Chocolate Pumpkin Bark

Chocolate Pumpkin Bark

Chocolate Pumpkin Bark

Another day of student meetings, hence another day to experiment with pumpkin recipes. I love making “bark” around the holidays – it’s so easy and always well received. It occurred to me to try to create a pumpkin bark. I searched for recipes and there’s actually quite a bit of variety. Some recipes don’t use any pumpkin at all (just pumpkin pie spice), some use a candy base instead of chocolate, some look really healthy and hearty with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, and some were very festive looking for Halloween. I encourage searching the many possibilities. As is typical, I morphed two recipes and adapted a bit for my liking and or what I had. I used semi-sweet chocolate (chips) because that’s what I had on hand, but I think I would prefer this made with milk chocolate. The semi-sweet (and also dark chocolate) has a more pronounced flavor which, in my opinion, distracted a little bit from the pumpkin flavor – and I was looking to have pumpkin be the star. Another option would be to do a layer of white chocolate on the bottom – this would be pretty and very festive for Halloween, but I’m not the biggest fan of the flavor of white chocolate. Whatever chocolate you use, choose a good quality. Anyway, here’s what I made:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cups Milk or Semi-Sweet Chocolate (chips, chunks, or block broken into pieces)
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Chocolate (chips, chunks, or block broken into pieces)
  • 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree (unsweetened)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

INSTRUCTIONS:

Mix together pumpkin puree and spice mix in a small bowl – set aside.pumpkin and spice combined Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Melt your darker chocolate (either in a double boiler* or in the microwave). Melted chocolatePour the melted chocolate onto the baking tray and spread to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. The chocolate will not go all the way to the edges of the pan, and don’t worry about trying to make straight edges. Melt the white chocolate – if using the microwave, be careful not to overheat; white chocolate can be very sensitive. white chocolate chipsAdd the pumpkin mixture to the melted white chocolate. pumpkin and melted white chocolate combinedPour the white chocolate/pumpkin mixture over the spread chocolate on the baking sheet pour pumpkin white chocolate over bottom layerand use a knife or fork to swirl the top layer in with the bottom layer.swirled together Refrigerate until the chocolate is set. When hardened, break into pieces. break into piecesStore bark in the refrigerator to keep from melting.

*If you don’t have a double boiler, you can place a heat-proof bowl on top of a pot of water (water should just reach the bottom of the bowl).

Pumpkin Muffins (Revisited)

Frosted Pumpkin Muffin

Frosted Pumpkin Muffin

I decided to revisit my pumpkin muffin recipe-it’s not that I’ve run out of things to make with pumpkin, (gnocchi, fettucini, mousse, and many others are still on my list to try) but I had to make treats for my students today, and muffins are usually well received. I love my other pumpkin spice muffin recipe because it’s bold and has great flavor, but it yields a denser heartier muffin. Today I wanted a muffin that bordered on being a cupcake. I made a couple of adjustments (borrowing a bit from my pumpkin cake recipe) to achieve a lighter airier pumpkin muffin. (Despite achieving “lighter” muffins, I still felt it prudent to work a 5K “muffin run” into my day)!  Because pumpkin has a fairly high water content, I increased the amount of baking powder in the recipe, sifted the flour, and used baking (also called “superfine”) sugar. I did still use a fair amount of spice, but it was really the pumpkin flavor that shined through. And, of course, because these muffins were to be devoured by teenagers, I frosted them (I really frosted them!). It would be interesting to do a side-by-side taste test, but for now, I’m just happy that this batch was well received. (Makes 12-16).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3  2/3 Cups Flour (sifted)
  • 1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger (plus more for frosting – see below)
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/3 Cups Baker’s (superfine) Sugar (substitute regular if necessary)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1  15-oz. Can Pumpkin Puree

For the Frosting:

  • 4 Oz. Cream Cheese (at room temperature)
  • 4 TBS. Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 Lb. (approx.) Confectioners (Powdered) Sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl – set aside.sift flour

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter and sugar.cream together butter and sugar Cream together butter and sugar (if using stand mixer, use paddle attachment) until well combined.  Add eggs one at a timeAdd the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree and beat again.Mix in pumpkin Add the flour mixture in 3 parts and mix until thoroughly combined.

Line a muffin tin(s) with paper liners. Fill each muffin cup at least 3/4 full (I filled nearly to the top). Ready for ovenPlace on center rack of preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes (check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin – it should come out clean). out of the ovenRemove muffins from tin and set on a cooling rack. In the meantime, prepare the frosting.

Combine butter, cream cheese, vanilla and ground ginger in a bowl and beat until creamy. Add powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved (I prefer a soft, creamy frosting, but if you want to pipe the frosting on, you’ll want to use more sugar).Frosting

Spread or pipe frosting onto cooled muffins (I don’t mind frosting when the muffins are still a little warm, but the frosting can be a bit drippy).

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Pumpkin Popovers with Maple Butter

Pumpkin Popovers

Pumpkin Popovers

Yes, the pumpkin obsession continues! Apparently, I am not alone in my reverie for all things pumpkin; I’ve received quite a bit of feedback from friends and readers who have expressed their love of pumpkin. I wonder if it’s the taste of the pumpkin alone, or possibly something more than that that makes me swoon for pumpkin anything. My childhood (and adult)  Halloween memories are quite magical, so maybe that’s an underlying factor. And there’s something about fall and the harvest season that brings out a thankfulness which maybe contributes to my reverie.

Well, enough of that – on to the popovers. As I mentioned in my regular popover post, these airy gems are a favorite in my family. They’re really quite easy to make and they are a fast alternative to traditional dinner rolls which require “rising time.” I altered my regular popover recipe to include pumpkin puree, traditional pumpkin spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) and added just a touch of sugar for fun. These popovers are not really sweet – you could increase the sugar or add maple syrup or agave nectar if you’re looking for more sweetness, but I like them just the way they are. The addition of the pumpkin puree does change the texture of the batter, and the finished product is a little less light, but not doughy and still light enough to legitimately be a popover.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¾ Cup plus 2 TBS Milk (not skim)
  • 2 TBS Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 TBS Unsalted Butter (melted)
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 TBS. Sugar
  • Butter or Butter Spray to grease tins

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Add milk, pumpkin, eggs and melted butter to the blender and blend until well combined and smooth. Add the flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and sugar and blend again until smooth and bubblyMix in blender 1. Place a muffin tin or popover pan in the preheated oven for 2-3 minutes until hot. Remove the tin from the oven and thoroughly grease each mold with butter or nonstick spray. Grease tinTurn the blender back on for 10 seconds to re-mix the batter. Pour batter into the tin filling each section 3/4 full. Place the tin inthe oven and bake for 15 minutes – DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DURING BAKING PROCESS. After 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and remove popovers from tin when just cool enough to handle (I like to serve them hot, and I have very heat tolerant fingertips, so I do this almost immediately). Out of over)Serve warm. (You may want to poke a small hole in each popover or warn guests that steam will escape when broken open).individual popover

MAPLE BUTTER:

Combine 1/2 cup of softened butter and 1/4 cup of maple syrup (use a stand or handheld electric mixer for best results).Maple butter

popover with butter

Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti with Maple Drizzle

Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti

Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti with Maple Drizzle

Does the pumpkin season end after Halloween? I dare say No! After all, pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving tradition. But Starbucks will move on and begin advertising their peppermint drinks, visits to the cider mills will taper off, and real pumpkins will become a scarcity. But rest assured, that won’t stop me…I vow to enjoy the flavors of the Great Pumpkin well into November at the least.  To follow-up my pumpkin ice cream debut, I bring you my latest pumpkin endeavor- biscotti. I love biscotti because it’s not too sweet. While some shy away because it’s traditionally hard and dry, not all biscotti has to result in a trip to the dentist to repair a damaged tooth. This biscotti will hold up to dunking (hot cider, coffee, or chai are all good candidates), it’s not overly brittle. It’s super easy to make, and it keeps in an airtight container for well over a week (it won’t last that long for me). As is true for most of my recipes, this is easily adaptable. You can substitute a different type of nut, or leave out the nuts altogether. You could add a dried fruit or even pepitos (pumpkin seeds). You can also alter the drizzle; try a white chocolate or even a caramel drizzle. With all these modifications, you’ll be enjoying the flavors of pumpkin well into November as well.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups (packed) Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp.  Salt
  • 2 tsp.  Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree (canned)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 TBS. Vanilla
  • 2 TBS. Butter (unsalted)
  • 1 1/4 Cup Pecans (coarsely chopped)

For the Icing/Drizzle:

  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2.5-3 tsp. of Heavy Cream

Instructions:

 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. In another bowl, add eggs and whisk them lightly, add pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla and whisk until thoroughly combined. combine pumpkin and eggsSlowly add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, (if using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment) stirring until dry ingredients are moistened and a dough is formed.mix dough

Melt the butter in a skillet or saute pan over medium heat; add nuts. Cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes until nuts begin to release their flavor – do not allow to brown too much. heat nuts in butterRemove from heat and cool completely. Knead or gently stir cooled nuts into dough.add nuts

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 portions. Shape each portion into a 3 x 7″ long log. Place logs 3″ apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. form into loavesBake for 25 minutes; cool logs 15 minutes. baked loavesReduce oven temperature to 300 F. After 15 minutes of cooling, use a serated knife to cut loaves diagonally into 1/2″ thick pieces. The interior of each biscotti will be a little softer than the exterior crust.slice loaves

Place the biscotti pieces with a cut side facing up on a half sheet pan and bake for 8-10 minutes, then flip the biscotti and cook with the other cut side facing up for an additional 10 minutes.biscotti on baking sheet

While the biscotti are cooking, prepare the icing/drizzle by combining all ingredients in a small bowl and mixing until smooth. Add more or less cream to achieve desired consistency.

Cool biscotti on a wire cooling rack keeping space between each piece to insure that they don’t soften. When biscotti are thoroughly cooled, use a spoon to drizzle icing over each piece.drizzled biscotti

 

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Pumpkin Ice CreamIt’s that time of year – Halloween is less than a week away and it’s all pumpkin at my house. I recently made pumpkin scones with some of my boarding students, and there was a little pumpkin puree leftover. Of course I wasn’t going to let that go to waste; hence, a batch of pumpkin ice cream emerged. Almost all of my ice cream recipes start with the same base; my thinking: “why mess with a good thing?”. The pumpkin puree does make for a very thick (and rich) custard. If you wanted to sacrifice some calories, you could probably easily substitute milk for the 1/2 and 1/2 (or use fat free 1/2 and 1/2).  If you would like to make an ice cream that tastes more like pumpkin pie, you can add some crumbled graham cracker pieces in the final stage. I’m a bit of a purist, and like the undisturbed smooth texture of the plain pumpkin ice cream.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cups 1/2 and 1/2
  • 2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 Cup (packed) Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Canned Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 6 Egg Yolks

INSTRUCTIONS:

Add 1/2 and 1/2, brown sugar, vanilla, and spices to a medium pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is just about to boil. pumpkin ice cream beginningWhile mixture is heating, add egg yolks to a small mixing bowl and beat for about 3 minutes until they become slightly lighter in color. add hot cream to eggsWhen cream mixture is thoroughly heated, remove cinnamon sticks and then slowly add one cup of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks – whisking constantly. Repeat this at least one more time. (This will temper the egg yolks and keep them from scrambling.) Pour the egg mixture back into the pot, add the pumpkin puree, return to medium heat and stir until pumpkin is dissolved. pumpkin ice cream add pumpkinAdd the heavy whipping cream and heat over medium for about 2-3 more minutes, gently stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Place a wire mesh sieve over a bowl and strain the thickened cream mixture (you will probably notice some clumps in the bottom of the pan – you can use a spoon to press some of these through the sieve).  pummpkin ice cream strainedCover with plastic wrap (you can press the wrap down onto the surface of the cream mixture to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate until completely cooled – at least one hour (I always let mine sit overnight). pumpkin ice cream ready to chillWhen cooled, pour mixture into ice cream maker and follow instructions provided with machine. pumpkin ice cream in makerWhen freezing, put a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the ice cream before putting the lid on the container.

Enjoy!

Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze for Valentine’s Day Brunch

xo pancake

UPDATE: This post is from last year, but I’m reposting it because Valentines Day is tomorrow! From the looks of what I posted last year, February is just a crazy busy month- this year proves to be no exception. With one kid off at college, and another with a drivers license, I won’t be making a bit brunch, but I do plan to make a gluten free version of the pancakes for my Valentine friend Rob. :)

I have been working 16 hour days pretty consistently for a couple of weeks; my kids (and blog) have been pretty neglected in the food department. Valentine’s Day is later this week, and I won’t be able to celebrate it with them, so I decided to celebrate it with them in the few hours I had free this past Sunday. We had a great brunch – five teenagers and me! We enjoyed red velvet pancakes with a cream cheese glaze, a huge plate of bacon and sausage, sausage and baconscrambled eggs,scrambled eggs and some beautiful bright red berries. Valentines day brunch table 2The pancakes were a total cheat because I started with my favorite pancake mix (Krusteaz Buttermilk) and just added cocoa, powdered sugar, and some red food coloring gel. The glaze was also really easy – it was essentially my cream cheese frosting made a little thinner and with a little less sugar. If you would like to make heart shaped (or any other shape) pancakes, use a cookie cutter as your form. Note: the shaped pancakes are more time consuming, so I did a combination of plain round pancakes and made a few special shaped and decorated pancakes for each person.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Favorite Pancake Batter (mix or made from scratch)
  • 1-3 TBS. Cocoa Powder (use about1 TBS. for every batch of 6-8 pancakes)
  • 1-4 TBS. Confectioner’s (powdered) Sugar (can substitute granulated sugar, but be sure to mix really well)
  • Red Food Coloring Gel (I have never tried with regular liquid food coloring, but it would probably work fine)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Prepare pancake batter in desired amount as directed on mix (or according to recipe). Add cocoa and sugar and mix well until incorporated. Add food coloring until desired color is reached – you can experiment from everything from a light pink to a deep red.pancake batter Heat a non-stick pan or griddle. Ladle batter into pan. If you want to make shaped pancakes: generously grease a cookie cutter and lay in the pan; ladle batter into cookie cutter and spread to fill out the form – but don’t make too thick.valentines pancakes 1 When top of batter begins to show signs of bubbles, flip and continue cooking until cooked through (another 30-60 seconds depending in thickness of pancake). heart shaped pancake cookingIf using a cookie cutter to shape pancake: flip the cookie cutter over and gently push (from the cooked side) the pancake through and out of the cutter into the pan – then cook on remaining side. Serve with syrup of cream cheese glaze (see recipe below). If using glaze, you can decorate as desired.stack of decorated pancakes 2

For the CREAM CHEESE GLAZE:

  • 4 Oz. Cream Cheese – softened
  • 1/4 Cup Butter- Softened
  • 1.5-2 Cups Confectioner’s (Powdered) Sugar
  • Optional: 1-3 TBS. Milk

Combine all ingredients using enough sugar to reach desired consistency. cream cheese frosting for pancakesIf you want a thinner glaze, add milk to the mix. Drizzle over pancakes or add to a squirt dispensary bottle to write a message or decorate.pancake stackvalentines pancakes 2)

 

1.5-2 cups powdered sugar

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Cinnamon Ice Cream

I should name this Slacker Cinnamon Ice Cream…it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything to the blog. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, baking, ice creaming (sure…that’s a word), and just generally experimenting; I just haven’t found the time to post.

Homemade ice cream is normally a summer/cottage thing for me, but this fall, I’ve made more ice cream than ever before. Maybe it’s because my new gluten free friend loves it, as do his kids. Maybe it’s because I’ve been clearing out my freezer, so now there’s always room for my ice cream canister. All that really matters is that I’ve enjoyed making some new flavors of ice cream, and they’ve been well received by my tasting crew. While ice cream is typically not a “fall dessert,” this cinnamon ice cream is the perfect accompaniment for apple pie, and that certainly qualifies as a “fall dessert.” You can adjust the amount of cinnamon you use in this ice cream recipe; I’m not a particularly huge fan of cinnamon, but I love this ice cream.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cups 1/2 and 1/2
  • 2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 1.5 tsp. Cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS:

Add 1/2 and 1/2, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon sticks to a medium pot. heavy cream sugar vanilla and cinnamon sticksHeat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is just about to boil. While mixture is heating, add egg yolks to a small mixing bowl and beat for about 3 minutes until they become slightly lighter in color. add hot cream to eggsWhen cream mixture is thoroughly heated, remove cinnamon sticks and then slowly add one cup of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks – whisking constantly. Repeat this at least one more time. (This will temper the egg yolks and keep them from scrambling.) Pour the egg mixture into the pot with the remaining cream and heat over medium for about 2-3 more minutes, gently stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. strainPlace a wire mesh sieve over a bowl and strain the thickened cream mixture (you will probably notice some clumps in the bottom of the pan – you can use a spoon to press some of these through the sieve). Add the heavy whipping cream and the cinnamon to the mixture. cover with plastic wrapCover with plastic wrap (you can press the wrap down onto the surface of the cream mixture to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate until completely cooled – at least one hour (I always let mine sit overnight). When cooled, pour mixture into ice cream maker and follow instructions provided with machine. When freezing, put a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the ice cream before putting the lid on the container.

Enjoy!

Vegetable Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas out of the ovenThese enchiladas evolved recently from a batch of leftover grilled corn and some great summer squash that I had on hand. I offered to bring a batch of roasted corn salsa to a friend’s gathering, and when I learned he was also in need of a main dish, I thought to make the enchiladas. My chicken enchiladas are always well received- I recently served them as an accompaniment to chicken tortilla soup (that was the star because Hannah had requested it for her birthday dinner) and was reminded of how great they are to make for a relatively large group. Although my friend is not a vegetarian, he is a healthy eater who is drawn to a diet heavy in veggies. His cousin, who was actually the real host, is a vegetarian, so I figured she would appreciate the gesture. I was tempted to make homemade enchilada sauce this time around, but settled for the jar variety in the end. While I still love my “standby” chicken enchiladas, these are a great vegetarian alternative. I love grilled or roasted vegetables, but you could substitute steamed vegetables for the filling. You could also use frozen or canned corn, or add beans…really, the possibilities are almost limitless when it comes to dishes like this.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Large Red or Sweet Onion – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Medium Yellow Squash – cut into 1/4″ rings
  • 2 Medium Zuchinni- – cut into 1/4″ rings
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers (can substitute another color) – seeded and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2-3 Ears of Fresh Sweet Corn
  • 3 Cloves Garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 Medium Jalapeno Pepper – seeds and membrane removed and finely chopped
  • 3-4 TBS. Corn Oil
  • 2 TBS. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBS. Ground Cumin
  • 1 TBS. Chili Powder (adjust to taste)
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 10 – 12 Fresh Corn Tortillas
  • 1 28 Oz. Can of Enchilada Sauce (mild)
  • 10-12 Oz. Queso Chihuahua – grated (can substitute Monterey Jack or Mexican blend – just make sure cheese does not contain spices)
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Cilantro – chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine all of the cut vegetables (except corn), garlic, corn oil, balsamic vinegar and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper in a medium sized mixing bowl. vegetables ready to roastAllow to marinate for at least 20 minutes (as long as overnight).  In the meantime, preheat grill to medium (or oven to 375 Degrees if oven roasting). Peel the corn and remove all of the silk. Brush corn with additional corn oil and season generously with Kosher salt and Pepper. Place vegetables in a grilling basket or grilling tray. (If oven roasting, lay in a single layer on a baking dish) Add vegetables and corn to the grill or the oven. Grill, tossing (turning, in the case of the corn) occasionally, until vegetables are tender.  When corn is cool enough to handle, cut kernels off of cobs.Thru March 20 131 In a bowl, combine corn and other grilled vegetables with 1-1.5 cups of shredded cheese.enchilada roasted vegetables Preheat oven to 375 Degrees. Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce into a  9×12 baking dish and set aside. Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce into a pie plate or onto a plate. Heat 3-4 tortillas in the microwave for 10-20 seconds just to soften so they don;t crack apart when rolling. Add a tortilla to the enchilada sauce (in pie plate) and soak on both sides. Add about 2-3 TBS. of vegetable filling to the tortilla, roll up tightly and place seam side down into the 9×12 baking dish. Repeat this until you have used up all of the filling – you should end up with 10-12 enchiladas depending on how fat you make your enchiladas. Pour a layer of enchilada sauce over the enchiladas Cover with a layer of sauceand top with remaining cheese (you can add more if you like). Place in oven and bake until cheese is melted and enchiladas are heated through (about 20-30 minutes).  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

My friend who recently visited me at the cottage requested strawberry shortcake. I was only staying at the cottage for a week, and had limited baking supplies on hand. I had brought some buttermilk pancake mix (Krusteaz is my favorite brand), so I thought we could use that (I figured it wasn’t that different from Bisquick or Jiffy Baking mix). With some brief searching on the internet and a few modifications (based on ingredients we had on hand), we came up with a great recipe which resulted in great shortcake. This shortcake recipe will definitely be my new go-to for a quick, easy, summertime dessert.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4-5 Cups Fresh Strawberries- sliced
  • 2/3 Cup Sugar – divided
  • No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 2 1/4 Cups Buttermilk Pancake Mix
  • 4 TBS. Cold Butter- cut up into small pieces
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Whipped Cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine sliced strawberries and 1/3 Cup of sugar. Allow to sit at room temperature. In the meantime, prepare the dough. Combine pancake mix and remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Add cut-up butter to mix and work in with a fork or fingers. Add vanilla and milk, and mix thoroughly – batter will be very stiff. Coat a 9″ pie or cake pan (eoither round or square) with non-stick cooking spray and spread batter in pan.  Bake shortcake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and all to cool slightly – cut into individual servings, top with strawberries (and accumulated juice), and whipped cream.

Fresh Peach Cobbler

Fresh Peach Cobbler a la mode.

Fresh Peach Cobbler a la mode.

On Saturday I returned from a 16 day trip to China. I had high hopes of catching up on my blog and adding a lot of posts while I was traveling, but I discovered that my blog is blocked in China- not for any reason specific to my blog, but, apparently, all WordPress blogs (and many other blogs where people can freely express opinions) are blocked. My neighbors were initially surprised that I wanted to host our regular Sunday dinner so soon after my return, but then they thought about it and came to the realization that cooking was probably near the top of my list of things that I missed while away from home for so long – they were right. We enjoyed a great meal of grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, pasta with basil and lemon cream sauce, grilled bread, and fresh peach cobbler with a la mode. To me, grilling is like a true celebration of summer, however it’s not popular (at all!) in China, so it was what I craved upon my return. I believe I’ve posted most of the recipes for everything except the cobbler. Watermelon, berries,  and peaches are the fruits that come to mind when I think of summer. Since I ate an abundance of watermelon in China, that was off my list; so I settled on a dessert with peaches. The obvious choice… cobbler. I toyed with the idea of a pie, but cobblers, crisps, and buckles are just so easy, and seem so much more casual and homey. This cobbler was no exception. We enjoyed it still warm from the oven, but it’s great at room temperature, or reheated in the microwave. As with many desserts, it’s even better topped with ice cream or whipped cream. You could make a ginger flavored whipped cream or homemade ice cream which would be delightful, but I settled on store bought vanilla (the kind with the vanilla bean flecks).  You can adjust the spices a bit, I like a bit of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, but cardamom is a popular pairing with peaches as well (I didn’t have any ground cardamom on hand, and didn’t feel like grinding any). Serves 8-10 (with leftovers).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8-10 Peaches, peeled and sliced (1/4 inch)
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 4 TBS. Corn Starch
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 14 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 2 Cups Flour (I use 1 Cup of cake flour and 1 cup all-purpose, but can use just all-purpose)
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Cold Unsalted Butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 3/4 Cup Buttermilk or Heavy Cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. In a medium bowl, combine sliced peaches, lemon juice, spices, corn starch and all but a few tablespoons of the sugar (reserve for sprinkling on topping). Gently mix until all ingredients are incorporated and allow mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the topping. peaches coatedIn a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk together until well mixed. Add butter cubeswork butter into dry ingredient mixture and, using your fingers, incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the buttermilk or cream and use a fork to combine to make a dough – but do not overmix. The dough should be the consistency of a biscuit dough; it should hold together and be able to clump, without being too wet. If necessary, add a little more buttermilk or cream. Pour the peaches into a casserole dish or 9×13 baking dish.layer peaches in pan Top the peaches with the dough (drop clumps over the top until covered) and sprinkle with remaining sugar. peach cobbler ready for ovenBake at 350 Degrees for 50-60 minutes until crust is browned and filling is bubbly.peach cobbler out of oven

Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.