, July 11, 2009

Little dollies like Dolly Dingle were popular when my mom was a child. She would tell us about how much she loved playing with her paper dolls. She would spend hours cutting and trimming their clothes. You could save and collect the outfits. They could all be kept in a little treasure box. This little set even has outfits for the kitty! Times were so much simpler back then. When I was a child it was Barbie that we would dress. When I was young money was tight and my mom would make us Barbie (and Madge) clothes like crazy! We had boxes and boxes of clothes and accessories. I wish I could tell her thank you again.


Ghirardelli Chocolate Cupcake with "Twinkie" Filling

I was asked to make some cuppies for a friends grandson's 3rd birthday. I thought that Elmo and Cookie Monster were perfect for a 3 year old little boy. Here are the recipes:

Ghirardelli Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cups Ghirardelli Premium Baking Cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 t salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups water
2 teaspoons instant coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins.

Sift together dry ingredients. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Add coffee granules to water and dissolve, gradually add water/coffe mixture to batter beat until smooth.

Bake cupcakes for 13-15 minutes. Cool on racks.

Queen's "Twinkie" Filling

1 cup milk
5 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat milk and flour until very stiff (stir constantly). Allow to cool. Beat in mixer for approx. 10 minutes. Add rest of ingredients mixing well after each addition. End with beating for another 10 minutes. The more you whip it - the lighter it becomes.

Just Like Grandma's Buttercream Frosting

1/3 cups butter
3 cups powder sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

Mix all ingredients in mixer and allow to whip for 5 minutes to make light and fluffy.

Elmo and Cookie Monster's faces were made with Marshmellow Fondant and Royal Icing. I'll add those recipes soon!



My photo
Salem, Oregon, United States
You might wonder about my business name - I've always wanted to be the Queen, so now I am the Queen of my own domain! I'm a wife, mom with 2 grown children, and one wonderful daughter-in-law. I'm also a small business owner, cook and baker who is always looking to improve her skills. My goal is to bring you the very best in goodies, ideas, how-to, so that you can bring them to your own family. I will be launching a website soon where you will be able to shop for my goodies.

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