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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cooking Show: Fall Recipes!

Last week, we filmed a cooking show featuring fall-inspired recipes.

If you've been searching for a recipe or two that will take the chill out of these crisp, autumn days then you need not look any further!

We started off with Pumpkin Martinis.  If ever there was a martini that qualifies as comfort food, this is it.

Dan the Awesome Camera Man proclaimed, "When you get to the bottom, the marshmallows are delightful!"

Here is the printable recipe.

 We then prepared Chicken Orzo Soup with Fennel & Kale.  Bonafide comfort food!  Click here for the printable.

Then we moved on to Oven-Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes.  This picture simply does not do them justice.

How's this picture?  

I had made a batch before we started taping the show, I also made a double batch on camera and guess what?

They all disappeared by the end of the night.  Yes, they are that good!! Just peel and dice a sweet potato, mix it with olive oil and spices, pop it into your oven and that's it.

Here's the printable recipe.

And finally, our tasty finale, Pumpkin Gingerbread!

Click here for the printable recipe.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pumpkin Martini

Okay, I'm going to continue along the pumpkin recipe path that I started last week...

and today we have a pumpkin martini.

It's creamy, it's pumpkin-y, it's cinnamon-y...and it has marshmallows!

Today's Playlist
  • "Rag and Bone"...The White Stripes
  • "On My Way"...Billy Boy on Poison
  • "Rhythm Doesn't Make You a Dancer"...John Fratelli
  • "Always Where I Need To Be"...The Kooks

Pumpkin Martini (makes 2 martinis)
  • 1 oz. vanilla vodka
  • 1 oz. Kahlua
  • 3 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon schnapps
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
For garnish: cinnamon sugar, cinnamon sticks, mini-marshmallows

Gather your ingredients.

Place all martini ingredients into a cocktail shaker.  Add a handful of ice cubes, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.

Rim your martini glasses with the cinnamon sugar.

Strain your martinis from the cocktail shaker into your martini glasses.  Garnish with cinnamon sticks and mini marshmallows.  Cheers!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Chicken Orzo Soup with Fennel & Kale

Soup's on!

One more reason to be happy that cooler fall weather has finally arrived.  It makes me so happy to finally be able to simmer a pot of soup on the stove and not turn my kitchen into a steam bath, so I took a break from all the pumpkin recipes I've been trying out lately and made this soup!

I switched out a few ingredients from my usual chicken soup recipe, but if you're not feeling adventurous, go the traditional route and switch out the orzo for traditional noodles and use celery instead of fennel.

Today's Playlist:

  • "50 Ways To Say Goodbye"...Train
  • "Hey There Delilah"...Plain White T's
  • "Revolution"...The Beatles
  • "In the Next Room"...Neon Trees
  • "Paint It Black"...The Rolling Stones
  • "Warning"...Green Day
  • "Have Love Will Travel"...The Sonics
  • "Got To Move"...Cake
  • "Hate To Say I Told You So"...The Hives

Chicken Orzo Soup with Fennel & Kale
  • 2 stalks fennel, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 large or 3 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup uncooked orzo
  • 3 cups chopped kale
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Gather your ingredients.

Chop the carrots, onion and fennel.  I pulled off a few of the fennel fronds and set them aside to use a garnish when serving.

In a large (6 to 8 quart) pot, heat the olive oil over medium/high heat.  Add the fennel, carrots and onions.  Crush in the garlic.  Add salt and pepper.  Saute the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and get a little bit of color on the bottom of the pan.

Add the cooked chicken, bay leaf, rosemary and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the orzo and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the orzo is cooked.  Finally, remove the bay leaf, add the chopped kale and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Oven-Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes

If you're looking for an easy recipe for a spectacular side dish, look no further!!

I'll sum up this recipe for you in one sentence: wash, peel and dice a sweet potato, stir with olive oil, cumin and paprika and bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees.

How do they taste, you ask?

Out of this world. To-die-for. 

Yes, they are that good.

Don't just take my word for it.  Make some today!!

Today's Playlist
  • "The Girl Got Hot"...Weezer
  • "Ball and Biscuit"...The White Stripes
  • "Last Night"...The Strokes
  • "Joker and the Thief"...Wolfmother
  • "Where Is My Mind"...Pixies

Oven-Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes (4 servings)

  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, cut into 3/4" cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Gather your ingredients.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a large (10" x 15") baking sheet with parchment.

Wash and peel your sweet potato.  Cut it into 3/4-inch cubes.  You should have about 3 cups of cubes.

Place the cubed sweet potatoes into a medium bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.  Stir to coat the potatoes with the oil.

Combine the cumin, paprika and salt in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes.  Stir to coat the potatoes with the spices.

Spread the potatoes into a single layer on your parchment-lined baking sheet.  Roast the potatoes for 25 minutes, until tender and easily pierced with a toothpick.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pumpkin Gingerbread

Happy first day of fall!  How should we celebrate?

With another pumpkin recipe, of course!!

This Pumpkin Gingerbread is so good.  The flavor-- though still predominantly ginger-- isn't quite as intense as typical gingerbread.  The addition of pumpkin tones the ginger flavor down a bit while adding lots of substance and body.

Add a drizzle of maple's a perfect celebration of fall.

Today's Playlist

  • "Rebel Rebel"...David Bowie
  • "Troublemaker"...Weezer
  • "I'm Yours"...Jason Mraz
  • "Dani California"...Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"...Green Day
  • "Love Interruption"...Jack White
  • "In One Ear"...Cage the Elephant
  • "What A Wonderful World"...Joey Ramone
  • "Story of My Life"...Social Distortion
  • "All Day and All of the Night"...The Kinks

Pumpkin Gingerbread with Maple Glaze (makes one loaf)

Gingerbread ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 10 tablespoons melted butter (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
note: additional butter and flour needed for greasing the pan (or use non-stick cooking spray)

Maple Glaze ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • pinch of salt

Gather your ingredients.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

Butter and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, or use nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, ginger, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl until combined.

In a large bowl, stir the melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin, eggs and vanilla together until thoroughly combined.

It will be very liquidy and runny.

Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan.  Bake for one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or with only a few moist crumbs).

I can say from experience that this gingerbread takes about an hour and ten minutes in my oven, but I usually set the timer for one hour just in case.

And then I stick a toothpick into it, which comes out completely coated in wet batter, so I put it back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes.  

I just can't bring myself to bake it for one hour and ten minutes right from the get-go!  

While the gingerbread is baking, prepare your maple glaze.

Gather your ingredients.  You can see that there is some crystallized ginger in the photo. 

 I was thinking that I would chop the ginger and sprinkle it over the glaze, but a lot of thoughts went through my head as the gingerbread baked and by the time it came out of the oven I wasn't in the mood for crystallized ginger anymore.

Feel free to sprinkle your gingerbread with crystallized ginger if you have it. Or chopped pecans.

To prepare the glaze, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium/high heat until it's bubbly.  This will take about a minute.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the maple syrup and vanilla until combined.  It will bubble at first, but as you whisk it will calm down.

Whisk in the confectioners sugar and a pinch of salt until smooth.  Set aside until your gingerbread is finished baking.

Ta-da!  It finally passed the toothpick test.

I let the gingerbread cool down for about 10 minutes and then place it onto a serving platter.  Serve it while it's still warm, or after it's cooled.  Either way, it's out-of-this-world delicious!

You can either drizzle the glaze on top of the loaf (like the photo at the top of this post), or drizzle it over the slices as you serve them.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

It's a Wrap...Chicken & Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

September gives me recipe whiplash!!

The temperatures start to drop, I happily cook my way down the path of pumpkins & apples, soups & stews...and then BAM!

Another 90-degree day.

The last thing I want to do is heat up my kitchen.

I really don't gives me a chance to prepare and finally share this recipe, because despite it being my go-to salad this summer I haven't put it on the blog yet.

My excuse for not blogging about this salad, given that I've made it so frequently:  

It's so quick and easy to prepare, it's something that I usually make on the fly, when I'm in a hurry to throw dinner together.  On those hectic nights the last thing I can be bothered with is stopping to snap pictures for the blog.  

I wasn't in a hurry as I was preparing it this time, however...just a little wiped out from the heat, hehe.

Today's Playlist

  • "Black Math'...The White Stripes
  • "Sins of My Youth"...Neon Trees
  • "Jerk It Out"...Caesars
  • "Is It Any Wonder"...Keane
  • "Psycho"...The Sonics
  • "Train In Vain"...The Clash
  • "I'm Shakin'"...Jack White
  • "Learn To Fly"...Foo Fighters

Chicken & Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (serves 6)

Vinaigrette ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Salad Ingredients:
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, bite-sized pieces
  • 6 cups salad greens
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • balsamic vinaigrette, see recipe above (or use 1/2 cup of your favorite prepared vinaigrette)
Optional: Flour tortillas, for wraps

To make the vinaigrette:

Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl.  Set aside while you prepare your salad.

Gather your ingredients.

Wash and slice the strawberries, chop the lettuce, cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks, chop the pecans.

Place the salad greens, diced chicken and sliced strawberries into a large bowl.  Drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette.

Toss to combine.  Sprinkle with the pecans and feta.

Or serve the pecans and feta on the side, so the family members (ahem) who do not like nuts or cheese will eat the salad without complaint, and those of us who do like nuts and cheese can add them to our heart's content.

And at this point I grabbed some tortillas and decided to make the salad into wraps.

Sometimes it's hard to convince Mr. Terrific that salad can be a satisfying dinner...present it in a wrap, however, and he's on board!

So I piled the salad into a wrap instead of a bowl, and added a sprinkle of feta and pecans.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pumpkin Muffins with Raisins & Pecans

Now that September is here, I'm totally embracing everything pumpkin!!!

Bake a batch of these pumpkin muffins and you'll want to join me on the pumpkin bandwagon.  

Loaded with plump raisins, topped with crunchy chopped pecans...if only I had a way to make these muffins jump off the screen and onto a plate for you!

Today's Playlist
  • "Teenagers"...My Chemical Romance
  • "What I Like About You"...Romantics
  • "Someday"...The Strokes
  • "Seven Nation Army"...The White Stripes
  • "Original Prankster"...The Offspring
  • "Sick Of You"...Cake
  • "Basket Case"...Green Day
  • "Sweet Child O' Mine"...Guns N' Roses

Pumpkin Muffins with Raisins & Pecans (Makes 12 muffins)

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 generous (heaping) teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
optional: large crystal (sanding) sugar, for topping

Gather your ingredients.  Heat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.  Grease a 12-cup muffin pan, or line with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, thoroughly mixing after each addition until combined.

After the eggs have been combined, mix in the pumpkin puree and the vanilla extract.

Add your dry ingredients that you had previously whisked together, mixing just until combined.

Stir in the raisins by hand.

Fill your muffin cups.  I used paper liners and I fill them so that the batter is level with the top of the paper.

Top with the chopped pecans, and sprinkle with the sanding sugar.

Bake in your preheated 375-degree oven for 10 minutes.  When the timer goes off after 10 minutes, reduce the temperature (without opening the oven) to 350 degrees and continue to bake for an additional 8 minutes, or until done.  They are done when you can stick them with a toothpick and the toothpick is dry or has a few moist crumbs when you remove it.  If there is still wet batter on the toothpick, bake them for an additional minute or two.