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Saturday, June 30, 2012

i Pad 2 giveaway

http://www.smartappsforkids.com/2012/06/ipad-2-giveaway-lets-do-this-again.html Giveaway for my friends!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chicken Mansaf and Grape Leaves

I made an Arabic meal Thursday night and wanted to share it: This is what I found from the internet http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/124417-dried-yogurt/#top

Lamb or Chicken Mansaf
Anyway, I don't have a recipe, but here's the general procedure. Since this is a dish that can be made to serve few or many, I'm not going to give proportions. However, if you've ever eaten mansaf, then you'll have a good idea of how much of each component to use.

1. Simmer lamb (shoulder is best, cut into cubes of 3" or so) or chicken (bone-in) pieces with onions (halved or quartered -- it doesn't matter) and garlic (smashed -- no need to chop) in enough water to cover by a few inches. You can add packaged "mansaf seasoning" or add whatever Middle Eastern seasonings you like (cumin, coriander, etc.). If using chicken (or at least the plumped-up American chickens to which I'm accustomed), I like the Chinese poaching method, which is to bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat, and let it sit, covered and undisturbed, for an hour. This method keeps the chicken tender and succulent. If using lamb, simmer on low heat for roughly 2 hours, until meat is fork-tender (you may need more time if your lamb is tough -- use your judgment). Skim any foam that comes to the surface as the lamb simmers. Also skim off any fat that rises to the top (the dairy you add later will provide additional fat), unless you prefer the Bedouin style and/or really like grease. :)

1a. While chicken/lamb simmers, prepare some yellow rice. Also chop some parsley and toast some almonds/pine nuts.

2. Remove lamb/chicken from pot and set aside. Strain cooking liquid and return to pot, discarding onion and garlic solids.

3. Add dairy (and maybe acid) to broth to make yogurt sauce/soup. I prefer labneh, or you can use dried yogurt (kishk, jameed, etc.), or plain yogurt and/or sour cream (not as rich, though you can augment it with cream cheese). Adjust salt/pepper and add garlic if desired. If your yogurt/labneh/jameed is not tangy, you will probably need to add acid to make it tangy -- you can use lemon juice or citric acid. However, there is a chance that the acid might curdle the dairy, so either add it at the end, or use a stick blender to smooth it. Also, you may or may not want to thicken the sauce with a small amount of starch or flour slurry. Overall, it should be the consistency of a very thin gravy.

4. Return meat/chicken to pot with yogurt sauce, and let it simmer briefly, while you complete the rest of the dish, in order to absorb some of the yogurt flavor.

5. Prepare your platter(s). Use a large, deep platter -- those round melamine platters, about 2-3" deep, are ubiquitous in the Middle East and perfect for mansaf. Put down a layer of bread. Traditional Bedouin mansaf is made traditional thin Bedouin bread (shrak). Alternatively, you can use cut or torn pieces of any flat or pita bread. Ladle some of the yogurt sauce from the pot onto the bread and allow it to soak.

6. Top bread layer with rice. Arrange meat/chicken pieces on top of rice. Sprinkle parsley and nuts over top. Serve with yogurt sauce/soup -- I like to set out a bowl for each diner.

The Bedouin way of eating mansaf is to gather around the platter and dig in with the clean fingers of the diner's right hand. That's a very messy way of eating! So, another traditional method is for diners to gather around the platter and eat with spoons (etiquette dictates that each diner sticks to his/her own section). But, these days, most people just use individual plates/place settings for each diner. You end up with more dishes to wash afterward, but the dining experience is more hygienic. :)

I also made some vegetarian stuffed grape leaves from a cookbook I got from a friend who used to live here, Gina.

Stuffed Vine Leaves
1/2 c. chick peas
1 lb. fresh tender vine leaves
1 1/2 c. rice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 4. allspice
1 t. Arabic mixed spice if available
1/3 c. olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
sliced tomatoes
2 large garlic cloves

Prepare a pot of boiling water and quickly cook the grape leaves and remove. Wash and drain rice. Remove skins of chick peas. Mix rice with chick peas, parsley, mint, onion, chopped tomatos, spices, olive oil and lemon juice.

Place leaves, smooth side down, on a plate or a chopping board. Put about 1 teaspoon of rice mixture in the center near the middle and roll up like a small cigar. Don't roll too tightly, leave room for rice to expand during cooking. Continue until you run out of leaves or filing.

Place a layer of sliced tomatoes and garlic cloves in bottom of saucepan. Layer stuffed leaves. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice. Add boiling water to surface and place a plate on top. Let boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered 1-2 hours (depending on how many you've made) until liquid is obsorbed and rice is ready.

Serve cold with yogurt and extra juice if desired.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Eggplant and Bean Curry, Lunch 4/3/10

We've had a social weekend, Breakfast with friends two mornings in a row and other gatherings. One even involved a caramel popcorn recipe from all recipes, which was good, but I should have stopped after one bowl as my tummy hurt later. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Caramel-Popcorn/Detail.aspx

Anyway we had waffles with fruit and syrup this morning, followed by a game of phase 10 and thinking about what to make for lunch I decided I could use the leftover brown jasmine rice from the Chicken and Bok Choy I made earlier in the week. So I bought an eggplant and some fava beans and got to work:

Eggplant and Bean Curry
From 30 minutes or less Spicy Foods
Serves 4
Ingredients:
1-2 T. Veg. or Peanut Oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 fresh red chilies, seeded and chopped
1 T Thai red curry paste
1 large eggplant, cut into chunks
4 oz baby eggplants (opt.)
1 cup shelled fava beans
¾ cup green beans
1 ½ cup coconut milk
½ chicken or vegetable broth bouillon cube (optional)
3 T Thai soy sauce
1 tsp raw or light brown sugar
3 kaffir lime leaves, coarsely torn, plus extra whole leaves, to garnish (optional)
4 T. chopped fresh cilantro
Method
Heat the oil in a preheated wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and chilies, and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the curry paste and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.

Add the eggplants and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, or until beginning to soften. (You may need to add a little more oil since eggplants soak it up quickly.) Add all the beans and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Pour in the stock and add the creamed coconut, soy sauce, sugar, and lime leaves. Bring slowly to a boil and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve immediately, garnished with extra lime leaves if using.

(We made our own Thai Red Curry Paste)
Ingredients:
• 1 shallot OR 1/4 cup purple onion, chopped
• 1 stalk lemongrass, minced ( see instructions below) OR 2 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (available at Asian stores) OR (substitute) 6-8 mint leaves,2 tsp lime juice,1/4 tsp granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp chopped fresh ginger OR (substitute) Lemon zest, fresh ginger, cilantro.
• 1-2 red chilies, OR 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, OR 1-2 tsp. Thai chili sauce
• 4 cloves garlic
• 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, sliced
• 2 Tbsp. tomato ketchup (OR 2 Tbsp. tomato paste + 1/2 tsp sugar)
• 1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
• 1 tsp. ground coriander
• 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper (available at your supermarket or Asian food store)
• 3 Tbsp. fish sauce (OR 4 Tbsp. soy sauce if vegetarian)
• 1-2 tsp. shrimp paste (omit if vegetarian), available by the jar at Asian stores
• 1 tsp. sugar
• 2 Tbsp. regular chili powder
• 1/4 can good-quality coconut milk (or just enough to keep the blades turning), reserve remaining for the curry
• 2 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
• Optional: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (OR add 1 cinnamon stick to your curry pot)

Preparation:
1. For complete instructions on how to buy and cook with lemongrass, see: All About Lemongrass: Your Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking with Lemongrass.
2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process well to create a fragrant Thai red curry paste. (Note that it will taste very strong at this point.)
3. To use immediately, fry the paste in a little oil to release flavors before adding your choice of meat, tofu, wheat gluten, or vegetables.
4. Add remaining can of coconut milk to create the curry sauce.
5. Include the leftover pieces of lemongrass (upper part of the stalk) to the curry as you cook it - this will add more flavor. You can also add a cinnamon stick, and 2-3 whole kaffir lime leaves (available fresh or frozen at Asian stores).
6. Before serving, always do a taste test. If not salty or flavorful enough, add more fish sauce (or soy sauce if vegetarian/vegan). If too salty, add another squeeze of lime juice. If too sour, add a little more sugar. If too spicy, add more coconut milk or a little plain yogurt.
7. When serving your curry, sprinkle over a handful of fresh coriander and fresh basil, and ENJOY!
To Store Paste: Place in an airtight jar or other container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week; freeze thereafter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dressing Edition

Hi friends,

I've found some yummy ways to dress salads living in the Middle East and wanted to share a few with you.

For Arabic salads just add some olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt to taste

Or just lemon juice, sumak, chopped oninon and salt

Or for American Salads which really are our favorites:

Olive Garden Salad
2 purple onions, sliced
8 jumbo black olives, preferably pitted
6 banana peppers
3 tomatoes, sliced
Lettuce mix (Romaine, purple cabbage, julienned carrots)
Large homemade croutons

Olive Garden Dressing – in blender
½ c. mayonnaise
1/3 cup white or grape vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons parmesan like cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
½ t Italian seasoning or oregano
½ t. parsley flakes or 1 tablespoon fresh.
1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Instructions:
Put ½ of lettuce in bowl, add half of toppings, add remaining lettuce and toppings, add dressing or leave on side and toss well.

And Sweet Mustard Dressing by my friend Cara Key and her Mom Deana Blackburn https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=1235357455272471736&postID=4121038719760490996&page=1&token=1270138851027_AIe9_BF6z_UQgtkUn2ThkYTAQ7GiWvV0bMD577E9Zu-kNWjDAX09fjvcwYi0BfFSo7pVRpAxTpYWU7VSBQtJ1u9zjDqbYceaW28TiM2gW5iruHI0juUjGhksLuXC8iSWv0lhnrm5uz0psgTtT67Uq0bZIRalYFsYL1SIC-R6WjycS271Ij7grBSVVxYYZb1LeT1EEQ3WCU4HMG6uyu5bOpKo0WKopw0n8K64GSdiF4dyhsqcx8TUs8h7VHlS5vbQYOC8T9X9QESP

I substituted the sugar with 1/4 cup honey the last time I made this and really liked the results too!

1/2 onion
1 t salt
1 t celery seed
1 T vinegar
2 T mustard
1/2 C sugar

1 c oil

Whirl first group of ingredients in blender

Slowly add oil

Tip: do not add the oil all at once. It takes a very long time to blend, if you do. Ask me how I know.

Hint: this recipe can be made without the celery seed. It changes the taste, but it is still good.


(I'm sure I'll do more with salads as the weather turns warmer, but one of our favorite salad toppings is sardine cakes, which I've made for dinner tonight.

Robert's Sardine Cakes
2 cans of Sardines, washed
1 egg
parmesan cheese
bread crumbs, we like the spicy ones

Mix all of the above with your hands or a fork in a bowl then shape into "cakes" or "patties" Then put onto a heated pan and turn after a few minutes. Enjoy with a salad or dip.

Don't let the canned fish scare you. But enjoy the homemade dressings if that interests you.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dinner's in the Crock Pot 3/28/2010

Hi friends and readers. I made something easy yesterday, I actually started it without 2 of the ingredients, then went shopping, bought 3 shirts and a basketful of grocheries from Safeway, added the canned corn, diced tomatoes and some tomato paste, stirred it and went out again to visit a friend at her hair salon with Janelle. I invited Janelle to dinner, then Robert suggested I invite Tim and Rebecca too, which they happily agreed to. Their new baby slept the entire time. This crock pot soup served all 5 of us with no leftovers. I also made a yummy salad.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup from a new blog I found called Real Mom Kitchen
http://realmomkitchen.blogspot.com/2009/01/crock-pot-chicken-tortilla-soup.html

1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz size - southwest style, if possible)
1 packet enchilada sauce mix (or if you can't find this, mild taco seasoning works well too)
1 1/2 C water
1 can (8 oz)tomato sauce (1 spoon of tomato paste)
1 can ( 10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup (I used a packet)
2 C milk
3-4 boneless chicken breasts (I only used 2 chicken breasts)

In crock pot, mix the enchilada packet together with the water and tomato sauce. Add cream of chicken soup and milk and whisk together until smooth. Add chicken. Pour drained black beans, drained corn and diced tomatoes on top of that.Cook on low 6-8 hours.Before serving, take out chicken and shred or dice, then put back and stir it all together. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, lime, avocado, or tortilla chips. (I put out yogurt and chips, I was the only one that added yogurt)

Mexican Salad
1/2 head of Romaine
1 1/2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup of cilantro leaves
3/4 medium red onion, diced
juice from one lemon
teaspoon of salt

I topped my soup and salad with tortilla chips

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bread Baking day

I made some quick sourdough yesterday and used it to make sourdough english muffins and Pumpernickle bread. Then I was inspired do make some "easy french bread" So the result was 9 large english muffins, a loaf of pumpernickle, two bagettes and 12 more english muffins cut out, ready to be cooked. Wow, aside from waiting for bread to rise I've been baking from about 9:30am - 7:30pm That's a baking day!

And I tried a new trick from a blog www.17andbaking.com you can create ideal rising temperatures for bread either in your microwave or oven, depending on the size of your bowl or cookie sheets :) If the microwave you heat up a cup of water and then remove and put your bowl in, covered to rise. If in the oven you put a oven save dish on the bottom of the cold oven and pour boiling water into it while the dough you have rising is covered either in a bowl or on a cookie sheet on the oven rack. It works great!

Quick Sourdough Starter

1 cup warm water
2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
1 cup all purpose flour

In a bowl combine water and yeast. Wisk in flour with a spoon or fork.

Cover. Let sit for 8 hours in a warm place until it begins to bubble. Lasts 2 weeks. Must be refrigerated (unless you use it all in one day like I did). Bring to room temperature before using.

Sourdough English Muffins
(from The Pancake Handbook ) and baking bites http://bakingbites.com/2005/12/cooking-school-sourdough-english-muffins/
½ cup sourdough starter
3 cups all purpose flour (or a combination of all purpose and whole wheat
1 cup milk or water
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp ground flax seeds (optional)
cornmeal

Combine starter with 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of water. Stir thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap and let sit out overnight (about 7-10 hours).

In the morning, add the baking soda, salt, sugar to the dough and gradually add the remaining 1 cup of flour and flax seed, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough loses its stickyness. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll until about ½ inch thick. Use a lightly floured biscuit cutter and cut the dough into as many rounds as possible. Place rounds on an ungreased baking sheet, covered with cornmeal. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cornmeal and leave them to rise, covered with a clean dishtowel, for about 45 minutes.

Heat a lightly oiled or nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot, then reduce the temperature to medium/medium high.

Cook the muffins for about 5 minutes on each side, turning only once. The muffins will reach a light or medium brown (turn town the temperature slightly if they cook too quickly) on both the top and the bottom when they are cooked through. Before the first flip, the sides of the muffin will start to look dry, like the edges of a pancake, when it it ready to be turned. You can peek at the underside, too.

Cool completely before storing.

Pumpernickel Bread From Baking Bites URL to article: http://bakingbites.com/2005/10/pumpernickel/
This is Robert's favorite bread! I don't make it all the time because of the sourdough starter requirement and the TIME!

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm buttermilk
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp molasses (or brown sugar)
2 tsp salt
1 cup rye flour (light or dark)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup raisins or sultanas (optional)
2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
Additional all purpose flour for rolling

Combine the ap flour, yeast, sourdough starter, water and warm buttermilk in a large bowl. Mix well and leave to proof in a warm place for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Stir in cocoa powder, molasses, salt, caraway seeds (if using), rye and whole wheat flours. If the dough has not started to come away from the sides of the bowl yet, add a few tablespoons of all purpose flour.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in raisins (if using). Knead for about 5 minutes, until dough is very smooth. It will not be as elastic as all wheat flour doughs. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours, until doubled.

Gently, without deflating the dough too much, shape into an oval roughly twice as long as it is wide and place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Rub loaf gently with some all purpose four. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Make several shallow slashes in the top of the loaf.

Bake for 40 minutes at 425F.
Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.
________________________________________


Easy French Bread
From "The More is Less Cookbook" (this page has flour on it :)

Makes 2 bagettes

Dissolve:
2 packages (5 tsp.) of dry yeast in
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 t. sugar

Combine:
2 T. sugar
2 T. fat
2 t. salt
2 c. boiling water


Cool to lukewarm and add yeast mixture.
Stir in:
7 1/2 - 8 c. flour (1-2 cups whole wheat and the rest high gluten bread flour)Or 1/2 cracked wheat or bulgar for a crunchy texture)

Knead 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place in a oiled bowl, turning once. Let rise until doubled. Punch down and let rest 15 minutes. Divide the dough in half. On floured surface, roll each half to a 12x15 rectangle. Roll up, starting at 15" edge. Place loaves on greased cookie sheets and make 4-5 slashes diagonally across tops. Let rise until double.

Mix and brush on:
1 egg, beaten
2 T milk or water
Sprinkle on, if desired:
poppy or sesame seeds or oats


Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cinnamon Bread

Here's another baking bites recipe for you. I brought this bread to Robert's Spring Picnic, I offered to make Banana Bread or Cinnamon Bread and the later won, but I'll include both recipes. The Banana Bread is from the Joy of Cooking cookbook.

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Bun Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 tsp active dry or rapid rise yeast
1 1/3 cup warm milk (100-110F; low fat is fine)
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg

Filling/Topping
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cardamom

Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk or cream

Lightly grease an 8×8-inch square baking pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Dissolve the yeast in a measuring cup filled with the warmed milk, then stir milk mixture, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and egg into the flour mixture. Mix well, until very smooth. Pour into prepared pan and let rest for 15 minutes.

While the dough rests, mix together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl using a fork until all the butter has been incorporated into the sugar and mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of rested dough and press the mixture down into the dough with your fingertips (or swirl in with a spatula.)
Place pan into a cold oven, then set the oven temperature to 350F.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until bread is lightly browned at the edges and the center of the bread springs back when lightly pressed. Some of the sugar mixture on top may still be bubbling.

Cool for at least 30 minutes before whisking the powdered sugar and milk together to form an icing and drizzling it onto the bread.

Serve warm. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.
Serves 9.

Banana Wheat Germ Quick Bread
from The Joy of Cooking cookbook

Preheat oven to 350
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
(or 1 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup wheat germ for wheat germ Banana bread Really good)
2 1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
blend with:
1/3 c. shortening (I use applesauce)
2/3 c. sugar
3/4 t. grated lemon peel (from 1 or two lemons)
beat in:
1-2 beaten eggs
1 - 1 1/4 c. ripe mashed bananas

you can fold in (1/2 c. chopped nuts) and or (1/4 c. finely chopped apricots)
Place the batter in a greased bread pan. Bake the bread for about 1 hour or until done. Cool before slicing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Robert's Birthday Meal

Today is my Babe's birthday. And I made his favorite meal, Chicken Cream Cheese Enchiladas with Spinach and a bean sauce! As well as his favorite dessert, Cheesecake with strawberry glaze.


New York Style Sour Cream Cheesecake
2-3 tbsp graham cracker crumbs
24-oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream (low fat is ok)
boiling or hot water, for water bath
Preheat oven to 325F. Cover the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a layer or two of aluminum foil and tightly press it to the sides of the pan. Lightly grease the bottom of the pan with butter or cooking spray and coat with graham cracker crumbs (or flour).
In a large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar until mixture is smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by all remaining ingredients.
Pour cheesecake batter into prepared pan and give it a rap or two on the counter to knock out any air bubbles.
Place a large roasting pan (or other high-sided pan) into the oven and place cheesecake pan inside. Fill roasting pan with boiling or hot water, until water comes about 1-inch up the side of the springform pan.
Bake cake for 60-65 minutes, until center is set but still jiggles slightly when the pan is gently shaken.
Cool cake in water bath for about 15 minutes, either in the oven with the door open or on the kitchen counter. Remove from water bath and cool completely before refrigerating and slicing.
Serves 12.

(Strawberry glaze, about 14 frozen strawberries heated on the stove with a handful or two of sugar and a spoonful of corn starch. Then once cooked I blended them and poured on top.)

Lisa's Cream Cheese Enchiladas with Bean Sauce!
1. Boil whole chicken (keep the broth and de-bone) with some garlic and whole hot pepper
2. In a bowl mix chicken with Kiri cheese (8-10 small packets) (one package of philidelphia)
3. Add 1 TBS Cumin
4. Add 1 tsp salt
5. steamed spinach leaves.
6. Use real tortillas/ Or I buy thin Shrek bread from the bakery
7. Add chicken/cheese mixture and wrap in the tortillas

On the stove top:
1. Add one packet cream of mushroom soup to the chicken broth (should be about 1 1/2 cups broth)
2. Add one can of refried beans
3. Add ½ cup yogurt/sour cream
4. Add 1 TBS cumin/ add red pepper if you like it hotter
5. Add salt and pepper to taste
6. Pour this sauce over the wrapped tortillas

Top with shredded cheese and diced jalapenos
Bake 30-40 minutes between 350 and 400 degree oven.

We shared this meal and some fresh tomato salsa with Jim and Janelle.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pumpkin Evening 3/14/10

I baked half a pumpkin the other night and pureed it yesterday. I put two bags in the freezer and left one in the fridge to have on hand. There are just too many options of what to do with a pumpkin when you don't have easy access to a can of pumpkin. Especially if pumpkin is one of your favorite flavors.

I made Pumpkin Pasta for dinner from http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen/recipes/main-courses/pumpkin-pasta/ with some improvisions.

Ingredients
8 ounces, weight whole wheat Pasta (or Any Pasta Shape You Like)
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 whole Yellow or Red Onion, Diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, Diced
handful of dried sage or thyme
1-½ cup Chicken Stock
½ cups Milk
1 Tablespoon Flour
1-½ cup Pumpkin Puree
¾ teaspoons Salt
Plenty Of Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
2-3 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
Dash Of Nutmeg (optional)
Fresh Parsley (optional)

Preparation Instructions
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Sauté onion, Bell Pepper, and sage in butter over medium heat until onion appears translucent. Add 3/4 cup of broth/stock, 1/2 cup of milk, and 1 tablespoon flour. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens.
3. Add pumpkin puree to broth mixture and stir well. Add salt, pepper, and remaining 3/4 cup of broth. Reduce heat and simmer on medium low for 10 to 12 minutes, or until sauce reaches a thicker consistency.
4. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Toss sauce with pasta and serve. Add more cheese, pepper, and a sprinkle of nutmeg and parsley, if desired.

This was good, we liked it! Then with the 3/4 of a cup of pumpkin puree that remained I made Pumpkin Spice Muffins from The Pionner Woman and added a mashed banana to fill it out to 1 cup of puree...

Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Prep Time: 20 Minutes Cook Time: 25 Minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: 12
Ingredients
• Muffin Ingredients:
• 1 cup All-purpose Flour
• 6 Tablespoons Sugar
• 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
• 1-½ teaspoon Cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoons Ground Ginger
• ½ teaspoons Nutmeg
• ½ teaspoons Salt
• 1/2 Stick Butter, cut into pieces
• 1 cup (heaping) Pumpkin Puree
• ½ cups Evaporated Milk
• 1 whole Egg
• 1-½ teaspoon Vanilla
• ½ cups Golden Raisins (optional!)
• _____
• Topping
• 2 Tablespoons Sugar
• 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoons Nutmeg
• _____
• FOR FROSTING: (Optional)
• ¼ cups Softened Butter
• 4 ounces, weight Cream Cheese
• ½ pounds Powdered Sugar
• ½ teaspoons Vanilla

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease 12 muffin tins.
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in butter with two knives or a pastry blender until it is fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Add raisins. Fold gently until mixture is just combined.
Pour into a greased muffin pan—batter hardly ever fills all twelve unless you keep it down to 1/2 full. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar-nutmeg mixture over the top of each unbaked muffin.
Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. Ice with cream cheese frosting.
To make the frosting, mix all ingredients on high until soft and whipped. Spread onto completely cooled muffins, or place into a large pastry bag with a large star tip and go crazy! Store in the fridge, as icing will soften at room temperature.

When my friend Rebecca made these before her son David was born I was shocked at how similar the taste was to pumpkin pie. I'm not putting frosting on these!

Oh I almost forgot. I'm roasting the pumpkin seeds at the same time. How's that for a complete pumpkin post?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

So on Thursday I made Irish Soda Bread. I was inspired after finding a blog that's connected to Pionner Woman called Tasty Kitchen, there are a lot of recipes, hours of time was sucked from me by this new discovery. But I made the bread and saved some recipes, created a log in and found some helpful ways to make homemade ingredients like ranch dressing, mayonaise, marshmallows, taco seasoning and nutella! http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen-blog/2010/03/the-theme-is-homemade-ingredients/

So here's the link for the soda bread, it didn't go as smooth as I expected. I didn't have quite a full stick of butter and the dough was more like pancake batter consistancy so I used pie pans covered with parchment paper instead of the recommended cookie sheet... But anyway here you go if you're interested. (Robert thought it was cornbread initally.) http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen/recipes/breads/irish-soda-bread-4/

Irish Soda Bread
Added by thestainedapron on March 8, 2010 in Breads, Quick Breads

Prep Time 10 Minutes
Cook Time 35 Minutes Servings 12 Difficulty Easy

Ingredients
2 cups Buttermilk
1 whole Egg
1-¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
2 cups Flour
1-¾ cup McCann's Quick Cooking Irish Oatmeal, Divided
¼ cups Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Caraway Seeds
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
Preparation Instructions
Prepare a large cookie sheet. Either spray with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk buttermilk, egg, and baking soda together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1 1/2 cups oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and caraway seeds.

Cut in butter with a pastry blender until butter is about the size of peas. Make a well in the center, pour in buttermilk mixture and mix together. Dough will be fairly wet.

With floured hands, divide dough into 2 and place on the prepared pan. Lightly pat each into a 9-inch circle (lightly flour your hands or the top of the mound if needed). Use a knife to cut each circle into 6 wedges. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup oats.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.

Variation: you can also add golden raisins or regular rasins. Just stir them in before adding the buttermilk mixture. I would use about 1 cup, but use more or less depending on your preference