Tuesday, October 29

Pumpkin Bread Pudding


It is Autumn again, crisp leaves on the grass, frosty breezes flowing by, and pumpkins everywhere! One of my favorite things to do in the autumn, is figure out new pumpkin recipes. Here is a great one, half traditional bread pudding and half pumpkin pie! A great marriage for the taste buds.

Full time 1 1/2 hours (include cooling time)
Serves 8

You will need:

5-6 slices potato bread, cubed (or 4 cups cubed)
3 eggs, large or jumbo
1 1/2 cup milk, (not low fat)
1 cup pumpkin purée, can or fresh (not pie mix!)
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp rum (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp allspice 
1/4 tsp salt

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 350'.

Lay your bread cubes out on a baking sheet.

Place in oven to dry out, 10-15 minutes. You do not want them to start toasting, just dry out.

While bread dries: Melt 2/3 cup butter and allow to cool slightly.

Whisk together butter and milk, allow to stand 2-3 minutes.

Whisk in eggs, sugar, brown sugar, run, allspice, cinnamon, and salt.

Whisk in pumpkin purée.

Remove bread from oven and pour into your baking dish.

Pour pumpkin mixture over the bread cubes.

Allow to sit 10 minutes.

Bake in oven 30-40 minutes or until set. Pudding should be set but not dry, do not wait until toothpick comes out clean, look at center for a firm touch with not wiggle.

Remove from oven.

Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving, enjoy!

Sunday, October 27

MAKE IT: Seasoned Roasted Almonds


Roasting your own nuts allows you to impart a variety of flavors. You can easily customize based on your desire for sweet, spicy, or savory. I enjoy roasting nuts as gifts or a great accompaniment to party food.

Full time 25-30 minutes
Makes approximately 4 cups (roughly 14-16 servings)

You will need:

1 1/2 shelled, unsalted, roasted almonds
2 tbsp dried dill or thyme
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 350'

On a sided baking sheet spread out almonds.

Drizzle with olive oil, dill or thyme, and 1 tsp salt.

Roast in oven 5 minutes, stir with a wooden spatula or spoon.

Roast an additional 5 minutes. If almonds have become lightly golden, they are done. If not stir again and return to oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Once almonds have golden, carefully remove from oven and give them a quick stir.

Sprinkle with remaining salt and let the cool on tray 10 minutes.

Serve slightly warmed or allow to cool for storage up to 1 week, enjoy!





Sunday, October 20

PRODUCT REVIEW: Duncan Hines DECADENT



Product Review: I want to start by saying this is not a paid advertisement, I speak for myself only, no companies have given me anything for this review. My opinions are completely my own.

Overview: Duncan Hines Decadents, not bad for a pre-packaged mix & great for convinence. 

As a whole I am not a huge lover of pre-packaged foods or mixes. I prefer homemade to processed. With that being said, Duncan Hines Decadents are actually not do bad. The combination of both cake mix and frosting mix in the same box are great for storage & last minute needs.

On a whole the taste is that of a higher class box mix. Very comparable to a store bought (not bakery) cupcake. They bake up light and fluffy, full of flavor. The frosting is a tad bit too sweet for my liking. It has a good starting flavor but, finishes off with a confectionary sugar feel and taste. Which is odd being that you need to use an entire stick of butter to whip it.

Each package comes with plenty of frosting, slightly more for the amount of cupcakes the batter yields. The yield quantity for cupcakes however vary. The box states it will make 12. I tried 4 different boxes and flavors. And each yielded less than 12. Now, I know human error can lead to the differences but, filling each cupcake with the same scoop 2/3 full, still lead to differences. Two of the boxes yielded 10, one made 11, and the last(strawberry) made 14. So if you plan to make these try to remember you will make less than expected unless you slightly underfill each cupcake liner.  


If your looking for a good package mix or something convenient to keep in the pantry, this is your product. If your looking for a great quality cupcake mix, I would recommend looking elsewhere. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 16

Sour Cream a Cupcakes with Miniature Chocolate Chips


Sour cream cupcakes are moist, fluffy, and velvety. I enjoy making these when I have excess sour cream in the house, it is a great way to use it up. You can change you base cake mix flavor to really anything: vanilla, white, chocolate, or yellow making this a great multi-flavor recipe!

Full time 2 hours (includes freezer and cooling time)
Makes 12-18 cupcakes

You will need:

2 eggs
1 box cake mix*
1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

*you could use homemade mix but, the trick is changing the consistency of the batter wet verse dry. So I recommend cake mix.

Let us begin:

Place mini chocolate chips in the freezer for 1 hour and let them chill down.

After 1 hour preheat oven to 350' and line your cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl combine cake mix, with eggs, oil, water, and vanilla. Beat until well blended.

Fold in sour cream, just until no white is visible.

Fold in mini chocolate chips.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Bake in oven 15-18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let rest in pan 5 minutes.

Turn out and allow to finish cooling before frosting.

I just dust mine with powdered sugar but, feel free to frost.

Serve and enjoy! 

Monday, October 14

English Fish and Chips

Is there anything more English than fish and chips? The crisp golden crunch of the batter which had been fried around tender flaky fish is a traditional staple of England. This classic has been around since the 1860s and is still just as popular. I use Guinness in my batter but any beer will do. If you don't want to use beer, you can use seltzer or non-alcoholic beer.

Serves 4-6
Full time: 1 hour (includes prep and multiple frying batches)

You will need:

2-3 medium to large white potatoes

4 Cod or Haddock fillets, cut in half
1 egg
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup Guinness
2 tbsp. milk
1 1/2 tsp old bay seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Additional oil for frying
Additional salt and pepper to taste

Let us begin: with the Chips

Preheat oven to 250 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large heavy skillet, cast iron pan, or deep fryer get oil heating to medium high, 320 degrees

Clean potatoes extremely well under warm running water and dry off completely. 

Wedge potatoes into 8 pieces each, large steak fries as they are also known.

Toss potatoes into a mild amount of seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.

Carefully place wedges into pan with hot oil and cook 4-5 minutes or until crisp golden brown. 

You'll want to turn then during cooking so color is even.

Carefully remove potatoes from oil allowing excess to drain off and place on your parchment lined sheet. 


Store in oven until fish is ready.

Now it's time for the fish:

In a large mixing bowl blend 1 cup of flour, egg, milk, seasoning, baking powder, and Guinness.


Whisk together until creamy and without clumps. (you may need to add more Guinness to to thin out the batter)

Place remaining flour and salt on a plate.

Lightly season fish with salt and pepper.

Place fish into flour/salt mixture. To cover outside evenly, gently roll fillets.

Dip fillets into batter.

Return fillets to flour mixture and ensure a nice coat by rolling them again.

Gently ease fish into oil you used for chips and fry 5-8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Just like the potatoes, you will want to turn fish during cooking for even color.

Remove from oil and let drain on paper towels.

Remove chips from oven and plate up alongside fish fillets. Serve immediately with lemon wedges, tartar sauce, and malt vinegar, enjoy!

Wednesday, October 9

Cheddar Chicken Nuggets


Flavorful, filling, and a family favorite. These chicken nuggets are the perfect kid favorite adult meal! The recipe is a modified version if my Baked Cheddar Chicken another family favorite in our house. This version packs a tad more cheddar and crunch in a bite size package!

Full time: 1 hour
Serves 4-6

You will need:

1 1/2-2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 package butter crackers, crushed
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray foil with cooking spray and set aside.

Place butter in medium bowl and microwave 30-45 seconds or until melted. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine crackers, cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and salt. Set aside.

You want to remove any excess fat from the chicken prior to chunking it.

Next, chunk your chicken by cutting it into 1/2" pieces.

Place chicken pieces into butter and stir around to fully coat the pieces.

Move roughly 1/4 of the pieces into the cracker mixture and shake to fully coat.

Line pieces on your baking sheet, repeat until all chicken is coated.

Bake chicken in oven 35-45 minutes or until 180' is reached on your cooking thermometer.

Carefully remove from oven.

Move to serving plate and enjoy! 

Saturday, October 5

Slow Cooker Ragu of Chicken

Ragu of chicken is a great hearty one dish meal. Filled with classic French provincial flavors, this is a perfect set it and forget it dish. It can be made with any cut of chicken. I tend to use legs, but boneless chicken works great also. 

Full time 9 hours
Serves 4-6

You will need:

8-10 chicken legs (or 2 lbs chicken cuts)
1 pint while mushrooms
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
2 cups baby carrots
1 1/4 cup red wine or non-alcoholic red wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup water, cold
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp minced garlic or 4 garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Let us begin:

To start we need to create the flavor bath. This is primarily the bottom layer which will steam up and impart bold flavors in the chicken.

To do this combine chicken stock, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme in the bottom of your slow cooker.

Add in the onion slices.

Top with chicken.

Pour over red wine.

Add in carrots.

Shut lid and set on low for 8 hours. Walk away for now.

30 minutes prior to serving:
 
Carefully open lid and use a baster to pull out 1/4 cup of juices.

Combine juices with flour and cold water to create a nice milky liquid.

Stir this mixture into the crock pot.

Add in mushrooms. I like to push them down with a spoon into the liquid a bit.

Recover, set to high and walk away for 30 minutes.

When done. You are all ready to serve. I like to spend a few moments pulling out any bones, as by now they just slide right out. Turning it into a nice ragu style stew!

Serve with bread and enjoy!

Thursday, October 3

Roasted Garlic Pepper Potatoes

Quick and easy, these potatoes are sure to add a kick to your weeknight dinner.

Full time 40-50 minutes
Serves 4

You will need:

2 large or 3-4 medium potatoes, cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 350'.

Add diced potatoes to a medium size baking dish.

Top with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Drizzle across olive oil.

Stir well to evenly coat the potatoes with oil and spread out garlic.

Place in oven and roast for 35-45 minutes or until potatoes are tender when poereced with a fork.

Carefully remove from oven and give a quick stir. Serve and enjoy!