Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin-Carrot Soup

October 30th, 1st snow day of the '12-'13 school year.  It feels so wrong to have a snow day before Halloween and while the leaves are still colorful. 
Not that I'm really complaining about having a day off...but still.  It's weird.  

Of course I needed to play in the kitchen to kill some time today.  I have to work at the bakery at 3:30, but other than that my day was wide open.  
I decided to do some surgery on my jack-o-lantern and make pumpkin soup.  

Here you can see the difference between a section that had surgery and one that didn't.  I ended up cutting out 2 cups worth of pumpkin chunks.  Could have gotten a lot more but I didn't want to spend all day dissecting the pumpkin.  


2 heaping cups of chopped pumpkin
3 large carrots, chopped
1/3 onion, chopped
3 large stalks of celery, chopped
4 radishes, chopped
1 tbsp bacon grease
olive oil
1 tbsp mustard powder
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger root, minced
2 1/2 c water
1 c chicken broth
1/2 c quinoa

Steam the pumpkin and carrots with the bacon grease, some olive oil, and a dash of salt.   When the pumpkin/carrots starts to cook down and stick to the pot, add the chicken broth, mustard powder, ginger, and garlic. When the veggies get really soft, mash them with a potato masher.  Cook some more, then remove from heat and put the mixture in a food processor, then return to the pot and heat.

Cook the onions in some olive oil in a separate pan. When the onions have browned nicely, add the celery and radishes to the pan with some more olive oil.  Let cook for awhile.  When the celery is soft, add to the pumpkin/carrot pot along with 1 c water.  Cook for awhile, add the rest of the water, and add the quinoa.  Cook til the quinoa is done.  

Tuna-Cucumber-Gouda Melt & Pumpkin-Carrot Soup

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Seeds

Weather is turning nasty outside.  It's been snowing on and off since early this morning, although it didn't start sticking until sometime in the last hour.  While the east coast is getting accosted by Hurricane Sandy, our forecast calls for a couple inches of snow.  (I've heard rumors of 2 ft, but I'm assuming they are just rumors).  I had my first snowy run today, it was like needles stabbing me in the eyes.  Not fun.  Also, I'm pretty sure there's an unwritten rule somewhere that says it can't snow while the leaves are still colorful.

Last night, a friend and I carved some pumpkins.  It occurred to me the other day that it had been about 10 years since the last time I carved a pumpkin, and I thought it might be fun.  Here's mine:

Steak knives make good pumpkin-carvers. 

I almost left the pumpkin with just "13.1" but I decided it needed something more.  I thought about trying to carve a stick-figure runner next to it, but decided that was beyond my expertise, so I just added "run."

We were drinking Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat while carving pumpkins, because it's delicious and seemed fitting.  So the other pumpkin ended up with the Shock Top logo on it. 


I had a big pile of pumpkin seeds that we dug out of the pumpkin guts, 
rinsed, and left to dry overnight

I divided them roughly in half, and toasted 1/2 in the oven and the other 1/2 in a skillet.

melt 1 tbsp butter in a bowl, and sprinkle the melted butter with cinnamon and cocoa powder
add the seeds to the bowl and toss until coated
spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally

toast the seeds in a skillet, stirring to avoid sticking
when they are toasty, add 2 tbsp butter. 1/4 c brown sugar, and some cinnamon
stir well until caramelized

I hope everyone is staying safe, warm, and dry!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Crock-Pot Ginger Veggies

I've been thinking about buying a crock-pot for a little while now, and yesterday I finally went out and bought one.  I'm hesitant to use it on school days because the idea of leaving it on all day while I'm away is rather scary.  But I think I will have fun with it on weekends.

For my first-ever attempt at crock-pot cooking, I made veggies, potatoes, and pork chops.

2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 small carrots, chopped 
1/3 yellow onion, chopped 
4 medium-sized yukon gold potatoes, chopped
small handful of cranberries
1/4 c chicken broth
1/2 c apple cider
ginger root, grated
soy sauce
rice vinegar
olive oil
3 pork chops (seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, sage, thyme, mustard powder)

Spread the chopped veggies in the bottom of the cooker, then spread the potato chunks on top.  Mix in the grated ginger.  Sprinkle with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and olive oil.  Pour in cider and chicken broth.  Rub the pork with the seasonings and then lay it on top of the veggies & potatoes.  Cook on high for 3.5-4 hours.

It did turned out on the broth-y side.  It would probably be fine with half the amount of cider and chicken broth.  I wanted to err on the side of too much because I wasn't sure how much liquid was needed to ensure everything cooked properly.

It was a great meal for a chilly fall day!  I loved the flavor that the ginger gave to the veggies.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Whiskey & Cider Chicken

The Marinade
1 shot Jack Daniels Whiskey
1 squirt of Jack Daniels Mustard
apple cider
olive oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
garlic powder

Add enough olive oil and apple cider to cover the chicken.  
Marinate for an hour or more.
Then, lay the chicken in a baking dish and pour some of the marinade on top. 

Bake at 425 for 50 minutes.

The Gravy
Use the rest of the marinade to make apple-cider gravy. 
(Bring to a boil on the stove.  Mix 2 tbsp corn starch with 1/2 cup cold water.  Slowly pour the corn starch/water into the boiling marinade.  Stir until desired thickness is reached.

The Mashed Potatoes
Peel and chop 4-5 large yukon gold potatoes.
Mash with 1/2 stick butter, garlic powder, salt, oregano, milk, and shredded colby/monterey cheese.

The Kale
Saute/Steam in a skillet with bacon grease.

Don't forget the beer!  This one went quite nicely with the meal.
Apple Cider and Pumpkin Beer...must be fall!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cinnamon Cake

Must be something about fall weather that puts me into a baking mood.  Seems like most of my playtime in the kitchen lately has been more related to baking than cooking.  Today's fabulous creation is  Cinnamon Cake with a Cider-Cinnamon glaze.

The cake recipe can be found here.  The only difference this time is that instead of a tbsp of cinnamon, I used a very generously heaping tbsp.  I baked it in a 9x9 pan for 40-50 minutes.

For the glaze, I used:
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 c of apple cider
a scant tbsp of cinnamon
1 c confectioners sugar

The cake was much too delicate to get out of the pan in one piece, so I cut it into quarters, carefully lifted each quarter out of the pan, and put them on a cookie sheet.  Then, I carefully sliced the top off of each quarter.  I spread a thin layer of glaze in the middle, sprinkled on some chocolate chips, then put the top back on.  I covered the tops with more glaze.

Pictures of Playtime

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Decadent Chocolate & Pumpkin Bread

I love the idea for tonight's kitchen experimentation.  Partly because it is delicious, and partly because I made up the recipe for chocolate bread on my own.  No internet recipe contribution, just my brain and I.

I'm not a fan of cold weather.  I would be perfectly happy if it could be 70+, or even 80+ degrees all year round.  But that doesn't mean I dislike autumn.  The scenery is gorgeous, and the food is pretty good too.  My favorite parts of autumn: apple cider and pumpkin everything.

I've been looking forward to pumpkin bread for awhile now, but I didn't just want to make pumpkin bread; I wanted to make something new and exciting. I wanted to make pumpkin bread layered with chocolate bread.  In order to do this, I needed to come up with a chocolate bread recipe.

I skimmed through my blog archives, and it appears that I have never actually put my pumpkin bread recipe on here.  Tragic.  (Of course it's possible it is there and I just didn't find it)  But just in case, I'll list it here.  And later I will make a post devoted to pumpkin bread.

This evening, I made a batch of pumpkin bread, and also made a bunch of chocolate bread, which I made up on the spot.  And then I layered them in a loaf of breakfast bread and a bunch of muffins.  Breakfast for the next week is going to be awesome.

Pumpkin Bread Recipe
1 c pumpkin
1 stick butter
2 eggs
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 stp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/4 c flour
chocolate chips

Chocolate Bread Recipe
1 square baking chocolate
1/2 stick butter
1 egg
1/4 c apple cider
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
3/8 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c wheat flour
1/2 c flour

I've been thinking about this bread for quite a few days now.  I bought the canned pumpkin when I went grocery shopping over the weekend, and have been itching to make pumpkin bread ever since.  But I didn't want to just make pumpkin bread this time.  

A day or two ago, I decided that I wanted to make a layered chocolate/pumpkin bread.  But I had no idea how to make a chocolate bread.  I looked on google today, but didn't like anything that I saw.  So I decided to wing it (my favorite thing to do while playing in the kitchen!).  Throughout the day today, various ideas flew through my head.  I was thinking about using cocoa powder with a breakfast bread recipe to somehow come up with a chocolate bread that didn't involve yeast (the recipes I found online involved yeast).  Then, shortly before I started baking, I remembered that I had some squares of baker's chocolate in my cupboard.  And I realized that baker's chocolate would probably produce a much better flavor than cocoa powder. 
I was thinking about using 2 squares, but I discovered that I had a box with one square left in it.  (I also had an unopened box, but I'll save that for brownies).  

I also wanted to use cider somehow, so I threw some cider into the recipe.  I actually used my banana bread recipe for the chocolate bread, but substituted a square of baking chocolate and a 1/4 c of cider for the 2 bananas, and added cinnamon.  

The Making of the Chocolate & Pumpkin Breads
making both breads at once

adding the apple cider

adding the brown sugar to the pumpkin bread

mmm cinnamon

decadence in the making

I didn't measure the walnuts...but here's what it looked like
before I stirred them in

pumpkin batter, chocolate batter, more pumpkin batter

pumpkin batter, then chocolate batter

Decadent.  Delicious.