Monthly Archives: November 2009

Carrot Cake and Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Thanksgiving.  We didn’t host it at our house, so instead of preparing a feast, I was just responsible for two deserts.  We chose Carrot Cake for John’s parent’s house and Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake for John’s grandmother’s house.  I didn’t remember to take a picture of either desert, so I borrowed from the internet, with acknowledgments.


Holiday Carrot Cake (Modified from – Family Circle, Nov. 29, 2009)


2.5 cups all-purpose flour                                   1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder                                             1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp salt                                                              1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar                  1.5 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs                                                                       2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups carrots                                                         3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 350.  Coat two cake pans with cooking spray.  Line bottoms with waxed paper, coat paper with spray.

2. In medium sized bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  In large bowl, beat sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until blended.  On low, beat in flour mixture until smooth.  Stir in carrots and nuts.  Divide batter evenly between pans.

3. Bake at 350 for 42-45 minutes, until inserted toothpick is clean.  Cool on wire rack 10 minutes, Turn out and cool completely.


2 – 8ox packages cream cheese (at room temp)                         1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)

1 tsp vanilla extract                                                                           3 cups confectioners’ sugar

walnuts for garnish

1. In large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until creamy.  Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar until smooth.


This cake was good, but a little bland.  I would make it again, but I would add 1/2 tsp of nutmeg and 2 tsp of cinnamon to try to perk up the flavors.

Better Homes and Gardens - Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake


Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake (Modified from – Better Homes and Gardens, Nov 2009)

2 – 15oz cans pumpkin                                         1.5 cups finely crushed gingersnaps

1/4 cup melted butter                                            1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 -8oz packages cream cheese, softened        1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup all purpose flour                                      2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 tsp cinnamon                                                       5 eggs

1. Position oven racks, one above the other, bottom rack in lowest position.  On bottom rack, place a 13x9x2-inch baking pan and pour in water to 1 inch depth.  Heat oven to 350.  To drain pumpkin, line a colander with paper towels, spoon in pumpkin, and set aside while preparing crust.

2. For crust, in bowl, stir together crushed gingersnaps, butter, and 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Press crumb mixture onto bottom and about 1 inch up sides of spongiform pan.  Bake 5 minutes, cool completely on rack.

3. For filling, add cream cheese and 1 1/4 cup brown sugar to food processor and blend until smooth.  Pulse in pumpkin (discard the pumpkin liquid), flour, and spices until combined.  Add 5 eggs, pulsing lightly after each one.

4. Pour filling into crust-lined pan, spreading to sides of pan.  Place pan on oven rack, above water-filled pan.  Bake 1 hour, or until filling appears set when gently shaken.  Turn off oven; let cheesecake stand in oven 30 minutes.  (Top may crack as it cools).

5. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.  With small, sharp knife, loosen crust from sides of pan; cool 30 minutes.  Remove sides of pan and cool completely on rack.  Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving.


I didn’t get to try any of this since I ended up with the flu and didn’t get to go to John’s grandmother’s.  However, I heard from a reliable source (my MIL), that this was really yummy.  I did happen to try the filling that was left over in the bowl – I am not a pumpkin fan, but I was really enjoying the uncooked filling.  





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Second Week of Meal Planning

The first week went REALLY well.  We learned a little new info, for instance that we are going to generate a lot of leftovers.  This brings down the price of the meals.  Awesome!  This week coming up is Thanksgiving week.  Combine that with the fact that I wasn’t in on Sunday, and it leaves us with meals on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  Here’s what we’ve decided on:

Monday – Veal Scallopine with Marsala Mushroom Sauce

Tuesday – Chicken Noodle Soup

Wednesday – leftovers

Thursday – Thanksgiving (two deserts for the two houses we need to stop at – carrot cake and pumpkin cheesecake)


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What We’ve Learned After 3 Days

We are making too many leftovers!  Because each of the recipes makes 4-6 meals, we are making enough food for not only lunch, but also several dinners.  For this reason, we are going to have to begin putting one day of leftover meals into our planning.  This is good not only because we won’t waste food, but because it will make our meals even cheaper!

This week, we are not going to make the slow cooker chicken on Tuesday.  We are eating leftovers for dinner instead.  

So far, I like the meal planning.  It is nice to have everything planned out and to not have to worry about deciding what to cook every night.  It definitely frees up some time knowing exactly what has to be done and when.  It’s also nice to not have to worry about lunch since there are always leftovers around.

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Trying out Meal Planning

We know that we spend a lot of money on food.  Even though we buy good food and it’s in our kitchen, we often have problems figuring out what to eat for dinner.  Additionally, we often end up buying duplicates, or even triplicates, of certain foods, and we throw out a lot of food that goes bad.  Although we aren’t too worried about it right now, we know that this will eventually be an issue when we have kids.  Therefore, we have decided (well, I have decided and John is warily on board) to try meal planning.  I have several friends that do this and swear by it.  We are going to try planning week by week for now. 

Here is our menu for this week: 

Saturday – Chicken Saltimbocca/ pasta with tomato and prosciutto sauce/ and garlic bread

Sunday – Well-Dressed Salmon with potato cakes

Monday – Tamale Pie with rice

Tuesday – Slow Cooker Chicken with Mushroom Wine Sauce over Egg Noodles

Wednesday – Smothered Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes

Thursday – Chicken Cassoulet


I’m away Friday and Saturday, so John can eat some leftovers or prepare what he wants.  We’ll plan for next week at some point this week.

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Disney 2009


We did a last minute trip to Walt Disney World over Halloween weekend.  We’d been so stressed that we thought it might be the relief that we needed.  And, it was!

This was our first time experiencing the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.  We spent two days sampling the food and drinks at the 27 extra booths that are added just for the festival.  If anyone enjoys good food and drink, this is the perfect way to spend your time, and your money.  We had placed $100 on a Disney Gift Card before leaving home, so that we wouldn’t need to pull out cash or debit cards.  We ran through almost $70 on Day 1 alone!  We added more money the second day, and ran it down to $5.  But, it was worth it!  The food was amazing.  We ate so much that I thought I was going to burst open!

On top of the festival, we also ate dinner on Friday at Les Chefs de France.  Amazing as always!  Their French Onion soup is to die for and John loves their escargot.  We had the coolest waiter this year.  He was from just outside of Rouen, and when he found out that I had been to St. Malo, he couldn’t stop asking if I had visited other areas of Northern France as well.  When he left the table, John quietly asked me what I knew about Rouen.  I told him Joan of Arc was burned at the stake there.

We stayed at the All-Star Movies Resort.  It was our first time staying at a value resort.  I have to admit, it wasn’t half bad.  There was nothing really special about the room, but for the price and the convenience of being on Disney property, it was worth it.  I called the morning of our reservation and asked for a room with a King Size Bed.  The operator said the only one left had a “Roll-In Shower.”  I was picturing a shower that rolled in and out of the room – like a roll away bed.  Needless to say, that was wrong.  It was a shower for a disabled person in a wheelchair.  But, it was awesome!  Who really needs a tub anyways?  

Finally, on Sunday, we went to the Magic Kingdom.  We were spending the entire day there.  We arrived at 9:00 so that John could get his hair cut on Main Street.  This was really cool!  Unfortunately, he wouldn’t let the barber put a mickey in hairpaint on the back of his head.  Next, we ate breakfast with the Pooh characters at the Crystal Palace.  We learned to eat at the last possible time.  the characters will stay out to interact with you and since there aren’t many people left, they will spend more time with you.  Piglet had a good time bothering John.  He was trying to sign the check and Piglet kept waving hands in his face.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  So much for Piglet being shy and scared.

There was NOBODY in the park.  We waited no longer than 10 minutes for any ride.  The only ride that we fastpassed was Peter Pan.  We even rode things that we hadn’t ridden since we were little, like Dumbo’s flying elephants.  Hands down the best time we have ever had in the Magic Kingdom.  

We ate an early dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern.  If you want a lot to eat for a good price, try it out.  It is family style and All-you-can-eat.  For $29 per person, you get salad, mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, roast beef, ham, green beans, macaroni and cheese, corn, and biscuits.  And you also get a beverage and apple crisp with vanilla ice cream for desert.  John ate so much.  We ate at 4:30 and didn’t eat for the rest of the day!

Finally, we stayed for the Not-so-scary Halloween Party.  It was great.  The characters were out in costume and we got to trick-or-treat.  Definitely something we will have to do one day with kids.  For the first time in a long time, we watched a Disney Parade and loved it.

Take a look at our pictures.  Remember, the password is our middle names joined by and (louisandlea)

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