Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Biscuits

These are awesome. And definitely best fresh out of the oven. But what biscuit isn't? Mmmm... Pumpkin baked goods...

Spiced Pumpkin Biscuits
Courtesy of Cooking Light


9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup fat-free buttermilk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Chill 10 minutes.

Combine buttermilk and honey, stirring with a whisk until well blended; add canned pumpkin. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 4 times. Roll dough into a (1/2-inch-thick) 9 x 5–inch rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough crosswise into thirds (as if folding a piece of paper to fit into an envelope). Reroll dough into a (1/2-inch-thick) 9 x 5–inch rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough crosswise into thirds; gently roll or pat to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut dough with a 1 3/4-inch biscuit cutter to form 14 dough rounds. Place dough rounds, 1 inch apart, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan; cool 2 minutes on wire racks. Serve warm.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

This is the the creamiest ice cream I've ever tasted. Maybe it's all the egg yolks? Or the fact that it's made with only cream? I'm not sure I could eat a whole lot of it, which is probably a good thing. But it is quite tasty.

The only change I made was to omit the bourbon. Benjamin was the one who suggested the flavor, so I figured feeding my 5-year-old ice cream with alcohol in it would be a bad idea. Plus, I'm just not a giant fan of how alcohol tastes in my ice cream.

Pumpkin Ice Cream
A variation on this recipe from Williams-Sonoma

1 cup fresh pumpkin puree or canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/2 cups of the cream and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Slow-Cooking Apple Butter

This recipe is originally called "Overnight Apple Butter", but I recommend doing it during the day, if for no other reason than to be able to enjoy the aromas that fill your house more actively. This is so good. I remember my dad raving about apple butter when I was little but always thinking it sounded gross. But I'm glad I finally tried it. It's delicious and super easy to make. Which is why my dad will be getting a whole jar of it for Christmas.

The only change I made was to use nutmeg instead of mace. Before doing the grocery shopping for the ingredients, I read that mace is just the outside casing for nutmeg and is kind of expensive. So I went the cheaper route, and while I don't know what it would have tasted like with the mace, it tasted great this way.

Slow-Cooking Apple Butter
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
10 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into large chunks (about 2 1/2 pounds)

Combine all ingredients in a 5-quart electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 10 hours or until apples are very tender.

Place a large fine-mesh sieve over a bowl; spoon one-third of apple mixture into sieve. Press mixture through sieve using the back of a spoon or ladle. Discard pulp. Repeat procedure with remaining apple mixture. Return apple mixture to slow cooker. Cook, uncovered, on high 1 1/2 hours or until mixture is thick, stirring occasionally. Spoon into a bowl; cover and chill up to a week.

Stovetop variation: Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat 1 hour or until apples are very tender, stirring occasionally. Strain through a sieve as recipe instructs in Step 2. Return mixture to pan. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently.

Chicken Biryani

This isn't as good as the chicken biryani I've had at Indian restaurants, but it's a good alternative if you can't get Indian food where you live or are watching your budget.

Chicken Biryani
Courtesy of Cooking Light


2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped plum tomato (about 2 tomatoes)
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup sliced almonds
4 lime wedges

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add onion and jalapeño; sauté 3 minutes. Add ginger, garam masala, cumin, salt, and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add tomato, rice, raisins, and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in cilantro. Sprinkle with almonds; serve with lime wedges.

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake with Caramel and Cream Cheese Frosting

I ate entirely too much of this cake. But it was just so seriously delicious that I couldn't stop eating it. The caramel addition to the frosting was amazing. And the addition of orange zest to the cake really gave it a wonderfully fresh element. The festive elements were just because we were having people over and I was feeling the Halloween spirit.

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake with Caramel and Cream Cheese Frosting
Courtesy of Bon Appétit


3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

1 1-pound box powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides, tapping out any excess flour. Whisk first 9 ingredients in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat pumpkin, sugar, and oil in another large bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to incorporate between additions. Mix in orange peel. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 33 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert onto rack, then turn top side up and cool completely.

For frosting:
Sprinkle 1/2 cup powdered sugar over bottom of small nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until sugar melts (do not stir). Continue cooking until sugar turns deep amber, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Carefully stir in 1/2 cup cream, vanilla, and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until any caramel bits dissolve. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon cream. Strain into small bowl. Cool caramel to room temperature.

Sift remaining powdered sugar into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in cooled caramel. Cover and chill frosting until firm enough to spread, about 2 hours.

Using long serrated knife, trim rounded tops from cakes. Place 1 cake layer on cake plate, cut side up. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over. Place second cake layer, cut side down, atop frosting. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, creating smooth surface. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome or large bowl and chill. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before serving.

Sprinkle decorative elements (if desired) over top of cake. Cut into wedges and serve.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baked Polenta with Sausage and Tomato-Pepper Sauce

Delish. I'd never had prepared polenta before, and I'm really digging it. I think getting basil-garlic polenta also helped to make the dish extra tasty.

Baked Polenta with Sausage and Tomato-Pepper Sauce
Courtesy of Sunset

5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 medium yellow onion, halved lengthwise, then cut into thin wedges
1 medium yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, cut lengthwise into thin slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon each salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red chile flakes
1 pound bulk Italian sausage, sweet or spicy (or 1 lb. Italian sausage links removed from their casings)
2 tubes (16 ounces each) prepared polenta, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

Preheat broiler to high. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a 2- to 3-qt. saucepan set over medium heat, then add tomatoes and oregano and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and chile flakes, and stir to combine. Cover pan, lower heat to medium, and cook until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, stirring and breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it firms up, about 5 minutes. Cover pan and cook until vegetables are tender and sausage is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes more. Add tomato sauce and simmer 10 minutes.

While sauce is cooking, pour remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. oil into a 9- by 13-in. baking pan and tilt to coat bottom. Add polenta slices to pan and turn to coat with oil, then arrange slices lengthwise in 3 slightly overlapping rows. Broil polenta about 4 in. from heating element until golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes.

Pour sauce over broiled polenta, then arrange mozzarella slices over the top. Broil until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

These are the best roasted pumpkin seeds I've ever made. I think partly because I used the seeds from a cheese pumpkin (a variety of heirloom pumpkin), which are on the smaller side. The only variation I made to the recipe is that I used olive oil rather than butter.

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
A variation of this recipe from

3 cups pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup butter, melted (or enough olive oil to coat)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon seasoned salt

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

In a medium bowl, mix together the pumpkin seeds, butter, garlic powder, salt and seasoned salt until the pumpkin seeds are evenly coated. Spread in an even layer on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes until toasted. Cool completely on the baking sheet, then transfer to a serving dish. Or store in an airtight container.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Maple-Pumpkin Brûlée

My first attempt at crème brûlée was a success. And honestly, these things are the easiest and cheapest things to make, so I'm going to have a hard time ever shilling out the money for a restaurant version again.

Maple-Pumpkin Brûlée
Courtesy of


1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 egg yolks
1 egg
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Whisk together cream, half-and-half, pumpkin purée, 1/4 cup maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves in a saucepan. Heat over medium just until steam rises.

Whisk together egg yolks, egg, 1/3 cup maple syrup, and salt in a bowl. Slowly whisk warm cream mixture into egg mixture.

Strain egg mixture into a measuring cup with a pour spout, using a rubber spatula to press through a fine-mesh sieve for a silky texture.

Divide among six 4-ounce ovenproof ramekins. Arrange dishes in a baking pan, then carefully transfer pan to the oven. Add hot water to the pan and bake custards until set, 35-45 minutes; don't overcook.

Remove ramekins from water bath, cool, then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Chill until completely cold, preferably overnight.

Caramelize each custard before serving by burning sugar on top (recipe to follow). Let the brûlées stand a few minutes after caramelizing so the topping hardens.


Crème Brûlée Sugar
Courtesy of

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Combine both sugars, then spread the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet. After baking the brûlées, turn off the oven and place the sugar pan inside the oven for an hour to dry out the sugars.

Transfer sugar to a food processor and pulverize until fine. Store in an airtight container until ready to caramelize.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spaghetti with Pork Bolognese

Oh. My. Goodness. This is absolutely fabulous. It's unexpectedly autumnal because of the addition of the cinnamon stick during the second portion of the simmering process. And it goes so well with all of the other flavors in the dish. It makes a ton, so I'm extremely happy to have so much sitting in my fridge right now. Mmmmmmm...

Spaghetti with Pork Bolognese
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light


1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (about 1 stalk)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 bay leaf
1 pound ground pork tenderloin
3/4 pound ground pork
2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups chopped plum tomato (about 1/2 pound)
1 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/8 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg
1 (2-ounce) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cups hot cooked spaghetti (about 16 ounces uncooked)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and bay leaf to pan; cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add ground pork tenderloin, ground pork, pancetta, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; sauté 8 minutes or until pork loses its pink color. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Add tomato and next 5 ingredients (through rind); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes.

Add cinnamon; simmer 30 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates. Discard bay leaf, rind, and cinnamon stick; stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add drained pasta to pot and toss. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon grated cheese and 1 tablespoon parsley.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

These are a must for Fall. They're fantastic. Make them as soon as possible.

The only thing I've changed from the original recipe is the baking time. I've done these in 3 different ovens at this point, and they always take at least 14 minutes.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
A variation on this recipe by Silvana Nardone and Christina Stanley-Salerno from


1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, 1 stick melted, 1/2 stick softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt, divided
1 2/3 cups flour
4 ounces cream cheese, chilled
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the baking powder, the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour.

Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop generous mounds of batter, spaced evenly, onto each baking sheet. Bake until springy to the touch, about 14 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the cream cheese. Add the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 2 pinches salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; mix on low speed until blended, then beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Spread the flat side of half of the cakes with the cream cheese frosting. Top each with another cake.

Chicken Tetrazzini

This dish is so nostalgic. And quite tasty. And this particular recipe actually makes it so that you have one pan of it now and one to freeze, so that's an added bonus.

I also have to admit... I've done nothing over the last couple of days since deciding to make this dish but refer to this clip from The Soup. Who knew this dish was such an aphrodisiac?

Chicken Tetrazzini
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light


1 tablespoon butter
Cooking spray
1 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages presliced mushrooms
1/2 cup dry sherry
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
7 cups hot cooked vermicelli (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)
4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 (1-ounce) slice white bread

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt butter in large stockpot coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, pepper, salt, and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry; cook 1 minute.

Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup; level with a knife. Gradually add flour to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly (mixture will be thick) with a whisk. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Add 1 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese and cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until cream cheese melts. Add the pasta, chicken and peas, and stir until blended. Divide the pasta mixture between 2 (8-inch-square) baking dishes coated with cooking spray.

Place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form. Combine breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove casserole from oven; let stand 15 minutes.

To freeze unbaked casserole: Prepare through Step 5. Cool completely in refrigerator. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

To prepare frozen unbaked casserole: Thaw casserole completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover casserole with reserved foil; bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 1 hour or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Latte

This is awesome. And I can make it sugar-free, which makes my sister, who is currently on a sugar-free diet, extremely happy. Suck it, Starbucks.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Courtesy of

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and a teeny tiny pinch of ground ginger)
1/2 cup brewed espresso or 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
Garnish with whipped cream and/or additional cinnamon (optional)

Add the coffee/espresso and milk to the crockpot. Whisk in the pumpkin, spices, sugar, and vanilla.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours (if everything is cold), about an hour if you're working with hot coffee/espresso. Whisk again.

Ladle into mugs, and garnish with whipped cream and additional cinnamon, if desired.

Chester County Mushroom Soup

You know it has to be good when it's a recipe coming from "The Mushroom Capital of the World"... And I was even more inclined to try it when my mom tried it and raved about it. So it was a must now that the weather is starting to get chillier. It's hearty, it's tasty, and it was even more awesome with the crostini on top (or on the side).

Edited to add (2/19/2013): I added bit of garlic (2 cloves) to the mushrooms when I was mincing them in the food processor. I also made sure to process them A LOT in order to get a smoother texture in the soup. But beware, for some reason, doing this made it so that my normal soup pot wasn't deep enough and this happened: 

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App 

Chester County Mushroom Soup
Courtesy of The Terrace Restaurant in Kennett Square, PA


1 carrot
1/2 onion
2 stalks celery
1 tablespoon butter or oil, plus 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
2 pounds washed button mushrooms
1/2 pound washed shiitake mushrooms
1/2 pound washed oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 pints chicken or vegetable stock
1 pint heavy cream
2 tablespoons flour

Mince carrots, onions, and celery in a food processor and saute in heavy pot with oil. Mince mushrooms in a food processor, add to pot along with tarragon, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes. Do not burn.
Add stock and cream and bring to a boil. Mix melted butter and flour until smooth and whip into soup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until all of the flour and butter mixture is incorporated and the soup is thickened. Simmer for 30 minutes and serve. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, to taste.


Cheddar Tarragon Crostini

French bread, sliced
Olive oil
Sharp cheddar, shredded
Dried tarragon

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place sliced French bread on aluminum foil-lined pan. Drizzle bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with cheese and tarragon, and bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.