Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I recently found the King Arthur Flour website and its 45 pumpkin recipes just waiting to be tried. It also has several pumpkin box mixes and pumpkin extract. I ordered them all and will be testing them over the next few months. This recipe was easy, made lots of cookies and tasted great. Andrew, the Hub and I, along with neighbors Ann and Bernie, were the tasters and no one had anything but good stuff to say about the cookies. As with pretty much all pumpkin baked-good recipes though, they don't keep for very long because of the moisture in the pumpkin. We didn't mess with the glaze, which is mostly for decorating anyway.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

My Own Pumpkin Patch

A funny thing happened in my yard this year. I have small pumpkin plants growing everywhere. Every plant that got a dose of our homemade compost has rogue pumpkin plants growing from the base. Here's a hydrangea with pumpkins.

A rhododendron with pumpkins

A dogwood with pumpkins

Even my hanging basil and tomato has a pumpkin plant growing out the side. Too funny.

Since our backyard is too shady for pumpkins (or any other vegetable) to do well, we plant on the side yard. I had peas in the spring and then planted the package of cheese pumpkin seeds I bought at Monticello. I can't remember if they were heirloom seeds or not, but was really disappointed when the package only had eight seeds in it. Actually we couldn't have handled too many more as they have grown to about 20 feet and have taken over the entire side of the yard.

I have six long island cheese pumpkins so far that look like this.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pumpkin Pizza Crust

I'm only calling this pumpkin pizza crust because I found the rest of the pizza a ton of work and not really very memorable. Although Andrew loved it. The uncooked sauce didn't taste right, so I let it simmer for a while. It helped but not enough for me to try it again. Commercially produced stuff tastes much better. The veggies, zucchini and tomatoes, and cheeses were just ok. We added turkey pepperoni, too. The basil-Parmesan vinaigrette was just wrong and so unnecessary. The crust though is really really good. I used regular flour because I didn't have any bread flour. It rose beautifully on the hood of my warm car in the garage. What a great way to get pumpkin into the most ordinary of food items - pizza crust. You couldn't taste the pumpkin. I doubt pumpkin haters would even know it was there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pumpkin Carrot Swirl Bars

These bars from are really good. Everyone at Discovery Creative liked them and they disappeared fast. Beth decided it was the best we'd tried yet. It contains enough baking powder and soda to make them light even though they contain a whole can of pumpkin and a cup of carrots. I wouldn't call them healthy, but they do contain a total of 2 3/4 cups vegetables to fairly reduced amounts of fats, sugar and eggs. The creator must have worked hard to get the calories down to only 70 per bar, yet still make the taste great.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pumpkin Salsa

This recipe from actually calls for butternut squash, but this is not a butternut squash blog, so I changed it to pumpkin. Still using the frozen Mexican pumpkin, I was surprised at how well it kept its shape and stayed moderately firm. The recipe calls for cooking then chopping, but I have found that the other way around works better. It also calls for pomegranate seeds, which aren't available this time of year, so I had to leave them out. This isn't a Mexican salsa, it has rice wine vinegar and honey in the dressing. Everyone liked this, but decided it was too good to waste on chips and thought it would go well with fish or chicken.
We also felt it could have more of a kick, even though I did add some jalapeno. Perhaps the missing pomegranate seeds added it. Next time I'm thinking either more vinegar or perhaps some lime juice.

My faithful Discovery Creative tasters.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chilean-style Sopaipillas - Pumpkin Fritters

When the Hub and I were first married, we lived in Wichita Falls, Texas. We absolutely loved a Mexican restaurant in the downtown area whose name I've forgotten. I can't remember what we ate for main dishes, but we really only went there (at least twice a week) for the sopaipillas they served for dessert. They were little pillows of deep fried dough that you bit a corner off and then filled with honey. I can still taste them and I'm sure the Hub can too because he has looked for a similar dish ever since. And the sad part is, we've never found any that were even close.  

It is for this reason, I couldn't wait to make these. Here's what the article says about them: "Chilean-style sopaipillas are delicious fried rounds of pumpkin-spiced dough drenched in a brown sugar syrup. They make a delicious fall breakfast or afternoon snack with coffee. A cousin of Peruvian picarones, sopaipillas are traditionally eaten on rainy winter days in Chile.

While these are not the same as the ones I remember, they are still pretty darn good. So good in fact that the Hub and I decided to skip dinner and just eat these one Saturday night. After frying, you dip them in the syrup and then serve the syrup on the side for more dipping. Brown sugar syrup doesn't begin to describe this delicious syrup with hints of spices and orange. They were just as good the next morning heated up in the microwave.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Savory Pumpkin & Sage Gougeres

I had nothing but trouble with these little things. Called cheese puffs and other similar names, what gougeres are is basically a savory cream puff. My problems started with the words "don't let the water and butter come to a boil." I've made a lot of cream puffs, and you always have the water come to a boil and not just a plain boil, a rolling boil. It's the temperature you need to get the flour to clump. My batter was so runny, I had to put it in mini muffin tins to even cook it. While it was cooking, I check the cookbook Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan in which she has a recipe for gougeres. Yep - hard boiling water. So my gougeres actually turned out to be tiny quiches - they didn't puff much either. But on the good side, they have a fabulous taste, as puffs or quiches. I'm going to try them again with boiling water because I think I would like them even more as actual gougeres.

This is what they were supposed to look like from the webpage Cookin' Canuck.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Cake

The Hub made this Vermont Spice Cake for my birthday, which is today. Always a fan of frosting, he chose to frost the whole thing instead of just between the layers. The frosting is maple and really good, but the cake part is delicious too. I've noticed that Libby's and some other developers of good pumpkin recipes have added a lot more baking powder and baking soda than a normal cake would use. (This particular cake uses a combined 4 1/2 teaspoons.) I assume this is to counteract the heaviness of the pumpkin; but whatever the reason, it works. This cake light and moist. Thanks Den!

Andrew's birthday is coming up and I'm going to try a variation of our family's traditional birthday cake, the purple poke cake. Wait for it - pumpkin poke cake!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pumpkin Ice Cream

I thought because it is so hot outside, I would try making something cool inside. The Hub made this batch of ice cream with a recipe from Williams-Sonoma. It turned out great, thick and rich and a little bit goes a long way. I would work on reducing the fat and calories though, next time I made it. I'm a fan of ice milk, so I might try making it with milk instead of cream or a mixture of milk and cream. But for a pumpkin fan who doesn't care about two cups of heavy cream and five egg yolks - this is really good.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

This seemed like such a good idea at the time: everyone has tons of zucchini this time of year so why not combine it with pumpkin bread to make it twice as healthy. I started with this recipe from Taste of Home (it's also listed in Allrecipes). But like all the people who reviewed it, I too played with the ingredients. It has 176 calories per slice with 9 grams of fat and I think that is just too much.

Here's what I did:
reduced the sugar to 1 1/2 cups
upped the pumpkin to a 15oz can
replaced the butter with vegetable oil
used 2 cups of all-purpose and 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
upped all the spices
upped the zucchini to 2 cups
reduced the nuts to half a cup

And next time I would try:
replacing some of the oil with applesauce
upping the baking soda, powder and salt

My batter made two heavy, moist loaves that took a long time to cook. But still I liked the bread. So clearly play away with recipe - you can hardly go wrong.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pumpkin Streusel Bars

These bars are weird - they tasted good, but have odd ingredients. The bar part is a cross between a pie and a cake. It only contains 1 1/2 cups of flour to a whole can of pumpkin so I was expecting pie consistency, but it also contains 3/4 cup of vegetable oil - a cake ingredient. The oil (and all its calories) just isn't necessary, a can of evaporated milk would have yielded the same thing. There is nothing not to like about streusel, so that part was excellent.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch

Last blog from the lake. This recipe for a variation of Chex mix won a recipe contest in 2009. And it really is a winner. In case (like me) you haven't taken a good look at the different types of Chex cereal recently, they have really branched out from the original rice, corn and wheat. This calls for cinnamon, honey nut and wheat Chex cereals, butter, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, vanilla and nuts baked on a cookie sheet. It called for a much bigger cookie sheet than I had at the lake so don't use my example, which is really cramped. Spread the mix out in a single layer. Everyone liked this and it made a great afternoon snack during reading time, even if my mom is only ready a People magazine. Home from the lake, Robin has already made another batch.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

I made this pumpkin coffee cake from the Seattle blog Not so Humble Pie to take to a GNO (Girl's Night Out) breakfast while I was out at our lake place. It was a first for GNO to meet for breakfast on a Saturday rather than the usual first Thursday for dinner, but it worked out great. The Hub, the princess and I took the ferry over to the mainland and they dropped me off at Margaret's, where the weather cooperated and we had a lovely breakfast casserole, fruit, the coffee cake and mimosas - plus lots of fun.

This group of women (and there are a few missing, 11 total) have been getting together once a month for - are you ready for this - 37 years. Plus two groups of four have known each other since kindergarten, 54 years. We've taken lots of trips together, from weekenders to Portland, the Eastern Washington and Chicago to longer trips to Hawaii, New York, Phoenix and an 18-day jaunt through Italy.

As for the coffee cake - it's very good and everyone like it. The recipe calls for a bundt or tube pan and flipping the cake out right side up, which works great for a tube pan, but looks silly with a bundt pan. I put the streusel topping in first, then the batter and when it flipped out of the pan, the streusel was on top.