Sunday, November 28, 2010

PUMPed Up Pancakes

Whew! It has been a "whirlwind" weekend, as my father-in-law likes to say. I am worn out from Thanksgiving weekend. It's been nice to have some time off from work, but I've been a full time wife, cook and Christmas light decorator. I'm sure many of you can relate. It seems you cook and bake for 2 days straight, and it's all eaten up in 15 minutes, then you have and endless stack of dishes to wash! Luckily everyone helped out in that department.

Did any of you brave the crowds this weekend and go shopping? I did not, unless you count going to three different Home Depot stores to exchange malfunctioning lit trees holiday shopping. ha ha! I was feeling a little under the weather this weekend so most of my time was spent at home. That also meant that I didn't do much cooking this weekend after Thanksgiving day. We're still eating leftover pie and sweet potato casserole and I'm not complaining about that. yum!

I made these pancakes a few weekends ago, but I forgot to share them with you all. shame on me. It's still November and pumpkin season, so consider this an early Christmas gift :-) I adapted these pumpkin pancakes from the ones I made last year with sweet potatoes. They're both equally delicious, it just depends on what you have on had or what you like. For added texture and holiday flair, I threw a handful of dried cranberries onto the batter as they were cooking. They're tender and moist and covered in cinnamon syrup. What could be better?

Pumpkin-Cranberry Pancakes adapted from HERE

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  • 1 and 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup dried cranberries (as much or as little as you like)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
  • cinnamon syrup (optional)

In a small pan toast the pecans over medium heat until they release a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Add in the pumpkin puree and the sugars, stirring until combined.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the upside of the pancake batter with dried cranberries, cook until the underside is golden brown. Carefully flip the pancake and cook til golden.

Serve with butter, warm cinnamon syrup and toasted nuts.

Makes about 15 pancakes.

Cinnamon Syrup from Monica H

(serves 3-4)

  • 1/2 cup pancake or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. butter

In a small bowl or measuring cup, heat syrup in the microwave. Add cinnamon, stir til fully combined. Add butter and allow to melt. Stir. Serve. Syrup will thicken as it cools.

NOTE: We use pancake syrup because Mr. H doesn't like maple syrup. But use what you like.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hoosier Momma?

Today's recipe comes from a lovely book written by Molly Wizenberg-- A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table. Molly is also the author of the blog Orangette. Without knowing what this book was about, I purchased it because of our common interests: food. I got this book many moons ago then placed it on the shelf and forgot about it. I knew I'd pick it up again when the time was right. When I finally read it, I cried. I laughed. And I grew hungry and I didn't want to put it down.

This book is a memoir, but it's more than that. It's a story of growing up, of grief, of travel, of love and loss. It's about family and finding the love of your life, all the while eating your way through life. It's about creating recipes that remind you of the good times and the ones you love. I'm not a follower of Orangette, but I hopped over there to check it out after I finished the book and I noticed that many of the stories were straight from her blog. Because each chapter is only about 2-5 pages long, the stories are never too involved, followed up with a corresponding recipe or two. It's an easy read that keeps you wanting to turn to the next page, even when it's 2am and you're yawning every few seconds and your husband keeps nagging you to turn the light off.

This pie is from the book and is a recipe that her cousin, Sarah, makes every Thanksgiving in honor of their late aunt, Mia. I am a pecan pie lover and often make it with added chocolate chips so this one with added Bourbon, was just a bonus. I took a shortcut and used a refrigerated pie crust, but if you have a favorite recipe, feel free to use it. This recipe was different than any pecan pie I've ever made though since it calls for creaming the butter and sugar together. It was also much more gooey than I'm used to. I served my pie at room temperature and it was a gloppy mess, but once chilled it was just fine. Just be sure to keep it refrigerated if you want to have nice clean slices of pie. And if you're curious about the Bourbon, it wasn't that noticeable, so leave it out if you prefer. While I thought this recipe was good, this pie is still my favorite!

Hoosier Pie slightly adapted from A Homemade Life

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  • 1 pie crust, store bought or homemade (I used Pillsbury)
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Bourbon
  • 1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pecan halves

Press pie dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp the edges to create a fluted rim. Place pie dough in refrigerator to chill while preparing the filling. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter on medium-low speed until creamy and soft. While still beating, gradually add the sugar. When the sugar is fully incorporated, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Then add the corn syrup, vanilla and salt. Beat well, then add the Bourbon. Mix. The batter should be pale yellow and fairly thin.

Remove prepared pie plate from fridge. Scatter the chocolate chips and pecans over the base of the crust; then pour in the batter. The pecans will float to the top.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, checking every 5 minutes after the 30 minute mark. The filling will puff gently as it bakes. The pie is ready when the edges are firm, the top is deeply golden and the center seems set but jiggles ever so slightly. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. The filling will firm up as it cools.

NOTE: The covered pie will keep at room temperature for 3 days or longer in the refrigerator. You'll get a nicer slice if pie is kept chilled. If you like you can heat it for 10 seconds in the microwave.

I am grateful for you all and wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving. Eat well, be content and count your many blessings.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Thanksgiving Side and Vacation Videos

Several weeks ago the folks at Olivia's Croutons sent me some Olivia's Stuffing to try out (Thank you!). I loved their croutons so I was excited to try their stuffing mixes too. Don't you love the farm on their box? They sent me their Traditional and the Cornbread stuffing free of charge. They did not ask me to blog about it, but that's what I do! So here I am sharing my recipe with you. I don't make stuffing often, but when I do, it's with cornbread. Day old, homemade cornbread- never with stuffing mix, so this was new for me.

I adapted my recipe to accommodate the stuffing mix, by adding more liquid and adjusting little things here and there. It makes a ton so it's great for Thanksgiving or other large crowds. You can also cut the recipe in half or make the full batch and share with someone else or freeze it. My mom usually makes hers with added giblets, which I love, but this one is a little different as it has apples, sausage and Texas pecans in it. I invited her over for dinner the night I made it and she loved it. I also served it with My Favorite Pork Tenderloin and store bought creamed spinach.

Now this is where I have to be honest, because that is who I am. I thought this recipe tasted great but I thought the stuffing pieces were too large. They softened with the addition of chicken broth but they were just too big for my liking. I guess that's mostly because I'm used to a fresh cornbread stuffing, thus it's softer and more cohesive, like a bread pudding. But if you like a chunkier stuffing than Olivia's stuffing is for you. By the way, do you call it Stuffing or Dressing? Answer my poll on the top left sidebar!

Sausage, Apple and Pecan Stuffing from Monica H

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  • 1 tube breakfast sausage
  • 1 stick butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 medium apple, chopped
  • 1 box (5 cups) Olivia's Cornbread Stuffing
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten

In a large pan, brown breakfast sausage over medium high heat, crumbling as you go. Once cooked, remove to a bowl, discard off excess fat.

In the same pan, melt one stick of unsalted butter. Cook carrots, celery, onion and apple until softened but not brown. Stir occasionally.

Remove from heat and add the box of Olivia's cornbread Stuffing to the veggie mixture. Stir then add chicken stock. Stir occasionally then let the stuffing rest for about 10-15 minutes to absorb all the liquid. Add more liquid if necessary. I added 3 cups but not too much because you don't want it soggy.

Once liquid has absorbed, sprinkle with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix together, taste and adjust if necessary.

Once the stuffing mix is to your liking, fold in one beaten egg to help bind it all together. Fold in pecans, reserving a few for the top.

Place stuffing into a greased 9x13-inch pan. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.

Bake in a preheated oven 350 degree F oven for 30-40 minutes.

NOTE: Dried cranberries would be really good in this too!


And for those of you interested, here are a few short videos of our trip to San Francisco and Sausalito, California. And as an added bonus, you get to see me being a dork :-)

Hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cake x 35

This is the second cake The Cake Slice Bakers have made from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman. Geez, how many times can you say "cake" in one sentence?! Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. Cake. ha! The winning cake this month was Cinnamon Pudding Cake. I adore cinnamon so I was super excited about making this cake, but in the end I thought it was a little disappointing.

I've never had a pudding cake before so I wasn't sure what the end result would be like, but I was expecting something gooey- something with a molten center and this was not that. A lot of the bakers commented that it was very dry. My cake was not dry, but I also reduced the baking time by 10 minutes so I think that helped some. While the cake part was not gooey, the topping was. This cake starts off by pouring the caramel on top of the unbaked cake. As it bakes, the caramel seeps through the cake and making it's way to the bottom of the pan. It turns out like a 'self-frosting' upside down cake.

The cake was very much cinnamon flavored. But I felt it was kind of one-note. In my opinion, it was very one just lacked something. The caramel glaze saucy stuff on the bottom top of the cake was good but very sweet. All in all, I'm glad I made this cake. At least I can say I've made and eaten a pudding cake, but I don't think this is one that will make a repeat appearance in my kitchen. But I haven't given up, I will try another recipe...perhaps one with chocolate!

Cinnamon Pudding Cake slightly adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes

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For the caramel topping:
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottoms and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. ( I used the kind with flour).

For the topping: Combine the brown sugar, water, butter and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then set aside to cool.

For the cake: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the bowl. Add half of the milk and all of the vanilla. Add another 1/3 of the flour, mix til just combined, then add the remaining milk, then the rest of the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Pour the topping over the batter (the pan will be very full). Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake until set, about 35-40 minutes. (The top of the cake might be slightly damp looking on top, but a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.)

Let the cake cool in the pan no longer than 5 minutes or the caramel will stick to the pan. Invert it onto a large rimmed platter. Serve warm.

Store cooled cake at room temperature for one day or up to 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

BTW, the word "cake" appears in this post 35 times. dang!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Foodbuzz Fest: The People

This is my last Foodbuzz Fest post but this time it's not about the food or the sights, it's about the people. Without the people, there would be no Foodbuzz Fest.

Sadly, I have to admit, that I met a few trolls at this event, but for the most part the people that I met were really nice and friendly. They are the reason that I want to go to Foodbuzz Fest 2011.

Rather than listing all the wonderful things about each person, I'll just link to their blogs and let you discover them for yourselves. Here they are in no particular order:


Not pictured:

I also want to thank Foodbuzz for all their hard work and of course all the sponsors who made this event what it was. Thank You!


One more thing...

I did an interview with Julie from Sporadic Cook a few days ago. If you'd like to check it out click HERE. Thanks Julie for the interview!

And if you'd like to see more of LTBG, I am guest blogging at Eat at Allie's today. Wontcha stop by?! Click HERE to visit Allie and see my recipe.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

S'more Love

We're smack dab in the middle of November (where did the year go?) and I'm making s'mores! Wacky, I know, but s'mores aren't seasonal to me. They're a perfect treat during the warm summer months around the campfire, but they're perfectly acceptable in the Fall too. And just for the record I've never had a s'more around a camp fire. If I'm having a craving then I just toast a marshmallow with my blow torch, or I use my gas burner to get the job done. When I'm feeling lazy, the microwave works just fine.

This is a s'more bar and while it has all the components of a traditional s'mores but it was different. It was more sophisticated in presentation but I don't think it's nearly as fun as a gooey Jet-Puff marshmallow stuck between two crisp graham crackers. Though it is a portable treat and it gets bonus points for that. The flavors were delicious, but for me, what makes the s'more is the charred marshmallow. These bars used marshmallow fluff, and I missed the burnt bits. I like burnt bits :-)

Don't let my opinion of these bars deter you from making them. Many people love them and they are awesome right out of the oven when they're piping hot and the chocolate is molten. That first stolen bite was the best, especially with an ice cold glass of milk. If I make these again I'd bake them just a couple minutes longer to toast up the graham topping a little more- I think mine were a tad underbaked. If you make them, let me know how you like them! BTW, is anyone else still out of whack from the time change?

S'more Bars from Lovin' From The Oven

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 regular Hershey's milk chocolate bars or 2 king-size bars
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (7 1/2 oz. jar)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough breaking the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick. Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff.

Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together like patchwork).

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Foodbuzz Fest and San Francisco: Day 3

I'm sure you're quite tired of seeing Foodbuzz pictures all over the place, but I still wanted to share my perspective with you. I'm sure you've seen the same plated food pics, but after the farewell brunch we explored the city and I want to share that with you. Hope you don't mind :-)

The farewell brunch at The Sir Francis Drake was plentiful. I believe it was sponsored by Nature's Pride bread, so it appeared a few times on the buffet tables. We had mini fritattas with stuffing, mini grilled cheese with pork sausage gravy, french toast with strawberry basil butter, thick cut bacon, fresh fruit, panzanella, frisee salad with pears and almonds and yogurt parfait cups. It was good!

Shortly after brunch, my favorite person in the whole wide world arrived!

Then we went to the flagship Williams-Sonoma store. Talk about 4 levels of kitchen bliss!

It was such a pretty store and I was impressed with their content. They even have a good selection of Williams-Sonoma Home products. Very expensive but nice to look at. Anyone want a $500 lamp? My favorite part was the wall of silicone spoonulas!

Click on the picture below to enlarge the detail.

Our room at the hotel wasn't quite ready yet, so Debby drove us to the wharf for a light lunch and to sight see. Mr. H ordered a lobster tail and shrimp salad and I had shrimp cocktail. It was as good as it looked. The seagulls thought so too.

Then, because it was wet and drizzly outside, we headed to the Ferry Building for an indoor market. ooh, it was foodie heaven.

One of the first places we discovered was Miette- a beautiful bakery. I could have stayed in there and taken pictures all day, all the while sampling as I saw fit.

Debby purchased an old-fashioned cupcake with sticky marshmallowy frosting topped with a candied peanut, which she kindly shared with me. It was quite the tasty treat. The carrot cupcakes were stunning as well.

While there, I purchased my very first French macaron. I got the Chocolate Lavender and the Coffee macaron. The coffee was superb. If you've never had one, they're chewy and light and delightful. get one. eat one.

We browsed a bit more til I ran into a sweet little puppy...

And some even sweeter Beekind Honey. I got a teeny bottle of Lavender honey, while Debby purchased the Tupelo honey. The guy there was really nice and helpful and let me sample several different flavors.

From there, Debby and I said our goodbyes and shared a hug. We had a wonderful time together and I feel like we've known eachother for ages. Until next time...

Mr. H and I returned back to our King corner room on the top floor for a little relaxation. We were tired after walking all over the place and carrying heavy shopping bags and it was nice to return to the hotel and find a note from the hotel staff, as well as a complimentary box of fresh coconut macaroons and a bottle of water. nice touch SFD.

Our room had a bigger brighter bathroom but the room was even smaller than the first. The natural light that came into that room was beautiful though since we had windows on 3 walls. Very nice and bright, though it was a very tad blinding come 6 am :-)

The view of Union Square from our room. Ahhh!

Thanks for joining me on my journey to San Francisco! I hope you've enjoyed it.

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