Monday, September 15, 2014

Pumpkin spice loaf cake

Behold, my first pumpkin recipe of the season! I couldn't wait any longer! Over the weekend I decided it was high time to kick off pumpkin season with this pumpkin spice loaf cake. This loaf is pretty simple to make and while I usually love to toss in nuts and/or chocolate chips when I make pumpkin baked goods, I wanted this to be all about the pumpkin and pumpkin spices that we all crave in the fall. While baking, the whole place smelled of warm pumpkin spice, which was perfect for a crisp day. This is a lovely treat for after a day outside or with a hot cup of tea for an autumn weekend snack.

This recipe will make one 9 x 5-inch loaf. Most quick breads/loaf cakes have at least one cup of sugar in them, but I almost always cut down the sugar. Feel free to add more for a sweeter cake. I dusted it with powdered sugar only to make it look prettier for the photo - that's completely optional. A glaze would also be nice, or a smear of pumpkin butter on individual slices would be even better.

Have you made your first pumpkin recipe of the season yet??

Pumpkin spice loaf cake
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon (my favorite)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
butter, for greasing the pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through baking soda). In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (pumpkin puree through sugar). Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a wooden spoon until combined.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan and spread the batter evenly. Bake for about 55-65 minutes, until the loaf is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out cleanly.

Set on a wire rack to cool and then gently slide the loaf out onto a cutting board. Slice and enjoy.

What was I cooking one year ago?: Indian-spiced eggplant, cauliflower, and chickpeas
Two years ago?: chicken tikka masala
Three?: Spanish rice
4?: celery root and apple puree

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jalapeno popper chicken chili

Soup and chili season is arriving! I absolutely love making and eating a hot and hearty soup when the weather is crisp and cool. My husband and I took a walk at the nearby park yesterday evening and noticed that the leaves are starting to fall and that they were crunching under our feet. The squirrels were packing away acorns, crane flies were hovering over the grass, and the smell of fall was in the air (although it's still a bit warm). It's my favorite time of the year.

We had a ton of jalapenos that needed to be used up and I found this recipe is from Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice. I adapted it as written below. This soup packs a punch of heat from all the jalapenos, but the creaminess mellows it out making a smooth flavor combination. This recipe will serve about four people and the leftovers are even better. 

Jalapeno popper chicken chili
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 slices bacon 
1 small onion, diced
5 jalapenos, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
3 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 can (14-15 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (14-15 oz.) white beans, such as cannellini
1/2 cup frozen corn
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed 
1/3 cup minced cilantro
shredded cheddar cheese, for serving

Place the chicken thighs in a pan with a lid. Cover with water and simmer with the lid on until they are cooked through. Reserve the cooking water and set the chicken aside to cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

In a large soup pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour out the bacon grease leaving a couple teaspoons in the pot. With the heat on medium, add the onion, jalapenos, and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, and some salt and pepper and cook for another minute.

Pour in the tomatoes and about 1 cup of the chicken poaching liquid. Add the corn, beans, and chicken and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Stir in the cream cheese. Continue to stir until the cream cheese is melted and thoroughly mixed. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. If the chili is too thick, you can add a bit more poaching liquid.

Crumble the bacon into the chili. Stir in the cilantro and top with shredded cheddar cheese for serving.

What was I cooking one year ago?: Hasenpfeffer with dill dumplings
Two years ago?: baked potato soup
Three?: zucchini bread
4?: watermelon rind pickles

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Honey walnut pie

This pie was my husband's birthday dessert pick for this year. I had been wanting to try a honey walnut pie based off of my maple pecan pie for a while now, so this was the perfect reason to give it a try. I modified the recipe just slightly and it turned out super yummy. If you are lucky enough to have access to (and the patience for) collecting and preparing black walnuts, they are in season right now. I cheated and bought walnuts from the store, but I did use local honey. The pie turned out really delicious - similar to a pecan pie, but with a different flavor. It's really sweet from the honey, so a little piece goes a long way. This pie would be a very nice addition to your Thanksgiving table this year, or for any fall meal.

I've been posting less frequently lately - it's been a somewhat difficult few months for me. It's not something I want to go into details about, but it's been both physically and emotionally challenging so I haven't been cooking as much lately as I would like. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things soon. 

Honey walnut pie
1 single pie crust recipe (my two favorites: olive oil and lard)
1-1/4 cups walnut halves
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar, preferably unbleached cane sugar
1 cup runny honey
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake just until fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove, set aside, and bump up the oven to 400 degrees. 

Fit the pie crust to a 9-inch pie pan. 

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Then whisk in the sugar until dissolved. Stir in the honey, butter, vanilla, and salt until combined. Then stir in the walnuts.

Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until the pie puffs slightly, the walnuts are golden, and the pie is set, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until serving time if not eating that day.

What was I cooking one year ago?: tomato, bacon, and jalapeno skillet pie 
Two years ago?: tomato jam 
Three?: Thai basil chicken 
4?: peaches and cream tart

Monday, August 25, 2014

Blueberry button cookies

It's been pretty warm around here lately and blueberries are still in season. We just stocked up on a few quarts and froze them for the rest of the year and I used some of them to make these cute little blueberry button cookies for a family picnic. This recipe comes from Taste of Home magazine and I marked it to try as soon as I saw it. The cookies were definitely tasty and pretty cute, though the texture and even the smell reminded me of a mini blueberry pancake! I think that if I made them again I would refrigerate the dough for a while to help keep them from spreading so much. However, they still turned out good and were a hit at the picnic. 

With September just around the corner, I know I'm not the only one who is starting to think of fall... However, it's not quite time for fall foods yet and these blueberry cookies are a nice addition to a late summer table. The below recipe is my slightly adapted version (the original is at the link above). It will make about 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

Blueberry button cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup blueberry juice cocktail
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 to 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

for the glaze:
1 cup icing cugar
about 2 tablespoons blueberry juice cocktail 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl cream together the butter, sugars, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Beat in the yogurt, juice, and vanilla until combined. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients mixing until just combined. 

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheets 2-inches apart. Press four blueberries into each cookie to resemble a button. 

Bake for 11-14 minutes, until the bottoms and edges are golden. Set the cookies on a wire rack to cool. Repeat with any remaining dough.

When the cookies are almost cooled, prepare the glaze. Slowly stir the blueberry juice into the icing sugar until it reaches a glaze consistency. Spread some glaze over each cookies and let dry.

These cookies are best enjoyed the day they are made.

What was I cooking one year ago?: crabapple mostarda
Two years ago?: peach-nutmeg frozen yogurt
Three?: zucchini pancakes
4?: spiced peach butter

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thai-style omelets

I recently remembered eating big puffy and somewhat crispy eggs in Thailand and wondered why I had never attempted to recreate this dish at home. It's really just a simple omelet, although it's not folded and stuffed like we would often think of when we hear the word. Also, with Thai-style omelets, you want some brown on your eggs and some crispness. These were often part of a larger family-style meal and always served with rice. I made mine into individual omelets and served them with Sriracha and some pickled cabbage I made the night before along with Jasmine rice for a complete and quick dinner. 

This dish is a nice change-up from your typical eggs and turns them into a meal suitable for lunch or dinner. The recipe below is for one individual serving omelet. I simply used scallions, but you could add other things like shallots, cooked pork or chicken, etc. You'll want to get some egg and rice together in each bite (Sriracha is a must for me). 

Thai-style omelets
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon fish sauce
pinch of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 scallion, thinly sliced with greens and whites separated 

In a small cast-iron or other non-stick skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Whisk the eggs, fish sauce, black pepper, and lime juice together in a bowl until fluffy. Then stir in the scallion whites.

Pour the egg mixture into the hot pan. Leave the eggs to sit until they set and start to turn fluffy and golden. After about 2-3 minutes, flip the eggs with a spatula and cook for about 1 minute on the other side, or until they are cooked through.

Serve immediately topped with the scallion greens and a side of Jasmine or white rice and Sriracha, if desired.

What was I cooking one year ago?: crabapple mostarda
Two years ago?: summer squash macaroni & cheese
Three?: Galumpkis 
4?: shiitake hazelnut pate