Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

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These have to be some of my absolute favorite muffins. Ever. I was first introduced to them by a lady at church, she used to bring them to potlucks and as snacks before Sunday school. They were so awesome, so revolutionary at my church that she quickly found herself passing out the recipe to almost every single mother there. Luckily, my own mother was one of the ones that snagged the recipe! Ever since then, my brother and I have wolfed these beauties down, and quickly!

My mom would often bake them for us when we were in college, and we would bring zip-lock baggies full of them back with us. One weekend my brother went home and came back with a baggie, meant to be shared with me. Only he thought he would be sly and pretend as though he didn't have them, hoping that I would be none the wiser and he would get them all. Luckily for me my mother knew I probably needed a heads up, so I "casually" went to his dorm room, you know, just to hang out, and lo and behold! Look what was there! He thinks he is so clever, but I am on to him!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
4 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
16 ounce can of canned pumpkin
1.5 cups applesauce
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
12 ounces chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugars, pumpkin and applesauce together.
In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients.
Mix the dry ingredients in with the wet until well combined.
Mix in  3/4 the chocolate chips.
Spoon the batter into muffin tins, filling about 2/3 full.
Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top, pressing them down lightly (this insures even distribution of the chocolate!)
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 16-18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool and eat!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Apple Butter

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I find there is nothing better than slow cooked apple butter, the kind you find at amish road stands and at places like "The Cracker Barrel". It is definitely a fall staple, but I find that I almost always have a jar of it in my fridge. So I was really excited when the hubby took me to an apple orchard this year and let me buy a half peck of apples! I knew exactly what I was going to do with it!!

This recipe can be made two ways - either overnight (or all day) in a slow cooker, or you can make it in a few hours on the stovetop. I made mine on the stovetop because I always forgot to get it ready before I went to bed. It turned out velvety smooth, super thick, and absolutely delicious! I was going to can it, but the recipe only made two jars worth, and I knew that I was going to have it gone before it turned, so I skipped that step! A hint: if you use a mixture of apple varieties rather than just one type, it will produce a richer, more complex flavor!

Need something besides toast and biscuits to spread this beautiful concoction over? Try smearing some on both sides of a pork chop, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. It's divine! (My original plan was to place that recipe as another post, but I ate it before remembering to take a picture!)

Apple Butter (Cooking Light)
10 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into large chunks.
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp mace (I didn't have any mace. Instead I made a combo of allspice, ginger, and cardamom. And I might have used 1/2 tsp of this combo..)

Crock-pot directions:
Combine all ingredients in a 5 qt. crock-pot. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours or until apples are very tender.
Place a large fine mesh sieve over a bowl, and press the mixture through until you are only left with the pulp. Discard the pulp.
Return apple mixture to the slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, for 1.5 hours or until the mixture is thick. Stir occasionally. Spoon into a bowl or other container, cover, and chill up to a week.

Stovetop directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a dutch oven or a large stockpot.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 1-2 hours or until the apples are tender, stirring occasionally.
Strain through a sieve.
Return mixture to the pan and cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 15 more minutes until thick.
Store in a covered container in the fridge for a week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

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I saw these brownies a few days ago over at Baked Perfection and I knew, just KNEW that I had to make them. And as soon as possible. Not only are they red velvet, but they have cream cheese. And, amazingly enough, I had never actually made homemade brownies before. So these went straight on my "To-Make" List!

There seems to be a red velvet craze going around lately. It seems that I see it everywhere, from blogs to the Food Network, even the grocery store! And its a good thing, too, because I happen to really like red velvet! I remember hating it when I was younger, I honestly don't know what I was thinking. The only excuse could be that maybe I'd only had the box mix kind.

These, however, are awesome. Tender, moist, flavorful. I'm glad that I took the pan to work, because I would have eaten the entire thing. All by myself. Every last crumb. And then probably searched for crumbs.



Red Velvet Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

red velvet layer:
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa
pinch salt
1 tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour

cream cheese layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat an oven to 350 Degrees
Butter an 8x8 brownie pan.

Brownie layer:
In a large bowl, add the melted butter. In order, add the butter, sugar, vanilla, cocoa, salt, food coloring and vinegar, mixing between additions.
In a separate small bowl, whisk the eggs.
Add to the cocoa mixture.
Fold in the flour.
Pour batter into the prepared pan, saving 1/4 cup of the batter for later.

Cream Cheese layer:
Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Gently spread on top of the batter.

Dollop remaining brownie on top of the cream cheese layer.
Using a knife, drag through the dollops to create a pattern.

Bake for 30 minutes.
Cool before eating.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Daring Cooks Make Souffle!

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This month's Daring Cook's challenge was a lot of fun, but defintiely a challenge!

Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.


I have never had a souffle before, but I have heard great things about them - that they are delicious and ridiculously hard to make. Hence, I have never attempted to make one. I've just come to the understanding that I cannot for the life of me make proper stiff peaks in egg whites, so I tend to shy away from anything that relyies heavily on them being perfect. And a souffle is all egg whites, and stiff ones at that, so I knew without a doubt that I was going to suck at this challenge. But I wanted to try anyway!

Is it done yet?
Having never had a souffle before, I wasn't really sure what to expect once I dug my spoon in. It was spongy and light, but didn't really taste like much. I am sure this is because I didn't use a high quality chocolate. I used what I had in my cupboard, and it had bloomed a bit, but I was too lazy and cheap to go buy some more, and I used it anyway. That will teach me, huh?

I was proud of myself to not peak in the oven while it was baking, even though I was itching to see if it was rising! When I opened the oven door I was so excited to see that they had indeed risen! Yay!! I turned our to get the powdered sugar for a light dusting, and when I turned back - defeat! They had all fallen horribly! Overall I wasn't overly impressed with this challenge, but I know it was my own fault and not the recipes.

Falling, Falling...and its gone!
Chocolate Souffle (Dave Ramsey)
Ingredients


FOR THE DISHES

2 Tbsp (30 ml) 1 oz (30g) unsalted butter, for greasing

Cocoa powder or finely grated chocolate

FOR THE CREME PATISSERIE

2 tbsp (30 ml) (18 gm) (2/3 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour

2 tsp (10 gm) (0.35 oz) caster (superfine) sugar (regular sugar is OK)

½ tsp (4½ gm) (0.15 oz) corn starch (aka cornflour)

1 medium egg yolk

1 medium whole egg

4 Tbsp (60 ml) milk

5 Tbsp (75 ml) heavy cream (or double cream)

3 oz (90gm) good-quality dark chocolate preferably 70+% cocoa solids, broken in pieces

2 Tbsp (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) unsweetened cocoa powder

Optional: 2 tsp orange zest or 2 tsp minced chipotle chile en adobo or 1 tsp chipotle chile powder. (The chile version is a Monkeyshines favorite!) Optional: powdered sugar for dusting
FOR THE EGG WHITES

6 medium egg whites

6½ Tbsp (95 ml) 3 oz (90g) superfine/caster sugar (if you don’t have it, regular sugar is OK, or give your regular sugar a quick whirl in a spice/coffee grinder)



Directions:

1. Heat oven to moderate 375 ˚F/190 ˚C/gas mark 5.

2. Take four 1 cup/~240ml soufflé dishes and brush them completely with softened butter. Tip a little cocoa powder or grated chocolate into each dish, roll the dish around tilting it as you do so it is evenly lined all round.

3. For the crème patisserie, mix the flour, sugar and corn starch into a small bowl. Put egg yolk and whole egg into a medium sized bowl, beat lightly, then beat in half of the flour mixture to give a smooth paste. Tip in the rest of the flour mixture and cocoa powder and mix well.

4. To make the ganache, pour the milk and cream into a pan and bring just to the boil. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and beat until it is melted and smooth with no lumps.

5. Gradually stir hot chocolate ganache into the paste from step 3, and add the orange zest or chile if using. This is your crème patisserie.

6. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks with an electric whisk. Sprinkle in the sugar as you are mixing. Keep whisking to give stiff, firm peaks to give volume to the soufflés

7. Stir about 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the beaten egg whites into the crème patisserie. Carefully fold in a third of the rest, cutting through the mixture. Fold in another third (take care not to lose the volume), then fold in the rest.


8. Spoon the mixture into the dishes. Run a spoon across the top of each dish so the mixture is completely flat. Take a little time to wipe any splashes off the outside of each dish, or they will burn on while cooking.

9. Bake the soufflés for 15-17 minutes.

10. The soufflés should have risen by about two thirds of their original height and jiggle when moved, but be set on top.

11. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top, if desired.



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Old World Pumpkin Bars

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A friend of mine brought these beauties to book club the other day, and man were they fabulous. I'm a big fan of anything pumpkin, especially this time of year. But I had any kind of pumpkin bar except, well, regular pumpkin bars, the kind with cream cheese frosting on top. These are kind of a blending of pumpkin  and pecan pies. They are super delicious!


Old World Pumpkin Bars

CRUST:

1 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. quick oatmeal
1/2 c. butter

Mix and press in bottom of 9"x12" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.


FILLING:

2 c. canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 c. evaporated milk
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 tsp. ginger

Mix and pour over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


TOPPING:

1/2 c. pecans
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar

Mix and sprinkle on top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes more.

Cool before serving. Serve with Cool whip or whipped cream. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pecan Crusted Pork with Red Onion Marmalade and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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I wanted to make a nice dinner for the hubby and I, and I found this recipe....uh...somewhere. Dang it! Haha! I really need to be better about writing down where I got my recipes from. I think I got it from www.myrecipes.com It seemed like a really nice fall recipe - pork, pecans, sweet potatoes...YUM!
This recipe,while taking a while to make (uh-hem... planning is good), was rather simple to actually put together. I loved all the different parts! The red onion marmalade was amazing! I kind of want to eat it everyday. I highly recommend this meal, it was delicious and easy to make! 


Pecan Crusted Pork with Red Onion Marmelade and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

 - www.myrecipes.com 

2  pounds  peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Cooking spray
1/4  cup  packed brown sugar, divided
1  bacon slice, cut into 1-inch pieces
1  teaspoon  vegetable oil
1  medium red onion, sliced and separated into rings (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4  cup  water
1/4  cup  balsamic vinegar
1  tablespoon  grated peeled fresh ginger
1  pound  pork tenderloin
1/2  cup  all-purpose flour, divided
1/3  cup  ground pecans
1/2  teaspoon  cracked black pepper
 2  large egg whites, lightly beaten
1  tablespoon  butter or stick margarine
4  teaspoons  finely chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 400°.
Arrange potato slices in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar; arrange bacon on top. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes. Turn potatoes over; bake an additional 30 minutes or until tender. Keep warm.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and 2 tablespoons sugar; cook 6 minutes or until onion is tender and lightly browned, stirring frequently. Stir in water, vinegar, and ginger; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, and remove from heat.
Trim fat from pork, and cut crosswise into 8 pieces. Place each piece between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and flatten to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Combine 1/4 cup flour, ground pecans, and pepper in a separate shallow dish. Dredge pork in flour, shaking off excess. Dip pork in egg whites; dredge in pecan mixture, coating both sides.
Melt butter in pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Arrange pork in pan in a single layer. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Top pork with onion mixture; sprinkle with chopped pecans. Serve with sweet potatoes.

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