Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Baking with Fresh Pumpkin

Smaller is Better
Choose sugar pie pumpkins or other flavorful varieties. Small and sweet, with dark orange-colored flesh, they're perfect for pies, soups, muffins and breads.
A medium-sized (4-pound) sugar pumpkin should yield around 1½ cups of mashed pumpkin. This puree can be used in all your recipes calling for canned pumpkin.
Field pumpkins, which are bred for perfect jack-o'-lanterns, tend to be too large and stringy for baking.

Choose Your Method
There are three ways to transform an uncooked pumpkin into the puree used in baking:
Baking Method
Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp. Save the seeds to dry and roast
In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil
Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for about 1½ hours for a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, or until tender
Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree or mash it
For silky smooth custards or soups, press the pumpkin puree through a sieve

Boiling Method
Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the stringy insides
Peel the pumpkin and cut it into chunks
Place in a saucepan and cover with water
Bring to a boil and cook until the pumpkin chunks are tender
Let the chunks cool, and then puree the flesh in a food processor or mash it with a potato masher or food mill

Microwave Method
Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the stringy insides
Microwave on high power for seven minutes per pound, turning pieces every few minutes to promote even cooking. Process as above
You can refrigerate your fresh pumpkin puree for up to three days, or store it in the freezer up to six months, enabling you to enjoy fall pumpkins for months to come.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons brown sugar

4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons chopped pecans

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour 18 muffin cups, or use paper liners.
To make the filling: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until soft. Add egg, vanilla and brown sugar. Beat until smooth, then set aside.

For the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Add butter and cut it in with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.

For the muffin batter: In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add eggs, pumpkin, olive oil and vanilla. Beat together until smooth.
Place pumpkin mixture in muffin cups about 1/2 full. Then add one tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture right in the middle of the batter. Try to keep cream cheese from touching the paper cup. Sprinkle on the streusel topping.
Bake at 375 degrees F (195 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Herb Veggie Dip Mix

1/4 cup dried parsley flakes
1/4 cup dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoons dried tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

Measure all into a ziploc baggie & seal until ready to use

Herb Mix Dip:
1 T. mix
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice.

Serve with assorted fresh vegetables.
Yield 1 cup dip

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tasty Cabbage Dish

This dish is easy, relatively healthy, tasty and inexpensive to make. These are the types of recipes I'm always on the look for and I've adapted this one by cooking my own lentils and adding some more goodies.


4 sausage links sliced into bite sized pieces (any good spicy sausage)
1 head of shredded green cabbage
1 medium/large yellow onion sliced into strips
1 tbs. olive oil
1 cup dried lentils
1 1/2 c. water/broth

Boil water/broth and add lentils, cook for 3-5 minutes. Reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes and taste to see if lentils are ready (they should smoosh when you pinch them between your fingers. Set aside when done.

In a big dutch oven or pot on medium heat coat bottom of pot with olive oil. Add sliced sausage pieces and brown. Add onions and stir in with sausage, cook for a few minutes. Add cabbage and broth/water just enough to help wilt down the cabbage. Cook until cabbage has wilted making sure to stir every few minutes. Add lentils and stir. Cook for a few more minutes just to get everything incorporated.


This dish is great with the Bean Sprout Salad in Outrageous Dressing (see next post).

Bean Sprout Salad in Outrageous Dressing

I made this the other night and it was really delicious!! It is excellent over the Cabbage Dish listed in the prior post.

Bean Sprout Salad in Outrageous Dressing


1 pound (or more) Mung Bean Sprouts (I sprouted my own at home- this takes only a few days and is very inexpensive)
1 cup cucumber - peeled and sliced

1/2 + cup carrot – grated

1+ cup sweet peppers (use as many colors as you like) – chopped

Any and all other tasty colorful vegetables

Outrageous Dressing

3 Tbs. tahini or crunchy peanut butter (or combination of the two)

2 Tbs. soy sauce

4 Tbs. vinegar

1 Tbs. hot red pepper oil

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. sugar

1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil

2 Tbs. corn, sunflower or vegetable oil

1 Tbs. ginger - minced

1 Tbs. garlic – minced

1 Tbs. scallions – minced

1 Tbs. white wine

1 tsp. hot mustard (optional)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)

bean thread or rice noodles (optional)


 Optional: poach mung beans for 1/2 - 2 minutes by putting them in rapidly boiling water, remove to strainer and cool with cold water. Drain well.

Mix all vegetables and sprouts in a bowl. Mix all dressing ingredients together and pour over sprouts + vegetable mix.

Chill and garnish with minced scallions and toasted sesame oil.
 Serve over bean thread rice noodles if you like (we do).
Serves 4

Monday, October 4, 2010

Beer-Thyme Mustard

1/4 cup brown mustard seeds

1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds

3/4 cup flat amber beer (or beer of your choice)

1 Tablespoon mustard flour

1 Tablespoon dried minced onion

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

Soak the mustard seeds in the beer overnight. About 20 minutes before you are ready to make the mustard, stir the mustard flour, minced onion and thyme into the soaked seed mixture and allow to sit.

Place the mustard mixture to a blender (or food processor) along with the vinegar and salt. Grind until the consistency of a paste, with some seeds remaining visible. Transfer to a glass jar, cover and refrigerate 4-5 days before using.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Quick and Easy Vegetable Curry


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cube vegetable bouillon
1 (10 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat oil and saute onion, and garlic until golden. Stir in curry powder and tomato paste, cook 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, vegetable bouillon cube, mixed vegetables, water, salt and pepper to taste. Cook approximately 30 minutes until vegetables are well done (not crunchy). Sprinkle with fresh cilantro prior to serving.

Friday, September 24, 2010


1 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. packed golden brown sugar
5 tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1 (8 oz.) pkg. softened cream cheese
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. Libby's solid pack pumpkin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine flour and brown sugar in medium bowl. Cut in butter to make a crumb mixture. Stir in nuts. Set aside 3/4 cup mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture into bottom of 8 x 8 x 1 1/2 inch basking pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Combine cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Blend until smooth. Pour over baked crust. Sprinkle with reserved topping. Bake an additional 30-35 minutes. Cool before cutting into bars. Makes 32 x 2 inch bars. If you double recipe and put in a spring form pan it makes a wonderful cheesecake (increase baking time).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Allspice String Beans


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons ground allspice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir garlic until lightly browned. Mix in green beans and water, and bring to a boil. Stir in allspice, salt, and pepper. Cover, and simmer 20 minutes, until green beans are soft.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


3 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp milk, any type
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
6 slices challah, brioche, or other egg bread

Preheat a griddle or large nonstick frying pan to medium-low heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla powder, cinnamon and milk, until smooth and slightly frothy.

Melt the butter on the griddle or in the frying pan.

Dunk each slice of bread into the egg mixture, making sure both sides are coated. Don't let the bread sit so long in the egg that it begins to fall apart, but do allow some of the egg mixture to soak into the bread. Place the bread slices on the griddle. Let cook 2-3 minutes on one side. When nicely browned, flip the slices and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until browned.

Serve hot, with additional butter and maple syrup.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sumac Chicken & Bread Salad


1 (3- to 3-1/2-pound) chicken
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground sumac-powder
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large red onions (about 1 pound), sliced thinly
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 pounds dense bread (such as farm bread or pane de casa), cut into 1-inch cubes
3 Kirby cucumbers, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1/4-inch slices, and tossed with a big pinch of salt
1 large ripe summer tomato, cored and cut into chunks
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste


Cut the back bone out of the chicken with kitchen shears and flatten the chicken. Season it generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Make a paste with the sumac and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and rub the paste into both sides of the chicken. Refrigerate on a plate—no need to cover—for about 8 hours. Or, if you haven’t planned ahead, just leave the seasoned chicken on the counter while you prepare the onions and bread.

Heat the oven to 375°F.

Put the onions and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Salt the onions and cook, stirring once in a while, until they are limp and turning gold at the edges, around 9 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Scrape the onions into a large mixing bowl and add the cubed bread. Toss.

Oil a casserole dish large enough to hold the bread in a single layer (I use a 12-inch round terra-cotta dish). Scrape in the bread and onions, and spread them out. Set the chicken on top of the bread and roast for 1 hour.

Set the chicken on a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Scrape the bread out into a big mixing bowl and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Add the cucumbers and tomato, squeeze in the lemon juice, and toss. Check for salt and pepper, and add more lemon juice if you want.

Pile the salad onto a platter. Cut the chicken into quarters and arrange it around the salad. It’s ready to serve.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


1-1/2 lb baby Yukon Gold or red-skinned new potatoes
1-1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 Tbsp grey salt
1-1/2 tsp fresh thyme or lemon thyme (leaves removed from stems and left whole)
2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut potatoes in half or thirds or quarters -- just make sure they are all approximately the same size. (Leave the skins on.) Place in a nonstick deep roasting pan, and add remaining ingredients. Toss with your hands, and distribute evenly in the pan. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, turn the potatoes, and roast for another 15 minutes or until the potatoes develop a nice crust on the cut sides. Serve warm.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bayou Pasta Salad

Ingredients :

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbl lemon juice
1 tbl Greek seasoning
8 oz vermicelli -- cooked
2 oz pimientos -- diced, drained
2 1/4 oz canned ripe olives -- sliced and drained
3 x green onions -- sliced
1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast

How to cook :

Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.
Add pasta and 4 ingredients, tossing to coat.
Garnish with sprigs of fresh parsley and grape tomatoes.
4 servings.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mustard Green Peppercorn Sauce

3 shallots, minced
2 teaspoons butter
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon green peppercorns (re-hydrate dried green peppercorns in a small amount of warm water for one hour prior to use)
½ cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt or to taste

Cook the shallots in the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, until they are soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add the wine and peppercorns (drained). Cook until mixture reduces by half, about five minutes.

Stir in the cream and mustard; boil until the mixture reduces slightly, just enough to coat a spoon, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.”

Green Peppercorn Sauce

1 1/2 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon crushed green peppercorns

1 teaspoon parsley, chopped

2 ounces brandy or white wine

Melt 1 1/2 teaspoon butter in sauce pan (or use it to deglaze a pan), add remaining ingredients, and bring to boil being careful not ignite the brandy.

Serve warm.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Jasmine Cookies (cooking with tea)


2/3 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon jasmine tea leaves, chopped


In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until well light and fluffy. Stir in the egg, then the flour. Mix in the tea leaves. Form the dough into a ball, and flatten to about 1 inch. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 15 minutes, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, and place on cookie sheets. Flatten slightly.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven until the edges begin to brown slightly. Remove cookies from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chipotle Chicken Burgers

I've been doing lots of cooking ever since we moved here and currently have lots of prepared foods in the back freezer in the garage. Items I've prepared and frozen:

Soups, pasta sauce, lasagna, chicken/eggplant parmesan, chili, tamales, twice baked potatoes and chipotle chicken burgers (my own recipe invented during preparation for last nights dinner). The chicken burgers were very tasty and a big hit so I wanted to share the recipe.

Chipotle chicken burgers:

Ground chicken (I used approx. 2 pounds)
Bread of your choice (not toasted) crumbled into small bits, 2-4 pieces
2 eggs
1-2 tablespoons chipotle chili
(the secret ingredient- awesome and smokey)
1-2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes diced
2-3 tablespoons feta
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Mozzarella for topping patties

Mix all ingredients (except the mozzarella) together and form into patties. Spray a cooking sheet and set patties in. Bake for 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until done. Top with mozzarella the last 5 minutes and let melt.

Serve on a bun with mayo, mustard, ketchup, avocado and lettuce or your choice toppings. I grilled up some onion and peppers to add as well. These will freeze well too so make extras. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vanilla Flavored Popcorn Recipe

- 3 quarts popped popcorn
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder

Pop the popcorn and set aside in a large bowl.
Combine the sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Allow to boil for about 2 minutes, stir occasionally. The mixture will be a light golden color.
Remove from the heat and add in the baking soda and vanilla extract. Stir until the baking soda is mixed in evenly.
Pour the mixture over the popcorn. Stir until the popcorn is evenly coated.
Pour coated popcorn out onto a surface lined with wax paper. Break the popcorn into smaller pieces and then allow to cool.
Store in a sealable plastic bag or an airtight container. If stored in a cool dry area, the popcorn should stay fresh for up to 2 or 3 weeks.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Anise Seed Borrachio Cookies


2 tablespoons anise seed
3 tablespoons rum
1 1/4 cups butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

Place the anise seeds in a small bowl with the rum. Set aside to marinate overnight.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the anise seed and rum. Mix in the egg. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and cloves; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. Place cookies on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown at the edges. Cool for a few minutes on baking sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.