Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Seeds: Two Ways

Happy Halloween! There is something so festive about this day, whether it involves dressing up our dogs in adorable costumes or handing out candy to trick-or-treaters or getting precariously confident with a very sharp knife while carving pumpkins into works of art.

And after carving your pumpkin masterpiece, here's what to do with those slimy seeds. Quick, easy pumpkin seeds, and oh so good, two ways. Toss with olive oil and cinnamon sugar, or, if you've eaten a few too many pieces of Halloween candy, throw them in sea salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper. A perfect, healthy salty or sweet snack. 

Pumpkin Seeds, two ways: 

{Sweet Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds}

pumpkin seeds
olive oil
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
sea salt, to taste

{Salt and Pepper Pumpkin Seeds}

pumpkin seeds
olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse pumpkin seeds and soak in salted water. Pat dry. Separate into two bowls. In one, toss with the ingredients for the Sweet Cinnamon Sugar Pepitas. In the other, toss with the ingredients for Salt and Pepper Pepitas. Place on two separate baking sheets and roast in 10 minute increments, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

It was one of those mornings. Dark. Dreary. Rainy. Almost too grey to bother ever getting out from under my cozy jersey sheets, book in hand. Until I thought of breakfast. 

On a day like this, everyone needs a little something more cheerful than than an everyday bowl of cereal. Today called for something warm and homey with all the best comfort flavors of fall. 

{Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal}
makes two servings
 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk of choice
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
handful pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all ingredients and pour into ramekins. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon and pecans, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. 

These come out of the oven piping hot and smelling like pumpkin pie. For breakfast. I'm not going to lie, I couldn't stop at just one. This will start the day off right, trust me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bangkok Peanut Ice Cream

Now that's it's getting cold, it's time to start making ice cream that's hot. That's right, you heard me. Hot ice cream. Spicy, savory, sweet ice cream, with initial hints of peanut butter and toasted coconut followed by a kick of cayenne- it's like a party in your mouth. Thanks again, Jeni.

{Bangkok Peanut Ice Cream}
Makes about 1 quart


1 1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste


First, toast the coconut. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut out on a baking sheet and toast in oven, stirring and turning every few minutes, until it is evenly lightly browned. Keep an eye on it, coconut burns quickly. Mine took about 7 minutes. Set aside to let cool.

Now for the Ice Cream.

This peanut butter ice cream pops with flecks of cayenne and coconut. Wow.

Mix 2 tablespoons of the whole milk with the cornstarch is a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the cream cheese peanut butter and salt.

In a large 4-quart sauce pan, combine the rest of the milk, the cream, coconut milk, sugar, corn syrup and honey. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch/milk mixture. Then bring back to a boil for 1 minute, stirring often.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the peanut butter mixture. Whisk in the coconut and cayenne. Put ice cream batter into a plastic bag and chill in an ice bath until cold, about 30 minutes. Then freeze according to ice cream maker instructions. When it's done, pack into a storage container, cover with wax or parchment paper and chill in the freezer for at least 4 hours.

This ice cream will literally knock your socks off. I'm really, really excited about this one! It's cold and delicious, with a hot kick at the end. This is delicious by itself, or take it to the next level with toasted coconut, peanuts and chocolate sauce. Eat and be warmed!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

October is National Cookie Month!

Time to celebrate by going all out on a new cookie recipe. Don't get me wrong, I'm obsessed with my very own classic chocolate chip cookie, but Cookie Month calls for something special. Something with cookie chutzpah. Something Times-worthy, with multiple flours, lots of butter, oozing chocolate and several hours in the fridge, chilling to perfection.

These cookies, well, they have style.

{Famous Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies}

Adapted from The New York Times
Makes 16 cookies
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt, for sprinkling
extra flour

1. Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl.
2. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, until just moistened. Stir in the chocolate until evenly added throughout the dough. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the dough, and refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours.
3. When you are ready to bake, bring the dough to room temperature and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Scoop your dough out onto baking sheet. A #40 ice cream scoop works well, which is about the size of 2 tablespoons, but you can make them even larger. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with a bit of sea salt and bake for 10-12 minutes.
 Note: I had to add about a cup more flour than this recipe calls for, because my first batch turned out horribly and embarrassingly flat. If that happens to you, more flour does the trick. 
4. Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the baking sheet, then remove and let cool completely.

These buttery, chocolaty cookies are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Milk is highly recommended. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sarah's Rugalech

This one goes out to my friend Sarah... the girl who befriended me as a shy freshman, taught be how to say cool words like shlep and convinced me that I shouldn't wear my hair parted down the middle. She invited me to her family's Rosh Hashanah and introduced me to her amazing, mouth-watering chocolate chip walnut rugelach. The gefilte fish, not so much.

Thank you for the recipe. I love you.

{Sarah's Rugelach}
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sour cream
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
2 sticks of cold, unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips -or- raisins
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1. Cut cold butter and cream cheese into bits. In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, butter cream cheese and sour cream until crumbly.

2. Shape crumbly mixture into four equal disks. Wrap each disk and chill for two hours or up to two days.

3. Roll each disk into a 9-inch roand, keeping other disks chilled until ready to roll them. 

4. Combine sugar, cinnamon, chopped walnuts and chocolate chips and sprinkle onto the round. Press lighlty into dough. With a knife or pizza cutter, cut each round into 12 wedges.

5. Roll wedges from wide to narrow, you will end up with a point on the outside of the cookie. Place on ungreased baking sheets and chill rugelach for 20 minutes before baking. 

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then brush the tops of chilled rugelach with egg wash adn sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture (eyeball it).

7. Bake them for 20 minutes until lightly golden.

So, these are newbie rugelach. They aren't as perfectly rolled, the filling spilled all over the pan, but... they still taste great! Thank you thank you Sarah. Maybe one day I'll reach your masterful rugelach perfection.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Cake

This is the time of year when I overdose on all things pumpkin. Pie. Lattes. Cookies. Butter. Ice Cream. Smoothies. Granola... the list never ends. Here's a new one: cake. And I apologize in advance for the extreme number of pumpkin posts that are sure to follow this one.. or I would, if they weren't all so wonderful.

It's fall. Embrace the pumpkin.

{Pumpkin Cake}

4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting

Beat together until smooth
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
 1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin in a large bowl until it is smooth. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Spread batter in a greased 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

This cake is moist and full of bold pumpkin flavor. The cream cheese frosting puts it over the top. Enjoy on a chilly fall evening!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cookies & Cream Soft Serve

It's nice to just keep it simple. I give you a simple classic. Unbeatable in my book.

{cookies & cream soft serve}  
makes 1-1/2 quarts
Oreos (I used a third of a pack)
3 eggs, or equivalent egg beaters
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 tsp vanilla

In a separate bowl, crush Oreos into smaller pieces, some large and some small. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except for the Oreos, chill in the refrigerate for at least a half hour and make according to ice cream freezer instructions. When the ice cream is almost done and pulling away from the sides of the freezer, pour in the Oreos, about a half cup at a time.

Pour into an airtight container, cover with wax paper and freeze in the coldest part of the freezer for about four hours.

 This ice cream will stay soft, even after days in the freezer. Grab it and either eat it straight from the container, which is my go-to method, or scoop a heaping portion into a bowl, like so, and enjoy the creamy soft Oreo goodness.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Peanut Butter Dough Balls

Well, I waited as long as I can wait. But now, I need more dough balls. Last time, two people (and one dog) scarfed the whole batch within two hours. Was I one of those two people? Guilty.

So was she.

The original chocolate chip version was amazing. Life changing. Everything I'd hoped for and more. This time, I added peanut butter to the mix... yeah I went there. 

{Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls}
1/2 cup crisco or butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TB milk
1-1/2 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix it all together and chill for a half hour. Scoop into large balls and place on a cookie sheet and throw them into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or less. No egg = no worries! These cookies are so gooey, so fat and so doughy.

Look at this big guy. Eat and love.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Honey Wheat Bread

Today is, most certainly, a soup day. Cloudy sky, soggy ground, 50 degree temperature and a constant, cold mist all means that a. I won't be leaving the house if I can help it, b. soup is a definite must.

But this post isn't about soup, you see. The good thing about soup (besides being warming, cozy and delicious all in itself) is that it begs to have a nice hefty chunk of homemade bread dunked repeatedly into the bowl. How are you supposed to reach that last drop of goodness, apart from any actually licking, without a thick piece of bread to swipe along the corners and edges of the bowl?

Honestly, you can't.

Besides, who doesn't love a loaf of bread, kneaded and shaped by your own hands, cut while its still warm and slathered with butter? If your mouth isn't watering, something is seriously wrong.  Luckily, soup offers the perfect reason to spend a rainy day inside with the smell of bread drifting through the house. Maybe rainy days aren't so bad after all.

{Honey Whole Wheat Bread}

3 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup shortening (crisco)
1 tablespoon salt
2 packages active yeast
2-1/4 cups very warm water
3-1/2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose)
Butter, melted, for brushing


Mix whole wheat flour, honey, crisco, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add warm water and beat with a mixer. Stir in enough flour, one cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and springy. Place in a large bowl greased with shortening, turning dough to coat all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 40 minutes.

Grease bottoms and sides of 2 loaf pans with non-stick spray. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half and flatten each with hands into a rectangle. Roll dough up tightly, beginning at the skinny end. Press with thumbs to seal after each turn and pinch, then press, the edge of the dough into a roll to seal. Fold ends under loaf. Place seam down in the pan and brush the top lightly with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place 40 minutes, or until double.

Move racks in oven to low position so that tops of pans will be in the center. Heat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes, until tops are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove and cool.

This bread is hearty (because of the whole wheat flour) and sweet (due to the honey) and is incredible by itself, with soup, with a huge dollop of jam, I could go on and on. If every rainy day smelled and tasted like this, I wouldn't hope for the sun.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cocoa Crinkle Dough Ice Cream

 As you can see, I'm still on my ice cream kick. Surprise surprise. I must warn you, it may never end. Who needs hot weather for ice cream? Not this girl. It's proven to be a year-round thing, this coming from the weirdo who drinks hot chocolate on July afternoons. Hey, everyone's a little different.

Plus when it's this good, all year, every year, every night?

Anyway, I was fully prepared to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough for the boyfriend, who has been asking for it everyday since his birthday (a good month ago). At the same time, I was making crinkle cookies for the night's dessert.

And something clicked. Cookie dough ice cream, with a different cookie! Thus, a new favorite was born and there's been no mention of regular cookie dough since!

{Cocoa Crinkle Dough Ice Cream}
{Cookie Dough}
1/4 cup oil
1 cups sugar
Two 4-oz squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs (I use egg beaters)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
{Vanilla Ice Cream Base}
2 egg beaters
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla
A pinch of salt

Mix together all of the cookie ingredients; set aside. Mix all the ice cream ingredients together, chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes, then make according to your ice cream freezer instructions. In an airtight container, alternate layers of the cookie dough and the ice cream, cover with wax paper to prevent freezer burn and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours. 

Pure happiness.