Gingerbread Cheesecake Dip

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Well, Christmas season is definitely here! My house is decorated, it snowed over the weekend, and Christmas party season is in full swing. In our winters here in Virginia so far, I’ve only seen us get 2 “snows” per year max, so maybe we can get away with this being our only snow for the season?!? (probably wishful thinking)

This dip is a sweet appetizer/dessert that I made to take over to my husband’s casual work Christmas party. This party is one of those where your meal is made up of different appetizers and dips people have brought over. I wanted something that I could make easily and would travel well (read – I don’t have to worry about keeping it hot getting it there), so this gingerbread cheesecake dip from Food, Folks, and Fun fit the bill. I’m not joking when I say you could have this ready to go in 10-15 minutes (with washing the mixer), and I know quick and easy is always appreciated this time of year. Just be sure to set out your cream cheese as it will mix much easier at room temperature!

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As far as the spices go, I noticed last minute that I didn’t have any ground ginger, so I subbed in pumpkin pie spice (which isn’t exactly the same but gets the same idea). Because of that swap, I decreased the amount of cinnamon I used down to 1/2 teaspoon.

To serve, I set out honey graham crackers and cinnamon-sugar pita chips, but you could certainly use other dippers such as vanilla wafers, gingerbread crisps, or even fruit such as apples or grapes. I topped it with some seasonal sprinkles to add some color, but this is entirely optional. As the original author said, if you are prepping this significantly ahead of time, wait until just before serving to add the sprinkles. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Gingerbread Cheesecake Dip
Adapted from Food, Folks, and Fun

Ingredients:
1 8oz pkg of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 oz (1/2 pkg) of whipped cream
Dippers: graham crackers, cinnamon-sugar pita chips, cookie wafers, apples, etc.
Optional: seasonal sprinkles

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the brown and powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly combined. Mix in the molasses and spices and lastly add and mix in the whipped cream. Beat on medium-high for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl. If not planning to serve it immediately, cover and refrigerate until serving time. Add sprinkles, if desired, immediately before serving.

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Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

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Sweet potatoes seem to be a devisive ingredient. It seems you either love them or hate them. Maybe it’s the marshmallow-loaded Thanksgiving side dish that gives them a bad day? (But let’s be honest. I LOVE that too… in its own right). Thankfully here, the hubbs and I are both on board with sweet potatoes, especially roasted. I think I could eat those for dinner alone!

So, as you can see, the topping of this Sheperd’s Pie from Cookin’ Canuck definitely got my attention. One thing I tend not to do with either normal potatoes or sweet potatoes at home is make mashed potatoes. I don’t really have a good reason why. I guess somehow in my mind I made it out to be a complicated process, but honestly, it’s probably faster than many other methods of cooking them.

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At work, I’ve shifted over to 10-hr days. On one hand, I’m loving the extra day off, but as the primary cook in the house, I’ve been looking for ways to make dinner a little easier on the hubbs. Especially in the winter where its not quite as easy for him to just grill everynight. Putting this dish together was an easy process, and it allowed for me to do all the assembly (up to the final bake) the day before. For a busy night or a spouse roommate who doesn’t like to cook as much, all they have to do is bake it!

And, on top of easy… it was delicious. I think the hubbs ate half the pan 🙂

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I will say, I did use the bison meat, but didn’t read the package well enough, so I only made the pie with 12oz of meat. If you can’t find bison or would prefer beef, I’m reasonably certain this could be made with ground beef as well. It seems that anywhere from 3/4 to 1-1/2 lbs of meat would work, just dependent on how much food you’d like and ease for package sizes, etc.

(Printable Recipe)

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck

Ingredients:

For the sweet potato topping:
1-1/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into ~1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

For the filling:
2 tsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 to 1-1/2 lbs. ground bison or ground beef
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried crushed rosemary
1 cup beef broth
1 cup frozen peas

For the sweet potatoes:
Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the water and leave the sweet potatoes in the pan. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, salt and pepper.

For the filling:
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the onions and cook until they start to turn translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the meat, crumble while cooking, until cooked through. Add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth and frozen peas. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the meat mixture to a baking dish. I used a 1-1/2 qt dish. A square pan would also likely work, although a 8×8 pan will be full. Cover with the mashed sweet potaotes ensuring all edges are covered. At this time, the dish can be refrigerated to bake (wouldn’t leave it more than 1-2 days) or baked immediately at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Steel Cut Oatmeal

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It seems like I keep going on a “break” and then coming back again. I’ve decided that, if nothing else, I’d like to start blogging again as a mechanism of saving the recipes that I make all the time. Let’s be honest. It’s a good referene, especially when I can pull up a recipe while out and about (clarification: I’m at the store and completely forgot to check if I need any ingredients for the recipe I’m making). There may or may not be any frequency to my posts, but here’s hoping the ones that go up are our ‘keepers’.

Both of us start our jobs really early here. The hubbs goes in at 5:30. I start at 6:30. Considering neither one of us are the best morning people, you can imagine that this translates into both of us eat breakfast at work. Over the last few months, we both fell into the habit of grabbing a granola/protein bar for breakfast for convienence. One of the downsides (I realize there are many), I would be hungry again in a couple hours. Regardless of how you look at it, 9:00-9:30 is too early for lunch.

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In an effort to get back to more ‘real’ breakfast food, I decided to return to my old breakfast of choice, oatmeal. For years, I would make my own oats at home (usually microwaved) with cinnamon and unsweetened applesauce. I still do this on occasion, however I really enjoy it when I plan ahead enough to have a pot of these steel cut oats prepared.

They probably take 35-40 minutes from start to clean-up, however much of this is hands-off time. The trade-off for that time is that I get 4 servings of pre-prepared oatmeal that just has to be heated up in the microwave at 6:30 in the morning. Perfect. Most of the time, I just reheat, however you can add a splash of milk or water when reheating if you want more of a creamy texture. Top with blueberries (fresh or frozen, if frozen just add before heating) and/or a sliced banana, and I’m a happy (and full) girl!

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(Printable Recipe)

Steel Cut Oatmeal
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients: (about 4 servings)
1 cup steel cut oats
3-1/2 cups water
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of milk or almond milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the steel cut oats and salt. Stir.

Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 20 minutes. You will need to stir the pot occasionally or the oats will stick to the pan.

When the oats start to thicken. Add the milk, applesauce, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the oats thicken to your desired consistency.

You can serve immediately or measure out into 4 containers. If saving, refrigerate until use. Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes (can add a splash of milk or water if desired). Top as desired. Enjoy!