Monday, January 30, 2012

Pumpkin S'mores Cake

Everyone in my family loves s'mores. They have been a part of our summer vacations since I was a kid. So when I saw this pumpkin s'mores cake on the website Desserts for Breakfast, I knew it would be perfect for the Hub's January birthday cake. The author suggests using three 8-inch cake pans of which I do not own so I bought some disposable ones. In my mind I see this as a small tall cake, but ours turned out to resemble pretty much a 9-inch round cake.

The ganache was simple to make, the marshmallow filling not so much. After making the cake layers, you frost each layer with some of the ganache and I wish I had been more generous here, but it would have added to the weight of the layers and our final problem with the cake.

The instructions for the marshmallow filling are kind of vague if you have never made meringue this way. I do better with exact temperature. I feel ours was just not quite done although I thought it was "very thick" which is what the recipe calls for. You then spread it on a baking sheet and toast it with a kitchen torch (although next time - under the broiler) to get the toasted marshmallow effect of a s'more. Add that between layers and frost the entire thing with more ganache.

In all fairness, the recipe does say to serve immediately, but with other parts of the dinner to get done it was made about an hour ahead of time. The Hub didn't want more ganache on the sides. (I don't know why - guys are weird.) But I don't think it would have changed the outcome. So as we made the rest of the dinner, we got to watch our marshmallow filling slowly ooze out the sides. Oh we tried several things such as putting it in the cool garage to stop the slow steady march of the marshmallow but to no avail. When the top layers started to slide with the moving marshmallow we tried propping the cake server up on one side and then the other. By the end of the evening and the cake was served, I ended up using large skewers to hold it in place. Not exactly beautiful, but somewhat effective.

The thing is, there were five tasters for this and we all loved this cake. No one cared one bit about dodging skewers. I will make this cake again and hope next time it will come out as pretty as the one on the website.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Turkey Picatta on Pumpkin Puree

This turkey picatta on pumpkin puree recipe is courtesy of Wolfgang Puck (Adventures in the Kitchen) and the Food Network. There are a lot of different flavors going on in this dish. The turkey is cooked with sage leaves and prosciutto and served over a pretty standard pumpkin puree with a thin gravy spooned on top and cranberry catsup on the side. The Hub, my sister and brother-in-law and I were the tasters on this and we all like it. The cranberry catsup is pretty tangy and you would have to like cranberries to enjoy it. Some people felt the pumpkin puree needed more spices, but I thought it was ok and ate the rest of it as a side dish during the week. To make all three parts of the dish at the same time requires more than one set of hands, so I would do as much as possible before hand.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chewy(ish) Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

Here's a treat in addition to a great cookie recipe. The view out my kitchen window with a pair of piliated woodpeckers on the feeder. The male has a slight red line on his chin that the female is missing. In the summer, the couple also brings their children to the feeder, but they usually wait in line. I have never seen both on the feeder at once. Must be hungry. Because this is a close-up picture you can't see that there are also cardinals and a downy woodpecker in the tree and a lot of really noisy blue jays on the ground.

I love cookies. They are probably my favorite food. And I especially love pumpkin cookies. So when Theresa from the website The Craving Chronicles worked hard to come up with this recipe for a chewy pumpkin cookie, I said I'm in. She dehydrated the pumpkin by cooking  it on top of the stove at a low heat for about an hour to remove the water and then added it to her favorite molasses cookie recipe. The results are great. Some of my cookies are a little more crunchy than chewy but that can be blamed on the new Bejeweled game "diamond mine." I recommend not playing while baking cookies that only cook for seven minutes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pumpkin Succotash with Spicy Shrimp

This recipe was included in a pumpkin roundup, which The New York Times seems to run every year in the fall. Since the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of three different kinds of beans and 1/2 cup of another, I just used what I had in the house. I deliberately took a picture before cooking because of the black beans (which the recipe called for). Cooked black beans give food a slightly purple/black color, which is most unappetizing. So the end product isn't much to look at, but the flavor is fine. I was the only one to test this - the Hub was having nothing to do with it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pumpkin Cinnamon Applesauce

I really liked this homemade applesauce recipe from the blog The Novice Chef. It only has 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree to 2 1/2 pounds of apples, but it's a nice blend. It also has no added sugar and you won't miss it a bit. Next time I make it I will not add the vanilla. I feel it's unnecessary - I like the taste of apples and pumpkin plain. I ran mine through the food processor, but it still had a little chunkiness to it. And here's the strange part, according to the recipe author she predicts you would not be able to find the apple skins in the final product and she's absolutely right. They just disappear. No need to peel the apples at all. I used four large apples to make up the 2 1/2 pounds and since you use almost all the apple, it makes quite a large bowl of sauce.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Date Nut Pumpkin Muffins

This recipe started out in DeeDee Stovel's Pumpkin: A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year as pumpkin muffins. Kylie of the blog The Baking Bird used canned butternut squash, but I, of course, used pumpkin. These muffins have many healthy ingredients including pumpkin, dates, nuts and spelt flour. I'm not a big date fan, but they blend in very well. These muffins are quite filling. So filling in fact that the Hub and I decided to have just muffins and hot chocolate for dinner one recent Sunday night.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cinnamon Eclairs with Pumpkin Cream

These don't fall under the category of healthy that I'm trying to highlight this month, but you have to indulge once in a while. The Hub and I made these cinnamon eclairs with pumpkin cream for dessert on Christmas Eve. The original recipe was developed by Annalise of the blog Completely Delicious for last year's Project Food Blog Challenge: Pumpkin. We were a little concerned about the fact that the original recipe makes 50 eclairs (although they weren't very big). Still it was more than we could use, what with all the other goodies we had around the house. We decided to go ahead and make the recipe as is instead of trying to divide the ingredients. They are actually a lot of work and even though everyone liked them, I wouldn't recommend making them on an already busy day such as Christmas Eve. We also replaced the dark chocolate on top with white chocolate. I thought the dark might overwhelm the delicate flavor of the pumpkin.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Tortillas

A few years ago, the Hub, the boys and I took a cooking class based on Rick Bayless's book Mexico: One Plate at a Time. In the class we made the most wonderful corn tortillas ever. Even our hands smelled good from rolling the balls of dough. We also used a tortilla press to get them thin and delicate. My whole wheat pumpkin tortillas were neither thin nor delicate and barely round. I thought I could just roll the dough out to duplicate a tortilla press, but it's a lot harder than it looks. Although my tortillas look exactly like the recipe picture on the website, we all found them to be a little tough eating. If I ever get a tortilla press, I'll try this recipe again.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pumpkin Luna Bars

I loved the idea of making my own Luna bars and it seemed like a perfect addition to this month of healthy recipes. According to the package a Luna bar is whole nutrition for women including calcium, folic acid, vitamin D and iron with 9 gms of protein and 3 gms of fiber. I've never eaten one, but did try it for a comparison to mine. This recipe from the blog V.K. Photography makes a tasty candy bar/cookie bar, but is missing most of the nutritional items that draw people to this type of bar. My Luna bar's ingredients start with soy rice krispies and oats, this recipe contains just regular brown rice krispies so I'm sure we're losing some protein and fiber here. The recipe also contains nut butter, coconut oil, canned pumpkin, agave nectar, stevia and spices - this hardly seems like whole nutrition.

Stephanie of Steph Chows also tried making this recipe and had many of the same issues with it that I found. The author recommends putting the mixture into a square or rectangular pan, but exact dimensions would be helpful. I thought mine were a little flat. The recipe also has structural issues in that it won't hold together unless covered with 1/4 inch layer of chocolate and frozen. Stephanie felt that baking them might hold them together. I think the krispies (and some oats) should be whirled in the food processor to make the mixture more crumbly and therefore hold together better. The author wants you to break the krispies with the back of a spoon while you're mixing them, but mine were too soggy to break. The fact that these bars need to be frozen until used kind of discourages portability too. After 30 minutes in the freezer there was no cutting mine into nice bars, so I broke them. Everyone, including the guys, liked the taste of these, but they're hardly a substitute for one of these nutritionally balanced commercially prepared bars.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Pumpkin Mole

This recipe comes from the interesting website Feasting on Art. The author highlights a piece of art (in this case Frida Kahlo's Still Life) and finds or makes up a recipe to complement it. She gives the history of the piece of art and also discusses the recipe (in this case what mole is).

She adapted this from a recipe in Bon Appetit, which I have in my pumpkin blog files, but was hesitant to make because of its complexity. So I was really glad to see she had tested and simplified it. And here's what she has to say about mole: From the Mexican word molli meaning ‘concoction,’ mole is commonly known in the combined form guacamole - avocado concoction. Mole is a generic term for a variety of sauces in Mexico with ingredients ranging from chilies and peanuts to tomatillos and chocolate.

The recipe makes about three cups of mole and the chicken was long gone before the mole was. So I ate it as a side dish a couple of times and liked it that way too. I think chopping the onion instead of slicing it into rings would make the hand blending a lot easier. The Hub kept holding up the hand blender wanting me to pick the onions out of the blades - a job I wasn't loving. We all liked this recipe and I would make it again, perhaps in the summer, grilling the chicken as the original recipe did.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pumpkin Slices in Syrup

This simple dessert recipe came from the blog At the Farmers' Market. It couldn't be easier with just four ingredients. I appreciated the fact that you only cook the pumpkin chunks for 20 minutes, which is all they can handle without falling apart. Without spices, the flavor of the pumpkin is distinct. Unfortunately no one loved it. We had it with whipped cream and toasted walnuts and the Hub complimented the nuts and the cream. I liked it, but the leftovers sat in the frig until I threw them away. I had halved the recipe so luckily there wasn't that much left over.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

IHOP Pumpkin Pancakes

 My neighbor Cheryl asked me for a pumpkin pancake recipe. I looked back on the blog to find I didn't really like the recipe I had tested before. I went back through my files to find the recipe I had been using before this blog began - IHOP's pumpkin pancakes. For anyone unfamiliar with IHOP, it stands for International House of Pancakes. And they have not only great pumpkin pancakes but almost every other kind you can think of. I tend to make pancakes rather small, makes them easier to flip and ensures the middles are done at the same time as the outside.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Low GI Pumpkin Bread

I made this bread from the Avoca Tea Time cookbook that Kevin brought me from our favorite Irish store and restaurant. It doesn't actually contain any pumpkin, just pumpkin seeds. This is what it says about low GI. GI stands for "glycaemic index." This measures the speed at which foods are broken down by the body to form glucose, the body's source of energy. High GI foods break down quickly and leave you feeling hungry. Low GI foods, like whole grains and dried fruit, break down more slowly and leave you feeling fuller for longer. It is these low GI foods that form the core of the diet. 

I added some dried sour cherries to my bread, which we all liked even if we didn't eat it for tea. It uses equal parts whole wheat flour and spelt flour, an ancient grain that has recently gained popularity as a dietary grain due to its nutty flavor, high protein and nutritional content. I had no trouble finding it at my local Whole Foods.

Low GI Pumpkin Bread

250g coarse whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
250g spelt flour
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 level teaspoon bread soda (baking soda)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar (optional) (I used regular sugar)
Approx. 400ml buttermilk

Makes 1 loaf
Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3 (328 degrees F). Grease a 900g loaf tin.
Combine the dry ingredients, stir in the buttermilk and mix together. Spoon into the loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.
Remove from the oven and tin, and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Variations - You could add 2 tablespoons of any seeds, sunflower, linseed or hemp are particularly good or a mixture to the bread, or dried fruit, like diced apricots, cranberries or sultanas.

Tip - We use Ballybrado organic flour. Experiment to find a flour that works for you. they are all very different.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pumpkin Coconut Curry with Chicken Meatballs

We all loved the results of this pumpkin coconut curry with chicken meatballs recipe. I used ground turkey in the meatballs, which were easy to make and then baked in the oven. The spices are a perfect blend and used to flavor both the meatballs and the sauce. Funny thing is, it has no curry in it. It has a little heat and lots of flavor. I grated the carrots and probably added more than the two cups called for in the recipe. Served over brown rice, this healthy recipe is one I will definitely be making it again.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year & Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

Happy New Year to everyone. I think I speak for everyone in this country when I say I'm pretty happy to be kicking 2011 to the curb. I apologize for whatever is happening on Facebook that doesn't allow me to link the blog to my posts. Hopefully they will get it fixed and in the meantime I'm putting brackets around the URL, which gets you close but not quite there.

Since the beginning of this blog I've been praising the health benefits of pumpkin. Because we have a wedding coming up later this year, the Lockard, Falzone, Powers and Forman families have decided to have a biggest loser contest to make sure we don't look like pumpkins in the pictures. To help us all and maybe you too, I've decided to do a month of the healthiest pumpkin recipes I can find. I'm starting with this pumpkin black bean soup recipe which is good for you and tastes great too.

The Hub and I had a disagreement over whether I had ever made a soup recipe with black beans for this blog. No one could remember and I was unwilling to back through the months to see. Anyway if I did - this one from the website Very Culinary - is better. I really really liked this soup and I'm not normally a soup person. It has two tablespoons of sugar, but comes out kinda sweet, so next time I would eliminate the sugar. Other than that, it's a winner. It's easy to make and good for you too.