Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

October 27, 2013 13:11 by Suzy

I'm looking out at a gorgeous Ohio fall Sunday...bright sunshine, cool crisp air and falling leaves.  And football on the TV.  Life is good.

These muffins are the perfect treat for a late-October weekend.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
adapted from The Loopy Ewe

8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

Beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar until well combined.  Scrape onto piece of plastic wrap and form into a log, 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least 2 hours.

Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix with clean hands or two forks until crumbly.  Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tins, or use paper liners.

In large bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until well blended.  Add all of the dry ingredients and stir until combined.  Do not overmix.

Slice cream cheese log into 24 equal pieces.

Put a small amount (barely 1 tablespoon) of batter in each muffin tin well.  Top with piece of cream cheese mixture, then spoon batter on top, completely covering the cream cheese.  Sprinkle each muffin with topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack for a few minutes before serving.  Makes 24 muffins.

Blackberry Jam

August 5, 2012 12:43 by Suzy

I'm in mourning.  I had such high hopes for homemade apricot jam this summer.  Apparently I completely missed apricot season...I had no idea their season was so early, or so short!  Apricot jam has always been my favorite, and here in my first year of making jam I completely miss out.  Sucks.

I've been trying to console myself with my peach jam, which is incredibly delicious (seriously, you need to make some!) and then with this blackberry jam.  My batch turned out a little thick but still very good.  Next time I will trust my instincts and not the candy thermometer and take the pot off the heat a bit earlier.

Blackberry Jam
adapted from Food in Jars

6 cups blackberry puree (press fresh blackberries through fine mesh strainer)
4 cups sugar
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 packet liquid pectin

Prepare jars:  wash pint or half-pint jars and rings in hot soapy water, rinse and set aside.  Put lids in small saucepan of water and bring to a simmer (do not boil).  Keep lids in saucepan over low heat.

Prepare canner:  put rack in bottom of canner or large pot and place clean jars on rack.  Fill canner with water and bring to a boil.

Combine blackberry pulp and sugar in large heavy pot and bring to a boil.  Add lemon zest and juice and continue to boil, stirring, until thickened.  Stir in liquid pectin, return to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Remove jars from boiling water.  Carefully fill jars with jam, leaving 1/4" headspace.  Wipe rims with damp paper towel and apply lids and rings.

Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.  Remove from canner and let cool on towel-lined countertop.  When cool, check seals and store in cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Iced Coffee

July 29, 2012 12:34 by Suzy

Iced Coffee

Apparently the earth has taken up residence a mere 100 yards from the sun, and has no plans to move.  In addition, the world's largest quilt has been soaked in sweat and draped over the Mid-Atlantic to keep us as swampy as possible until winter.  My survival has depended on quick transport from one air-conditioned area to another, and gallons of this iced coffee.

Iced Coffee

1 cup dark roast coffee grounds
2 quarts cold water

Combine coffee grounds and cold water in large container and stir to mix well.  Cover and leave out on the counter overnight.  Strain through a fine sieve into pitcher and chill.  Serve over ice (duh), with a bit of half and half and superfine sugar.  Repeat as needed until you are no longer melting in a pool of sweat.

Waffle Iron Hash Browns

July 21, 2012 12:10 by Suzy

Waffle Iron Hash Browns

This is one of those ideas that is so brilliantly simple you don't understand why you didn't think of it yourself.  Crispy diner-style hash browns that take very little time, very little fat, and almost no effort.  And they didn't come from the freezer!

Waffle Iron Hash Browns
adapted from Get Off Your Butt and Bake!

1 large potato, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your waffle iron as hot as it will go.  Combine the grated potato, melted butter, and salt and pepper in medium bowl.

Spray hot waffle iron with cooking spray.  Spread potato mixture evenly on iron.  Close and cook until brown and crispy, about 5-6 minutes.  You may need to flip it halfway through to get it to brown evenly.  Enjoy!

Peach Jam

June 24, 2012 12:24 by Suzy

"The peaches are here!  The peaches are here!"

Every year at this time, the entire world stops in my office when the word goes out...the peaches are here!  One of our attorneys, based in South Carolina, sends boxes of Mac's Pride peaches from McLeod Farms to certain lucky people as corporate gifts.  Those people then become very popular as the rest of us try to sweet-talk as many of the delicious fruits as we can.  These peaches are almost obscenely good...perfectly ripe, so sweet and full of flavor...office drones suddenly become greedy children as they wolf them down with juice dribbling down chins and arms.

So I clearly had to make something good when I scored a large bag of these peaches.  Enter this jam.  Oh my FREAKIN God why have I not been making jam until now???  This jam is so delicious I found myself eating it straight from the jar with a spoon.  JD said it tastes like peach cobbler in a jar.  I can't even describe to you how incredibly good this is.  Just trust me:  you need to make this jam.

Peach Jam
adapted from Food in Jars
makes approximately 7 pints of jam

10 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
6 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
zest and juice from 2 lemons
2 packets liquid pectin

Prepare jars:  wash pint or half-pint jars and rings in hot soapy water, rinse, and set aside.  Put lids in small saucepan of water and bring to a simmer (do not boil).  Keep lids in saucepan over low heat.

Prepare canner:  put rack in bottom of canner or large pot (no rack?  just line the bottom of the pot with extra jar rings) and fill with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.

Prepare peaches:  bring large pot of water to a boil.  Fill large bowl with ice water.  Blanch peaches, 2 at a time, in boiling water for 30 seconds.  Remove and put into ice water.  Repeat with remaining peaches.  Using paring knife, peel, pit and dice peaches.

Place peaches and sugar into large, heavy-bottomed pot and mix together.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Boil, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, put a small plate in the freezer (you'll use this to check for gel later).

Use a potato masher to break up the peaches if they are too chunky for your taste.  Add the pectin, stir, and bring to a rolling boil.  Keep at rolling boil and continue to stir for a full five minutes.  Check for gel:  put a small blob of jam on the plate from the freezer and let it cool.  Gently push the blob with your finger; if the jam wrinkles a bit, the jam is ready.  If your finger just pushes through the jam, continue to cook for another five minutes and then check again.

Turn off the heat under the jam and line up your jars.  Carefully fill jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.  Wipe jar rims clean with paper towel, apply lids, and screw on rings (not too tight).  Carefully lower jars into boiling water canner, cover, and process for 10 minutes.  Remove jars from canner and let cool on dishtowel-lined countertop.  When cool, check the seals by pushing down on the lids.  If the lid doesn't move, the jar is sealed and can be stored up to a year in cool, dark place.  If the jar didn't seal, the jam is still good...you just need to keep it in the refrigerator and eat within 3 weeks.

Note:  I also got a lot of great canning tips and info from Put 'em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton.

Cranberry Orange Bread with Grand Marnier Glaze

February 11, 2012 11:25 by Suzy

I've been obsessed with dried cranberries lately...a bowl of them mixed with almonds is a perfect snack.  And actually good for you!  I try to tell myself that healthy snacks like that totally cancel out the rest of my normal diet of french fries, peanut butter cookies, and butter-laden treats like this Cranberry-Orange Bread.  With boozy glaze.

This is more of a pound cake than a bread.  Moist, dense and rich.  The tart cranberries perfectly offset the sweet orange and Grand Marnier glaze. 

Cranberry Orange Bread with Grand Marnier Glaze
adapted from MyRecipes.com

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups powdered sugar
7-8 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Preheat oven to 330 degrees.  (I know, weird, right?  I don't think I've ever set an oven to that temperature before.  Whatever, it worked.)  Grease 2 loaf pans.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.  Add orange juice, sour cream, orange zest and vanilla and mix well.

Add flour, baking powder, salt and dried cranberries.  Stir until combined; don't overmix.

Divide batter evenly into the greased loaf pans.  Bake 65-75 minutes, or until skewer inserted into loaves comes out clean.

While loaves are baking, whisk together powdered sugar and Grand Marnier until smooth and pourable.  If too thick, add more Grand Marnier or orange juice.  If too thin, add more powdered sugar.  Set aside.

Let loaves cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack placed over a baking sheet.  Poke holes all over top surface of loaves with a long skewer.  Pour glaze over loaves.  Let cool completely before slicing.


Cranberry Orange Bread

Croissant French Toast with Soft Caramel Apples

May 1, 2011 11:33 by Suzy

Yes, Suzy's Goodies lives!  I have been so distracted and unmotivated lately, there has not been a lot going on in the kitchen.  Now that the weather is (finally!) starting to warm up, I have emerged from my hibernation and found my cooking mojo.  Lucky JD.

Nothing like a decadent, indulgent breakfast dish like this to usher in the spring!  If you're hosting a Kentucky Derby party, this would be perfect.  Also good for Mother's Day, or any special morning.

Croissant French Toast with Soft Caramel Apples
adapted from Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen

3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch cinnamon

Caramel Apples:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2" wedges
1/2 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons butter
4 large croissants, sliced in half lengthwise
powdered sugar

In a shallow bowl, beat together the batter ingredients until well blended.  Cover and put in the fridge while you make the apples.

You need to pay attention when you are making caramel sauce; this is not the time to be frying bacon or squeezing orange juice or cleaning out the fridge.  The sugar will be perfect one second and burned the next, so do all that stuff later.

Put the sugar in a large dry skillet over medium heat.  Cook, without stirring, until the sugar begins to melt.  Continue to cook and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar starts to caramelize.  Add the butter and stir.  The butter will foam up a bit, but keep stirring until the butter and caramel have blended together to make a sauce.  Carefully add the apple slices to the pan and keep stirring.  The caramel will probably seize up a bit and start to harden, but keep stirring and it will warm up and even out again.  When the caramel is smooth and coats the apples, add the maple syrup.  Stir and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer apples until fork tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.

Heat butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Carefully and quickly dredge a croissant half in the batter (don't let it soak in the batter or it will fall apart) and place in skillet, cut side down.  Repeat with other croissant half.  Cook 4 to 5 minutes, carefully flip, and repeat on the other side.

To serve, place bottom half of croissant on plate.  Top with a spoonful of apples and caramel sauce, then cover with top half of the croissant.  Drizzle with a little of the sauce and dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon.


Croissant French Toast with Caramel Apples


February 27, 2011 16:07 by Suzy

Who doesn't love pancakes on a Sunday???

Pancakes were one of the first things I ever learned to cook.  My mom showed me the recipe in her big blue copy of Joy of Cooking and let me go from there.  I remember making them for my dad and felt so proud when he raved about them.  Dad didn't generally rave about food so that was pretty cool.  I still love to make pancakes for special people in my life.  JD is the lucky one now.

adapted from Mara at What's For Dinner?, who adapted the recipe from Alton Brown

3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs plus 1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons melted butter

Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  In medium bowl, beat eggs with milk and melted butter.  Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.  The batter will be lumpy.

Heat oven to 200 degrees and put an oven-safe plate in there to warm up.

Heat pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Flick some water drops in the pan; if they dance, the pan is ready.  If the water immediately evaporates, the pan is too hot.  If the water just sits and bubbles, the pan is not hot enough.  Lightly grease pan with canola oil.

Pour batter into pan (whatever size you feel like making).  Flip pancake when edges are set and bottom is golden brown.  Cook on second side until set.  Keep all pancakes in the warm oven until you serve them.  Re-grease the pan as needed until all the pancakes are done.

Melt some butter and heat up some real maple syrup...drizzle both over your pancakes and have at it.  Repeat as necessary.


Home Fries

December 30, 2010 12:09 by Suzy

Woo-hoo!  I can cross off something from my Kitchen Bucket List!

I have never been able to make good home fries...until now.  Man, this subscription to Cook's Illustrated has been paying off in spades.  Worth every penny.

JD and his mom were loving these on Christmas morning.  The only complaint was that they disappeared so quickly.  Crispy, tender, sweet from the onions, and not at all greasy or mushy.  Perfection!

Diner-Style Home Fries
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2" dice
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter

In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove onions from pan and set aside.

While onion is cooking, put diced potatoes in a saucepan and add water to cover by 1/2".  Add 1 teaspoon salt and place over high heat.  Remove from heat and drain once water begins to boil.

Heat butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add potatoes and shake to spread them out in a single layer.  Cook, without stirring for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom.  Carefully turn potatoes and spread them out in a single layer again.  Continue in this manner until potatoes are golden brown on all sides and are tender.  This should take about 10-15 minutes.

Return the onions to the pan and add salt and pepper to taste.  Toss over heat for a few minutes, then serve.  Get ready to open your own greasy-spoon diner.

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.