Monday, November 29, 2010

post-Thanksgiving advice

I could use some expert counsel from my favorite expert cooking counselors. This year, we're going to DC for our annual friends-and-fun Thanksgiving meal (after the real holiday instead of before), and there are some unusual constraints:

1. Driving down on a Saturday for a wedding, staying overnight in a hotel, making the meal on Sunday. The hotel does not have a refrigerator. This means that the before-the-fact prep has to be pretty limited... I think we might buy and brine the turkey and bring it down in a cooler (in fact, last year we brined the turkey overnight in the trunk of my car anyway to keep it away from critters, so that's actually not unprecedented). But everything else is a little more of a challenge -- I don't have enough cooler space for dishes with dairy products, for example, and that would make me too nervous anyway. I obviously don't want the meal to end with a nice bout of food poisoning for all my favorite people.

2. We'll probably have six hours of prep time, max, on Sunday -- which means my usual slowcooker stuffing recipe is kind of out. It's possible that we'll have six hours only of shopping AND prep time, which is not a lot. Anyone have a good, quick, meat-free stuffing recipe?

3. I generally don't bake for this meal because people like to volunteer to bring desserts, and I think I actually can't bake desserts this year due to the aforementioned storage problem (although I am making cake poppers just because I love them). I do usually make stuffing and cranberry sauce and turkey. If the turkey's taken care of (oy, am just realizing... will six hours of roasting be enough? I hope?), will cranberry sauce be OK in my car overnight?

4. Maybe I should just suck it up and buy some stuff. (Like, uh, a pre-made turkey?) I also could suck it up and ask people to bring specific things, like pie, although that makes me feel like a jerk. We already have a volunteer for sweet potato casserole, and I'm assuming that one reader of this blog is bringing the world's most awesome corn thing, but many of the people on the guest list are either new parents or non-cooking city dwellers, and it's highly possible no one will volunteer for pie... and it can't be post-Thanksgiving without pie.

5. These numbers are really now just me thinking out loud. Ignore them. But I would love to hear your thoughts on these pressing issues.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Watch the Working Class Foodie video and tell me you're not a little bit in love with Rebecca.

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
1.5 tsp vanilla
1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
ladyfinger cookies
a delicious beer (I used a seasonal beer, but I think I'd use a darker, bolder tasting beer next time - porter or even stout)
cocoa powder for

Whip the cream with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer with the balloon attachment. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the mascarpone, sugar, beaten egg yolks, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this mixture aside.

In a shallow bowl, dunk each ladyfinger in beer and then arrange them in a single layer in a glass casserole dish. Spread a layer of the mascarpone & whipped cream mixture over the ladyfingers. Dust with cocoa. Repeat this for the second layer. Cover and chill for several hours, overnight if possible before serving.

Serves 12

Friday, November 26, 2010

Easiest Whole Wheat Bread Ever

From King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking.

This recipe is one I use at home pretty regularly when I don't have time to fiddle with a regular yeast bread. Alissa, this should be just what you need to get started with baking bread from scratch.

1 1/4 C lukewarm filtered water (don't use tap--the chlorine can kill the yeast)
1/4 C orange juice
3 T molasses
3 C whole wheat flour or white whole wheat
1/4 C nonfat dry milk
1 1/4 t salt
2 t instant/rapid rise yeast
1 T vital wheat gluten (optional)

Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan and set aside. Grease well or the bread will stick. You don't want to know what happens if you forget to grease the pan. Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat vigorously by hand if you're the sort to do that or use your KitchenAid like I do and use the paddle attachment. This dough is pretty wet and sticky so the paddle is what you need. Beat on med-high speed for 3 min. Scoop the batter into your prepared pan and set aside to rise for one hour. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and be sure to set the pan in a warm place. I start preheating my oven before I even put ingredients in a bowl. Note that the batter will remain flat and will not dome as it rises.

Uncover and bake bread for 20 minutes, then tent with foil and bake for another 25 min. The bread is done when it is golden brown on top and your intstant-read thermometer reads 190 degrees. I find that it takes about 55 min. total in my oven. Allow to rest for 5 min then loosen the edges and turn out onto a cooling rack. Brush with melted butter for a soft crust. Or do what I do and uncover one end of a stick of butter and rub it around on the bread until it looks good. Return stick of butter to fridge and keep on hand for other such applications. Cool bread 30 min before slicing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

PW's Turkey Brine

From: Pioneer Woman


3 cups Apple Juice Or Apple Cider
2 gallons Cold Water
4 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1-½ cup Kosher Salt
2 cups Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Peppercorns
5 whole Bay Leaves
Peel Of Three Large Oranges

Preparation Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.

Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.

When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.

Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.

Alton Brown's Roast Turkey

I just finished up hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We did it early so that we can actually take a vacation next week while everyone else is stuffing themselves silly. I've never cooked a whole bird of any kind, so I did a bit of research first, and this is what I went with. I actually used PW's brine, which I will post next, but I used Alton's method for roasting the turkey. If you're going to use this method, I would recommend watching the YouTube video "Romancing the Bird" to watch how he does it, because the crucial "Turkey Triangle" is not mentioned in this post, but is required if following this method.

For the aromatics:

1 red apple, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil


Click here
to see how it's done.

2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Make your brine, using your favorite brine recipe. Cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels. Fold a piece of aluminum foil into a large triangle. Put it on top of the turkey, covering the breast and leaving the legs and wings exposed. The point will down between the legs, with the larger part of the triangle covering the breast (watch the video for a better explanation). Press the foil down to conform to the shape of the bird. Then remove the foil carefully and set aside, leaving the shape intact.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. Reposition the aluminum foil on the bird and place back in the oven. Roast until the thermometer registers 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Caramelized Onion Quiche

From: Simply Recipes


1 pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 large red onions (about one pound total), thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
Pinch nutmeg
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)

Pre-Baking the Crust

1 On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 9-by-1 1/2-inch round tart pan, pressing dough into corners. Transfer to freezer to chill for 30 minutes.

2 Preheat oven to 350°. Line pastry with parchment paper, wax paper, or aluminum foil, pressing into the corners and edges. Fill at least two-thirds with baking weights - dried beans, rice, or aluminum pie weights. Bake first for 15 minutes, remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper and weights. Poke the bottom of the pie pan with the tines of a fork and return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes or until lightly golden. (Fork holes are for any air to escape.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool while making filling.

Caramelizing the Onions

The onions will take about an hour to cook on the stovetop before they are ready to go into the quiche. So timing-wise, if you are making the entire quiche from scratch, it makes sense to get started on the onions once you've put the crust into the freezer to chill before pre-baking.

1 Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle a little salt over them. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened and are translucent. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for an additional 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are well browned. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 10 minutes more, until onions are completely caramelized. Remove from heat.

Place tart pan on a baking sheet to catch any run-off there might be. Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust. Spread onions over the cheese and then top with remaining cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, and eggs. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour over cheese. Transfer to oven, and bake until just set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Serves 6-8.

American Chop Suey

There is nothing in this recipe that is even remotely related to chop suey or Chinese food in general. In fact, I have no idea why they call it chop suey. To me it's sort of like homemade hamburger helper. All I know is that it was quick, used one pot, was not expensive, and the kids gobbled it up. So that's a winner, in my book.

Adapted from Cheapy, Healthy, Good

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 3 lbs ground turkey
½ lb (2 c.) uncooked elbow macaroni
½ cup minced onion
½ cup chopped green pepper and/or celery (I used both, and probably used a little more than half a cup)
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teapsoon pepper
1-1 ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1In a large nonstick skillet or saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey, onions, and peppers/celery. Cook until browned, breaking it up with the back of a spoon as you go.
Add macaroni and cook another minute or so.
Add tomato sauce, water, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir everything and cover pan. Drop heat to medium-low and simmer about 20 or 25 minutes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick coq au vin

Quick is relative, because this still takes an hour to make. But it's quicker than doing it the traditional way, which takes for-ever.

Adapted (slightly) from The Kitchn

kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
6-8 large (about 3 pounds) chicken thighs, skin on
3/4 cup (about 1 ounce) dried wild mushrooms (I used way more than this -- I just used the whole package)
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) chopped bacon
1 large onion chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, cut into large bite-size pieces
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups dry, fruity red wine (zinfandel, burgundy)
1 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 whole sprigs fresh thyme

Lightly sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour enough boiling water over to just cover. (I used a cup)
Over medium heat in a 4-6 quart (large enough to accommodate the chicken) deep skillet or dutch oven with a lid, brown the bacon, about 5-7 minutes. Add the onions and cook another minute, until onions begin to soften. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the chicken, skin side down, and cook, turning the pieces as they brown on each side, about 10 minutes total. Drain off any excess fat.
Add the carrots, crushed garlic, tomato paste, wine, chicken stock, bay leaves, and thyme. Lower the heat, so that the liquid just barely simmers. Cover and cook about 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer reads 160° F.
Remove the chicken pieces to a platter. Skim any excess fat off the top of the liquid. Remove the mushrooms from their liquid and add them to the pot. Pour the mushroom liquid through a fine sieve or cheese cloth into the pot. Turn the heat up to boil the mixture and cook until the sauce is reduced by a third to a half, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and thyme.
A few minutes before serving, put the chicken pieces back into the sauce to re-heat. Serve each chicken thigh topped with a ladleful of sauce

Saturday, November 13, 2010

pasta with butternut squash and sage

This is a Weight Watchers recipe that is surprisingly rich-tasting and delicious.

20 oz butternut squash, fresh, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
8 oz uncooked bow ties [I used whole wheat rotini; obviously the type of pasta doesn't matter much]
salt & pepper
1 cup(s) buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 4 tsp Parmigiano Reggiano, [I used romano]
3 Tbsp fresh sage, minced

Place squash on prepared baking sheet and roast until tender and starting to caramelize, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. After squash has been roasting for about 15 minutes, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot.

Add squash, buttermilk, salt and pepper to pot; toss over low heat to warm through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and sage; toss to mix and coat.

Spoon about 1 1/2 cups of pasta into each of 4 serving bowls; top each with 1 teaspoon of remaining Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

(7 points per serving; 5 if you use whole wheat pasta.)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Crab and corn slowcooker soup

I doubled this recipe, so that it would fill the slow cooker I've got. Also, Ernie said he would suggest adding some potato to it the next time, so bear that in mind. I didn't try it (I was eating clam chowder), but Gaby devoured hers.

from A Year of Slow Cooking

1 quart chicken broth (4 cups!)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup finely chopped onion, or 1 tablespoon dried minced onion flakes
1 (32-ounce) package of frozen corn
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (6-ounce) can lump crabmeat, drained and picked throug
1 cup half and half or heavy cream (to add later)

Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Pour the broth into your crockpot, and add butter and onion. Stir in frozen corn, garlic, butter, and the crabmeat (make sure you pick through canned crab---shells often occur!) Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, high for 4 hours, or until the onion is cooked through and translucent. If you'd like a thicker broth, pulse a few times with an immersible blender, or scoop out a cup or so and blend in a traditional stand blender, then stir it back in (carefully!).
Add half and half or cream.

New England Clam Chowder

I was craving clam chowder the other day after watching a food show where they were making clam chowder. So I went looking for recipes, and found this one, which wasn't hard at all. So, so good. If you don't like clams, though, go ahead and skip this because it's got lots of clam flavor.

Adapted from Epicurious

3 8-ounce bottles clam juice
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup all purpose flour
7 6 1/2-ounce cans chopped clams, drained, juices reserved from 6 of the cans
1 1/2 cups half and half

Bring bottled clam juice and potatoes to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add onions, garlic and bay leaf and sauté until vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes (do not allow flour to brown). Gradually whisk in reserved juices from clams. Add potato mixture, clams, half and half and hot pepper sauce. Simmer chowder 5 minutes to blend flavors, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Baked pasta puttanesca

This is fantastically easy, and a one-dish meal. That's my sort of cooking.

adapted (slightly) from Serious Eats

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
salt and black ground pepper
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
12 ounces rotelle (3 ¾ cups)
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/3 to 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
handful of capers
1 cup shredded or minced part-skim mozzarella cheese

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
Combine oil, garlic, pepper flakes, anchovies, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, water, rotelle, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until rotelle is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
Stir in wine, Parmesan, basil, capers and olives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over rotelle. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Serve.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Broccoli Salad II

From: Use Real Butter

3 heads of broccoli, trimmed and divided into bite-size pieces
1 small red onion, small dice
4-6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup mayonnaise (or 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup plain yogurt)
2 tbsps sugar
4 tbsps vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)

Combine the broccoli, onion, bacon, cashews, and cranberries in a large mixing bowl. Mix the mayonnaise (and yogurt, if using), sugar, and vinegar together and pour over the vegetables. Toss together and refrigerate for a day for best flavor.

curried sweet potato soup & goat cheese biscuits

Warning: Do not attempt the following recipe(s) if you don't like goat cheese. Every part of them has goat cheese. And that is why they are delicious, especially the biscuits, which are hands down the best ones I've ever made (although I haven't ever tried the ones Kelly posted a little while ago).

Not really adapted in any substantial way from Joy the Baker/Mark Bittman/another guy.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped onions

1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped ginger (I used powdered; why do I keep forgetting to buy fresh ginger)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I didn't have any and threw a whole pod in, which I kept in until I was ready to start blending. Not sure if it did anything or not; it's hard to tease that out from the rest of the spices)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric (in a lovely feat of grace, I dropped the entire bottle in and probably quadrupled this. it was fine! extra tumeric-y)

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick

6 cups chicken broth, or slightly more as needed. (I used veg, and only about 4 cups)

salt and pepper to taste

6 to 8 teaspoons goat cheese

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until the onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric and red pepper flakes. Add the sweet potatoes and broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup, in batches in a blender or food processor. Season to taste. The soup can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge. Reheat over a low flame. If the soup is too thick, add a little more stock. (I threw in about 3/4 c water at this stage.)

(I also blended in about 1T of goat cheese in this step, and a tiny bit of leftover heavy cream. mm.)

Ladle into bowls and crumble goat cheese on top.

Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

makes about 9 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes (Earth Balance, baby. am obsessed with the stuff.)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the pan (ditto)

2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted to top the biscuits (I actually did use real butter for this step)

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled

1 cup buttermilk

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. With your fingers incorporate the butter and goat cheese until the flour resembles a coarse, pebbly mixture. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. With a fork, mix together the buttermilk and flour until all of the dry flour disappears.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan or in the microwave. Set aside.

Remove the cast iron from the oven and place one tablespoon of butter in it. Work the pat of butter around, greasing the entire pan, including the sides.

Spoon the batter, by the 1/4-cup into the hot skillet. I used a big scooper to do the job. The biscuits will touch when baked… that’s ok.

Brush with melted butter.

Bake for 14-16 minutes, until slightly golden in color. Remove from the oven. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Roasted Cauliflower Sformato

Adapted from: Fine Cooking, by way of Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA blog

This was kind of like a souffle, I guess. I've never made a souffle. :) But I do know it was DE-licious. We both had seconds. I actually made this in 4 smaller ramekins and reduced the time a bit - just keep an eye on it and remove from oven when it is browned around the edges.

Serves 6-8

1 small cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil; more for the gratin dish
Kosher salt
1¾ ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3¾ cups milk
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Core the cauliflower and separate it into florets. Cut the florets into ¼-inch-thick slices. Put the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with wo Tbsp olive oil. Spread in an even layer, season with ½ teaspoon salt, and roast until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool.

3. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Brush an 8x10-inch (2-quart) gratin dish with olive oil and evenly coat with about half of the Parmigiano. Set aside.

4. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until just about to boil.

5. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns light golden, 2 to 4 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring just to a boil and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes to develop the flavor. Transfer to a large bowl.

6. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Roughly chop ½ cup of the cauliflower, and purée the rest in a food processor. Stir the chopped cauliflower, cauliflower purée, egg mixture, and the remaining Parmigiano into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the prepared gratin dish and bake until the sformato is just set and browned around the edges, about 30 minutes. It should jiggle just a little when you remove it from the oven. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

It's that time of year...

Okay, Food Goodness Ladies, it's that time of year. Time for Paula Deen's pumpkin gooey butter cake. Whenever I ask Michael which dessert is his favorite he always says it's difficult to choose but he always, always names this one specifically. So, I was thinking that this year I would try to lighten it up a bit. I know, it's called gooey butter cake for a reason but last year when I made it I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I cut back on the butter and sugar just a bit.

Here's a link to Paula's website wherein her son has lightened up the original gooey butter cake. I don't know, am I being difficult about this? Should I just leave well enough alone or should I fiddle with it? What do you think?