Monday, September 29, 2014

Pumpin pie French toast

We started Long Island cheese pumpkins (in the photos) from seed this year and planted them over at my father-in-law's big garden. We were over there last weekend and checked on them and saw that we have a lot of pumpkins. A few were ripe so we grabbed a couple. The first thing I noticed is how adorable they are and what a lovely shade of orange they are on the outside. I roasted one up right away and froze a bunch of puree (and have a feeling I'll be doing more of that). I'm excited to give these pumpkins a try in pumpkin pie because they have a sweet, dense, bright orange flesh and according to some of my research they were historically a preferred pie pumpkin. Since we have a lot of pumpkins on our plants, you can probably expect even more pumpkin recipes this fall/winter!

One of my favorite fall weekend breakfasts is this French toast. The custard is full of pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spices. It's delicious, especially with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon, a good drizzle of real maple syrup, and some sage breakfast sausage. This recipe will make about 8 slices of French toast. 

Pumpkin pie French toast
2 large eggs
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
dash of salt
1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
about 8 slices of white/country loaf bread, sliced about 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick
butter, for cooking
real maple syrup, for serving

In a pie plate or other shallow dish, add the eggs through brown sugar. Beat the mixture with a fork until well combined and smooth.

Heat a griddle pan or skillet over medium heat. Begin to dip the bread in the custard mixture one piece at a time. I let it sit for about 5 seconds on each side and then let any excess liquid run off.

Butter the hot griddle and cook the French toast until golden on both sides. Repeat until all the bread and/or custard mixture is gone. 

What was I cooking one year ago?: spiced pickle sugar pumpkin
Two years ago?: smoky pumpkin mac n' cheese
Three?: green tomato chutney
4?: chicken with apple & shallot sauce

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Buffalo chicken chili

Now as most of you know, we live just outside of the City of Buffalo. Around here, people take their chicken wings and hot sauce very seriously and we don't use the word "Buffalo" in front of foods.... However, when I'm making a recipe for a wider audience that uses the flavors of Buffalo, I think it's appropriate. This chili combines chicken, celery, carrots, hot sauce, and blue cheese (all the flavors of chicken wings) in a chili base of tomatoes, spices, onion, and beans. We were a little unsure if we would really like it when I was first thinking about it, but we ended up loving it! The flavors combined so nicely and the spice and heat levels were perfect for us. This chili is a great choice for a game day afternoon or for dinner any cool evening. I highly recommend an icy cold beer to go along with it because this chili will definitely warm you up! This recipe will make about four servings.

Buffalo chicken chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 to 1-1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can/jar (15-16 oz.) diced tomatoes  
1 can (15-16 oz.) cannellini beans, drained
1 can (15-16 oz.) kidney beans, drained
about 3 tablespoons Frank's hot sauce 
1-2 teaspoons white vinegar
crumbled blue cheese to taste, for topping

In a soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Let brown on one side and then stir. Continue to cook until browned on all sides. Stir in the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables just begin to soften. Then stir in the chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices and let the mixture come to a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are softened. Then stir in the beans and let the chili warm through. Add the hot sauce 1 tablespoon at a time to reach your desired heat level. Then stir in the vinegar 1 teaspoon at a time, to taste. Season with salt and pepper and let the chili heat through. 

When hot, ladle into bowls and top with some crumbled blue cheese. Serve with corn chips or celery sticks, if desired.

What was I cooking one year ago?: peach & pecan streusel bread
Two years ago?: jalapeno-cheddar beer bread
Three?: buckwheat pancakes
4?: spinach and artichoke pizza

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chicken and apple Indian curry

I don't say this lightly, but this curry is one of my favorite meals I've eaten in a while (and my husband concurs). My husband found this recipe in his magazine The Week and it comes from a book (which I've now requested from the library and can't wait to read) called Apples of Uncommon Character: Heirlooms, Modern Classics, and Little Known Wonders. Long-time readers know that I love apples and that we go apple picking every fall (it's coming up soon). It's just something that you have to do in apple country during the fall. We go to this great orchard at Lynoaken Farms where they have tons of heirloom and heritage apples so we try all sorts of different varieties that you'd never find in a grocery store. I'm hoping that the library gets the book in before October so I can read it in time.

I urge you to make this curry this fall. I used the original recipe as a guide, but made many changes for my final recipe. I used Granny Smith apples because I thought the tartness would be nice in the curry. I think one sour and one sweet apple would apple would also be nice. The apples pair so wonderfully with the Indian spices. My version will make about three to four servings. Serve this curry with Basmati rice and a dollop of plain yogurt on top.

Chicken and apple Indian curry
1-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
1-inch piece of turmeric root, peeled and roughly chopped (or 1-1/2 teaspoons ground)
2 teaspoons Garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
about 1-1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
sea salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 cup apple cider
1 cup chicken broth/stock
2 medium apples, such as Granny Smith, cored and diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
plain yogurt, for serving
1 cup Basmati rice, cooked to package directions

In a food processor, blend the ginger, garlic, turmeric, Garam masala, coriander, and red pepper flakes to a paste. Add a tablespoon or coconut oil, or a couple tablespoons of apple cider to help it blend together, if needed.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and add to the pan. Cook until browned, then turn and cook the other side until browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate. 

Add the spice paste to the skillet along with the cinnamon stick and more coconut oil, if needed. Stir the paste and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the onion and continue to cook, stirring often, until soft and golden. Stir in the cider and chicken broth and stir well to de-glaze the pan. Return the chicken (and any juices) to the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Turn the heat back up to medium and stir in the apples. Cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender and the sauce has reduced, about 5-7 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

Stir in the cilantro. Remove the cinnamon stick. Serve immediately with a side of Basmati rice and plain yogurt for topping, if desired.

What was I cooking one year ago? peach & cranberry chutney

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pumpkin spice loaf cake

Behold, my first pumpkin recipe of the season! I couldn't wait any longer! Over the weekend I decided it was high time to kick off pumpkin season with this pumpkin spice loaf cake. This loaf is pretty simple to make and while I usually love to toss in nuts and/or chocolate chips when I make pumpkin baked goods, I wanted this to be all about the pumpkin and pumpkin spices that we all crave in the fall. While baking, the whole place smelled of warm pumpkin spice, which was perfect for a crisp day. This is a lovely treat for after a day outside or with a hot cup of tea for an autumn weekend snack.

This recipe will make one 9 x 5-inch loaf. Most quick breads/loaf cakes have at least one cup of sugar in them, but I almost always cut down the sugar. Feel free to add more for a sweeter cake. I dusted it with powdered sugar only to make it look prettier for the photo - that's completely optional. A glaze would also be nice, or a smear of pumpkin butter on individual slices would be even better.

Have you made your first pumpkin recipe of the season yet??

Pumpkin spice loaf cake
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon (my favorite)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
butter, for greasing the pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through baking soda). In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (pumpkin puree through sugar). Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a wooden spoon until combined.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan and spread the batter evenly. Bake for about 55-65 minutes, until the loaf is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out cleanly.

Set on a wire rack to cool and then gently slide the loaf out onto a cutting board. Slice and enjoy.

What was I cooking one year ago?: Indian-spiced eggplant, cauliflower, and chickpeas
Two years ago?: chicken tikka masala
Three?: Spanish rice
4?: celery root and apple puree

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jalapeno popper chicken chili

Soup and chili season is arriving! I absolutely love making and eating a hot and hearty soup when the weather is crisp and cool. My husband and I took a walk at the nearby park yesterday evening and noticed that the leaves are starting to fall and that they were crunching under our feet. The squirrels were packing away acorns, crane flies were hovering over the grass, and the smell of fall was in the air (although it's still a bit warm). It's my favorite time of the year.

We had a ton of jalapenos that needed to be used up and I found this recipe is from Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice. I adapted it as written below. This soup packs a punch of heat from all the jalapenos, but the creaminess mellows it out making a smooth flavor combination. This recipe will serve about four people and the leftovers are even better. 

Jalapeno popper chicken chili
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 slices bacon 
1 small onion, diced
5 jalapenos, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
3 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 can (14-15 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (14-15 oz.) white beans, such as cannellini
1/2 cup frozen corn
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed 
1/3 cup minced cilantro
shredded cheddar cheese, for serving

Place the chicken thighs in a pan with a lid. Cover with water and simmer with the lid on until they are cooked through. Reserve the cooking water and set the chicken aside to cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

In a large soup pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour out the bacon grease leaving a couple teaspoons in the pot. With the heat on medium, add the onion, jalapenos, and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, and some salt and pepper and cook for another minute.

Pour in the tomatoes and about 1 cup of the chicken poaching liquid. Add the corn, beans, and chicken and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Stir in the cream cheese. Continue to stir until the cream cheese is melted and thoroughly mixed. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. If the chili is too thick, you can add a bit more poaching liquid.

Crumble the bacon into the chili. Stir in the cilantro and top with shredded cheddar cheese for serving.

What was I cooking one year ago?: Hasenpfeffer with dill dumplings
Two years ago?: baked potato soup
Three?: zucchini bread
4?: watermelon rind pickles