Friday, November 26, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

Because I could go on and on with pumpkin recipes.
Because I didn't refill my plate yesterday and only ate two servings of dessert.
Because I'm just not ready to part with pumpkin.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting 
Taken from the completely brilliant Ina Garten

Makes 10 cupcakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes

1 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 C canned pumpkin purée (8 ounces), not pie filling
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 C vegetable oil
Maple Frosting (recipe follows)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Heath bars, for serving (2 1.4-ounce bars)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 10 paper liners.

Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared tins (I use a level 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.

Spread the cupcakes with the Maple Frosting and sprinkle with the chopped toffee bits.

Maple Frosting

6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp Maple Flavor
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 C sifted confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the maple flavoring and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.
 And, a few pictures of my very helpful cupcake co-bakers.

My Notes:
Seriously delicious. The only problem? The recipe only made 10 cupcakes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

These were our Halloween morning breakfast - enjoyed by Em, Justin, Miri, and me.

And, friends. Do not forget to buy the ingredients for the honey nutmeg butter. Believe me. You do not want to miss this part.

Pumpkin Pancakes
taken from Big Girls, Small Kitchen

1 C flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/3 C pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 C milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
about 1/2 C mini chocolate chips

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar in a medium bowl.

In a separate small bowl, combine the pumpkin and the egg and whisk to combine. Add the milk, vanilla, and cooled melted butter, and whisk again to make a smooth mixture.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and fold until they are only just combined--a few lumps remaining are fine.

Heat a cast iron skillet or frying pan over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Pour about 1/4 C of batter on a griddle per pancake. Sprinkle chocolate chips (to your heart's desire) in the raw batter. Cook until golden brown (about 2 - 3 minute), flip and continue cooking (about an additioanl 2 -3 minutes).

Remove to a plate and serve immediately with Honey-Nutmeg Butter and maple syrup.
Honey-Nutmeg Butter
Makes 1/2 cup

1 stick butter, softened
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)

Cream the butter with the honey, nutmeg, and cinnamon until slightly fluffy and even. Scrape into a small bowl and refrigerate until about 30 minutes before you're ready to use. Then, let it soften slightly.

My Notes:
Again - do not skip the honey nutmeg butter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Pumpkin. Yum. Tiramisu. Yum.
Why in the world would I not make this recipe?

Pumpkin-Chocolate Tiramisu
from Everyday Food, November 2010 (p. 118)

Servings: 8
Active Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: minimum of 3 hours

1 C mascarpone cheese
1 1/4 C heavy cream, cold
3/4 C powdered sugar
5 Tbsp amaretto (such as Disaronno
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
2 oz semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp unsweetedn cocoa powder (plus 1 1/2 tsp for dusting)
27 to 30 ladyfingers (from a 14.2 oz package)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, for dusting

Whisk mascarpone until smooth. Add 1 C cream, powdreed sugar, and 2 Tbsp amaretto; whisk until soft peaks form (about 5 minutes). Fold in pumpkin puree until co mpletely incorporated.

Combine chocolate and 1/4 C cream. Microwave in short increments (about 20 seconds each), stirring each time, until chocolate is just melted. Stir mixture until smooth.

Transfer one-third of the pumpkin mixture to another bowl and fold in chocolate mixture until combined.

In another bowl, whisk 1 Tbsp cocoa into 1/3 C hot water; add 3 Tbsp amaretto.

Cover bottom on 8" square baking dish with ladyfingers. Liberally brush with cocoa mixture and top with half the pumpkin mixture. Add anotherl ayer of ladyfingers, brush with cocoa mixture, and top with all the pumpkin-chocolate mixture. Add a third layer of ladyfingers, brush with cocoa mixture, and top with remaining pumpin mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours (or up to 3 days). To serve, dust with 1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

My Notes:
First, I tried this recipe out on some of my most discerning taste-testers. Believe me, they have very refined palettes. It passed their high standards.  Although, most of Dorothy's serving had to be scrubbed from her hair in the bath tub.

Next time, I would change the cocoa mixture that the ladyfingers are coated with slightly. I would mix only 1 Tbsp cocoa powder with 1/3 C hot coffee (instead of hot water). I was sort of missing the coffee taste that is in traditional tiramisu. 

Also, I would add additional chopped semisweet chocolate. Chopped chocolate sandwiched in each layer would have added some much-needed texture.

I am certainly not going to give up my pumpkin cheesecake or pumpkin pie to serve this at Thanksgiving, but I'm glad I tried it and will add it to my list of possible fall desserts in future years.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Granola

I have only tried to make my own granola one other time. I liked it, so I thought I'd try again with the additional of pumpkin.

Adapted from Annie's Eats

3 1/2 C rolled oats
2 1/2 C puffed rice cereal
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C pumpkin puree
1/4 C applesauce
1/4 C maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
up to 1 1/2 C chopped nuts
up to 1 C dried fruit
up to 1 C mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats and puffed rice cereal.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin pie spice, salt, sugar, pumpkin puree, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla extract.  Whisk until very smooth.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until the oat mixture is evenly coated.  Spread on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Then turn over the granola using a large, wide spatula.  Sprinkle the nuts onto the granola and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until crisp and golden.  Depending on the size of your baking sheet, the center may not be fully dried if your granola layer is thick, so if necessary remove the edges of the cooked granola and let the rest cook until done, 10-15 more minutes.  

Cool on pan or on a fine wire rack.

Break up granola as desired and toss with dried fruit and chocolate chips.  Store in an airtight container.

My Notes:
This took forever to bake! Next time, I will spread it between two cookie sheets. I think spreading it out would make it cook far faster.

And, about the puffed rice cereal - I used a Kashi puffed rice cereal. It was a great addition.

And, my dried fruit of choice was cherries. Although, cranberries would work great - if you like that sort of thing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Week

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, this seems like the last week that I can legitimately put my love of all things pumpkin out there for the world to see.

So, this week I will share all the pumpkin recipes I've tried in recent weeks.

Oh, how I wish I had made this bit of pumpkin deliciousness. I didn't make it; I did eat it.

Meanwhile, a few pumpkin recipes I tried last fall:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mexi-Feast: Tres Leche Cake

This was the dessert for our Mexi-feast. I couldn't have asked for a better choice.

The other contenders were. . . 

Tres Leche Cake 
Taken from All Recipes

1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 C unsalted butter
1 C white sugar
5 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

2 C whole milk
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid oz) can evaporated milk

1 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cocoa powder for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch baking pan. 

Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside. 

Cream butter or margarine and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. 

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Pierce cake several times with a fork. 

Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake. Leave plenty of time for the mixture to absorb, moving it around with a knife as needed.

Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Spread over the top of cake. Dust with cocoa powder.

Keep the cake refrigerated.

My Notes:
This was an incredibly moist and sweet cake. The fact that it was cold, though, actually made it feel more refreshing than overwhelming. I would definitely make it again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mexi-feast: Side Dishes

We (Angie and me) struck out on the side dishes for the Mexi-feast in a couple of ways.
1. We didn't take any pictures of them.
2. They weren't very good.

We were searching for one starchy side dish and one vegetable side dish.

The contenders for side dish were. . .
Mexican Cornbread
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Mexican Rice
Zucchini Oven Fries
Mexican Zucchini
Spicy Mexican Salad (includes Fritos)

And, we ended up with. . .

Mexican Cornbread
Taken from Ezra Pound Cake who took it from The Nashville Cookbook

Serves 8

1 1/2  C self-rising cornmeal
1 C buttermilk
2 eggs
1 Tbsp chopped green bell pepper
1 C cream-style corn
2 Tbsp finely chopped jalapenos
1 1/2 C grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 C cooking oil or bacon drippings (!!!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the cornmeal, buttermilk, eggs, bell pepper, corn, and jalapenos.

Heat oil in 8" cast-iron skillet for about 7 minutes.

Pour oil from skillet into batter. Stir lightly, and pour half of the mixture into the hot skillet. Sprinkle half the cheese on the mixture in the skillet, then pour the remaining cornmeal mixture over this. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 40 minutes. Serve hot.

My Notes:
This didn't have a lot of flavor and was really oily. I will not make it again.

Mexican Zucchini 
Taken from CD Kitchen

Makes 6 servings
Ready in less than 30 minutes

1 lb zucchini
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 ears corn
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Trim the zucchini and cut it into discs about 1/2" thick. Heat the olive oil in a wide, deep skillet set on medium-high heat. Put the zucchini discs in the skillet and cook them until they become a deep brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a dish.

While the zucchini cooks, slice the corn off the cob. Remove and discard stem and seeds from red pepper (or a mildly hot chili pepper), and mince the pepper. Mince the onion.

Add the corn, pepper, and onion to the skillet and cook over fairly high heat to soften the onion. Add chili powder, salt, pepper, and zucchini to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and cook to heat through, about a minute.

My Notes:
This wasn't all that great, either. Maybe it was because corn and zucchini weren't in season when we made it. It was bland and watery.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mexi-feast: White Chicken Enchiladas

And, today - the main course of the Mexi-feast.

Here were the contenders for main dish. . .
White Chicken Enchiladas
Enchiladas Verdes
Sourcream Chicken Enchiladas

In the end it was Pioneer Woman's white chicken enchiladas that won out.

White Chicken Enchiladas
Taken from Pioneer Woman

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

2 1/2C cooked, shredded chicken
2 C chicken broth
3 Tbsp canola oil
12 whole corn tortillas
1 whole large onion, diced
3 cans (4 oz each) whole green chilies, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 tsp paprika
1/2 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 C sour cream
2 1/2 C Monterey jack cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
    Heat 2 Tbsp canola oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tortillas for no longer than 20 seconds, just to soften (do not allow to become crisp.) Place tortillas on a large towel or stack of paper towels to drain.

    Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil in separate skillet over medium heat. Add onions and jalapenos and saute for 1 minute. Add chicken, half of the green chilies, and 1/2 tsp paprika. Stir together. Add 1/2 C chicken broth and stir. Add cream and stir, allowing mixture to bubble and get hot. Turn off heat and set aside.

    In a separate large skillet, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together and cook over medium heat for one minute. Pour in 1 1/2 C chicken broth. Whisk together and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the other half of the chilies. Reduce heat, then stir in sour cream. Add 1 1/2 C grated cheese and stir to melt. Add 1/2 tsp paprika. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

    To assemble, spoon chicken mixture on top of tortillas, one by one. Top with plenty of cheese and roll up. Place seam side down in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

    Pour cheese mixture all over the top of the tortillas. Top with extra cheese if you’d like, then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

    My notes:
    Delicious! I'm not a huge fan of corn tortillas, though. Next time, I will just use flour tortillas. That will save me a step and a frying pan.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Mexi-feast: Mexican Layer Dip

    The appetizer for the Mexi-feast. . .

    Mexican Layer Dip
    Taken from Pioneer Woman

    Prep time: 15 minutes
    Servings: 8

    1 can refried beans
    Tabasco sauce, to taste
    1 small can diced green chilies, undrained
    Ground Cumin, to taste
    3/4 C grated sharp cheddar cheese
    1 C sour cream
    1 cup guacamole
    3/4 C Monterey jack cheese
    1 can black olives, sliced
    Green olives, two handfuls, chopped
    1 C Pico de gallo
    Tortilla chips
      Heat the refried beans in a small pan over medium-low heat. Add Tabasco to taste and the can of diced green chilies. Stir well. Next, sprinkle a little bit of ground cumin.

      Spread the beans on the bottom of a glass bowl or high-sided dish. Sprinkle on sharp cheddar. Add sour cream and spread into a single layer, being careful to leave cheese undisturbed.

      Spread guacamole over sour cream. Add Monterey jack and chopped olives. Top with pico de gallo.

      My Notes:
      Future feasts will not involve an appetizer. We get distracted making it and eating it. But, I sure am glad we tried this one. It will make a nice alternative to taco dip at future parties and get-togethers.

      Monday, November 15, 2010

      Mexi-feast: Introduction Post

      Two girls.
      Two sidekicks.
      5 recipes.
      7 bags of groceries.
      1 kitchen.

      The ingredients for our (Angie and me) latest feast. It actually happened awhile ago (think September), and I'm just getting to posting the recipes, photos, and reviews now.

      You missed out big time, but stay tuned for the recipes (and more photos) all this week.

      Appetizer: Mexican Layer Dip
      Main Course: White Chicken Enchiladas
      Side Dishes: Mexican Zucchini and Mexican Cornbread
      Dessert: Tres Leches Cake


      Wednesday, November 10, 2010

      Baba Ghanoush

      About the only eggplant recipe I am confident I like is eggplant parmesan. I've been looking for other ways to use eggplant. There was the ratatouille and now the baba ghanoush. 

      Prep Time: 10 minutes
      Cook Time: 30 minutes
      Makes 10 servings


      3 whole medium eggplants
      4 Tbsp Tahini
      4 cloves garlic, finely minced
      1/4 C lemon juice
      3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
      1/3 C fresh parsley, minced

      Prick the surface of each eggplant several times with the tines of a fork.

      Under the broiler (set to high), blacken / char the eggplant for 25 minutes. The skin will be shriveled and dark, and the eggplant will be almost fall-apart tender.

      Set the eggplants aside to cool slightly.

      When cool, peel off the skin enough to get a spoon into each eggplant and scrape out the flesh into a bowl. Get as much eggplant as you can; it will be a messy process.

      Mash eggplant with a fork until it is a smooth texture without being totally pureed.

      Add other ingredients, stirring, and tasting before adjusting seasonings or other ingredients.

      Serve with pita triangles, baguette slices, chips, or crusty French bread.

      My Notes:
      This was delicious and very easy to make. I did have a tough time finding the Tahini. It ended up being on the bottom shelf in the organic / health food section. It was about $6 for a large bottle.

      Monday, November 8, 2010

      Twice Baked Potato

      I'm not all that great at side dishes. I tend to make the same simple things again and again. This happens to be one of those stand-by recipes. What I really like about this recipe is that it is easy enough to make for a quick weeknight dinner but also fancy enough to impress company. I made it for Christmas one year. My dad is still talking about it.

      Stuffed Potatoes
      from Rachael Ray

      4 slices bacon, chopped
      2 baking potatoes
      1/2 C sour cream
      2 green onions, finely chopped
      Salt and pepper, to taste
      1 C shredded cheddar cheese

      Bake potatoes in microwave until soft.

      Cook bacon until crisp. Drain and set aside.

      Preheat broiler.

      Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop inside into bowl. Reserve skins.
      Combine potatoes with sour cream, green onions, salt, pepper, cheese, and bacon.

      Scoop filling back into skins.

      Place under broiler to brown tops.

      My Notes:
      These freeze really well. I usually make a double batch and stash a few in the freezer.

      Monday, November 1, 2010

      Candy Bark

      . . . or what to do with your left-over Halloween candy.

      In case you are not already in a candy coma or in case you just don't have the energy to make dinner tonight or in case you have lots of extra Halloween candy - I insist you try this.

      Halloween Candy Bark 
      Makes 1 cookie sheet

      Original Source: October 2010 Bon Appetit

      Prep time: 15 minutes, plus an additional 10 minutes
      Cooling time: 30 minutes, plus an additional 30 minutes

      1 lb bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
      3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun size bars), roughly chopped
      3 toffee candy bars (or 6 fun size bars), roughly chopped
      8 Reese cups, cut into wedges
      1/4 C up honey roasted peanuts
      3 oz yellow, orange, and red peanut M&Ms, coarsely chopped
      3 oz good quality white chocolate, finely chopped

      Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil.

      Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Pour the chocolate over the foil and smooth into a thin layer with a spatula.

      Evenly sprinkle the melted chocolate with chopped candy bars, Reese cups, honey roasted peanuts, and peanut M&Ms.  Press gently to adhere the candy to the melted chocolate.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

      Melt the white chocolate, again using the double boiler method, until smooth.  Drizzle over the chilled candy bark.  Return to the refrigerator and let chill again until the white chocolate is set, 30 minutes more.

      Peel the sheet of chocolate away from the foil and break into irregular pieces.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every second in between.

      My Notes:
      Next time, I will use regular chocolate instead of bittersweet.
      Next time, I will use peanut butter M&Ms instead of peanut.
      Next time, I will buy the honey roasted peanuts instead of the unsalted.
      Next time, I might add some crumbled up pretzels.