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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

peanut butter cup ice cream cake

Five.  I had no idea what new changes five was going to bring to my sweet boy.  He has an opinion now.  No longer does he want to let mom decide what is best for him.  He wants to assert his own opinion.  He will listen to mom and then choose pretty much the exact opposite of what mom was suggesting.  This new opinion first popped up while we were discussing Halloween costumes.  We flipped through one of the 50 Halloween catalogs we got in the mail.  I was suggesting all sorts of cool costumes but, he kept coming back to wolf.  OK wolf I can work with that.  I earmarked the wolf in a catalog and my mind was spinning.   I had sister in a little red riding hood outfit and brother in a cute furry wolf.  This was going to be so cute.  I showed Carter this wolf before placing the order and he shrieked "no mom not that wolf I want to be the blood wolf".  Ummm I am sorry a what?  He quickly flips past the cute wolf to this ugly disgusting werewolf with blood dripping off the fangs.  I explain that he can not wear this to school for the parade.  Does not phase him.  He wants the blood wolf.  We now have a blood wolf costume.  What happened to my cute spider, my friendly bat or the lovable alligator?  How did we go from cute spider to blood wolf in a year?  It breaks my heart.  As I was still trying to put the pieces of my heart back together and bake his traditional snickerdoodle cake he tells me that he no longer wants a snickerdoodle cake he wants an ice cream cake.  We do snickerdoodle for his birthday not ice cream.  I go into trying to sway mode and I get no where.  He wants a chocolate ice cream cake with peanut butter cup ice cream.  Ice cream cake I can deal with.  I don't like change but, ice cream cake (this good) I can deal with.  Blood wolf I can not deal with.  I have a feeling I am going to lose a lot of blood wolf battles this year.

peanut butter cup ice cream cake
adapted/inspired: betty crocker

1 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Heat oven to 350ºF. 

Grease bottom and side of 9" springform pan.  In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Stir vigorously about 1 minute or until well blended. Immediately pour into pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
marshmallow creme hot fudge sauce
source: bon appetit

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons marshmallow creme

Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso in a large metal bowl. Bring cream just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat; pour over chocolate mixture. Let sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth and glossy. Fold marshmallow creme into chocolate. Let cool, cover, and chill. 

Spread 1 cup fudge topping over cake; freeze about 1 hour or until topping is firm. 
* Save a small portion  (~1/4 cup)

peanut butter cup ice cream

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 cups chopped peanut butter cups

Whisk together first sugar - salt in a large heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk and whipping cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

Beat egg yolk  until slightly thickened. Gradually whisk about 1 cup hot cream mixture into yolk mixture. Add yolk mixture to remaining cream mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in vanilla bean paste. Cool 1 hour stirring occasionally.
Place plastic wrap directly on cream mixture, and chill 8 to 24 hours.

Pour chilled cream mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. While ice cream is churning cut peanut butter cups into bite size pieces.  Before transferring ice cream to an airtight container for further freezing, fold in peanut butter pieces.

Spread soft ice cream over cake. Freeze about 4 hours or until ice cream is firm.

marshmallow whipped cream
source: sweet flours

1 cup cool whip; thawed
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff

Combine cool whip and marshmallow fluff.  Spread on top of ice cream.

Drizzle with extra fudge sauce and garnish with mini peanut butter cups.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

caramel popcorn pretzel bars

Making these bars may have been one of my worst decisions. 

Let me set the scene.  I am going away next week.  It will be tropical, there will be water and there will be bathing suit wearing.  While all of my friends that are going are watching what they eat, hitting the gym a little more, and doing juice cleanses I am sitting on my couch catching up on Top Chef Just Desserts and eating these bars.  Sweet, salty and crunchy ... are you kidding me? Juice cleanse or caramel goodness?  I like a green juice but, not all day for 3 days.  Wait maybe I am the super smart one and made one of my best decisions.  I guess the bathing suit will be the judge next week.

caramel popcorn pretzel bars
source: everyday food

non-stick cooking spray

1 large plain microwave popcorn bag
4 ounces small salted pretzels
1 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cups heavy cream
1 cups mini marshmallows

Spray a 8" x 8" baking dish, a large mixing bowl and a spatula with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

Pop the popcorn.  While the popcorn pops coarse chop or crush the pretzels.  Add the pretzels to the bowl with the popcorn.

Combine the sugar, water & salt in a saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it begins to boil. Simmer, undisturbed, for 8-12 minutes, or until the mixture turns golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat & slowly stir in the cream. The mixture will bubble up quite a bit, so add it slowly! Add the marshmallows & stir until they have completely melted.

Pour the caramel over the popcorn & pretzels. Using the spatula, toss immediately to combine & scrape out into the baking dish. Use the sprayed spatula to press down the mixture to achieve a smooth surface.  Let the bars cool for 10 minutes. Use a serrated knife to cut 24- 2" squares.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

baked macaroni and cheese

There is the blue box that you will find in most pantries of homes with kids. You don't find it in this home.  I have never liked macaroni and cheese.  The powdered cheese just freaked me out as a child and I never got over it.  Some moms made it runny and others made it clumpy and chunky and then there were the moms that added things like peas and bacon in it.  I wanted none of it.  It still makes me cringe.  I don't make it for my kids.  I made it once and Brad put ketchup on his and that just took me to a new gross out level.  This is probably going to result in some life long damage to my kids but, I will deal with that in counseling 10 years from now.  Because I never liked the boxed stuff I kinda shunned the homemade gourmet versions as well. At Carter's party I thought I would made a homemade version for the kids.  I tore this out of People magazine and I have been watching Alton on the Best Thing I Ever Ate. I am always pleased with his choices so, I was hoping his mac and cheese would be a winner.  I like the quirky, brainy, foodie guys.  The kids were not a fan.  They like the blue box.  The adults really liked it.  I don't have much to compare it to but, I like that it was not overly cheesy and that you could taste the pasta, creamy cheese and the panko crunch on top was a nice finish.  I would definitely make this again even if the kids revolt.  More for me.  I have a lot of catching up to do on my mac and cheese consumption.
baked macaroni and cheese
source: alton brown
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.
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