Friday, October 31, 2014

Pumpkin Bread

Happy Halloween!  I hope everyone has a safe one.

Today's recipe is for a delicious, moist, and did I mention delicious Pumpkin Bread.  I found this recipe on "America's Test Kitchen" website.  This is not your average Pumpkin Bread recipe.   The major difference in this recipe is that the pumpkin puree is cooked down which intensifies the pumpkin flavor.    I loved the toasted walnuts and cream cheese flavors along with the warm spices that went into the batter.  The batter is topped with a delicious sugary-cinnamon topping that adds extra goodness to every bite.

This recipe makes 2 loaves which I was glad of because the first loaf disappeared.

Pumpkin Bread
From America's Test Kitchen


5 tablespoons packed (2 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces
4 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine


1. FOR THE TOPPING: Using fingers, mix all ingredients together in bowl until well combined and topping resembles wet sand; set aside.

2. FOR THE BREAD: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in bowl.

3. Combine pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until reduced to 1½ cups, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove pot from heat; stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and cream cheese until combined. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until no visible pieces of cream cheese remain and mixture is homogeneous.

4. Whisk together eggs and buttermilk. Add egg mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine. Fold flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until combined (some small lumps of flour are OK). Fold walnuts into batter. Scrape batter into prepared pans. Sprinkle topping evenly over top of each loaf. Bake until skewer inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let breads cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove breads from pans and let cool for at least 1½ hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fluffernutter Hot Cocoa

I love saying Fluffernutter.  However, more than I love saying Fluffernutter, I love drinking this rich and creamy drink.  It is absolutely delicious with the taste of chocolate and peanut butter with some creamy marshmallow fluff.

This would be a great drink to warm up those trick-or-treaters as they come home.  Better yet, have yourself a cup as you wait for them and are handing out your own treats:)

Fluffernutter Hot Cocoa
From Saveur

1¼ cup milk
¼ cup marshmallow fluff, plus more for serving
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
Pinch Kosher salt

Heat milk in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat until just beginning to bubble at edges, about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, let sit 1 minute and whisk until smooth. Top with additional fluff to serve.
Makes 1 serving

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cranberry Grilled Cheese

Who doesn't love a Grilled Cheese sandwich?  The ultimate sandwich from my childhood.   There are so many variations to this classic sandwich.  In this recipe, cheese is mixed with fresh cranberries and grilled.  What could be easier.

You can create an very tasty lunch in a matter of minutes.   The fresh cranberries added an extra zing to the sandwich and complimented the flavor of the cheddar cheese.  A perfect sandwich for enjoying during the fall season.

Cranberry Grilled Cheese
From Bon Appetit  Magazine


1/2 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
4 slices sandwich bread
Unsalted butter
Dijon mustard


Combine cheddar with cranberries. Spread one side of 4 slices sandwich bread with butter; spread mustard over 2 slices and top with cheese mixture.  Close sandwiches.  Heat a dry medium skillet over medium and cook sandwiches, pressing down occasionally, until golden brown and cheese is melted, about 4 minutes per side.

Makes 4 sandwiches

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

There is a crispness in the air.  Fall is here and soup weather has started.  I love soup.  To me, it is a great way to create amazing one pot meals that are both hearty and delicious:)   Today's recipe got its' inspiration from the classic comfort dish Chicken Pot Pie.

This soup has the same wonderful flavors of Chicken Pot Pie- carrots, peas, celery, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, and chicken.  These ingredients are cooked in a broth consisting of white wine, chicken broth, spices and herbs, and heavy cream.  Everything is simmered together and the soup is ladled into bowls and topped with a puff pastry round.  Talk about delicious.  A very appetizing soup that is hearty and rich.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup


1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/3 cup flour
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1 medium russet potato peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast
1 (10 ounce) bag frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1/4 cup heavy cream


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut 6 (3- inch)  rounds from the puff pastry sheet.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake round for 12 to 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Keep warm.
2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven.  Cook the mushrooms, celery and diced onions for about 6 minutes.  Stir often.
3. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables.  Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.  Pour in the chicken broth and wine into the vegetable mixture.   Add the diced potatoes, salt, thyme leaves, pepper, and rubbed sage.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Stir occasionally.
4. Stir in the remaining ingredients (except the puff pastry rounds) into the soup.  Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes until the peas, carrots, and chicken are hot.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each serving with a puff pastry round.

Makes 6 servings

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hot Chocolate Mix

It is the time of year for Hot Chocolate.  I love having a hot mug in the evening as I have some "me" time.  Usually, I just buy packets of Hot Chocolate mix, but today I made some from a recipe I found in Cook's Illustrated magazine.

This recipe is super simple and takes very little time to make.  I was wondering to myself why I didn't make my own mix before.  All of the ingredients - sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa powder, nonfat dry milk, cornstarch, vanilla extract and salt are pulsed together in a food process.  Your mix is ready.  All you have to do is heat some milk, add 1/4 cup of the mix to the milk, whisk and pour the hot chocolate into a mug and serve. A rich chocolate taste with a smooth velvety texture that makes you feel good.

You can serve by itself, topped with a marshmallow or whipped cream.

A perfect drink for chilly nights.  This mix would also make a perfect gits for the holidays.

Hot Chocolate Mix
From Cook's  Illustrated Magazine
A Cup of Goodness


1 cup sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt


 Process all ingredients in food processor until ground to powder, 30 to 60 seconds.  Transfer to airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 2 months.

To Make Mug of Hot Chocolate:  Heat 1 cup of whole, 2 percent low-fat, or 1 percent low-fat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts to steam and bubbles appear around the edge of the saucepan.  Add 1/4 cup of hot chocolate mix and continue to heat, whisking constantly, until simmering, 2 to 3 minutes longer.  Pour the hot chocolate into a mug and serve.

Makes 1 serving

Recipe makes twelve-1-cup servings

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Slow Cooker Carne Adovada

Carne Adovada is a favorite New Mexican dish of mine.   Pork that has been cut into chunks cooked in a rich red chili sauce.  Delicious:)    You can eat Carne Adovada with a flour tortilla or corn tortilla, use it as filling for  tacos, burritos or by itself served over rice.

I have never made Carne Adovada in a slow cooker before, so I was delighted when I found a recipe using a slow cooker.  In reading over the recipe, I found some ingredients I haven't used in my traditional recipes.  Soy sauce, brewed coffee, and raisins.  Hmmm - I had to think about that.  I remembered reading somewhere when you are first trying a recipe follow the recipe as instructed.  So I did and  I was very pleased with the outcome.

The result was more than delicious than I could have imagined.  This was the best Carne Adovada I have ever made or eaten.  Being from New Mexico I have eaten alot.   The sauce was rich and thick so it coated the meat perfectly.  The pork was very tender and flavorful.   The lime used in the recipe brought out the flavors in the recipe and added an extra "pop" to the dish.

The family loved this dish.  The first night I served it over rice with a lime wedge for garnish.  The next day I used it in breakfast burritos.  The flavor was actually better the second day.  Try some - it is easy and delicious:)

Slow-Cooker Carne Adovada
From Cook's Country 


1 (4-to-5 pound) boneless pork butt roast, pulled apart at seams, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 onions chopped
1/2 cup chili powder
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (parsley can be used in a pinch)
1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus
1 tablespoon lime juice

1. Season pork with salt and pepper. Combine pork and soy sauce in slow cooker.  Combine onions, chili powder, garlic, oil, chipotle, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl.  Microwave, covered, until onions have softened and mixture is fragrant, about 7 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving.
2. Puree broth, coffee, flour, raisins, and onion mixture in blender until smooth, about 1 minute.  Stir sauce into slow cooker, then scrape down any sauce from side of cooker with rubber spatula.  Cover and cook until pork is tender, 5 to 6 hours on high or 6 to 7 hours on low.
3. Turn off slow cooker, let stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon.
Stir in cilantro and lime zest and juice.  Let sit for 15 minutes to thicken slightly.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

The last of the tomatoes for this season.  What better way to use them than  in some savory Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts.  Usually when I see the word tart, I back away from making the recipe.  I do not like rolling out dough.  This recipe is different - little rolling out required and no mixing of dough.  Puff pastry sheets are used.  Thank you Ina Garten.    All you need to do is roll out (very little required) two puff pastry sheet and then cut 4 six-inch circles.  Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until you are ready for them.

Know for the filling.  Onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme - I love fresh thyme are sauteed together.   Remember those pastry circles that were cut out.  First score a 1/4-inch border around each one and prick with a fork.  Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on each circle and top with your onion filling.  Top the filling with a slice of tomato and sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper.  The recipe calls for fresh basil but mine in the garden didn't look too good some I used 1 teaspoon of dried basil that I sprinkled over the four tarts.    Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

These tarts are very appetizing.  All the flavors compliment each other without any being overpowering.  I was a little worried about the onions being that the recipe called for 4 cups.   Perfect for a light lunch or as a starter.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
From Ina Garten


1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves


Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

Makes 4 tarts