Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. It's the more the texture than the flavor. I love pumpkin spiced food, especially Dunkin Donuts' pumpkin donut and these pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. I am obsessed with pumpkin right now and decided to find a recipe for cookies. These are what I found. Very moist, almost cake-like cookies.

For the cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned)
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached allpurpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the Icing:
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons whipping cream, fresh orange juice or rum (I used OJ, which wasn't overpowering, but added just a little bit of citrus, which accompanied the pumpkin well)

What to do for the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla and mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir into butter mixture until well blended. Add nuts and raisins. Drop by teaspoonful onto parchment covered baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake about 15 minutes, or until golden. Cool.

What to do for the icing: Cream confectioners' sugar and butter. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. (If icing is too thin, add more confectioners' sugar; if too thick, add more cream, orange juice or rum.) Drizzle over cookies.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cooking Class with Sara Moulton

A few weeks ago I saw that the Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in Brandon, a big cookware store that also offers cooking classes almost daily, was hosting a special cooking class with chef Sara Moulton.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Sara she has had a long and accomplished career. If being Julia Child's sous chef isn't enough to impress you, Sara spent 10 years at The Food Network, recording 1,500 episodes with the majority of them being live shows; was the executive chef at Gourmet magazine for 25 years; hosted a PBS series called Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals and is still the food editor at Good Morning America. She has a new cookbook out called Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners, which she made four recipes from during her class last night. Her other cookbooks include Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals, Sara Moulton Cooks at Home and The Good Morning America Cut the Calories Cookbook.

Her new cookbook is all about getting dinner on the table during the work week. Like most women in America, Sara finds herself coming home from work and needing to get dinner on the table quick. Her new book includes 200 recipes, mostly entrees, that will help you get out of the dinner rut. You know the rut, making the same 5-10 recipes over and over.

Sara admitted to being a lover of breakfast for dinner, much like me, so I am very happy to see the new cookbook has a chapter all about breakfast for dinner! Other chapters besides the normal poultry, meat, seafood and side dishes, include appetizers for dinner, sandwich night, spectacular salads, soup suppers, vegetarian cornucopia, five-ingredient mains, and a few more.

At her class last night, Sara demonstrated how to make her scrambled eggs and smoked salmon crepes, garlicky green beans and shitake mushrooms, chicken pot pie soup and butterscotch pudding cake. Not only was it a thrill to watch Sara and learn from her, the best part was getting to try all her dishes. They were all delicious, and me and my sweet tooth loved the dessert.

Sara was wonderful; a complete delight, very nice and down-to-earth. The class was able to ask questions and nothing was off limits. She signed a copy of everyone's cookbooks, which was included in our sign up for the class. I'm very excited to start cooking from it. Stay tuned!

Sara has a great Web site with recipes, a blog, videos and more. You can also follow her on Facebook and twitter.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Penne with Sausage, Tomatoes and Ricotta

This dish was inspired by a recent visit to Carrabba's. It is actually pretty easy to throw together, takes very few ingredients, but has lots of flavor. I used a can of San Marzano tomatoes, which are a special variety of plum tomatoes that come from a small town of the same name near Naples, Italy. They're a little sweeter and less acidic. I added in some fresh basil and a dollop of ricotta cheese for creaminess. Bon Apetito!

What You'll Need:
1 package of hot Italian turkey sausage (or pork if you'd like), removed from the casing
1/2 an onion, chopped (white or yellow)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can of whole, peeled, San Marzano tomatoes
1 box of penne pasta
basil, about 8 leaves, plus 4 leaves
handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
0live oil
salt and pepper

How to Make It:
In a large skillet or pot, add a little olive oil and heat over medium to medium-high. Add the sausage and cook while crumbling. Once brown, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes or so.

At this point start to boil your water for the pasta and the penne once the water is boiling. Back to the sausage and onion mixture, add the can of tomatoes (and the juice), crushing the tomatoes in your hand as you add them. Season with a little salt and black pepper. Allow to simmer while your pasta cooks.

Roll the 8 leaves of basil together like a cigar, slice to make ribbons. Add the ribbons of basil to the sauce. Once the pasta is done, drain. Spoon into bowls, top with some of the sauce and finish with the additional basil leaves, chopped parsley, freshly grated parmesan cheese and a dollop of ricotta cheese.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

BBQ Stir Fry

I saw Sandra Lee make this on Money Saving Meals this weekend and I thought it looked really good. This is called a BBQ Stir Fry because the sauce in it is a hoisin sauce, which is a Chinese BBQ sauce. I've changed the recipe a little bit. For instance, she used beef and I decided to use chicken. Also, I'm not a fan of ginger, so I left it out. This recipe could easily be made vegetarian by omitting the meat. Add a little tofu for some extra protein.

I also got to use my new $5 wok from IKEA. Yes, I said $5 and it worked pretty great. This recipe calls for lo mein noodles, which should be pretty easy to find in the oriental section of your grocery store.

What you'll need for the stir fry:
1 pound chicken breast, sliced into thin strips
2 Tbsps canola or olive oil
2 carrots, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
2 stalks celery, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 (16-ounce) package lo mein noodles, cooked according to package directions

What you'll need for the Hoisin Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsps tomato paste
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp hot sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsps cider vinegar
1/8 tsp pepper

How to make it:
In a wok or large skillet over high heat add the canola oil. Add the chicken and cook until browned and cooked through. Set aside on a plate.

To the same pan the chicken was cooked in, add the carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and broccoli and stir-fry until slightly tender but not soft, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken back to the skillet along with half of the hoisin sauce, and toss to coat the chicken. Add in the noodles, and toss, adding a little more sauce if you'd like.