Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pumpkin Butter

I get really drawn to the idea of pumpkins around Thanksgiving but this year have been going a bit pumpkin crazy. To drag Thanksgiving out over the weekend I decided to make pumpkin butter and use the turkey dishes I inherited from my grandparents. Since I've never made any kind of 'butter' first I had to find a recipe to guide this experiment.

sugar pumpkin
1/4 cup apple cider or juice
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of salt

Roast the sugar pumpkin until it becomes super tender and easily falls apart with a fork.
Put the pumpkin flesh in a food processor with all the ingredients except the last 2 (lemon, salt) and blend until smooth.
Put the puree in a pot on the stove with the lid slightly ajar and bring to just a boil then reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes to thicken up a bit.
Let it cool then add the lemon juice and salt and put in a glass jar with tight fitting lid to store in fridge.

Pumpkin butter on toast made a nice breakfast.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pickled Green Tomatoes

As the weather has gotten cold I had to bring in tomatoes from the garden that didn't have a chance to ripen on the vine. My go to with green tomatoes is always frying them but we had a LOT of tomatoes and I needed a new strategy. My husband brought home pickled green tomatoes to give me a little inspiration so I decided to give my own a try. I did some looking on the web and came across some recipes from Garden Betty. I gave her curried pickled tomatoes a try.

1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
1/8 cup sliced fresh ginger root

Bring ingredients to boil to make brine.
Fill a jar with sliced green tomatoes then pour hot brine over.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall Leaf Roses

I've been seeing a lot of these roses made from fall leaves and decided to give it a try myself. Most of the instructions I came across were more image based than text so I'm going to try to include some photos and some description of what I did.

First, I went out and collected some fall leaves. It is important that they are not yet dry because once they are dry they are too brittle to work with.

To make the roses start with the center first and then work your way out. I folded the leaf to have a fairly flat edge and then rolled the leaf up

then I repeated the process of folding the leaf and rolled the next leaf around the first but a little lower down, I did this with about three leaves

once I had the center of the rose done it was time to add some petals
 I loosely folded leaves into rectangles and put those around the center overlapping them slightly 

lastly I added some small leaves with no folds for the outside petals 

then I used a rubber band to hold all the leaves together 

and I happened to have some floral tape so I used that to wrap all the leaf stems to a stick so I could put the roses in a vase 
It was a fun project. I don't plan on doing anything to try to preserve these roses for use as a decoration again next year but I may attempt this craft again next year for festive table decoration. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cooking with Sugar Pumpkins - tamales, ravioli and pie

I love eating squash in the fall but I've never tried to do much with pumpkin until this week. After these few attempts I'm excited to try doing more with it.

As has become our tradition we made tamales for the Day of the Dead this year. I used this recipe as a guide.
First soak the corn husks in warm water. Then I started by making the filling, roasted pumpkin mixed with small pieces of queso blanco, cilantro, two jalapeƱos, a little garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Then I made the masa dough. I mixed 2 cups masa with two cups boiling water. In the bowl of a stand mixer I put  1/2 cup hot water with 1/3 cup of butter, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda, after that mixed I began to add in the masa and let it mix until everything was combined. Then assemble the tamales and steam them to cook. This made more than two of us can eat so we put the leftovers in the freezer.

I also made my first attempt at homemade ravioli, Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce.

I began by making the filling. I used this recipe  as a guide for the filling.
I combined some roasted pumpkin, fresh ricotta, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup grated parmigiana.

And this recipe for the pasta, which I ended up doubling because I had so much filling. I was partly drawn to this recipe because I was able to do it all with a mixer.
In a stand mixer with a dough hook I combined 2 cups all purpose flour, 3 eggs 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil (this makes one batch of pasta). After it all combined well then I coated it in oil and wrapped it in saran wrap and let it sit for half an hour.

Once the dough was ready I put it through the pasta maker to make sheets. I put the sheets onto a mat dusted with semolina.

I made fairly small ravioli, I put a small spoonful of filling in the dough and then folded it over and cut the dough then used a fork to press around the edges and seal them. Once the ravioli were made I put water on to boil and started on the brown butter sauce - 4 tablespoons of butter with roughly chopped sage, and chopped walnuts. The ravioli only cook for 2-3 minutes. Once they were cooked I added them to the frying pan with the sauce and tossed them together. 

I served the ravioli on a bed of spinach with a little grated parmesan underneath and a little gorgonzola on top.

And lastly I made pumpkin pie with a fresh sugar pumpkin from this recipe. Except I did not make my own crust.

For the pie filling I combined 2 cups of roasted sugar pumpkin, a 12 oz can of evaporated milk, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt with an immersion blender until smooth.

I decided to do small pies and used store bought dough. I filled up 12 muffin tins and two small 5 inch pie pans.

It baked at 400 for about 40 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.

and I served it with whipped cream that I whipped with a little maple syrup for some extra festive fall flavor. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

I was off to a late start this year. We went to a farm to pick our pumpkins two weekends ago but it wasn't until last night that I gutted them and it wasn't until this morning that I cooked the seeds and carved the pumpkins. 


I usually just rinse and roast the seeds in the oven with a little olive oil and salt. This year I tried a different approach I found on Simply Recipes where you simmer the seeds in salted water (1 Tablespoon salt and 2 cups water for every 1/2 cup of seeds) for 10 minutes and then bake them at 400 on an oiled cookie sheet for about 20 minutes. I had enough seeds for 2 cookie sheets so after I took them out of the oven I tossed half the seeds with salt and the other half with cinnamon and sugar. 

Then it was time to carve the pumpkins. 

I usually really enjoy looking at the pumpkin and deciding what it "wants" to be but this year I felt a time crunch and decided I would try using some tools to create simple patterns and speed up the process. I used a large chisel and a drill with a variety of bits. 

Now we just need some trick-or-treaters!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oktoberfest Foods

Hello October! We planned to have some friends over and since it's October I decided to try out some Oktoberfest foods. The links are included below for the recipes I tried. 

Most importantly, beer in an authentic German stein

We made spent grain pretzels with a traditional German cheese dip called obazta.
And also had mustard to go with them.

Potato pancake with homemade applesauce and sour cream. To make the apple sauce I peeled a few apples and chopped them in cubes then put them in a pot on the stove with some cinnamon and a little maple syrup and let it cook down. I cut the apple in varying sizes so some would cook and be very mush and some would stay a bit chunky.

German potato salad 

Braised Red Cabbage although I used some green cabbage as well because I used the cabbage I had growing in the garden. 

A German inspired corn dog. My first attempt at a corn dog.

Grilled ham and cheese. I did not find the recommended Cambozola cheese but I read that it was similar to a camembert or brie with blue cheese in it and I found d'affiniod brie at my local grocer so I used that instead and it was lovely.

I also tried a cheese soup which got mixed reviews. It seemed to be a bit of an acquired taste and seemed much better the second day than on the day I made it.

And of course beer boiled bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard.

Then I tried a few recipes to satisfy every sweet tooth.

Pfeffernusse cookies which had the flavors you'd expect from a Christmas cookie or gingerbread. They were quite tasty.

A German rum ball with chocolate and hazelnuts.

And of course an apple strudel . The fillo I had was about half the sheet size as that in the recipe so I made two strudels instead of cutting the filling recipe in half. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Meatless Chili

As fall approaches and the weather starts to cool off I start to think chili. I tried this recipe from epicurious with a few adjustments.

In a pot on the stove heat
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 diced onion
1 carrot
2 jalapeƱo
until onion is soft then add
3 cloves garlic
saute about one minute then add
1/2 cup couscous
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
until combined

Stir in
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 a beer
1 can of black beans (drained)
1 can of pinto beans (drained) because I did not have kidney beans
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally

I served it with sliced avocado on top and a little cheddar cheese is always nice too.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Citrus Basil Cookies

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of these but they were a lovely bright tasting cookie I'll be making again!

For the cookies
1 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled
2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
1/4 teaspoon salt

put everything in a food processor and plus until large clumps, remove from food processor and make a large ball then from that form small balls and press with the bottom of a glass into thin rounds
bake at 375 for 15- 20 minutes

for the Lime Glaze
3 1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 T lime juice

mix until smooth and spoon over the cookies

Friday, September 5, 2014

Quinoa Cookies with chocolate almond and espresso

I came across this cookie recipe, made a few adjustments based on my pantry and gave it a try.

in a bowl combine:
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

in another bowl mix together the dry ingredients:
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup spent grain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

mix together both bowls of ingredients
then fold in
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup quinoa

Bake on lined baking sheet at 350 for 10 minutes

Thursday, July 3, 2014

5 for the Fourth - festive cookies

Getting ready for a party on the 4th and decided to try out some new festive cookie recipes to bring to the potluck.

Hot Dog Cookies
recipe from serious eats
These were too cute not to try! I made them much smaller than recommended which seems to have worked out well. Hot dogs are only about 1" long. For the 'mustard' I did a simple powdered sugar, water frosting with yellow food coloring.

Red White &Blue Cake Balls
I used the same cake recipe I used for rainbow cake balls  to make these but I decided not to wrap the cake in brownies and I coated them in semi sweet chocolate chips.

Carmel Brownie Bites
I used this brownie recipe 
Then to make them look festive I found inspiration here. I cut them in to bites and coated them with candy melts.

Pinwheel Cookies 
I came across these on Just A Taste. I should have followed some of the instructions a little more closely… instead of rolling the dough between wax paper I used flour which then made it hard to roll the dough and get it to stick together as a pinwheel. I also found that they needed to cook for about 20 minutes, twice the recommended time.

Nothing beats roasting marshmallows over the campfire but these are a close second! I came across this recipe and put my own twist on it, partly because the recipe requires a microwave which I do not have.
Ingredients: graham crackers, marshmallow fluff, nutella, milk chocolate chips, red candy melts
I split the graham crackers into quarters along their existing lines, I put fluff on one side and nutella on the other then coated half of it in milk chocolate and half in candy melts

 Fireworks Cookies
These are a Martha Stewart recipe 

These were a lot of fun to decorate but it was time consuming. 
For the icing I used powdered sugar and water. I tried store bought gel frosting which looked cool but was sticky and made it hard to stack and store the cookies. The above cookies were decorated with gel icing. I also tried decorating some with food colored powder sugar icing, pictured below. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chocolate Avocado Cookies

I love avocados. I have been hearing about baking with them and happened to have one that is too soft to eat sliced so I decided I'd try baking it. So I decided to try this avocado cookie recipe.

They are amazingly quick and easy to make and I was pleased by the resulting soft chocolatey cookie. While my husband said he couldn't taste the avocado, for me, the first bite of each cookie (I've sampled a few) tastes like avocado, which could just be because when I pick one up I think 'this is an avocado cookie' and after the first bite I don't notice the avocado flavor anymore.

So, here's what I did
Use a mixer to combine
1 very ripe avocado
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
once the batter is smooth mix in by hand
1/2 cup chocolate chips - I used large milk chocolate chips

Put dollops of batter on a lined cookie sheet. They don't spread so you may want to push them down a little with the back of your spoon to shape them. Then bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Store in the fridge

Spent Grain Crepes with Seasonal Fillings

After a beautiful solstice yesterday with the farmers market, productivity, delicious dinner and time to sit and enjoy the beautiful evening in my backyard I woke up this morning with energy and motivation. I think it also helps that we switched our curtains from total light blocking ones to some that let the light filter in when the sun comes up... I got up thinking about pancakes and exercise. I started the day with a run and while running decided pancakes sounded good but too heavy so I decided on crepes instead. Even though we haven't brewed any beer in a few months we still have plenty of spent grain flour to use up from the last batches so I decided to throw that in too. 
Spent Grain Crepes (made 8 crepes)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup spent grain flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup of milk

Combine all ingredients and mix with a hand mixer until smooth. If it doesn't seem runny enough for your liking feel free to add more milk. Put butter in a pan and once it is hot pour some batter in and swirl the pan to move the batter so it makes a thin coating of batter on the bottom, once edges look cooked flip and cook the other side then add the fillings of your choice. Below are the fillings I tried today. 

Savory Filling
homemade cashew cheese *
fresh cherries
arugula from the garden

Sweet Filling
Rhubarb 'compote' (left over rhubarb from making rhubarb simple syrup)
fresh strawberries

*Vegan Cahew Cheese: soak 1 cup of raw cashews is 3 cups of water for a minimum of an hour or up to overnight, drain and rinse then combine in food processor with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, salt & fresh black pepper, 1/4 cup warm water blend until smooth. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

hand hammared clasp

I inherited some tools from my grandfather some of which I've never used until today. I decided to try to make a hook and loop clasp which was so fun and easy that I will be buying many less clasps in the future now that I can make them. And I'm using some of them in my new sea glass jewelry

Pictured above are the tools I used 

First I used pliers to to bend a small piece of wire to be the "loop" side 

Then I used the hammer to flatten it 
and used the pliers again to pinch the ends in so there were no gaps 

for the hook side I started by hammering a bit flat and then bent it to form the hook
next I bent another loop and hammered the loop part flat as well
Quick and easy! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Frozen Sweet Energy Boost - banana, peanut butter, chocolate

We're having some hot days here so a quick, cold, sweet, energy boost snack sounded good.

Here's what you need:
peanut butter
chocolate chips - whatever your favorite kind is, dark, semi-sweet, milk...

I used 3 bananas and it took about 1/2 bag of chocolate chips

First, slice the bananas and place a dollop of peanut butter in the middle of the slice and top with another slice of banana then freeze the sandwiches for about an hour

Then, melt the chocolate in a double boiler and coat the frozen banana sandwiches in melted chocolate. I found it was easiest to stick the banana with a skewer and dip it then use a knife to spread out the chocolate. Then I put them back in the freezer and they're ready to enjoy!