Saturday, November 28, 2009

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

The Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Living in New England has made that all the more easier to love with the leaves changing and all the great fruits and veggies that are in season. One of my favorites is Pumpkin. This year for the first time ever I hollowed out a pumpkin and made homemade Pumpkin Puree. It may take a few extra minutes to make but in a world where there is so much processed food in our diets this enables me to know what is in my puree as opposed to a can of puree you find in you local market. And that is the part I really like.

This was all fueled by this beautiful pumpkin I purchased a few weeks ago. Instead of giving the pumpkin to the Red Tail Hawk or Deer that lives in the backyard as dinner, I wanted to make something yummy. (And you will soon understand that I love to make breads) So why not make Pumpkin Bread!!! But since it is winter time, why can’t I spice it up a bit. I found this great recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Bread. Originally the recipe was for two loaves, but since this is a first… I cut the recipe in half and made one loaf.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
8-ounce can solid pack pumpkin or 1 cup of pumpkin puree*
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Before the bread goes in the oven sprinkle some nutmeg and cinnamon over the top. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaf. Turn loaf out onto racks and cool completely.

*I thought Pumpkin Puree was this very difficult thing to make till I thought about and realized how hard can it be pumpkin is only a large squash and squash is easy to make. I took my very large pumpkin and cut it up into slices (after removing all the "hairs" and seeds, the seeds were roasted in the oven with butter and sea salt) and put on a cookie sheet and in a 350 degree oven for 1-1 1/2 hours, till fork tender. I let it cool completely and then removed the "dry" exterior and the skin from the bottom and put the soft pumpkin "meat" in a bowl. After it was all done I used a hand mixer to puree the pumpkin. Took what i needed for the bread and the remaining went in the freezer for later use.

PS ... Sorry there is no picture but we ate the bread way faster than I had time to post it ... that is how good it is. Enjoy!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cicken Pot Pie

This is one of those dishes that my Mom did not make for me as a kid, nor did I ever eat chicken Pot Pie as a kid. But after getting married my husband he asked me to make this for him. I pretty much had no idea what I was doing, and honestly the first one came out so awful that it took me about three years to try again. And try again is what I did. It came out so good the second time ... that whenever I have left-over chicken in the fridge it NEVER goes to waste a pot pie is made and put in the freezer for when unexpected guests happen to show up for dinner.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 med onion
1 chopped onion
1 chopped carrot
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3 tbsp flour
1/2 can of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
1 cup chicken broth/stock
salt n pepper to taste
4 cups of cooked chicken
1 pie crust
1 egg for wash over crust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (unless you are freezing for later use)
Cook chicken if not already ... cut up tenders and dredge in flour (additional flour) and saute with onions (additional onion) and seasonings, I use Pappy's_Choice Seasonings from CA, it is a good mix of seasonings all in one, I use this in place of salt n pepper. Saute onions, carrots, and potatoes in butter for 10 min, also add the mushrooms and peas 8 min into process. Add flour to saute mix ... one tablespoon at a time, mix and stir well. Combine broth and soup in a separate bowl, whisk until mixed well. Gradually stir into the veggies in the saute pan. cook until thick and bubbly. Add the chicken. Pout into pie pan and top with the crust. Since the crust will be bigger than the top of the pie I usually roll the edges (the crust is the the best part of the pie in some folks opinion so make sure every slice has a good amount of crust). Egg wash the top crust and cut slits in the top to vent. Bake 45 min or until golden brown. If it is coming from the freezer you will have to cook for 60 - 70 min.
Let rest (which is what the pie in the picture is doing) for 20 min before serving.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Bread

This weekend was a very rainy one here in MA and I needed to keep myself busy doing something so I thought why not make more muffins. You see muffin take the same amount of energy as bread to make but seem to be more fun to eat, and look so much better under the dome on my counter. And since Friday I spent the day at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods shopping for ingredients for the week of cooking, I found Lemons on sale and Blueberries not too expensive this seemed to be the opportunity to try this recipe.

This recipe came from an unlikely place. For all you out there who like Vera_Bradley purses, bags, and cute stuff, the latest catalog of seasonal items and new patterns came in the other day and for the first time there was a recipe ... this one.

Lemon Blueberry Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp lemon zest (zest from one small lemon)
1 cup blueberries
2 tsp flour (toss w/blueberries)

1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons juice)

Combine the sugar and the lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat over med-low heat until sugar is dissolved. Stirring frequently.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Lightly grease a loaf pan (but when I made them I made muffins). Combine four, baking powder, and salt in a bowl (since I did not have any unsalted butter I omitted the salt). In another bowl cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beat well after each addition. It is very important that you begin and end with the flour. Fold in the Lemon zest and the Blueberries (that have been tossed with flour). Pour into the loaf pan, or in my case the muffin pan. Bake in the oven 55-60 min, or for muffins 30-35 min.

When muffins or bread come out of oven pierce the top with a fork or a knife. Pour the Lemon Glaze over the top, and pour slowly so the juice gets absorbed in the bread/muffin.

Cool in the pan first for 30 min or longer before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

They are very light, fluffy, and full of juicy flavor between the lemon and the blueberry.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beef Sroganoff

Another GREAT small appliance I use a lot in my kitchen is my Crock-pot. When we first received the Crock-pot, I thought ... What in the world am i going to do with this? So I began to surf the Internet for something good to cook ... and low and behold I found so many yummy and easy meals. And the best part is ... start it before you leave for work and when you get home 8 hours later the smell in your house is so welcoming all you want to do is eat, and you CAN because dinner is ready.
Beef Strganoff has been a meal that i have been wanting to make for a few years now. But the only problem I have is my husband is Lactose Intolerant ... and since sour cream is in every beef stroganoff recipe out there that I looked at ... what was I going to do??? Well, I decided to make it anyway and omit the sour cream, my husband (my biggest critic) loved it and did not miss the sour cream one bit.

Here is what I did...

Lactose Free Beef Stroganoff

1 medium onion
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar
1-1 1/4lbs sirloin tips (cut into chunks)
5-6 medium button mushrooms sliced (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup frozen pearl onions
2 cloves of minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour
can of beef broth
can of cream of mushroom soup
1 tbsp corn starch

6 cups (or more) of cooked egg noodles/no yolks
(cook according to package)

Start by cutting up the onion to caramelize.

Cook over medium heat in 3 tbsp of butter for 5 minutes stirring occasionally, in a covered sauce pan. Add 2 tbsp of sugar to the onions, stir and cover and let cook for another 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Then set aside the onions.

Cut up meat into cubes add dry seasonings to it (salt n pepper and if you have a favorite meat seasoning don't be afraid to add a little it will make this dish taste more like it came form your kitchen and not my kitchen). Brown meat in a skillet of garlic and olive oil.

Set Crock-pot to low (to cook for 8 hours or high to cook for 4 hours). Layer from bottom to top the pearl onions, beef, caramelized onions and mushrooms.

Whisk together the flour, beef broth and soup mix till four is completely combined. Add this to the Crock-pot and cover for 4 or 8 hours respectively.

Just before serving add 1 tbsp of corn starch to mix to thicken.
Serve on a bed of Egg noodles.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

One Bowl Banana Bread & The Mixer

One of the most important "small" appliances in my kitchen is my stand up Kitchen Aide mixer. As it turns out it was a Shower gift and is the BEST shower gift any new Bride could have asked for. It comes in handy more often than you think. My favorite thing to make with my mixer is Banana bread.

I seem to make Banana bread all the time ... not intentionally I have this "thing" about throwing food out. When the bananas in my house start to turn brown, they move from the counter to the freezer for later use. Sometimes they go in smoothies (will talk about making smoothies at a later time) and others for Banana bread. Keep in mind that when bananas are put in the freezer they turn brown and kind-of look not so good. While in the freezer the natural sugars of the bananas come out and they make a "oh so yummy bread.
This Recipe is a take on a Pampered Chief recipe for Banana Bread.
One Bowl Banana Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
1/3 cup milk (any milk even lactose free)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup ripe bananas (two bananas)
1/4 tspn ground nutmeg
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray bottom of loaf pan w/non-stick cooking spray (butter flavor is best)
Mix everything together in one bowl (this is the best part ... less to clean)
Bake 60 minutes, or until tester is clean

You can also make muffins bake 30 - 35 minutes (approx 18) or mini muffins bake 18 - 21 minutes (approx 36) with the same recipe.

Hello World

Hello everyone! For the past 8 1/2 years I have been cooking and perfecting dishes that I never thought I would ever be able to make. You see when I was a girl, an only child, my mother did some cooking but not much, my father even took French cooking classes so he could pick up the slack. Our oven was used to store pots and pans, and the year we remodeled the kitchen was my mother's happiest. I can remember one day I was craving comfort food and what did my mom bring me ... Milk & Cookies ... how cute is she!
When I got married I thought it would be a good idea to start cooking ... so I did. My Husband, who has been my critic the entire time will tell you I was not really a good cook at all, but there was potential in what I was making, so he and his friends encouraged me to cook more and more. That is just what I did!!!
Today I thought why not start a bog about my cooking. A way to keep track of my recipies and share them with my friends as well. A good friend of mine has one thoughtful eating. It is an encouraging and motivating thing to see others ideas on existing recipes and their twist on them. It just goes to show that as many shades of white paint that are out there, you can find that many recipes of Chicken Marsala.
You must all be wondering why the name Savory Bites & Sweet Treats? Well, a few weeks ago my girlfriends and I had a tea party and invited 50 of our closest friends. We asked everyone to bring a dish and that is what they all did ... a dessert or an appetizer. They inspired the name. Even though this blog will be about dishes and deserts ... they all give you savory bites and sweet treats.
Please enjoy my cooking and hopefully you too will be able to try some of these recipes and share them with your friends and family.