Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday

Are you between stops on your cyber shopping day? Well, welcome and take a minute to relax and indulge.

My mom sent me this recipe ideas months ago, but as it languished in my "try" pile of recipes, it came to mind yesterday when I needed a quick chocolate fix. SPH called a spade a spade after I sheepishly said, "I need to test it before I posted the recipe." His reply? "I think you needed an excuse to eat chocolate."

The unique thing with this recipe is that it can be made, eaten and cleaned up in less than 10 minutes. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not, but depending on the day, this recipe could come in very handy.

Microwave Individual Chocolate Cake

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons oil
a small splash of vanilla


Add dry ingredients to large microwave safe mug, and mix well. In a separate bowl mix the egg, milk, oil and vanilla, and the pour into the mug and mix well.

Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes for a 1000 watt microwave, 4 1/2 minutes for a 700 watt microwave. Remove from the microwave and turn the mug over on a small plate.

Let cool and eat. While this chocolate cake is far from gourmet, it is really tasty and is even better eaten a la mode.

Serves 1, 2 if you are feeling generous.


So enjoy a small moment of chocolate between shopping and the all-too-common holiday madness.

SPC

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Talkin' Turkey

Hey All-

I gathered up some turkey thawing, cooking and hotline help information and posted it over at familyeducation.com today. Hope it helps if you have any nagging turkey questions!

SPC

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Whoopie Thanksgiving

If you ask G what he wants for Christmas, 9 times out of 10 his answer is "A Whoopie Cushion." I am not exactly sure how this item ascended to the top of his mental list (well, actually, he is in that anything-to-do-with-the-potty-is-hilarious stage, you know the 30 year stage that boys go through?) but when he recites that this is what he wants, people think it is hilarious, which just eggs him on to repeat the scenario next time.

So you can imagine the reaction when I was in the kitchen and the boys came sauntering in to see what I was whipping up and I replied, "Whoopie Pies." Severe hilarity ensued, which I have to admit, made me smile too.

These Whoopie Pies are a spin on the classic ones, which usually have soft chocolate "cookies" filled with a whipped cream in the middle. I don't usually replace chocolate when developing a recipe, but I made these for a new idea for Thanksgiving dessert. They are a Sweet Pea original recipe...I replaced the usual butter or oil with applesauce in the cookies and eschewed the usual butter and whipped cream for a cream cheese frosting. In the end, these are, in SPH's words, "fantastic!" and relatively light.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Orange Spice Cream

Cookies:
1-15 ounce can pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream:
8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
zest of one orange
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons orange juice
4-5 cups confectioners sugar

Make the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the pumpkin, eggs, and applesauce, until smooth. In a large bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients (flour through the baking soda). Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to make a smooth batter.

On a cookie sheet, drop little rounds of the batter (will be somewhat like the consistency of a very thick pancake batter) in 2 inch circles. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookie is fully baked and the center is not jiggly.

Let cool.

In a large bowl, using a stand mixer, whip the cream cheese, orange zest, cinnamon and orange juice until well mixed. Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the cream is spreadable and not too runny. Makes about 2 dozen pies.

SPC

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Brittle Me This

I am sitting here typing, window open, at the kitchen table, wondering how on earth a late-November day in Ohio could be anymore beautiful. Blue skies, bright sunshine, a few brilliant leaves still hanging on the trees, and bird chirping. Oh, and G is napping and R is at school. Life is good.

The added bonus to this afternoon is that I am nibbling, check that, devouring, this recipe. Don't have any pumpkin seeds laying around your kitchen? Use the traditional peanut for this recipe, or get wild and crazy and use cashews, pistachios (shelled first, please) or sunflower seeds.

Pumpkin Seed (or Peanut, etc) Brittle


1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (need a recipe to roast your seeds?)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon butter (or I used Earth Balance spread)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a glass pyrex and microwave for 1 minute on high. Stir, microwave for another minute on high.

Add the seeds or nuts, and microwave one additional minute on high. Stir. Add the salt, butter, and vanilla. Microwave one minute on high. Stir, repeat (see a pattern here?).

Add the baking soda and stir quickly. Pour onto a Silpat liner, waxed paper or a very well greased cookie sheet. Do not spread (you want the bubbles/slight form from the baking soda to stay intact and spread too much will flatten them), but rather tip the pan from side to side slightly to spread the mixture. Let cool, break into pieces.

If you want to expedite the cooling process, pop the tray in the freezer. Mine was cooled in about 20 minutes. Another 20 minutes later, and the brittle was almost gone.

Makes about 1 -1 1/2 cups broken brittle pieces.


(hint: This would make a very nice gift for Christmas...)


SPC

Monday, November 16, 2009

Roses, Ribs and the Such

What a weekend! My beloved Buckeyes are going to the Rose Bowl and I couldn't be happier. Sure, the National Championship would be nice, but I love me the Rose Bowl and all its traditions. So a little shout out to my Bucks:

video

The weather was gorgeous all weekend so we had our neighbors over and SPH smoked a few racks of ribs. Oh. my. goodness. My man can cook, but he is brilliant at the smoker. Well done, honey.






(about 10 seconds after taking this picture of our leftover ribs, I ate another one.)










This week finds me trying out several new recipes to share with you here and at familyeducation.com. Our meals this week--

A new Meatloaf recipe, Asparagus, Spaghetti Squash
Orange Chicken, Green Beans and Orzo
Oven Fried Orange Roughy, Smashy Peas and Grits
Italian Bean Soup with Artichokes

Oh, one last note: I haven't forgotten about sharing a recipe to use any extra pumpkin seeds you have on hand. I just need to tweak it...so if you actually still have seeds on hand, hold on to them a few more days!

Have a great week all-
SPC

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another Great Slow Cooker Soup

I'm over at familyeducation.com posting about another great slow cooker soup. Perfect to come home to after a busy, busy day:

Actually, this soup would be perfect too after my morning...

I had an appointment today for G with a new pediatrician in our practice. He could have been a character sketch on SNL for "World's Worst Pediatrician." He actually told G (he's 2, remember!), "Dude, just relax" twice. He wrote out five different prescriptions for a runny nose. He lied to the nurse about how often has been treated for croup. If it hadn't been my kid, I would have been laughing at this doc. G actually said mid-appointment, out loud, "Mommy I want a different doctor!" Well said, G.

So, if you live in Columbus and have a pediatric practice you adore, please leave a comment. I have been mulling a change for months and today just sealed the deal.

SPC

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mom Withdrawal

I'm going through mom withdrawal. My mom was here for a good bit last week and this weekend while my dad was off on a man's trip with some family and friends. Life is especially good when my mom is here to help.

Mom probably logged a dozen or more hours of babysitting hours while here, affording SPH and I the opportunity to do more date nights in the last week than probably the preceding month. Oh, and don't think R and G don't like it when a grandparent visits:


While mom was visiting, I made this black bean soup in our slow cooker. It was really quite good and served as a good reminder that I really do need to add "immersion blender" to my Christmas list. (Side note: thanks to Rookie Cookie and Jersey Baby for their immersion blender recommendations) If you are like me and lack an immersion blender, don't fret, just simply plop a few cups of soup in a standard blender and give it a 'whirl.

One last thing before the recipe: this black bean soup sports a can of pureed pumpkin. Now don't go looking at the title of this blog and assume I have some unhealthy obsession with using pumpkin in my recipes. Au contraire. In researching recipes, I came across the idea of adding some pumpkin to give soup a little extra richness and body. It works beautifully in this recipe...taste for yourself!
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Corn Bread Crumbles

1 pound dried black beans (or alternatively, 3 - 15 ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed)
1 - 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilis, undrained
1 - 15 ounce can pureed pumpkin
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
hot pepper sauce to taste
Corn Muffins, crumbled
Cilantro, Cheddar Cheese and Sour Cream (optional toppings)

If using dried beans, pour them in a large stock pot, covered with water 3 inches above the beans. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour or until soft. You may do this a day or two before making the soup.

Combine the beans and all remaining ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low 8-10 hours, high 4-5 hours.

Once ready to serve, puree a bit of the soup to make it thick. Crumble some corn bread on top and toppings , if using.

Serves 6-8 (and tastes even better if you save some for leftovers the next day)

SPC

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Candy Problem Solved

(I am relinking this post since the original was somehow connected to a Japanese spammer...random, I know!)

Hope your Halloween weekend was a good one. We did our trick or treating early on Thursday night, and despite R and G being off-the-hook excited about our candy mission for the night, this was the best picture of them smiling together:
So, now what to do with all this candy:
I was brainstorming over the weekend, trying to figure out how to curb the candy overload. Last year, we did a "one or two pieces" a day quota and the candy lasted well into the New Year. So this year I put on my thinking cap and have come up with this idea...

...and it worked like a charm...

I told R and G that I needed to make a special dessert for our dinner Sunday night (true story). I explained that I was going to make a special cake and I needed some of their chocolate candy to make the (cheese)cake. They got really excited and started handing me their candy for the cake. This is all the chocolate R willingly gave up for the effort:

I used three snack size candy bars--a Kit Kat, Reese's Cup and Snickers Bar--for the filling of this cheesecake. The rest of the candy went into the "take your candy to work day" bag for SPH.

I used two more snack size Reese's Cups for the topping, and let the boys throw a couple M&Ms on top for good measure.

All in all, it was a very easy, very yummy way to rid our house of some candy without any protesting.

Halloween Candy Cheesecake

Crust:
3 cups Cheerios
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling:
3 - 8 oz light cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
gobs and gobs of candy (ok, only really 5 snack size chocolate bars, but you can tell your kids you need gobs)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, process the Cheerios and brown sugar until fine. Add the oil and vanilla, and process until fine and resembling cornmeal.

Press Cheerio mixture into the bottom and up 1/2 way on the sides of a springform pan (alternatively, you can use a pie pan). Bake for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and add one egg at a time, scraping the sides between eggs to ensure good mixing. Add the sugar, vanilla and flour, and mix until fully incorporated.

Take 3 snack size candy bars (Kit Kat, Reese's Cup, Snickers, Heath Bar, etc work well) and crumble.

Increase oven temperature to 365 degrees. Pour half of the cream cheese mixture into the pan with the crust. Sprinkle with candy. Cover with the other half of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake for 35-38 minutes or until the middle of the cheesecake is no longer jiggly. Cool and let firm in a refrigerator 8 hours or overnight before serving.

When ready to serve, crumble 2 or 3 more snack size bars on top of the cheesecake.



Serves 12.

*An idea I thought of after I already had the cake in the oven was that you could do something fun and take a certain color M&M and place it inside the cake and see who gets the slice with that special color M&M. Maybe they could even win a prize. Like having to do the dishes. :)
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SPC