Tuesday, October 20, 2009

sugar and spice and everything nice!

Is there anything better than pumpkin and spice in the fall? Is there anything better than cream cheese ever!? Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are a huge hit and one of my new favorite recipes! Hubby loved them, friends loved them, family at reunion this weekend loved them and all I can say is wow, I wish I could take all the credit! The recipe yields about 24 muffins so they are perfect for fall gatherings, Thanksgiving, school parties, or just to stuff yourself at home. :) It probably sounds like I'm trying to sell these, but they really just sell themselves. Make them and you'll see what I mean! ;) Thank you, Annie's Eats for this amazing recipe!


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Annie's Eats

For the muffins:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 Tbsp. & 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

For the streusel topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup and 1 tsp. flour
4Tbsp. butter, cubed
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 

STEP 1: To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth. Form into a log on a plastic wrap or foil, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours. 
STEP 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.
STEP 3: To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly. 
STEP 4: Line two muffin pans with paper liners. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into 24 equal slices. Place a slice in each muffin well. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before serving. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

cranberry-apricot scones. period.

I like to cook. But I love to bake. Apparently I'm also a food-dork because I couldn't wait to wake up this morning just so that I could make these delicious scones.Hehehe. I got the recipe from a "Women In the Church" mail-out this summer and I knew from the second I saw it that I had to make them. It just took me a while to build up the courage because for some reason I thought they would be a challenge. They were actually quite easy and well worth the time and effort. I served them to hubby strait out of the oven and he was smitten by them, well we both were. The dried fruit (mainly the cranberry) make them ideal for a perfect fall breakfast! Yuummmmmm!

Cranberry-Orange Scones

Williams-Sonoma Bread

3 C all-purpose flour

3 T. granulated sugar

2 ½ t. baking powder

½ t. salt

Zest of 1 orange or 1 t. orange oil

10 T. cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 C. cold buttermilk

¾ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup chopped dried apricots

Step 1: Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: In a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. Add the butter to the flour mixture. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs.

Step 3: Add the buttermilk to the dry ingredients all at once and stir until a sticky dough forms. Stir in the cranberries and apricots just until evenly distributed.

Step 4: Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. With floured hands, gently knead the dough 8-10 strokes; the dough will be very soft. Press and pat the dough into a loose rectangle about 1 ½ inches thick. Fold the rectangle like a letter, overlapping the two short sides in them idle to make three layers. Pat out the dough into a thick triangle. Divide in half. Pat each portion into a round ¾ inch thick and 8 inches in diameter. Cut each round into six wedges.

Step 5: Arrange the wedges, 2 inches apart, on the prepared sheet. Bake until golden brown, 14-18 minutes. Transfer to racks. Serve the scones warm with butter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

swedish meatballs: fancy name for meatballs and gravy

I told hubby that I was going to make "Swedish meatballs" for dinner and he all but turned up his nose at the idea. He is very leery of dishes he's never heard of, where I on the other hand, LOVE to try weird new recipes with fancy/funky names. Well friends... I hate to disappoint but as hubby so frankly put it after I made them, these are just good ol' Texan meatballs and gravy! Haha. Regardless of the name they were quite delish and I will definitely be using this recipe again! I hope you enjoy as much as we did. :)

Swedish Meatballs
Good Housekeeping "Step by Step Cookbook" 1997

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. margarine or butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 slices firm white bread, torn [I used Panko]

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 large egg
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch ground allspice
2 tsp. vegetable oil

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 can chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh di
ll [I used chopped parsely]

Step 1: In a 10-inch skillet, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, 8 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a large bowl and wipe skillet clean. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor with knife blade attached, process bread to fine crumbs. To onion in bowl, add bread crumbs, ground beef, and next 5 ingredients and mix until blended. Shape into 1 1/2-inch meatballs.
Step 2: In same skillet, melt 1 tsp. butter with 1 tsp. oil over medium heat. Add half of meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, 10 minutes, or until browned on all sides and just cooked through; transfer to plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining 1 tsp. each butter and oil and remaining meatballs; transfer to plate.
Step 3: To drippings in skillet, add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and cream; heat to boiling, stirring over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Return meatballs to skillet, stirring gently to coat with sauce. Sprinkle with dill and serve.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

some like it hot

Can you believe the only other pasta I've ever made is spaghetti and chicken alfredo? I always drool over pasta plates at Red Lobster and Johnny Carino's SO I decided to try one out at home. While browsing Annie's Eats Blog, I found this beauty. It originally used only chicken but since shrimp is hubby's fave and they were on sale at the grocery store, I figured they would make a great addition ...and I was right!

For those who love cajun-style food and/or SPICE, this pasta should do the trick...it definitely cleared me and hubby's sinuses! :) We both REALLY enjoyed it, but agreed next time I should tone down the pepper a bit.

Louisiana Chicken (and shrimp) Pasta
adapted from Annie's Eats

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
~1/2 lb shrimp [I bought a bag of large, frozen, cooked shrimp]
8 oz. bowtie pasta
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup yellow onion

3/4 tsp. kosher salt [I used regular salt]
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pep
per [unless you like a LOT of spice, I highly recommend using only a pinch or none]
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water

3 scallions, chopped

Step 1: Heat a small amount of butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and a generous sprinkle of cajun seasoning. Add to the skillet and cook until lightly browned and cooked through. Season shrimp and add to skillet until thoroughly heated and curled. Transfer both to plate and set aside.

Step 2: Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.
Step 3: Return the skillet to medium heat and heat the butter and olive oil until the butter has melted. Add the bell peppers and onion to the pan. Mix in the salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the half &
halt and heavy cream to the pan and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, and add to the skillet once the cream mixture has started to bubble. Allow to cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Step 4: When the sauce has thickened add the cooked pa
sta, chicken, and shrimp pieces to the pan. Stir well to combine and cook at medium-low heat just until meat is warmed through. Adjust the amount of Cajun seasoning if necessary to suit your taste. Stir in the scallions. Serve immediately and top with additional Cajun seasoning, if desired.