September 25, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

by Lauren

It didn’t really feel like fall this muggy morning, but I had a craving for pumpkin.  My version didn’t have as much pumpkin flavor as I was craving.  It was more like dessert for breakfast.  Super sweet and rich and best served with some dark, dark coffee.

 

 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes (adapted from RecipeGirl)

 

Ingredients (for 8 pancakes):

Cinnamon filling (I would half this next time):

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Cream cheese icing (I would also half this next time):
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pancakes:

  • I cheated and used 1 cup Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix (for 8 pancakes)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
Instructions:
Cinnamon filling first!   In a small bowl, microwave butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon for 40 to 60 seconds, until butter is melted. Whisk and pour into a sandwich-sized zip-lock baggie. Zip up the baggie and lay it on the counter while you prepare the pancake batter. (I put it in the refrigerator because my pancake mix was easy to make).
Icing next!  In a small bowl, microwave butter and cream cheese for 30 to 60 seconds, until butter has melted and cream cheese has softened. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla and stir until smooth.
Prepare pancake mix according to box.  You could be lazy like me and use another pumpkin pancake mix or be fancy and use the recipe from RecipeGirl’s blog above.
Start cooking!  First, cut a TINY hole in the corner of the cinnamon filling bag.  Ladle out pancake batter and then starting at the center of the pancake squeeze the cinnamon filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl (like a cinnamon roll). Cook the pancakes until golden brown on the bottom.  Slide a thin spatula underneath the pancake and very gently and quickly flip it over. Cook until the other side is golden. Repeat with all the pancake batter and cinnamon filling. I had way too much cinnamon filling using the amounts above.  I started adding more and more to each pancake and the results were more and more delicious, but less cinnamon roll looking.
Last, but not least, serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of cream cheese icing (again, I had a ton left over, but maybe I didn’t want my pancakes quite as sweet as some may).
September 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Creme Pie

by Lauren

About one month ago the cooking blogosphere was filled with peanut butter creme pie recipes. Why was nearly a whole page of foodgawker.com coming up with similar looking peanut butter pies? Jennie, a food blogger extraordinaire, lost her husband, Mikey, unexpectedly. He loved peanut butter pie and the community of bloggers united to make a peanut butter pie and share it with loved ones.  My roommate and dear friend had her birthday this past week and I thought of this pie.  (Sorry for the phone camera quality of the picture.)

Peanut Butter Creme Pie (Adapted from RecipeGirl’s Nutter Butter-Peanut Butter Pie)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces chocolate cookies (I used Oreos)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup hot fudge
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (not the natural kind)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip, defrosted
  • chocolate sauce (for top)
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – Minis (for edge)
Instructions:

In a blender, combine chocolate cookies and butter. Press the mixture into a pie plate/tin. Drizzle hot fudge on top and smooth it with a spoon. Place in the freezer to set.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add peanut butter and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in about 1 cup of the Cool Whip with the mixer. Set the beaters aside and fold in the rest of the Cool Whip using a rubber spatula.

Spoon the peanut butter filling into the frozen pie crust, smooth top down nicely, and place back into the freezer. Freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight. Decorate with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and/or chocolate sauce.  You can move it to the refrigerator before serving.

Share with those you love.

September 4, 2011

Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

by Lauren

I purchased an ice cream maker in April when I was eagerly waiting for summer.  Since Labor Day weekend is the unofficial “the end of summer,” I figured it was an appropriate time to post an ice cream recipe.  I tried my hand at salted caramel, vanilla bean, and strawberry throughout the summer, but with a dark chocolate lover visiting there was no better time to get over my fear of a chocolate based ice cream.  This recipe comes from  Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  It is rich, seriously rich.  I haven’t even completely let it harden into it’s true form, but a few spoonfuls of the base (pre-hardened liquid or more like mousse in this case) and straight from the ice cream maker (shown below) indicate that this will be an intense chocolately explosion in your mouth.

 

So finally, the recipe:

Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream, by Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours (page 430)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used one bar of 70% Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate and one bar of 85% Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate)
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar (It called for 1/3, but we added a bit because the store only had one bar of 70% chocolate and we were going to use 2 bars of it)
  • You will also want a thermometer
Instructions:

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring ¾ cup of the cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit a minute, then using a rubber spatula, stir the cream into the chocolate in larger and larger circles. When the ganache is smooth, set it aside.  Try not to eat the ganache, I repeat, try not to eat the ganache.

Bring the milk and the remaining ¾ cup cream to a boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until well blended and just slightly thickened. Keep whisking and drizzle in about one third of the hot liquid—this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle (and become scrambled sugar eggs). Always keep whisking and slowly pour in the remaining liquid. Pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, while stirring, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon; if you run your finger down the bowl of the spoon, the custard should not run into the track. The custard should reach at least 170 degrees F, but no more than 180 degrees F. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and slowly and stir the custard into the ganache.

Refrigerate the custard until chilled (I let it refrigerate overnight because my ice cream maker had to cool in the freezer overnight) before churning it into ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into the container and freeze it for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop. Makes about 1 quart.

Happy last weekend of summer!

August 2, 2011

Orange and Swiss Chard Saute

by Jen

I don’t like recipes that ask you to use the Swiss chard leaves and “save the stems” for another purpose.  It is the beautiful contrast of leaves and stems that beckons me in the grocery store — red chard, rainbow chard, even green chard!

So here is a dish I made for dinner tonight with both leaves and stems.  It is a mix of vegetables and chickpeas in a fragrant garlic-and-orange juice broth, and would work best served with a cooked grain to enjoy the extra liquid.

This is how I cut up Swiss chard:

    

    

First, I cut out the stem; second, I chop the stem; third, I roll up the leaves into a cylinder; and fourth, I slice the cylinder into ribbons.  Usually I do this with several leaves at once, so it’s not quite as fussy as it sounds, but it’s still pretty fussy.  Is this the best way of chopping Swiss chard?

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • zest and juice of two oranges
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • a pinch of chile pepper flakes
  • 6-7 cloves garlic, chopped (we love garlic!)
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped, with leaves and stems separated
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped up a bit
  • salt to taste
Instructions:
  • First, boil some water, and add about 1/4 cup to a little bowl with the raisins and the orange zest in it.
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, throw in: chile pepper flakes, garlic, bell pepper, and the stems of the chard.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the stems and bell pepper are crisp-tender.
  • Add the chickpeas; the raisins and orange zest along with the water they are in; orange juice; mustard; and walnuts.  Stir and cook until the leaves wilt and the juice is heated through.  Taste and add salt.  (I added quite a bit of salt.)  Serve!
July 31, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Pie

by Jen

I have been in the mood to make pie, and this fresh strawberry pie was my third this weekend.

The first was a rhubarb custard pie, from a recipe of my friend Helen’s mother.  I have such fond memories of sitting at Helen’s house in Ohio eating that pie, and as a birthday present for me this year, she shared the recipe.  I’m eager to make it again, at which point I may be able to post it.

The second was a semi-reciped-semi-improvised pie with a filling of raspberry, nectarines, and plums.  It did not turn out quite as well as I might have hoped, mostly because the crust got burned early in the baking process.

And finally, this afternoon I made this fresh strawberry pie with a graham cracker crust.  I’m planning to bring it to my brother’s house for a dinner party tonight, which I am excited about because my brother is a very good cook.

The offer to bring pie was made while slightly drunk, while the pie itself was made while slightly hungover (inexplicably) — but it was ultimately pretty simple to make, and now it exists and I’ll get to eat it, so win-win.

Recipe for the graham-cracker pie crust (from Joy of Cooking):

Crush up 9 graham crackers (I did this by banging the bag containing the 9 graham crackers with a rolling pin for a while until they were mostly crumbled, then opening and emptying the bag and mushing it with my hands) and mix in 6 Tbsp. melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  Put the mixture in a pie pan and try to convince it to cover both the bottom of the pan and the sides.  I did this with the help of a water glass to get an even surface.  Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

Recipe for the pie (also from Joy of Cooking*):

Wash and hull about 6 cups of strawberries: 2 cups should be basically intact attractive smallish strawberries for the top layer; 2 cups should be in thick slices for the bottom layer; and 2 cups (the most mediocre) should be pureed in a food processor.  Then, in a medium saucepan, stir together 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 1/8  tsp salt.  Once the cornstarch is well-dispersed in the sugar, add 1/2 cup water, the pureed berries, 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (the 2 Tbsp you didn’t use for the crust!).  Put the mixture on the stove over medium high heat and cook for a minute — it will thicken up substantially.

Now the fun part: layer the thick sliced strawberries over the crust.  Pour a bunch of the hot berry mixture over them to make a uniform layer.  Then make a second layer with your most attractive strawberries, and add more hot berry mixture as desired.  (I just put it over part of the top layer, but you could add another complete coat.)

Recipe for yogurt topping:

Mix together 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract; and 1/4 tsp almond extract.  Serve with slice of pie.

One nice outcome of all this pie-making was left-over ingredients — I had a bunch of pastry dough leftover from the rhubarb pie.  So I rolled out the pastry dough, cut some circles, put those circles into muffin tin openings, and cooked them until they browned.  Then I pulled them out, filled them with leftover strawberry mixture, and topped with strawberries.  They wound up being rather unpolished and messy in appearance (rustic!) but I am excited to eat them.

* My friend Yin dreamed of producing a book called Joy of Eating which would be pictures of him eating every recipe in Joy of Cooking.  I hope one day he achieves that dream…

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