Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pumpkin Dough Nuts

This was one of those recipes that I saw on Pinterest and made that night.  Why? because it looked so good.  I had all the ingredients.  Had some company coming over- perfect for sharing. The recipe was from King Arthur Flour- one of my favorite sources for good recipes. Not to mention my favorite type of flour- no one paid me to say that (though I would never turn down a gift of flour from King Arthur). I have not found a bad recipe from that site yet- and I have made many of them.

This was made with one of those mini baker donut thingy dingies.  Yah know- it looked like this-

Me and the girls sat at the kitchen table, baking donuts and putting sugar on them and then eating them.  We even shared a few.

You certainly can make them in the regular oven, in a donut pan or even in mini muffin pans- whatever you like.  They will stay taste amazing any way!

Pumpkin Mini Donuts
recipe adapted from here at the King Arthur blog.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus a heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Beat everything together until smooth.

Add 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, stirring just until smooth. Dont overmix.

Bake the dough nuts for about seven minutes in the donut maker- when the ready light is on, check them.

Remove the dough nuts from the dough nut baker, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Sprinkle sugar over top while fresh from the baker.  Flip and sugar again.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Zucchini Carrot Soup

I had some fesh carrots from the market and some fresh zucchini.  They were begging to be eaten.  I plugged in the coordinates.... zucchini and carrots and soup into the search engine and found a ton of soups.  I waded through them and found this one.  I then adapted it because some ingredients I just didnt have.  I made it my own.  And really isn't that what soup is about?  Cleaning out the fridge and being at least a little inventive.  Or at least thats what it is for me.  Takes me back to when I was a kid and would make some Yard Stuff Soup.  Some berries from the bushes, some dirts, some leaves, some rocks.  Throw it all into my bucket and pretend it was the most delicious soup I ever ate. And yes, it probably would have killed me if I actually did eat it, considering the berries.

I am going to pretend that this is one of the most delicious soups I ever ate too.  But really I don't have to pretend.  It's good, it's low calorie and goes down real well, especially on a crisp autumn day. Best of all it won't kill you, contrarily it will make you a little healthier.

Zucchini Carrot Soup

4 medium carrots (about a cup), diced
1 medium zucchini (about 4 cups), chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, minced or grated
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon vegetable broth concentrate*
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon squeezed
3 cups water, give or take
salt & pepper to taste

Saute carrots, zucchini and onion with the olive oil in a soup pot.  Add in the remainder of ingredients and cook at a simmer, covered for about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve.  Store overnight if you wish, its even better the next day.

*Click on the link if you want to make your own vegetable broth concentrate or substitute the water and concentrate with the broth of your choice.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Homemade Ketchup

Tomato season.  Canning. Canning. Canning.  Its all good.  This year ketchup was on the docket.  Ketchup from the store these days tastes like tomato flavored corn syrup.  Yes?  My kids even commented one day how sweet it was and... salty.  Yes, I was a little surprised they noticed.  Note to self.  Make ketchup this summer.  Oh, and I did.

I really looked for a recipe. I wanted one that did not have tons of spices in it, had just the right amount of tang and sugar. I looked through old canning books and the internet.  Alas, I found a jumping off point from NPR.  If you want to read about what they did, click here to visit that page.

I have to say that the end result was way beyond my expectations and I simply loved it.  One thing I would change is that I would put a tad less cayenne.  I dont mind, but my kids may.  So I write this as a note to self and maybe to you too that I should put it in because it gives the recipe a bit of "smack" but not have it so obvious.  Next year a half of a teaspoon.

I used roma's.  I tell you this because if you are going to can this, you want to start with roma's.  They are meaty and will give you a stellar out come in way less time. When I clean them. I first scald them for a minute or two, let them cool on a baking sheet.  I skin and core them.  Then I slit them down the sides and ease the liquid and seeds out of them.  My end product has barely any seeds.  I avoid straining this way.  Something I particularly hate about canning tomato sauce.  Maybe because that was always my job when I was a kid and my mother was canning.
The above photo is a ketchup I made using Mrs.  Wages canning seasoning packet.  It is very good. However, I paid three dollars for the packet for a little over three pints of ketchup.  Eh. I really wanted a batch of the stuff to last me and the family through the winter and summer until tomatoes arrived again.

Ketchup or Catsup
Note: This may sound weird but if you can get your hands on some beet powder or you have the forethought to make it (Idid not), you could add a teaspoon or so.  This will make the color nicer and add a bit more depth.

1/2 bushel roma tomatoes
1 cup onion
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 quart (4 cups or 32 ounces) cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried garlic flakes
1 tablespoon allspice*
1 teaspoon cinamon*
1 teaspoon cloves*
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (I used 1 teaspoon and it was spicy)

*If you choose to use whole spices, place them in cheesecloth so you can remove them later.
Wash the tomatoes.

Place a wide and deep pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil.  Place tomatoes in a single layer into the post.  Scald for one to two minutes. Let them cool on a baking sheet until you can handle them.  Skin and core them.  Slit them down the sides and ease the liquid and seeds out of them. Place in large kettle.  Once you have about a quarter of the tomatoes done, place the pot on the stove on a low flame and begin to boil them while you finish cutting up the rest.

Watch them, especially in the beginning until there is enough juice so they will not burn.

Add in the vinegar, salt, Lea and Perrins sauce, spices and onion.  Let this cook for a long time.  Like 4 to six hours.  You want to cook it down until its about half the amount as when you started.  Let cool enough for you to handle as you will place it in a blender next.  Puree in batches and return to large pot.

Place on stove and add in the sugar. Let cook some more until it thickens even more, about another hour or two. Get canning pot ready with water and heat on stove.

Add in tomato paste to ketchup mixture. Correct the seasoning with salt, pepper, sugar and Lea & Perrins Sauce.  Let it go back to a simmer.  Turn off heat.  Using a measuring cup, pour the liquid into canning jars leaving a 1/4 head space.  Put lids and rings on and tighten to finger tight.  Place in hot water bath.

Fill canner with water to at least 1 inch above tops of jars.  Once the water starts to boil, this is called processing, process for 30 minutes.

Turn off flame, remove lid of canner and wait five minutes.

Use the tongs to remove the jars and lids one at a time from the canner.  Listen for a ping as the ketchup cools and the lid pops into place. You dont have to be there to hear the ping but it is a gratifying sound.  It means the lids have sealed.  Beofre you store them you do want to check to make sure the lid is depressed.  This means they are sealed properly.  If the lid is not depressed store in refrigerator and eat. Let the jars rest 24 hours.

Store in a dark place. My yield was 6 quarts and one pint, with about a cup left for eating right away! Yum.

My friend gave me this beautiful bouquet for my birthday.  Thank you.  They are so lovely.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chocolate Goodie Bars

So you like candy bars?  This is the recipe for you.  Hugely decadent and delightful.

The other day I was in a dilemma- an enjoyable dilemma, mind you- what to make for my husbands work party.  He asked and because I love him and I love to bake I said yes.  The great thing about baking for your husbands work (or your wife's as the case may be), is you do not have to eat it.  You can enjoy the baking experience and send on its merry way.  If you would like to keep one or two for pictures... well that's okay too!

You know me, I need to do this from scratch- so I did. And I know you- you want a quick and easy way... and certainly that is okay.  I offer two ways of doing this amazing recipe.

You can go the easy route here:

Chocolate Goodie Bars

Bottom Layer:
Box of your favorite brownies- not to drop names here because I am not getting paid for it anyway, bu my fave is Ghiardelli Brownies.

Middle Layer:
Tub 'o' frosting.

The top layer:

Top "candy" Layer

2 cups crisp rice cereal
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/3 cups (8 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

Make the brownies, let cool completely.
Frost the brownies- chocolate or vanilla - your choice
Refrigerate or if you so desire chill in the freezer for a while.
Make top layer and slather over top, smoothing it down evenly.


Chocolate Goodie bars

Brownie Bottom

recipe adapted from King Arthur's Recipes.
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan
2) Crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.
3) In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Or simply combine the butter and sugar, and heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Continue to heat (or microwave) briefly, just until the mixture is hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture to this point will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
4) Add the hot butter/sugar mixture to the egg/cocoa mixture, stirring until smooth.
5) Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.
6) Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.
7) Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving. 

Frosting Layer
2 stick butter
3 cups of confectioners
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon give or take of half and half or milk

Whip butter in a bowl for about three minutes.  Add in confectioners sugar with beaters on low.  (You dont want a face full of confectioners... or maybe you do...) Once incorporated, turn up the speed.  Add in vanilla then milk, little by little.  If you add too much, just balance it out with confectioners sugar.

You may not need all of it.  I went for a thinner coating of frosting.

Spread over cooled brownies.

Top "candy" Layer

2 cups crisp rice cereal
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/3 cups (8 oz) semisweet chocolate chips


Make the brownies, let cool completely.
Frost the brownies.
Refrigerate or if you so desire chill in the freezer for a while.
Make top layer and slather over top, smoothing it down evenly.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Raspberry Vinegar

I had seen a post on The Kitchn for make your own fruit vinegar and knew I had to make it.  This one was equal parts raspberries- both black and red- and white vinegar. Since my post on F Olivers, I have made raspberry vinegar and am in the process of making peach vinegar. Don't get me wrong I still like the WOW flavors of F Olivers but I also love that I can make a few by myself with whatever ingredients I have on hand.

Bring 2 cups raspberries and 2 cups of white vinegar to a boil.  Let simmer for one minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Once cool, place in a clean jar.  I used a mason jar.  Let sit for a week in a cool dark place.  After a week, strain and bottle your new vinegar. Discard fruit.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Cake

I wanted a hazelnut opera cake for my birthday.  Yes, I make my own birthday cake.  Why?  Because if I am going to have calories like that, I want it to be calories I love. 

 This icing tastes like the center of a chocolate truffle.  It was freaking amazing.
 Look at how pretty it is waiting to be smoothed on the cake.
Then ganache.  It just doesnt get better.  This is like the outside of a chocolate truffle.  Slurp.
 And this is how she looked all decorated and ready for my birthday celebration.
Chocolate Truffle Opera Cake

Coffee French Buttercream

1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/2 cup or 100g brown sugar
1/ 2 cup or 50g water
4 egg yolks (or 75g)
250g butter, softened (a cup plus a tablespoon)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 1/2 ounces or 75g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon of instant coffee

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or a double boiler.  I use one of my metal bowls that fits neatly over one of my sauce pans. Let cool and set aside. 
Dissolve the instant coffee in 3 tbsp boiling water. Let cool and set aside. 
Cut the butter into small blocks.
Beat the egg yolks till in doubles in volume. This may take a while- like 7 to 10 minutes.  I left it running in my mixer for quite a while.
Cook the sugars together with the water till the mixture reaches about 240F or 115°C. Slowly pour this mixture into the beaten egg yolks while beating continuously.
Continue mixing until the mixture cools down to room temperature. Place hand at bottom of mixer bowl to feel whether it is cool or not.

Add the butter a few blocks at a time, making sure that the butter is completely mixed into the mixture each time, until all the butter is used up.

Add the melted chocolate, mix evenly.
Mix the vanilla into the cooled coffee and pour that into the mix.

Opera Cake

5 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk
120g icing sugar
160g Hazelnut meal or almond meal
40g cocoa powder
60g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
40ml vegetable oil
In a separate bowl
3 egg whites
30g icing's sugar
1 tsp cornflour
Mix all the dry ingredients except sugar together. Sift and set aside for use
a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, egg yolk and sugar. Beat the mixture till it
triples in volume and leaves a trail. This takes about 7 to 8 minutes. Be sure to
reduce the beater's speed to low and let it run for an additional minute to
reduce the large bubbles present in the batter.

Sift in the dry ingredients to the egg mixture in 3 separate portions and gently
fold in till you see no visible lumps.

Add the vegetable oil and again fold in gently till all is well combined.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 with parchment.

In a separate mixer bowl, add in the egg whites and beat till foamy. Gradually
add in the sugar and beat till soft peaks. Now add in the cornflour and continue
to beat till it is well combined and still peaks.

Fold the whites into the main batter in 2 separate portions until incorporated.
Pour the batter into a greased and parchment lined cake pan and bake in the
preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes till the tester comes out clean. Tap the pan on the counter to get out air bubbles.

Cool completely on rack before slicing. When cooled, cut the cake in 4 equal portions.

Chocolate Ganache

600g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
300ml whipped cream
20g unsalted butter
1 pack of instant coffee mixed in 6 tbsp of boiling water

In a saucepan, heat the cream till almost bubbly. Pour the liquid over the chopped chocolate and butter. Leave the mixture without stirring for 5 minutes. After 5mins, stir the mixture till all the chocolate chunks are melted and its smooth and thick. Add in the coffee mixture, mix well. Let cool at room temperature (no chilling) for use later.

When assembling the cake- I find it much easier if the cake is frozen.  The icing goes on nice.  I freeze it again after the layers are assembled.  I add the ganache on the cold cake and freeze it.  Followed by another layer of ganache.  The first one is to get the cake covered.  The second layer is to make sure everything is covered and looking pretty.  Thats not to say that I did an entirely great job though.  As you can see in the photo below I have some cake showing. Eh- nobody complained.

Afterwards, with lots of calories to burn, we played games, including some kick ball out back.  When I returned home I danced for a half an hour. I am sure that only just touched the amount of calories consumed.
My youngest daughter made a game of pin the tail on the donkey.  What my dog heard was pin the tail on the doggy.  She had to be part of that action.  Every time we would walk over there- she was there, waiting for her pinning.  Hysterical yes, but a little scary with my aging parents, blind folded and disoriented by the blind fold. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Gorgonzola and Peach Pizza

Have I ever told you that I am not a major fan of pizza?  I am not.  I am a fan of those artisan pizza's with fancy toppings on them.  I don't really like any foods that are heavily laden with grease.  I make it a lot.  Because my kids eat it and like it as well.  I feel like I am being sacrilig here because my husband LOVES pizza.  If he could eat pizza five days of the week with calamari on the other days he would be as happy as a pig in sh-- , okay, mud.

The best part of a pizza for me is the crust.  Love it.

This pizza, however, was DA BOMB!  And I mean flavor explosion in da mouth.

If you are not a big Gorgonzola fan- you could make this with chevre for an equally delicious pizza.
This is how it looks pre-oven baking and below is after- before the pepper and I will tell you that the pepper absolutely makes this pizza.  It just rounds everything out.  Gotta have it.  The fresher, the better.
Perfect Peach and Gorgonzola Pizza
This makes one single serving- if you want to eat that much- pizza.  450 calories.

1 peach, sliced 1/4 inch thick and into bite sized pieces
1 ounce gorgozola, crumbled
1 ounce of prosciutto
4 ounces of dough (about the size of a tennis ball)
crushed black pepper
6 leaves of basil

Roll out the pizza into a circle.  Make it as flat as possible. Place it on a cookie sheet or whatever. Lay pieces of prosciutto over the dough round.  Sprinkle gorgonzola all around.  Lay pieces of peach sporadically over top.  Place on the bottom shelf of a 500F oven for about ten minutes, until golden around sides.  Remove from oven, spread basil all around and sprinkle crushed black pepper over top.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hearts of Palm Salad

One of the things that is a must for me in the summer is a Hearts of Palm Salad.  So good! And really it is the best for me if accompanied by tomatoes and avocado.  Those flavors just play so nicely with each other.

Where to find Hearts of Palm:  I have seen it at Trader Joe's, Wegman's and BJ's Wholesale.

What is Hearts of Palm: 

Other names: fresh heart of palm, hearts of palm
"The heart of palm is the central part or heart of certain types of wild palms, native of the Amazon region. The principal variety of cultivated heart of palm is Bactris gasipaes, or peach palm...

The heart of palm is sweet, soft, yet crispy, ivory-colored, firm in texture and delicate in flavor.

The palm heart or palmetto does not discolor upon being cut and has a shelf life of about 2 weeks if kept refrigerated at 40°F, and wrapped in food-grade plastic."

You can read more about that here at Gourmet Sleuth

40 calories per cup of Hearts of Palm

What does it taste like:  Someone I know likened it to an artichoke and I would have to say that would be the closest approximation.

Hearts of Palm Salad

1 large tomato, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1/4 cup purple onion or Vidalia
4 Hearts of Palm's, sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper 

Mix altogether and enjoy.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Peach Soft Serve Ice Cream

Just had some delicious peach ice cream and wanted to share this easy peasy recipe with you.  I have posted before about banana ice cream and this is the same idea.  All you need is a food processor and the ingredients and you are good to go.  No ice cream maker required.

Peach Ice Cream 

1 peach chopped and frozen
1/2 banana chopped and frozen
1 cup milk (if you are lactose intolerant you can substitute whatever you like - coconut milk, soy, almond- whatever)

Place the frozen pieces of peaches in the food processor and run it.  Chopping blending until it is fairly smooth.  Once you place the milk in it will be hard to get the lumps out.  Make sure the lumps are adequately broken up before you add the milk.  Pour it in and in no time you will have soft serve deliciousness.

200 calories-  a peach about 40, half of a banana 50, milk about 110.  There is over a cup of "ice cream" here.  I so would make it again.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Detox Water- lemon, mint cucumber

I tried it.  I seen it dozen of times on Pinterest and was, oh, so curious about it.  Nope - didn't like it.  If it was lemon and mint, yes I would like it.  And I do love cucumbers but for some strange reason the cucumbers repeated on me the entire day and it was not pleasant.  Maybe it was the type of cucumbers.  But honestly I wasn't sold on the taste of it either.

The benefit is that it is suppose to be detoxifying.  And, can I let you in on a little secret?  Your liver is a real good detoxifier.  That is it's job.  You can help your liver do its job by drinking lots of water.  Simple.  Water.  Easy.  Nothing to make, just put it to your lips and drink. Sip all day for maximum benefit.

Now, if you want a diuretic, cause sometimes you want a svelte look, eat asparagus or drink lemon in your water.

If you want to try this because you want a new flavor in your water and all natural by all means give it a go

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Zucchini Bread

When I make light muffins (or sweet bread) me and my husband eat them.  When I am make full fat, full sugar muffins then my kids eat them.  And truth be told we have a slice here and there.  Depending on our current level of resistance (which is a constantly changing variable).

While I would not call this health food, I certainly would not call it junk either.  Junk to me has absolutely no redeeming qualities.  This I can  say has at least some vegetables in it.  And, yes, sometimes I throw in some flax seed for extra benefit.

Its always good to have a trusted stand by for zucchini bread and this one does not disappoint.

Zucchini Bread

Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins

3 eggs
1 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans.  Or if you so desire, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then vanilla.  Add the shredded zucchini.  In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Stir the dry mixture into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans. Bake loaves for 60 minutes, testing when it gets closer to the hour.  Stick toothpick into the center, if it comes out clean then they are done. Muffins for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.