Friday, September 30, 2011

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting recipe

All right y'all! (Imagine Paula Deen saying that, please).  Week 2 of pumpkin goodness!  This week, one of my colleagues moved on to a new job and it was also her birthday.  I also had a cup of pumpkin left from making these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!  I finally settled on Paula Deen's Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.  I added some nutmeg, because what is a pumpkin recipe without both nutmeg and cinnamon?  Also, I'm not sure if this is allowed in the world of our favourite Southern belle/chef, but I reduced the amount of oil and butter in the bars and the frosting, and guess what?  The bars were delicious!!  They got rave reviews at work too.  For more amazing pumpkin recipes, check out the "Pumpkin Party" over at Keep it Sweet! (Also note the beyond gorgeous bottom plate that I bought this weekend at Anthropologie! I'm in love.)

Pumpkin Pie Bars
From Paula Deen

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased a 13x9 inch pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool completely before frosting.  Cut into bars.

To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Potato Chowder

potato chowder recipe

Sometimes you know something is bad for you, but you eat it anyways because it just tastes so darn good!  This potato chowder is definitely one of those dishes.  N made this chowder a while back, when I was still in my sick/too busy/no motivation to cook phase.  Luckily he likes to experiment in the kitchen, and the results are usually pretty good!

Potato Chowder

2 links spicy sausage, sliced
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
2 onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cups milk
1 cups light cream (18%)
2 cups light sour cream
2 baking potato, washed and grated
1 red pepper, diced
2 or 3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large stock pot, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate.  Drain some of the bacon fat.

Add diced chicken and sliced sausage to the pot and cook through.  Then add the onions and celery. Sauté until the vegetables soften.  Add the milk, cream, sour cream, grated potato, bay leaves, and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat until the potato has dissolved and thickened the soup, about 20-30 minutes. Season with pepper.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brussels Sprouts and Chicken Pizza

My love of brussels sprouts is well documented.  As is my love of pizza.   Last summer, I had the famous brussels sprouts pizza from Motorino's in New York.  The recipe below is very loosely based off of that pizza, but trust me it is a poor imitation.  The pizza at Motorino's is divine.  This pizza is very good, but different.  I think the key is that we needed much more and much better quality olive oil and of course pancetta.  The recipe below is well worth trying.  It is tasty and if you like brussels sprouts, you will definitely like this!

Brussels Sprouts and Chicken Pizza

1 flatbread crust
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded brussels sprouts
Salt and pepper
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup part-skim mozzerella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Let sit while you prepare the chicken and brussels sprouts.

Preheat oven to 400°F or 425°F depending on the directions for your flatbread.

If the chicken is already cooked, shred it into bite sized pieces. If you need to cook the chicken, season it with salt and pepper and cook it in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat for 6 to 7 minutes per side. Let the chicken cool slightly, then shred using a fork.

Wash brussels sprouts.  Cut off bottoms and peel outer layers.  Using a sharp knife, cut the brussels sprouts into thin strips or put through a food processor until shredded.  Season the brussels sprouts with salt and pepper.  Mix with one tablespoon olive oil.

Brush the flatbread with the olive oil mixture.  Spread the brussels sprouts and chicken over the flatbread.  Sprinkle the cheeses on top of the pizza.

Cook based on the directions of the flatbread or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe

Today is the first day of fall!! I know for many, it has felt like fall for a while and for some fall starts the day Starbucks brings back their Pumpkin Spice Latté, but today it is official.  So to celebrate fall, I give you the yummiest fall cookies - Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!  I will most likely be baking these over and over throughout the season.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Family Friend Deb

1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin (not canned pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup diced roasted almonds (optional)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg, pumpkin, and vanilla.  In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Add to creamed mixture cup by cup and mix well.  Stir in almonds and chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoons onto a well greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes up to 6 dozen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chicken with Potatoes, Bacon, and Chard

chicken with potatoes, bacon, and swiss chard recipe

So I've been absent for a while now, being sick for a few weeks, then having no motivation to cook, and then a really fun weekend trip with my girlfriends.  But I'm back! On the way home from my trip, I picked up the October issue of Real Simple magazine at the airport.  The cover advertised "A Month of Easy Dinners," and it was definitely not false advertising.  I had a hard time picking a recipe from among the 20 weeknight dinners, but finally settled on this recipe for Chicken with Potatoes, Bacon, and Chard.  We had some leftover bacon, and I wanted to make sure that it got used.  Bacon is a really hard sell you know... okay maybe it isn't at all.  Anyways, the meal was a huge success.  The entire meal was fantastic and so quick to prepare (30 minutes)!  It was even good as leftovers for my lunch!  Our grocery store didn't have savoy cabbage, so I substituted green chard.  The chard was awesome.  I would definitely cook the chard like this even without the chicken and potatoes.  I'm looking forward to trying some of the other recipes.

Chicken with Potatoes, Bacon, and Chard

3/4 pound new potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 head green chard

Heat oven to 425°F.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Roast, tossing once, until golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook until golden brown and cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes per side.

In a second large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes; remove.  Add the shallot, mustard, and vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot is soft, 2 minutes.  Add the chard and cook, tossing, until wilted, 4 minutes more.  Serve with the chicken and sprinkle with the bacon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chili Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Ginger Glaze

N has a very sophisticated method for searching for recipes.  The other day we had taken a pork tenderloin out of the freezer, but hadn't picked a recipe for it and I wasn't very inspired to come up with something on my own.  Plus, we were out all day and went straight to the grocery store.  Sitting in the grocery store parking lot, N whipped out his fancy phone and typed in "best pork tenderloin recipes."  Clearly everyone who calls a recipe "best" must be telling the truth, right??  I was completely skeptical of this approach, but we ended up with a lovely dinner.  Maybe not the "best" pork tenderloin ever, but it was definitely full of flavour! (And bonus for me, N made it and I got to relax!!)

Chili Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Ginger Glaze

2 (1 pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed

Spice Rub:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups apricot preserves
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced

Place chili powder, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper in a jar; shake to blend. Rub spice mixture onto pork tenderloins. Cover tenderloins and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.

Prior to grilling, melt apricot preserves in saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from the heat and stir in remaining glaze ingredients. Place half of the glaze in a serving bowl and hold for service.

Prepare grill at medium-high heat. Grill pork tenderloins for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 160 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer.

When approximately 4 minutes of cook time remains, brush the pork tenderloins with the apricot glaze remaining in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, turn the pork tenderloins and brush glaze on other side. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove pork from the grill and let set for about 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with reserved glaze.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Poulet au Riesling

coq au vin recipe

I've mentioned the cookbook that my mom put together for me and my sister before, and I'm about to share with you another lovely, delicious gem from it! My aunt contributed, among other recipes, the recipe for Chicken in a Pot or Poulet au Riesling. I had never had it before making it last night, but I will definitely be making it again and again. I can understand why it is one of my aunt and uncle's go-to recipes!

The only issue with the dish was that by the time I got it cooked, it was nearly 9:30 pm before we were able to eat it! Now, the dish is fairly time consuming - it took about an hour and 15 minutes for me to cook it. But that wasn't really the issue. So why was it that I started cooking dinner after 8 pm?? Well, at 6:30 I decided to make my aunt's recipe instead of the Quick Coq au Vin recipe that I had seen earlier in the day on the Cooking Light website. At that point, I figured I could run to the grocery store and have dinner on the table by just after 8, and in our house that is a reasonable time to eat. Also at that time, it seemed like the mens' US Open final between Djokovic and Nadal was almost over. So, I went to the store. But when I came home, the match was still on! I was going to just make dinner, but N kept calling me in to watch, because the match was almost over.  I went in at least 10 times and finally I just had to go sit and watch until Djokovic won!  Moral of the story, I probably should have made the "quick" version of the dish, but in the end my aunt's version was so good that I didn't mind that I had to wait to eat it (and I got to watch some awesome tennis)!!

Chicken in a Pot (Poulet au Riesling) 
From Auntie Carol

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pound (about 4 thick slices) pancetta or bacon
4 lbs. bone-in chicken
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 pound forest mushrooms, sliced fairly thin
4 medium carrots, sliced (my addition)
3 cups Riesling wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream (I substituted 1 cup light cream)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a heavy stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter with the oil. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and cook them until they are crisp. Lift bacon out of pan and set aside.

Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Arrange skin down in the fat in the pan and brown. Lift the chicken out and set aside. Discard all but 3-4 tablespoons of the fat. Reduce the heat to medium and sauté the onion and garlic, cook and stir until soft but not colored. Add the mushrooms and carrots and continue cooking until heated through, about 3 minutes. Bring the heat to high, pour in the wine. When it comes to a full, rolling boil put the chicken back in the pot. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer gently, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan. Add cream and boil until sauce is reduced somewhat and starting to thicken. Return chicken to the sauce. Add parsley and serve with hot buttered noodles as a side.

chicken in a pot recipe

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tomato and Corn Pie at Eat Yourself Skinny

tomato and corn pie recipe

Hi Everyone, today I'm guest posting over at one of my favorite food blogs - Eat Yourself Skinny!   Kelly, the Eat Yourself Skinny writer, was on vacation all week so she's had lots of really fun contributors all week long, and now it is my turn to share a recipe.  So go grab some tomatoes and corn at the farmers' market and head on over to Eat Yourself Skinny for the recipe for this fabulous Tomato and Corn Pie!

Friday, September 9, 2011

My favorite cookies

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

About 10 years ago, I "created" my first recipe.  Later, I realized that others had come up with a very, very similar recipe, so I felt a little, tiny bit validated.  The cookie recipe was a mimic of the Doubletree Hotel's cookies.  If you've never been to one, I'm sorry.  For me, they pretty much win the best check-in experience, because they (at least used to) give you warm cookies upon arrival.  We stayed at one of these hotels for my cousin's wedding when I was in high school, and immediately after eating the cookies I was on a quest to make them for myself.  The result was the recipe below, and when I finally Googled "Doubletree Hotel cookie recipe" out of curiosity last year, an almost identical recipe popped up.  I was glad to know that great cookie loving minds think alike.  Anyways, my family, friends, my mom's students, and countless others have enjoyed these cookies for the past 10 years, so I thought I'd share the recipe with you.  When I made these the other day, N said to me "don't forget the sugar," in reference to several recent failed attempts at cookie baking.  I was able to assure him that these cookies were different.  They are tried and true, and full of sugar!

My Favorite Cookies (Special Oatmeal Chocolate Chip)

1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2-1/2 cups rolled oats
12 oz chocolate chips (try to use Ghirardelli's)
1-1/2 cups crushed pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.  Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice and blend well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.  Next, blend in rolled oats, with either your blender or a spoon.

Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts).  Drop cookie dough using a tablespoon onto a baking sheet.  Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown at 350°F.  Makes 3.5 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Corn Fritters and BLT Salad

N made this awesome dinner for us a few weeks ago, and I'm sorry it has taken so long for me to get it up! This is a two-for-one post.  N had recently watched an episode of "Chef at Home" with Michael Smith (this is a Food Network Canada show), and Chef Michael made corn fritters and a BLT salad.  Luckily for me, N makes dinner a few times a week, and he decided that the corn fritters and salad needed to be ours for dinner.  It was delicious!

Corn Fritters
From Michael Smith Chef at Home

3 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cobs
3 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
Salt and pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Whisk corn and eggs in a large bowl.  Add flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper and mix well.  Stir in green onion and cheddar.

Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium heat, then add batter by the spoonful and flatten to form a pancake.  Cook until golden, flip and cook other side.

BLT Salad
From Michael Smith Chef at Home

10 slices bacon, chopped
1 head iceberg lettuce, washed and roughly chopped
A few handfuls of mixed baby greens or baby spinach, washed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed
Half a baguette, cut into one-inch cubes
2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Fry the bacon until is brown and crispy, pour off all the fat. Drain on paper towels.

Brown baguette on all sides in a frying pan with a bit of butter.

Put lettuce, greens and tomatoes into a large salad bowl. Add bacon bits and toasted baguette.

Place dressing ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until emulsified. Pour over salad and toss well.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grilled Red Snapper and Mango with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

Hi this is Kim today! It is the prefect time for me to jump in and contribute a recipe, as Kelsey has been under the weather for the past week. I am lucky to have a husband who loves to fish and he caught the Red Snapper that I used in this recipe on his annual fishing trip in British Columbia in June. This was a bonus catch in addition to the salmon and halibut that he brought home.  I have not cooked this particular fish but one other time, so I hit the Internet to find a recipe for it.  I actually found the recipe on but it was originally from Bon Appétit.  I was a little skeptical at first, as I like cilantro, but was not sure if 5 tablespoons would overpower the fish.  I decided to follow the recipe and was not disappointed.  Both Tim (Kelsey’s dad) and I loved this recipe.  It was light and refreshing and the grilled mango complimented the Red Snapper.  This will be a keeper for us to use over and over.  The only thing I would do differently is to marinate the fish and mango for longer to see if the flavor could be enhanced.   From the other reviews online, I saw that you could use other mild white fish such as halibut, which I will try next.  Enjoy this recipe while grilling season is still around!

Grilled Red Snapper and Mango with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
Bon Appétit July 2003

6 tablespoons olive oil 
5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel
4 5- to 6-ounce red snapper fillets
1 large mango, peeled, cut into thick wedges
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (I did not have cumin so I substituted ½ tsp cayenne Pepper)
8 large red-leaf lettuce leaves

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Whisk oil, 4 tablespoons cilantro, limejuice, and lime peel in small bowl. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Brush all sides of fish and mango with some of vinaigrette. Reserve remaining vinaigrette to pour over fish after grilling is done. Sprinkle fish and mango with salt, pepper, and cumin seeds. Grill fish without turning until fish is just opaque in center and mango is soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. (Tim actually turned our snapper and grilled both sides as we had thick slices and doing so feel that he may have overcooked it)

Overlap 2 lettuce leaves on each of 4 plates. Top with fish and mango. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle with 1-tablespoon fresh cilantro.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Great Grandma's Cream Puffs

cream puffs recipe

My Great-Grandma Rose was an incredible woman.  Whenever we visited her in Tampa, Florida, she would be up at the crack of dawn baking cookies and cakes, squeezing fresh orange juice, and starting to prep the many dishes that would make up lunch and dinner.  As a little kid, visiting Grandma Rose was heaven.  All the cookies you could ever want... ready in time for breakfast!!  But my two favourite treats that she made were cream puffs and her angel food cake (with the most sinful icing ever).

I decided that I wanted to challenge myself this past weekend and make something a bit more difficult that usual.  After scanning the cookbook that my mom put together for me, I picked Grandma Rose's Cream Puffs.  I thought that making these cute little pastries would be a challenge, but I was pleasantly surprised that making them turned out to be easier than I thought.  Okay, cream puffs aren't easy. They definitely require diligence and patience, but my expectation was that they'd be a lot more difficult!  Cream puffs are time consuming, but if you are patient and follow the directions to a "T," I think you can make these yummy treats too!

Cream Puffs
From Great Grandma Rose

For the puffs
1/2 cup butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
1 cup sifted flour
3 eggs beaten

Add butter and salt to boiling water and stir over medium heat until mixture boils.  Lower heat and add flour all at once and stir vigorously until mixture leaves side of pan and forms ball around the spoon.  Remove  from heat and add 1 egg at a time beating thoroughly after each addition.  Drop one tablespoon of mixture onto baking sheet.  Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes and then turn oven down to 350°F and cook an additional 20 minutes.  Do not open oven until the end of the cooking time!!

For the cream filling
2/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups of milk
2 eggs or 4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons of butter

Combine dry ingredients in top of double boiler; stir in milk gradually.  Cook over boiling water until thickened; stirring constantly.  Cover and cook 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally (I turned it down slightly).  Stir a little of the hot mixture into slightly beaten eggs.  Slowly stir in remaining hot mixture.  Cook over hot water (not boiling) for 2 minutes stirring constantly, but gently - you don't want scrambled eggs!  Add butter to hot cooked filling.  Chill slightly and add vanilla.  Chill before filling the puffs.  Fill the cream puffs just before serving.  Sift powdered sugar over top of the cream puffs.

To fill the cream puffs:  Fit a small tip onto a pastry bag.  Fill the pastry bag with the cream filling.  Cut a small "X" into the side of each puff.  To fill, insert the pastry tip into the hole formed by the "X" and fill until the cream starts to come out of the hole.
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