Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Cake with Penuche Frosting

Am I the only one who mistakenly buys pumpkin pie mix instead of canned pumpkin? At least once a year? 

SO frustrating to get home and realize you can't make pumpkin scones, like you planned. However, as I discovered yesterday, all is not lost:

Thankfully, the result of combining one can of mistakenly purchased pumpkin pie mix with the box of yellow cake mix from the back of the pantry is... pretty spectacular. 

Add to that a little homemade penuche frosting...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quinoa, Carrot & Lentil Stew

Mine with toasted potato bread.
The kids got half-sandwiches with butter and leftover cranberry sauce.

Meatless Monday: Originally a World War 1 & 2 campaign by the U.S. Food Administration to conserve resources, is now a public health campaign (revived in 2003) backed by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. I've known about it for several years, but I was a vegetarian back then... Now that we eat meat, I want to make this a part of our weekly routine. Interesting tidbit I did not know: Wheat-less Wednesday was also part of the original campaign. Sounds like a good idea to me. I wonder why that part was not revived?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baked Brie

Thank you to my friend who asked about easy appetizers for entertaining. It's a slow, rainy day here and I was feeling kind of blah. Making this slightly fancy-pants dish to go with Tuesday night dinner was just the thing!

Seriously indulgent.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Make this stuffing

Photo from

I have been remiss in my food blogging, not having addressed the coming feast for at least the past two weeks. Worse than that, I have a confession to make: I am not in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year. 


Nope. Josh is an excellent cook. I think I've said that before. Better than me in a lot of ways. He has a mind for the science of cooking, whereas I just kind of feel my way through and rely on past experience to be my (sometimes misguided) guide. I have commissioned a guest post from the attorney-chef, and expect that as soon as he finds time... before Thursday. I have faith that this will happen. He has some amazing dishes on the docket, and I can't wait.

I'm not totally wussing out, now -- I'll be making the important stuff, like dessert. Chocolate pie. I'll be making my spiced pecans, too. And the stuffing. But I can't take credit for my stuffing recipe. I found this a few years back, and it is tha bomb. 

Fat Tire Fritters

Defying my better judgment, I pulled the Deep Fat Fryer out of hibernation. I received December's Bon Appetit today, and on the last page is a little Q&A with Jaques Pepin, one of my cooking idols. I love his story: 13 years old, drops out of school to apprentice at a restaurant... and the rest is public television history. A quick little blurb in the story tells us that he likes to mix a can of beer with 1 1/2 c. flour for a quick and tasty batter; adding coarsely chopped apples makes a tasty fritter!

I've been really good lately -- that is, running, counting calories and generally depriving myself of my customary daily gorging on the children's Halloween candy. And, for the most part, it's been pretty easy. I've felt better: more productive, less fatigued and all that. It's great! But then I read the word fritter... Okay, okay... and beer (which I've forgone for the last couple of weeks in the interest of conserving calories), in the same sentence. I had to do it. 

Pulled out of the fryer and draining on double-layer of paper towels + brown paper bag.
 Something about deep-frying foods makes me very, very happy. Is it the Southerner in me?

Dusted with powdered sugar.
Served with warmed maple syrup, it's like a pancake on steroids.
These are super easy, and should probably be served for dessert, or as an indulgent weekend breakfast/brunch. We had them for dinner tonight with eggs and Odwalla Super Food juice (it's green).

12 oz. Fat Tire Amber Ale
1 1/2 c. flour
2-3 coarsely chopped Honey Crisp (my favorite!) apples
vegetable oil for fryer

Heat the oil (enough that it will cover the fritters) in your fryer (or stock pot) to 375 degrees F. Mix the flour and the beer, and fold in apples. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon 3-4 scoops into the fryer at a time, depending on the size of your fryer. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Watch them, though. Turn with a slotted spoon once or twice. Then, once they're a deep, golden brown, take them out and set on paper towels to drain.

Cool, then dust with powdered sugar. Makes 12.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Seriously Good Baked Oatmeal

Name courtesy of my 6 year old daughter. That is to say, the kids LOVE this. (They are regular oatmeal lovers, too, though. So their perspective skews that way.) 

You could turn this gluten-free fairly easily, by using gluten-free rolled oats (we like Bob's Red Mill) and either omitting or replacing with a GF flour the 2 TB in the topping. It could even go dairy-free by replacing the milk with soy or almond milk, the yogurt with mashed banana and the butter with vegetable oil. I've made it that way before, and it is not drastically different. Either way, I've got full and happy kids and a kitchen that smells great! 

PLUS... and here is the real advantage to baked oatmeal on a Sunday... You can refrigerate individual leftover portions, then dish them out as breakfast on busy weekday mornings. Bonus, right? Put a piece in a bowl,  pour some milk on top and microwave for 30 sec. or so, then dress with your favorite toppings.

1/4 c. light brown sugar
2 TB flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 TB cold unsalted butter
1/2 c. chopped pecans

3 c. old fashioned rolled oats
2 tsp. baking powder
2 TB granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. dried cherries

1/2 c. applesauce
1/2 c. yogurt
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. melted unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Optional toppings:
dried cherries
warm milk
sliced almonds (toast them if you're an over-achiever!)

Grease an 8x8 baking dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine first four ingredients. "Cut" in the cold butter, until mixture resembles course crumbs, then toss in pecans. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oats, baking powder, granulated sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, kosher salt and dried cherries. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together until well combined. Pour over oat mixture and stir to combine. Pour into greased 8x8 and top with the brown sugar/pecan mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cool on rack for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serve coffee cake style on a plate, OR serve in a bowl, topped with warm milk, extra dried cherries and sliced almonds (my fave).

Homemede Applesauce

I woke up this morning with a hankerin' for Baked Oatmeal. (It's in the oven now; recipe to follow.) But my recipe calls for applesauce, and... I'm out. I do, however, have a crisper drawer full of local apples, as any self-respecting New Englander (transplant or not) should at this time of year. Add to that the fact that Daylight Savings Time ended last night, and we were all up and at 'em well before 7, and voila! Homemade Applesauce.

This recipe is EASY and highly adaptable. If your apples are pretty juicy, use less water. If they're especially sweet, less sugar. Sweeten with granulated sugar or brown, agave nectar, maple syrup or any combination thereof. Instead of water, you can use unsweetened fruit juice. Spices! If you've read any of my recipes, you probably know I'm a fan of the Garam Masala (I like Whole Foods brand). I use it in all sorts of stuff. It's an Indian blend, usually including: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and coriander. I. Love. It. I use 3/4 tsp. of it in my applesauce. But if you are feeling a bit less experimental, try just simmering it with a cinnamon stick. Lastly, you can make as much or as little as you want. Double, triple... freeze it even. But I find 2-2.5 pounds of apples makes just enough to meet about a week of our (not-so-great) applesauce needs.

2.5 lbs cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered (about 2 lbs after prep)
juice of one lemon
1/4-1/2 c. sugar (I used brown sugar)
1/4-1/2 c. water
3/4 tsp. Garam Masala
1 tsp. peeled, chopped fresh ginger (optional)

Place all ingredients in a large pot and simmer until apples are very soft, about 30 minutes. For chunky applesauce, mash with a potato masher (a good job for little "helpers"). Run through a food mill or sieve for a finer texture. Blend if you like it smooth.

Next, bake with it, serve it warm over vanilla ice cream, dip crispy french toast sticks in it. Or, my favorite: Pack it up for the kids' lunches and instruct them to look down upon those children with the store-bought stuff... Just kidding.