Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Our Thanksgiving...better late than never



Two days of cooking was all worth it for this lovely Thanksgiving dinner.   This is a long post, all recipes included, so I'll save you the time of reading my gibberish and get right to it.  The menu this year was:

Fresh Farm Raised Turkey with a Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme and Lemon Zest Butter Rub
Classic Bread Stuffing
Fresh Green Bean Casserole
Corn Pudding
Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Casserole
Steamed Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Rosemary Cherry Potatoes and Carrots
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Fresh Pumpkin Pie
Cheesecake with Blueberry Lemon Sauce



This was our special guest, one very moochy cat.  She ate well that night.  How can you resist feeding that?


Recipes:

 
The Bird.  This was a free range local turkey so fresh it still had it's heart in it.  That was interesting.  To prepare this I just mixed butter with parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and lemon zest.  I rubbed it all over the bird and under the skin.  We stuffed it with celery, carrot, onion and orange and roasted it in a bag for 3 1/2 hours.  It was lovely.



Classic Bread Stuffing

1 chopped onion
1 1/2 C chopped celery
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley
1 C sliced fresh mushrooms
Handful fresh chopped sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons course salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper
9 C bread cubes
1 C Butter
1 C Stock, plus more if needed

Cook onions, celery and mushrooms in the butter.  Add 1/3 of the bread cubes, transfer to a large bowl.
Add everything else and toss very well.  Add more stock as needed until thoroughly moist.  Bake 350F/175C 30 minutes covered, 15 minutes uncovered.
 

Fresh Green Bean Casserole recipe from Alton Brown

2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 Tablespoons butter
8 - 10 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 Tablespoons flour
1 C chicken broth
1 C cream
Fried Onions

Preheat oven to 400F/200C.

  Blanch beans in one gallon of boiling water with 2 Tablespoons of salt for 5 minutes.  Immediately set into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large pot, add mushrooms, 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper.  Cook 5 minutes over medium high.  Add garlic and nutmeg, cook 2 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms, cook 1 minute.  Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute.  Turn heat to 3 and add the cream. Cook while stirring for 6-8 minutes until thickened.

Remove pan from heat, add 1/4 of the fried onions and all of the beans. Mix well and put in casserole dish. Bake 20 minutes.  Add remaining fried onions to the top and bake 5 minutes more.



Corn Pudding, the family favorite and always the first thing to go.

5 cans corn
4 eggs
1 C cream
1/2 C milk
4 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Blend everything except one can of corn.  This may have to be done in two batches depending on the size of your blender.  Add remaining can of corn.  Put in a casserole dish and bake 45 minutes at 350F/175C




Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Casserole recipe adapted from Eating Well

3 sweet potatoes, chunked
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chunked
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon oil
1 Tablespoon honey
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 C milk
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons orange juice
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 C chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Boil potatoes and squash, puree.  Measure out 3-4 cups and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.  Grease casserole dish.

Whisk eggs, oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon.  Add potato/squash puree, mix well.  Add milk, zest, vanilla and salt.  Mix well.  Combine all topping ingredients except pecans and mix until crumbly.  Add pecans, mix.  Cover potatos with topping.  Bake 35 - 45 minutes.



Fresh Brussels Sprouts

No fuss here.  Simply peel off the outer leaves, slice in half and steam.  Mix with butter, salt and pepper.




Roasted Rosemary Cherry Potatoes and Carrots

Mixed desired amount of potatoes and chopped carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary.  Roast at 400F/200C for 45 minutes.




Fresh Cranberry Sauce

4 C fresh cranberries
1 C sugar
1 C fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients, bring to a boil then simmer until the berries pop, about 20 minutes.  Chill.



Fresh Pumpkin Pie recipe from All Recipes

2 C fresh pureed pumpkin
2 eggs
1 C brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 can evaporated milk
1 9'' pie crust, fresh or bought
(I used the crisco recipe)

If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, make your own batch by mixing 4 Tablespoons cinnamon, 4 teaspoons nutmeg, 4 teaspoons ginger and 3 teaspoons allspice.

Preheat oven to 450F/230C

Beat eggs, add individually and beating in between: brown sugar, flour, salt, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and evaporated milk. Mix very well.  Pour into crust.   Bake 10 minutes at 450/230, reduce heat to 350/175 and bake an additional 40 - 50 minutes.  Cool completely and chill overnight to set.




Cheesecake with Blueberry Lemon Sauce recipe from Tyler Florence

Crust:
2 C crushed graham crackers or digestive biscuits
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 C melted butter

Filling:
450 grams/2 8 oz. blocks cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
1 C sugar
1 pint/2 C sour cream
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Topping:
1 bag frozen blueberries
Zest of 1 lemon
2 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 325F/165C

For the crust: Combine all ingredients.  Grease springform and press crust into it evenly and slightly up the sides. Chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Filling:  Beat cream cheese for 1 minute.  Add eggs one at a time while beating. Slowly add sugar and beat until creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add sour cream, zest and vanilla.  Scrape bowl and mix once more.  Pour filling into chilled crust and smooth the top.

Wrap aluminum foil around bottom and up the sides of the springform.  Place in a large pan and fill pan with boiling water halfway up the springform.  Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes until sides are set and middle is slightly jiggly. Turn off oven and crack the door open and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then chill in the fridge overnight.

Topping:  Combine all ingredients and simmer 10 minutes.  Chill.  Top chilled cheesecake before serving or serve on the side.



Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sweet Potato Scones with Cinnamon Icing


I've been wanting to make pumpkin scones for a while now, and I have three beautiful little sugar pumpkins sitting on my kitchen table calling my name.  I hear you my little orange lovelies, but another orange veggie was yelling a little louder.  I have three massive sweet potatoes and I figured if I could use pumpkin puree in these scones, why not sweet potato?  I love me some sweet potato, and pumpkin spices work just as well with these. And so it was.



These scones are sweet, fluffy and smell amazing. I tweaked the recipe a bit and they turned out gorgeous. They are great on their own, but the cinnamon icing throws them over the edge.  Cuddle up with one of these and a cup of coffee and that's a good morning.  Or, bake these and serve them in a basket without the icing on your Thanksgiving table, they will be absolutely perfect and a good change from biscuits or rolls.  Hope you like them :)


Sweet Potato Scones recipe adapted from Pinch My Salt

2 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
1/4 teaspoon Ginger
6 Tablespoons/90g Butter, cubed and chilled
2/3 Cup Sweet Potato Puree
1/3 Cup Milk or Cream
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, not packed
1 1/2 t Vanilla Extract

Cinnamon Icing
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tablespoon Milk
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon


To make sweet potato puree, just quarter a large sweet potato and microwave for 6-8 minutes, then mash really well with a fork.

Preheat oven to 425F/220C.

Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.

Combine sweet potato puree, milk/cream, brown sugar and vanilla.

Put chilled butter into flour mixture and mash it up with your hands until its crumbly and evenly distributed without any large butter clumps.

Add flour/butter mixture into wet ingredients and mix it just until its combined.

Turn it out onto cutting board or counter and knead together three times only.  Form into a flat circle 1 inch thick and cut into 8 triangles.  

 Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  15 minutes.  Cool.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chocolate Pudding

Photo courtesy of  Seattle Weekly



First things first, that's not my pudding.  My pudding got heffered, and I wasn't able to get a decent picture anyway.  Pudding all looks the same, so whatever.

  This pudding recipe is fast and super simple, and you don't need any special stuff to make it.  It tastes almost identical to Swiss Miss and we all know how good that stuff is.  I like it hot with some cream, but let it chill overnight and it's ten times better.  Just remember to place plastic wrap literally on top of the pudding, right up against it.  This will prevent it from forming a nasty skin on top.  No one likes pudding skin.



Chocolate Pudding recipe from Food.com

3 Cups Milk, any kind
1/3 Cup Cornstarch
1/3 Cup Cocoa Powder
2/3 Cup Sugar or Splenda
Pinch Salt
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Combine cornstarch, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a small pot.  Set over medium heat and slowly stream in the milk while whisking.  Whisk continuously until it comes to a boil, which will take about ten minutes.  When it comes to a boil, let it boil while whisking for one minute.  Remove it from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.  Serve hot or cover with plastic wrap and chill.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

English Muffin Bread




I'm in love.  I have made a lot of breads of all sorts, and nothing I've made can touch this one in my opinion.  It's super simple, fast, requires no kneading whatsoever and I highly recommend it for all of you who have never made a yeast bread before.  There is no way to screw this up and you can bake it a lot of different ways.  You can also add whatever you like to it, like cinnamon and raisins, or herbs.  It has a light and airy texture but it's moist and strong.  The crust stayed crunchy overnight which is a huge plus as most breads soften up, and it slices perfectly without breaking no matter how thin.



The original recipe called for using two 8x4 loaf pans, but I used the biggest loaf pan I had, I believe it was a two lb pan.  It turned out gorgeous.  Don't let the picture fool you, this loaf is huge.  I just happen to live in the heffa house and half of it got eaten right out of the oven.  You could make this in muffin tins, small loaves, or even make it into actual english muffins by cooking it in a ring on the stove.  It makes awesome toast, too :)




English Muffin Bread recipe from Allrecipes.com

5 Cups Flour, divided
2 packs Dry Instant Yeast
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 Cups Milk, lukewarm
1/2 Cup Water, lukewarm
cornmeal for pan

Preheat oven to 375F/190C

Combine 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda.

Add milk and water, combine.

Beat mixture for three minutes.  This is important to get air into the batter.

Stir in remaining flour.  It will be stiff and sticky, that's okay.

Sprinkle cornmeal into greased pan/s and put the dough in, pat it out to fill the pan.

Rise 45 minutes or until the dough rises above the rim by a bit, it may take more or less time depending on the temperature.

Bake 35 minutes.   My bread was done at 25 minutes, so I turned off the oven and let it in there for the remaining ten.  To test the bread, remove it from the pan and tap the bottom.  If it sounds hollow, it's done.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My First Order



One of Svein's co workers was having a birthday party and had me make him a cake and cupcakes for the kids. I used the Liniment Cake that I had posted earlier, only this time I smoothed the icing to make the buttercream look like fondant for a bit of a classier finish.  Simple chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles were the way to go for the kids.  Everything turned out great and everyone enjoyed it.  I like happy customers :)




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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Homemade Vegetable Soup and Herbed Croutons



Ever had Campbell's Chunky Vegetable Soup?  It's good right?  I should know, I ate about 300 can's of it when I was pregnant with Bellamy.  This soup here though blows Campbell's out of the water.  It's super fresh, clean and most importantly, comforting. Including prep, it's ready in well under an hour.  Top it with hot out of the oven croutons and you're good to go.  You can add any veggies you like, the more the merrier. 



Chunky Vegetable Soup recipe adapted from Food.com 

1 Cup Onion, chopped
1 Cup Celery, chopped
1 Cup Bell Pepper, chopped
3 Carrots, chopped
8 - 10 Tomatoes, diced large
4 Medium Potatoes, diced large
1 Can Green Beans
1 Can Peas 
1 Cup Tomato Sauce or Tomato Paste mixed with water
3 Cups Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
2-3 Tablespoons Sugar
Olive Oil

Cook chopped vegetables in olive oil for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add potatoes and cook for five minutes.  Add diced tomatoes and cook two minutes.  

Add tomato sauce/paste with water and stir.  Add chicken stock, salt/pepper and sugar.  Taste and adjust to your liking.  Bring to a boil, then simmer 10 minutes.  Make croutons.

Herbed Croutons

Bread of your choice, in the amount of your choice, cubed
Olive Oil
Seasonings

Preheat oven to 350F/175C

I used Rosemary, Ground Coriander, Rubbed Sage, Garlic, Onion Powder, Salt and Pepper.  Cover with a generous amount of olive oil and toss until well coated.  Bake 15 minutes.

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Liniment Cake



This recipe stems from an old Anne of Green Gables where what's her face uses liniment (which is used sort of like lotion) instead of vanilla.  I can't imagine that cake tasted all that good, but this one is awesome.



 This here is my friend Bjørn, the lucky recipient.  It was his 23rd birthday, and every boy needs a cake.  Doesn't he look excited!  The picture lies though, he loved it and had a mini foodgasm when he tasted it.  I wish you could have seen the face he made, it was priceless.




It cuts beautifully and the cakes are dense and very moist. It's supposed to be light and fluffy, but that isn't gonna happen if you use a WAY too big springform like I did.  Wooops.  All's well, I kinda like it better this way.  Fluffy cakes are overrated in my opinion. It looks pretty, tastes awesome and that chocolate frosting is bomb.  I highly suggest you make this one.  It takes about 5 hours start to finish, but it's seriously worth it.


Happy Birthday Bjørn :)



Liniment Cake recipe adapted from Vintage Victuals 

2 Cups Flour
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
Pinch Salt
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup (113g) Butter, melted
3 Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla


Preheat oven to 350F/175F.  Grease and flour two 8 - 10 inch round cake pans.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add milk and melted butter, beat until creamy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating in between.  Add vanilla, beat 3-5 minutes.

Bake 20 - 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.  Cool completely.


Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe adapted from Vintage Victuals 

 1/2 Cup (113g) Butter, softened
4 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
4 Tablespoons Dutch Cocoa Powder


Beat cream, butter and vanilla together until creamy.

Slowly add sugar, beat until fluffy.  Add cocoa, beat. 



 To assemble the cake:

Place first layer on cake platter or whatever you're going to use. Apply a good amount of frosting to the top and place on the second layer.  Go around the edges of the cakes with a knife to make sure they are even and free of any dry bits.  Repeat this until the fourth layer is on and all cakes are even.

Frost the top of the fourth layer and then continue with the sides.  Use as much or as little frosting as you like, but I say the more the better.  Smooth the cake out and decorate as you like.  



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Gluten and Egg Free Apple Cake



My friend Trond is a very lucky guy. He has not one, but two lovely ladies to cook him food. He requested an apple cake from me, and I did my best to deliver. This was my second ever attempt at gluten free baking and I am pretty happy with the results, for the most part. 




You see I made this cake once before I made it for Trond and it turned out beautifully. Topped with peanut butter frosting it was even better. So what's the problem? Poor Trond here ended up with a cake that was semi sunk and not fully cooked in the center. The culprit? Waaaaaaaaaaay off oven temperature. So sorry my friend, I blame the oven and I promise you a new and much better cake next time. I'll use my oven instead ;) All in all for a gluten free cake, this is a definite winner. Perfect or not, we had a great time making it together and sharing it with our friends, that's what it's all about.  Now, on to the baking. 

  

Sift together all of your dry ingredients, or cheat like I did and just whisk them together.




Next, find a nice guy and set him to work peeling all those apples.




Combine all of the rest of the ingredients together, and throw in those slave apples.  Pop her in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes.  This next step is the most important.  Ready?




 Oven camping.  Do not underestimate this.  I got caught by Trond and he thought I was weird, but this is a very important ritual.  I swear things taste better if you sit in front of the oven staring at it like you're watching grass grow.  Try it out, you'll thank me.




And we're done.  As you can see Trond was very happy to finally have that cake out of the oven.  I'm glad it made him happy, even if it wasn't the best. To friends!







Gluten and Egg Free Apple Cake recipe adapted from Food.com

1 1/2 Cups Gluten Free Flour Blend
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Allspice
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1/4 Cup (56g) Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Apple Butter: recipe here
3/4 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Banana, mashed
3 Tablespoons Milk
4 Apples, 3 grated, 1 diced
Chopped Walnuts, optional 

Preheat oven to 350F/175C

Grease a springform pan.

Combine flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and allspice.  Set aside.

Cream butter, add sugars and cream together for two minutes until light and fluffy.
Add milk and mashed banana, mix well.
Add flour mixture in two additions, beating well in between.
Stir in apples, add walnuts if desired.

Bake 40 - 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.


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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dutch Oven Wheat Bread



Some people are terrified of baking their own bread, and I honestly don't understand why.  Most people give the reason as being afraid of yeast.  Yeastaphobes we like to call them.  Fear not my young padawans, I will show you the ways of the Breadi.  Holy shit I am clever and insanely dorky.  Oh well, I think I'm cool.  Moving on!


This here is a very basic, no fuss wheat bread.  The only special equipment you will need for this is a cast iron dutch oven, it can be enameled or not, your choice.  You could use a clay pot or pizza stone as well.  If you are going to use a pizza stone, you will need an oven proof pot to act as a lid as well. 




Combine all of the bread ingredients together and mix them well.  You can use a bowl and elbow grease or a kitchen machine, your choice.  Let this rest for 20 minutes, then knead for ten minutes.  Add flour as you need it just to keep it from sticking to things, don't over do it.  When the dough is soft and elastic, form it into a ball and cover it.  Let this rise for two hours.


A lot of people have trouble determining when the dough is properly kneaded.  The best advice I ever read was that if it feels like a boob, it's done.  So guys, grab the wife.  Ladies, grab your own.  How handy is that?




After it's risen, deflate the dough and shape it how you like it.  I went for a fat loaf shape, but any way you want to put it will work.  You can get all kinds of fancy if you want to.  Once you've shaped your dough, cover it and let it rise for another hour.


While your dough is doing it's second rise, you need to get your oven AND equipment preheated.  You absolutely must preheat your pans!  Set your oven to 500F/260C.  Don't worry about the temperature seeming insanely high, it's crucial to developing a good rise and crust, and I promise your bread won't burn.  If it does, that's all on you buddy.  Go ahead and preheat your dutch oven/clay pot (be sure to soak it first!)/pizza stone.  Make sure to preheat lids as well, and if they have plastic knobs, take them off or cover them with aluminum foil.  





So now the bread has risen, it's all fat and happy and ready to go.  Carefully set your risen loaf on a large sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with flour or cornmeal.  If you like, cut some 1/4 inch deep slits into the bread.  Doing this will cause the loaf to spread out and look pretty.  You can do whatever pattern you want.  Putting a layer of flour on top of the loaf will also create a really artsy look.  VERY CAREFULLY remove the dutch oven and drop your bread into it.  Put the lid on and bake 15 minutes.  


This step is the most important.  Cooking the bread with the lid on creates steam, which is crucial to developing a crust.  Do not be tempted to remove the lid any sooner than 15 minutes.  After the 15 minutes are up, carefully remove the lid.  Lower the temperature to 450F/230C and bake for an additional 15 - 20 minutes.  Carefully remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely.  That's it!  You can do this with absolutely any bread recipe you would like, you will get amazing results no matter what.  Ciabatta is perfect for this method, you will get an amazing crust and crumb. 

 



Basic Wheat Bread

1 1/2 teaspoons Insant Yeast
1 1/2 Cups Lukewarm Water
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Honey
3 1/2 Cups Coarse Wheat Flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds and Walnuts, optional.


Combine all ingredients.  Mix until well combined and rest 20 minutes.

Knead dough 10 minutes and shape into ball.  Cover and rise 2 hours.

Deflate dough, shape into desired loaf form, cover and rise 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 500F/260C, preheat dutch oven or desired pan.

Place dough on floured parchment, cut slits and dust with flour if desired.  

Carefully place dough into preheated pan, cover with lid and bake 15 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 450F/230C and remove lid.  Bake an additional 15 - 20 minutes.

Remove from pan and cool completely.


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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Breakfast - Bacon, Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato Quiche



I generally have no motives for anything I make.  Today was no special occasion, no one is coming over.  I just had eggs and bacon and cream that all needed to be used and I didn't really feel like making an omelet.  So, quiche it is.




The great thing about this quiche is that it looks and tastes like you put some actual effort into it.  This is super easy and you can use pretty much whatever is hanging out in your fridge to fill it up. Crust included, you can have it thrown together in ten minutes.  Forty-five minutes in the oven and breakfast is served. 




It cuts beautifully and has a nice flaky crust.  An excellent breakfast with nothing more than a cup of coffee.  This would be great for lunch as well, serve it with fresh fruit or a strawberry and spinach salad.



Olive Oil Crust recipe adapted from All Recipes

1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Cold Water
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Combine everything together until it forms a dough.  Press evenly into your pie plate.  Pre bake 5 minutes if desired.  400F/200C.




Bacon, Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche

5 eggs
1 Cup Heavy Cream (you can use half and half or any type of milk)
2 Heaping Tablespoons Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
1 large Shallot, diced
1 Cup Cheese, shredded
6 slices Bacon, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste


Cook the bacon however you wish.  I nuked mine in the microwave for 6 minutes.  Cool and crumble.

Combine shredded cheese, shallot, crumbled bacon.  Layer this on the bottom of the pie.

Combine eggs, cream, pesto, salt and pepper.  Whisk until well combined and pour over cheese mixture.

Bake at 400F/200C for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350F/175C and bake an additional 30 minutes.  Cut and serve.





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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fresh Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins



Oh Lordy.  Sometimes I'm too much, even for myself.  Ya see yesterday I went on the great pumpkin search of 2010 looking for a can of Libby's, but I'll be damned if I found one.  Being it's October and all the lucky asses in the States get to go to a pumpkin patch and pick to their hearts content, my reader has been overflowing with pumpkin recipes.  One in particular was for pumpkin puree.  Why did I not consider doing this before? Takes a hell of a lot less effort than going from store to store looking for a damn can.  So forget you Libby, I don't need you.  Take your can and shove it.  And not in your face.  Somewhere much less enjoyable. For some people.

Making your own puree is extremely simple.  If you can make mashed potatoes, you can do this.  You want to go with a more of a gourd type pumpkin, I would stay away from the big jackolantern variety.  You can use that if you like, but you will end up with much more watered down and possibly bitter puree.  Sugar pumpkins are the way to go in my opinion.



Hokay so we have our cute little baby pumpkins.  Look at it, tell it it's pretty and that you love it, then cut its head off.  Cut it half and scoop out the seeds.  Cut the halves in half again.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray or rub it down with some oil.  Place the pumpkin cut side down and bake for 45 - 60 minutes at 375F/190C.  If you can pierce it with a fork it's good to go.  Let it cool a bit then scoop out all of the goods.  If you cover the pumpkins with a bowl or the like right after it comes out of the oven, you'll be able to peel the rind right off and that will save you some work.  Puree the pumpkin in the food processor or mash it to death with a potato masher.  Done!  This will keep in the fridge for 3 days or freeze for up to six months.  

My one medium sized pumpkin gave me a bit over 4 cups of puree.  Most recipes call for a 15 oz. can of Libby's, and that is equal to 1 3/4 cups.  Just so you know. 

And now, muffins!  These are sweet, fragrant, yummy little bits that throw together in no time.  I got 19 muffins out of this recipe, I hope you do too cause you're gonna need them. 




Fresh Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe adapted from Picky Cook

1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree (fresh or canned)
1/3 Cup Oil
2 Eggs
--
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
--OR USE INSTEAD--
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ginger
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Cloves
--
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
1 1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Chocolate Chips
..
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, 1 Tablespoon Sugar, mixed.


Preheat oven to 350F/175C

Combine flour, chocolate chips and baking powder, set aside.

Whisk together pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice or equivalent, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, baking soda and salt.

Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and fold together just until combined.
Drop into a lined muffin tin 3/4 full.  I used a 2 Tablespoon ice cream scoop.  If you don't have one, just use a Tablespoon measure.  

Top with cinnamon sugar mixture and bake 20 - 25 minutes.  Mine were perfect in 24.

Yields 19 muffins.




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Monday, October 18, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies



I've been craving whoopie pies since two summers ago when I drove to Lancaster for the sole purpose of obtaining one and shoving it in my face.   I was planning on making pumpkin whoopie pies with maple cinnamon cream since those are the best by far, but I haven't tracked down a can of pumpkin yet and we all know I am pretty much the least patient person around.  


Now these will never be as good as the ones you buy straight from the Amish girl at the farm stand but they are about as close as you can get.  The cakes are moist and chocolatey and the cream is sweet but not even close to sickening.  It's chocolate peanut butter heaven, and I can't think of a better heaven to go to than that.  Except maybe pickle heaven.  I'd be happy there.  Chocolate peanut butter pickle heaven.





Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies recipe from Cate's World Kitchen

1 3/4 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
5 Tablespoons (70g) Butter, soft
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 egg
1 Cup Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla


Preheat oven to 375F/190C

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
 
Cream butter and sugars, add the egg and beat well.

Stir together the milk and vanilla.

 Alternately add the milk/vanilla and flour mixture to the butter and sugars until well combined.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, place batter two inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake 12 minutes.  Cool on pan 10 minutes.  Finish cooling on a rack. 


Peanut Butter Filling recipe from Judy's Kitchen

1 Cup (226g) Butter, soft
1 Cup Peanut Butter (I used Jif)
1 Cup Marshmallow Fluff
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth and creamy.  Pipe or spoon onto cooled cakes and sandwich together.

Makes 9 Whoopie Pies.
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