Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween, everyone!  To celebrate I pulled out my scariest dinnerware and set the table.  I wanted no color other than the blood red napkins, set off by the ghostly white of the under plates, cups and saucers, and flatware.  This table can do double duty for both Halloween and Day of the Dead.  Here are thirteen pictures to get you into the spirit of the day.

Placemats – Pier 1
Glasses – Old Crow Antique Glassware
Haunted House & Ghosts - Illuminations
White plates – Old Time Pottery
Candles – World Market
Salad Plates – Potter Barn
Napkins & Flatware – Crate & Barrel

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Show and Tell Friday

Monday, October 29, 2012

Slow Cooked Spicy Kielbasa

If you’re looking for the perfect fall recipe that can serve as both hearty main dish and hot hors d’oeuvre, look no further.  This unbelievably easy and wonderfully tasty recipe was posted in one of my cooking e-groups.  It’s posting was quite fortuitous as my Number 1 son was coming over to help me with some chores, and I needed something that his picky self would enjoy for lunch.  Both fridge and cupboard were fairly bare, with the exception of a package of smoked sausage, so I figured I’d give it a try.  The original recipe called for 6 tablespoons spicy mustard.  I didn’t have any spicy mustard, so I made the substitutions shown below.  We both really enjoyed it, and I will definitely be making it again.

To serve as a main dish, cut the sausage into 1-1/2 long chunks, slicing on the diagonal and serve with a side of green beans and hot German potato salad.  To serve as an hors d’oeuvre, slice in 1 pieces and serve with toothpicks.

Slow Cooked Spicy Kielbasa

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp. yellow mustard
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon horseradish
2 pounds smoked kielbasa

Heat olive oil in a 9 sauté pan over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until translucent and lightly browned. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, mustards, and horseradish, and place in the crockpot. Cut the kielbasa into one inch thick slices and add to the crockpot. Top with the sautéed onions.  Stir to coat. Cover and cook on high heat 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Serves 6.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Three Cheese Soup

If you grew up in the sixties or seventies, your first introduction to broccoli was probably under a blanket of thick cheese sauce.  (The broccoli, not you.).  I actually liked vegetables as a kid, so the cheese sauce was like icing on the vegetable cake, as it were.  Shortly after the cheese sauce craze, cheese and broccoli in soup form emerged.  Back then, this pretty much meant a warm, blended mixture of broccoli, cream, and Velveeta cheese.   For lovers of quick, easy, and processed cheese food, this artery clogger was gourmet fare.  Thank goodness things have changed since then.   Now the goal is lighter, more nutritious fare, with a blend of flavors yielding a more sophisticated taste. 

This delicious soup has all of that in spades - a variety of vegetables, REAL cheese (three of them, in fact), a nice assortment of seasonings, and only a little bit of cream. 

Even non broccoli fans will love this, and it tastes as if you've been cooking all day.

Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Three Cheese Chowder
Adapted from a recipe on Epicurious.com

1 large head broccoli
1 large russet potato
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 jar Melissa's roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
l large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated
1/2 cup Gruyere, coarsely grated
1/2 cup Fontina, coarsely grated

Cut off and discard the tough lower third of broccoli stem.  Peel remaining stem and finely chop.  Cut remaining broccoli into very small (1-inch) florets.  Cook florets in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 3-5 minutes.  Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking; drain.  Measure out and reserve 3 cups cooking water for soup.

Peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.  Cook potato, onion, bell pepper, broccoli stems, and garlic in butter in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add cumin, salt, pepper, and mustard and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.  Add reserved cooking water and simmer (partially covered), stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Stir in cream and cheese and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted.  Purée with an immersion blender until desired consistency.  Garnish with broccoli florets.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Oh, do I love the fall season when I can have pumpkin in just about anything.  There’s frost on the pumpkin this morning – literally – and what better way to start the day than with a warm, fresh, pumpkin-y cinnamon roll.  Seriously, if you can think of a better way, I’d like to hear it.

I’ve been tinkering with this dough for a while now.  I wanted a beautiful, easy to work with dough, redolent of pumpkin, with a hint of spiciness, and, oh yes, it had to be made in the bread machine because, who has time to make dough?  People, this is it! It rolls beautifully, cuts like a dream, baked up into delicious rolls, and can be made (as I did) the night before (perhaps while you’re watching a Mentalist marathon).

Next week I’m going to try this same dough, but make it into a pumpkin cinnamon swirl loaf of bread (To add raisins or not to add raisins?  What do you think?).  Imagine the French Toast! 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

For the rolls
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

For the filling
1/4 cup butter, room temperature, and I mean it!
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup pecans, lightly toasted, finely chopped

For the Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 T. pure maple syrup
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Place the ingredients into the bread machine as recommended by manufacturer.  Program for the dough cycle. When cycle is done, place dough on floured surface. Knead 1 minute, then let rest for 10 minutes.

Spray a 9 x 13pan with Pam; set aside.  Roll dough into a rectangle, approximately 15 x10.  Spread very soft butter over dough to within 1 inch of the long edges. Mix together sugar and pumpkin pie spice and sprinkle evenly over dough. Scatter chopped nuts on top of spiced sugar mixture.

Roll dough up tightly on long side. Press edges to seal and pat into a 12-inch long, evenly shaped roll. With a sharp knife, cut roll into 1 wide pieces.

Place rolls cut side down into baking pan. Cover and let rise in warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.  Halfway through the rising time, preheat oven to 375°F. 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on rack for 10 to 15 minutes. While the rolls are cooling, make the frosting by combining all of the frosting ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, and beating well until silky and smooth.

Separate and remove from pan.  Frost with reckless abandon.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Turtle Thumprint Cookies

I read a book on Holiday Organization once that said, beginning in September (so I’m already a month and a half behind!), you should prepare one meal, one cookie recipe, and one hors d'oeuvres recipe to put in the freezer so that when the holiday season arrives you’ve completed all of your cooking and baking, and can entertain with ease.  Okay, this is probably better in theory than it is in practice, but I am willing to start baking cookies for the greater good.

Turtle Thumprint Cookies
Recipe from Land 0 Lakes

2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

20 caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons whipping cream
48 pecan halves


1/2 cup real semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons shortening

Combine butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour. Beat until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate until firm (at least 1 hour).

Heat oven to 375°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place-inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in center of each cookie with thumb. (Edges may crack slightly.) Bake 7-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool completely. Store cookies in a container with a tight-fitting lid for 2 to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

On serving day, combine caramels and whipping cream in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute; stir. Continue microwaving 1 minute or until melted; stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon caramel mixture into center of each cookie. Top with pecan half (or halves, in my case).

Place chocolate chips and shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute; stir. Continue microwaving 30 seconds or until melted; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cookies. Let stand until set (about 2 hours).  As you can see, I didn’t drizzle, I glopped, because I thought it looked more like a turtle this way.

NOTES:- To store drizzled cookies, place in container with tight-fitting lid. Store at room temperature for 1 to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months. 

- Place cookies on a cooling rack over a piece of waxed paper to catch any extra chocolate drizzle.

- If caramel filling gets too thick, reheat in microwave 10-15 seconds until it becomes spoonable again.

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