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Monday, October 31, 2011

WITCH FINGER COOKIES and GOBLIN PIES

The kids and I spent Sunday afternoon baking up some halloween treats.
Mum passed on the recipe for the finger cookies, and my youngest son re-named them witch fingers. It was a deliciously fun way to spend the afternoon.

WITCH FINGER COOKIES


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons icing glue

ICING GLUE
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon water

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat until completely mixed.
Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 325F.
With your hands, roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a finger shape for each cookie. If the dough gets sticky and hard to work with, put it back in the refrigerator for a little while. Place fingers on an ungreased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart.
Use a butter knife to make knuckle marks on the finger cookies, Slightly flatten the front of the finger to create a nail.
Bake 20 minutes until slightly golden. Let cool on the cookie sheet, then remove to a rack.
Mix the icing glue ingredients together until the consistency of thin paste. Attach almond slice fingernails to tips of cookies.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Epicurious
www.epicurious.com/

GOBLIN PIES



FOR THE COOKIES
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup buttermilk

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups marshmallow spread
green food coloring

Heat oven to 350F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
To make the cookies, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium to beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
Add the pumpkin and mix to combine. Reduce the mixer to low, then add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.
Portion 16 mounds of batter (1/4 cup each) (I made them 1 tablespoon each, because I like a smaller bite).
Place the portioned batter on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each.
Bake until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, about 10 to 12 minutes (8 minutes for the smaller cookies).
Transfer the cookies to a cooking rack and cool completely.
When the cookies are cool, prepare the filling. In a large bowl, combine the butter and powdered sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium to beat until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and salt.
Add the marshmallow and beat until smooth, then add the green food coloring and beat until evenly colored.
(I added extra powdered sugar because my filling was runny)
To assemble, arrange 8 cookies on the counter, flat sides up. Divide the filling evenly between the cookies, about 1/2 cup per cookie, and spread in an even layer. The filling can also be piped onto the cookies.
Place a second cookie, flat side down, over the filling on each.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2008

Saturday, October 29, 2011

FRANKENSTEIN REVIVER and VAMPIRETINI and HALLOWEENIES and SPIDER COOKIES and JACK SKELLINGTON CUPCAKES

It has been a lot of fun getting ready for Halloween - the decorations, costumes, pumpkin carving, and of course the food.
I have been cooking up a frightful storm and hope there is something here that will liven up your Halloween night! Our family has particularly fond memories of the Halloweenies, as dear friends we would gather with, made these every year.

FRANKENSTEIN REVIVER


1/2 cup ice
3 tablespoons gin
3 tablespoons melon flavored liqueur
3 tablespoons orange flavored liqueur
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup or agave nectar

Place ice in a martini shaker or pitcher.
Add remaining ingredients, shake or stir until blended. Pour into 2 chilled martini glasses, straining out the ice.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Pillsbury Easy Halloween, 2011


VAMPIRETINI


3/4 cup of pomegranate juice
3/4 cup vodka
1/3 cup orange flavored liqueur
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons simple syrup or agave nectar
1 cup ice

In a pitcher mix pomegranate juice, vodka, liqueur, lime juice and simple syrup.
Place ice in a martini shaker or pitcher, add enough mix to fill shaker. Shake or stir until blended.
Pour into chilled glasses, straining out ice.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Pillsbury Easy Halloween, 2011


HALLOWEENIES


1 can crescent rolls
8 hotdogs
mustard for decoration

Heat oven to 375F.
On work surface, roll dough into a rectangle (I couldn't get the seams to join, so cut strips as best I could)
Wrap strips of dough around hot dog to look like a mummy. Press firmly at each end to secure. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!

SPIDER COOKIES


2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 bag of thin, short pretzel sticks
1 bag of chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
jellybeans, cut in half for the eyes

Heat oven to 350F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.
Gradually add the flour mixture and cocoa powder. Beat to form a smooth dough.
Roll a tablespoon sized ball of dough, and place it on a baking sheet. Arrange 8 pretzel sticks around the ball and press firmly into the dough. Continue with the rest of the pretzels and dough.
Bake until cookies start to brown around edges, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Lift the cookies from the baking sheets with a spatula, and place on wire cooking racks. Let cool completely. Place the racks on sheets of aluminum foil or waxed paper.
Melt the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in the microwave. Pour the melted chocolate over each cookie, press the jellybean "eyes" on the front of the head.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Epicurious
www.epicurious.com/

JACK SKELLINGTON CUPCAKES


2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red food coloring
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
FROSTING:
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR DECORATING:
toothpicks
icing or gel color of your choice

Heat oven to 350F.
Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners, set aside.
Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring together.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Reduce speed to low and beat in a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat. Then beat in remaining flour mixture until just combined.
Pour about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake cupcakes 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely before frosting.
With an electric mixer on high, cream butter until smooth. Gradually add confectioners sugar, scraping down sides as needed. Add vanilla and beat until smooth.
To Decorate:
Frost the cooled cupcakes, pipe decorators icing onto the top of the cupcake for eyes, two short lines for a nose, and a long line across the bottom of the cupcake for the mouth. Using a toothpick, scrape upwards through the mouth to form "stitches".
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October 2010

Friday, October 28, 2011

KEY LIME CAKE WITH LIME CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

KEY LIME CAKE WITH LIME CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

I came across the small delicious key limes in the supermarket, the same time as I came across this recipe for key lime cake.
I halved the recipe and cooked the cakes in two tins instead of one. I've included the original recipe, as my cakes came out a little dry. However, my kids said it was "the best frosting in the world" and that I "should become famous because of this frosting"
Although I halved the cake recipe, I didn't halve the frosting recipe - it was just enough, so if I made the whole recipe, I would double the frosting recipe!


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup margarine softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons PLUS 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
lime cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350F.
Coat 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with baking spray.
Beat butter and margarine together, gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add flour to egg-sugar mixture in three additions, alternating with buttermilk. Add lime juice, zest and vanilla. Mix well until blended.
Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.
Frost cooled cake with lime cream cheese frosting.

LIME CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1/2 cup butter
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 to 4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest

Blend butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar and lime juice. Add lime zest and mix.
Frost cooled cake,
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, August 2010

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SPINACH, GOAT CHEESE AND SAUSAGE LASAGNE and BEEF STEW WITH COFFEE AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS

Here are a couple of easy weeknight dinners.
I loved the flavors of the coffee and balsamic vinegar with the beef, and I know the lasagne was good, because my daughter had two helpings and my husband had it again the next day for breakfast!

SPINACH, GOAT CHEESE AND SAUSAGE LASAGNE



9 oven-ready lasagne noodles
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound of sweet Italian pork sausage (removed from casings)
15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 3/4 cups ricotta
8 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan
salt and pepper
3 cups baby spinach, chopped

In a large skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat. Cook sausage meat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Reduce the heat to low, add 1 cup of tomato sauce, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
In a bowl, mix the ricotta, goat cheese, eggs, basil, 1/2 cup parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
Spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of an 8x8 inch pan. Add 1/3 cup of the lasagne noodles on top. Place half the spinach on top, pressing down to make a flat layer. Add half the ricotta mixture, spreading it out in an even layer. Top with the sausage mixture and then another 1/3 of the noodles. Add the remaining spinach and cheese mixture, and top with the remaining layer of pasta. Pour the remainder of the can of tomato sauce on top of the lasagne noodles and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.
The lasagne can be prepared to this point and refrigerated up to 24 hours, or frozen for three months.
Heat the oven to 400F.
Bake the lasagne for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Parenting, December/January 2005
www.parenting.com/

BEEF STEW WITH COFFEE AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS



1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 to 3 pounds of beef chuck roast, cubed
olive oil
4 medium onions, sliced
1 1/2 cups cold coffee
1 cup beef stock
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 sprigs of fresh parsley
3 parsnips, peeled and cubed

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl, add the beef and toss to coat.
Heat enough olive oil to coat a large pot. Remove beef from flour mixture, shaking off excess. Working in batches and adding more oil as needed, brown beef on all sides, removing each piece to a plate as it browns.
In the same pot, over low heat, cook the onions in about 2 tablespoons of oil, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Add the coffee, beef stock and balsamic vinegar, increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Return the meat to the pan, add the parsley, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 2 hours. Remove parsley and add the parsnips, cover and cook 45 minutes more, or until the parsnips are tender.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, February 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

CHILI SAUCE KALE CHIPS

I whipped these up for a pre-dinner snack - and they were absolutely delicious!
The next time I make them, I'll make one tray with olive oil and salt for the kids, and one tray with sriracha for the adults. I ended up breaking off pieces without the chili sauce for my children, because they were begging to be able to eat the chips!

CHILI SAUCE KALE CHIPS



1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves cut or torn into 2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 to 5 teaspoons sriracha sauce
coarse salt

Heat the oven to 300F.
Wash and dry kale and place on a baking sheet (kale will shrink as it cooks).
In a small bowl, stir together oil and sriracha and drizzle over kale, season with salt.
Using your hands, toss to coat.
Bake until kale is crisp and just beginning to brown at edges, about 35 minutes, tossing kale every 10 minutes.
Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food, May 2011
www.marthastewart.com/food

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BUTTERSCOTCH PUMPKIN MUFFINS and PUMPKIN COOKIES

I love the combination of pumpkin and butterscotch in these two recipes - and so do my children!!
The cookie recipe comes from a wonderful lady, Susan, who ran a meal delivery business. Dinner to my door once a week was an absolute life saver when I had small children! I recently took the cookies to a play date, and they received many compliments. I didn't have time to cook the whole batch before leaving the house, so wrapped the remaining dough, popped it in the refrigerator, and cooked them up the next day - they turned out beautifully.

BUTTERSCOTCH PUMPKIN MUFFINS




1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 350F.
Coat muffin cups with nonstick spray or line with paper liners.
Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until well blended.
Gradually stir in flour mixture, then fold butterscotch chips into the batter.
Divide the batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, filling cups 2/3 full.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until muffin tops spring back when touched lightly with a finger.
Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack and cool completely.
Enjoy!

PUMPKIN COOKIES



2 cups flour
1 cup butterscotch morsels
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin
1 cup oatmeal
1 12 ounce package of white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350F.
Line cookie sheets with tinfoil.
Process butterscotch morsels in a food processor, until fine.
Cream butter and both sugars. Add egg and pumpkin. Mix well.
Add flour, processed butterscotch morsels, and baking soda. Beat until well mixed. Stir in oatmeal, white chocolate chips and walnuts.
Drop teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet, bake for 12 to 14 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe from Susan Lovett.

Monday, October 24, 2011

ARUGULA APPLE SALAD WITH MAPLE BACON VINAIGRETTE and WARM ARUGULA SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE, HARD BOILED EGGS AND BACON

Arugula is one of my absolute favorite greens - I love the flavorful, spiciness it brings to a dish, and I  use it as much as I can.
These are both great fall salads - the first I made for my brother and his family, and the second as a light, comforting dinner to help ease the sadness once they had gone.

ARUGULA APPLE SALAD WITH MAPLE BACON VINAIGRETTE



1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
1 apple, cored and diced
6 ounces of arugula

Whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar and mustard. Continue whisking and slowly add oil, until well blended.
Add chives, salt and pepper and bacon, stir well.
In a large bowl, combine apple and arugula. Drizzle with vinaigrette, then toss to coat.
Enjoy!

WARM ARUGULA SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE, HARD BOILED EGGS AND BACON


6 cups of arugula
2 bacon slices
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 5.5 ounce log goat cheese, coarsely crumbled

Divide arugula among 4 to 6 plates.
Cook bacon until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain, finely chop and set aside. Drain excess drippings from pan.
Whisk olive oil and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Heat remaining bacon drippings, add shallots, saute until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add olive oil mixture and whisk until just heated through, about 1 minute.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over arugula. Sprinkle with eggs, goat cheese and bacon.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, 2009
www.bonappetit.com

Saturday, October 22, 2011

GREEN TOMATO BREAKFAST CAKE

I was talking with a friend yesterday afternoon, who had harvested the last of her summer produce before the frost came, and was looking for ideas for her green tomatoes. I made this breakfast cake last week, and although it sounds a little unusual, it tastes absolutely wonderful.

GREEN TOMATO BREAKFAST CAKE



1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 green tomatoes, cored and sliced
2 teaspoons turbinado or granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F.
Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
Cream butter and sugar. When slightly fluffy, beat in eggs and vanilla.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt, and mix into the creamed butter mixture, beat well. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Arrange green tomato pieces on concentric circles over batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and cinnamon.
Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until cake is firm and golden.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com/

Friday, October 21, 2011

FRENCH 75 and PEACH BOURBON SOUR

A couple of quick, yummy cocktails to kick off the weekend! Typically a French 75 is made with gin, but, in an interesting twist,  this one is made with cognac - either way is festive and delicious.

FRENCH 75


ice
1 1/2 ounces cognac
1/2 ounce simple syrup or agave syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
sparkling wine

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the cognac, simple syrup and lemon juice and shake well. Strain into a martini glass, top with sparkling wine and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, 2010
www.foodandwine.com/

PEACH BOURBON SOUR



1/2 cup peach preserves
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey
3 tablespoons lemon juice
garnishes: lemon slices, fresh basil sprigs

Whisk together the peach preserves and hot water in a glass pitcher until the preserves are dissolved. Whisk in bourbon and lemon juice.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add one third of bourbon mixture, cover with lid, and shake until thoroughly chilled. Pour over ice into 2 glasses. Repeat with remaining bourbon mixture.
Garnish if desired. Serve drinks immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, December 2009
www.southernliving.com/

Thursday, October 20, 2011

CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND TARRAGON CREAM SAUCE and TRAY BAKED CHICKEN

Both of these chicken dishes are simple and quick enough for a week night dinner, but elegant enough for company. They definitely taste and present better than they look in these pictures!

CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND TARRAGON CREAM SAUCE



1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken breasts
3/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, or dried tarragon
2 teaspoons dijon mustard

Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cook until brown, about 5 minutes on either side. Transfer chicken to a plate.
Add shallots to same skillet, reduce heat to medium-low. Saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add brandy, simmer until liquid is reduced, scraping up browned bits, about 2 minutes.
Whisk in broth. Return chicken to skillet, reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 20 minutes. Transfer to platter.
Whisk cream, tarragon, and mustard into same skillet. Increase heat to high, boil until sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2003
www.bonappetit.com/

TRAY-BAKED CHICKEN



FOR THE BRINE
1 quart water
2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/3 cup honey
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs fresh sage, leaves only
1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
juice and zest of 1 lemon

FOR THE BAKE
4 chicken breasts
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 sprigs sage, leaves shredded
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 2/3 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup heavy cream
a few pats of butter

Mix brine in a large bowl, add chicken. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate 2 to 8 hours.
Remove chicken, let come to room temperature. Drain chicken, discarding brine, and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat oven to 350F.
In a roasting pan, toss the bacon, veggies, garlic and sage with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour in broth, cook 30 minutes.
Remove pan from oven, pour in cream and sprinkle with pepper. Add chicken, dotting pats of butter on each piece. Cook 35 minutes, or until chicken is golden.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish, January 2011
www.relish.com/recipes/

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

PUMPKIN PIE and PUMPKIN PIE MILKSHAKE

My daughters birthday was last week, and she requested pumpkin pie milkshakes, and a pumpkin pie for her birthday cake. I love this recipe because of the very subtle spiciness of the ginger and the white pepper, and because it is from a treasured cookbook that a friend gave me years ago.

PUMPKIN PIE


2 pie crusts
4 cups pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, very finely chopped
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Position a rack in the lower half of the oven, and heat oven to 425F.
Place 2 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, one on top of the other, directly on the surface of each pie crust to weight it down. Bake the crusts until they turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 5 minutes more to crisp the crust slightly, then set them aside.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.
Place the pumpkin puree, ginger and half-and-half in a mixer and beat until smooth, about 4 minutes.
Mix in remaining ingredients (except the whipped cream) until well blended.
Pour the filling into the pie shells, dividing it evenly, and smooth the tops.
Bake until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean, 45 minutes to an hour.
Let cool on a wire rack to room temperature.
Serve dolloped with sweetened whipped cream.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Celebrate, Sheila Lukins, 2003

PUMPKIN PIE MILKSHAKE



1 cup canned pumpkin pie mix
1 cup milk or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups vanilla ice cream
4 graham cracker squares
graham crackers and whipped cream for decoration

Combine pumpkin pie mix, milk and vanilla in a blender, blend until smooth.
Add ice-cream, blend until smooth.
Add graham cracker squares, pulse until small chunks remain.
Pour into glasses, garnish with graham cracker pieces and whipped cream if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Halloween Food, Fun and Crafts 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BLACK PEPPER-BROWN SUGAR BACON

BLACK PEPPER-BROWN SUGAR BACON

We treated our visitors to a Southern breakfast, biscuits and gravy, grits, bacon, sausage, coffee, orange juice and eggs from our back yard chickens. I wanted try this sweet and spicy dish, as my "new recipe of the day".



1/2  pound bacon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar

Heat oven to 350F.
Place bacon on a rack-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with black pepper, then brown sugar.
Bake until crisp, 35 to 40 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine, 2011
www.rachaelraymag.com/

Monday, October 17, 2011

BEER BAKED WHITE BEANS and POTATO SALAD WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO CREAM

One of the first meals for our fabulous overseas guests, had to be my husbands incredible, fall-off-the-bone ribs.
To complete the menu, with a twist on the traditional, I made these two sides, and added ready-made coleslaw and baked beans.
The beer baked white beans didn't photograph very well, but they received many compliments, and the bowl was scraped clean.

BEER BAKED WHITE BEANS



6 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced small
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 sprigs rosemary
1 can of white beans, such as great northern or cannellini
1 bottle of ale
3/4 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar

In a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, cook bacon until it is crisp and browned. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
In the same pot, add onion and garlic to cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add mustard and honey, cook 1 minute.
Add rosemary, beans, beer and broth, season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on stovetop about 2 hours. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and vinegar.
To serve, stir in reserved cooked bacon.
Enjoy!

POTATO SALAD WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO CREAM



2 pounds of white potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled

DRESSING
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and patted dry
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, optional

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing, and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and mix gently until evenly coated. Taste again for seasoning and adjust as desired.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook, 2001
www.williams-sonoma.com/products/the-williams-sonoma-cookbook/

Thursday, October 13, 2011

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES WITH BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLE REMOULADE

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES WITH BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLE REMOULADE

My brother and his wonderful family were visiting from New Zealand and with all the excitement, we didn't sit down to dinner until 9pm. To tide us over I made this light appetizer, to give them a taste of the South. It was proclaimed to be divine, but nothing could be as divine as the company.



4 large green tomatoes
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup plain white cornmeal
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
2 cups flour, divided
vegetable oil
bread and butter pickle remoulade (recipe to follow)

Cut tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices. Sprinkle both sides of tomatoes evenly with salt and pepper.
Pour buttermilk into a shallow dish or pie plate. Stir together cornmeal, creole seasoning, and 1 cup flour in another shallow dish or pie plate.
Dredge tomatoes in remaining 1 cup of flour. Dip tomatoes in buttermilk, and dredge in cornmeal mixture.
Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a large skillet, heat over medium heat to 350F.
Fry tomatoes 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden.
Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt to taste.
Serve with bread and butter pickle remoulade.

BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLE REMOULADE

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup creole mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped bread and butter pickles
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon file powder
salt and pepper to taste

Stir together all ingredients.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2009
www.southernliving.com/

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CHEWY MOLASSES SQUARES and TOFFEE DESSERT DIP

Everything just seems to taste better when eaten outdoors!!
We were invited to spend the night camping with friends, on their beautiful property on Beaver Lake, and I offered to bring dessert. Both of these treats are child and adult friendly - in fact I was surprised my oldest, who tends to be a picky eater, loved the chewy molasses squares, and although the dip looks like raw cookie dough, it tastes delicious!
According to Wikipedia, unsulfured molasses is made from mature sugar cane, and doesn't require the addition of sulfur dioxide during the sugar extraction process. I'm not sure of the taste difference, but this recipe specified the use of unsulfured molasses.

CHEWY MOLASSES SQUARES



1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsulfured molasses
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Heat oven to 350F.
Lightly coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
With mixer running, add molasses and egg whites and beat until combined, then add flour mixture and beat until combined.
Transfer batter to dish and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
Let cool completely in dish on a wire rack. Invert cake onto a cutting board and cut into 1 1/2 inch squares.
To serve, toss in confectioners sugar to coat.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food, March 2011
www.marthastewart.com

TOFFEE DESSERT DIP



2 blocks cream cheese, softened
8 toffee bars (I used a bag of the crushed heath bars found in the baking section of the supermarket)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Crush toffee bars into small bits.
Add all ingredients together, and mix on medium speed until blended.
Refrigerate for about an hour.
Serve with apple slices or pretzels.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Northwest Arkansas Times, June, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

POPPER SLIDERS and BLUE CHEESE COLESLAW and CREAMY PECAN COCONUT TARTS

We were getting together with dear friends, and I wanted to make something casual but spectacular. 
My plan was to spend as much time as possible visiting with our friends, as opposed to in the kitchen with the food. This was achieved by preparing the side and dessert in advance, and having my husband grill the meat. 
The sliders delivered a burst of flavor - a little spice which was nicely balanced with the creaminess of the cheeses, the coleslaw was lovely, and the creamy pecan coconut tarts topped off this simple meal beautifully.

POPPER SLIDERS



3 fresh jalapenos
1 red fresno chile pepper
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
a small handful of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper
2 pounds ground beef
sharp cheddar, thinly sliced
12 small rolls, split (I used Kings Hawaiian rolls)

Preheat outdoor grill.
Cut off and discard the tops of the peppers, slice in half long ways, scoop out the seeds, and slice the peppers into strips.
Heat a little olive oil in a skillet, add the jalapeno and fresno peppers, and toss for a couple of minutes until crisp-tender and charred at the edges.
Combine the cream cheese, onion, garlic, cilantro and cumin, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Season the beef with salt and pepper, form patties using about 1/4 cup of meat. Coat with olive oil, grill for 5 minutes, flip and top with some cream cheese mixture and sliced cheese.
Grill with the lid down until the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve on the rolls topped with pepper strips, and we also put cooked bacon slices on ours - yummy!!
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from 30 Minute Meals by Rachael Ray

BLUE CHEESE COLESLAW



8 bacon slices, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
14 ounces purchased coleslaw mix
1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. Transfer to paper towels.
Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, and honey in large bowl.
Stir in coleslaw mix, cheese and bacon, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
(The recipe says you can make it 2 hours ahead, however, next time I make this, I would mix in the mayonnaise immediately before serving - it wouldn't add much to my kitchen time, and the vegetables would remain crisp)
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, September 2008

CREAMY PECAN COCONUT TARTS



2 packages mini-phyllo pastry shells
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup caramel topping

Heat the oven to 350F. Bake pastry shells on a baking sheet 3 to 5 minutes (if not already baked). Cool completely.
Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until blended. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon or pipe cream cheese mixture into pastry shells. Cover and chill.
Stir together pecans, coconut and butter in a small bowl. Spread mixture in a 9 inch square pan. Bake at 350F for 10 to 15 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally.
Let cool 30 minutes. Sprinkle each tart with about 1 teaspoon of pecan mixture, drizzle with caramel topping.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2010

Friday, October 7, 2011

CAPETOWN COLLINS

My plan for the the day was to clean out the toy closet - but when a friend invited us over for a play date I jumped at the chance to leave the clutter behind for a while. I had been wanting to try this cocktail recipe, and I couldn't think of a better place than in her gorgeous backyard. I loved the refreshing combination of the tea and gin, and the subtle rosemary flavor brought it all together beautifully.

CAPETOWN COLLINS



1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
6 large fresh rosemary sprigs, divided
1 rooibos tea bag 
1 cup gin, divided
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
ice cubes

Bring the water, sugar, and 2 rosemary sprigs to boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Reduce heat to low, and simmer until syrup measures generous 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Add rooibos tea, boil in syrup for 10 minutes. Remove tea bag.
Mix half of rooibos syrup, 1/2 cup gin, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake well, then strain into 2 ice-filled collins glasses. Repeat with remaining syrup, gin and lemon juice. 
Garnish drinks with rosemary sprigs and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2008
www.bonappetit.com

Thursday, October 6, 2011

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD

I wanted something super quick and delicious for a play date. This recipe was recently in the paper, and we had some very ripe bananas - perfect!!
By the end of the play date, the banana bread was all gone - but my son did graciously offer to lay down his fork and stop eating for a minute, so I could snap this picture.

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD



1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 to 4 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 package chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F.
Grease a loaf pan.
Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
In a separate bowl, mash bananas. Add the eggs, sugars, vanilla and oil, and beat until thick.
Fold in the flour mixture, stir until just blended. Add chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 1 hour, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan 15 minutes, then turn the bread out onto a cooling rack.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, September 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CHICKEN CHILI and BLONDIES

A friend came to help me decorate for the fall - it is such a beautiful time in the Ozarks - and Noel always does an amazing job!!
With the cooler weather in mind, I made a fall inspired dinner - perfect with a glass of wine, and great company.

CHICKEN CHILI



2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup leeks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 pound of ground turkey
3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 (16 ounce) can of garbanzo beans
2 teaspoons pickled jalapeno, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper
shredded cheddar cheese, fresh chopped parsley and sour cream to serve

Heat oil in a saucepan, add leeks and garlic, saute 5 minutes.
Add cumin and ground turkey. Cook until turkey is browned. Add chicken, beans, jalapeno, and broth. Bring to a boil, simmer about 20 minutes.
Serve topped with cheese, parsley and sour cream.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com

BLONDIES



3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks of unsalted butter
3 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to lowest position.
Heat oven to 325F. Spray a 9 by13 baking pan with cooking spray.
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Then heat butter and brown sugar in a large pan until bubbling hot.
Whisk eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Slowly whisk hot sugar mixture, then dry ingredients into eggs.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, then bake until blondies are just set, about 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Cut blondies into bars and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from USA Weekend, May 2006
www.usaweekend.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

PANCAKES

Friends spent the night, because their house was being painted, and I made them my favorite pancakes for breakfast!! These always bring back wonderful memories!! We stayed at Elaines Bed and Breakfast last spring break, right outside of Albuquerque, and she not only made us these delicious pancakes, but generously shared the recipe. They always turn out light and fluffy and yummy and I was excited to treat our guests, as we had been treated.

PANCAKES


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups buttermilk
1 to 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter and then the vanilla essence and buttermilk.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the buttermilk mixture into the well, and whisk very gently until the buttermilk mixture is just incorporated - be careful not to overmix.
Heat a skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Brush the pan bottom with 1 teaspoon oil.
Using 1/4 cup batter per pancake, add the batter to he skillet and cook until large bubbles begin to appear, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 1 1/2 minutes longer.
Remove the pancakes from the pan and keep them warm until ready to eat.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
www.amazon.com/Americas-Kitchen-Cookbook

Monday, October 3, 2011

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD WITH HAZELNUTS and MAPLE SYRUP AND APPLE BRAISED PORK WITH HORSERADISH MASH and ALMOND CAKE WITH BUTTER PECAN FROSTING


We had a wonderful couple for dinner, who in a week will be welcoming their third child - so I wanted to do something special.
This is one of my favorite fall meals - I love the baked squash paired with salad greens, and this pork is so tender with just a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup. However, I did get to chatting, and was distracted while cooking, so put the apples on the salad instead of with the pork!
This cake is super moist, and so incredibly simple and delicious! I tried putting sliced almonds in the frosting instead of the pecans, but they were chewy and didn't work as well as the pecans, so I have included the original recipe. I cut out circles from the cake when serving, for a more elegant presentation, but any way you slice it, this cake is a keeper.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD WITH HAZELNUTS



3 1/2 cups diced butternut squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts (I boiled the raw nuts, then HAND PEELED them - in hindsight, not necessary)
3 cups arugula
3 ounces prosciutto, sliced and I also pan fried it, because I prefer it cooked
1 1/2 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

Heat oven to 425F.
On a baking sheet, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until tender. Spread the (HAND PEELED) hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for 6 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then chop.
In a large bowl, toss the arugula, prosciutto, chives, hazelnuts and squash.
In a small microwave safe bowl, mix the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the vinegar and hazelnut oil and season with salt and pepper. Microwave the dressing until hot, about 1 minute. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss well and serve.
Enjoy!


Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, February 2009

MAPLE SYRUP AND APPLE BRAISED PORK WITH HORSERADISH MASH



4 (4-ounce) pork filets
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup apple juice
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 large apple, cored, peeled and cut into thin slices
3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon horseradish
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Brush pork filets with dijon mustard. Heat oil in a large pan and saute on high heat for 2 minutes on each side, or until brown and crisp.
Combine apple juice, maple syrup and lemon juice, add to pan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until pork is tender, turning occasionally and spooning sauce over the top. Add apple during the last 10 minutes of cooking time.
Meanwhile, boil potatoes until tender, mash with butter milk, horseradish, pepper and salt to taste. Keep warm. Remove pork from pan, cover with foil, keep warm.
Boil remaining liquid until thick and syrupy.
Serve pork on mashed potatoes, and spoon sauce over.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, May 2002

ALMOND CAKE WITH BUTTER PECAN FROSTING



CAKE
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup water
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract

BUTTER PECAN FROSTING

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 to 3 cups of powdered sugar
1 cup of chopped pecans, toasted (to toast, spread nuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes at 350F)

CAKE
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine butter and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Add flour, sugar, sour cream, eggs, salt, baking powder and almond flavoring, whisking until smooth. Spoon into a buttered 9 by 15 cake pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown.

BUTTER PECAN FROSTING
Combine butter and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, whisk in almond flavoring, add powdered sugar gradually, whisking constantly until it is of spreading consistency, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in pecans and spread on warm cake as soon as cake is removed from oven.
Enjoy!