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.