Archives for October 2014
Does anyone have a child that goes nuts for applesauce? I can raise my hand with no hesitation on that question. It is funny to me because when Kellen was younger he hated applesauce, yogurt and cottage cheese and now they are some of his favorite foods. I normally make an unsweetened applesauce for us to enjoy and for fall baking. However, I wanted to add a few new flavors to one of our favorite snacks. Thankfully, we have a plentiful apple tree in our back yard and experimenting with different apple recipes is always encouraged. I love vanilla and apple together and with the slight sweetness from the brown sugar the applesauce was amazing! I like a few chunks in my applesauce, but (as stated in the directions) blend it for a smoother consistency. Apple season is almost past us, but it is a good think I have lots of goodies in the freezer!
Tonight we are relaxing at home with a movie and Monday Night Football, and my nephew is coming to see our pumpkins glowing at night! I love how they turned out and make the house feel (and look) so festive!
15 apples, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbl pure vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup water
Place all ingredients into a large pot. Cook on medium low heat and stir frequently until apples mash easily. Remove from heat and mash with a fork. If you desire a smooth apple sauce allow the apple sauce to cool and place in a blender (we prefer a few chunks in our sauce). Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
TGIF, right? I know I am feeling good that the weekend is almost here. I love staying busy, but I am always happy when Saturday come and I get to wake up with my little guy with no care to rush out the door to work. This weekend I am especially looking forward to the Zoo Boo at our local zoo. We have gone the past few years with our family, and it keep getting more and more fun. The kids are all at a really fun age right now, and love the different activities.
Remember pumpkin hating husband (Ron)?? Well, he actually likes roasted pumpkin seeds! When I was getting ready to roast the seeds he leaned in and said “oooo I like pumpkin seeds”. My jaw promptly hit the floor and I went about my business. I like plain roasted seeds, but decided to give them a little face lift with sugar, cinnamon and a little sea salt. These are a perfect for a quick snack or, in our case, a little extra treat for a Packer tailgate. These pumpkin seeds are worth a try, and are a delicious alternative to the standard salt roasted. I love that the possibilities are endless with roasting seeds….and that my husband actually likes something with the word pumpkin in it!
Have a great weekend and Go Pack!
2 cups pumpkin seeds, cleaned, rinsed and patted dry
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon sugar
1 tsp sea salt
Pre-heat oven to 125 degrees (this is for drying. If seeds are dry pre-heat to 275 degrees). Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
If pumpkin seeds are not dry arrange them on the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. If the seeds are dried skip this step. After 15 minutes the seeds should be dried and ready to be removed from the oven. Increase oven temperature to 275 degrees. Remove seeds from baking sheet and toss in a medium bowl with butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Return seeds to baking sheet and spread evenly. Roast for about 30 minutes-40 minutes and stir every 10 minutes to prevent sticking and scorching. Remove seeds from baking sheet and store in an airtight container.
Welcome to October’s What’s Baking?
We were challenged to bake with pumpkin or squash in the month of October, and what else could be a more perfectly timed ingredient? I immediately decided on pumpkin because I was planning on making a few batches of fresh puree and wanted to work it into this challenge. As you know I love pumpkin and look forward to fall anticipating all of the yummy treats that will come our of our kitchen. However, I was curious on the some of the history of pumpkins and how it relates to our food culture. I was going a bit of reading on Colonial America and found a few interesting tidbits of information on pumpkins. Pumpkins are one of the oldest native crops to America and have been cultivated by indigenous populations in North and South America for what is estimated to be about 6,000 years. Initially, seeds were eaten, but that lead to cultivation and eventually consumption of the entire pumpkin. I won’t go into too much detail, but have linked the page from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation above if you are interested in reading more. Another this that I found really interesting is that many preparation methods have stayed very similar to their original preparation.
Back to the bread, I used a traditional quick bread method, but subbed out the oil for homemade unsweetened applesauce. I also added molasses because I love the flavor and thought it would work perfectly with pumpkin. The flavors of this bread are wonderful and perfect for fall, and the texture is dense and moist. I am so happy to participate in such a fun group and can’t wait to see what everyone else made (and to get a few more pumpkin recipes to try!).
This week I have been working on a few Halloween recipes, and can’t wait to share them with you next week!
1/2 unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
Two eggs, beaten
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan.
In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, applesauce, eggs, molasses and vanilla using a stand mixer or handheld beater till smooth. Beat in the sugars till evenly mixed. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Gently stir in the flour mixture by hand or on low speed.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth so that it is even. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until middle is set (this is a very dense bread and you will likely always have a few crumbles with the tooth pick test)
One of my fall favorites besides pumpkin are fresh apples. We are lucky enough to have two Macintosh trees in our back yard and are spoiled to enjoy the delicious apples. Ever since I can remember I have loved a big glass of apple cider (hot or cold). It is especially perfect of a crisp day on my back porch. This year Kellen has been loving running out to the trees to pick his snack. I love that he has started to make this connection, and it is adorable to see how thrilled he was to finally eat an apple he watched grow all spring.
I am normally not a big fan of traditional fruit dip, but I wanted to create a dip that apple cider because I love the flavors and it is perfect for fall. I though the easiest way to do this was to create a syrup to get the intense flavor I wanted from the dip. The syrup will be a similar consistency to maple syrup, but a touch thinner. Initially, the dip may seem a dip watery and letting it rest in the fridge will result in a thicker consistency.
I made this dip for an evening with my girlfriends (such willing test subjects) and they all thought it was delicious and thought the cider flavor was great. I like the added cinnamon to the cider, but if you want less cinnamon flavor reduce the number of sticks used or eliminate it all together.
Tonight is my weekly t.v. binge….. I can’t help myself and Twisty the Clown is still haunting my dreams. Any Walking Dead watchers out there??? Wasn’t Sunday crazy!? I stupidly made the mistake of eating during the episode….bad plan and lesson learned for the future.
3 cups apple cider
1/2 Tbl brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
In a medium pot, add cider, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks. Bring the cider to a simmer and heat to medium-low. Allow the cider to slowly simmer and reduce until it is a syrup. This takes about 45-60 minutes. Strain the syrup and allow it to slightly cool. Mix the syrup with the cream cheese. Cover and chill for about 30 minutes before serving. Top with ground cinnamon and serve with apple slices.
I am a seriously pumpkin lover and normally buy pumpkin puree out of convenience, but this year I decided that it was time to start making my own. Pumpkin puree is so easy and it makes me kick myself for buying all those cans over the years.
This recipe is super easy and quickly gives you a delicious puree. The only thing that takes a little while is scooping out the seeds, but that is not a big undertaking. I love baking with pumpkin in the fall and love the fresh taste of homemade puree. My husband is not a pumpkin lover, but it turns out my son is! While I was processing the puree my little guy wandered into the kitchen to “see cokooin'” and wanted to try a spoonful. Kellen proclaimed it as yummy and proceeded to have many following spoonfuls of pumpkin. Thank goodness pumpkin love has fallen in my favor…so far. I am also loving that he is getting more and more interested in getting into the kitchen with me.
This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree, but this may depend on the size pumpkins you are using. It stores in the fridge for about a week, but it is freezer friendly and can be stored there as well.
I don’t know about you, but all I can think about is now pumpkin pie!
2 pie pumpkins
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
Cut the tops off of the pumpkins and cut in half. Scoop out the pumpkin seeds and set save them for roasting at a later time. Make sure to scrape the sides of the pumpkin to remove all the stringy stuff. Next, halve the pumpkin again (you will have 8 pieces total) and place on the baking sheet pumpkin side up. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork tender and skin has wrinkled.
Remove pumpkin from the over and allow it to cool until you can comfortably handle it. Remove the skin by peeling it off with your hands. Place pumpkin in the food processor (you could use a blender if you do not have a food processor) and process till smooth, about 3 minutes.
Store covered in the fridge up to 7 days. This recipe yields about 2 cups of puree depending on the size of the pumpkin.
Time for October’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge!
The theme for this month was pumpkin and bacon. Bring on my happy dance…..seriously. If you are a regular reader you probably know that we (Ron, Kellen and I) and bacon lovers, and (like a big chunk of the rest of the United States) we look forward to ways to put it in anything. My thoughts immediately went to pasta because of the pumpkin component, and I wanted to go savory. However, though my husband is a bacon lover he is a pumpkin hater (boo hiss), and I thought this was prefect opportunity for cook for my girlfriends during our henna party. I thought a baked alfredo type pasta was just the ticket! I also used goat cheese because I know my girls love it (and it is another ingredient my husband is not a fan of). This pasta is wonderfully easy to put together, unique and a perfect fall savory dish.
My girlfriends and I absolutely loved this pasta, and it was perfect for our evening (check out the henna photos on my last meal plan post). I am sure that you could lighten up this dish, but I am not going to pretend that is a good idea in this case because this is a pasta that is meant to be sinful. One point to note- the sauce with seem a bit watery when poured into the baking dish, but it will thicken as it is in the oven. The flavors of bacon, pumpkin and goat cheese are amazing together, and each distinctive.
If you are interested in joining our challenge, stop over to Dawn of Spatulas on Parade to say hello and to get more information. I am excited to see what next month will bring!
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 Tbl olive oil
4 Tbl salted butter
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl fresh chopped sage
1 pint heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
6 oz goat cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (+ a few extra Tbl for topping)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp white pepper
Salt, to taste
1 lb shaped pasta
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.
Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside.
In a large pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and allow it to cook for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Add sage, cream, milk, 4 oz of goat cheese, pumpkin and Parmesan. Reduce heat to low, whisking continuously and allow the sauce to slowly bubble. Allow the sauce to cook for 7-10 minutes. The sauce should reduce a bit, but will not be thick (it will thicken in the oven). Taste and season with salt and white pepper (remember you will add bacon so do not over salt).
Remove from heat and gently stir in the pasta. Pour pasta into the prepared baking dish. Top with a few tablespoons of Parmesan, remaining goat cheese (crumble with your hands) and bacon.
Bake for 30-40 minute or until sauce is bubbly.
Time for October Improv Cooking Challenge!
The theme for this month was chocolate and peanut butter. When I first heard the month’s ingredients I was very excited because I already knew the flavor combo I wanted to try that would be perfect for fall- chocolate peanut butter pumpkin. In my head I knew it would make a delicious bread, but I just needed to tweak my recipe to get the right consistency. I opted to use a little greek yogurt because I like the moisture it gives to bread and the creaminess fit perfect with the chocolate. I wanted to use pumpkin because 1) i love it, 2) it is perfect for the season and 3) it produces wonderfully dense and rich quick breads. I also opted for a little cocoa powder because who doesn’t love a little extra chocolate!
Kellen was my trusty helper and may have eaten way more than his share of chocolate chips! So, what was the verdict on our finished product? Absolutely delicious! After coming home from work Kellen and I each devoured a piece standing over it in the kitchen- caveman habits only in our house. I think the stand out was the combo of pumpkin and peanut butter….. I have a bag of butterscotch chips in my pantry that might have a variation of this recipe written all over them.
If you want to join the fun of the Improv Cooking Challenge visit Lesa of Edesia’s Notebook for details!
Stay tuned for next month’s recipe using Apples and Cinnamon!
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 light brown sugar
1 Tbl pumpkin pie spice
3 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan.
In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, yogurt, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla using a stand mixer or handheld beater till smooth. Beat in the sugars, spice, cocoa and baking soda till evenly mixed. Gently stir in the flour by hand. Stir in 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth so that it is even. Top with remaining chocolate chips. Bake for 45 minutes or until middle is set (this is a very dense bread and you will likely always have a few crumbles with the tooth pick test)
Cheesy potatoes are a staple at almost any Midwest potluck and are usually one of the first things to disappear from the spread. We make a few different variations of cheesy potatoes in our house and my favorite recipe included cream of chicken soup. Since I recently made a homemade batch of my own I decided it was time to update one of my favorite potluck side dishes. There is just something addictive about these potatoes to me….maybe it is the melted cheese or creamy potatoes or the buttery topping….or all three! I have to say I love this updated version even more than the original!
Speaking of cheese, tonight we are looking forward to relaxing at home and making a new recipe for mac and cheese with broccoli and chicken- yum! Tonight is also American Horror Story and, so far, I am digging this season. Anyone else think Twisty is horrifying!? I am also getting ready to do a little pumpkin baking tonight and I feel like I am really late to the party with it this year! I see many of my friend’s blogs adorned with delicious pumpkin treats, and I need to get my ass in gear!
1 30 oz bag frozen hasbrowns
1 recipe for Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
2 cups grated medium/mild cheddar cheese
2 cups soft bread crumbs (I put my bread in my food processor, but dried will work too)
2 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
4 Tbl butter, melted
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, sour cream and hashbrowns. Season with salt and pepper. In the baking dish layer 1/2 the potato mixture followed by 1 cup of each cheese. Layer the remainder of the potatoes over the cheese and top with remaining cheese. In a medium bowl, gently mix bread crumbs, parsley and butter. Spoon evenly over the potatoes.
Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, or until top is golden and potatoes are hot and bubbly.
I am a sucker for those 3 ingredients creamy casseroles at potlucks, but they are not something we make at home because we do not normally buy condensed soups. I have seen a few other bloggers use their own versions of this casserole staple, and when I saw a homemade version from Pinch of Yum for cream of chicken I was sold on giving it a try. This recipe makes the equivalent of two cans of soup, but can be easily halved if you only need one. One point of this recipe, when it is done cooking it is important to allow it to cool a bit because it will thicken as is cools and the texture will be closer to the traditional cream of chicken soup. I made this soup for a few upcoming posts and have really enjoyed re-making a few old classics like company potatoes and chicken noodle casserole.
Tonight I am headed to a fundraiser for an Attorney General candidate. In Wisconsin, there are many women on the ballot this year and, for me, that is really exciting.
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk (I use 2%)
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried parsley
Combine the chicken broth and 1/2 cup of the milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a low boil.
While broth is coming to a boil, whisk the flour and seasonings into the remaining 1 cup milk until it forms a thick smooth paste.
Pour the paste into the saucepan with the broth mixture over low heat and whisk continuously as the mixture simmers. Continue to simmer and whisk until the mixture is smooth and thick, 5-10 minutes. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
Makes equivalent of 2 cans of soup.
Time for October Secret Recipe Club reveal day!
This month I was fortunate to receive Marsha’s blog The Harried Cook. Marsha has a great back story to the creation of her blog- her daughters. She started her blog to chronicle her various recipes, not only for herself, but her daughter to enjoy in the future. Being a mother myself I think that it is an amazing inspiration for blogging, and I am positive her daughter will be thrilled down the road. Marsha has many beautiful recipes on her blog and I struggled to find the perfect this to make for our club. I am not a big baker, but was eying a chocolate cake until I saw her version of Boursin Cheese. I love Boursin cheese and my family always has different cracker spreads overflowing our table at various family gatherings. If you were wondering Boursin cheese a French cheese developed in Normandy for the Boursin Company in the 1960’s. Later, it was bought out and is made in North America and is pretty popular. I also decided on this recipe because I was having a girl’s night at my house for a little henna, and I knew my friends would love it. My husband was also very happy to take over the leftover the following day!
Thank you Marsha for a new recipe- I can hardly wait to make it again!
6oz cream cheese, softened
3oz unsalted butter, softened
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1 Tbl fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbl chives, finely chopped
1 Tbl fresh dill, finely chopped
1/4 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
In a food processor, process the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add garlic, herbs and pepper. Remove from food processor and stir in the lemon juice.
To shape the cheese, line a bowl with plastic wrap and spoon the cheese into the bowl and smooth the surface making sure you haven’t allowed any air in. Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the cheese, and seal the top with an additional piece of plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm. To serve, turn out of the container, peel off the plastic wrap. Allow cheese to sit out for 5-10 minutes before service. Serve with crackers and veggies.