Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday Fun #57 - Pumpkin!

I was torn between two topics this week- both of them Halloween-ish even! But in the end decided to go the obvious pumpkin route and I will save the other one for next week. (I know you are on the edge of your seats now!)

I want to know, What is your Favorite pumpkin (or other squash) recipe? Pie? Soup? Ravioli? And then, once you tell us what it is, you should dig out the recipe and post it sometime this week. That way we can all try it! Neat, huh?

Here is mine:

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Squares

Makes 24; Prep time: 30 minutes;
In addition to keeping the cake from sticking to the pan, lining the pan with foil makes it easy to lift it out after baking.

2 C. All-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 Tbl. Pumpkin-pie spice (Note: If you don't have pumpkin-pie spice, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon cloves (all ground).
1 tsp Baking soda
3/4 tsp Salt
1 C. Unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C. Sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 CUP Canned pumpkin purée (Note: Not the whole can! Just one cup!)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin purée (mixture may appear curdled but it's not, it's ok). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

4. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

*I got this recipe from a message board I belong to, so I am sure it is someone's somewhere, but I'm sorry I don't know who to give credit to. All I know is that I never would have thought to mix pumpkin and chocolate chips together but it is seriously yummy and delish.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Braised Red Cabbage with Onions and Apples in Red Wine - Cranberry Sauce

If you're going to make cabbage, this isn't a bad way to do it. It's very, very red. Granted, the name's about as long as the entire list of ingredients, but hey, what're'ya gonna do? It's from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon. (Ok, so I looked up about the name & here's the scoop.)

1 1/2 tsp. butter
1 to 2 tart apples, such as Winesaps, peeled, cored, and chopped (I used Macintosh 'cuz that's what we had.)
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbl. plus 1 tsp. [so, 4 tsp.] brown sugar
1/2 head red cabbage (about 1 lb), trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. any good vegetable stock
1/2 c. dry red wine, such as a northern Rhone
1 Tbl. plus 1 tsp. [again, 4 tsp.] unbleached white all-purpose flour
2 to 3 Tbl. jellied cranberry sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apples, onion, and brown sugar and saute until the onions are fairly limp, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and saute for another 5 minutes.

Add the vinegar and then 1/2 c. of the stock. Bring to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the cabbage is tender but still has a bit of crispness, 25 to 30 minutes. [I think I did a bit less.]

Uncover and add the wine. Raise the heat and bring to a boil.

In a small bowl, whisk the cranberry sauce and flour into the remaining 1/4 c. stock. [Or, you know, the measuring cup you were using anyway.] When the liquid is boiling, stir in the flour-stock mixture. Lower the heat slightly, and simmer, stirring often, for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday Fun #56 - What do you ALWAYS have on hand?

Whoa! Is it Wednesday already? I have no idea how the middle of the week gets here so quickly!

So Mrs. H's other post inspired me to think of this one: What do you horde? What do you always have on hand to throw a meal together? Is there an item or two that you are always buying, (even though you may have 2 or 3 already stashed in the cupboard?)

**I mean things besides flour, sugar, salt, butter, milk, etc. Spices can count but only if you have an unusually large stash of a particular item. Like nutmeg, just for one example.

For me it's Bread crumbs, pasta, and Fajita seasoning - we almost never run out of those items! How about you?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Candy Corn Cookies

Candy Corn "Log"

Uncooked cookies


Candy Corn Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter (no substitutes), softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Yellow and orange food coloring

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Tint one portion yellow. Divide remaining dough into two-thirds and one-third portions. Color the larger portion orange; leave smaller portion white.

Shape each portion of dough into two 8 in logs. Flatten top and pinch side in at a slight angle. Place orange logs on yellow logs; push the sides in at a slight angle. Top with white logs; form a rounded top. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 4 hours or until firm.
Unwrap and cut into ¼ inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire rack to cool

Yield: about 5 dozen

Tip– I rolled the logs a lot longer. I thought the first time I made them they were too large.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Recipe Request - Green Tomatoes

Um, help?!?!?

CSA Week 19 - Last delivery of 2008!

*sob* It's the last week of this season's CSA. I'm going to miss it! It's been fun every week to get a box of surprises. Sure, I could figure there was often salad mix at the beginning, lots of tomatoes in the middle, onions and garlic and potatoes towards the end, but we really got a lot of variety! I mean, garlic scapes? Gooseberries? Brusselini? Edamame? Not anything I'd've guessed we'd get going into this food adventure!

Will we sign up for next year? All signs point to yes. It's cheaper to sign up before March 1st, so we've got a bit of time to decide for sure (and pay), but it's likely. Next year I'd like to do a better job of preserving what we're not going to get to right away (esp. the herbs - lots of those went bad), and I'd also like to do our own garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, and other foods that it makes sense to preserve in quantities we don't get in our CSA box. 'Cuz there's nothing like pulling some homemade marinara sauce out of the freezer in the middle of the deep, dark winter!

If you're thinking about joining a CSA for next season, start looking now, as many of them fill up quickly. Some (ours included) have options for half shares if you're not up for as much veggie goodness as we've been getting. It has certainly been an adventure, and gotten all 4 of us to try vegetables (and fruit) we haven't before.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Fun #55- Breakfast for dinner?

I was making up the grocery list/menu plan the other day and asked the husband how he felt about Breakfast for dinner. He informed me that Breakfast at dinner time can only be Eggs Benedict. (which I have never made in my life) apparently, all other options of breakfast food are out. He's weird.
Do you do breakfast at dinnertime? We usually don't but I was thinking it would be a good way to shake up the routine, but still be fairly fast and easy. What is your opinion?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blog all about the crockpot

Just found this blog all about crockpots and thought some might enjoy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

CSA Week 18

*le sigh* This is the almost last week of our CSA share. I will miss it! It's been fun getting the box of surprises every week. Granted, I was more keen on some foods than others, but I'm really glad we did this. Also, pretty sure we'll be signing up for next year, too. We've talked about doing the CSA, and then putting in a garden of things to keep/preserve like tomatoes, squash, green beans, etc. Because while we'd sometimes have more than we could eat of something in a week, it wasn't ever enough extra to do something with, you know?

"Autumn Green Mix" is apparently a "beautiful mixture of cooking greens which include red kale, red and green mustards, the Asian greens Komatsuna, Hon Tsai Tai, and Tatsoi, and Swiss chard."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Crockpot- Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce


Cooker size: Medium round or oval crockpot
Setting & Cook Time: LOW for 8-9 hours

One 2-pound boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 4 pieces
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
1/2 cup prepared teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to your taste, I always add a bit more than this, we like spicy)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

For Serving:
1/2 cup chopped green onions (white part and some of the green)
1/4 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
2 limes, cut to make 8-12 wedges

1. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Put the pork, bell peppers, teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes and garlic in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until pork is fork tender, 8 to 9 hours

2. Remove pork from cooker and coarsely chop. Add the peanut butter to the liquid in the cooker; stir well to dissolve the peanut butter and blend with the liquid to make the sauce. **I also added a touch of honey.** Return the pork to the sauce and toss to coat the meat evenly.

3. Serve in shallow bowls over hot jasmine rice and sprinkle each serving with some of the green onions and peanuts; pass the lime wedges.

** I would recommend also serving with some stir fried veggies (maybe bell peppers and snow peas)
**You could also substitute chicken breasts in this recipe

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday Fun #54 - Bring something to share

I want to know, when someone tells you to bring something to the office pot-luck or to some other get-together, what is your go-to dish?
Do you always bring dessert? Do you always bring appetizers? Do you use it as a chance to try a new recipe on a captive audience? Or do you bring an old stand- by? Do you throw together something easy? Or do you go all out and make the complicated recipe you don't usually have time for?
I know some people who will make dishes they LOVE - because then they are forced to share and not eat it all themselves in the cozy seclusion of their own home. And I know some people who make things they know their co-workers like, but they don't really care for themselves. What do you do? Please to discuss. Share recipes too if you like!

Friday, October 3, 2008

CSA Week 17

Lots in the box this week, even if no blues or purples. I do need to issue a correction from last week though. You know those melons? Well, the most oblong one is really a spaghetti squash, which I'd never had before. It was nice. I did have fears when I was baking it whole, though, that we were going to be sitting down to a nice meal of roasted melon...

Crockpot - Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 C Salsa
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 pound chicken breasts cut into cubes
2 C frozen whole kernel corn
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 soup can water
1 tsp ground cumin
4-6" tortillas cut into small strips
1/3 C fresh cilantro leaves
Stir salsa, soup, chicken corn beans, water, and cumin in a slow cooker.
Cover and cook on high 4-5 hours or until chicken is cooked through
Stir the tortillas, 1C cheese and cilantro into the cooker. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more. Serve with additional cheese, sour cream, and I like Frito chips.

I have not made this yet but it came from a good friend in our cooking club. Thought I would give it to everyone right away to try.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Crockpot - Taco Soup

Taco Soup
1 ½ pounds ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning
2 cans whole kernel corn, undrained
2 cans ranch-style or chili beans, undrained
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
Crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese
Flour tortillas, warmed
In a Dutch over or large saucepan, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in taco seasoning, corn, beans and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
Place tortilla chips in soup bowls; ladle soup over chips. Spinkle with cheese. Serve with warmed tortillas.
(I often put the browned beef and all other ingredients in my crockpot and let simmer in there.)

Crockpot - Mashed Potatoes

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese softened
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
6 cups warm mashed potatoes (prepared without milk or butter)
In a bowl combine the cream cheese, sour cream, butter, salad dressing mix, and parsley; stir in potatoes. Transfer to a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2-4 hours. Yield 8-10 servings

I make this for holidays. It is great because you can make it a day or two in advance and just turn your crockpot on and not use more space in the oven.

Crockpot - Potato Chowder

Potato Chowder
8 cups diced peeled potatoes
1/3 cup chopped onion
3 cans (14 ½ ounces each) chicken broth
1 can (10 ¾ ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
½ pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled, optional
snipped chives, optional
In a slow cooker, combine the first five ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until potatoes are tender. Add cream cheese; stir until blended. Garnish with bacon and chives if desired. Yield 12 servings (3 quarts)
I added some extra pepper, parsley, and oregano.

Crockpot - Spaghetti Corn

Spaghetti Corn
1 can whole corn (drain)
1 can cream corn
½ cup butter (1/4 cup is ok too)
½ cup Velveeta diced
salt and pepper
½ cup broken spaghetti (not cooked)
Put all in crock pot on low 3 hours or 350 degree or the oven for 1 hour.
I double and fits in crock pot. DO NOT double butter!!

This is what my hubby brings to potlucks at school. It is easy to make - everyone loves it - and it is done in his office during the morning. He just plugs it in when he gets to work. It does stick sometimes so use a crockpot that comes apart for easy cleaning.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday Fun #53 - Family Recipes

I recently read a story about macaroni and cheese. The author was raving about her elderly aunt's recipe, it was thick and creamy and had just the right amount of cheese and flavoring. Her mac and cheese was requested at every family get together, and everyone wanted to know how to make it, but the aunt never told anyone. Well, until she couldn't get around so much and couldn't make it herself anymore. So she told one person, her sister (the author's mother). The new recipe carrier was just as mum for a number of years. One day the author called her mom to request she bring the macaroni and cheese to a birthday party- the mom said, "Look honey, you take a box of frozen stouffers, halfway through cooking, add an egg and 2 cups of cheese, stir it up and cook it the rest of the time. That's it!"

Everybody has 'em - those recipes that your grandma made, or your great aunt, or your great great grandpa's famous potato sausage. Those dishes that turn up at almost every family gathering, or sometimes only for certain holidays. Some families are secretive about them (so no need to share the recipe if you don't want to!) , some share them with everyone, and some even try to package and market the really good ones!
So tell us, what are your family recipes? Do you like them? Do you know how to make them?

October's Theme - Crockpot Favorites

Happy October! This is our first month with a theme and it's "Crockpot Favorites." Have you got something great you make in the slow cooker? Let us know!

So far, here are previously posted recipes made in the crockpot:
Post any good crockpot recipes you've got and please label them as "Slow Cooker." If I've missed any previously posted recipes, just let me know in the comments and I'll add them above.

(Of course, you're ALWAYS welcome to post any other recipes you want to - they don't have to be theme related.)