Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pumpkin-Chocolate Babka for #PumpkinWeek 2015


Welcome to #PumpkinWeek day 4! One more day. Hosted by Terri from Love and Confections, nineteen bloggers will be sharing nearly seventy pumpkin-filled recipes over the course of the week. Be sure to come back every day to see all the delicious creations - from muffins to cakes, cocktails, breakfast baked goods, savory pastas and stews, and gluten-free recipes, too. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!


#PumpkinWeek day 4 recipes:

Ingredients
Babka
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 1 T organic coconut sugar
  • 1 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 1/2 C flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • olive oil
Filling
  • 5 T butter, softened
  • 1 C  pumpkin puree (how to make pumpkin puree: version 1version 2)
  • 1 C organic coconut sugar, divided
  • 1 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 C semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 C sliced almonds
Glaze
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T organic coconut sugar
  • 1/2 t  pumpkin puree
Procedure
Babka
Combine water, yeast, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in a large mixing bowl. Let bloom for ten minutes - until it gets foamy on top. Add in the flour, then the eggs and vanilla extract. Knead until it comes together in a ball. Oil the bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes to two hours.

Filling
During the rise, make your filling. Place all of the ingredients, but only 1/2 C coconut sugar, up to through the pumpkin pie spice, in mixing bowl. And, with a fork, blend everything together until a thick paste is formed.

Once the dough is risen, roll it out on a parchment paper. You can divide the dough into half; I kept it all together in one loooooooong roll of dough in the end. Spread the pumpkin mixture over the rectangle. Sprinkle the entire roll with 1/2 C coconut sugar, chocolate chunks, and sliced almonds.


Roll the rectangle lengthwise into a jelly roll. Cut it down the length of the roll so that you have two long skinny pieces.


Wrap and twist the two pieces around each other so that you have a twisted loaf. I wasn't feeling well and my twists were not very photogenic, so I didn't take a photograph of that step. Sorry.

Let the loaves rise for an hour and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the loaves until golden brown and baked through, approimately 20 to 25 minutes.While the loaves are baking, make the glaze. Bring sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree to a simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the babka is pulled out of the oven, brush the syrup all over. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing!

October #Unprocessed 2015


Here we are again at the cusp of October...and the kick-off for October #Unprocessed v.2015.

Last year I signed a (modified) pledge for October #Unprocessed v. 2014. While I would love to be able to go a month without eating anything processed, that's just not a reality...without a lot of stress on my part. So, instead of setting myself up to fail, I pledged to be more purposeful in my cooking, eating whole foods, and reading labels like a fiend. It's a journey.

You can read more about the challenge put out by Andrew at Eating Ruleshere. The challenge is in its 6th year; this is my 4th year joining the fun and games. And here are some of Andrew's posts that have really helped me decide what I'm including in my family's meals in October and what is verboten!

  • About Sugars and Sweeteners... click here. Molasses is out; a couple of years I was misguided by molasses!
  • About Flours and Grains... click here. Not that we buy white rice frequently - almost never, in fact - but I was surprised that it passes as an unprocessed food.
  • About Chocolate... click here.

For the most part, we don't eat processed foods. At least I don't think that I eat processed foods; I buy ingredients and make just about everything my family eats from scratch. I mean, R has made his own ricotta cheese, I have roasted my own coffee beans. We aren't a grab-a-package kinda family. We don't even own a microwave.

But this month is usually great eye-opener for me to think about how the ingredients I buy are processed. I'm ready for the month. What do you think? How processed are the foods you eat?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sad Rhubarb Liqueur for #handcraftededibles

I'm not sad about making this liqueur for holiday gifts. And, I hope my recipients won't be sad either. But I have to share this story, regarding the name of the recipe.

When a friend, and fellow rhubarb-fanatic, came over for dinner, I served a rhubarb chutney. He declared, "Do you know why this rhubarb is sad?"

I have no idea. 

"It could have been a pie."

Oh, brother!



I sent him a photo over the weekend and asked, Is THIS rhubarb sad?

"Yes. It could have been a pie, too."

Fine, no rhubarb liqueur for you when it's done! I retorted, exasperated and perplexed. Who would object to rhubarb liqueur!?!?

Ingredients
  • 4 to 5 stalks fresh rhubarb
  • 1-1/2 to 2 C organic granulated sugar 
  • 1 bottle of vodka

Procedure
Wash and trim rhubarb. Slice into slices. Combine rhubarb and sugar and stir well to combine. Pour vodka over that, mix well, cover, and let the mixture age in a cool place for 4 months. Stir once a week or once every other week. The color will change to a rosy red.

To gift: strain out the rhubarb pieces and bottle. Cheers!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pumpkin Hummus for #PumpkinWeek 2015


Welcome to #PumpkinWeek day 2! Hosted by Terri from Love and Confections, nineteen bloggers will be sharing nearly seventy pumpkin-filled recipes over the course of the week. Be sure to come back every day to see all the delicious creations - from muffins to cakes, cocktails, breakfast baked goods, savory pastas and stews, and gluten-free recipes, too. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!


#PumpkinWeek Day 2 Recipes:


Ingredients
  • 1 (15 oz) can white beans (traditional would be garbanzos, but my little guy is allergic)
  • 1 C pumpkin puree (how to make pumpkin puree: version 1version 2)
  • 1/4 C  tahini
  • 1/4 C lemon juice (from approximately 1 organic lemon)
  • 2 T olive oil + more for serving
  • 4 cloves garlic (roasted or raw, I used a combination of roasted and raw for this version)
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t ground ginger
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • dash of cayenne


Procedure 
Puree all ingredients in a blender. Spoon into a serving bowl and drizzle with more olive oil, if desired. Serve with cut pita or vegetable crudités or both.

#HandCraftedEdibles: Nocino (Green Walnut Liqueur)


In an effort to make all of my holiday gifts this year, I invited some of my favorite foodie bloggers to share recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of the next twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes from libations (this week's theme) to cookie platters and everything in between. Hope you'll follow along for inspiration.


Check out our #handcraftededibles pinterest board. Or the tab on my blog where I'll round up all the posts: here. And, as this is our first post, here's the plan...

Week 1: Tuesday, September 29th – Libations, Part I
Week 2: Tuesday, October 6th – Spice Blends
Week 3: Tuesday, October 13th – Special Diets
Week 4: Tuesday, October 20th – Jarred Mixes
Week 5: Tuesday, October 27th – Libations, Part II
Week 6: Tuesday, November 3rd – Delicious Jams and Jellies
Week 7: Tuesday, November 10th – Pickles
Week 8: Tuesday, November 17th – Cheese Trays
Week 9: Tuesday, November 24th – Go Nuts
Week 10: Tuesday, December 1st – Chocolatiers’R’Us
Week 11: Tuesday, December 8th – Cookie Platters
Week 12: Tuesday, December 15th – Ways to wrap your handcrafted edibles

Week One of #HandCraftedEdibles

libation (noun li·ba·tion \lī-ˈbā-shən\) - beverage; especially a drink containing alcohol

Cheers to these gals and their lovely libations!

For this edition of #handcraftededibles - libations! - I was inspired to make my own nocino, a green walnut liqueur from Italy, after I traipsed around town with a master forager and cocktail craftsman Katie Blandin Shea. I was researching for an article that just appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Edible Monterey Bay about her. Click to read: Local Libations - Field to Glass.

As I wasn't brave enough to forage on my own, I ordered my green walnuts from Local Harvest. They have become my go-to for seasonal, harder to come by produce items. But here's what green walnuts look like on the tree...

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds green walnuts (they are in season, in California anyway, from June to July)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • zest from 1 organic lemon (I used Meyer lemon because we have a tree)
  • 9 all spice berries
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 nutmeg, split in half
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1 L vodka
  • 3 C organic granulated sugar
  • 3 C water

Procedure
Part I
Quarter the green walnuts length wise. Add the cut walnuts, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest, all spice berries, cardamom, nutmeg, and vanilla bean to the lidded glass container. Pour the vodka over the top of the ingredients. Cover and give the container a good shake and let it sit for 6 to 8 weeks.


Part II
Strain the liquid from the solids using a cheesecloth lined strainer. You can strain it again if you like. Pour the strained liquid back into the container.


Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan and cook until all of the sugar has dissolved. Let simple syrup mixture cool to room temperature. Add the cooled simple syrup to the liquid already in the container. Cover and give the mixture a good shake. Let sit for another 6 to 8 weeks.

Part III
After this aging you can bottle and drink your nocino. The longer you let the bottled nocino set, the more smooth it will taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature. During week 12's event, I'll share a template for my jar labels. Cin cin.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Spiced Pumpkin-Bourbon Fizz for #PumpkinWeek 2015


#PumpkinWeek is here again and we can't be more excited. Hosted by Terri from Love and Confections, nineteen bloggers will be sharing nearly seventy pumpkin-filled recipes over the course of the week. Be sure to come back every day to see all the delicious creations - from muffins to cakes, cocktails, breakfast baked goods, savory pastas and stews, and gluten-free recipes, too. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!


#PumpkinWeek Day 1 Recipes:

I decided to start the party off with a cocktail, a sweet and spicy sip to celebrate #PumpkinWeek. Cheers!

Ingredients
Simple syrup
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 T pumpkin puree (how to make pumpkin puree: version 1version 2)
  • 1" knob of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
Cocktail (makes one cocktail)
  • 1/2 t pumpkin puree
  • 1 to 2 T simple syrup, depending on preference
  • 1-1/2 ounces bourbon (I used Knob Creek)
  • ice cubes
  • sparkling water
Procedure
In a saucepan, bring all the ingredients for the simple syrup to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.

For each cocktail, muddle pumpkin puree with simple syrup. Pour in bourbon. Add ice cubes and top with sparkling water. Stir vigorously until well combine. Enjoy!

Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup


I still don't really know why chicken noodle soup can make you feel better when you're feeling crummy. But it does, doesn't it? I had a fever last night and was still reeling today. So, I whipped up a pot of chicken noodle soup and it was awesome. It does take a little bit of time. But, when you're languishing on the couch, you can manage this. I promise.

Ingredients
Broth
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 carrots, cut into 2" lengths
  • 4 stalks of celery, cut into 2" lengths
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • herbs (I had some fennel fronds and fresh parsley)

Soup
  • chicken meat, pulled from the bones
  • 2 carrots, cut into 2" lengths
  • 4 stalks of celery, cut into 2" lengths
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • olive oil
  • 1 C chopped mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
  • noodles (I used some organic spaghetti noodles, broken in half lengthwise)
  • 2 C fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 C fresh herbs (I used parsley and cilantro)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper


Procedure

Place all of the broth ingredients in  large pot. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Hold at a simmer for 90 minutes. Strain out the solids and reserve the broth. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull off the meat. You can reserve the bones to make a second stock.

In the same pot, heat a splash of olive oil. Cook the carrots, celery, garlic, and red bell peppers until softened. Add in the chicken and mushrooms. Pour in the chicken broth and more water, if needed. bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as directed. Stir in the spinach until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in herbs. Serve hot...and feel better soon!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pumpkin Citrus Smoothie


To go along with our Buttermilk Pumpkin Scones this morning, I used the rest of my homemade pumpkin puree for some smoothies.

Ingredients serves 4
  • 1-1/2 C pumpkin puree (how to make pumpkin puree: version 1version 2)
  • 1 C organic orange juice
  • 1/2 C ice cubes
  • 1 C plain yogurt
  • dash of ground cinnamon
  • dash of ground cardamom
  • dash of ground nutmeg
  • dash of ground ginger
  • 1 T honey
Procedure
Blend everything together. Serve immediately.

Buttermilk Pumpkin Scones


It's pumpkin time! I'm gearing up for #PumpkinWeek2015 - when a group of blogging friends plan to share tons and tons of pumpkin eats. So, to get in the pumpkin frame of mind, I whipped up some pumpkin puree last name and used it in breakfast today. So easy. So tasty.


Ingredients
For the Scones:
  • 3 C flour (I used a white whole wheat flour)
  • 3/4 C organic coconut sugar
  • 2 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t ground allspice
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • pinch of lightly dried ginger
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 C) butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 C buttermilk, cold
  • 1 C pumpkin puree (how to make pumpkin puree: version 1, version 2)
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C pumpkin seeds

For the Glaze:
  • 1/2 C organic coconut sugar
  • 2 T orange juice



Procedure
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, lightly dried ginger, and all of the spices.  Add the butter cubes to the dry ingredients and toss to coat.  Use a pastry cutter, creating pea-sized chunks. Fold in the buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Stir together until almost thoroughly combined.  Add in pumpkin seeds and stir until no dry flour bits remain.

Transfer to a baking stone and gently press into a disc. Cut the disc into wedges and pull the scones at least 1" apart.

Bake until browned slightly with firm, dry tops, approximately 18 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, whisk together sugar and orange juice. Let stand until the sugar dissolves completely. Generously drizzle scones with glaze. Serve immediately.

Making Pumpkin Puree {How To}


I tried to hold off till October before flooding my blog with pumpkin recipes. But as I'm busy prepping for #PumpkinWeek2015, I decided that it was time! Last year I showed you how to make pumpkin puree. That was one method. Here's another way...

Ingredients

  • pumpkin
  • olive oil


Procedure
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds.


Brush the inside and the cut edge with olive oil and place the pumpkin cut-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until the pumpkin flesh is easily mashable and the skin is easily pierced with a fork, approximately 90 minutes.


 Let cool slightly, until you can handle the pumpkin without burning your hand. Scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash until desire consistency.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Salt'N'Peppa Delicata


A friend mentioned that she's been waiting for me to start my annual parade of pumpkin posts. I was trying to refrain till October. And while you already know that I am a pumpkin fiend, delicata squash is probably my real favorite squash. And I really love that this dish is really only three ingredients beyond the squash and about thirty minutes in the oven.

But don't worry, the pumpkin posts will begin, in earnest, next week as I'll be celebrating #PumpkinWeek2015 with several blogging friends.

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 1/2" wide slices. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the slices with a splash of olive oil. Spread out the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until the squash is softened and beginning to caramelize. Serve immediately with another sprinkling of salt and pepper, if desired.

Eggplant Parmesan Boats


The other evening for dinner, I decided to do a riff on my Caramelized Miso-Topped Eggplant. Since the boys claimed it was "the best eggplant ever", I've been meaning to try another version. Same process. And...this one, according to the Precise Kitchen Elf, take the new "best eggplant ever" title. Sweet. It's easy and it's a winner.


Ingredients serves 6
  • 3 large eggplants
  • olive oil for brushing
  • fresh marinara sauce (use homemade or your favorite brand)
  • 2 C grated parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Slice the eggplants in half, lengthwise, and brush the cut face with olive oil. Place them face down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast the eggplants for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on eggplant size. They should be brown and beginning to shrivel. The flesh should be fork tender.


Remove the eggplants from the oven and turn them over. Sprinkle the cut face with grated parmesan and spread it evenly to create a crust. Return the eggplant to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes. The parmesan should be crisped and melted.

Divide the sauce evenly for the six eggplant boats. Place the eggplants back in the oven for a minute or two - until the sauce begins to bubble.

Remove from the eggplants from the oven. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Let rest for 5 minutes. Top with more parmesan right before serving. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Product Review + Giveaway: Bob's Red Mill Oatmeal #sponsor


We love oatmeal in my household. I love oatmeal. Now.

Growing up, my mom made oatmeal every Monday for my entire life. I'm not joking. There was no deviation. Every. Single. Monday. Of my entire childhood. I refused to eat oatmeal for years after I left my parents' house. And I certainly would never eat it on a Monday!

But, gradually, I invited oatmeal back to my table because it is versatile, tasty, and good for you. However, the way I make oatmeal is not a quick breakfast. I usually use steel cut oats, simmer them till tender, season them with cinnamon and vanilla, and stir in chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and dried fruit. It's a good forty-five minute process. But it is tasty.

When Bob's Red Mill contacted me to see if I would be willing to receive and review their brand-new oatmeal cups*, I readily agreed. I've been a long-time fan of the company and their products. At any given moment, you can find at least half a dozen products of theirs on my shelves. I have recently become enamored with their ancient grains, so I have buckwheat groats, millet, farro, and amaranth in my pantry. Their dried beans and flours are also a household staple.

You can find Bob's Red Mill on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Google+, and on Instagram.


We received the four-pack of their brand new oatmeal cups, including apple pieces and cinnamon, blueberry hazelnut, brown sugar and maple, and classic. All flavors include flax seed and chia seeds. After we made our selections, we waited for the water to boil and read the labels. The biggest difference between the four: grams of sugar; the classic has only 1g of sugar while the apple pieces and cinnamon had the most with 13g.

We loved how easy it was. Boiling water and three minutes was all it took to have breakfast ready to go. The boys loved that it had a lid. Not that they took it anywhere, but I guess the possibility that they could take it somewhere was appealing to them.


And, for me, the best thing is that it's Bob's Red Mill and all the quality that comes along with that name. 

I am thrilled to share one of the four-pack with one of my readers. If you would like the chance to try the oatmeal for yourself, please enter the rafflecopter below. A winner - from U.S. or Canada only, please - will be selected on Monday, October 5th and notified within 24 hours.


a Rafflecopter giveaway *Disclosure: I received oatmeal from Bob's Red Mill for the purpose of review and to giveaway. Comments are 100% accurate and 100% my own. I have received no additional compensation for this post. 

Disclaimer: This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents, age 18 & up only. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. One winner will be selected. The prize package will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsor. I am not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

Sipping Chocolate Tasting at Mutari


 A couple of years ago I supported a kickstarter for local chocolate company Mutari. I love supporting foodie start-ups!

We tried their hot chocolate mix we received as a perk for making a donation, but we never made it to the storefront...until this weekend.

While Jake was working on the pirate armory for our trip to the Renaissance Faire and R was working on a project for his science class, the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf and I drove up to Santa Cruz and headed over to Mutari.


We perused the menu and decided to go with one of their tasting flight. The sipping chocolate flight was described as "darker and more bitter." We went with it. Besides, it came with a mini cupcake from Buttercup Cakes. That cinched the deal for the EKE. He loves anything from Buttercup.


We tasted their Trinidad San Juan which had a lighter body and a hint of coffee; their Venezuela Cumboto with notes of vanilla; and their Venezuela Ocumare that was tangy with some notes of citus and a hint of pine.


We sipped, savored, and discussed.


Then we ended up with a bottle of the Ocumare mix. It's been too hot for us to make it at home, but we will. Soon.


Mutari is definitely on our must-return list. Next time we'll bring Jake and the Precise Kitchen Elf. They will love it, too.

Share Buttons