Comfort foods. We all have them and this cool Fall weather has kicked us into the “season” and a desire for our comfort food favorites. For Jason, lately those comfort foods have included two specific requests: chicken nuggets and creamy homemade biscuits and gravy. But, I had a little problem. You see, before a couple weeks ago I had never made biscuits and gravy…I don’t even think I have even really tried biscuits and gravy. For me, I have never been a big fan of ground meats of any kind, so biscuits and gravy had never quite made it to my cookbook list. So, when Jason said that was all he wanted, I admit I was a little nervous about making these as delicious as he remembers. Luckily for me, they are pretty actually a pretty easy meal to make and they turned out great! (They are a big recommendation from me to any other cancer patients out there – if you can handle the creaminess, you can make them as bland or spiced up as you want while still getting some good comfort food).
I made a few substitutions to the traditional biscuits and gravy to make these a little more healthy. We used lean ground turkey and skim milk and I spiced these up with just a little pepper and thyme. I have to admit, even I was a fan of these! We have had them a few nights since our first experimental dinner and both agree these are the way to go to get your biscuits & gravy fix!
Homemade Biscuits & Gravy
- 1 (12 oz.) package lean turkey sausage
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups skim milk
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (or season to taste)
- Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits or use 1 package buttermilk biscuits
- If making homemade biscuits, preheat oven to 425 degrees and follow recipe, or else follow package directions for store-bought.
- Preheat a deep skillet to medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned. Leave sausage and any grease in the pan and then add the butter and melt, stirring occasionally. Slowly stir in the flour and then turn the heat down to medium. Slowly stir in the milk, stirring until the mixture starts to thicken. Next turn heat on low and let simmer for 12 to 14 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. If too thick, stir in more milk.
- Remove prepared biscuits from oven when they are lightly golden brown. Split biscuit in half and pour sausage gravy over the biscuit. Serve warm.
This week’s guest post is from one of Jason’s co-workers, Michelle! These Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes recipe she has to share today is an absolutely delicious way to treat yourself or your guests. Please enjoy this yummy recipe and the go on over to her blog to get some more. Thanks Michelle!
In my book, nothing beats the cozy smell of apples and cinnamon baking in the oven. This whole wheat apple pancake fills your home with the sweet smell of fall and tastes even better!
I first had an apple pancake on vacation in New Hampshire at a bed and breakfast. When I got home from the vacation, I couldn’t stop thinking about how good our Apple Pancake breakfast was! I emailed the owner of the B&B to see if she would send me the recipe so I could enjoy a little piece of New Hampshire at home.
Now, every time I have an out of town guest, I make an Apple Pancake for them, and it is always a hit!
This tasty breakfast is loaded with apples in every bite and will start any day off on the right foot. You may even be able to get away with eating this sweet treat for dessert!
So, grab yourself some syrup and spruce up your morning with this little bit of whole wheat heaven.
Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 T brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 T butter
- 1 granny smith apple
- 1 1/2 T brown sugar (to sprinkle on top)
- Preheat oven to 425. Spray 9″ round cake pan and put 1 tablespoon of butter in pan and put on low heat on burner ( I put mine on the back right burner of my oven as it heats because the heat vents out of the oven through that burner).
- Slice entire apple and place apple slices in the melted butter on the stove so they start to soften. The apple slices can be placed sporadically.
- Mix eggs, milk, flour, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon together on low. Scrape edge of bowl and mix again.
- Remove pan from burner and pour in batter (batter will be very runny) over the apples. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar and a little bit of additional cinnamon. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove and serve!
Source: Modified from The Windy Hill Bed and Breakfast in Jackson New Hampshire.
Guest Blog From: Tres Michelle
Fall? I was going to start this post off by settling into the fact that I love Fall (seriously, love it!!) and all of my favorite Fall past times…but then I realized, it has been Fall for awhile now. I mean, Halloween is in a week and I feel like it was just Labor Day. You see, the last couple months have felt like a bit of a blur. Some days were never ending, yet I still can never quite put a time to a place. Weekend? Weekday? Holiday? It really doesn’t matter. When your husband is going through chemotherapy the routine and goal of every day is the same: get through today.
Cooking has also been its own challenge and adventure. There are days that cooking from scratch makes absolutely no sense. Many days he can’t eat much and we have a no leftovers allowed rule while he is neutropenic. So, on those days we improvise with what is on the OK list and sounds remotely appetizing. (we love the single portion sizes of vegetables now available in the freezer section, whoever thought of that is genius!) On better days we get a little adventurous, and thus single portion cooking has been the new trend in my kitchen. And every once in awhile I have found a new recipe that I really love. Like delicious, single-sized, miniature pumpkin pies. These are so darn cute and so darn good I had to share them with everyone.
What makes these pumpkin pies extra special is the graham cracker crust really balances out the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in the pies. And they are perfect little serving sizes for a great dessert after dinner or snack in the afternoon (yep, totally did that!). I thought they would be really cute for Halloween, with a little colored icing you could make them look like Jack-O-Lanterns. Or you could decorate with the candy corn like we did for a little touch of Autumn fun!
I also wanted to thank everyone for their support through this whole ordeal. We have received many notes of encouragement and on days that seem extra long, those notes really go a long way. We are truly blessed by all of the support.
We are marching on towards my husband’s transplant. Today we actually go to get his scans so they can determine what’s next. We are praying and crossing fingers (and toes!) that all is “clear” and that we can move on to his LAST chemo and transplant. And perhaps later today we can come home and indulge in another mini pumpkin pie as a treat!
Mini Pumpkin Pies
makes 12 portions
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- 1 can 15 oz pumpkin
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 14 oz sweet condensed milk
- 12 mini graham cracker crusts
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Mix the ingredients in order
- Pour mixture into pie shell and cover the edges with foil (cut foil in little squares first)
- bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 20 more minutes (done when insert a toothpick and comes out clean)
- Remove from oven and let cool. If you desire, decorate with colored icing to make cute mini Jack-O-Lanterns or with candy corns to make a fun Autumn treat! Serve with whipped cream or a side of vanilla ice cream.
Yay for guest posts! Today’s post comes from one of my super talented friends, Michelle. I still remember the first day she brought these toffee bars into the office, mostly because I couldn’t stop “visiting” to get some more! They are simple and delicious and very, very addicting! Thanks Michelle!
I love Fall. The air turns crisp and cool. The leaves on the trees turn amazing colors. Fall also means football. Lots of football. And while I love to watch my K-State Wildcats, what I love most is hanging out with my family and friends at a tailgate or watch party and eating all the wonderful football food! Everyone gets to bring something to share – a new recipe or a tried-and-true favorite.
One of my go-to sweet treats is chocolate toffee bars. And they are SO easy! I got this recipe from my mom who loves toffee and chocolate. With the sweet and salty combination from the saltine crackers and buttery brown sugar, this tasty treat goes fast!
Chocolate Toffee Bars
- 1 sleeve Saltine Crackers
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 12oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Put the crackers salt side up on the foil in one layer, cutting pieces to fit so the bottom is completely covered.
- In a heavy saucepan, heat butter and brown sugar until boiling. Boil hard for 3 minutes. Do not overcook. Pour mixture over crackers and carefully spread out evenly.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 4-5 min. Watch very carefully because they can burn easily. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over warm bars. Once melted, spread the chocolate evenly over the bars. Let cool completely. Break into 3-inch pieces. Enjoy!
I love Fall. There is just something about the season that makes me smile. Perhaps it is the trees changing colors, the crisp air, the smell of freshly picked apples or just my favorite baking activities beginning again. So, to bring in the first day of Fall right, I decided to make this new recipe I stumbled upon. And guess what? I think it is the easiest recipe I have found to date. And, oh boy, it is good!!
Recently, due to our new early morning routine, I have taken up my coffee drinking habit once again (I like it better than the diet soda habit anyways). So, when I started to think about the perfect kind of treat that screamed Fall weather and sided perfectly with a hot cup of coffee…these are what I came up with: spiced pumpkin muffins. Yep, early morning perfection right there.
As for these lovely and delicious shots, you have to give it up to my husband, Jason – he can do anything, anytime, in any condition. Seriously, this man is amazing. He took these stunning shots while he was hooked into a backpack filled with chemotherapy which he has been given for the last 3 days! Can we say Superman?? He is doing very well by the way, besides a little fatigue he is handling each new drug with relative ease (as much as that can be said of a cancer patient). Thanks everyone for the continued support and prayers they have been much needed and appreciated.
So, make these Pumpkin Spice Muffins. Because it would just be silly not to…really, they take about 5 minutes to stir and another 12 minutes to bake….And. They. Are. Delicious. Enough said.
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
- 1 box Spice Cake Mix
- 1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin puree
- Note: Do NOT use eggs, water, or oil as suggested by box mix.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 12 count muffin tin – either with non-stick spray or use cupcake liners.
- Mix pumpkin and cake mix until well mixed and then pour (half full) muffin tin cups. Bake for 12 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes clean.
- Remove from oven and let cool. Serve with cream cheese frosting for an extra yummy treat. Seal in an air tight container and store for up to a week or you can freeze these and reheat them for later too.
On Monday, Jason was supposed to start chemo but, as usual in this process, we had another delay. He woke up with a fever and as we were ushered all around the hospital that same morning, we received a last minute call from the oncology nurses that his procedure was cancelled and to rush in right away to the doctor. I will spare the nitty-gritty details, but over the next day we drove back and forth to the doctor, disinfected the whole apartment (again) and ended up visiting 2 pharmacies because the first one was “too busy” to fill the prescription. Pumped on pure adrenaline, I got together enough energy to bust out a plan for the next week and figure out some super yummy meals to keep us going strong.
The next day I wanted to be prepared for another long day, so I decided to opt for a nice, comforting slow-cooker stew. So, when I stumbled upon this stew for shredded moist chicken, veggies and gnocchi, I knew it would be the perfect meal to come home to from the hospital.
Jason did great through his surgery, he totally braved it out despite the fact that he had the flu. He is the bravest person I know. And when we got home that night, the stew had given our whole apartment a delicious aroma. It really was the perfect thing to come home to that evening, it allowed us to take it easy and rest…which was awesome.
So, make this stew…it is absolutely delicious, comforting, and is super simple to prepare. Love it!
Chicken & Gnocchi Stew
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup diced baby carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 large white onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 carton (32 oz.) chicken broth
- 1 can (10 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 2 teaspoons diced garlic
- 1 (16 oz) package of gnocchi (if frozen, allow to thaw beforehand)
- 1 (9 oz) package sweet peas, thawed
- Heat a medium sized, non-stick skillet to medium heat and cook chicken for 5 to 7 minutes until browned and there is no pink any longer in the middle. (You can also use a rotisserie chicken as a substitute to save time, just shred and add to crock pot).
- In a large crock pot, add in cooked chicken, carrots. celery, onion, broth, thyme, cream of mushroom soup, and garlic. Cover securely and cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours. (Internal temp. should reach at least 165 degrees F).
- For the last 30 minutes: Increase heat setting to High and stir in gnocchi and peas. Cover and cook until gnocchi and peas are tender. Serve hot and store the rest in an air-tight container and place directly into fridge.
Source: slightly modified from Betty Crocker.