Pumpkin Crumb Coffee Cake

October 26, 2010 20:36 by Suzy

I know the food blogosphere is overflowing right now with pumpkin recipes (scones, cupcakes, and soup) but when I saw this recipe, it immediately went on my "Must-Bake-Now" list.  Warm and spicy, super moist from the pumpkin and applesauce, and with a yummy crumbly topping.  I brought this to my office this morning and it was gone in a flash.

Pumpkin Crumb Coffee Cake
adapted from Noble Pig and All You

1 cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Make the topping:  combine flour, dark brown sugar, pinch of salt and cinnamon in medium bowl.  Add cold butter and combine until crumbly.  Put in refrigerator until cake batter is ready.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9" x 13" pan.

In bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In large bowl, combine oil, applesauce, pumpkin, vanilla, sugar, and dark brown sugar.  Whisk together.

Add eggs and whisk to combine.

Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with the topping.  (The next time I make this, I will probably sprinkle a layer of topping in the middle of the cake as well...it was so good!)

Bake 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool 20 minutes before cutting.

Chicken Normandy

October 24, 2010 14:46 by Suzy

Fall is the perfect time for meals like this...slow-braised meat, soft onions, and warm, rich broth.  Makes the house smell delicious too!

Chicken Normandy
adapted from Simply Recipes

4 tablespoons butter
2 Fuji apples, cored, peeled and sliced into wedges
8 chicken thighs
1 onion, peeled, sliced in wedges lengthwise
1/2 brandy
2 cups apple cider
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup cream (I used milk)

Season chicken pieces with salt and let it at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Saute apple slices in 2 tablespoons butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat until they start to brown.  Remove apple slices to plate lined with paper towels to drain.  Sprinkle with salt.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to pan.  Dredge chicken pieces in flour, shake off excess.  Fry chicken on medium heat 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Remove and set aside.  Add onions to skillet; increase heat to medium-high.  Saute onions until just starting to brown.

Add brandy to the skillet.  Use wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Cook until reduced to about half.  Add apple cider and bring to a boil.  Stir in thyme and pinch of salt.

Place chicken pieces back in skillet on top of onions, skin side up.  Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove pan from oven (watch out for the hot handle!) and remove chicken; set aside on warm plate.  Add apples to skillet, return to stove on high heat, and boil until sauce is reduced by half.  Remove from heat and add cream (or milk) and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve chicken with the apples and onions and top with sauce.

Finger Food Friday - Caramel Popcorn

October 22, 2010 22:44 by Suzy

JD is watching baseball right now, so Caramel Popcorn was a good choice for this week's Finger Food Friday.  This is so much better than the stale stuff at the store!

Caramel Popcorn
adapted from allrecipes.com

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put popcorn kernels and oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.  Cover, but leave lid ajar a bit to let steam escape.  Cook, shaking pot occasionally, until popping stops.  Remove from heat; pick out and discard any unpopped kernels.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick spray.  Put the popcorn in the roasting pan.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil.  Boil without stirring for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and add baking soda and vanilla; stir to mix well.

Pour caramel over the popcorn, stirring to coat evenly.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Let cool, then break into pieces.

Peanut Butter Cookies

October 21, 2010 20:40 by Suzy

With my Chocolate Chip Cookies and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, this post completes the "trifecta" of cookies...you cannot go wrong with these.  Every year during the holidays, my Cookie Overload Bash always includes these three classics.

Peanut Butter Cookies almost count as comfort food, don't you think?  Fresh peanut butter cookies, a glass of milk, and some cartoons...and you're suddenly nine years old again, home froms school, without a care in the world.  Except maybe determining whether it is Duck Season or Wabbit Season.

Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookie Book

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

This is the absolute best way to measure out peanut butter...thanks to our good friend, Alton Brown.

Beat sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, shortening and eggs until light and fluffy.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet.  Flatten with a fork dipped in sugar.

Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until just starting to brown.  Let sit on cookie sheet for a minute or two, then remove cookies with a spatula to cool on a wire rack.

Monday Night Happy Hour - Tequila in the Tropics

October 18, 2010 20:03 by Suzy

What better to shake off the effects of a crappy Monday than with the perfect Happy Hour cocktail?  If you want the flavor of tequila but not the "knock-you-on-your-ass" kick of a Margarita, try this!

Tequila in the Tropics

1 1/2 ounces blanco (white/silver) tequila
1/2 ounce Cointreau or Patron Citronge
1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
Splash of lime juice
Club soda

Fill glass with ice.  Add tequila, Cointreau pineapple juice, lime juice and stir.  Top with club soda and gently stir again.

Pretend you are in the tropics...far away from the office, and enjoy!

Finger Food Friday - Potato Skins

October 15, 2010 20:50 by Suzy

Another work week is over...Friday is here!  Are you ready for some sports?  Baseball playoffs, college football (Ohio State is #1!) and of course, the NFL (go Ravens!)!  Here's something for your sports-watching pleasure...

There are some bar food items that will never go out of style...mozzarella sticks, wings, sliders, and of course, potato skins.  The thing is, these are soooo much better when you make them yourself!

Potato Skins
adapted from Simply Recipes

6 medium russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
canola oil
kosher salt and pepper
6 strips bacon
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese
sour cream
a few scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Scrub the potatoes well, then rub all over with softened butter and prick several times with a fork.  Bake for an hour.  Remove from oven and let cool.

While the potatoes are baking, cook the bacon until crispy.  Drain, cool, and chop.

When the potatoes are cool, cut them in half longways and scoop out the insides, leaving a 1/4" shell.  Save the scooped out potato for another use.

Increase oven temp to 450 degrees.  Brush canola oil all over the potato skins, both inside and out and sprinkle with salt.  Bake on a rack in a roasting pan for 10 minutes, then flip the skins over and bake for another 10 minutes.  This makes the skins super-crispy so they can hold up the toppings without getting soggy.

Set oven to broil.  Arrange potato skins on rack, skin side down.  Sprinkle with pepper, then evenly distribute cheese and bacon among them.  Broil for 2 minutes (watch carefully!), or until cheese is bubbly.

Sprinkle with slliced green onions and serve with sour cream.

Then open up your own bar.

Chorizo, Beef and Bean Chili

October 10, 2010 15:25 by Suzy

Most cooks have a standard favorite recipe of a specific dish...one they always rely on for consistent quality and comments.  Those are great, but there is the danger of getting too comfortable, to the point where you don't make any other variations or even look at different recipes for that same dish.  Don't get stuck in a rut...branch out!  Do something different!  Take a leap!

Remember that episode of "Frasier" where he tells everyone to take advantage of the extra day and "Take a Leap" on February 29?  Daphne gets a disasterous new haircut, Roz makes a fool of herself on air trying to meet a guy, Martin takes a horrible trip...so Frasier chickens out of his own "leap" (singing a difficult aria instead of his usual "Buttons and Bows") and then forgets all of the words..."Hippity-bippity-boppity-bow, something and something buttons and bows!"

Anyway, my chili recipe is one of those "old standbys" for me.  It's always good and I get raves from JD so it's great for a stress-free meal.  So recently I decided to branch out and try a completely different recipe for chili, and I'm so glad I did.  YUMMY.

Chorizo, Beef and Bean Chili
recipe adapted from Cooking Light

2 links chorizo sausage
1 1/2 pounds stew meat, cubed
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon ground coriander (I didn't have this, so I left it out)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup lime juice
32 ounces reduced sodium beef broth
1 quart canned tomatoes, undrained and chopped
2 tablespoons masa harina or fine ground cornmeal
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

You'll notice I rarely post a picture of a recipe's ingredients...here's the main reason.  I left out the following items from this picture:  the other can of pinto beans, tomato paste, red wine, sugar, and masa harina.  Oh well.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Brown chorizo in pan until browned; remove from pan and set aside.  Brown the stew meat in batches; remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion and garlic to pan; saute for 3 minutes, or until softened.  Remove 2-3 chipotle chiles from the can and chop.  Save the remaining chiles and sauce for another use (put in zip-top bag and freeze).  Add chorizo, beef, chopped chiles, tomato paste, sugar, salt, cocoa, coriander, oregano and cumin to the pot with the onions.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add the wine, lime juice, beef broth, and tomatoes to the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

After 1 hour, gradually add the masa harina, stirring well to avoid lumps.  Stir in the pinto beans and black beans.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions...or all on its own.

Finger Food Friday - Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites

October 8, 2010 20:46 by Suzy

More munchies for your football party this weekend...

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites
recipe adapted from The Culinary Couple

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
3 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped ham
1/3 finely grated cheddar cheese
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1-2 tablespoons coarse salt

Mix together the yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar and warm water in a large bowl.  Let stand at room temperature until foamy.

In a separate bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons brown sugar and warm milk; stir until dissolved.  Stir 3 cups flour and milk mixture into the yeast mixture in the large bowl.  Mix until soft dough forms.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form a smooth ball.  Put in clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 2 hours, or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line sheet pans with parchment.  Divide dough into 4 equal pieces.  Stretch and roll one piece on floured surface into a 12-inch rope, then flatten into a 12" by 8" rectangle with a rolling pin.  Press 1/4 of the ham and cheese onto the bottom third of the rectangle.  Stretch edge of dough over filling, pinch to seal, then roll tightly to a rope. 

Cut into 12 pieces and move to sheet pan.  Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.  Let bites rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the baking soda and reduce heat to keep water at a simmer.  Cook bites a few at a time in the water, for about 20 seconds, turning once.  Remove with slotted spoon and return to baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Brush with butter and sprinkle with salt.  Serve with whatever dipping sauce floats your boat (honey and mustard, ranch, barbeque) or just by themselves...yum!

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

October 3, 2010 15:35 by Suzy

Is there anything better than the smell of cinnamon on a Sunday morning?

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake
adapted from McCall's Cooking School

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease an 8x8 pan.

Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix with a fork until crumbly.

In medium bowl, beat egg with whisk until frothy.  Add sugar and butter and beat to combine.  Stir in milk and vanilla and mix well.  Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix.  Batter will be thick and creamy.

Spoon half of batter into prepared pan and spread to evenly cover bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle half of streusel topping evenly over the batter.  Spread remaining batter on top, then sprinkle rest of the topping.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until light golden brown and tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Let cool 10-15 minutes before cutting.  Serve warm.

By the way, I haven't forgotten my new (supposed) regular feature...Finger Food Fridays.  I was sick all this past week so there was no cooking or blogging of any kind at our house.  I have a great recipe all ready for next week, though, so stay tuned!