Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes- A Delicious Way to Start the Day!

My family loves having breakfast foods for dinner during the cooler months of the year, so earlier this week I decided to try making Pumpkin Pancakes. I had just enough pumpkin left over from making the Pumpkin Bread Pudding a few days earlier. I must say that these wonderful pancakes are delicious! They are not too sweet or too spicy, but flavored just right for a perfect Autumn breakfast, (or dinner!). Son Number 2 LOVED them, so I've made them twice already. This is the son that is reluctant to try new foods, so these pancakes surprisingly won him over! Actually, my whole family loved them, so this recipe is a deffinate keeper, as I'm sure I'll be making them often. The only trouble I had with these pancakes was trying to take a good picture before the butter melted! Here's the recipe.

Pumpkin Pancakes - slightly adapted from Martha Stewart
In a large bowl, add these ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour ( I subbed 1/4 cup whole wheat flour for the 1/4 white)
2 T. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger ( Martha calls for 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
In a separate bow, mix together:
1 cup milk
6 Tablespoons canned pumpkin
2 T. melted butter
1 egg
Fold these ingredients into the flour mixture.
In a skillet or griddle over medium heat, add oil or butter; pour about 1/4 cup batter for each
pancake. Cook about 3 minutes per side and serve hot with butter and syrup. Yields about 8-10 pancakes. These are awsome Pumkin Pancakes! I hope you try them; your family will love you even more. Have a great weekend, my friends!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Crustless Broccoli and Cheddar Mini Quiches

Can you believe that we have only 2 months left in this year? And there's a whole lot of eating that goes on around here in these next few months, with all the holidays coming up. I've been looking for some new dishes to make for holiday brunches, like these little mini quiches I found this week. I've only made them once, but I really liked them, and so did my daughter-in-law. My daughter said they were just OK, but she's not really a quiche person either. These tasty quiches are made in muffin pans and they can be made days ahead of your brunch or party and frozen! Then they can be reheated beforehand. I have not tried freezing them yet, but it should work fine, according to the directions. The Broccoli and Cheddar Mini Quiches are so easy to make; just mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into greased and floured tins.
Try not to be as messy as I am, OK? It looks like I don't know how to pour batter into cups! Anyway, bake these cheesy treats for about 30 minutes until done. Stick a knife into one of the quiches. It should come out clean when done. My pans looked messier afterwards than before! I may not fill them as full next time. Yes, I will make them again, for the quiche lovers I know. Let rest for 15 minutes. Carefully run a knife or small spatula around each quiche to loosen and remove it to a platter to cool. They are very tempting, let me tell you.
The broccoli and red bell pepper are tender and delicious in these. I added some cooked, crumbled bacon to half of the recipe and it added another tasty depth of flavor. I'll do that again, for sure. When removing the quiches from the pans be gentle- I tore the side out of a couple because I was in a hurry! I had to eat them to hide the mess! Hope you enjoy!

Crustless Broccoli and Cheddar Mini Quiches ( slightly adapted from here)
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated low fat 2% milk
3 large eggs, beaten
2 T. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cups chopped, frozen broccoli, thawed and drained
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese( 8 ounces)
4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled (my addition)
2 tsp. snipped fresh chives (my addition)
In a bowl mix the milk and flour together. Add the eggs, salt and pepper, the cheese, vegetables and bacon, if using. Mix well. Grease and flour muffin tins. Pour about 1/4-1/3 cup of egg mixture into each cup, stirring often to keep it combined. Bake in a preheated oven 25-30 minutes until a knife inserted into a quiche comes out clean. Let quiches rest for 15 minutes. Carefully run a knife around each quiche and gently remove to a plate. Can be served right away, or you may freeze them in freezer containers. When you need them, remove from freezer and heat in the oven or microwave. This saves time on your busy day! Less mess to clean up!
NOTE: To reheat; place quiche on baking sheet in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. I love the fact that this recipe can be made days in advance and frozen. Let me know if you try these. I'm going to try asparagus in it too sometime. I love recipes that can be prepared ahead of time like this. Then you have more time to visit! And eat!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bean and Bacon Soup

We have had such a cool Fall here. By that I mean it is cooler than normal for this time of year, plus it has been cloudy and downright dreary. And that type of weather calls for some body and soul warming soup! I wanted to try something new, so I turned to all the recipes I have bookmarked from all the wonderful blogs I read! Let me tell you, there are so many marvelous cooks in blog land and so many mouthwatering recipes to try, that I'll never get through all the dishes I want to make. But, I'm starting now, with this recipe for Bean and Bacon Soup, from Pam at "For the Love of Cooking". Pam has an amazing blog with some wonderful recipes, and this soup really hit the spot on a cold autumn day. I hope that you will try it.

Bean and Bacon Soup- slightly adapted from Pam at "The Love of Cooking"

6 strips of bacon

3 large carrots, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 large clove garlic, minced

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1 bay leaf, ( I forgot this!)

4 cans of white beans, drained (I used Great Northern beans)

4 cups chicken broth

2 T. fresh parsley, chopped

In a dutch oven fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels and when cool, crumble.

In the dutch oven over medium heat, add the onion, celery and carrots to the bacon drippings and saute for about 7 minutes. . Then add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper.

Add 3 cans of drained beans along with the chicken broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

Uncover, and remove bay leaf. Use a potato masher to partly mash the bean mixture until it slightly thickens. Stir in the last can of beans, parsley and crumbled bacon. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Enjoy this hearty and delicious soup! I served it with cornbread for a very satisfying lunch. I will be making this again and again as my husband loved it.

I did add an extra can of broth and a couple extra slices of bacon, just to make a bit more so there would be more leftovers. This Bean and Bacon Soup is so easy to prepare, that it would be perfect even for a weeknight meal. Give it a try and visit Pam's blog for more of her great recipes!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Baked Macaroni and Cheese- Perfect Comfort Food!

Everyone has their own version of Mac and Cheese. I loved my Mother's creamy Mac and Cheese as a kid. She would cook the macaroni and after it was drained, she added milk, butter, salt and pepper and then she would cube Velveeta and mix into the mac. It was then poured into a casserole dish and baked until golden, creamy and bubbly. Mmmmm, my brother and I were in heaven! When my kids were little, they loved this type of cheesy goodness, but not if baked. Nope, we went the stove top method, as they wouldn't eat it any other way. Talk about picky!
Finally, as they got older, I was able to start baking this wonderful comfort food again, only my cheese preference has changed with age. You know that old saying, "I'm not older, just better!" Well, this mac and cheese is better too! Now, Son Number 2, who is 25, and my daughter have proclaimed this recipe, The BOMB! Can't get much better than that! They do eventually grow up. So, here's my version of the old classic; mac and cheese will never go out of style!
Baked Macaroni and Cheese- Perfect Comfort Food!
2 cups of dry elbo macaroni, cooked and drained
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
2 cups milk (I use 2%)
1/2- 3/4 cup of half and half
4 ounces of Colby cheese, freshly shredded
4 ounces Monterrey jack cheese, freshly shredded
1/2- 1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
3/4 cup coarse bread crumbs, or Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 T. melted butter
Mix topping ingredients together.
In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and stir, making a roux, and let it cook minute or so. Don't burn! Whisk in the dry mustard and then the milk. Whisk until smooth and cook on low heat until thickened, a couple of minutes. Stir in the cheeses and the half and half. Remove pan from the heat. Do not let the cheese come to a boil, as it tends to ruin the texture. Continue stirring until cheese is melted. Add the cooked, drained macaroni and salt and pepper to the sauce. Stir well and taste to adjust the seasonings. Pour into a 2 quart casserole dish, ( a 8x8 works well). Sprinkle the crumb topping over the top. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until bubbly and topping is golden. Enjoy! Best served while hot.
Whole milk works great for this recipe, but as we have used 2% for years now, I rarely buy whole. The half and half adds creaminess to this dish. Also, I think freshly shredded cheese melts better than the preshredded. Of course, you can substitute your favorite cheeses in place of mine. What's your favorite cheese to use in Macaroni and Cheese?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

My family loves Chocolate Chip Cookies that are crisp around the edges yet soft in the middle. This recipe fits the bill perfectly. I found this awesome recipe in an old church cookbook that I bought more than 30 years ago from a friend. The poor book is falling apart and I have to be careful that I don't misplace any pages when I'm flipping through it. This wonderful cook book comes from a church in Grandview, Missouri, and it contains many treasured recipes that my family loves. I want to thank Geneva S. for this addictive cookie recipe.I have never met her, but my family has eaten her cookies for years now! When my kids were young, they used to steal
bits of dough from the bowl as I was trying to bake these chewy cookies. My kids always preferred these without nuts, even though my husband and I love them loaded with pecans. So, I used to add nuts to half of the cookie dough, so that we could indulge in them as we preferred. The things a mother has to do when she has picky kids! I am submitting this recipe

for our family's favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies to Laura of "The Spiced Life", and Shelby of "The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch", for this months "Family Recipes; Memories of Family, Food and Fun!" Here's the recipe for these super cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies- Our family's Favorite!
2/3 butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 shortening
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda (originally called for 1 tsp. soda)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts; I use pecans
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter, shortening, eggs, sugars and vanilla together until creamy. In another bow, mix the flour, soda and salt together. Add to the butter mixture and mix well. Add the nuts and chocolate chips and stir until well combined. I use a tablespoon to measure the dough so they will be similar in size. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until light brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool slightly before removing from the cookie sheet. Cool completely and store in air tight container. Makes about 5-6 dozen, depending on how big you make them. Best eaten straight out of the oven, of course! Enjoy these addictive cookies!
I know there are plenty of cookies on the Internet, especially chocolate chip, but these are wonderful. I've tried other recipes and I keep coming back to these so, I'm just sharing our favorite, so far. These cookies have made many wonderful memories in our family and we have shared them with friends and neighbors at Christmas time. Try them, you'll like them!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

It seems that when fall arrives, so does my need for baking! Or rather not my need, but my desire. The air is cool and there's just nothing like turning on your oven and sticking a mouthwatering, sweet smelling dessert inside so that you can have a bit of fall deliciousness! I've been making this luscious Pumpkin Bread Pudding for a couple of years now and let me tell you, it is heavenly! The custard is silky smooth and delicious, with just the right amount of spices to make you savor each bite. It's a perfect marriage of pumpkin pie and bread pudding. Addictive!

Unfortunately, the days have been dark and dreary here lately, so my pictures are not as good as I hoped. But then, I always have trouble photographing brownish looking foods. This is one of our newer favorite desserts. Cubes of crusty bread and spicy pumpkin never tasted so good!
Pumpkin Bread Pudding (slightly adapted from Epicurious)
1 cup heavy cream ( half and half works well too)
3/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup whole milk (I use 2%)
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. allspice
pinch of ground cloves
5 cups cubed day old baguette or crusty bread ( I use 4 cups to get more custard)
3/4 cup melted butter (6 tablespoons)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the melted butter butter in a bowl with the cubed bread and toss. In another bow, mix the pumpkin, sugar, milk, cream, eggs and yolk, and spices. Beat well and toss in with the bread. Stir and pour into a 8x8x ungreased baking pan. Bake at 350 for about 25-35 minutes, until custard is set. Enjoy with homemade whipped cream, ice cream or my decadent Caramel Sauce, if desired.
Earlier, I said that I use less bread than called for. That is because I like to have a layer of silky custard, so I never use all the bread called for in bread pudding recipes. So this dessert turns out more scoopable (is that a word?), than one that is cut into squares. But it's delicious whichever way you make it. My husband will get up in the night for this addictive, comforting dessert. This Pumpkin Bread Pudding is perfect for the coming holiday gatherings! Hope you try it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Swiss Steak ( slightly adapted from Alton Brown)

I used to make Swiss Steak quite often in my early married years, but after we had kids, they didn't like the tomato type sauce that makes this dish. My kids never did like anything with chunks of tomatoes in it, or chunks of anything, for that matter. So, I gradually quit making it. Not long ago, my husband remarked that it had been along time since I'd made this recipe. He has always loved Swiss Steak, so I thought I remembered seeing a recipe on Food Network that I wanted to try. This dish, by Alton Brown, is delicious and easy to make, but you need to plan for 1 1/2-2 hours of baking time in the oven. This recipe uses round steak. If you buy it not tenderized, then you will need to tenderize it with a meat mallet to break down the muscle fibers of the steak a little.
Brown the steak in hot oil in a dutch oven; just a couple of minutes per side. Remove meat and add the onions and celery to the pan to soften for a minute or two. This smells so good!

Add tomato paste, spices, broth and other seasonings to pot. Place browned meat in the pot, submerging in the savory liquid. Cover pot and place in oven. Bake until meat is fork tender.

Oh, this dish is delicious! I baked it for 2 hours and the meat easily fell apart when cut with a fork. The addition of beef broth and garlic in this recipe gave this Swiss Steak great flavor, not too overpowered with tomatoes. I'll be making this often as my husband loved it. Even my daughter thought it was really good. Here's my slightly adapted version of this delicious recipe.

SWISS STEAK (slightly adapted from Alton Brown)
2 pounds round steak, tenderized ( Alton used bottom round that he sliced into steaks)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oil or bacon drippings ( I used a combination of both)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounce)
1 tsp. paprika (Alton used smoked paprika)
2 tsp. fresh Thyme (Alton used 1 tsp. dried oregano)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups beef broth (I used low sodium, low fat)
Cut the steaks into serving size pieces, season both sides with salt and pepper and pound with a meat mallet. Dredge meat in the flour and set aside. Dice up the onion and celery. Mince the garlic.
Add enough oil to just cover the bottom of a dutch oven set over medium high heat. Brown the steaks in hot oil about 2 minutes on each side, until golden. Remove steaks to a plate and repeat with the remaining steaks. Don't crowd the meat in the pan while browning.
After removing the last of the steak to the plate, add the onion, celery and garlic to the pot and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir well. Add the tomatoes, paprika, thyme, Worcestershire and beef broth and stir. Return the steak to pot and submerge into the sauce. Cover pot and place in a 325 degree preheated oven. Cook for 1 1/2 -2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart.
Enjoy! I served this delicious Swiss Steak with mashed potatoes smothered with the pan veggies and sauce. Delicious! In fact, after I took picture, I ladled on more yummy sauce until you really couldn't distinguish what I was eating! It was a flavorful and comforting meal, perfect on the cold rainy day that we had. I'll be making this often. Have a great day!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia Sandwiches

I love a good sandwich and this Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia Sandwich definitely fits into this category. Tilapia is a very mild tasting fish that is delicious used in lots of different styles of cooking. In this recipe, the fish is dredged in a spicy cornmeal mixture and cooked in a skillet with minimal oil. Topped with the last of my garden tomatoes, leaf lettuce and mashed avocado with onion and cilantro, this yummy sandwich is perfect for dinner on your busiest weeknights! Forget the drive-through at the fast food joints- make your own "fast food" at home! Serve this healthy, nutritious and delicious sandwich with oven roasted sweet potato fries, or with a steaming bowl of soup on a chilly evening. Try this tasty, easy sandwich on your next super busy day.
Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia Sandwiches
3 T. yellow cornmeal
1 T. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
4 tilapia fillets
1 T. canola oil
2 avocados
2 T. diced red onion
juice of 1/2 lime
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro
sliced tomatoes
leaf lettuce
4 french bread sandwich rolls
Peel and seed the avocados. In a bowl, mash the avocado with a fork. Stir in the diced onion, lime juice and cilantro. Set aside. Heat a large skillet and 1 T. canola oil over medium heat. Mix the cornmeal and spices together in a container large enough to be able to lay the fish. Dry the fish with paper towels, then dredge the tilapia in the cornmeal mixture. Shake off excess. Lay fish in the hot skillet and cook about 3 minutes, and then turn over. Cook about 3 more minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove fish from skillet to a platter. Toast the sandwich rolls under the broiler if desired.
To assemble the sandwiches;
Spread the avocado mixture over each roll half. On the bottom half, lay the fish fillet, then a couple of tomato slices and the leaf lettuce. Top with other half of roll. Open mouth and insert sandwich! Enjoy!
I was inspired by a recipe in Cooking Light's 2009 cookbook, that is similar to this, but used lime butter instead of the avocado mix that I used. The fish was also broiled, instead of browned in a skillet. My husband and I both loved these tilapia sandwiches, so I'll be adding this to our rotation. A meal that is ready in less than 30 minutes- can't beat that! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Easy Caramel Sauce

It has certainly taken me long enough to get this recipe for Caramel Sauce posted. The first batch I made mysteriously disappeared! And then, my pictures were so bad, that I couldn't bear to post such inferior shots! So, just for you all I made another batch of this sinfully rich and delicious sauce. Of course, the Apple Cake is gone, so I poured this amazing caramel over vanilla bean ice cream. It was still hard to get a good picture, but hopefully you can get an idea. Being a food blogger is a hard job; I had to eat this ice cream and Caramel Sauce so that it wouldn't go to waste! hehehe! Here's my recipe, finally. It's adapted from the 1997 Southern Living Cookbook.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
This sauce will rise fairly high when it boils, so it's best to use a large, heavy bottomed saucepan for this recipe. I used a 3 quart pan. Over medium heat, melt the butter and add the brown sugar, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture come to a rolling boil. Slowly add the cream and whisk and stir constantly until cream is incorporated. Bring to a boil again, still stirring; add vanilla, stir and remove from the heat. Pour into clean glass jars and let cool before putting on a lid. Will keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge, so they say. It gets eaten at our house way before 2 weeks! Makes about 1 1/2 cups of smooth, creamy and addictive Caramel Sauce. It's luscious on cake ,ice cream or anything else that needs a spoonful of caramel! Enjoy!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Best Apple Cake Ever! ( and a little American apple history)

On a cool, fall day last week, there was a heavenly aroma permeating my humble kitchen. The scent of apples and cinnamon hovered in the air for awhile even after the oven was turned off. I had just made my favorite Apple Cake, a recipe given to me by my Mother-in-law when my husband and I were first married. This moist, cinnamony cake is a favorite in our family (except for those who don't like nuts), and I always look forward to making it- and eating it! As I was eating my first piece of this luscious cake, I began wondering about the history of apples in America. Why? I don't know. I mean, I remember reading about Johnny Appleseed in school, but was there more? So I did a quick google search and found an interesting article at What's Cooking America, called, "History and Legends of Apples",written by Linda Stradley. She has done some research on this delicious fruit which was so interesting to read. Actually, the first apple seeds to arrive in America were in the 17th century! One of the first instances was when William Blackstone arrived in Massachusetts from Europe in 1623. He carried a bag of apple seeds with him and planted an orchard on Beacon hill in Boston, among other places. The early settlers even had to import honey bees! Anyway, by 1640 nearly all landowners had planted apple trees. According to her article, there are over 7000 varieties of apples in the U.S.! Amazing! If you like history, check out this site. Now, let's get to this delicious recipe so you can make it!
4 cup of coarse, chopped apples (any baking apple works)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts ( I always use pecans)
In a large bowl, mix the apples and sugar together. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nuts together. I know this sounds strange, but trust me. I've been making this for years and this is the easiest way. Stir the apples; the sugar will be liquefying by now. To the apples and sugar, add the eggs, oil and vanilla and mix well. This is a very thick dough that is loaded with apples. If you noticed, there isn't a lot of liquid in this cake. Most of the moistness comes from the apples. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9x13 inch pan. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for about 1 hour. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Cool completely before serving. This is best made early in the day you are planning on serving it. This cake needs a few hours to develop its moistness.
The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of vanilla! As you noticed, I've cut it down to 2 tsp. which is enough. The day of baking, the cake will be crusty on top, but as the day wears on the cake develops its moistness from the apples. Each day, this Apple Cake gets more moist. This is more a snack cake, but I like to make Caramel Sauce to drizzle over the top to dress it up some. Now that is a decadent touch! I guess you can tell from the pictures that I got carried away with the caramel. But it was sooo good! I'll give you the Caramel Sauce recipe my next post. Have a great weekend!