Saturday, October 31, 2009

a pumpkin patch

Happy Halloween everyone!  My friend and I are dressing up like The Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West and giving out yummy sweets to all the children!  I hope you all have wonderful plans this Halloween!  (And, of course, I hope it involves something sweet!)  So, here's my little tribute to Halloween - a pumpkin patch!

This idea (albeit, not my best work...) was from my favorite cookbook - Hello, Cupcake!

Have a great (and safe) Halloween!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

butterscotch pumpkin cookies

Toasty pecans.
Pumpkin, naturally.

And all in a cookie!

Want a closer look?  Look at that texture?  Chewy, soft, tender...

It's Day #6 here in Pumpkin Week at the GD kitchen.  And I couldn't go a whole week without some sort of cookie, right?  Do you know me?  I found a few recipes while I was browsing online for some sort of yummy cookie but all of them lacked...something.  Solution?  Cram everything I love into one poor cookie.  That's why it seems that I was a little ADD whilst coming up with this recipe.  I was thinking, "oh, poor readers.  To have to deal with this ridiculous cookie recipe."  But surprisingly, it came out great!  All the flavors really blend and add to the overall taste.  You have sweetness from the butterscotch, crunch from the pecans, creaminess from the pumpkin and chewiness from the oatmeal.  Perfect!  Go get started!

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen.
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin puree, excess water squeezed out (place in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze)
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat your oven to 350*. 
Combine oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until smooth. 

Beat in egg and vanilla and then stir in pumpkin puree.  Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until well blended.

Mix in chips and nuts by  hand. 

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

pumpkin cream cheese

Day #5 of Pumpkin Week here in the GD kitchen!
Now, every day, at about 5am, (and I know it's 5am, not by the clock, but by the sound of my husband's electric razor starting up) I roll out of bed and head into the kitchen to make breakfast for my man.  I really try to make something different every day but we usually rotate between hard boiled eggs, yogurt with granola, oatmeal, cheese grits, sausages, etc.  Some of this can be interesting but mostly he's just interested in protein and carbs to gear up for whatever insane amount of physical training that the Marines are about to partake in, before the sun comes up and they really start their day.
But, I digress...and it's the pumpkin season!  So instead of something booooring, I decided to spice things up a bit!  I toasted up some fresh cinnamon raisin pint-sized bagels and whipped up this lovely pumpkin spiced cream cheese spread.  Add a few bananas for long-lasting energy and he was thrilled when he sat down for breakfast and saw this looking back up at him. 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese
Makes about a cup and store really well in the fridge!
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Beat softened cream cheese, sugar and syrup until creamy.

Add pumpkin, spices and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Refrigerate for at least an hour and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

pumpkin butter + pumpkin pancakes

Onto the necessary:  pumpkin butter + pumpkin pancakes.
Pancakes are a staple around this GD kitchen.  They come in all flavors so it makes sense to me, depending on the season, that pancakes follow accordingly.  October = pumpkin and warm spices.  (Christmas will be gingerbread!)
Also, I do not just eat them for breakfast - they can definitely be a perfectly delicious dinner!
And so they were, slathered with homemade pumpkin butter all over the top. 

Pumpkin Butter
Makes about 4 cups.
Once the butter is cool, it can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for a long while!
Or you can can it!  Make sure your jars are super hot and the butter is hot and seal them up tight!

1 29 ounce can of pumpkin puree (about 3 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices and sugar in a large saucepan.

Bring mixture to a boil - it'll be really thick and puff and pop so watch out for splatterings of hot pumpkin!

Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until thick, stirring often.  Stir in lemon juice.  Serve warm, room temperature or cold!

Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes about 12 4" pancakes.
And they are really good at room temperature too, stuck in some cold pumpkin butter!
1 1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons melted butter

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and all spices in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
Whisk together buttermilk, egg, pumpkin and melted butter.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.  Don't overmix or the pancakes will be tough.

Over medium low heat, melt some butter in a skillet.  Once skillet is hot, pour about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake into skillet.  When the pancake starts to bubble, carefully flip.  Serve golden brown and with pumpkin butter and maple syrup on top!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

pumpkin mini muffins

Onto Day #3!  We are going with a classic here.  I've been making this recipe for a very long time.  October = pumpkin bread.  And you can easily make this into bread, by the way.  Add a little extra flour (about 1/3 cup) and pour into 2 buttered and floured loaf pans.  They are great as gifts!  But why ugly loaves?  Let's try mini muffins!  They are perfect when a bunch of hungry Marines come over for an afternoon meeting.  This recipe makes about 48 and for five guys, all but about six were eaten.  Luckily, I stole those last six and ate them for a pre-dinner snack!  But if you don't have a bunch of Marines around your house, you probably have kids or husbands or tea with your girl friends, right?  They are great for breakfast with cream cheese or dessert as mini cupcakes with frosting slathered over the top.  Very versatile, these little babies.  And chances are, you already have all of these holiday spices in your pantry.
Cinnamon?  Nutmeg?  Ginger?  I thought so.

You might need this...but it's the pumpkin time of year so you probably do!

Okay, go get started!!

Pumpkin Mini Muffins
Makes about 48.
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
2 cups pumpkin puree

Ready for how easy this is?
Combine all ingredients.  Mix until smooth and thick.  Pour into buttered mini muffin tins.  Bake at 350* for about 15-17 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

black bean pumpkin soup

Day #2 of Pumpkin Week!  Today we’ll go with something really hearty for a cold night.  I love different kinds of pumpkin soup but I have to say, this one beats them all!  Now, I usually like my soups super creamy and ultra smooth.  Not so with this soup.  It is very chunky and very substantial.  Even enough for my Marine to not complain about having “meat” on his plate.  (Although, there is ham in the soup, come on!)  

It doesn’t take long to put together…just a little dicing and stirring and you’ll be slurping in no time!

Black Bean Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4-6.
Adapted loosely from Gourmet magazine.
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup drained canned diced tomatoes
1 diced onion
½ cup minced shallot
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ stick unsalted butter
4 cups beef broth
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup bourbon
½ pound cooked ham, diced pretty small
Yogurt and black beans for garnish

In a food processor coarsely puree beans and tomatoes.

In a Dutch oven, cook onion, shallot, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened and beginning to brown. 

Stir in bean puree. Stir in broth, pumpkin, and bourbon until combined and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about ½ hour, or until desired consistency.

Just before serving, add ham and simmer soup, stirring, until heated through. Season soup with salt and pepper.
Serve soup garnished with a dollop of yogurt and a scattering of black beans.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

spiced pumpkin seeds

Ah, tis the season of Halloween.  All this week on the GD kitchen, we’ll have fun and yummy pumpkin recipes! 
And what better way to start than some simple pumpkin seeds.  You know you haven’t gotten around to carving your pumpkins yet.  And aren’t your kids bugging you to do it?   While you’re at it, save those seeds!  They are healthy and a great alternative snack for this sweet-filled season.

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
Makes about 2 ½ cups. 
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne
Seeds from 2 pumpkins, separated from the innards, washed and dried (this is the hardest part…but it’s worth it!)
½ stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon Worcestershire

Preheat your oven to 275˚.  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.
Combine the spices and mix in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Toss the seeds with the melted butter and Worcestershire sauce.  

Sprinkle the spice mixture on top and toss again.  Bake for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  

Let cool completely and store for up to a week in a ziplock.

Wanna see our pumpkins? 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

mushroom risotto

Arborio rice is key to a good risotto. Being from a good Italian family, I’m gonna go ahead and say that you cannot make risotto without Arborio rice. There. I said it. So, go get some!

Arborio is an Italian short-grain rice. It is named after the town of Arborio in the Po Valley, where it is grown. Cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy, and chewy, due to the high starch content of this rice variety, thus they have a starchy taste of their own, yet blend well with other flavors. The main feature of a risotto dish is the maintenance of this starch at the end of cooking that binds the grains together as a cream.

Risotto by itself is fantastic. But add some mushrooms? Mmmm.

Mushroom Risotto

Serves 4.

Once you master how to make risotto, the ingredients are interchangeable! Add peas, red wine instead of white, or artichokes!

3 ½ cups canned low-salt chicken broth

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1-2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 cup finely chopped onion or 4 shallots

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup grated Parmesan, plus additional for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the broth and keep it warm over very low heat.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until almost caramelized, about 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the onion or shallots and sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

Stir in the rice and cook for about 2 minutes until the rice is toasted.

Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add ¾ cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Repeat, adding ¾ cup of hot broth 2 more times, stirring often, about 12 minutes longer.

Add the remaining broth and simmer until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, about 5 minutes longer. Add the ½ cup of Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Spoon the risotto into bowls. Sprinkle additional cheese over and serve.

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