Monday, November 28, 2011

Pumpkin Harvest Scones

Last night my family had a bonfire.

The temps were in the 40s, so we bundled up and sat close to the fire.  We even cooked our dinner on the fire.  Hot dogs on a stick.  Potatoes in foil cooked over the coals.  Then smore's for dessert.

We were fumbling around in the dark because no one remembered to bring a flashlight...  And, because there was beer involved, no doubt.

There's something magical about a fire, bonfire, campfire.  The food tastes better when it's cooked outside over the fire.  The conversation is more lively, and entertaining.  The cool air draws everyone closer.

There was even talked about doing it again on a warm winter afternoon.  We'll wear our snow-suits and make the fire bigger...I can't wait.

This morning it's Harvest Pumpkin Scones from the King Arthur Flour blog.  The smell of the cinnamon chips is filling the house and making it difficult to wait for them to be done.

Find the recipe here.  These are filled with minced crystallized ginger and cinnamon chips.  De-lish!  Coat the tops with milk and coarse sugar.

Head over to the KAF's blog for the recipe and make them straight away.  You won't be sorry.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Trifle

Chocolate Hazelnut cake with pumpkin mousse.

What else is one to do with left over chocolate cake during pumpkin season?

Start out with left over chocolate hazelnut cake, and by left over I mean a perfect, untouched 6 inch round cake that was the overflow of the chocolate hazelnut cake I made for my mother.  NOT left over like, half eaten and picked over.

Then find a pumpkin mousse recipe on the internet that involves cream cheese, solid packed pumpkin, cool-whip, vanilla pudding and some spice.  Mix that all up together and then layer in Trifle bowl with cake.  Oh and don't forget to drizzle Carmel syrup over the cake and top the whole thing with caramel ice-cream topping.

Let it set in the fridge while your extended family gathers over a sheet pizza.

Finally enjoy!  OK, now here's the real recipe.

6 inch round of your favorite chocolate cake cut into 1 inch cubes
Pumpkin mousse from

1 pkg. ( 8 oz.) cream cheese, softened 
1 can (15 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 
1-3/4 cups cold milk 
1 pkg. (4-serving size) instant vanilla pudding and pie filling mix 
2 cups non-dairy whipped topping, thawed, divided


  • BEAT cream cheese and pumpkin in medium bowl with electric beater on medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and spice; mix well. 
  • POUR milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. Let stand 5 minutes. 
  • FOLD in 1-1/2 cups of the whipped topping. Add cream cheese mixture; stir until well blended. 
  • LINE bottom of Trifle dish with chocolate cake cubes, drizzle with caramel syrup; Spoon half of the "Mousse" mixture into prepared bowl; Repeat layers
  • DRIZZLE caramel ice-cream topping over top.
  • CHILL for a couple of hours to allow flavors to mingle.
Serves 12.

Happy Black Friday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Coffee Ice-cream

My favorite ice-cream flavor is Perry's Bittersweet Symphony.  Coffee flavored ice-cream with ribbons of bittersweet chocolate running through it.

But Bittersweet Symphony this ice-cream is NOT.  Don't get me wrong, it's pretty good, considering...But it needs work.  Like maybe the next time I'll remember to add the vanilla and the pinch of salt.  And maybe I won't over cook the milk to the point that it starts to curdle (become lumpy).

I greatly enjoy the flavor of coffee ice-cream, but when you've eliminated caffine from your diet, even the little bit from the ice-cream is enough to keep you up at night.  Especially if your eating your ice-cream, moments before bed.  Which is a really GREAT habit to be in, I know.

Bittersweet Cafe au Lait Ice-Cream
Adapted from both and the Deni Manual
1 1/2 cups whole decaffenated coffee beans
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups cream, divided
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

  • COMBINE milk, sugar, 1/2 cup cream, and beans in a medium saucepan and heat on medium until hot and steamy, but NOT boiling.
  • REMOVE from heat and allow beans to steep in milk at room temp for one hour.
  • PLACE remaining cream in medium bowl over ice in a larger bowl.  Whisk eggs in small bowl and set aside.
  • RETURN milk mixture to heat and get it hot and steamy again, without boiling.  Pour one third of the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.  Then add eggs to saucepan with milk.
  • HEAT egg and milk mixture over med-low heat, stirring constantly until thickened to create a custard.  The custard should coat the back of the spoon.
  • POUR the custard into the cream, add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine.  
  • COVER the top with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap to contact the surface so that a skim does not form, and refrigerate until completely cooled.
  • FREEZE according to ice-cream maker's manufacturers instructions.

I completely forgot both the vanilla and salt and curdled my milk...And it still tasted OK.  I'm sure you'll have even better luck.

The weather is getting cold but all I can think about is ice-cream.  Does that make me crazy?  

Don't answer that.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Triple Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut

You're about to be tempted, but please refrain from licking your computer screen.

I warned you.

You see that brown velvet pool of heaven?  That's Scharffen Berger Dark Chocolate Ganache.  Don't you just want to dive into that pool for a swim?

Now I want to lick my screen.

Mom needed a small cake to share with some of her girlfriends.  "We all like chocolate." was her response to my question of what flavor.  So to take a new spin on my favorite Chocolate cake recipe from the Confetti Cakes Cookbook, I substituted hazelnut extract for the suggested almond extract.    (which is NOT easy to find)  The hazelnut was not as strong as the original almond flavor in the cake, so I mixed a bit in with the chocolate buttercream frosting and to my surprise, I believe it brought out the coffee in the cake.  And then of course, the third and final chocolate layer is the drenching of dark chocolate ganache.

Ganache is genius.  What could possibly be better than chocolate, heavy cream and butter heated and mixed together.  Good Lord!  Ganache is prove that He loves us.

Bittersweet vine atop Bittersweet ganache.  Isn't that pretty?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Candied Butternut Squash

We eat a lot of butternut squash.

In part, I suppose that's because we grow a lot of butternut squash.  This year's crop was small and strange compared to last year. And by small I mean only 20 squash.  Well, last year we grew about 50.  But strange because half of them looked like this.

No that is NOT a pumpkin, it's a butternut squash.  Really.  Maybe we (our garden and the bees) created a new variety.  Let's call them butterkins.  Or maybe pumpnuts?

Maybe not.

Anywho, I baked one up the other night and it tasted like squash.  I'm not sure why I was worried,  since anything tastes good with enough butter and brown sugar.

Which is exactly how I served this squash.  I baked it up as usual and then pureed it with butter, a little apple cider and brown sugar.  But to send it right over the top I made a butter brown sugar syrup with the help of some cinnamon and apple cider.

Vegetables.  Yup.  I can make those taste like dessert!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bread and peanut butter cookies

These look pretty good, right?

Only four ingredients...flour, peanut butter, chicken broth and meat-based baby food.  YUM!  Well, it may turn your stomach but the canines in this house raved about them.  Which means they paced around the kitchen with their noses in the air and begged as I milled around in the kitchen.

Yes.  These were intentionally dog cookies.  When we got our dogs, several years ago.  I bought a baking for dogs cookie book.  And it has sat on my bookshelf with all of my good intentions, until this weekend.  The oven was on (homemade bread)

and the girls were busy "baking" (with playdoh)

 so I pulled out the doggie cookie book.

My first recipe was quite straight forward.  Mix those four ingredients and then bake.  The dogs, LOVED them.  I think I heard Sofie say, "Best.Cookie.Ever!"

As for the bread.  I thought it was a huge success just for the fact that it rose enough to be a half way decent sandwich bread.  The recipe was straight out of the Illustrated Baking cookbook.  Most of the kneading was with the Kitcheaid, which by the way was working hard.  A couple more loafs of bread and I'll be needing myself a new KitchenAid Professional!  So if anyone is feeling EXTREMELY generous, it is on my wish list!!!  HINT, hint, hint.

I love my Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day book, doesn't rise up nice a big.  So if you're trying to make instead of buy sandwich bread, as I am, then those loaves just don't cut it.  And they fall apart.  Try eating a sandwich when the bread just falls to pieces.  You're left holding your meat.  And in mixed company that is not always acceptable.

Two successes for this weekend.  Sandwich bread and dog cookies.  Next I'll tell you about making my own pumpkin puree from a fresh pie pumpkin.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kerry Kerry, how did your garden grow?

Well, our garden has officially gone to sleep for the winter.

Except for the lingering spinach that just doesn't take the hint that winter is approaching.  The tomatoes are done and gone.  Blight hit us hard this year, but not before our plants produced more than 170 pounds of tomatoes.  Much of which was transformed into sauce and canned.  I always feel a mix of emotions this time of year.  On one hand I'm relieved that the gardening is done...Yet having a fresh, homegrown tomato with thick slices of fresh mozzarella and basil is a beautiful thing.

The zucchini plants hung in there for quite a while.  I harvested the last zuke on October 27th.  That's also the day I realized that we have something in common with the mice...We all LOVE sweet potatoes! Those little buggers got to FAR too many potatoes before I did.  And just to taunt me they ate the insides and left an empty shell just so I could see that they ate only the biggest potatoes.  So the next day I dug the carrots and beets because without the potatoes, the mice were after those next.

So what were the totals?  I thought you'd never ask.  Let's take a look.

  • Tomatoes (which we covered above) = over 170 pounds
  • Sweet Red Bell Peppers                     = 70 (and counting)
  • Habanero peppers                              = over 2.5 pounds 
  • Hungarian Peppers                            = 11 pounds plus 26 peppers
  • Zucchini                                             = 70
  • Beans (Roma)                                    = over 27 pounds
  • Carrots                                               = 51 (the majority of them are still in the ground)
  • Beets                                                  = 25
  • Cucumbers                                         = 73
  • Lettuce                                               = 15 gallon sized zipper bags FULL
  • Spinach                                              = 7 gallon sized zipper bags FULL
  • Sweet potatoes                                   = 18 pounds
  • Pumpkin                                            = 2 (20 and 10 pounds each)
  • Butternut squash                                = 20 (average weight is over 5 pounds)
And then of course the question is, how much would all this fresh produce have cost us if we were to have bought it at the local supermarket??

$725 (excluding tomatoes & pumpkins)  +  $338 (roma tomatoes @ Wegmans) = $1,063

I know.  Isn't that amazing?  (Now, I realize no one would buy 170 pounds of tomatoes at the supermarket to make sauce...But I'm trying to prove a point here.)  Growing a garden is a money saver!

And it's not like my garden is's the size of a large family room.  Maybe 20 feet square.

Don't YOU want a garden now too?  Don't be intimidated.  Start small, start with good soil and improve it every year.  Grow using deep organic methods, which means work hard to make your soil fertile(adding organic material and minerals to amend and improve the soil) and save your money on chemical fertilizers.  We mulch our veggie garden with lawn clippings - 2-3 inches all over.  It keeps the weeds from growing (we HATE weeding the garden) and adds nutrients back into the soil.  In the fall the leaves go in there too.

I get soo much satisfaction from harvesting food from the garden.  I know where it came from and how it was grown.  And I'm teaching my children where they're food comes from and what goes into making it.

I hope you enjoyed summer, because it's time to brace for winter...It snowed yesterday!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Model A Pick-up Cake

Happy Birthday Sam!

My father-in-law just turned 70 years old and his son's threw him a surprise birthday party.  And my contribution?  The cake.  (Big surprise on that one)

Sam's first car was a Model A Pick up Truck.  Ford blue with black fenders and a piece of plywood in the bed.  Him and his buddy's would "go mudding" with it.

The cake is two 13 x 9" cakes (vanilla and chocolate) with buttercream frosting.  The truck is cereal treats carved (by Paul) and covered in fondant.  The wheels are Oreo cookies.  We tried to make it to scale.  He really liked the cake and that's what matters.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Sticky Buns

You may remember I mixed up a big batch of Brioche dough not too long ago, and transformed some of it into the pumpkin apple coffee cake?

Well, the rest of it sat in the refrigerator for a few days and just called to me every time I opened the fridge door.

And then the apples joined in and the two of them broke my defenses right down.  They are much happier now married in the form of sticky buns.

And let me just tell you...I want in on this little love fest.

Wrap me up in a big blanket of rich brioche dough with layers of cinnamon and butter.  I'll cozy up to the slices of apple and we'll all go straight to heaven when the warm cream cheese frosting is drizzled on top.

Adapted from Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day
4 T. salted butter; softened
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 c. apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices

Cream together the butter, sugar and spices.

Brioche dough (makes 4 one pound loaves)
From Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day 
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 T. granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 T. Kosher salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
3 sticks unsalted butter, melted
8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

PREPARE the filling and slice the apples.  Set each aside.

MIX all ingredients together except for flour in a large lidded but NOT air tight bowl (5-quart bowl so it allows for the dough to rise). Mix in the flour without kneading using a spoon or sturdy spatula.  The dough will be loose (extremely wet) but will firm up when chilled; don't try to work with it before chilling. (You may notice lumps in the dough but they will disappear in the finished products.)

COVER (but not air-tight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

REFRIGERATE in lidded (but not air-tight) container and use over the next 5 days.  Beyond 5 days freeze the dough in 1-pound portions wrapped in a layer of plastic, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise times.

On BAKING day, liberally dust surface of dough and cut off a 1-pound portion (about the size of a cantaloupe).  Roll dough into rectangle shape 1/8 inch thickness on a liberally floured surface (this dough a extremely wet which allows it to stay fresh for 5 days in the fridge).

Spread the filling to within a 1/2 inch of the edge of the dough.  Sprinkle the apple pieces over the top of the cinnamon filling and press down so the don't move around as you roll it up. Roll up start from the long end jelly-roll style.  Press the fold and ends together slightly.   Cut into 8 pieces and arrange in a 9-inch cake pan lined with parchment paper.  Allow rolls to rest for 1 hour.

PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.  

BAKE for 35 to 40 minutes.  Place on wire rack to cool slightly.  Turn out onto a serving plate.  Frost with your favorite frosting or glaze; serve warm.

Hold on a minute...

I'm in my happy place.