Happy Halloween ~ Roasted Pumpkin Soup

There’s nothing more comforting than a thick pumpkin soup on an autumn day. This soup can be a sophisticated first course if you serve it with a dollop of crème fraiche, balsamic vinegar, and some chives on top. Or you can play with your food and make it a whimsical Halloween dish! I think this season, more than any other time of the year, is the time to have fun in the kitchen. 🙂 I dressed up my roasted pumpkin soup for Halloween with a sour cream spider web and a witch’s broom made of a pretzel, a thin slice of Swiss cheese, and a chive.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

1 medium sugar pie pumpkin, cut in half and seeded

1 medium onion, cut into approximately 1-inch pieces

3 carrots, peeled, and cut into approximately 1-inch pieces

3 whole garlic cloves, skin removed

Approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (or more for a thinner soup)

Pinch of cayenne

Sour cream, thinned with a little water

Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toss all of the vegetables in olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them.

Roast until the vegetables are softened and starting to caramelize, tossing halfway through, approximately 45 minutes.

Remove the pumpkin flesh from the skin and discard the skin. Add all of the roasted vegetables to a soup pot. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer.

In a blender, purée the soup in two batches. Strain. Return to the pot to simmer. If you would like a thinner soup, add more stock at this point.

Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of cayenne.

For the spider web garnish, scoop sour cream mixed with a little water into a piping bag fitted with a small piping tip. Pipe a swirl on top of each bowl of soup. With a wooden skewer, drag lines from the center to the outside of the bowl to make the web shape. Add a few roasted pumpkin seeds on top as the finishing touch.

Pumpkin Season! ~ Pimento Cheese Pumpkins

Every October I love to try a bunch of different pumpkin recipes, both savory and sweet. Since pumpkins are not only delicious but also so festive, I even love to make dishes that look like pumpkins, whether or not they have any actual pumpkin in the recipe. This pimento cheese ball is one of those recipes. It is dressed up in a pumpkin costume for the season! 😉

Pimento cheese is a Southern classic, which you can serve with crackers, crudités, or bread. For my version, I made wonton crackers in different autumn shapes. The super simple recipe for the crackers can be found here.

Pimento Cheese Pumpkins

Makes 2 small cheese balls

Approximately 2 cups cheddar cheese crackers (I used Annie’s Cheddar Squares)

2 ounces extra sharp cheddar, coarsely grated

1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese

1 teaspoon mayonnaise

2 tablespoons jarred pimentos, drained of excess liquid

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

Pinch of cayenne

2 2-inch long pretzel sticks.

Place the crackers in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Smash the crackers with a rolling pin until the crumbs are fine. For an even finer crumb, process the crackers in a food processor for a couple of minutes. Set the crumbs aside in a shallow bowl.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the remaining ingredients, except for the pretzels. Process until smooth.

Cover the cheese in cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.

After the cheese is chilled, divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll the chilled cheese in your hands to make a ball. Roll the ball in the cracker crumbs until evenly coated. With the back of a butter knife, indent the sides of the ball to look like the grooves on the side of a pumpkin. Top with a pretzel to make the “stem.” Repeat with the remaining piece of pimento cheese.

Celebrating Autumn! ~ Spiced Honeycrisp Apple Mini Bundt Cakes

I absolutely love fall. 🙂 Now is the time to enjoy crisp evenings, harvest colors, and some of my favorite flavors of the year! I kicked off this fresh fall season with these spiced Honeycrisp apple mini Bundt cakes.

I used a mini Bundt pan that holds 4 cups of batter. Alternatively, this recipe also makes 10 standard-sized muffins. These cakes also freeze well so you can enjoy fresh cake with your morning coffee. Just microwave for about 30 seconds to defrost, and they taste like they came fresh out of the oven. 🙂

Spiced Honeycrisp Apple Mini Bundt Cakes

Makes 6 mini Bundt cakes

Butter (for greasing the pan)

1 large Honeycrisp apple

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup light olive oil

2 tablespoons skim milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Butter a mini Bundt pan. Make sure you get the butter into all of the crevasses to make sure the cake will come out cleanly.

Peel the apple and cut out the core. Grate all of the apple flesh on a coarse grater. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Add the shredded apple and stir well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Take care not to over mix at this point.

Fill each mold in the Bundt pan about 3/4 of the way full. Tap the pan on the counter to help any air bubbles escape.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then invert onto a cooling rack.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.

Cozy Autumn Treat ~ Pumpkin Spice Latte Muffins

Pumpkin Spiced Latte MuffinsNothing says autumn in Seattle more to me than a warm pumpkin spice latte. I got my first cup of the season and sipped it by the lake under the colorful autumn leaves. Ahh…

To recreate the flavors at home, I made a batch of pumpkin spice latte muffins. 🙂 They are filled with a good bit of pumpkin puree, warm spices, and a generous amount of espresso. A perfect breakfast treat to start any autumn day.

The cute (and free!) printables are from a website called Weigh to Maintain. They were actually meant for another purpose, but I thought they were a perfect way to dress up these little muffins.Pumpkin Spiced Latte MuffinsPumpkin Spice Latte Muffins

Makes about 16 muffins

1 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

5 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Pinch of kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup light olive oil

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar

2/3 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients, from the flour through the salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients, from the eggs to the vanilla.

Then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and whisk until just combined. Take care not to mix the batter too much at this point.

Fill your paper liners about 3/4 full. Bake the muffins for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of the muffins comes out clean.Pumpkin Spiced Latte Muffins

Pumpkin Season ~ Pumpkin Whole-Wheat Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner RollsTonight is a blustery and rainy night in Seattle. Perfect for a bowl of hot soup and warm pumpkin dinner rolls!

I transformed my recipe for whole-wheat dinner rolls with dill to make these pumpkin rolls. I love creative and fun pumpkin recipes at this time of the year, so when I discovered different versions of this idea online, I knew I wanted to try a batch with my own recipe. I think they are almost too cute to eat…*Almost.* 😉 They are savory, but they have a hint of warm pumpkin spice.

Pumpkin Whole-Wheat Dinner Rolls

Makes 8 dinner rolls

1/4 cup warm skim milk (about 80 degrees F.)

1/2 tablespoon dry active yeast

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 3/4 cups white whole-wheat flour

All-purpose flour for dusting work surface

Approximately 1 tablespoon beaten egg

4 cinnamon sticks broken in half to make 8 pieces

Place a piece of parchment paper on a half sheet pan, and spray the parchment with cooking spray. Make sure you have enough room in your refrigerator for the sheet pan where the rolls will rest overnight.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the milk. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Let stand until the yeast and milk mixture looks a little frothy, about 5 minutes. Next, add the ingredients from the sugar through the whole-wheat flour to the bowl. Let the mixer knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough will be elastic and sticky.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a clean work surface that is lightly dusted with all-purpose flour. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Sprinkle a little extra all-purpose flour over the dough and on your hands if the dough sticks.

Form the rolls into your desired shape. To make the pumpkin shaped rolls, form each piece into a ball. Gently press each ball into a disc. With a very sharp knife, cut 8 slits all around the sides of each disc, taking care to leave the center intact. Press a small indentation into the center of each roll. Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheet. Take care to leave enough space between the rolls to allow them to rise without touching each other.

Spray the tops of the rolls with nonstick cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let the rolls rest in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, remove the rolls from the refrigerator. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes, or until close to doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Brush the rolls with the beaten egg. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown and cooked through. Push the cinnamon sticks into the center of each roll to make the “stems.”Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Halloween Season ~ Barmbrack

BarmbrackIt’s that time of year again for all things Halloween!

For my first treat of the season, I made Irish Halloween bread called Barmbrack. Since the holiday began with an ancient Celtic festival, I thought this bread would be a nice way to celebrate the history of Halloween.

I also love the tradition that goes along with this bread. In the past, different objects were baked into the loaf, such as a ring or a coin. The ring meant that the person who received it would be married within the year, and the coin meant riches. There were also items baked into the bread that were said to signify bad luck. For instance, a piece of cloth meant poverty, and a thimble meant you would never marry. These customs have mostly gone by the wayside, and I didn’t bake any objects into my cake since I didn’t want to chance an unexpected visit to the dentist. 😉 But I still love the tradition!

Barmbrack

Based on a recipe from The New York Times

1 cup strong hot black tea (preferably Irish breakfast tea!)

1 cup currants

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon skim milk, slightly warmed

1 teaspoon dry active yeast

1 large egg, beaten

1 2/3 cups white whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the loaf pan

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

In a medium bowl, combine the tea, currants, and raisins. Let sit for about 2 hours, or until the fruit plumps up with the tea. Strain, but reserve the extra liquid.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and the yeast. Let sit for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture looks frothy. Add the beaten egg and 1/3 cup of the strained tea to the milk mixture.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, spices, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients. Then add 2 tablespoons of butter and beat until it is combined into the flour mixture. Add the milk mixture, and beat until the dough forms a large ball. Add the fruit and zests. Beat until well combined, about 5 minutes. The dough will be very sticky.

Butter a nonstick loaf pan.

Transfer the dough to the prepared loaf pan, and spread until it is an even layer across the bottom of the pan. Cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Check to make sure your oven rack is in the center. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the loaf for about 48 minutes. When it is done, the top should be brown, and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped with your finger.

Allow the loaf to completely cool on a wire rack before cutting with a serrated knife.Barmbrack

Happy Halloween! ~ Creole Pumpkin Soup with Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Chicken Sausage

Creole Pumpkin Soup in a Roasted PumpkinTo celebrate one of my favorite days, I made a fun and festive dinner – A spicy Creole pumpkin soup served inside of a roasted pumpkin. 🙂

First I roasted a little sugar pumpkin. A friend of mine brought a larger version filled with fondue to a party, and it was a showstopper! I just had to try it! (Thank you for the idea and the tips, Karen!)

Just cut off the top of the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and goop, and then replace the top. Spread olive oil evenly all over the outside of the pumpkin, including the stem. Place the pumpkin on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast at 450 until the flesh inside is soft. My little sugar pumpkin only took 40 minutes, but a larger pumpkin would take a little longer.Creole Pumpkin Soup in a Roasted PumpkinYou could use this pumpkin serving bowl with any favorite pumpkin soup recipe. The Creole pumpkin soup I made tonight was based on a recipe from a restaurant in New Orleans called Tableau. The unique soup was a little spicy, and perfect for our Halloween dinner!
Creole Pumpkin Soup in a Roasted Pumpkin

Creole Pumpkin Soup with Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Chicken Sausage

Based on a recipe from Tableau

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved

8 cups water

1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as safflower

12 ounces andouille chicken sausage, sliced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 15-ounce can puréed pumpkin

1 teaspoon mixed Creole or Cajun seasoning

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste

1 rotisserie chicken breast, shredded

In a large stock pot, add the shrimp shells and the water. Bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain. Reserve the liquid and discard the shells.

Preheat a large stock pot over medium high heat. Once the pot is hot, add the oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the sausage. Brown the sausage on both sides. Remove the sausage from the pot, and set aside onto a plate lined with a paper towel.

In the same pot, add the onion, celery, and thyme. Cook until the onion is translucent. Then add the garlic, and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin and cook until it starts to darken slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp stock, and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring often, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Working in small batches, transfer the mix to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to a pot. Add the Creole seasoning, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chicken sausage and the chicken breast. Simmer over low heat to combine all of the flavors, about 10 minutes. Add the shrimp, and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through. Serve immediately.

The Witches’ Brew wine bottle printable came from TheGraphicsFairy.com. They are free to use, and oh so cute! I hope you’ll check it out!Halloween Wine Label

National Candy Corn Day ~ Candy Corn Fruit Parfait

Candy Corn Fruit ParfaitThe Halloween countdown is on, and it also happens to be National Candy Corn Day today! 🙂 Here’s a sweet little idea to celebrate – Layer pineapple and oranges with vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt on top.

I hope you have a fun and safe kickoff to the Halloween weekend!

National Pumpkin Day ~ Ghostly Pumpkin Custard

Ghostly Pumpkin CustardHalloween is fast approaching, and today is also National Pumpkin Day. 🙂 To celebrate, I made my favorite pumpkin custards! And because things are starting to get a little spooky around here, I added a little whipped cream ghost with mini chocolate chip eyes.

Have a happy Pumpkin Day!

Everything Pumpkin! ~ Pumpkin Deviled Eggs

Pumpkin Deviled EggsI absolutely love anything and everything pumpkin at this time of the year! (Almost as much as these little squirrels. 😉 ) I love pumpkin muffins, pumpkin custard, pumpkin curry, and now, pumpkin deviled eggs! Mind you, they aren’t pumpkin flavored eggs. That might be a little too much, even for me. 😉 They would be perfect for Halloween or even Thanksgiving.Pumpkin Deviled EggsYou can use your favorite classic deviled egg recipe, or use my lightened version below. The extra paprika mixed in is what gives them their pumpkin color.Pumpkin Deviled EggsPumpkin Deviled Eggs

8 hard boiled eggs, cooled, sliced in half, yolks removed, 1/2 of the yolks reserved

3 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus more for garnish

Salt to taste

1 or 2 fresh chives, cut into one-inch lengths

In a small bowl, stir together the yolks, yogurt, mustard, mayonnaise, paprika, and salt until smooth. With a small spoon, fill the holes in the egg whites with the yolk mixture. (FYI, you will have more whites than yolk mixture if you mound the filling as I did. But no worries, whites are a great snack!) Smooth the mixture with your finger. With the back of a butter knife, make 4 small little lines in each yolk filling to imitate the lines of a pumpkin. Place the cut chives into the yolks to make a “stem.” Sprinkle extra paprika over the top as a garnish.Pumpkin Deviled Eggs

It’s Oktoberfest! ~ Beer, Sauerkraut, and Cheese Muffins

Oktoberfest MuffinsHappy Oktoberfest!

Even though I am typically a wine kind of girl, when Oktoberfest rolls around, I love to try the autumn beer at the market. Many of our local breweries make special beer just for the season. I picked up one from Pyramid Brewery, and instead of just drinking it, I decided to use it in some muffins. 🙂 Then I took these muffins one step further…I wanted to add one more Oktoberfest flavor, so I added a little sauerkraut! I know it sounds a little odd, but it actually added a lot of moisture and flavor to the muffins without making them taste like pickles. These go well with chili, or they are great just as a snack (with a little beer of course! 😉 )

Oktoberfest MuffinsBeer, Sauerkraut, and Cheese Muffins

Makes 12

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, minced

3 cups ivory whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup sauerkraut, squeezed to remove excess brine and finely chopped

12 ounces Oktoberfest beer

1/4 cup skim milk

Cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 375.

Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil and onion, and cook until the onion is slightly caramelized. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Then stir in the caramelized onions, cheese, sauerkraut, beer, and milk. You may need to work it with your hands to make sure everything is well combined because the batter is very thick.

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Divide the batter evenly into 12 muffins.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until cooked through but still moist.

The cute little flags came from PreppingParties.com. I actually used the artwork for the party banner, but printed it very small to make muffin flags instead. There are a lot of other sweet Oktoberfest printables in the same place that you might want to check out this season. 🙂

Prost!Oktoberfest Muffins

 

Happy Thanksgiving ~ Wild Rice and Goat Cheese Stuffing with Chorizo

Wild Rice and Goat Cheese Stuffing with ChorizoHappy Thanksgiving!

This stuffing recipe has become a Thanksgiving standard in my family. 🙂 It adds a little spice and a little Southwestern touch to the dinner! I wrote about this recipe in Noon Café’s first year, and I thought I would repost it this year since it still holds up as a delicious addition to my Thanksgiving table. 🙂

Wild Rice and Goat Cheese Stuffing with ChorizoWild Rice and Goat Cheese Stuffing with Chorizo

Based on a recipe from Chef Bobby Flay

1 1/2 cups wild rice

5 cups water

Salt to taste

1/2 cup finely ground chorizo (Mexican)

1 finely diced large onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 finely chopped carrots

3 finely chopped celery stalks

3/4 pound cubed stale hearty white bread

6 ounces goat cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 cups low sodium free-range chicken stock

Boil the rice, water, and a little salt to taste in a medium saucepan until the grains open and the rice is tender. Drain. (This can be done a day ahead if you desire.)  Cook the chorizo in a large saucepan over medium heat. Pour the chorizo over a bowl lined with a paper towel to drain the excess fat. In the same pan, add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook until the onion is tender but not browned. Add the rice, chorizo, bread, cheese, parsley, thyme, and stock and combine it all together. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish and bake at 350, uncovered, until golden brown on top, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Wild Rice and Goat Cheese Stuffing with Chorizo

Happy Halloween! ~ Pork Tenderloin and Squash with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Halloween DinnerHappy Halloween!

To celebrate, I made a festive autumn dinner tonight of pork tenderloin and squash with a pumpkin seed vinaigrette. I based the recipe on one I found from Bon Appétit. I substituted pork tenderloin for pork chops to make the dish a little leaner. (More room for chocolate Halloween candy later, I figure! 😉 ) I also added more pumpkin seeds than called for, since they are one of the stars of the dish. (And you may have read about my feelings about pumpkin in the last post. 🙂 It’s one of my favorite things!)

Halloween DinnerPork Tenderloin and Squash with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit

3 tablespoons shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), plus more for garnish

3 pounds winter squash (such as acorn, kabocha, delicata, or butternut), halved, seeded, cut into 1″ wedges

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 pork tenderloin, silver skin removed

1/2 small garlic clove, crushed into a paste

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread out pumpkin seeds on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toast, tossing once, until just beginning to darken, about 4 minutes. Let cool. Coarsely chop; set aside.

Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil on a large rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 25 minutes.

When squash has been roasting for about 20 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and sear until brown on all sides. Finish in the oven until the internal temperature registers 145 degrees. Let rest before slicing.

Whisk garlic, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 3 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small bowl to combine. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide squash and pork among plates; spoon vinaigrette over. Top with cilantro leaves and pumpkin seeds.

Halloween DinnerFor dessert, I served pumpkin custard that I dressed up for the holiday. I piped a whipped cream ghost on top and added two mini chocolate chips for his eyes. PS. I wouldn’t recommend eating all the whipped cream, since I made him big and plump! But I love how he looks…He makes me smile. 🙂

I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween!

Whipped Cream Ghost

Pumpkin Season! ~ Pumpkin Custard

Pumpkin PieAt this time of the year, I love to cook with pumpkins. Sweet or savory, I love everything pumpkin. 🙂 (Almost as much as this little guy! Ha!) And right up there with pumpkin, as one of my favorite all time ingredients, is coconut. So this month I tried a new twist on pumpkin pie custard – I replaced the classic evaporated milk with coconut milk, and it worked beautifully! The texture and flavor are almost identical to the classic, but it has a very mild coconut taste, which I love! I have never been able to find an all-natural version of evaporated milk, so I feel a lot better about this recipe that is natural through and through. 🙂 You can use a natural frozen crust, but if you are like me, you just eat the custard part of the pie and leave the crust behind. Is it just me? OK, maybe I’m a little off the beaten path with this. 😉 But I would much rather have more filling than any crust! Because of that, I made these individual sized pumpkin custards. Basically they are small crustless pumpkin pies. 🙂

Pumpkin Custard

Based on a recipe from Cooking Light magazine

3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Pinch of salt

8-ounces whole coconut milk

2 large egg whites

1 large egg

15-ounces unsweetened pumpkin purée

Natural frozen pie crust (if you wish)

Whipped cream for serving

Preheat oven to 425°.

To prepare the custard, combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk until well blended. Add the pumpkin, and whisk until smooth.

Pour pumpkin mixture into either a crust or 6 small ramekins. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350°. (Keep the custard in the oven.) Bake an additional 50 minutes for a large pie, or about 15 minutes for individual ramekins, until set. Cool completely before serving.

Serve with whipped cream.Pumpkin Pie

Welcome Fall ~ Delancey ~ Apple Crisp

Apple CrispI really enjoyed a memoir that I read last month entitled Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage. A local restaurant owner and food blogger named Molly Wizenberg wrote the book. She and her husband own the pizza place, Delancey, the bar next door, Essex, and she also writes the blog, Orangette. The book is about their adventures in the restaurant business, and it includes a few recipes. I saved this particular recipe to make once it started to feel like autumn in Seattle. 🙂

I replaced the butter with half the amount of Earth Balance, but other than that, I followed the recipe pretty closely. It was a sweet way to kick off the fall season. 🙂

Apple CrispApple Crisp

Based on a recipe from the book Delancey

Makes 8 servings

For the apples:

8 medium Granny Smith apples

3 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 to 6 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the topping:

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ stick Earth Balance (85 g)

½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

For serving:

Vanilla ice cream or frozen custard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel, core, and slice each apple into 8 to 10 wedges. In a bowl, toss the apples with 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 4 tablespoons sugar. Taste. They should be bright with lemon but lightly sweet. Adjust lemon and sugar if desired. Scrape the apples and any juices into a 2-quart soufflé dish, an 8 by 8-inch baking dish, or individual ramekins.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the Earth Balance, and use your fingers to rub and pinch it into the dry ingredients until there are no large lumps and the mixture is evenly crumbly. Add the walnuts and stir to combine.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the apples are bubbling. (The time does not differ if you decide to make individual servings in ramekins.) Serve warm with ice cream or frozen custard.

I hope you have a sweet and happy fall!

Delancey

Warm Muffins for a Chilly Day ~ Pear and Granola Muffins

Here’s a sweet treat for the New Year. Perfect for a light breakfast, or a pick-me-up in the middle of the day. We enjoyed them for our first breakfast of 2014. 🙂

I replaced the low fat yogurt with non-fat, and the butter with Earth Balance. Since Earth Balance already has salt in the mix, no extra salt was needed. I couldn’t find store bought plain granola, so I used an apple cinnamon flavor instead of making some from scratch. It was a really nice combination with the pears. I tried replacing the all purpose flour with 100% whole wheat pastry flour, as well. It is a heartier (and healthier) muffin if you choose to do it that way. They are lighter and fluffier with a mixture of the two types of flours. Your choice. 🙂 I think I preferred the blend, however, so that is how the recipe is as follows:

Pear and Granola Muffins

Based on a Recipe from MarthaStewart.com

For the muffins:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large eggs

3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons Earth Balance, melted

2 D’Anjou pears (2 cups), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

3/4 cup plain or apple cinnamon granola

For the topping:

1/2 cup granola

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar

3 tablespoons chilled Earth Balance

STEP 1 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and cinnamon.

STEP 2 
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, yogurt, and Earth Balance. Make a well in the center of flour mixture. Add egg mixture to well, and mix in flour mixture until just combined. Gently fold in the granola and pears.

STEP 3
 Make Granola Crisp Topping: In a bowl, toss together 1/2 cup granola, and 1/4 cup each all-purpose flour and packed light-brown sugar. Cut 3 tablespoons chilled Earth Balance into pieces; add to granola mixture, and rub in with fingertips until clumps form.

STEP 4 
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Sprinkle with granola topping. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before removing from tin. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Halloween Dinner ~ Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

I made a pumpkin shrimp curry dish for dinner this Halloween. It is definitely one I’ll keep in my recipe archives to make again and again this fall. The pumpkin and butternut squash with a little bit of spice made it the perfect dish for my favorite autumn holiday. 🙂 Yummy and festive!

The recipe is originally from Bon Appétit magazine. I substituted light coconut milk instead of regular, and brown rice instead of white, but otherwise followed the recipe pretty closely.

Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup sliced onion

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 plum tomato, chopped

1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup unsweetened light coconut milk

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup butternut squash, diced and roasted (toss the cubes with olive oil and salt, and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until tender)

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Steamed brown rice

Cilantro

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and ginger; sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in plum tomato and pumpkin purée; cook, stirring frequently, until pumpkin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and cayenne pepper; simmer for 20 minutes. Add butternut squash, shrimp, and lime juice. Simmer until shrimp are cooked and squash is warm. Serve with a side of rice and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Welcome 2013 ~ Five Spice Duck Breasts with Caramelized Quince

Happy New Year 2013!

On New Year’s Eve, we celebrated the last day of the year with a few Spanish tapas. My favorite was made with quince paste, Manchego cheese, and Marcona almonds. I had never cooked with quince before, and it really intrigued me! If you’ve never had it, I would describe it as a cross between a pear and an apple, but it needs to be cooked to bring out its sweetness. I love to explore ingredients I have never tried before. It keeps the kitchen fun and interesting.

I stayed with the quince theme for our New Year’s Day dinner. A new fruit for a new year seemed fitting! We had Five Spice Duck Breasts with Caramelized Quince to kick off 2013.  I followed the recipe from Cooking Light magazine pretty closely except that I cut the sugar in the poached quinces quite a bit. Other than that, we thought it was a really exceptional recipe!

Poached Quinces

Based on a recipe from Cooking Light magazine

2 cups water

1/8 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 (1-inch) julienne-cut lemon rind

2 cored peeled quinces, quartered

Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a sauce pan, and cook 2 minutes. Add quinces; reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Remove quinces from liquid with a slotted spoon. Strain liquid through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Pour liquid over quinces.

Five Spice Duck Breasts with Caramelized Quince

From Cooking Light magazine

Poached Quinces from recipe above

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 (12-ounce) packages boneless whole duck breasts, thawed and cut in half

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions

Reserve 3/4 cup poaching liquid from Poached Quinces. Reserve remaining liquid for another use. Cut the quince quarters into cubes; set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup reserved poaching liquid, five-spice powder, ginger, and garlic in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add duck to bag; seal and toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerator at least 24 hours or up to 2 days, turning bag occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Remove duck from marinade; discard marinade. Sprinkle duck evenly with salt and pepper. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Place duck, skin side down, in pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until skin is golden brown. Turn meat over; cook 1 minute. Place pan in oven. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160° (medium) or until desired degree of doneness. Remove duck from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Place duck, skin side down, on a cutting board or work surface. Brush meaty side of duck with remaining 1/4 cup poaching liquid.

Heat reserved drippings in pan over medium-high heat. Add cubed quince quarters; sauté 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in sliced green onions.

Remove skin from duck; discard. Cut duck diagonally across grain into thin slices. Divide duck slices evenly among each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1/4 cup quince mixture. Serve immediately.

PS. The leftover quince syrup was a nice addition to a glass of sparkling wine to ring in the new year :).

PPS. The festive little paper hats were free to download and print from http://www.ellinee.com. Super cute!

A little holiday treat ~ Pumpkin Muffins

I have tried many pumpkin muffin recipes since pumpkin is one of my favorite fall flavors, but this is the one I keep coming back to. They are now an autumn/holiday treat that I make every year. (Sometimes I even make them in the spring or summer since they are so good, and canned pumpkin is available year round!) I follow the original recipe pretty closely, except I use 100% whole-wheat pastry flour instead of any white flour. I think the spices and the pumpkin combine well with the nuttier flavors in the whole grain flour. I hope you’ll give these a try! They are definitely a favorite at our house :).

Pumpkin Muffins

Adapted from Ellie Krieger’s book The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life

Cooking spray

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, molasses, oil and 1 egg until combined. Add the other egg and whisk well. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.

PS. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, reduced fat sour cream can be a good substitute.

Lots to be thankful for ~ Roasted Pheasant with Chestnuts, Wild Rice and Fennel, Frisée Salad with Blue Cheese, Walnut and Cranberry Crostini and a Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Thanksgiving!

We celebrated a little early with family this year, so Rob and I had a quiet and cozy Thanksgiving for two on the actual holiday. I decided to shake things up a bit since we had the traditional turkey and sweet potatoes and all of that last week. For our own little celebration, we had Roasted Pheasant with Chestnuts, Wild Rice and Fennel, Frisée Salad with Blue Cheese, Walnut and Cranberry Crostini and a Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Frosting. If you would like to try something off the beaten path for your holidays, we both thought all three were exceptional! The recipes were twists on the traditional fare, so it still felt like Thanksgiving, but it was fun to try a few new things.

The frisée salad was a festive little starter for our meal. I have to admit, I am not a big cranberry sauce fan, and so the addition of dried cranberries on the crostini was my version of “cranberry sauce.” 😉 I used quite a bit less blue cheese than the original recipe called for, and I was actually able to find a reduced fat cheese by Stella that had a very full flavor. I also used a baguette instead of ciabatta since I liked the size better, and it has fewer holes to let the goodies fall through ;). I made the whole recipe for the crostini, so as to have leftovers as snacks in the coming days.

 

Frisée Salad with Blue Cheese, Walnut, and Cranberry Crostini

Adapted from Bon Appétit magazine

24 ½ or ¼ inch-thick slices of a French baguette, depending on your preference

3 tablespoons walnut oil, divided

1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1/4 cup reduced fat blue cheese, crumbled

5 tablespoons minced shallots, divided

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 bunch of frisée lettuce

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange bread slices on baking sheet. Brush bread slices on top side with 2 tablespoons walnut oil. Bake until crisp, about 5 minutes.

Mix walnuts, cheese, 4 tablespoons shallots, and dried cranberries in medium bowl. Sprinkle mixture on toasts. Bake until cheese melts, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine frisée, 1 tablespoon shallots, 1 tablespoon walnut oil, and vinegar in bowl. Serve with crostini on top of the frisée.

For the pheasant dish, I followed the recipe pretty closely. I did omit the butter when called for and used olive oil instead. I also needed to cook the pheasant longer than 40 minutes to get the breast meat to 160 degrees. If you haven’t ever had pheasant before (like we hadn’t) it has a very mild taste, but it is definitely not chicken or turkey. It was less gamey than I expected. A nice refreshing change from our usual poultry choices :). The sizes of the pheasants were also perfect for two with leftovers. I used two little 2 lb birds. (If you are in the Seattle area, Don and Joe’s Meats in Pike Place Market carries pheasant along with many other specialty meats. It’s a fun place to visit if you are looking for a little culinary adventure!)

 

Roasted Pheasant with Chestnuts, Wild Rice and Fennel

Adapted from MarthaStewart.com

2 cups fresh chestnuts

3/4 cup wild rice

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

2 pheasants (about 2 pounds each)

1/4 cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

6 shallots, 2 minced and 4 slivered lengthwise

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

2 fennel bulbs (about 8 ounces each), sliced thinly crosswise

1 cup homemade chicken stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. With a sharp knife, make two crosscut gashes on flat side of chestnuts. Place on a baking sheet, and roast for 15 to 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off skins and set aside.

Rinse rice well. In a medium saucepan, combine with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover loosely, and allow to simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

Rinse pheasant, and pat dry. Combine rosemary, garlic, minced shallots, and salt and pepper to taste. Rub cavity with mixture. Season outside with salt and pepper. Tie pheasant’s legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck wings under breast.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Pour 1 tablespoon oil in a roasting pan over medium heat. Brown bird evenly on all sides, about 15 minutes. Place breast side up; transfer to oven. Cook for about 40 more minutes, basting often, until legs are a little loose when you shake them.

Meanwhile, pour 1 teaspoon oil in a skillet. Add slivered shallots, and cook over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer shallots to a bowl.

Pour another 1 teaspoon oil in skillet. Add fennel slices, and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

Pour remaining tablespoon oil in skillet. Add chestnuts; cook for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced to a glaze, about 10 minutes. Add remaining stock; simmer until again reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add rice, shallots, fennel, and 1 cup water to skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Add chestnuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with pheasant.

For dessert, we had a pumpkin cake roll with cream cheese frosting. I reduced the sugar from the original recipe and I made a simple Neufchatel frosting for the middle instead of the traditional full fat cream cheese filling. The presentation was quite beautiful, but I must say, it looks harder to make than it actually was. My favorite kind of recipe! 😉

 

Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Cook’s Country magazine

1
cup cake flour, sifted

2
teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2
teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

5
large eggs

1
cup sugar

1
cup canned pumpkin puree

16 ounces Neufchatel, room temperature

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for garnish

For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 18- by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet and line with greased parchment paper. Whisk flour, spice, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs and sugar until pale yellow and thick, 6 to 10 minutes. Add pumpkin and mix on low until incorporated. Fold in flour mixture until combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until cake is firm and springs back when touched, about 15 minutes. Before cooling, run knife around edge of cake to loosen, and turn out onto clean sheet of parchment paper that has been dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Gently peel off parchment attached to cake and discard. Roll cake and fresh parchment into log and cool completely, about 1 hour.

For the Filling: Place the room temperature Neufchatel cheese in a food processor, and blend with ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar until smooth.

To Assemble: Gently unroll cake and spread with frosting, leaving 1-inch border at edges. Re-roll cake snugly, leaving parchment behind. Wrap cake firmly in plastic wrap and chill completely, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. Remove plastic, dust with confectioners’ sugar.