Saturday, October 30, 2010


Happy Halloween to you all. May your day be filled with treats and your night be filled with tricks (that's a saying that goes way back to the days when I used to be a hooker :)

Gavin got his first taste of ice cream when he visited the pumpkin patch a few weeks back (hence the "got milkshake?" lower lip.) We've all made a vow to not tell the pediatrician and since Gavin cannot yet speak, mum's definitely the word. Go ahead and admit it, he's the most handsome young man you've ever seen, especially since his Jethro shirt identically matches the pumpkin colors. Don't you think he deserves to be on the cover of GQ Magazine? (that's Gerberbaby's Quarterly.) I've already ordered an 8X10 to give to him when he turns 16.... and I plan to text it to all of his friends.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

Today is National Oatmeal Day! Now I'm not going to claim that I knew this of my own accord because that would be a lie. My friend Lea of La Casa De Nanan emailed me yesterday to inform me of the event. She is well aware of my penchant for using oats in many of my recipes (the rest of you are nodding your heads too, aren't you, I can tell.) So I couldn't let the day pass without passing on to you another recipe using one of my favorite grains..... OATS!

AND.... there's pumpkin in it too. HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 TBSP butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 8 (1/2 cup) ramekins on a baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray,

In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder and raisins (if using.)

In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin, maple syrup, butter, milk and eggs.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine well. Pour into prepared ramekins and top each with 1/2 TBSP of chopped pecans.

Bake for 25-28 minutes. Alternately, you could bake this in a one quart baking dish and adjust baking time accordingly.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Bites (Treats For Co-Irkers)

I'd like to take a moment to ask "Who loves Bakerella?" (Raise your hands if you do.) As a lover of all that is sweet, cute, adorable, mini, perfect, and allow me to say cute again, I always look forward to visiting her website for ideas, inspiration and mainly just because she brightens my day. I've wanted to make these mini pumpkin bites since I saw them on her site last year, but it wasn't until I saw them in Betty Crocker's Fall Baking that I finally got around to making them.

I'm not nearly as sweet, cute, adorable, mini, or perfect as Bakerella, so I skipped the whole process of adding a stem to these delicious little bites, but make no mistake, these are some tasty treats. I'm planning on making them again for Thanksgiving for all those "stuffed turkeys" lounging on my couch watching football. They always say they're too full for dessert, but something magical happens when you put out a plate of "minis." They'll eat them, I promise you.

Oh, and for the record, the main reason I love Bakerella is that she uses packaged refrigerated pie crusts for this recipe. (This is important for those of us who are pie crust challenged.)

Pumpkin Pie Bites (a Bakerella recipe from Betty Crocker's Fall Baking) makes about 30 mini pies

1 package (2 crusts) refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on the box.
3 eggs, divided
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vegetable oil

Bring pie crusts to room temperature for 15 minutes. Unroll pie crusts and on a lightly floured surface, use rolling pin to roll out each crust to about 12 inches. Use 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut 15 rounds from each crust.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, beat one egg white (reserve yolk.) Brush dough rounds with egg white.

Press rounds, egg wash side up, into 30 miniature muffin cups.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add pumpkin, reserved egg yolk, remaining two eggs, the vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Spoon one generous tablespoon of filling into each dough cup.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until filling is set and crust is lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to cooling rack.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips on high for one minute, stirring once, until softened and chips can be stirred smooth. Stir in the oil. Spoon into a small resealable food-storage plastic bag and seal bag. Cut off tiny corner of the bag. Squeeze bag to drizzle chocolate over cooled pied. Store in refrigerator.

You may be tempted into doing this to one of your little pies. I was. Added YUM!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chicken And Wild Rice Soup

You say potato, I say potahto, you say creek and I say crick, you say slow cooker and I get my knickers in a knot and inform you firmly, yet politely, that it's called a CROCK POT. This little gem was a wedding gift almost 32 years ago. Do I leave it alone, unattended? Definitely not. Do I hate that it doesn't have a removable liner? Absolutely. Am I attached to it? Like Linus to his blanket. Like Paula Deen to her butter. Paris has her crack pipe and I have my CROCK POT. Here it is in all its antique splendor. The lid has been broken for years so I have a makeshift lid I now use and I believe it came from my mother's kitchen so it's even older than the CROCK POT. All is well in Mag's kitchen. (But check the photo closely...HEE!)

This recipe was actually inspired by a recipe my daughter-in-law printed out for me to make while I was in Ohio last week babysitting for Gavin. It's perfect for throwing together in the morning before work and welcomes you back home later in the day with the most fantastic smell. I've changed it up a bit because that's what I do, but in her original recipe the ingredients were all thrown together in the CROCK POT without sauteing the vegetables first. Feel free to go that route if you're in a rush. I doubt that there's going to be much difference in the end result. Just know that the end result was absolutely delicious and my son Wes claimed it to be one of his favorite recipes, thus enabling me to add a new category to my sidebar entitled "Wesipes." (Jason, that one's for you.)

Chicken And Wild Rice Soup (adapted from Heather)

1 TBSP olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
1-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced (how hot do you like it?)
kosher salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken (breasts, thighs, or a combination. I put them in frozen)
1 (8 oz) can green enchilada sauce
1 (4 oz) can of diced green chiles
1/3 cup wild rice (Heather used one can of white beans instead)
1 1/2 cup chicken stock (only use one cup if you're using the beans instead of the wild rice)
1 TBSP cornstarch
2 TBSP milk or water

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the bell pepper, onion, jalapeno peppers and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 6-7 minutes then add the garlic, cumin and oregano. Saute for another minute or two.

Pour skillet contents into crockpot and add the remaining ingredients, except for the cornstarch and milk/water. Cook on low for 5-7 hours (totally flexible here.) Shred chicken with two forks. Mix cornstarch into cold milk/water and add to crockpot. Return setting to high and cook for another 30 minutes or until thick and bubbly.

This was delicious served with cheddar cheese, sour cream and either crumbled Fritos or tortilla chips as garnish.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coach's Maple-Oatmeal Bread (and giveaway winners!)

I thought it would be appropriate to announce the winners of the Coach's Oats Trick-Or-Treat giveaway by making you sit through offering you yet another delicious recipe using said Coach's Oats. As I was doing my blog rounds last week (it's like hospital rounds but I get paid a little less,) I saw that Leslie from Lethally Delicious had made some delicious looking oatmeal bread. I sat back and tried to remember the last time I baked bread and figured out that it had been way too long. The very next day I made this bread and I just have to brag and tell you that it's one of the best breads I've ever made. Hearty and fantastic for toasting, this bread is wholesome and healthy. You're going to thank me for this one. This just may make you change your will so that I'm included. Just sayin'.

Coach's Maple-Oatmeal Bread (inspired by Lethally Delicious, heavily adapted from The Fresh Loaf)

2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup Coach's Oats (you can use regular old-fashioned oats as well)
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour, divided
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
2 TBSP vital wheat gluten
1/3 cup dried milk powder
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 TBSP melted butter

In bowl of stand mixer, combine boiling water and oats. Cover and let sit for one hour.

In a medium sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup of the bread flour, yeast, salt, wheat gluten and dried milk powder. Set aside.

When oats have cooled for one hour, add the maple syrup and melted butter. Add the above flour mixture and mix well with paddle attachment. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour.

Attach dough hook to mixer. (Remember, I NEVER knead by hand.) Add the remaining bread flour and knead by machine for 7-8 minutes. Dough will be slightly sticky. Spray two 9X5 bread pans with cooking spray. Grease hands, divide dough into two equal portions and shape each portion into a loaf. Place loaves into prepared pans, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour, or until dough crests about an inch over the top of the pans. (Optional: spray loaves with water and sprinkle with oats just before putting into oven.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place loaves in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating pans 180 degrees halfway through baking time. Remove loaves from pan and cool on cooling rack for one hour before slicing.

THAT was like making you sit through watching someone else open their presents before you could take your turn, wasn't it? Let's get on with the show and announce the Coach's Oats giveaway winners!

*IMPORTANT* All winners please contact me within 48 hours giving me the name you used to comment as well as your full name and mailing address. My email address is listed on the upper right corner of my blog under my profile. Winners were chosen by using

Comment # 39: Eula said "Wow you use oats in so many things! I would love to try some. Happy Halloween!"

Comment #27: Mandie said: "Trick or treat! I'm a long-time reader (over a year) but a first-time poster (yeah, I'm lazy). I've seen your prior posts on Coach's oatmeal but have never been able to find it. I'd love to give it a try!"

Comment #19: Nanan said: "Knock Knock Knock "Trick or Treat"!!!! I love Oats more that anything in the world! hehehehehe You are so fabulous Mags!"

Comment #10: The Mom Chef said: "I'm sending my daughter to knock on your door because she's cuter than I am and she eats oatmeal religiously. I can't believe how gorgeous those muffins were, seriously. And I had no idea about the difference toasting before cracking could make. Even if I don't win, I need to try these. Thanks dudette. Have a great weekend."

Comment #43: Tom from Philly said: "I just found your blog and like it much! TRICKER TREAT! I'd love to try those Coach's Oats.... PLEASE."

Comment #49: Ken Myers said: "I love to read your blog posts. Your witty words make for a great way to learn about your recipes! Plus, the visuals are so nice... I wanna just cut them out of my screen and eat them! I love oats, but have never tried Coach's. TRICK-OR-TREAT! Put me in the hat for a pack! Love your Blog!"

Comment #51: Frieda said: "Oats? Love 'em, any way you bake 'em. I would love to put them in a crispy, chewy oatmeal cookie..."

Comment #33: Rosemary & Garlic said: "Trick or Treat. All I ever want for Halloween is oatmeal..."

Comment #26: April in CT said: "*knock, knock* Trick or treeeeeat!!!! I had never heard of Coach's Oats until the mention of them on your blog so I'd love to try some since I haven't seen them in my area. Yay for giveaways, you rock!"

Comment #41: M.J. Jacobsen said: "I'm glad I came across your blog a couple of weeks ago, you make me laugh!! I haven't heard of Coach Oats, maybe they don't sell them on the west coast?? Soooo, knock, knock! Boooo!"

Congratulations winners!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Giveaway!!

There really is a giveaway at the end of this post, but you're going to have bear with me throughout this extremely lengthy post to get to the details. I've locked down all your scroll wheels so you'll be forced to listen to my lecture. Think of it as being back in college again and you have no choice. There, does that make it easier?

Those of you who are my regular readers already know that I'm a huge fan of Coach's Oats, so this is where you have permission to get up and go to the restroom or sharpen your pencil if necessary. You newbies however, must remain in your seats and take notes. Studies have shown that while the overall nutritional profiles of all types of oatmeal are similar, the way the oats are processed does have a different and significant effect on our body's metabolism. The less processed a grain is, the longer it takes to digest and the longer it helps keep our blood sugar stable. The problem with using steel cut oats in baking is that the short baking time doesn't allow the oats to soften and the result is a muffin or cookie with hard crunchy bits in it. Coach's Oats however, are toasted before they're cracked and because of this process, they cook in just five minutes, making them wonderful additions to any recipe that calls for quick-cooking or regular old-fashioned oats. And, I might add that they're absolutely delicious on their own as a fantastic hot breakfast!

(pulling out my overhead projector for the slide show) Here are the recipes I've made thus far using Coach's Oats and I've loved every single one of them.

Coach's Oatmeal and Banana Muffins (this is the one that got me started and is now featured on the Coach's Oats website.)

Whole Grain Peanut Butter Oatmeal Christmas Cookies

Niece Denise's Cookies

Chocolate Coach's Oatmeal Muffins

Maple and Brown Sugar Muffins

Coach's Oats Bread

Sausage and Coach's Oats Stuffed Peppers

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bars

Coach's Sweet Potato Muffins

Now, before the bell rings and you're off to your next culinary class, I'll fill you in on the giveaway. In the spirit of Halloween and Trick-or-Treating, I have TEN Coach's Oats goodie bags to giveaway to TEN of my readers. Just knock on my door, say "Trick or Treat!" and leave a comment. Easy enough, right? And because I have TEN of these gifts to offer, your odds of winning are going to beat any casino or race track you have planned on visiting in the near future. Come on... join in the fun and leave a comment! I'll accept comments until midnight on Monday, Oct 25th. I know I have many international readers, but this giveaway is for US and Canada residents only. As always, I apologize for the exclusion..... you know I love you all too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Snickers Cheesecake (Treats For Co-Irkers)

Just by looking at the photo, you're assuming that this is a pumpkin cheesecake, aren't you. I would think the same thing because of the pumpkin color. Well here's where you're going to get a little Mags lesson in "do as I say, not as I did." You see, I wanted this white chocolate cheesecake to be orange in color (for Halloween,) but I thought I'd add in a bit of semi-sweet chocolate to get a deep, rich orange color instead of a neon orange. It took an entire tube of neon orange gel food coloring to get this cheesecake even remotely orange, so I'd suggest that if you do indeed make this rich, yet fluffy light cheesecake, you skip the food coloring all together and you'll most likely end up with a lovely light brown filling. Or use all white chocolate and it will be a dreamy cream color. In the end, the taste will remain the same and no one will have to guess if there's pumpkin in that thar cheesecake.

Snickers Cheesecake

24 whole Oreo cookies (makes about 2 cups of crumbs)
6 TBSP butter, melted
4 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
8 oz white chocolate
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
16 bite size Snickers bars (8 ounces) coarsely chopped, plus more for garnishing, if desired

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 10" springform pan with cooking spray and place it on a baking sheet.

Process the Oreos in a food processor until you have uniformly small crumbs. Combine the crumbs with the melted butter in a small bowl. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and about a half inch up the sides of the prepared springform pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let cool.

In double boiler, melt and stir the white and semi-sweet chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the heavy cream until combined well. Add the eggs, one at a time until each is incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Fold in the Snickers pieces by hand with a spatula.

Pour filling onto cooled crust (still on baking sheet.) Bake for 65-75 minutes or until filling is set. It will still be a little jiggly in the middle. Cool cheesecake on cooling rack for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife between the pan and the cheesecake. Let cheesecake cool completely then cover the pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

For the ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

In a small heavy sauce pan heat the cream to boiling. Remove from heat and add the chocolate pieces. Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Cool slightly before pouring over the top of the cheesecake. Garnish with diced Snickers, if desired. Refrigerate for an hour or two before serving so the ganache has time to set. Alternately, you could do as I did in the above photo and spoon ganache over individual slices of cheesecake and top with diced Snickers.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicken Peanut Stew

Hubby was home for lunch one day last week and as I was cutting the vegetables for this soup he commented on how it used to make him absolutely shiver to see me with a sharp knife in my hand because he knows what a klutz I am and how I can hurt myself sometimes just by simply breathing. He went on to say how comfortable I now look with a knife and that he no longer cringes when he watches me cook. (I was positively beaming at this point.) He wasn't even backed out of the driveway to go back to work when I nearly cut off the tip of my left index finger. Blood EVERYWHERE. All burners got turned off and the first aid procedures began. During the hour it took to get the bleeding stopped I called hubby every name in the book for jinxing me. I also contemplated renaming this recipe "chicken peanut and fingertip stew."

And then I remembered this clip from Saturday Night Live. It's a classic.

Chicken Peanut Stew

1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts only, well cleaned and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 anaheim chili pepper, seeded and diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced (how hot do you like it?)
kosher salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup bottled/jarred salsa
1 1/2 lbs sweet potato, peeled and small cubed
3 cups (about 12 ounces) seasoned, cooked chicken breast meat, diced
1 (15 ounce) can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add the leeks and peppers, season with salt and pepper and saute for 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and saute for another minute or two.

Add the chicken stock, salsa and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork tender. Add the chicken and beans and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Whisk in the peanut butter until it is melted and stew is creamy. Simmer for another minute or two.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sir Bubba, The Bean

Just returned home from babysitting detail and had to post a photo of Sir Bubba, the Bean. When he was a tiny infant he needed to be swaddled in one of those new-fangled swaddler thingies they make now for babies (have you seen them?... they look like tiny straight jackets.) Evidently they make the baby feel like they're still inside the womb and it helps them sleep, feeling that additional security. Well, my son became quite the swaddler. He could wrap Gavin up like a bean burrito, so tight that only his head was sticking out the top, so he was nicknamed Bean Burrito the first few months of his life. Well, the "Bean" kind of stuck, so he's now called Bean, or Bubba Bean as often as he's called Gavin these days.

A pat on the back and an "atta-boy" to all you grandparents who watch your grandkids full time while your children work. It's a labor of love, for sure. Heavy on the labor, but even heavier on the love. I enjoyed every minute I spent with him but I assured him that if our 12 hours of playing "Patty-Cake" doesn't result in him remembering it the next time I see him, there will be a price to pay.

Exhaustion. Complete exhaustion tonight. But it's the kind that will have me falling asleep with a smile on my face and dreaming of a little man in Ohio who has completely stolen my heart.

I'll be back tomorrow with a food post, PROMISE!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

ACK! I've been tagged, so I'm it!

I am currently on grandmother babysitting duty until the middle of next week, (that sounds more important than being on vacation, yes?) so I set my blog to post this in my absence.

Christiane from the MomChef tagged me to play along in this game of getting to know me, getting to know all about me. I love this kind of stuff, so of course I decided to play along (once I saw the questions she was going to ask, that is.)

1. What's the best live event (concert, comedian, etc.) that you've ever attended and when/why?

I have a lot of fond memories of rock concerts from my teens, but I was in my late 40's when I attended my most memorable concert. I saw Aerosmith from the fifth row and when Steven Tyler sang "Dream On" he was looking right into my eyes the entire time. Of course, alcohol plays strange tricks on the mind and memory. I'm still waiting for him to call me.

2. If you were given the opportunity to cook alongside any one professional chef, who would it be?

Oh, most definitely Sandra Lee. There are just sooooo many seasoning packets I've yet to try and I could only hope that she'd share a few of her 150 different colored Kitchen Aid mixers with me. If not, perhaps she could at least help me learn how to make her Kwanzaa cake (And can I just tell you, it's the corn nuts that put it over the top, you know.)

3. When you were growing up, what did you want to be? Are you doing that? If not, what?

I always wanted to be a housewife/homemaker, and after a brief 30-year stint as a dental hygienist, I've finally found my dream job.

4. If your house was on fire, what one item would you grab from the kitchen to save?

My calendar. Leaving it behind would be like leaving my mind and memory behind. (Don't worry Dr. Knuth, I know I have an appointment with you sometime in January.... or is it February?)

5. Coke or Pepsi?

Fountain Diet Coke from McDonalds. (which I always order with a side of parsley and a carrot stick)

6. How many years have you been friends with the person you've known the longest?

Nancy, the daughter my Mom never knew she had. She's been my best friend/sister for almost 30 years.

7. What food dish do you consider the most daunting and have not yet gotten up the courage to attempt it yet?

I would like to learn to make laminated dough/puff pastry but since I can't even make a pie crust properly, I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that this will never happen.

8. If you were an animal, what would you be?

I'd be a dog so I could talk to my own dog and ask him why he eats his poop.


Now it's my turn to pass this along to some of my blogging pals. (Are you skeered that your name might be on the list? You should be.) Awww... Y'all know me better than that. I'm going to take it easy on all of you and not put any of you on the spot. And here's why. These would be my questions:

#1. If you were stranded on a desert island with Willie Nelson and Mario Batali, which one would you rather have sex with? Which one would you rather cook for?

#2. If Sandra Lee came to your house and decorated your Christmas tree for you, would you lie about how much you LLLove it, or would you be honest and tell her that martini, wine and champagne glasses do NOT belong on Christmas trees.

#3. If Tyler Florence came to your house while Sandra Lee was decorating your tree with alcohol glasses and empty booze bottles, would you slip off to a remote corner of your home and have your way with him?

#4. If Bobby Flay showed up on your doorstep for a Throw Down, would you indeed throw yourself down? Right there in the foyer? With the door open and everything?

#5. If Giada De Laurentiis asked you "Does this shirt make my cleavage look fat?" would you tell her the truth?

#6. If Paula Deen could manufacture fat-free butter, would you quit making all of your other recipes and rely solely on hers?

#7. If the Neely's disappeared from the Food Network and/or the face of the earth forever, would you be disappointed?

#8. Do you have a Food Network obsession? Or is it just me.

See you all next week. Hugs, kisses..... and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies (Treats For Co-Irkers)

I have a secret little vice that I indulge in every October. It's candy corn, or as we in the dental biz like to call it, cavity corn. It has to be Brach's candy corn because they're the only ones who know the correct proportions of sugar, corn syrup, and confectioner's glaze. I mean, if they screwed that up, it might not taste like pure sugar!

These candy corn cookies taste nothing like candy corn, but in the spirit of the upcoming Halloween holiday, I thought I'd spend three times the amount of time I'd normally spend making regular sugar cookies and make something festive for the season. After all, they ARE for the co-irkers.

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies (from Betty Crocker's Fall Baking)

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 large egg
Grated zest of one medium orange (1-2 TBSP)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp orange gel food coloring
1/8 tsp yellow gel food coloring
Coarse sugar to decorate

In large bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar, egg and orange zest with electric mixer on medium speed. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar.

Divide dough into thirds. Tint one portion orange, one portion yellow, and leave the third portion plain. Flatten each portion into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

On separate sheets of lightly floured wax paper, roll each portion of dough into 12X9 inch rectangles. Place orange rectangle on top of yellow rectangle, using waxed paper ends to help flip dough over. Top with plain dough rectangle. Starting on a long side, and using waxed paper as an aid, roll dough into a cylinder. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut dough into 1/4 inch slices. On ungreased cookie sheet, place slices about one inch apart. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for 7-8 minutes or until edges are set. Cool one minute before removing from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Fall Recipe Roundup

Because I took a three hour nap yesterday and accomplished nothing in the kitchen, I decided to do a fall recipe roundup for those of you who may have missed these recipes the first time around or maybe just for additional inspiration for the rest of you who are in need of some new recipe ideas. (I typed that all in one breath, by the way.)

Mini Pumpkin Cakes

Butternut Squash Risotto

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Pie (I added this one to the lineup because I made it for Thanksgiving in lieu of pumpkin pie.)

Harvest Grains Bread

Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash

Mini Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecakes

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Acorn Squash Stuffed With Quinoa And Sausage

Jalapeno Cornbread Ebelskivers

Creamy Turban Squash Soup

Couscous With Butternut Squash

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Pumpkin Roll Ebelskivers

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

French Dip Pizza

One of hubby's favorite sandwiches is a French Dip. I usually make it for him in panini form with thinly sliced roast beef, caramelized onions, Gruyere cheese, and a little horseradish and mayo. When I explained to him this morning that I was going to make a French Dip pizza, he asked me why I couldn't just make him his regular French Dip sandwich. I told him "because I've already blogged about that!" Husbands, they ask the stupidest questions, don't they?

The richest flavor in this pizza comes from the caramelized onions. Make sure that you take the time to caramelize them properly so that their sweetness shines through. I think this recipe would be excellent without the roast beef and would make a delicious vegetarian pizza, sans the consomme, of course.

French Dip Pizza

1 10-12-inch pizza crust (store bought or homemade)
1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tsp prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
3-4 ounces thinly sliced deli-roast beef, diced
3-4 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese
1 can beef consomme, for dipping (I used Campbell's beef consomme)

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-medium high heat. Add the onions and stir to coat with the oil. Making sure that the onions are in a single layer, saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with just a pinch of kosher salt and 1/2 tsp of sugar and continue sauteing for another 15-20 minutes, stirring more often so no burning occurs. The onions will become quite dark and caramelized. Add the thyme and garlic during the last minute or two and then pull the pan from the heat. Stir in the mayonnaise, horseradish and Worchestershire sauce.

Spread onion mixture on pizza crust. Top with diced roast beef and cheese. Place pizza in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is browned.

Heat consomme in microwave-safe dish for one minute. Dip pizza slices into consomme.

The verdict: Hubby LOVED it! (That'll teach him for questioning my culinary choices!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

South Of The Border Casserole

Life has been quite hectic around here for the last month or so. Lots of traveling, dinners out, festival food, fast food, etc. When I finally cooked hubby's birthday meal last week, I made it into three separate blog posts just so I'd have something to blog about. I'm used to having leftovers in the fridge for when hubby comes home for lunch, but when he called today and asked what I was making him, I replied, "Remember when we used to have someone here who cooked? Whatever happened to her?" He went to Subway.

Now in my defense, I was busy getting the house ready for an appraisal. The guy was coming right at lunch time today and even though my right mind told me that he wasn't going to look under my bed or in my laundry hamper, the idiotic part of my gray matter forced me to dust under the bed and lay a clean pair of undies on top of the dirty ones in the hamper.

But guess what? After the appraiser left, I cooked! Of course since I hadn't been to the grocery store, I had to make do with what was in the house, but I pulled this one out of the air so hubby wouldn't be forced to go back to Jared Land and eat another sub tonight.

South of the Border Casserole

1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1-2 seeded and diced jalapeno peppers (How spicy do you like it?)
1 TBSP Montreal Steak seasoning
16 oz. tomato sauce
1- 15 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted tomatoes)
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups frozen corn
2 ounces shredded queso chihuahua (you could use mozzarella or monterey jack cheese)
1 1/2 cups dried pasta cooked per package directions, drained (I used mini farfalle)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
sliced green onions for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a two-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

In large skillet brown ground beef with onions, red pepper and jalapeno peppers. Season with Montreal Steak seasoning.

Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, cumin, oregano and chili powder. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the frozen corn and simmer for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the queso chihuahua (or other cheese) until melted. Gently stir in the cooked pasta. Pour all into prepared casserole dish and top with cheddar cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Garnish with green onions if desired.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blueberry Bagels

When life gives you melons, make melonade (or get help for your dyslexia.) When life (or Trader Joe's) gives you freeze-dried blueberries, make blueberry bagels.

I've been wanting to make blueberry bagels for the longest time, but I just didn't know which type of blueberries to use. I knew that fresh or frozen blueberries would be a mess during the kneading process and most likely throw off the whole liquid ratio in my dough because of their moisture, so I figured that I'd have to go with a dried form. However, I didn't want to use the sweetened, dried blueberries (like raisins.) I thought and thought and thought about this recipe until my brain turned blue, and then when I discovered the freeze-dried blueberries at Trader Joe's, it all became very clear in my mind's eye how these were going to come together. Be aware however, that I've had this same crystal-ball vision about other recipes that ended up in the trash. You win some, you lose some. This one was a winner.

If I can get just one of you who are so certain that you can't make bagels to try one of my bagel recipes, my work here is done. They are SO EASY to make, swears. This recipe starts out with a sponge of flour, yeast and water which is stirred together then left to ferment on the counter for two hours, or until bubbly.

The rest of the ingredients are then added and kneaded until a smooth dough is formed.

Now comes the kneading in of the freeze-dried blueberries. They're very dry and crispy, like cereal, but I was certain that they'd take on the moisture in the dough... and they did!

It took a little while to knead them all into the dough, but when I was finished, they were all incorporated and my dough was smooth and streaked with blue. Lovely!

I weighed the dough into 3 ounce portions then rolled them into balls. They were placed on a cookie sheet, covered with a damp towel and left to rest for 20 minutes.

I then took each ball and rolled it into a 6-8 inch rope.

Each rope was wrapped around my hand, overlapping the end pieces by an inch or so.

Then the bagel was flipped over onto the counter and rolled back and forth between the counter and my palm to seal the edges.

The bagels were placed on a silpat lined baking sheet, covered with a damp towel and left to rest again for 20 minutes. To determine if they're ready for their overnight rest in the fridge, take one of the bagels and drop it in a bowl of cool water. If it floats to the top within 10 seconds, it's ready. If not, wait a few more minutes and try again. Cover the bagels with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray and place baking sheet in the fridge overnight or for up to three days.

On the day of baking, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Heat a large pot of water to boiling and add 1 TBSP of baking soda. Carefully drop bagels into the pot and boil for one minute. Then flip the bagels over and boil the other side for another minute.

Remove bagels from pot with a slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper, sprayed with cooking spray and dusted lightly with cornmeal. Bake for 5 minutes, rotate the pan 180 degrees, reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on cooling rack.

Blueberry Bagels (makes about 10- 3 ounce bagels)

The sponge:

1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 cups (9 ounces) unbleached high-gluten flour or bread flour (I used Sir Lancelot)
10 ounces of water

Combine the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl, cover and allow to ferment at room temperature for 2 hours.

The final dough:

1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 3/4 cup (7 ounces) white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 TBSP vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp diastatic malt powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 TBSP sugar
1 cup (1.2 ounces) freeze-dried blueberries

Add the yeast to the sponge and stir well to incorporate. In a measuring cup, combine the remaining ingredients, except for the blueberries. Add to the sponge and mix well. Knead by hand or machine 6-8 minutes until smooth dough is formed. Remove dough from bowl to clean counter and knead in the blueberries by hand. Follow the above instructions and photos to shape, finish and bake the bagels.