Saturday, December 24, 2011

malted m&m cookies

The last few days of work I cleaned up my work computer.  Taking the bookmarks or files I would need.  Sadly after 13 years on the same computer there was not much I wanted or needed.  I took my bookclub reading list, my supper club matrix and a few recipes that I had bookmarked along the way (pre-pinterest).  I bookmarked these cookies back in 2005!  After 6 seasons of still thinking about them and coming back to the url I finally made them.  I am sad I waited 6 years to make these cookies.  They are a good classic cookie with a little twist with the malt powder.  The bake a little thin but, the inside is soft and chewy.  The festive green and red m&ms makes them stand out on a cookie plate and just perfect for hands of both kids and adults to enjoy.

We will be leaving a few of these for santa tonight.  Rumor is he likes these.

Hope you had a fantastic holiday season. 

malted m&m cookies
adapted: culinary in the dessert

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons shortening
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup malt powder
1 1/2 cups m&ms
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening and butter together.  Add both sugars and beat until combined.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined after each. Mix in vanilla. Add the malt powder and slowly mix until combined. Add the flour gradually and mix just until combined. Stir in m&ms and chips. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

Drop dough by tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with silpat. Bake until golden and almost set in the center, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to completely cool.

Monday, December 19, 2011

fluffernutter chocolate gobs

I just hosted my 5th annual cookie exchange.  I really like traditions.  I like parties that people can count on each year.  During my fall melt down I was thinking that I would just pass on the cookie exchange.  Then the calls and emails started rolling in wondering why I had not sent out the evite.  It wasn't pressure.  It was the kick in the butt I needed.  My friends were requesting me to get us all together for holiday cheer.  Even though the evite was out I could not get motivated.  I wasn't searching for a cookie recipe.  I wasn't stocking up on baking supplies to make some of my annual treats.  As the day got closer I started to realize I needed to pull it together.  I toned down the party.  No signature cocktail just a champagne bar and sweet nibbles.  After I made a few of the classics (christmas crack, rolo pretzel candy, and oreo truffles) I was feeling the baking high.  I was on a roll.  Each girl has to bring four dozen of one cookie.  I made three new cookies this year and we decided that this was the cookie to offer up at the exchange.  It has a little something for everyone.  A soft peanut butter cookie, a gooey center, chocolate glaze and a festive appearance.  They were really good.  I ate four or five.  I will definitely make these again but, they were not the cookie that every raved about.  I will get to those cookies later this week.  My holiday baking started out a bit shakey but, in the end I was really happy my friends got me into the spirit.  Note to self for next year ... having four dozen cookies in your house is not a good thing.  Especially when champagne is involved.  Happy holidays.

fluffernutter chocolate gobs
adapted: bakergirl

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
mini marshmallows

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla.

Gradually add in flour mixture on low speed. Chill dough for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator.

Place by rounded spoonfuls on a lightly greased cooking sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes, until edges are very lightly browned. Remove from oven, lightly flatten each cookie with a spatula and then  using a melon baller press a small bowl in the center of each cookie.  Fill each bowl with 4 mini marshmallows. Return to oven for 2-3 minutes, until the marshmallows are melted. Let cool completely.

When cooled completely, make the glaze by melting the butter in the microwave. Stir in the cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Slowly stir in the powdered sugar, gradually adding the milk as needed to get it the desired consistency.  Spoon a small amount over the top of each cookie. Sprinkle with holiday decor if desired.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

reindeer sugar cookies

I have been trying to limit my pinterest time.  I have spent hours upon hours building my dream home.  My dream home is incredible.  I am ready to move in.  Pinterest is such a great source of amazing ideas.  I love all the ideas.  I hate that I am not creative enough to think of them.  I love that I can leverage all these amazing ideas and kinda look like a rock star.  Since I could not turn my house into a reality I decided to turn to pinterest for an idea I could actually use today.  Carter was share person and wanted to bring a fun holiday snack.  I saw these adorable reindeer cookies plastered all over pinterest. I used a basic sugar cookie recipe which turned out both tasty and cute.  The kids loved them, the teachers loved them, and best of all Carter and I made them together.  I got asked for the recipe.  I basically rocked shared day in Carter's eyes.  These are a perfect addition to a holiday cookie plate because they have whimsy and kid appeal.  Happy Holidays!

reindeer sugar cookies
style source: pinterest
recipe source: allrecipes

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
mini and regular m&ms
mini chocolate covered pretzels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets. To make the reindeer shaped face pinch the bottom of the ball before baking.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. While cookies are still warm press in the eyes, noses and antlers.  Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Monday, December 12, 2011

sweet potato and black bean enchiladas

This month of the secret recipe club I was assigned the blog Biking & Baking.  Biking and Baking is written by Sarah a resident physician that not only loves healthy cuisine but, also loves road biking.  After you look at all of her healthy posts, learn that she is a resident physician and has biked across country with her family you kinda feel like a lazy slug.  Sarah's blog could not have come my way at a better time.  I have kinda lost healthy inspiration in the kitchen.  Her posts motivated me to get out to the produce section and look for colorful, healthy and seasonal ingredients.  After much debate I landed on her sweet potato enchiladas.  Sarah is a vegan so, I did alter the recipe to vegetarian but, tried to stay as true to her recipe as possible.  I made a full 8x8 pan of enchiladas and used the extra filling to make 2 large burritos for the freezer.  I was not surprised that I loved the enchiladas but, I was shocked that my 2 year old polished several of these off.  As much as I love seeing the smile on my kids face when they enjoy one of my baked goods I am absolutely over the moon when they love a healthy meal packed with all the seasonal good stuff.  I often underestimate their palates and this dinner reminded me if I don't put it in front of them they won't have the opportunity to experience and enjoy it.

Happy Monday and thank you Biking & Baking and Secret Recipe Club for another fun month:

sweet potato and black bean enchiladas
adapted: Biking & Baking

2 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can green chilies
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
8oz block reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup  jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups green enchilada sauce
12-16 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 400. Toss diced sweet potato with olive oil. Roast potatoes on rimmed baking sheet for approximately 20 minutes. Cool potatoes and divide in half.  Coarsely mash half of the potatoes.  Add the diced potatoes, black beans, green chilies and garlic to the mashed potatoes. 

In another bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup cheese, cumin, chili powder, cilantro and 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce.  

Microwave tortillas approximately 1 minute until softened and warm. Spread 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a your baking pan (9x13.) Divide filling amongst tortillas, roll them up, and place seam side down in the baking dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese over enchiladas.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

spicy persimmon brunch cake

The month of November was an emotional blurr.  After 13 years I left my job.  I have started my new life as a stay at home mom.  This is absolutely the best decision for my family and I feel so fortunate that we are in a position that allows me this awesome opportunity.  I have always known that being a stay at home mom would be much harder then my corporate job but, I had no idea how hard it would really be.  My nanny made it look so easy.  At the end of  day I feel tired down to the bone not to mention I look like a frazzle disaster.  Until we get into a groove the me time, baking, bloging, showering, and exercise have fallen to the bottom of the list.  Play dates, tennis lessons, story time and the park have risen to the top.  I need to find some sort of balance in these whirlwind days. 

GG "great grandma" has a persimmon tree in her backyard.  This week a huge box appeared on my doorstop.  Her tree is a hachiya tree which produces the acorn shaped fruit that is used for baking.  My mother in law gave me one of her favorite junior league cookbooks when we got married.  Recently I have read the book cover to cover all the while cherishing the fact that some of my mother in laws favorite recipes come from this book.  The book was written in the 70s and while reading the book you can just feel the homeyness of each recipe.  These are family favorites that have been passed down from generation to generation.  They are not fancy.  They are solid classic dishes.  In honor of two of my favorite past stay at home moms I made this persimmon brunch cake using my mother in laws recipe and her mother's persimmons.  The result was an absolute hit.  This is a simple spicy cake.  You could spruce it up by baking in a bundt pan but, for our casual meal the 8x8 worked great.  There are no eggs in this cake ... weird.  I read the recipe several times and no eggs.  You add the baking soda to the persimmon puree which makes a gelatin like substance after a few minutes.  I have no idea why it does that but, I am assuming this concoction replaces the egg.  As long as the persimmons arrive at our door this will be a family favorite baked with lots of love.

spicy persimmon brunch cake
adapted: california heritage - junior league

1 1/2 cup pureed fresh persimmon, hachiya variety (see note below)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
confectioner’s sugar

Stir together the persimmon puree and the baking soda in a small bowl until blended and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the puree to the creamed butter and sugar.  Gradually blend the dry ingredients into the persimmon mixture.  Stir in the cinnamon chips, mixing just enough to blend.

Spoon the stiff batter into a well-greased and floured 8 x 8 x 2-inch cake pan or 5-cup bundt pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes and turn out onto a rack to continue cooling another 20 or 30 minutes before serving (or serve directly from the pan if using an 8 x 8 x2-inch pan). Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve warm. Cake is also good at room temperature.  Cake can be reheated with foil cover for 10 minutes at 325.

Note: A fresh Hachiya persimmon should feel soft and jellylike when ripe.  The ripe fruit should feel like a water balloon in your hand.  Cut it in half and scoop the flesh from the skin with a spoon. Use a blender or immersion blender to smooth the pulp. Use at once or freeze. The puree tends to turn brown if left, and a small amount of lemon juice may be added if desired, to prevent discoloration.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

slow cooker old fashioned chicken noodle soup

Sisters are funny.  They are your strongest relationship but, they are also the hardest on you.  They can poke fun to no end because they know you are not going anywhere.  As I have grown older my relationship with my sisters has evolved and grown and it is truly great.  We are all very different which makes it nice to settle into your spot in the family.  There are many things my sisters tease me about but, I am not here to talk about that.  I am here to talk about how one of my sisters is OBSESSED with her crock pot.  My other sister and I send text messages to each other joking about her latest crock pot creations.  She is doing everything from breakfast to dessert in the crock pot.  I like to make fun of her but, honestly I am kind of jealous.  Everything she makes in the crock pot tastes good.  She is always saying oh I just threw this and that in and voila dinner served.  I throw things in and it is disgusting I mean rubbery, watery meat with bland flavor.  Just plain gross.  I decided not to hide my jealousy anymore and I asked for The Slow Cooker Revolution for my birthday.  The family is starting to get the sniffles so, I decided to try the chicken noodle soup.  It does involve a bit more work than toss this in but, the end result truly taste like old fashion chicken noodle soup.  It has a deep flavor with soft pieces of juicy chicken and perfectly cooked vegetables.  I could not believe this came out of my slow cooker.  I kept patting myself on the back.  This recipe makes a ton so, I froze half the batch for next time the sniffles hit.  I also made a second foil pouch with an additional chicken breast which I kept for lunch.  If you like a lot of noodles in your soup you may want to up the amount because this is definitely more chicken heavy.  This time the slow cooker paid off.  I am not going to swear by the slow cooker like my sister until I pull off a few more slow cooker kitchen wins but, I am off to a good start with my new book in hand.

old fashioned chicken noodle soup
 source: slow cooker revolution

1 1/2 pounds bone in, skin on chicken thighs
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 carrots, peeled and medium chop
3 celery ribs, medium chop
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 cups low sodium, chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 (12 ounce) bone in skin on, chicken breast
1 1/2 ounces egg noodles
1/2 cup frozen peas

Dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Brown chicken thighs for ~4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate let cool and discard the skin.

Pour all but one tablespoon of the fat in the pan.  Add carrots, celery and onion and cook until vegetables are soft ~8-10 minutes.  Stir in garlic - red pepper flakes and cook ~30 seconds.  Stir in a cup of broth and loosen up browned bits and transfer all to the slow cooker.  

Stir in remaining 7 cups of broth and bay leaves to the slow cooker.  Nestle the cooked chicken into the slow cooker.  

Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and wrap in a foil pouch.  Lay the foil pouch on top of the soup.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

After 4-6 hours remove the foil packet and transfer to cutting board.  Transfer the thighs to the cutting board.  Let it cool to the touch and then shred into bite size pieces.  Discard the skin and bones.  Skim the fat off the surface of the soup and remove the bay leaves.  

Cook the egg noodles in boiling salt water until tender.  Stir in the noodles, chicken and peas.  Let them heat through for approximately 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve!

Monday, November 14, 2011

chocolate chip loaf

This month of the secret recipe club I was assigned the blog Lavender and Lime  Lavender and Lime is written by Tandy who is one cool, eco-conscience, fearless foodie in the kitchen.  She is super adventurous and if my family would join me in a more adventurous meal I would have tried to tackle one of her many incredibly delicious dishes she features.  Tandy tries to cook and buy local and organic which has been a goal for my family in 2011.  Tandy is also very involved and recognized in the food blog community.  I spent several hours reading through posts on her blog.  She really inspired me to push my boundaries in the kitchen.  I was planning on making her roasted vegetables but, then I saw she said her go to cake in one of her posts.  Go to cake?  I was intrigued and I needed to know about this go to cake.  I understand why this is a go to cake for Tandy.  Not only is it absolutely delicious but, it is versatile in term of add ins and how you bake/serve it.  I made mine as a loaf and served it as part of a brunch.  The next day I thought yum that cake would be awesome as a late afternoon snack with a cup of tea.  Tea pot on and I go to grab a slice of cake and it is poof gone!  My husband ate it for breakfast.  Tandy's go to cake did not last 24 hours in this house.  I know this will be requested and baked again in my kitchen. 

Happy Monday and thank you Lavender and Lime and Secret Recipe Club for another fun month.

chocolate chip loaf

125g butter (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon); room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
30g ground almond meal
35g self raising flour, sifted
100g cake flour, sifted
80g sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325.  Prepare a loaf pan by spraying with butter/flour baking spray. 

Beat the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy ~5 minutes.  Add 1 egg at a time, beating until just combined between additions.  Stir in the almond meal and half of the sifted flour and half of the sour cream.  Mix until combined.  Stir in the balance of the flour and sour cream.  Stir in the chips.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin.  Bake for ~60-75 minutes.  The loaf should be golden and split on top.  It took 75 minutes in my oven.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

dobos torte

The theme of supper club this month was your heritage.  How fun is that?  My dad's side of the family is Hungarian.  Many of the recipes my grandmother was known for were Hungarian.  My father recently passed along to me  a Hungarian cookbook my grandmother got from church. This little book is such  family treasure.  I sat down and read it cover to cover using my laptop to google ingredients and recipes along the way.  There were so many things I had never heard of so, I could not get a visual or flavor profile.  I attempted a coffee cake from it for Carter's birthday.  To say it was a lot of work is an understatement.  Dessert was my contribution for this round of supper club.  When googling Hungarian dessert the cake that most often comes back is the dobos torte.  There was a recipe for it in my grandmother's book but, there were many ingredients that I was not sure on and it had measurements like a block, a good amount and well when you are making and tasting something for the first time (at least in my kitchen) you need more guidance.  After making this cake I am questioning if any Hungarian cooking skills were passed down to me.  I really love Hungarian food but, it is not easy to make.

Here is what I learned ...

When making this cake make sure you have an extra dozen eggs on hand.  My first attempt at this cake was a flop.  I put all of the batter in an 12x17 sheet pan and it did not cook evenly.  

Soak your cake batter pan immediately.  The yolk mixture turns to a spackle that is very hard to get off.

The caramel layer in my opinion did not add anything.  I burnt the caramel which may have been the issue.  When you burn caramel in your pot add hot water and bring to a boil and the hardened mess will loosen up.

Use good chocolate for the frosting as it is the flavor you will taste. 

Google is rad.  If you ever try to make this google the dobos torte and read a few recipes as it was challenging

This cake is really very very good.  Not only is it beautiful looking but, it tastes really good.  The layers are light and spongy and have a custard flavor.  The frosting is not overly sweet there is a good cake to frosting ratio.

Loving supper club and all of my cool girlfriends who sit around the table with me on those nights.  Cheers to our Irish, German, Hungarian and Russian meal.

dobos torte

Cake layers:
7 large eggs, separated
3 large egg yolks
1 pound (3 1/2 cups or 455 grams) confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting racks
3/4 cup (94 grams or 3 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 pound (8 ounces or 227 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound (2 sticks or 226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Caramel layer (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water

Prepare two 13x9 cake rimmed sheets.  Please note you can use various cake pans depending on the shape and or amount of layers you want to achieve. Line the bottom of each with a sheet of fitted parchment paper, and coat with a butter-flour spray.  

Preheat oven to 450°F and place a rack in the center of your oven. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 10 egg yolks for a few minutes at high speed, until pale and lemon-colored. Reduce speed and gradually add sugar, then increase the speed and beat the yolks and sugar until thick and glossy. Scrape bowl occasionally with rubber spatula. Reduce speed again and gradually add flour; increase speed mix for 5 minutes more, then mix in lemon juice. Scrape bowl again with a rubber spatula. In a separate bowl with cleaned beaters, beat the 7 egg whites with a whisk attachment until they hold stiff peaks. Stir a few heaping spoonfuls of the whites into the egg yolk mixture to loosen it, before folding in the rest of the whites in three additions. The batter will transform from a dry paste to a spreadable, foamy batter.

Spread your batter in prepared pans. Use a cup or a scale to evenly measure the batter between the two pans.  Bake each pan for 5 minutes, or until golden with some dark brown spots. Thicker layers may take up to 2 additional minutes. When layer is baked, remove it from the oven and flip it out onto a cooling rack that has been dusted with a small amount of confectioners’ sugar. Carefully, gently remove parchment paper then flip cake back onto another lightly dusted cooling rack to finish cooling. It’s best to cool the layers right side up; the tops are the stickiest part.  Repeat with remaining layers. Layers will cool very quickly. Trim edges of cake, if needed, to make even shapes or divide larger rectangular pans accordingly.

Melt chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until soft and smooth, scraping frequently. Add vanilla and 3 egg yolks. Add sugar and cooled chocolate, beating until thoroughly mixed and scraping as needed.

Place four strips of parchment or waxed paper around the outer edges of your cake plate. Place first cake layer on plate and spread chocolate on top and to edges with an offset spatula. I used my tablespoon cookie scoop and used 2 scoops per layer.  Repeat with remaining layers (or all layers except one, if you’d like to do a decorative caramel layer), stacking cake as evenly as possible. Once fully stacked and filled, you can trim the edges so that they’re even.
Spread chocolate on outside of cake in a thin coat, just to cover and adhere the crumbs to the cake. Place cake in fridge for 30 minutes (or freezer for 5 minutes) to set the chocolate. Spread chocolate more thickly and smoothly to make a final exterior coat of frosting. Remove paper strips.

Lightly grease a sheet of parchment paper. Place last cake layer on this sheet. Use a cookie cutter of your choice, cut desired decorative pieces and set aside. Combine the sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan and swirl it until the sugar melts and begins to turn a pale amber color. Quickly and carefully, pour this (you’ll have a bit of extra) over the prepared cake layer and spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Leave in place, then cool completely. Arrange caramel pieces over cake.  Chill cake until needed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

pumpkin granola

What is a girl do do when she receives the cutest little sugar pie pumpkin in her CSA box?  A pumpkin that was too small to roast for soup or pie?  Obviously a pumpkin obsessed person like myself can't let a pumpkin go to waste.  I roasted that little baby up and pulled up a recipe for granola that I pinned during the last secret recipe club.

I truly enjoy granola on my yogurt and sprinkled on my oats but, the calorie and fat content typically prevent me from buying it.  I really enjoyed making it and being able to control the ingredients especially the amount of sweetener.  The version I made is not overly sweet.  It is sweet, salty, crunchy and very addicting.  Not sure having a low calorie granola helps when you are putting a handful in your mouth every time you walk through the kitchen. 

Pumpkin Granola
adapted: fat girl trapped in a skinny body

1/2 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup rice cereal
1/2 cup fiber one
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/3 cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 400.

Slice pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for approximately 1 hour.

Once pumpkin is cool then scoop out flesh and puree using a food mill or immersion blender.

** You could sub canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash ... 

Turn down the oven to 325 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with a silpat mat.

Mix the pumpkin, applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Mix the oats and cereals in another bowl. Dump the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until all of the dry ingredients are covered.

Dump and spread evenly onto the lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and give the granola a good mix around. Sprinkle the granola with the dark brown sugar and the pepitas on top of the granola. Bake for another 20 minutes.

Check to confirm that the edges are dark and the granola is crispy.  I turned my oven off at this point and let the granola sit in the oven as it cools down.  This resulted in really crunchy granola which in my opinion rocks.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

pumpkin cornbread

My pumpkin love fest week continues.  I saw an image of pumpkin cornbread on pinterest and it was love at first site.  Cornbread plus pumpkin are you kidding?  What could be better?  Why have I never had this before?  I could not stop thinking about the tall pieces of golden bread.   I knew what I was serving along side my pumpkin chili. The pumpkin flavor was not detectable in the chili but, the cornbread was a different story.  The pumpkin, spices and molasses flavor really shine in this bread.  I thought it was wonderful warm with butter and honey.  This is a great spin on your traditional cornbread for the fall.

pumpkin cornbread

1 cup flour 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 cup cornmeal 
2 eggs 
1 cup pumpkin puree 
1/4 cup canola oil 
1 tablespoon molasses


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, and cornmeal; set aside.
In a medium bowl beat the eggs with whisk, and then mix in the pumpkin, oil, and molasses.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined, and then pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Monday, October 31, 2011

slow cooker pumpkin and bean chili

Fall is my absolute favorite season.  There are so many reasons to love fall.  Was I the only one who got super excited about buying back to school supplies?  There was nothing like a fresh notebook, new crayons and folders with hello kitty plastered all over them.  New school supplies, back to school clothes, tennis season, colorful leaves, chilly nights, football games, hot apple cider and of course Halloween and Thanksgiving.  I have always had a love hate with Halloween.  My birthday is the day after so, when I was younger the celebrating part of my birthday always got lumped with a costume party.  Now I love that my birthday can easily get lost in the shuffle of Halloween and I can pseudo celebrate with friends and family on Halloween.  One thing that has remained true over the years is my absolute freakish love of all things pumpkin and candy corns.  In honor of my birthday I am dedicating this week to all recipes pumpkin.  My family doesn't love the pumpkin like I do but, it is my birthday and I will cook with pumpkin if I want to and they will eat because they won't want to see me cry on my birthday.  That is just mean.

I have been anxious to try out some new recipes in my new slow cooker.  Pumpkin chili seemed like a perfect fit.  I was a little skeptical that the pumpkin flavor and the tomatoes would clash but, the pumpkin is subtle and really acts more as a thickener then a bold flavor.  We all really enjoyed this chili and I know it will be on our tables for many fall seasons to come.

slow cooker pumpkin and bean chili
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped 
1 lb of ground beef
salt and pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of chili powder 
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
2 cups chicken broth
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of pumpkin (15oz)
1 can of diced tomatoes (28oz) 

Cook onion, green bell pepper and ground beef until onion is tender and the beef is done. Season with salt and pepper.

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add spices (chili powder - cumin) and mix thoroughly to release the flavors approximately one more minute.

Place meat, onion, garlic mixture into a slow cooker.

Add remaining ingredients.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Top with sour cream and cheese.  Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

frosted halloween oreo brownies



I have pretty much banned myself from Target.  I end up buying so many little things that I don't need that end up adding up to quite a bit of money.  I keep a running list of what I need and I try to go every other month.  Every visit I tell myself not to go down the baking isle but, sure enough my cart steers itself in that direction every visit.  This trip the baking isle was littered with Halloween seasonal items.  I limited myself to three items and well one container of fall sprinkles but, sprinkles don't count because they are small.  On this trip I got the Halloween oreos, cinnamon marshmallows and pumpkin spice kisses.  I have just realized that Target is not good for my waist or wallet.  Baking inspiration does not hit me daily like some bloggers/bakers.  Ideas slowly come to me but, after a few weeks I have an idea for each of my goodies.

First up oreo brownies with an oreo frosting.  I don't have a go to brownie recipe yet.  I know we like a chocolaty, dense, chewy brownie that is just a bit under cooked.  I cracked open my Joy of Cooking cookbook and used the brownie recipe from there.  These were very rich but, very addicting.  I kept slicing a tiny piece off on each visit to the kitchen.  This coming from a person who used to not really like cookies and cream flavor, frosting or brownies.  I chopped up my oreos into quarters and the cookies held up well but, adding more oroeos and keeping them whole would push these brownies into the down right sinful category.

frosted halloween oreo brownies
brownies: joy of cooking
frosting: sweetflours

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 halloween oreos; chopped

oreo frosting
4 ounces unsalted butter; room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese; room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons milk
5 oreos; finely crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a 9"x 13" pan for chewy brownies.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water or in the microwave. Stir to blend, then let cool completely; if the mixture is too warm, the brownies will be heavy and dry.

Beat the eggs and sugar together until frothy. Add salt and vanilla.

Stir the chocolate and butter into the eggs and sugar by hand. When the chocolate is almost completely incorporated, add the flour. Add oreos when the flour is almost completely blended in. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Cool completely.

Combine butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer.  When combined turn mixer to low and fluffy add in the confectioners sugar.  Mix throughly.  Add in vanilla and milk until combined.  Add in finely chopped oreos and mix until smooth, fluffy and incorporated.

Frosted cooled brownies and cut into squares.

Monday, October 24, 2011

compost cookies

Several years ago I was standing in a long line at Anthropologie.   The line was so long I had an opportunity to size up all the other people in line and people watch.  There was this girl who kept buzzing around.  She continued to stare at the girl in front of me and mill about.  The girl in front of me did not notice but, I did and I thought it was weird.  Finally this girl buzzing around approaches the girl and asks are you the author of some blog.  The girl said yes and there were shrieks, jumps, arms flailing and more shrieks.  The fan said I read your blog every day and I knew you were out in California and I can't believe I am meeting you. I did not really know about blogs at this time so, I figured this girl was straight up nuts. 

Now I know a little about blogs and a little about the blog community.  I am really having fun participating in the the secret recipe club.

Late Saturday evening I was called off the bench to help out the secret recipe club.   A member of the group had health issues and they needed someone to fill in.  I was on the fence not because I don't love the group but, because my husband was out for the night and the next day we had family plans. I was not sure when I would be able to make something, photograph it and write up a blog post but, then I saw what blog it was ... a fat girl trapped in a skinny body!!!   I love this blog.  I follow this blog.  I already had half a dozen of her posts pinned to boards on pintrest.  I could not pass this up. The author is Julia.  I have a lot in common with Julia.  She is a mother.  I am a mother.  She is a wife.  I am a wife.  She is a runner.  I am a runner.  She loves food.  I love food. She believes in eating really well and then having small indulgences.  That is totally my philosophy as well.  OK now for the super weird part.  She lives in Costa Mesa.  I live in Costa Mesa.  She actually has a post based on a local restaurant Banzai Bowls.  I literally live a few blocks from that breakfast spot.  This match up made me realize how small the blog world is.

I am kinda obsessed with Julia.  I kinda fell like if I see her in line at Trader Joe's or Banzai Bowls I may act like that freaky girl in Anthropologie.  She is somewhat of a local celebrity in my mind.  Julia I promise I will try to act cool if I do run into you on the streets.

Of the 6 recipes I already had pinned I only had the ingredients on hand to make one.  I am not at all disappointed.  These cookies are amazing.  They are chewy with a crisp edge.  The sweet is balanced so well with the salty crunch of the pretzels and chips.  Julia used pretzels and chips but, I tried to base my add ins on the flavors of a take 5 bar.  Based on the success of these cookies I am so eager to try the others I have marked including those banzai bowls!

compost cookies

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup snack food (pretzels, potato chips and oats)
1 cup sweets (mini peanut butter cups, mini caramel bites)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With a stand mixer, or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together for about 2 minutes. Add in the corn syrup, then egg, then vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add dry mix to the butter mix. Mix in the add-ins of your choice.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop cookie dough onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 12 minutes, until the edges are slightly browning.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

roasted banana pudding

The definition of a major full blown totally stinks bummer is your week long vacation to Punta Mita being canceled due to damn hurricane Jova.  A KID FREE week of sun, cocktails, beach, SLEEP and laughter swept away by a hurricane.  If that is not a bummer I really am not sure what is.  What does a girl do when her vacation has been taken away?  Dust herself off and tackle the long list of to dos that have been piling up before the holidays hit.  Nope not this girl.  This girl makes a big huge bowl of comforting roasted banana pudding to drown her sorrows in.  There is just something so homey and delicious about pudding.  Did eating this take away the vacation blues?  Nope.  Did it taste better then a poolside margarita?  Nope.  It did put a smile on my face as Carter and I both dug into the bowl from either side and talked about his trip to the pumpkin patch.  A day I would have missed had I been in glorious amazing Mexico.

roasted banana pudding
source: cooking light

5 ripe unpeeled medium bananas (about 2 pounds)
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) container frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed and divided
45 reduced fat vanilla wafers, divided

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place bananas on a jelly-roll pan covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Remove 3 bananas; cool completely. Peel and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Bake the remaining 2 bananas at 350° for an additional 20 minutes. Carefully peel and place the 2 bananas in a small bowl, and mash with a fork until smooth.

Combine milk and 1/3 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer (do not boil).

Combine remaining 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk. Gradually add hot milk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 3 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add mashed bananas, butter, and vanilla, stirring until butter melts. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until mixture comes to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Fold half of whipped topping into pudding.

Spread 1 cup custard evenly over the bottom of an trifle bowl. Top with 20 vanilla wafers and half of the banana slices. Spoon half of remaining custard over banana. Repeat procedure with 20 wafers, banana slices, and custard. Spread remaining half of whipped topping evenly over top. Crush remaining 5 wafers; sprinkle over top. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Monday, October 17, 2011

baked pumpkin oatmeal

This month of the secret recipe club I was assigned the blog adventures in all things food.  Adventures in all things food is written by Owen's mom.  She is a stay at home mom who explores food from the garden, to the kitchen and then on to the table for her family.  Her blog name really captures her journey well.  You will find recipes ranging from homemade ricotta, raviolis to pitas and tortillas.  These are items I know would taste so much better homemade but, I am scared to take the leap.  I think I would need a few hours in the kitchen without a child at my feet saying "up mommy up"?  I was not brave enough to tackle one of her more complex recipes but, I am a lover of oatmeal and when I saw her baked oatmeal I knew I need to make it.  I make oatmeal in some form every day for breakfast but, I never bake it.  Boy was I missing out.  Baked oatmeal is the BOM.  I am obsessed.  I mean seriously obsessed.  A piece in the afternoon is the perfect snack and the kids enjoy it too.  I changed up the recipe from apple cinnamon to pumpkin banana and if I had seen her recipe for homemade pumpkin puree before I made this I would have tried my hand at that as well.  If you like oatmeal do not wait any longer to make a baked version.  It is so yummy!

Happy Monday and thank you adventures in all things food and Secret Recipe Club for a fun month.

baked pumpkin oatmeal

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 bananas

Optional Toppings:
brown sugar
chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 8x8ish pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, pumpkin, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, butter, eggs and vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Slice bananas and place in bottom of the sprayed pan.  Pour oatmeal mixture over bananas.

Bake for 20 minutes or until oatmeal is set. Remove from oven and serve warm. Add additional toppings to baked oatmeal, if desired.

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