Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts - you either love them or you hate them. In our house it's both; I love them, Mike hates them. But it wasn't always that way. As a child, I'd watch my mom & sister eat them, but I wanted no part of the little cabbage-like vegetable. But one day, for some unknown reason, I decided to give them another try. Delicious!

Tonight I just boiled some frozen brussels sprouts until tender & added tiny bit of butter. I boiled them just long enough so that they were tender but not mushy. My sister prepares brussels sprouts recipe that features pancetta & walnuts, which is wonderful.

How do you like your sprouts?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Cooking with pumpkin is a sure sign that fall is here. I had some pumpkin puree left over from my Pumpkin Bread Pudding & decided to put it to good use by making a pumpkin cheesecake yesterday. It turned out wonderfully - creamy, moist & so delicious. It's a big hit with Mike, so I know I'll be making it again. I might try a gingersnap crust next time.

Courtesy Martha Stewart
1 1/4 cups graham-cracker crumbs (from 10 whole crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 packages (8 ounces each) bar cream cheese , very soft
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons pumpkin-pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Assemble a 9-inch nonstick springform pan, with the raised side of the bottom part facing up.
Make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until moistened; press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes.
Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth; mix in flour (do not overmix). Add pumpkin puree, pie spice, vanilla, and salt; mix just until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.
Place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into springform, and gently smooth top. Transfer to oven; reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Bake 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening).
Remove from oven; cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Unmold before serving.

There's just one more week left to enter my "Taste of West Virginia" fall contest. Click here for details.

Bean & Tomato Stoup

Nothing is better on a crisp fall day than a warm bowl of soup. My mother-in-law is a wonderful soup maker. When Mike & I first got married, we usually dropped by for dinner once a week & during the fall & winter months, she often had a delicious soup or stew simmering away.

I saw this recipe on an episode of Rachael Ray I was watching a few weeks ago & knew I wanted to try it. It comes together really quickly & is so satisfying, even without meat. I served it today with cornbread left over from yesterday's dinner of corned beef & cabbage, but it would be equally good with crusty bread or grilled cheese sandwiches. I'm so glad there's enough left over for lunch tomorrow.

Bean & Tomato Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomato
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can small white beans or cannellini beans
1 (10 ounces) box, cut frozen green beans
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh basil, torn or shredded
Grated Parmigiano or Romano, to pass at table

Add extra-virgin olive oil to the pot, 2 turns of the pan. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, stir then stir in the onions, carrots, celery and zucchini. Cook 10 minutes, then add in the stock, tomatoes and beans. Bring soup up to a bubble and season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Simmer 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and wilt the basil into the soup. Ladle up the soup and serve with grated cheese and bread.

Notes: I used vegetable stock & skipped the cheese.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Oh. My. Goodness. Seriously, you have to try this recipe...right now. Pumpkin Bread Pudding - what could be more perfect for fall? And just like my cranberry bread pudding, this is a perfect dish for dessert or a brunch buffet. We ate it warm tonight with whipped cream but it would be amazing with caramel or cinnamon ice cream.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Gourmet Magazine (October 2007)

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons bourbon*
5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted**

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, spices and bourbon, if using, in a bowl.

Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.

Notes - I used cognac instead of bourbon. I also left out the butter & just tossed the bread cubes in the custard mixture.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lipton Onion Soup Mix Dip

Welcome to another edition of Retro Saturdays. We're watching the WVU game this afternoon - GO MOUNTAINEERS! Chicken wings with ranch dip are on the menu, along with celery & other veggies. And of course, potato chips. Mike likes onion dip with his potato chips. I didn't really have time to make my caramelized onion dip, so I went with the classic. And it is so easy. Seriously - all you do is mix one packet of Lipton Onion Soup mix with 16 ounces of sour cream & you're finished.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fall Contest

Celebrate fall with a basket full of goodies from West Virginia. The winner of my fall contest will receive a great prize including treats from Happiness Spreads, Blue Smoke Salsa, Holl's Chocolates, Evan Scent Candles & more.

To enter, leave a comment on this entry, along with a valid email address. Want a 2nd chance to win? Post about this contest on your blog, including a link back to this entry, then send me an email at You'll then be entered twice!

The contest ends Sunday, October 12th.