Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Sweet potato2

Fall is the ultimate excuse for comfort food. Everything about the season calls for you to have something delicious roasting or baking in the oven. It’s time to break out your sweet potatoes, apple pies, pumpkin bread and cranberries!

I’m always on the lookout for different recipes to try. Normally, this starts with my random cravings, but this delicious find came from the magazine Everyday with Rachel Ray. I have no idea how I got a subscription, but I always glance at it when it arrives. I enjoy the Food Network, but rarely make their recipes because they normally call for several ingredients that I don’t keep in my pantry.

I was intrigued when there was a section dedicated to budget meals that actually looked really good. It was a fall dedicated magazine so one recipe used applesauce and the other used mashed sweet potatoes. Needless to say, I was game. I collected my recipes for the week and got to cooking.

Here’s my intriguing tidbit for the day – I made four Rachel Ray recipes: three budget meals and one 30 Minute Meal. I picked the 30 Minute Meal because I wanted to make something special. My husband and I loved two of the budget meals, liked the third and didn’t care for the 30 Minute Meal. It just proves that you don’t need fancy ingredients to make an amazing meal.

We have made this recipe twice already – the magazine only came out in September – and I keep telling myself that I’m going to set aside half and freeze it. Sadly, it hasn’t made it there yet. The only changes that we made is to use ground turkey instead of ground pork. Because turkey is so bland, we had used more seasonings than the original recipe called for. My husband, who seasons like a pro, made this the first time and we devoured the pot. I made it the second time and was hesitant with the seasonings. It was good, but was so much better when I added a bit more cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid to give this a little kick.

Sweet potato

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Recipe by Rachel Ray with Creative Campbell additions


  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-2 tsp. cayenne powder, depending on preference
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 bag frozen corn kernels, thawed

Cook sweet potatoes in oven or in the microwave if you are pressed for time. Remove orange innards and place in a mixing bowl. Add butter, salt and pepper and maple syrup. Mash together and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a Dutch oven, toast the paprika and cumin over medium-high heat, stirring 1 minute. Add the turkey, garlic and cayenne powder. Cook 6-7 minutes breaking turkey apart with a spoon. Add wine and cook 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer turkey to a separate bowl and discard all but 2 Tbsp. of the liquid. Set turkey aside.

In the Dutch oven, cook the onion over medium heat, stirring until softened about 3 minutes. Add the corn and cook 1-2 minutes. Add the turkey and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Flatten turkey mixture to create a layer. Add mashed sweet potatoes on top and smooth to create a second layer. Bake for 15 minutes, then broil 3-5 minutes to brown the top.


Homemade Pumpkin Soup

pumpkin soup

Everyone has their Halloween traditions. Some people fill their evenings with candy, scary tales or simply sit by candlelight sipping apple cider. I prefer to be somewhere in the middle. I like to watch a scary movie by candlelight and eat something that reminds me of Fall. In the past, my recipes have been limited to a creepy crawly dessert. This year I wanted to try something I little different.

I am a sucker for Pinterest. I know, the reality of what you can create vs. what is advertised are always two separate things. But, they had this adorable image of homemade pumpkin soup that I couldn’t resist. (As seen above) I managed to find baking pumpkins in South Florida, which is a miracle unto itself, and took it as a sign that this pumpkin soup was meant to be.

I stayed true to my bad habits and didn’t read through the recipe before starting. I had baked my beautiful pumpkins and then realized I was supposed to fill them with the apple, onion and chicken broth so the ingredients could cook at the same time. Whoops! I adjusted the recipe a little bit and combined everything on the stove top. It tasted good, but it had the consistency of custard, not soup. I thought about adding some more chicken broth, but was afraid it would take away from the flavor.

My husband and I tried the pumpkin soup the first night. It was ok. Definitely not worth the hassle and precious goat cheese. The only problem, we had a lot of leftovers with very little desire to consume any of it. I looked online for recipes to salvage the soup. The best I could find was pumpkin mac and cheese. My only problem, I’d have to use even more cheese and precious ingredients with only a slight hope of improvement. My husband, being the brilliant man that he is, had another solution. He recommended that we mix the soup with Campbell’s tomato soup. This way it stops being a custard and blends with the tomato flavors. It was delicious! The pumpkin was a nice subtle flavor that made the soup very filling and healthy. From my leftovers, I had enough to make three cans worth of tomato soup.

If I had to make it again, I’d cut the recipe in half and serve it with the tomato soup. It’s a great way to hide the healthy ingredients from your little ones and add a hint of fall to a classic meal. So here’s my take on pumpkin soup with my many adjustments.

Pumpkin tomato soup

Pumpkin Soup with a Creative Campbell Spin

  • 1 small sugar pie pumpkin
  • 1/4 small yellow onion diced
  • 1 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 small green apple chopped
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cans Campbell’s tomato soup
  • Milk

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice pumpkin in half. Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, scrape out the seeds. Brush the pumpkin innards with 1 Tbs of oil. Place on a baking dish in the oven for 30-45 hour. Test pumpkin by poking with a fork or knife. If it’s soft, then set your pumpkin aside and let cool.

Fill a medium pot with the onion, garlic, apple, butter, chicken broth, half and half, salt and pepper and turn heat to medium low. Don’t let it boil. Once onions are soft, turn on low.

Remove pumpkin from shell with a spoon. Scrape into the pot and add the goat cheese and thyme. Use an immersion blender or food processor to combine the ingredients and make it the same consistency. Set aside.

In a separate pan make Campbell’s tomato soup with milk instead of water. Once the soup is ready, add a ladle full of the pumpkin soup. Taste. Add more and adjust as needed.


Worth it or Not – Homemade Pumpkin Bread

Fall is in the air and it’s time to savor pumpkin pie, pumpkin drinks, pumpkin soups, pumpkin pancakes, and most importantly pumpkin bread. Pumkpin bread is like having a slice of pumpkin pie without the guilt. There’s no resisting it.

It doesn’t take a genius to piece together that homemade pumpkin bread is cheaper than store bought. You might wonder why on earth I’m sharing this then. I was walking through my local grocery store and saw a pumpkin bread kit. It came with a can of pumpkin puree and a pre-made mix to create your own homemade bread with very little effort. The best part: this beautiful pumpkin kit was $4.99. That’s ridiculous! I smiled and walked away, but was even more astonished when I saw someone buying the kit in the checkout lane in front of me. So I’m posting this in case you are tempted by a beautiful box promising time saving delights. Don’t give into the temptation.

Making pumpkin bread is ridiculously easy. It tastes delicious and it doesn’t take a lot of time. My husband normally doesn’t care for pumpkin bread and he loves this recipe. It’s being added to my list of favorites. Now, I did make some slight alterations to the recipe based off of other cook’s comments on Food.com. The main one being the addition of applesauce. In a lot of your cakes and breads, you can substitute half of the oil with applesauce. It’s a great way to reduce the fat and keep the moisture and flavor in your cake. I love using applesauce in baking.

So, without further ado here is a lovely taste of fall to add to your home. It’s worth every moment of cooking. And if you were wondering how much it costs to make it yourself, I’d be shocked if it costs more than $2.00. I hope you enjoy!


Pumpkin Spice Bread

By jmelyn on September 26, 2003

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat oven to 350. Combine all of your ingredients until smooth. Pour into a 9×5 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Slice and serve plain, buttered, or with cream cheese.

*My oven is a little off, however every time I make this it takes longer than an hour. Just make sure you’re able to hop into the kitchen to check on it every once in a while if you experience the same problem.

Worth it or Not – Caramel Sauce and Dip

When it officially became fall, I went on a mad search for caramel dip. I love granny smith apples dipped in caramel. I don’t think anyone should ever do without it. I found a good recipe for caramel sauce to put on ice cream and baked goods, but I couldn’t find a homemade recipe of my beloved Marzetti apple dip, typically sold in the fresh produce aisle next to the apples. I almost gave up, but changed my mind when I went to the grocery store. Have you ever read the ingredient list on caramel dip? It’s pretty scary.

I searched and sifted through caramel recipes until I found what I was looking for. Now, I was picky and refused to use one where you melt caramel candies. The candies will have just as many chemicals, which defeats the purpose. I decided on a recipe for making homemade caramel apples on a stick. I didn’t want to cover my apples, but it would make sense that you’d use the same ingredients for the dip.

I will be honest with you. I don’t know if my solution was all that great after all. The recipe used ½ cup of light corn syrup, something I normally avoid, and sweetened condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk isn’t as horrible, it’s just pretty fattening. I normally reserve that for my cheesecakes and key lime pie. When I’m having those, I know it’s an indulgence. When I’m having caramel apple dip, I like to remind myself that I’m eating an apple.

Overall, my caramel dip tasted good, but the flavor of the butter was very prevalent. My husband liked it a lot. I enjoyed it, but still found myself craving the old fashioned Marzetti caramel dip. I know, chemicals are bad, but my brain has been trained to crave this version. My recipe is good, but not better than the original. Next year, I’ll probably buy the dip and avoid looking at the label. For those of you who are not as gung ho for the Marzetti caramel dip, you might prefer this recipe. The ingredients are cheaper and the recipe is very simple. For you, it could be completely worth it, sadly it wasn’t for me.

Now, I did make the caramel sauce for ice cream at the same time as the caramel dip. This, thankfully was a success. It’s very easy to make and the only thing you need to purchase is heavy whipping cream. The closer you get to the holidays, the more likely you’ll have this around the house anyways. I really liked this recipe. It’s cheap, simple and tastes very good. My fridge does have a tendency to convert my beautiful caramel sauce and dip into a solid, however 10 seconds in the microwave and all is fixed. I will certainly not be buying it from the store anymore.

Kittencal’s Easy Caramel Sauce or Ice Cream Topping

By Kittencalskitchen on December 06, 2003

129 Reviews

  • Prep Time: 3 mins
  • Total Time: 8 mins
  • Yield: 2 cups (approx)


    • 1/2 cup butter ( no substitutions)
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, unwhipped
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)


  1. In a small saucepan melt butter.
  2. Add the brown sugar; whisk until combined and thickened (about 2 minutes).
  3. Whisk in the whipping cream, until thoroughly blended (2 more minutes).
  4. Mix in vanilla (if using) until combined.
  5. NOTE; this sauce will thicken up more when refrigerated.

Kittencal’s Caramel Apples

By Kittencalskitchen on October 14, 2003

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Servings: 8-10


    • 1 cup butter ( no substitutes)
    • 2 cups packed brown sugar
    • 1 cup light corn syrup
    • 1 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 8 -10 wooden sticks
    • 8 -10 medium tart apples


  1. Insert 1 wooden stick into each apple.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and milk; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees (firm ball stage) about 30-40 minutes and for a softer caramel cook just to a few less degrees.
  4. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
  5. Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture; turn to coat.
  6. Holding by the stick, sprinkle with nuts or whatever you desire while the caramel is still warm (work quickly the caramel sets up fast).
  7. Set on generously buttered wax paper to cool (make certain to generously butter the paper).
  8. Note: if making a double recipe make two recipes in two separate pots.

Worth it or Not – Caramel Apple Spice

Sorry I didn’t post anything yesterday. I managed to catch my husband’s cold. We’ve been lounging together in a sense of shared misery. I’ve had to pick my cooking battles since I can only concentrate for so long. I figured the perfect pick-me-up would be a nice cup of caramel apple spice.

What is that? It’s a delicious combination sold at Starbucks of warm apple juice, a squirt of cinnamon syrup and caramel syrup – the syrups you put in coffee – and whipped cream (optional). I love caramel apple spices! They’re the perfect way to celebrate fall. However, they cost $5.00-6.00 per cup, which meant I was very limited on my intake. I fell so in love with the beverage that a couple of years ago I looked up the recipe. It’s so cheap and easy to make, I haven’t bought a cup at Starbucks since.

So, why am I trying to change my recipe if the original was so good? Because finding cinnamon syrup is a real challenge. The only way to purchase it is to get it from Starbucks, which means you’re charged the Starbucks price. I paid around $15.00 a few years ago for a large bottle of the syrup. It lasted a very long time, but I wasn’t a fan of the original investment for a beverage I only want once a year.

Thus the online research began. I found a recipe to create your own cinnamon syrup so hypothetically, you can create your own caramel apple spice without spending as much. Why wouldn’t I look into it?

Making your own cinnamon sauce is simple. Put ½ cup of brown sugar, ½ cup of water and a tsp of cinnamon in a pan and simmer it for 5 minutes. The mixture should reduce in half. Once you’re finished, you can assemble your caramel apple spice. Take 12 oz. of apple juice, 3 tablespoons of the finished cinnamon syrup and add the same amount of caramel syrup and warm up the concoction either in the microwave or over the stove. If you use the stove, your whole house will smell delicious! Add whipped cream on top and serve.

Now, my only side comment about the caramel sauce: you can use the caramel sauce found in the dessert aisle or you can use the syrup you put in coffee. Both will have the same effect. One could be more concentrated than the other, so use and adjust accordingly. I did make my own caramel sauce and will post a review about it this week. It’s pretty much up to you, there are plenty of cost effective options.

The big conclusion you’ve all been waiting for: is it worth it or not. I happen to think it’s completely worth it to make your own cinnamon sauce. I’m sick and was still able to make it because it takes very little concentration. You put it on the burner, stir it once and turn it off after it’s reduced in half. That’s it! It’s so much cheaper than buying it at Starbucks and it’s delicious. That’s a huge win in my book!

                                           *Photo provided by Starbucks.com