Friday, October 31, 2014

Shrunken Head Cider for Halloween


Inspired by girlichef's Shrunken Heads in Spiced Cider, I asked my resident artist if he would be willing to carve some apples for me. He agreed. No questions asked.

Then I discovered that the hostess for our annual Halloween dinner and festivities planned to serve hot cider when the kids came back from trick-or-treating. So, I asked her if I could float some shrunken heads in her cider. Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd utter. She agreed. No questions asked.

I suppose my friends and family are all accustomed to my constant motion and themed madness.


Ingredients
  • large apples
  • water 
  • juice from 1 or 2 lemons

Procedure
Fill a large mixing bowl with water and stir in the lemon juice. Place it near your carving station. Peel and carve into your apple. Once you're happy with your heads, place them the lemon water to keep them from oxidizing. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.


When you're ready to bake and shrink, place the heads on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cook in the oven for 2 to 3 hours. Then turn off the oven, leave them in the there, and let them stand overnight. 


To serve: float the shrunken heads in a punch bowl - or pot - of spiced cider. Cheers!

Duck-Stuffed Peppers with Garlic and Italian Herbs #sponsor

Ackk! I never realized that was still sitting in my drafts folder. Sorry.


Last month I hosted a 10-day blogging event for which Maple Leaf Farms Duck and Gourmet Garden Herbs & Spiceswere sponsors. While I made this during that event, I haven't had the chance to share the recipe until now. Feel free to use whatever ground meat and herbs that you have.


Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground duck (I used Maple Leaf Farms Duck)
  • 1 leek, trimmed and diced
  • 1 T minced garlic (I used Gourmet Garden Herbs & Spices)
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1/2 C organic chicken stock
  • 2 C cooked rice
  • 1 T basil (I used Gourmet Garden)
  • 1 t oregano (I used Gourmet Garden)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 C shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • 6 to 8 peppers, depends on the size of the peppers



Procedure
In a large, flat-bottom pan, saute the leeks and garlic in a splash of olive oil until they soften and begin to caramelize. Add in the ground duck and cook completely. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Then add in the cooked rice, beaten egg, and 1/2 C shredded parmesan.

Wash, dry, and core you peppers, leaving the body of the pepper intact. Gently stuff the peppers with the rice mixture, pressing gently with a spoon to get rid of any air pockets. Place stuffed peppers in a rimmed baking dish. Divide the remaining 1/2 C shredded parmesan among the peppers, pressing lightly into the filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drizzle with olive oil and over with foil. Bake for 50 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve hot with a crisp, cool salad on the side.


Thanks, again, Maple Leaf Farms Duck and Gourmet Garden Herbs & Spices* - just two of last month's #10DaysofTailgate sponsors - for ingredients used in this recipe.


*Full Disclosure: I received ground duck from Maple Leaf Farms Duck and 1 cooler full of herbs by Gourmet Garden Herbs & Spices for participating in last month's #10DaysofTailgate. Feel free to use whatever ground meat and fresh herbs you have on-hand. All comments are 100 % accurate and 100% my own.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sauza 901 Tasting {#sponsor product review}


A little while back I was contacted by some media folks who offered me a bottle of Sauza 901.*

Why not?

I mentioned it to some friends on our last camping trip in September and they all had the same question: Where is it?

Whoops. I hadn't brought it.

So, for our annual Halloween camping trip last weekend, I packed the bottle, some skull shot glasses - that seemed festive -, organic limes, and some Himalaya salt.

I had many willing tasters around the campfire that evening. Thanks, guys and gals!

About Sauza 901...
At first I thought this might be just another celebrity endorsement...and typically I steer clear of those. However, it appears Justin Timberlake traveled to Jalisco, Mexico and actually took an active role in creating his own tequila several years ago. This triple-distilled tequila is the result. Its name: 901 refers to his hometown area code in Memphis. That's kind of a nice detail.


Tasting...
I didn't muddle it up with too many other flavors and steered clear of making cocktails. I wanted to taste it mostly pure. So, I served it with just some salt and lime. And I was delighted. Sauza 901 is super smooth with light spice and some smoky and herbaceous notes.

At first I thought that I would just taste a little for the review and end up cooking with the rest. But I just might enjoy the entire bottle with friends and skip the tequila shrimp. Salud!


If you’d like to learn more about Sauza 901, visit their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter, @Sauza901.

*DISCLOSURE: I received a rebate for purchasing my own bottle of Sauza 901 for the purposes of test and review.  The opinions expressed here are my own and completely accurate.

Cabbage-Fennel Slaw

I love this quick mayo-less slaw. So easy. So tasty.


Ingredients
  • 5 T olive oil, divided
  • 3 T white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 purple cabbage, thinly sliced

Procedure
Whisk together the first three ingredients. Stir in the fennel and cabbage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand 10 minutes before serving, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nutty Purple Cauliflower

This is a dish that I have made many times with all sorts of cruciferous bites. But last week when my 'Eat a Rainbow' class was focusing on blue and purple foods for Food Day 2014, I bought a purple cauliflower. So, it got this tasty treatment...


Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower (you can substitute broccoli or romanesco, too)
  • 2 T peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • 1 t rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
Blanch cauliflower quickly so that it is still crisp. Drain and set aside. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients until they are smooth and well-combined. Add in the cauliflower and toss to coat.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Roasted Delicata Squash

While you already know that we are pumpkin fiends, this - beautiful seasonal delicata from our High Ground Organics CSA - is probably my real favorite squash. And I really love that it's three ingredients beyond the squash and about thirty minutes in the oven.


Ingredients

  • delicata squash
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Halve the delicata and scoop out the seeds. Destem, then slice into 1/4" to 1/2" wide pieces. Lay out the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until the squash is softened and beginning to caramelize. Serve immediately.

Where Food and Books Collide: PiBoIdMo 2014

I know that I write about food all the time. This is a kitchen blog, after all. But what I don't do is think about writing books about food, specifically books for kids.

But, nudged by a good friend, and thinking that it's a good exercise along the Food Revolution Day lines, I took the pledge and registered for PiBoIdMo 2014. That's Picture Book Idea Month.


So, for the 30 days of November I'll be brainstorming ideas for how to talk to kids about eating their fruits and veggies...why it's important. You can follow those forays at The Maker Manns, if you like.

And, if anything comes of my picture book for kids - about eating a rainbow or whatever direction I go - I'll shout it from the mountain tops.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Homemade Saltine Crackers for #FoodNFlix


Food‘nFlixFor this month's Food'N'Flixwe watched, or rewatched as the case may be, The Terminal. Evelynne, at Cheap Ethnic Eatz, is our hostess this month. Click to see Evelynne's invitation.

This post contains an affiliate link for the DVD at the bottom.

This is a movie - like last month's selection - that I haven't seen in many, many years.

On the Screen...
This is the story of Viktor Navorski (played by Tom Hanks), a traveler from Krakozhia, who lands in New York and finds himself stranded in the airport terminal. While he was en route, his country went to war and the government was overthrown. The result: Krakozhia no longer exists and, as a man without a country, Navorski's travel visa has been canceled. He can't leave the airport because he has no official documents; he can't be deported because he has no official documents. Talk about a double-edged sword. So, he's stuck. That's all of the story I'll spoil. But I will say that Stanley Tucci who plays senior airport security officer Frank Dixon was phenomenal. And the Viktor-Frank conflict is the backbone of this story.

On the Plate...
Viktor has some food vouchers to begin. He, then, figures out that he can get money for returning the luggage carts and uses them to buy burgers. The food-cart driver befriends him and trades real meals for information on a girl who works in the immigration office at the airport. 

terminal the scene 500x281 The Terminal for Food ‘n Flix
I considered making cannoli, but decided that I wanted to try my hand at homemade crackers. Besides, we never did see the cannoli! So, homemade saltines it was; I did not, however, squeeze ketchup and mustard in between them as Viktor did on many, many occasions. Yuck. But my crackers were good.


Ingredients 
  • 1 C flour
  • 2 T melted butter
  • 4 to 8 T water
  • 1/2 t salt

Procedure
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, place the flour. Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Mix in 1 T of water at a time, kneading until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and isn't too sticky. My dough took about 6 T of water.

Roll the dough out on parchment paper. Slice into crackers, whatever size and shape you want. I did squares and pricked hearts into the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Turn off the oven and leave crackers to crisp in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely.

That's all for now. Check back to see what we're watching and cooking next month.

Monsters' Eyeballs for Halloween

Another festive 'recipe' for Halloween. It's less of a recipe - it's your basic caprese salad; it's more of a presentation...


Ingredients
  • mozzarella balls
  • mini heirloom tomatoes
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • olive oil
  • fleur de sel to taste

Procedure
Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Serve on a platter with some toy eyeballs as "garnish."

Charcuterie Skull for Halloween


Remarkably - maybe for the first year ever - I didn't bring anything made with pumpkin for our annual Halloween camping potluck dinner. This year, I went for the macabre. There's no real recipe. Just get a skull prop. Wrap with plastic wrap wherever food is going to touch the skull...just to be on the safe side. Cover with your favorite charcuterie. I used prosciutto, coppa, and various salami. It was as tasty as it was disturbing (to some)! Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween Hot Chocolate Mix


Every year we go Halloween camping with some good friends. And the kiddos trick-or-treat between the our group's campers and campsites. What fun!


This year I decided to whip up some spiced hot chocolate mixes and hand those out from our tent.


Ingredients makes 14 mason jars full
  • 16 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 16 ounces organic dark brown sugar
  • 16 ounces organic granulated sugar
  • 2 T ground sage
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t fleur de sel

Procedure
Mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl until well-combined. Scoop into jars. Easy peasy!! Here are our happy campers...


To make hot chocolate: Add 3 heaping T to 4 to 6 ounces of hot milk.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pumpkin Pye - that's Pie with a Rye Crust - for #PumpkinWeek

Hello and welcome to day 6 and the end of #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day, tomorrow. 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder.

Come back every day for #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!


And for this final day of #PumpkinWeek I decided to (re)post a recipe that my 12-year-old, AKA the Precise Kitchen Elf, made for Thanksgiving last year...and throughout the entire winter. It's a family favorite. Thanks to Terri, of Love and Confections, for hosting this fun, pumpkin-filled week. I hope you enjoyed it. I certainly did.


Ingredients
The Crust
  • 1-1/2 C white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C dark rye flour
  • 1 T caraway seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 3/4 C butter

The Pie
  • 2 C pumpkin puree (here's how to make your own puree)
  • 1 C Hachiya persimmon puree (feel free to use all pumpkin if you don't have any persimmon)
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 T organic brown sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract

Procedure
Mix the flours, sugar and caraway seeds; rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in 1 teaspoon of water with a fork until the mixture forms a ball. Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper. Press gently into a pie pan. Chill in the freezer until ready to bake.


Whisk all of the filling ingredients together and place in the crust.



Bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour or until the filling is set. It will be firm to the touch and the crust will be lightly browned. Let it cool slightly before slicing. Serve with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

Check out all the Day 6 #PumpkinWeek recipes

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blue and Purple Foods for #foodday2014


Today is Food Day 2014. You can read my piece for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day on his website (there) or on my own blog, but my lesson plans for my six week Eat a Rainbow cooking class dovetailed nicely with today's focus on food awareness and eating real foods.

There were a lot of memorable moments from today's class, but one of my favorites. R grabbed half of the purple cabbage; we weren't using that part. "Do you have to cook it?" he complained. "Can't I just eat it like that?" Go for it. 


We made a Crimson Coleslaw and Ube Mochi Cake [recipes to come]. 


I also brought in raisins, a graffiti eggplant, purple cauliflower, a lavender infused chocolate bar, blue corn chips, and blueberries and blackberries.


And they had some great answers to the question: "Why is healthy food important?" So very proud of these kiddos.


We have a break next Friday for Halloween, but we'll wrap up our six week the following Friday. Can't wait to cook some white, brown, and black foods. Yep, that includes chocolate!!

Meatloaf-Stuffed Mini Pumpkins for #PumpkinWeek

Hi and welcome to day 5 of #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day. 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder.

Come back every day for #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!


For this fifth day of #PumpkinWeek, I have a funny story.

Last year, my then 9-year-old had a pet pumpkin. He had gotten it at a market at the beginning of the month and it slept on his pillow and watched him do his homework. One day I jokingly threatened to cook his pumpkin. I was joking, but D was not amused. So, needless to say...when I served this dish, the first thing he did was run to his room to make sure that his pumpkin hadn't been a casualty of my pumpkin massacre. Then he announced, "Pumpkin is not coming to the dinner table tonight because I don't want him to see me eating his friends." He added, "You're a mean mommy." Tell me something I don't know.


Somewhere along my pumpkin travels, I saw meatloaf-stuffed mini pumpkins. After last year's experiment, I've been making them whenever I see mini-pumpkins. D refused to get a pet pumpkin this year. So, I happily purchased a handful and called them dinner.

Ingredients
Serves 6

  • 6 mini pumpkins
  • 1 lb ground meat (I used a combination of ground turkey and ground beef)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C ground nut (I used hazelnuts)
  • 1/2 C shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries
  • 1/2 t curry powder
  • dash of ground cardamom
  • dash of ground coriander
  • dash of smoked paprika
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil

Procedure
Cut open and clean out your pumpkins. Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, blend together the meat, egg, leek, ground hazelnuts, and spices. Mix well. Add in the cranberries and cheese. And mix again.

Stuff the pumpkins with the meat mixture, taking care to press the meat all the way into the pumpkin so that there are no air pockets. 

Place the pumpkins back on the baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil. 

Bake for 50-55 minutes. Your pumpkins should be soft to the touch, i.e., squeezable, and the meat nicely browned on the top.

Hope you're enjoying pumpkin season and this week full of pumpkin goodness!


Check out all the Day 5 #PumpkinWeek recipes

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spiced Pumpkin Butter for #PumpkinWeek

Hi and welcome to day 4 #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day. 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder.

Come back every day for #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!


Day four of #PumpkinWeek is upon us and I wanted to share an eternal favorite: spiced pumpkin butter.

Are you asking "Why the Danish flag? Is pumpkin butter Danish?" One of my favorite memories surrounding making pumpkin butter was with my best friend from Denmark when she was here visiting for a few months during the holidays and we thought they would make nice, shippable presents to her friends and family back home. We made batches and batches of pumpkin butter. Good, delicious times.

I love that this is light on the sugar, heavy on the spices, and so, so easy to make. Pleae note that this does not yield a smooth butter; I like mine rustic, with small chunks of pumpkin. If you want it store-bought smooth, press the pumpkin through a sieve before you start.

Ingredients

  • 6 C pumpkin puree (here's how to make your own puree)
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground cloves
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground cardamom
  • ground ginger
  • 2 T ginger syrup

Procedure
Place the pumpkin puree, water, and sugar in a large, flat-bottom pan. Bring to a simmer. As you cook, mash the pumpkin with a potato masher. Add in the spices - to your tastes.

Cook and mash until it's to the consistency that you like. Stir in the ginger syrup. And spoon into sterilized jars. Process in a water bath to seal. Or refrigerate and use within three weeks without processing.

Check out all the Day 4 #PumpkinWeek recipes

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin-Vanilla Bean Madeleines for #PumpkinWeek

Hi and welcome to day 3 of #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day. 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder.

Come back every day for #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!


On this, the third day, of #PumpkinWeek I decided to whip up a pumpkinized (yes, I'm coining that phrase this week) version of a madeleine.

I had never had a madeleine, much less baked one, before I did a cookbook review for  Quirk Books of Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share by Barbara Feldman Morse. Click to read those thoughts: here. But now that they are solidly in my baking repertoire, I had to make a pumpkinized (there's that word again) version. Enjoy.

Ingredients
  • 3/4 C organic butter plus some for greasing pan
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • caviar from 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 2 T pumpkin puree (here's how to make your own)
  • 1 C flour (I used a bread flour)
  • 1/2 C roasted, unsalted hazelnuts, chopped

Procedure
Before you start, chop your hazelnuts. While you might be tempted to use pre-chopped nuts - I have done it many times myself - the aroma of the freshly chopped nuts is extraordinary and well worth the effort. I promise!


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease, or butter, your madeleine pan and set aside.

Place your butter, sugar, vanilla caviar, and vanilla pod in a saucepan and heat, over medium heat, until the butter is melted and the sugar is blended into the butter.


Remove the vanilla pod and let the mixture cool for a few minutes, then spoon it into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the eggs, extract, and pumpkin puree. Beat for a full three minutes to incorporate lots of air bubbles into your batter.


Fold in the flour and 1/2 C hazelnuts with a spatula, taking care not to deflate the batter too much. Using a truffle scoop, or teaspoon, fill the shell molds with batter until almost full.


Bake till the madeleines puff up and the edges are golden, mine took approximately 17 to 18 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 3 to 5 minutes. Unmold. You may be able to tap them out; I used a small spatula to ease them out of the molds onto the cooling racks.


Check out all the Day 3 #PumpkinWeek recipes


If you are interested in purchasing a madeleine pan for yourself, I have included an affiliate link on amazon for your convenience (below). If you are uncomfortable using the affiliate link, feel free to visit amazon on your own and search for "madeleine pan."

  

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