Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie and A Happy Thanksgiving

So before we get into the Holiday wishin' and the deliciousness of the pie I made for my family dinner, we have a winner to announce. The winner of the cookbook, picked with, is Lynn from the blog "Nutrition.Health.Life!" Congratulations! I hope you'll enjoy this cookbook!

Now onto the pie. Let me tell you - this pie is absolutely delicious. I'm not a huge pumpkin pie fan, but it's just one of those things that must be eaten on Thanksgiving. This year, I was commissioned with the making of the pie, so I thought I'd switch it up a bit and try a recipe that I saw in Bon Appetit. The spices in this pie are very tasty, and the addition of the lemon zest and juice add a certain "brightness" to it. Of course, the real fun comes in with the addition of the mascarpone cheese, which gives the pie a nice custardy feel. I definitely recommend giving this pie a try!

And before we get onto the recipe, I'd like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! I feel very blessed this year and am very thankful for the friends and family that I have. I'm also very thankful for my wonderful job and the role that I'm able to play, helping to keep kids safe. I hope that wherever you are and whoever you're with, that you enjoy the day and have a very lovely Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie

Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie
Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe

1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin
1 c packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 (8 oz) container mascarpone cheese (or make your own)

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a pie crust and transfer to a 9-inch glass pie dish. For filling, using an electric mixer, beat pumpkin and sugar together in a large bowl until well combined. Add eggs and next 8 ingredients. Beat until well blended. Add mascarpone cheese and beat just until mixture is smooth. Transfer filling to prepared pie crust. Bake until custard is set, about 55 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool. Enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wanna Get a Jump on your Holiday Cooking??

Then win this cookbook!


I was pleasantly surprised when I flipped through "Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook: Recipes from America's Favorite Cooking Contest" to find out it was much more than cookies and pies. It has all sorts of salads and soups, main dishes and side dishes, and some really yummy appetizer ideas!

There's over 410 recipes, and at least half of the recipes have pictures, which is always a good thing in a cookbook. Even if this book isn't up your alley, I'm sure there is someone on your gift list who would love a copy of this great book.

So simply leave me a comment letting me know you'd like to win this book by Wednesday, November 26th, by midnite EST. A winner will be randomly selected on Thanskgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A lof of the food blogs and message boards I read lately all seem to have the same themes - homemade holiday gifts. With the economy putting a crunch on everyone's finances, it seems as though people are trying to find cheap, yet personal, gifts to give this holiday season. Hopefully this list will come in handy for your holiday gift giving.

Now onto the second part of the Top 10:

Ginger Beer

6. Who doesn't love a nice tasty beverage? Shown here is Ginger Beer, which would be lovely for sipping over the winter. The syrup can be bottled in a tall bottle with instructions for mixing with soda water. Another great holiday beverage is Coquito, which is a lovely eggnog-ish type beverage perfect for this time of year.

Super Bars

7. Breakfast goodies - I'm one of those who rarely have time for making breakfast in the morning, so I love things that can be put into a baggie and can be eaten on the run. Shown here are my absolute favorite breakfast bars - full of protein and whole grains. They are also hearty and guaranteed to keep you full for a few hours. A nice batch of these would be a unique gift for a food basket. A lovely loaf of this Chai Pumpkin Bread would also be great, or add in a batch of these Morning Bran Muffins. Or even better, throw in some homemade granola. Here's a list of some wonderful options:
*Lemon Green Tea Granola
*Pina Colada Granola
*Gingersnap Granola

7 Pepper Hot Sauce

8. Hot Sauce - As you know, I'm a huge fan of hot sauce. So a gift of homemade hot sauce would be right up my alley. Shown here is my 7 Pepper Hot Sauce, which is delightfully hot. Or try this Harissa or Red Chile Sauce.

Gingered 3-Seed Dressing

9. Another unique gift for those holiday gift baskets would be a bottle homemade salad dressing. Shown here is one of my favorites, the Gingered 3-Seed Dressing. This Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette would also be tasty, as well as this Asian Pear Dressing. And if you're worried about putting a refrigerated item in a basket, the perfect solution is tucking in a ice pack from the Dollar Store. That way, items will be kept cold.

Cardamom Coconut Macaroons

10. And finally, the traditional gift of baked sweets. This Cardamom Coconut Macaroons are some of my favorite Holiday cookies. Rosemary Shortbread is also a lovely little treat to have a with a cuppa tea. I think I would love to get a batch of Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies as a gift. Of course, these Fleur De Sel Caramels would be lovely sprinkled in the basket as well.

Hopefully you have some great ideas for your gift baskets. I'd love to hear what you're including in yours. Leave me a comment and let me know what your loved ones will be receiving from you this year!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top 10 Gifts for your Homemade Holiday Gift Giving

The holiday seasons are upon us and nothing is more personal than giving a basket of homemade goodies from your own kitchen. Here are the first 5 in a list of 10 of treats to get your gift-giving underway.

Lemon Pepper Glazed Cashews
1. Looking for a quick and easy Christmas gift? Nothing is quicker and tastier than spiced nuts. And the best part - most of these recipes can be made in about 20 minutes. Shown here are Lemon Pepper Cashews, but here are plenty more variations for your holiday gift giving:

*Jasmine Tea Glazed Almonds
*Chili Chai Walnuts
*Sweet and Spicy Walnuts
*Green Tea Wasabi Almonds
*Chili Lime Peanuts
*Spiced Mixed Nuts

Roasted Tomatillo Chipolte Salsa
2. Tasty salsas are also a great gift. Although most of these recipes must be refrigerated, they would be perfect for your holiday gift baskets. This is the Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa, but here's a few more variations:

*Bueno Fresh Salsa
*Black Bean Salsa
*Pineapple Cilantro Salsa
*Habanero Garlic Salsa
*Caribbean Habanero Pineapple Salsa

Cracked Pepper Seasoning Blend I

3. Seasoning Blends are also an excellent gift. Not only can you whip up huge quantities in a short amount of time, but they are also a personalized and tasty gift that everyone can use. Shown above is the Cracked Pepper Seasoning blend, which is my favorite for fish, seafood, and vegetables. The Dukkha blend would also be perfect for those who have a flair for something different.

Basil Wine Jelly

4. Jams and Jellies are a great gift to make, especially since you can make them ahead of time to have on hand for last-minute gifting. This is the Basil Wine Jelly, which is one of my favorites. It's tasty and perfect for serving with cheese and crackers. The Hot Pepper and Garlic Jelly would also be a welcome addition to any cheese plate at your next holiday party.

Green Peppercorn Asiago Biscuits II

5. Savory Biscuits, biscotti, and crackers are another great gift to make ahead of time and tuck into gift baskets. These Green Peppercorn Asiago Biscuits are rather tasty and are the perfect little nibble. Sundried Tomato Peppercorn biscotti are perfect for a quick savory snack, and these Polenta Crackers are a dip's dream.

Check back on Friday for the rest of the Top 10!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Caribbean Habanero Pineapple Salsa

So since the Habenero Garlic Salsa was such a success, I decided I wanted to try another variation to use up more of the habaneros I was gifted with recently. I had some leftover jerk paste from the Jerk-roasted Sweet Potatoes, and I thought it may go perfectly in a salsa. Since I was giving the double whammy of heat, both from the habaneros and the jerk paste, I threw in some crushed pineapple for a lighter sweeter taste.

It was a match made in heaven. Now don't get me wrong - the pineapple does add a sweet component to balance out some of the heat, but this salsa is hot! Of course, it may have something to do with the full cup of habaneros and the hot jerk seasoning paste, but this is a fire sauce. Yet, it has such a great flavor that it's almost addictive.

This would also be a perfect holiday gift for those chili-heads on your gift list. Check back on Wednesday for my Top 10 recipes for holiday gift giving.

Caribbean Habanero Pineapple Salsa

Caribbean Habanero Pineapple Salsa

4 cups tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
1 cup fresh habanero peppers, destemmed
1 cup onion, roughly chopped
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
2 tbsp jerk seasoning paste
1/2 c crushed pineapple

In blender, combine tomatoes, habaneros, onion, tomato sauce, and jerk seasoning paste. Process until chunky yet well blended. Pour into a medium sized saucepan and simmer over low heat for 35-45 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in crushed pineapple and simmer for another 4-5 minutes. This can be placed in canning jars and refrigerated.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chipotle Potato and Soyrizo Chowdah

I have a confession. It's literally been a week or two since I've actually made anything in my kitchen. Crazy, huh?? And when I actually made this, it felt incredible to be back behind the stove creating and cooking.

I wanted something hearty and filling, yet something with some kick. I was walking through the grocery store and my eyes lit on soyrizo, which is something I've never worked with. I also threw some potatoes in there and a can of chipotle peppers, hoping it would all flow together well.

I'm pleased to report that they did. The chipotles provide just the right amount of heat, and the potatoes add a nice hearty feel to it that is sure to leave you satisfied on a cold winter's night. For those carnivores, you could totally substitute chorizo. And since this recipe only has 6 ingredients, not including salt or pepper, it's a cinch to make! This is one of those hearty winter soups to be enjoyed all season long!

Chipotle Potato and Soyrizo Chowdah

Chipotle Potato and Soyrizo Chowdah
Serves 6-8

1 (12 oz) pkg soyrizo (or regular chorizo)
6 cups diced potatoes
2 (32 oz) pkgs of vegetable broth
2-3 chipotle peppers with 1 tbsp Adobo sauce
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 c soy creamer (or regular half & half)

In a large pot, crumble soyrizo and cook for 5 minutes over medium high heat. Remove from pot and set aside. Add potatoes and saute for a minute or two. Add broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, process chipotle peppers and adobo sauce in food processor until minced well. Add to soup, along with cumin. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue to boil until potatoes are tender. Process for a few seconds with an immersion blender, leaving some chunks of potato. (Alternately, you can pour half of the soup into a blender and process until smooth). Add in cooked chorizo and soy creamer. Stir well and simmer soup for an additional 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, November 07, 2008

I know. I KNOW! I've been a very bad blogger. It's been a few weeks since I've posted.

I wish I could regale you with stories of fun adventures I've been having, but in all honesty, it's just been the overwhelming pace of school, 2 jobs, and some other issues that have kept me away from here.

I do promise i'll be back next week with some new recipes.

Until then,
Enjoy your weekend!!