B.Y.O.Wine Success

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We had our Bring Your Own Wine Party last night and it was a great party.  We had a pretty good turn out!  The choices of wines were spectacular- we had some reds, some whites and even a rose and chocolate wine.

On the menu for the night was:

1.  Homemade Chocolate Cherry Rum Cheesecake
2.  Roasted Garlic-Scallion Cream Cheese Dip
3.  Roasted Red Pepper-Tahini Dip
4.  Brie
5.  Sharp Cheddar
6.  Dill Havarti
7.  Aged Gouda (compliments of Lea)
8.  Brie w/wild mushrooms (Lea)
9.  Stilton (Lea)
10.  Homemade Pita/Hummus
11.  Crackers
12.  Tomato-Basil-Mozzarella Crostini
13.  Homemade Baguette
14.  Celery/Carrots
15.  Olives
16.  Apples/Peanut butter
17.  Homemade Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie (compliments of Kasia)
18.  Curry Pumpkin Soup

A few different posts will come of this party.  I will post about the 2 dips and also the homemade baguette.  Too bad I was too “into” the party…I forgot to take pictures of the wonderful spread.

The weather was wonderfully fall, so we also had a bonfire going outside, so guests could choose to spend their time indoors or get some fresh air outside by the fire.

There was a perfect amount of food and there was good conversation all around.

It was a wonderful party.  Now, stay tuned for the 2 posts on the dips and the baguette.

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for all you moms out there…

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Edamame Succotash

I found a great, colorful dish that your “toddler and older” children will love!  It’s colorful, tasty and healthy all at the same time!  It is an adaptation of a recipe I found in the August 2011 issue of Parents Magazine.  I figured if it’s good for kids to eat, it’s also good for adults!  So I made it tonight to go with our goat chops.

Succotash is traditionally a Narragansett dish consisting of lima beans (or other shell beans) and corn, so it is a very nutritious and energizing dish.  The Parents Magazine recipe subbed Edamame for the lima beans in order to add more protein to the dish.  I, in turn, substituted yellow onions for the green onions and threw in a little bit of chicken breast and water instead of vegetable broth (again, I had none in house).  I do admit that green onions would’ve been more tasty, but we didn’t have any in stock, so yellow onions had to do.  Here’s the recipe.

Edamame and Sweet Corn Succotash with Marjoram
2 t. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup corn kernels (or 2 ears of corn)
1 cup shelled frozen edamame (or fresh)
1/2 cup chopped red sweet pepper
2 t. finely chopped fresh (or 1 1/2 t. dried) marjoram or oregano
1/8 t. salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup chicken breast (from a can is ok too)
1/2 t. corn starch
2 t. unsalted butter

1.  Heat Oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until fragrant and turning translucent.
2.  Stir in corn, edamame, sweet pepper, marjoram, salt and black pepper.  cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 4-5 minutes.
3.  Add chicken breast.  Stir together water and cornstarch and then add it to corn mixture.
4.  Cook and stir until thickened, bubbly and liquid almost evaporates, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and mix in the butter until melted.

The original recipe can be found here:  Edamame and Sweet Corn Succotash with Marjoram

Enjoy the colorful array of vegetables in this protein-loaded dish!

Pumpkin Tribute 4: Pumpkin Pie with a Nutty Crust

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Pumpkin Pie with Walnut-Graham Cracker Crust

Every fall since I’ve been married, I’ve made at least a few pumpkin pies.  Each year, I love looking forward to the wonderful taste of pumpkin melting in my mouth along with the freshly whipped heavy whipping cream.  So this year I wanted to spice up the traditional pumpkin pie by altering the crust.  This idea came from a friend whose Halloween party I attended a week ago.  She put pecans in the crust of pumpkin cheesecake squares (delish!).  So, I searched online for a recipe and came across a pretty basic walnut-graham cracker crust.  I altered it by adding some sugar since walnut can sometimes have a slightly bitter taste to it.  The recipe goes like this:

Walnut-Graham Cracker Crust
3/4 cup finely crushed graham cracker (original/plain or cinnamon works too)
3/4 cup finely chopped/crushed walnuts
3 T. butter, melted
3 T. white sugar

Mix all ingredients together and press into pie mold.

For the filling, I used the traditional “Pumpkin Pie” recipe from Libby’s (the canned pumpkin company), but I used my own freshly roasted and then pureed Sugar Pumpkin.

I served it with freshly whipped whipping cream (you can’t have Pumpkin Pie without whipped cream!).  It made for a wonderful dessert!

What type of pie do you like in the fall?

 

Pumpkin Tribute 3: Pumpkin Spice Beer Bread

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This is going to be a pretty straight forward post with a recipe and some pictures.

Pumpkin Spice Beer Bread
2 cups flour
1 cup dark rye flour
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground all spice
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/2 c. pumpkin puree (canned or freshly pureed)
12 oz. Sunset Wheat Leinenkugel Beer (or any other type of Autumn Beer)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare a loaf pan or 12 muffin muffin tins by spraying with non-stick spray.  Combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Then, add the wet ingredients and mix well. Pour batter in prepared pan or tins.  Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the middle is done.

Enjoy with a pumpkin ale or a fall soup!

Chopsticks are a great mixing tool!

Baking beer muffins

Pumpkin Tribute 2: Harvest Pumpkin Scones

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Making these scones was kind of a bigger deal than I had planned.  I made candied ginger the night before, hoping they’d dry in time for the scones.  Well, unfortunately the candied ginger didn’t really turn out how I imagined them to turn out, like store-bought dehydrated candied ginger…but they worked out alright for the scones anyway.  Thankfully!  I would’ve incorporated cinnamon chips too, if I had any, but the “candied” ginger alone definitely gave the scones enough flavor.

Anyway, here is the link to David Lebovitz’s recipe for Candied Ginger.  He has become a new favorite blogger for me to follow!

Candied Ginger

The scone recipe can be found here:  Harvest Pumpkin Scones.  It even has a blog taking you through the step-by-step process of making them!

Pumpkin Scone with Candied Ginger

Fantastical Pumpkins for Halloween!

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A pair of fantastical pumpkins

Nick and I carved pumpkins over the weekend, just before Halloween.  Carving pumpkins is a tradition we have for Halloween…We both love spending time together doing stuff…”shoulder to shoulder” time.  So, this year we chose to carve a castle and a collection of spooky eyes peeking out of the pumpkin.  Every year Nick experiments with how to get different textures and gradients with his pumpkin carving; I’m usually a bit more traditional and cut out the entire width of the pumpkin.  With his spooky eyed pumpkin, Nick even incorporated the use of food coloring to make the eyes different colors.  Such a creative husband I have.

Anyway, I thought you’d be interested to see a progression of pumpkins we’ve carved since we’ve been married.  Note how Nick’s pumpkins are always more unique than mine are.

2009
2010

Count Dracula

Frankenstein

2011

Fairy Tale Castle

Spooky Eyes

 

Pumpkin Tribute 1: Cream cheese-filled Pumpkin Muffins

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The Cream Cheese-filled Pumpkin Muffins turned out to be…well, messy for one, but for two, the muffin part of the muffin was amazing!!!  The cream cheese part was not so hot, but still good.  The problem was I substituted the cream cheese with a vanilla buttercream frosting that I had leftover from Nick’s birthday cake (see Nick’s Birthday Post).

Messiness

Pumpkin is always a great addition to any recipe because it adds moisture and makes for a very rich and moist crumb (texture).

The frosting was too liquid-y and ended up spilling over, so I had to place a cookie sheet under the muffin tins to catch the excess frosting spillage.  I think the cream cheese filling would have definitely worked out better.  The original recipe calls for a streusel topping too, however I think combined with the cream cheese filling, the streusel would make the muffin too sweet.  Here’s the recipe Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.

Try it out.  If you don’t like the idea of a cream cheese filling, just use the part of the recipe for the pumpkin muffin.  It’s a great muffin recipe!  I prepare the dry ingredients one night before and the morning of, just mix in the wet ingredients.

Yum!

The Cooking/Baking Folder

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I have a few too many cookbooks and 1 recipe binder, which is a 3-ring photo album that has adhesive pages where I keep recipes that I’ve cut out from magazines, or that I’ve copied down. For a while now, I’ve been writing down the meal plan for the week a few days before the week starts.  I’ve found, though, that a lot of times, I would resort to thinking of meals without looking in the slew of resources that I have, namely my recipe binder and so there are so many great recipes that go overlooked and unappreciated!  The recipe binder has grown over the past year, since so many more of the recipes I use have been found on the internet (food blogs, etc.).

To remedy this problem of unappreciated recipes, last week, I piloted a new system.

I took an old school 2-pocket folder of mine, emptied it, and replaced it with pages taken out from my recipe binder that I would want to use for the week.  Then, not only would I be utilizing the previously overlooked and unappreciated recipes, but I would also have all my recipes for the week’s dinners in one place!

This system has been going on for 2 weeks now and I’m loving it!  I don’t only put dinner recipes in it now; I’ve also incorporated desserts and pastries I want to bake for the week.  I’ll put dinner recipes in one pocket and desserts/pastries in the other pocket.  It’s a good system.

Presenting to you:

The Cooking/Baking Folder

“something sweet”

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I’m now playing as a rehearsal pianist for “Miracle on 34th Street, the Musical”  at a local cultural arts center, so that means I’m gone evenings tickling the ivories for the next 6 weeks.  Well, I got home 2 nights ago at 9:30pm from rehearsal and felt like eating something sweet.  We had nothing sweet in the house, so I decided that rather dismiss my craving for something sweet, I should do something about it and make something sweet.

Since I didn’t want to spend a whole hour baking cookies or cupcakes or something else elaborate and involved, I tried to think of something cookie-like, that would be quick and easy.  I remembered that while I was in China, a teammate of mine would always make “No-Bake Cookies,” that were yummy and quick, so I flipped through a cookbook and found a recipe for “No-Bakes.”

It was pleasantly surprising to find that the “No-Bakes” were truly simple, with just a few ingredients and steps.  I made them in about 5 minutes, altering the recipe a bit by adding extra crunchy peanut butter and cinnamon (to make it more Fall-ish) and then put them in the fridge to allow them to set for about 15-20 minutes.

A perfect before-bedtime-snack.  Quick, easy and…above all else, chocolatey.  🙂

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Here is the recipe.  I halved the recipe and it still turned out great!  It was taken from the Wycliffe Cookbook.

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Boil together for 5 minutes:
1 1/2-2 cups sugar
1/4-1/2 cup cocoa
1/3-1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 t. salt

Remove from heat.  Immediately add:
3 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 t. vanilla
nuts, optional

Drop, by tablespoons on waxed paper (or silicon baking sheet) to cool or spread on cookie sheet to harden.  Cut into bars.

Pumpkin Tribute

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Nathaniel and pumpkins

Our little family of 3 went pumpkin picking at a local pumpkin patch on Sunday!  The pumpkin patch had a $13.00 deal for all the pumpkins you can carry, so Nick participated and got us 4 big pumpkins!

Nick, piling on the pumpkins!

We also bought a sugar pumpkin (pie pumpkin) for $2.00 to see what the difference is when baking with a sugar pumpkin vs. a “normal” carving pumpkin.  I’ve read reviews saying it’s more stringy, not as flavorful, etc etc, but I baked with “normal” carving pumpkins last year and everything tasted pretty pumpkin-y, so I am eager to see what the difference will be.

Anyway, so this week I’ll be doing a Pumpkin Tribute, by baking 3 different pumpkin desserts/pastries.

On the menu for the week is:
1.  Pumpkin Muffins with Buttercream Frosting (leftover from Nick’s bday cake)
2.  Pumpkin Harvest Scones
3.  Pumpkin Pie (what would a Pumpkin Tribute be without Pumpkin Pie?)

So, stay tuned for some exciting pumpkin-baking fun!