Monday, May 30, 2011

Pumpkin-Walnut Praline Bars

This recipe came from a contributor to Food & Wine magazine, who said that it is her son's favorite sweet and the family makes them at Halloween to give to trick-or-treaters. I don't know what planet she lives on. These are way too good to give out to kids, who in this country, aren't going to be allowed to eat them anyway. There's an unwritten rule: store bought, manufacturer wrapped candy only. But there are other unanswered questions too? How many pans of this does she make to give to the 100 or little goblins that one might have in a kid friendly neighborhood (it only serves 16). How does she wrap them to keep the praline and crust from becoming soggy (even with a light foil covering, mine only lasted a day).

While I ponder these questions, you should get on to whipping up a batch of these - they're really good and also a lot of work.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pumpkin Pretzels

These soft pumpkin pretzels look much more appetizing on Carrie's blog than mine did in person. The Hub commented that mine looked like something the dog might have left. Rude, but true, they kinda did. I had some trouble with this recipe. The ingredients came together in a breeze with a stand mixer and bread hook. My dough formed a little crust while rising - maybe it was too warm - that was hard to incorporate back into the dough. Also, I have never made any kind of bread dough that you didn't oil the bowl and the loaf to prevent this sort of thing from happening. The dough was so stiff it was really hard to roll and stretch it into ropes and the hard bits of crust didn't make it any easier. And, of course, all this working with the dough made for some very dense chewy pretzels. The pumpkin flavor was too mild for my tastes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pumpkin Filled Pancakes

This ebelskiver pan from Williams-Sonoma has been on every bridal registry I've seen lately. And no wonder, the catalog makes it look like whipping up a batch of these on a weekend morning would not only be impressive, but would also be loads of fun. And nothing could be further from the truth. Most newlyweds should be working on their regular pancake and waffle skills before taking on these extremely labor intensive, finger-burning pieces of work.

But I knew that going in - I've had the pan for several years. This recipe for pecan pumpkin filled pancakes is typical of the recipes they recommend for the pan. They also do a little self promoting and use their own pecan pumpkin butter. I just mixed plain canned pumpkin, 2 tablespoons sugar and a little cinnamon with the cream cheese.

The last two paragraphs in their directions are for making the actual pancakes, having you tilt each pancake twice. My batter was not runny enough to do any tilting, so I used this method and had pretty good luck with it. I sprayed the pan with nonstick spray instead of 1/2 tsp of butter per pancake as recommend. Fill the cups 3/4 full, go back to the first one and start adding 1 tsp of filling, again return to the first one and add 1 tsp of batter to cover the filling. Let this cook until the bottoms are browned. Using either wooden skewers or the special wooden sticks they sell for this purpose turn the pancakes over and let the top cook until browned. Turning is not as easy as it sounds and there are probably a lot of burned fingers out there to prove it. If you haven't thrown the pan away in a fit of frustration, you will probably get into a rhythm and be done in about 1/2 an hour.

Speaking of burning - these pancakes are usually filled with some type of fruit filling and are really hot inside. They can't be served immediately, especially to children. I hope I haven't completely discouraged you from making these because they really are good. Just leave plenty of time to make them before serving, and if you are having guests, I would recommend a trial run first.

Andrew, Karen and I all loved them and ate a lot of them for breakfast. I also enjoyed them as a snack.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pumpkin Grits and Shrimp

This recipe was cobbled together from a pumpkin grits recipe put out by the Washington Post and my favorite grits and shrimp recipe put out by America's Test Kitchen. I served this for lunch on a Saturday with a salad made from lettuce from my garden. Everyone like it, but I have really enjoyed having the leftovers for lunch the last two days.

Pumpkin Grits and Shrimp

16 oz large shrimp (31 to 40 per pound ), peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup onion, minced
3 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 cup quick grits
1 cup pumpkin puree

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Toss the shrimp with the oil, garlic and cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate while preparing the grits.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the water, cream, pumpkin, hot sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring often, until the grits are thick and creamy, 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Off the heat, lay the shrimp on their sides in a pinwheel formation over the grits, then press on them lightly to submerge about half way. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the shrimp are cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Pumpkin and Golden Raisin Compote

This recipe came from the February 2011 Food & Wine magazine. I replaced the butternut squash with - get this - frozen pumpkin. Apparently some types of pumpkin do freeze well. The package I thawed for this recipe was marked Mexican pumpkin, a green mottled pumpkin that was fabulous to eat fresh and I had a hard time locating a lot of them. It held its shape and was firm even after cooking in the compote. If there is a next year in this blog, I will definitely remember this.

When grocery shopping for this recipe, the store I was in didn't have any golden raisins and I was tempted to replace them with regular. I'm so glad I didn't. They really make the dish. Cooked with apples, pumpkin, shallots, wine, honey and spices, they were just delicious. I also like this method of cooking the chicken thighs, although it did take longer than they suggested it would to reach the correct internal temperature for chicken. Served with wild rice, it was a great Sunday dinner.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

White Chip Pumpkin Spice Cake

I recently misplaced my bundt pan. It's olive green with an original teflon coating, weighs a ton and could have been a wedding present. The Hub thinks it got misplaced in the trash. Could have happened, I can't remember and apparently neither can he. Anyway we bought another one. What a difference! This new one weighs a couple of ounces and has this slick surface that I dare anything to stick to. I love it.

This pumpkin spice cake is another winner from the Libby's website. Easy and quick, but with a I-worked-hard-at-this flavor. My white chocolate chips dissolved in the batter during cooking leaving little patches making me question the purpose of them. It didn't change the flavor of the cake, and the cinnamon and white chocolate glaze is to die for.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sweet Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta over Baby Spinach

This recipe came from a card attached to this package of pumpkin spice fettuccini from the Rossi Pasta Company. The pasta was a gift from Andrew and Karen. This company makes many different types of pasta and gives recipes on their website for using them. This was good; we all like it. I would have liked less competing flavors though in order to actually taste the pumpkin flavored pasta. The spinach, asiago cheese and Italian sausage overwhelmed the mild flavored pasta. Next time, I'll try a pumpkin sauce on the pasta to really ramp up the pumpkin flavor.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies

These cookies met with mixed reviews. I was not impressed. Snickerdoodles are crisp, and I felt that a well researched recipe for pumpkin snickerdoodles should be too. Also, the essential ingredient to snickerdoodles is cream of tartar, which is missing here. It gives them a little acid tang, otherwise they're just sugar cookies. And, to me, these are just pumpkin cookies and not very good ones at that. At work, people liked them, were just being nice or are seriously baked goods deprived.

In fairness to this recipe, I did leave them on the counter for a day hoping they would crisp up because pumpkin cookies and airtight containers always make them go soft. But - lol - it only made them stale.

I looked for another recipe and found this one from the website Lil Miss Cakes. Miss Cakes appears to be a professional home baker, and her recipe is much more sophisticated. No shortcuts in ingredients or preparation. If it needs to chill overnight, it needs to chill overnight, deal with it. When I took the second batch to work, they too were met with yums, but were also immediately pegged as snickerdoodles. I liked this second recipe much better even if they don't have too much of a pumpkin flavor. The pictures are from the first batch, but they looked almost identical.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thai Pumpkin Satay

This is another interesting and different recipe from the Libby's website. I loved the fact that they replaced a lot of the peanut butter in the sauce and marinade with pumpkin, which lowered the calories considerably. Three skewers is only 150 calories. Their picture looks a lot better than mine since their green onions aren't burnt threads, but I think their picture might also be staged. Don't let my picture keep you from making them. They are really good, quick and easy to make. Andrew especially really liked them.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

No pumpkin today, but since I am in charge of what we do today, a pumpkin baking marathon is planned for this afternoon. Lots of posts for later in the week and lots of goodies for Discovery Creative.

Every day is mother's day for me. I have the best kids in the world - a lovely daughter and two sweet boys, even if one of them has gone abroad and never come back. It's Ireland's gain. And if that isn't enough, I have a great mom and two darling granddaughters - really, what more could a person ask for. Except maybe a wildly successful clematis. I have wanted a clematis since my Grandma Spencer got one to cover an entire side of her house when I was a kid. When she sold the house, she was insistent that the new owner love and care for that clematis as much as she had. And this year, for reasons unknown, I have one. This clematis was pitiful the last couple of years and then this year it just took off. And it has never looked better than it does today on Mother's Day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Pumpkin-Seed Sauce

Once again I forgot to take a picture. I don't know what's up with that because we had this for three nights in a row. So this picture is from Sunset Magazine, October 2006, and credited to James Carrier.

I expected this recipe to be smoking hot, with its 4 canned chipotle chiles, 2 tbsps of chipotle sauce and 1 teaspoon of chipotle chile powder, but it wasn't - just spicy warm. Our grill took much longer than the recommended 20 minutes to get the tenderloins up to 160 degrees. The sauce (up to a certain point) can be made in advance and the tenderloin marinated in the frig overnight for a fairly quick weeknight meal, and the leftovers reheated nicely.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

This recipe from the Williams-Sonoma website gave me a chance to use my usually underutilized kitchen torch. Who doesn't love a kitchen torch? These brulees are rich and highly spiced and Andrew loved them. The Hub and I only OK. It's not that they didn't taste good, just that they are so calorically dense you have to wonder if it's worth it. If this might be one of those desserts you share in a restaurant once a year or so.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mesa Grill's Pumpkin Soup with Cinnamon Creme Fraiche

This recipe came from the Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay's restaurants in New York, Las Vegas and Paradise Cove in the Bahamas. In the comment section on the Food Network website, where the recipe is listed, commenters had trouble finding chipotle puree. I thought he meant the sauce that canned chipotles come in, which is what I used, but a commenter said he used this and it had a different flavor than the soup he had in the restaurant (which was so wonderful he was trying to replicate it). Others tried pureeing chipotles or chipotle powder. Many also commented that it was too spicy or too thin. Mine was warm, but not too hot, prompting Andrew to comment "wow, this has a little kick." The consistency was perfect, too. I would definately try it again, if I didn't have 50 other pumpkin soup recipes to try.