Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's Time for Pumpkin Pie!

My son loves pumpkin pie more than anyone I have ever seen.  So
much so that he has been known to eat an entire pie all my himself. 
His big complaint though is that I don't make it all the time. 

For me, there are certain foods that are best suited for specific
times of year.  For example, pumpkin pie.  I refuse to make it until I
can feel it in the air that fall has arrived.  Also, since I've started
using fresh pumpkins instead of the canned stuff for pies,
the ingredients aren't always available.

But they are now and today I decided to make the first pumpkin pie
of this year.  I opened the windows and let the cool breeze blow
through the house as the scent of the pumpkin baking filled the kitchen.

For a traditional pumpkin pie, I like to use the old recipe from the
 back of the Libby's pumpkin can as a base.  Over the years I have
adapted it to suit our preferences:  I use fresh pumpkin, add a little
allspice, and extra cinnamon and cloves, to taste. 
The cooking method is the same though. 
By the time my son came home, the pie had been a
assembled and was almost finished baking.  He was pleasantly
surprised and the house smelled amazing!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Traditional Mexican Tacos

There was a time in my life when Taco Night meant frying some ground beef with the pre-packaged seasoning and spooning it into shells or tortillas with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. 
Nothing wrong with that but there is a better way.

It involves the grill, steak, jalapenos.....who's with me?

These are some seriously good tacos:

2 pounds top sirloin steak
salt and pepper, to taste
2 TBSP vegetable oil
18 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 medium onion, diced
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
4 limes
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
2c. crumbled cojito cheese

1.  Season steaks with salt, pepper, and lime juice. 
Allow to marinate for 15-20 minutes.

2.  Place steaks on pre-heated grill and cook until desired doneness.

3.  Remove from heat and allow to rest approximately 10 minutes
before slicing into thin strips.

4.  Meanwhile, heal oil in skillet and saute onions and jalapenos. 

5.  Heat tortillas.  (I just wrapped them in a wet paper towel and
popped them in the microwave.)
6.  Place tortillas on a plate, and top with steak strips, onion,
jalapeno, cilantro, and tomato guacamole to taste.

7. Top with cojito cheese for authentic Mexican flavor!
So good!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our Favorite Oven Fries

I'm not sure why people buy frozen fries when real, fresh potatoes are so much better than anything that comes in a bag.  I guess the bagged versions are supposed to be some kind of time saver, but really?  How long does it take to chop up some potatoes, season them the way you like it, and pop them in the oven?

I can tell you that the prep takes me approximately 10 minutes.

Here is the recipe I use: 

4 russett potatoes with skins, sliced
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2c. grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp.salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1.  Preheat oven to 425* and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat.

3.  Spread the potatoes over the baking sheet.

4.  Bake until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork,
about 25 minutes.
We had these last night with grilled burgers topped with bacon,
bleu cheese, and guacamole.
My son took one bite and said, "These fries are awesome!" 

Monday, September 13, 2010

How to Cook a Pumpkin

I originally posted this last fall but, since I am planning to bake the first pumpkin of this fall season today, I decided to repost this entry:

In all the years I have been baking with pumpkin (pies, cakes, muffins, cookies, etc.) I have never, ever used a real pumpkin. I know the stuff in the can is labeled Real Pumpkin but I'm talking about the non-canned variety that only shows up in the grocery stores in the fall and winter. Not the big, jack-o-lantern ones, the other ones. The ones that sit with all the other gourds that I don't know what to do with, besides decorate. I actually set out today to buy a can of pumpkin for a cake recipe but, upon discovering that the store did not have canned pumpkin in stock, I decided to try baking a whole one. What I found is that it's ridiculously easy, fills my house with an amazing aroma, and a medium size pumpkin yields about 3 cups.


This is how I did it:

1. Cut the top of the pumpkin off, close to the stem.

2. Cut the pumpkin in half, lengthwise,
and remove the seeds and stringy stuff.


3. Spray a baking pan and place pumpkin halves in pan, face down.

4. Cover with foil and bake at 375* for about 1 hour.


5. When cool enough to handle, scrape pumpkin out of its shell.
At this point you can mash or puree, if you like,
but mine was so soft that it wasn't necessary.


So easy! I may never buy canned pumpkin again!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pesto Pasta

I'm loving fresh pesto lately so, when I came across
this Taste of Home recipe, I just had to try it.

This is one of those recipes that seems too easy
to be so amazingly good.  Fresh herbs are the key here
as there is just no way it would be the same with dried.

Here's the recipe:

 1 lb. bowtie pasta
2/3 c. fresh basil, chopped
1/2c. fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced.
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2/3c. olive oil
 
1.  Cook pasta according to package directions.
 
2.  Meanwhile, in a blender, add the basil, parsley, Parmesan
cheese, salt, garlic and nutmeg.
 
3.  Cover and process on low for 1 minute or until very finely chopped.
 
4.  While processing, gradually add the oil in a steady stream.

5.  Drain pasta and toss with pesto.
 
I served this warm but it's probably good cold too.
I wouldn't know for sure though because there
were no leftovers here.  ;)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hint of Coconut Cookies

I want to share this recipe because even my non-coconut eaters raved about these cookies!  It may seem like a lot of coconut but for some reason, the flavor is pleasantly mild and not at all.  And the texture
is just the right amount of chewy goodness!

Here's the recipe:

1 1/4c.  all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 c. flaked coconut
 
1.  Preheat oven to 350*
 
2.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3.  In a stand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar on medium speed until smooth.

4.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy.

5.  Gradually blend in the flour mixture, then mix in the coconut.

6.  Roll into 1" balls and place on a cookie sheet a few inches apart.  

7.  Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator and allow it to chill for about 30 min.

8.  Remove from the refrigerator straight to the oven.  Bake for approximately 12 min. or until lightly toasted.

9.  Cool on wire racks.


My most adamant coconut hater kept trying to sneak cookies while I was making dinner.  :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Egg Drop Soup

The star of the show at dinner last night was
definitely the egg drop soup. 

The beef and broccoli was good but it was the
soup that everyone raved about!  This was so
much better than anything I've had in a restaurant.

You really must try it:

4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely minced

2 TBSP fresh chives, chopped

1/4c. green onions, chopped

1/4 tsp. salt

white pepper, to taste

1 1/2 TBSP cornstarch

2 whole eggs

1 egg yolk
  
1.  Reserve 3/4c. vegetable broth and pour the rest into
a medium saucepan.

2.  Stir the salt, white pepper, ginger, chives,
and green onions into the saucepan, and bring to a rolling boil.

3.  In a small bowl, stir together the remaining broth
and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.


4.  In small bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk together using a fork.

5.  Stir in the cornstarch mixture gradually until the soup is the desired consistency.

6.  Remove pan from heat.

7.  Drizzle egg a little at a time from the fork into the
boiling broth mixture.
Egg should cook immediately, forming the "ribbons".

8.  Garnish with chopped green onions and serve hot.
Hubby requested I make a double batch next time!

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