Archive for November, 2011

November 26, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

Just in case you have not had enough Pumpkin Recipes, I give you… Pumpkin Muffins!

These muffins may look ‘difficult’ but they could not have been easier. (Ok, I guess they could have been easier – but not really, you get what I’m saying?)

We traveled to Delaware for Thanksgiving and I wanted to bring a tasty treat to enjoy while watching the Macy’s Parade and cooking in the morning. These ft the bill perfectly. With the Whole Wheat Flour and light amount of Sugar they were the perfect balance of everything you want in a breakfast that is sweet without making you crash an hour later.

This recipe travels well and can be made sweeter by adding some mini chocolate chips if you really want a sweet breakfast treat. You could even use only all-purpose flour and then make a tasty cream cheese frosting for a hearty treat. I was thinking some grated carrots or raisins could be a yummy addition. Or how about some pecans!? Or just the way they are taken to the next level by cutting them in half, toasting them, and adding some butter to your warmed muffins! However you slice it – these are a tasty muffin!!

Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • > 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, or to taste (this worked out for me to be about 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 + teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cloves)
  • 1 tsp. additional ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (or applesauce)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white (or just 2 eggs if you are lazy like me)
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese (or regular cream cream lightly warmed/softened in the microwave)
  • approx. 1 TB confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tins with nonstick spray (I made a dozen, worked perfectly). In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese with 1 TB confectioners sugar. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, buttermilk, egg, egg white, and vanilla. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to over mix.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full with batter mixture. Place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each muffin. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes before indulging.

And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… what is your favorite type of Breakfast Muffin?

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November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Mac n Cheese

When I suggested making Pumpkin Maccaroni and Cheese to bring to friends, Rich was pretty skeptical. Then, as I was putting the mac & cheese into the casserole dish to bake he was practically licking the pot with the extra pasta clean! Through mouthfuls he was telling me how much this totally worked even though he didn’t think it would. I’ll take it!

This recipe would work wonders on your Thanksgiving Table (it maybe a bit late for this suggestion, sorry). Everything in this recipe works and is perfect for any of your fall mac & cheese cravings. The pumpkin does not come out and smack you in the face like it would in a pumpkin pie but the flavor balance is spot-on and delicious.

Get out your pots and your stretchy pants, and enjoy some of this amazing savory Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese!

Pumpkin Mac n Cheese

  • 16 oz small shell pasta
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 16 oz grated cheese blend
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree (about half 15-oz can)
  • 1.5 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a heavy pot over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk together and cook for thirty seconds. Add 2 cups milk and minced rosemary and whisk until smooth. Add another cup of the milk (reserving one cup) and continue to whisk. Cook for four minutes while whisking. The mixture will get very thick! Add 12 ounces of the grated mixed cheese (reserving about a handful of grated cheese) and stir well so that the cheese melts. Add the salt, pepper and cayenne followed by the additional cup of milk and the pumpkin puree. Once everything is smooth, add the cooked macaroni and toss well. Pour into a 9″13″ casserole pan and top with the remaining grated cheese and the breadcrumbs.
Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling

Yield: 8 servings

*Note – I had a 12 oz container of pasta so I just took out about 3/4 cup of cheese sauce before mixing the pasta in. Then that can get used in a soup (think cheddar soup, pumpkin soup, beer n cheese soup) or to make more pasta another day or on top of potatoes or whatever you like!

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And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… What food combinations are you not sure will work but then turns out tastefully delicious?

November 22, 2011

Apple Upside Down Breakfast Cake

I have wonderful parents. They are so willing to watch our dogs whenever we need them to. I try to do what I can to show them how much I appreciate it. Recently they kept our dogs overnight and I promised to bring breakfast in the morning when we picked up the mutts.

In my effort to try to eat healthier I knew that I did not want to bring over some breakfast-bake devoid of nutrients but covered in fat & calories. We also only had 1 egg so my normal Breakfast Egg Casserole type dish was out of the question. Then I stumbled across this healthy apple breakfast cake. This cake seemed like it had the potential to be really good. BUT – I didn’t bake it long enough plus it would have benefited from a bit more sugar and I think it tasted a bit too ‘healthy’ for us (sugar might have helped or use a less strong tasting whole wheat flour). So when you make this, be sure to bake it long enough and maybe add some more sugar.

Thanks Mom & Dad for still loving me even if I make a flop every once in a while.

Maple Apple Upside Down Breakfast Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups diced Apples, skin on
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable or coconut oil
  • pinch of fine Sea Salt
  • pinch of ground Cinnamon (and nutmeg)
  • 2 tablespoons Water
  • 1/4 cup pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup Flax Meal/Seed Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fine Sea Salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Stevia Powder (or more to sweeten to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 large Egg, whisked
  • 1 cup Milk
  • Cooking Spray

Apples: Heat oil in a medium non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add apples, water and a pinch of salt and cinnamon (and nutmeg). Stir occasionally and cook for about 8 minutes until apples are soft and fragrant. Remove from heat, stir in maple syrup and let apples cool.

Cake: Pre-heat oven to 350˚F with the rack in the middle. Prepare a 8×2 inch round pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. Gently combine the wet and dry together to form a thick cake batter.

Put apples in the pan first in a single layer. Make sure they coat the bottom of the pan well. Carefully smooth the cake batter over the maple apple mixture. Try to keep the apples from moving around too much. Bake for at least 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (mine appeared to be clean but was still very doughy on the inside, so I would suggest baking longer and err on the side of over-cooked if unsure). Let cake cool for a few minutes.

To remove from pan: put a large dinner plate over the cake pan. Hold it tight and flip the cake over. It should slide out easily. If it sticks carefully use a spatula to loosen up the sides.

And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… what was the last thing that you made which you thought would be wonderful but ended up being a flop?

November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

A story of Pumpkin Cookies…

Last week I got a text from Rich that said “I’m in the mood for something Pumpkin”. I replied “sweet or savory?”. The response was “SWEET!!” I told him that I could do that. Then he requested “Pumpkin Cookies?!?” I told him “sure” – and his final response was “yesssssssss”

Rich spends lots of time working on his MBA and I am so proud of all that he constantly does in order to better himself. He has a major love of Chocolate Chip Cookie (Dough) so I knew that instead of making him regular Pumpkin Spice Cookies I wanted to mix the classic flavors of Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Cookies but without the cake-like texture you normally get from Pumpkin Cookies. After much recipe reading, I realized that Tessa had the perfect recipe.

These cookies are everything you would want in a cookie. They are a chewy chocolate chip cookie plus a tasty spiced pumpkin cookie. You should probably go make these, and soon. Right now in the pre-Thanksgiving rush you probably even have everything that you need to make these in your house.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

In a large bowl combine melted butter and brown sugar with a rubber spatula. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, stirring to combine. Stir in pumpkin puree until smooth. Add the flour in 3 batches, mixing well after each addition, until a soft dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.

Chill dough in fridge for 30 minutes. Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop or a spoon, roll the dough into golfball sized balls. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until set and edges are lightly browned. Let cool completely. This makes about 2 dozen cookies

And do you want to round out your pumpkin meal… how about a Martini, some Pumpkin Mac n Cheese, and a [Butternut Squash] Apple Soup!?

And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… Do you prefer CHEWY or CRUNCHY or CAKEY cookies?

November 14, 2011

Crispy Oven Fries

I am trying to eat healthy. This blog does not help. Neither does living with someone who loves (and encourages my cooking). Another fact not helping in the healthy-eating movement is things like these fries, and cravings, and foodgawker, and my lack-of will power.

BUT – on a good note, these are at least ‘healthier’ fries (served with ‘healthier’ buffalo chicken). “Healthier than what?” you may ask – well healthier than what you would get at a restaurant of course! Now, I am not saying by any stretch of the imagination that this is good for you, but its not really that bad for you. A meal like this once in a while partnered with a regularly scheduled healthy diet and some activity equals a well balanced and happy life (I’m working on that moving more part – thanks to those around me for helping me by yelling at me to motivate me)!!

Crispy Oven Fries

  • approx. 3 russet potatoes (about 24 oz. total), peeled and cut lengthwise into even sized wedges
  • 5 T vegetable, canola or light olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 475˚ F.  Place the potato wedges in a large mixing bowl.  Cover with hot water; soak for 10-30 minutes.  Put about 4 tablespoons of the oil onto a heavy, rimmed baking sheet.  Tilt the sheet side to side to evenly coat the pan with oil (a pastry brush or fingers can help with this).  Sprinkle the pan evenly with the salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Drain the potatoes.  Spread the wedges out on layers of paper towels or on clean kitchen towels.  Pat dry with additional towels.  Wipe out the  bowl so it is dry.  Return the potatoes to the bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.  Arrange the potato wedges on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.  Cover with foil and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until the bottoms of the potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes.  Using a metal spatula and tongs, flip each potato wedge keeping them in a single layer.  Continue baking until the fries are golden and crisp, 5-10 minutes.  Rotate the pan as needed to ensure even browning.

*NOTE – at some point in this process my smoke alarm always goes off from the high heat and oil – no worries, that just means its working the way it should

When the fries are finished baking, transfer them to a paper-towel lined serving dish to drain some of the grease.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.

This goes amazing with Buffalo Chicken Tenders (and the combination of these fries with the amazing chicken tenders earned me not only my normal thank you & an extra compliment, but a kiss as well – so you know its got to be good.)

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One Year Ago – 2010 Pack the Pantry @ DDF!

And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… What was the last thing you made that earned you extra praise/appreciation?

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