Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Happy thanksgiving! The food festivities are starting off here on the right foot with a pumpkin bread pudding complete with bourbon. I have seen recipes for pumpkin bread puddings and pumpkin French toasts and have long wanted to try one. This year was the year! Last night I made the pudding so David just stuck it in the oven when he got up, so breakfast was less fuss more yum.

I found this recipe on smittenkitchen last week.

3/4 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs + 1 yolk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp allspice
Pinch ground cloves
Bourbon (the one thing to never measure)
5 cups cubed bread

I started by melting the butter. While it melted I whisked all of the remaining ingredients together in a bowl except the bread. I coated the bread with the butter I tossed the liquids with the bread and put them into a Pyrex. I covered the goods and left them in the fridge overnight. In the morning we uncovered and cooked for about 35-40 at 350 F.

The verdict is that my expectations were too high. I felt it wasn't quite pumpkin-y enough. David enjoyed it but wanted more seasoning. I used challah since it makes for good French toast but I would go to regular bread or a baguette next time. Still a yummy breakfast which would have been better with son vanilla Greek yogurt, or better yet whipped cream!

Penne all'amatriciana

For out 7th monthiversary I gave one of our favorite honeymoon meals a try. We fell in LOVE with the amatriciana. It was so simple and so tasty. I have never seen it in a local restaurant so I wanted to try my hand at it.

I started by chopping and sauntering up a couple thick slices of pancetta in some olive oil on medium for 4-5 min until it was good and crispy. I added about 3/8 tsp of red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper. I left them to sauté for a fee seconds and added 3-4 cloves of minced garlic. Cooked the garlic on medium low for about 8 min until cooked through. I added a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and let them cook up for 20 minutes while cooking pasta. Toss to coat immediately and enjoy!

It was ok, obviously not as good as the real deal. The guy at Market District didn't give give me enough pancetta, so next time I'm going to try it with more pancetta that is chopped more coarsely and use chopped tomatoes instead of crushed. I need the texture, even if others don't. I think this one will be coming back again for a redo because it will become a family favorite. :).

We miss you, Roma!


Candied Acorn Squash

I made this delicious side last weekend for dinner. I modified the Crock Pot lady's recipe for my tastes and what I had in the house

1 acorn squash, de-seeded and chopped coarsely
1/4 cup water
2 apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
1.5 tbl butter
2 tbl cinnamon
1.5-2 tbl brown sugar
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1-2 tbl pecans

1. Place the chopped squash in the bottom of the crock pot with the water
2. In a mixing bowl combine apples, cranberries, pecans, melted butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Mix well.
3. Place the apple mixture on top of the squash and cook on low for a couple of hours.
4. Mix, serve, and enjoy

Delicious. It smelled like fall in the house and it tasted even better! I could have eaten the whole thing on accident, it felt almost more like a dessert than anything else :). I did constrain myself and enjoyed the leftovers with leftover pork for lunch later in the week :).

Let the crock pot time of year begin!


Pesto Shrimp

You will notice two things from my recent posts.... i seem to be looking at healthy food, and basil.  Both are on my mind.  I'm thinking healthy and we have a ton of basil as the season is closing out.  I saw this recipe for Pesto Shrimp on Skinnytaste.com ages ago this summer, and I've wanted it ever since.  I am a lover of the pesto, and lately seem to be more pro-shrimp.  We have been grilling shrimp this summer, but mostly with a chili sauce that includes David's new favorite thing, Sriracha Rooster Sauce.  We were finally around and had time to defrost and marinade the shrimpies, so we decided it was finally time to give this a try.

Approx 15 shrimpies, peeled and devined, defrosted
1 cup fresh basil packed
a squirt of lemon juice
4 -5 garlic cloves smached and chopped
3 tbl of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup or so of parmesan

Started off with the pesto -- combining the basil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and parmesan in the food processor.  I pulsed it until it was well mixed and even the garlic was pureed.  Added a couple of streams of olive oil and called it good.  I removed the pesto from the food processor and put it in a little bowl.

I marinated the shrimp in about a third of the pesto for a couple of hours prior to skewering them and grilling them.  I froze the rest of the pesto for later -- and will be doing the same with the rest of the basil in the garden :)

Verdict -- yummy.  David had some shrimp with his free lobster, i just did the shrimp.  Rumor has it the shrimp was better than the lobster.  Very easy and I foresee this becoming a regular, particular if we can get a good supply of pesto stocked up.


Italian Turkey Meatballs

I saw the crockpot version of these on Skinnytaste.com. I totally intended to make them for a nice homey Friday night dinner after a busy week.  I had great intentions.  Then i woke up and walked out the door Friday without even thinking about it, and had a long day at work.  By the time I got home at 7 I felt lazy, but summoned my inner strength and cooked these bad boys up based on her stovetop directions while David enjoyed the Pitt game (yet another loss :( ).

1 Package ground turkey (99% lean)
handful Italian Breadcrumbs
handful grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
3 garlic cloves smashed and minced
salt and pepper to taste

1 can tutturosa crushed tomatoes with basil(28 oz)
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
5-6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
Olive oil
oregano, salt, and pepper to taste (you know me, i don't measure)
a handful of fresh basil, chopped

I started with the sauce -- sauteeing the garlic in a little olive oil in the bottom of our pan I carried home from the honeymoon (its really heavy and heats up way to fast and easily, as I remember every time I use it).  Once the garlic was slightly browned I added the remaining sauce ingredients and turned it to as low as it goes to simmer while I made the meatballs.

I pretty much combined all the ingredients and mixed them up pretty well.  I formed them into smallish meatballs, aiming for about golf ball sized.  Once completed I added them directly to the sauce and gave it a gentle stir, covered with foil (the pan lacks a lid) and cooked for about 20 minute until cooked thoroughly.

These were pretty good.  I was able to go from start to finish, including picking the basil from the garden, in about 40 minutes.  I think next time i would spray the meatballs with some olive oil and let them bake for a few minutes to get crispy on the outside before putting them into the sauce.  I had my doubts on putting them directly into the sauce, but it cooked through and worked.  David seemed to enjoy them despite the healthy factor.  The only other issue was that by using the pot without a lid the sauce was a little too clumpy for me.  Next time I'll use a different pan so less moisture boils off and possibly use two cans of crushed tomatoes instead of a crushed and a diced.



Celebrated September with a little Oktoberfest fun at home while watching some football. The real deal comes next week.

Dinner was complete with beer kielbasa and homemade spaetzle. This was David's 2nd try at spaetzle, but my first. We got to pull out the fancy spaetzle maker - no brewers kitchen is complete without it. :)

I just googled spaetzle, so we used the Tyler Florence recipe that came up on foodnetwork.com since we had al the right ingredients (ie enough eggs).

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk

Combine the dry ingredients and mix. Combine the eggs and milk. Make a well in the dry and add the wet ingredients. Mix and let sit 15 min. Make spaetzle using the awesome strip district tool and boil for about 4 min. Drain and rinse and sauté in butter for a few minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Awesomeness. I really liked adding the nutmeg. Definitely worth repeating. Prost!

Pumpkin bread

It is officially fall, Starbucks has their pumpkin lattes on sale and I felt the pull if the pumpkin. Pumpkin foods are some of my favorite things about fall and this is one of my favorite and most trusted recipes.

1 cup canned pumpkin purée
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs or substitute
2 table margarine
1 tbl canola/vegetable oil
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

Combine pumpkin, eggs, milk, margarine, and oil. Mix well

Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just moistened and uniform

Bake at 350F for about an hour in a sprayed loaf pan.

Normally I add nuts, but I left them out for those who dislike nuts. It was just as good anyways. Plus, I added a smear of whipped cream cheese to bring in some fatty goodness. I also couldn't find the brown sugar... So I tried my hand at making my own. Successfully I might add.

Seriously a fall favorite. One of these days ill play with it and add some whole wheat flour.... For now it's "fall" good :)


White Pizza with Peppered Salami

Last weekend was game time.  What better food for the game than pizza?  Seriously, as if I need ANY Excuse to eat pizza?  It is probably one of my favorite foods in the world.  I wanted to make something pizza-y, and wanted it homemade.  I started flipping through cookbooks and ran accross a White Pizza Recipe in Claire Robinson's 5 Ingredient Fix.  My baby brother bought me this cookbook forever ago, and I really love it.  I've barely made anything out of it, but intend to change that in the coming months.

So back to pizza.  yeah.  I heart it.  totally.  Guilty Pleasure.  But I'm also picky about it... and there is no rhyme or reason to my pickiness.  I gave it a whirl... I used Claire's recipe as a starter and modified as I saw fit. 

1 package Trader Joe's pizza crust dough
a little flour(for rolling out dough)
garlic infused olive oil.
2-2.5 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 small package of ricotta

After preheating the oven to 400F, I started by tossing a little flour on the counter and rolling out the dough until it was nice and thin (I like my crust skinny thin or super deep dish, told you I'm picky).  I gave the pizza pan a  quick spray with the olive oil and spread the crust on the pan.  To keep the pizza white I took some tuscan herb/garlic olive oil blend and spread it over the top of the crust.  I spread the mozzarella evenly over the surface.  Then I dropped ricotta randomly over the surface and topped generously with oregano.

The final, special, ending involved 5 strategically placed slices of the really good, peppered salami.  Bake for 25 min and enjoy.

A--maaaa--zing.  Seriously, I really enjoyed this pizza.  The salami and ricotta brought some good salty flavors together.  It was so simple, and tasty.  Plus, I really enjoyed using the garlic oil to get the flavor without using actual chunks of garlic on the pizza.  This is definitely a keeper.  I had intended to make a second one using spinach rather than salami, but decided we didn't need more food. I'll keep that one in mind for next time.  

Seriously, TJ's, I also love you, although not as much as I love pizza.  I'm so glad you are in the south hills now.  I've used the dough several times over, making pizzas or for super calzones.  TJ's, you made this all possible.  Between your pizza dough and varietals of hummus and your close location to my future home, I see this as a long term relationship.


Sausage and Potato (and Spinach) Soup

I've been planning to make this soup for a couple of weeks.  The minute I saw it posted over at Our Best Bites I knew it was in my future.  It sounded relatively healthy, particularly for a creamy soup, and it had a bunch of my favorite things in it.  Plus, it was soup, for which i am a sucker.

Adapted from Our Best Bites (who adapted from Cooking Light)
1 package sundried tomato chicken sausage (Trader Joes)
7 cloves of garlic, minced
Chicken Broth (1 box~ 4 cups)
3 red potatoes, chopped
italian seasonings to taste 
2 cups milk
3 oz light cream cheese
3 tbl flour
2 tbl butter
1 bag of baby spinach

Step 1....  Remove the chicken sausage from the casings and brown in the bottom of stockpot.  Add minced garlic

Step 2... Add stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and Italian seasonings and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Note... because I'm me, I was out of Italian seasoning blend so i just threw in unknown quantities of basil, oregano, rosemary, and extra garlic.  I love cooking. 

Step 3... Meanwhile, mix the milk, cream cheese,and flour in the blender.  Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and add the milk mix, stiring and heating until it thickened into a pudding/heavy cream type substance.  Weird, yes, I know. (Note: excuses to use kitchen implements make me happy)

Step 4... Add the faux cream to the soup, serve to the meat eater, add the spinach, and serve to the vegetarian wannabe.

I enjoyed this.  Comments at OBB mentioned how this was similar to a soup at Olive Garden.  Wouldn't know since I always get the salad :)  It was really good.  Although, I sort of screwed up... I sort of halved the receipe... but then didn't cut back the faux cream mix.  Oops.  It wasn't that thick or souper creamy when I did it, so no problem.  In my opinion... It would probably be fine without the faux cream, you could just smash some of the potatoes into the broth for thickness.  But, I'm a brothy soups sort of girl.

FH seemed to enjoy it as well, depsite his dislike of potatoes cooked in this manner.  He salted, peppered, and cheesed and enjoyed (someone, i just don't put a lot of salt into most things... salt and pepper to taste pretty much means add some pepper and add salt if really desperate to me)  He grabbed fresh bread from breadworks downtown, and that really capped the meal off.  Yum.  It reheated well and made me happy tonight :)

Somehow, despite my total love of soups, this was the first one I made for him?!?!?  I'm guessing it has to do with me using a lot of produce in my soups.  We'll be fixing that error.

Finally....  last random comment...  I think this would convert really well to a crock pot - just cook the meat in advance, put the meat, stock, potatoes, and seasoning in the crock pot in the morning.  At night, you would jsut need to add the faux cream (if using it) and spinach and serve.

ETA:  The pics look greasy, but this really wasn't that greasy.  it just had the little bit of butter in the faux cream and then a little oil that i used to brown the chicken.  It definitely didn't taste greasy.


Banana-Bluebery Apple Muffins, aka BBA Muffins

These would have been so appropriate during bowl season... If Pitt winds up at the BBA Compass Bowl AGAIN, you know what I'll be making myself -- Banana, Blueberry, Apple Muffins.  I had some bananas leftover from my baked oatmeal that were headed towards brown, and some blueberries from last week that were calling my name.  I took the banana muffin mix from Skinny Taste and modified it to omit cocoa and chocolate chips and turn it into BBA Muffins :)  Voila

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbl butter
4 very ripe bananas
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cup 50/50 white/wheat mix flower
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 pint blueberries

Start with creaming the butter and sugar.  Once creamed I added the bananas.  Since they were so ripe and I was utilizing my Kitchenaid I didn't pre-mash, but just dropped them in.  Once they were mixed in, add the egg whites, applesauce, and vanilla.

Meanwhile I combined the dry in a bowl on the side and mixed them up.  Combine dry and wet.  Finally, fold in the blueberries. 

I baked for about 30 minutes at 350.   Let them cool, and enjoy. 

First, I'll say it... God Bless Kitchenaid.  Seriously,  the best kitchen toy I own, by far.BBA for the Win. 

These were super yummy.  They were a great way to finish my Meatless Monday.  I will most definitely be enjoying them for breakfast all week.  The blueberries were giant and beautiful, so the muffins are all so blueberry filled that I think even the anti-produce amongst us might like them.  I probably could have made them a little bigger, thereby making a dozen instead of fifteen muffins.. oh well. 

I will note, this is a similar recipe to what I followed for the strawberry muffins.  I noticed the same thing between both muffins -- they are tasty straight out of the oven, but they are not as easy to eat.  once they cool they come out of the muffin liners much better. 

Meatless Monday -- Black Beans and Brown Rice

BTW, I love beans.  Don't know when this love developed, but they are my secret favorite food.  So this made for an awesome dinner with leftovers for lunch.  It is essentially Skinny Taste's Cuban Beans and Rice. I doubled her recipe, used brown rice instead of white, and modified my cooking method/times.

1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 small-medium yellow onion, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
about 2 tbl olive oil
2 cans black beans
4 cups water
1 tsp cumin
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp oregano

1. I heated up some olive oil in the bottom of my heavy bottomed stock pot and softened up the peppers, onions and garlic.

2. I added the black beans, including the juice, brown rice, and 4 cups of water.  I also added the cumin, oregano, and bay leaves at this point.  I brought the mix to a boil, covered, lowered the temp and simmered until the brown rice was cooked.  At that point I took the lid off and boiled off some of the remining liquids to thicken up the sauce.

Still love me some black beans.  This was a win.  Full of fiber and protein between the beans and rice.   I turned this into  servings, and they have been filling. The leftovers made for a good lunch too.  It was also not overtly salty, despite using the bean juice (i'm one of those people who ALWAYS rinses her beans).

I made something similar from Our Best Bites a few weeks ago... It was supposed to have chicken, but i felt the beans gave me enough protein.  that one had a nice apple salsa topping... I would be happy to add in the apples to this and make a nice mix between the two.


Chicken and White Bean Enchilladas

It is supposed to be a cold and snowy night in Pittsburgh.  I had a long day at work, and something delicious was on the menu.  You know I love some Mexican, and this was no let down.  I pretty much followed the skinnytaste.com recipe to the T.. except those things I sort of forgot at the store.

Olive Oil
~1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
1 can chopped green chilis
1 can white beans (great northern) drained and rinsed
1-2 chicken breasts cooked and shredded
abt 1.5 cups water
chicken soup base
1 tsp cumin

1 tbl  of butter/oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tbl flour
1 cup chicken broth
2 jalapenos, minced
1/2 cup light sour cream


1. Start with oil, onion, an garlic.  Cook to soften. Add remaining filling ingredients and simmer to thicken sauce (~15 minutes).  

2.  Soften onions in butter/oil.  Add flour, stirring to prevent burning (~1 min).  whisk in water to fully mix. Cook about 5 minutes to thicken.  Stir in chopped jalepenos and cook for a minute.  Remove from heat an stir in sourc ream. 

3. Pour a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan.  Take filling and fill tortillas and lay seam side down.  I had large tortillas, so I could only fit 5 in the pan. Cover with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes and enjoy some ooy gooey yum.

Verdict:  Win.  I really did only eat 1, which was fine for me since it was a little on the late side for dinner.  The tortillas were my favorite super tortillas (whole grain, high fiber).  Add in the beans and chicken and there wasn't need for much more than one.  I did want to eat more because it was so darn good.  It wasn't hot at all since i de-seeded the peppers.  I would add the canned chilis to the sauce, I just had forgotten to get two cans during last weeks shopping trip. 

Definitely repeatable.  I think the human garbage can might even eat this.


Blueberry-Banana Baked Oatmeal

I took advantage of the extra weekend day over MLK weekend to make myself a fun and fancy breakfast for the week.  I had seen the recipe for Blueberry-Bannana Baked Oatmeal over at skinnytaste a few days ago when she posted it.  I've been thinking about it ever since then, so this seemed the perfect day to go for it.  I didn't exactly follow her recipe, but modified it with a few substitutaions based on all the things I forgot to pick up from Giant Eagle and my general disinterest in all things measured. 

2 bananas
the better part of a pint of blueberries
brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup old fashioned oats
fat free milk
1 egg
vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

What I did....

-Preheat oven to 375.

-Spray a 9x9 pan with canola oil

-I sliced the bananas and put them on the bottom of the pan.  Covered the banana goodness with about half the blueberries and covered the fruit with about 1 tsp of cinamon and about 1 tsp of brown sugar (I had no honey at home, oops).  I added a little water (like 1 tbl) and baked for about 15 minutes
-I mixed up the oats, 1 tsp of the cinnamon, baking powder, a handful of pecan pieces, and a dash of salt in one bowl.  In another bowl I mixed up 1 cup milk, 1 egg, about 1/2 to 1 tsp brown sugar, and vanilla extract. 

- After the fruit came out I spread the oats over the top and covered evenly with the liquids.  It seemed like a little more liquid was needed so I added some extra milk (the liquid didn't cover the oats and since I was using regular oats instead of quick cook I thought extra liquid would be needed).  Then i topped with more blueberries and pecans and baked for about 30 minutes. 

I ate this warm.  It was delish.  I love bananas and blueberries, but often am too lazy to eat them.  However, this was a great way to get them into my meal along with some good oaty fiber.  I plan to slice the rest up and microwave them in the morning for breakfast this week.  I would call it a win and be interested in trying with apples and cranberries. 

Happy New Year

I swear I've been cooking the last  several mos... my pants prove it!  But, I'm back.  With a vengance.  or something :)