Posts Tagged ‘pumpkin’

Pumpkin Bread

October 27, 2011

For those who read my blog, know it has been a long time since I have posted. A few months in fact. And the unfortunate reality is that it isn’t because of my lack of time to blog. It is my lack of time to cook. Apologies to all who blog, but the latter is much more concerning.

Cooking and baking is part of what makes me calm, helps me keep things in perspective, allows me to feel control when other things feel out of control. And, most importantly, it allows me to share my food with others, and therefore share my love through the gift of food.

But, my busy job and travel schedule has resulted in nights of take out, frozen pizza and late night visits to our favorite local restaurants.

So, this past weekend I was finally in town. No work trips. No packed social calendar. Just a weekend to enjoy fall and reset for the busy week ahead. And fall being my favorite culinary season, I knew I had to take this opportunity to get back to what I love.

So, after 8 mini loaves of pumpkin bread that filled our house with the scents of fall, and was shared with neighbors, coworkers and friends, I rekindled what had been missing in my hectic life.

Although I love my job, and feel blessed every day that I go into work, I remembered the many other things that make me who I am. I had been missing going for a run, reading the latest Bon Appetit and spending the time with my husband that we both deserve.

So on Sunday, with the aroma of cozy and spicy fall filling our house, after delivering a loaf to our neighbor and packing up the others for coworkers, after making my butternut squash risotto with a glass of red wine listening to Italian music…..I knew that my life needed to shift. I needed to go back to what makes me happy, and prioritize it, no matter how hectic my life becomes.

So, this pumpkin bread symbolizes my commitment to spend more time doing what I enjoy doing – and that is spreading love through food.

And, it was only fitting that the pumpkin bread recipe I found was that of Bobby Flay, who I surprisingly met the weekend before at Keeneland. A sign? Maybe.

So besides the emotional connection I now have to Bobby Flay’s pumpkin bread, it is quite possibly the best recipe I have ever made. Granted, there is more sugar than in a batch of chocolate chip cookies, but his mixture of spices (especially All Spice, my favorite cold weather spice) make this a  comforting taste of fall.

So, for those who need to rekindle their love of cooking, or those just looking to make a great fall treat for the ones they love, I thank Bobby Flay for giving me the recipe that made me realize what I had been missing.

PUMPKIN BREAD
1 9-inch loaf or a 4 small loaf pan

* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* Scant 1 cup canned pumpkin puree, not flavored pie filling
* 2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan.

2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in a small bowl.

3. Beat the butter, sugar, and oil on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times, until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

4. Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. Mixing on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and 2/3 cup water and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (if you are using a small 4 loaf pan bake for only 45 minutes). Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples

October 14, 2010

What I love about the change in seasons, is the smells that come with it. Pine needles, stewed beef and cinnamon in the winter; fresh citrus, tulips and asparagus in the spring; searing steaks on the grill, fresh cut grass and ice cream in the summer; and last, but not least, pumpkin, musky leaves and warm spices in the fall. The seasons not only give you temperature changes and an excuse to mix up your wardrobe, but they give you an olfactory experience like none other. You can literally close your eyes, inhale, and know the month of the year.

And out of all of the seasons, fall is by far my favorite. The smells make me want to rake leaves (did I really just say that?), drink apple cider, pick apples, cook warm meals and dive into red wine season. And when the weather brings the smells of fall, my cooking shifts along with it.

Alas, my seasonal culinary point of view may have “pumpkined out” my husband, who just had pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin beer and pumpkin pasta all within one week. So, I had to keep with my fall focus, but stray a bit from the obvious.

So upon seeing a recipe with sauteed apples and fall spices, I knew this would keep me “in the fall spirit” without putting my husband on pumpkin overload.

Thanks to Cooking Light for this fantastic recipe. It was quick, easy, and even could be altered to roast the tenderloin whole if you want (might do that next time!). I served it with a spinach salad with pecans, feta and a simple lemon/olive oil/cider vinaigrette.

So, make this recipe, pour a glass of smooth red wine, look at the beautiful mosaic of colored trees and take a deep “sniff” of this perfect fall dinner!

SPICED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH SAUTEED APPLES
4 Servings

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 12 pieces
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced unpeeled Braeburn or Gala apple
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Combine first 5 ingredients; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over pork. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

Melt butter in pan; swirl to coat. Add apple slices, 1/3 cup shallots, and 1/8 teaspoon salt; sauté 4 minutes or until apple starts to brown. Add apple cider to pan, and cook for 2 minutes or until apple is crisp-tender. Stir in thyme leaves. Serve apple mixture with the pork.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple-Marshmallow Cream

September 30, 2010

I am not Amish. My husband isn’t a farmer. But I still love Whoopie Pies. (I am going somewhere with this, I promise…)

Apparently Whoopie Pies got their name from Amish wives making them for their farmer husbands and putting them in their lunches. When they would open their lunches, they would say “whoopie!” And, for good reason. If you have ever had these small round cakes sandwiched between sugary, marshmallowy frosting, you will know what I mean.

Although baking them myself? I don’t know…might be easier to go to a bakery. This technique would be doomed in my amateur kitchen – how do you make the cakes so round? How do you get the right texture? How do you assemble without breaking?

But, when Bon Appetit featured a recipe that included pumpkin and maple, classic fall ingredients, I really had no choice but to give it a whirl. And worst case, my husband would shout “whoops” instead of “whoopie” and we would break out the tub of vanilla ice cream in the freezer instead.

I cannot fully express the reaction my husband gave when he ate one – it wasn’t “whoopie” (after all his mouth was terribly full) but eventually was along the lines of “I can’t stop eating these!” The cake is like a pumpkin bread but sweeter, and the frosting I could just eat with a spoon. The perfect fall dessert!

Now, the technique. My fears were a bit unwarranted, I must say. You truly just spoon the batter on the cookie sheet (I used my cookie scooper) and they turn into pretty round cakes (although I saw in my Sur La Table catalog they do make Whoopie Pie Pans). Bon Appetit nailed the timing – 20 minutes exactly (check with a toothpick). Then, assembly was a piece of cake (sorry, I couldn’t help it!). No breakage, just perfectly beautiful pumpkin whoopie pies.

Thanks, Bon Appetit (and Portland, Maine’s Two Fat Cats Bakery), for broadening my baking skills and giving me a huge reason to shout “Whoopie!”

PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIES WITH MAPLE-MARSHMALLOW CREAM
Bon Appetit says it makes 23 pies but I found it only made 16 (maybe mine were a bit big)

FILLING
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
2 teaspoons maple extract
CAKE
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
•3/4 cup sugar
•1/2 cup vegetable oil
•3 large eggs
•1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
•1/2 cup milk
•Nonstick vegetable oil spray

FILLING

  • Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add marshmallow creme and maple extract; beat until blended and smooth. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

CAKE

  • Sift first 7 ingredients into large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in another large bowl until blended. Gradually beat in oil. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in pumpkin. Add dry ingredients in 2 additions alternately with milk in 1 addition, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Cover and chill batter 1 hour.
  • Arrange 1 rack in bottom third of oven and 1 rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment; spray lightly with nonstick spray. Spoon batter onto baking sheet to form cakes (about 3 level tablespoons each; about 12 per baking sheet), spacing apart. Let stand 10 minutes.
  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking. Cool cakes completely on baking sheets on rack. Using metal spatula, remove cakes from parchment.
  • Line cooled baking sheets with clean parchment; spray with nonstick spray, and repeat baking with remaining batter.
  • Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling on flat side of 1 cake. Top with another cake, flat side down. Repeat with remaining cakes and filling. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature.

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

October 11, 2009

Pumpkin PastaYes, this is the second pumpkin recipe I am blogging about in two days. But for those who know me, know I live by seasonal cooking. So, being mid-October, you will be seeing lots of pumpkin, butternut squash and my transition from grilling to comfort food.

This recipe is a favorite in our house. The pumpkin with nutmeg and cozy spices make it a comforting dish – and the sausage give it an extra kick of flavor.

This recipe originally comes from Rachael Ray.

PASTA WITH PUMPKIN AND SAUSAGE
4 Servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.

Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.

Pumpkin Butter Cakes

October 10, 2009

Pumpkin BarsIf you are ever looking for an alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie, this recipe will do the trick. I will admit, I was a bit skeptical putting yellow cake mix as a crust (made just with butter and eggs to be a chewy, condensed version). But, it really works, and gives it a substantial crust to hold the pumpkin goodness.

I will warn you – they are sweet (yes, there is a whole box of powdered sugar!), so a small piece will be plenty. But, they are a regular seasonal favorite in our house -made every Thanksgiving and many times before. Paula Deen gets the credit for this one.

PUMPKIN GOOEY BUTTER CAKES
Cake:
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.pa1a01_cake1_med

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

BBQ Spiced Chicken, Salsa Salad and Pumpkin Chipotle Polenta

August 6, 2009

IMG_1121I have to admit, although I married into an Italian family (with the last name Pasquinucci), I had never cooked with polenta before. Not only did I have no clue how to even cook it, but I always thought it had the stigma of being like gruel with no flavor. So, in the spirit of Julia Child, I was not afraid and gave it a whirl!

For those of you who haven’t made it before, you will laugh at how quick and easy it is. Just boil chicken broth with half and half, throw in the polenta and it is done in literally 2 minutes. But, the trick is adding additional flavor – this recipe does a great job with chipotles in adobo (if you haven’t tried these before, start slow in adding them until you get the head you want) and pumpkin.

The chicken also has an amazing flavor, different than other BBQ chickens I have made.

This recipe is special thanks to Rachael Ray – whose spice and flavor I always love!

BBQ SPICED CHICKEN, SALSA SALAD AND PUMPKIN-CHIPOTLE POLENTA

1 tablespoon grill seasoning
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1/4 fresh pineapple, cut into spears and grilled
2 limes
A handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk or half-and-half
1 chipotle in adobo, finely chopped and 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
3/4 cup quick cooking polenta
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey

Heat grill pan over medium-high heat.
Mix spices and sugar in a large plastic food storage bag. Coat chicken with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and add to bag. Coat the chicken evenly in the spices and sugar. Let the chicken hang out a few minutes.

Chop and combine the tomatoes, bell pepper, onions and grilled pineapple spears.

Place chicken on grill and cook 6 to 7 minutes on each side.

Dress the salad with lime and a couple tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Season the salad with cilantro, salt and pepper.

Heat the stock and milk or half-and-half in a sauce pot with chipotle and adobo sauce. Whisk in the polenta and thicken 2-3 minutes, stir in pumpkin to warm through. Stir in butter and honey and season with salt and pepper.

Serve polenta with chicken and salsa salad.


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