Friday, October 5, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes

Hello everyone, and happy fall.... I'm bringing you a recipe that is perfect for a cool, autumn morning. I love to make these pumpkin pancakes on an October weekend. Invite some friends or family over for brunch, and serve them with sausage links and hot coffee. They are a family-favorite, and my kids look forward to them every year. The kitchen smells heavenly when these are on the griddle!

Here's the recipe:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup melted butter (You can use light butter if you wish.)

Preheat a griddle to medium-high. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, yolks, pumpkin, and butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry just until combined - do not over-mix. Beat the egg whites until you get stiff peaks. Then gently fold the whites into the pancake batter.

Pour by ladlefuls onto a hot griddle, sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Cook until you see bubbles form and the edges of the pancakes look rounded and firm. Flip the pancakes, and cook them for 1 - 2 minutes longer, or until cooked through.

You should get about 15 to 18 pancakes, depending on size. (I make mine about 4".)


Friday, June 22, 2012

Raspberry Muffins

Happy summer! In a couple of weeks, we'll be picking wild black raspberries from the old bushes on our property. Every summer I ask the kids to pick me at least 1-1/2 cups of raspberries so I can make these muffins. I bake a dozen, and they are gone within 24 hours. I think the thing that makes them so good is the texture - they're moist and dense, and the berries add the perfect sweetness. Be sure not to over mix or over bake these - if you do, they'll turn out tough and dry. I used store-bought raspberries here since our bushes aren't ready for picking yet. They were just as delicious, though I do prefer the smaller, wild raspberries. You can substitute other kinds of berries if you wish. These are perfect for a Saturday morning on the porch with a cup of coffee, or an afternoon snack with some ice-cold lemonade. Enjoy!
(Recipe adapted from Mad About Muffins, by Dot Vartan)

Here's what you need:

  • 5 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 c. granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 c. half and half
  • 1-1/2 to 2 c. (approximately) fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or paper-line a standard sized muffin pan.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add this dry mixture to the wet mixture alternately with the half and half. NOTE: The batter will be very thick, and it may be necessary to add an additional Tbsp. of half and half if it seems too dry. It should look like this:

Fill each muffin cup with approximately 1 Tbsp. of batter. Place 5 or 6 raspberries (or more if your berries are very small) on top of the batter. Push 1 or 2 of them down into the batter. Then add an additional Tbsp. or so of batter over the top of the berries so they are mostly covered.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes or just until they are set and a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over bake - you don't want them to be brown. While they are still hot, sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar.

Let muffins cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Recipe should yield 1 dozen.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cinnamon Flop

This is a fun coffee cake recipe... it's easy, doesn't require many ingredients, and it's done a little differently than your typical coffee cake. I remember making it for my husband many years ago as a breakfast treat. I recently made it for my kids, and they loved it, and were both asking when I would make it again. The cake batter is very basic, but the topping is the interesting part, and it gives you a buttery, gooey, delicious cake. It's comfort food, trust me! The recipe comes from one of my most-used cookbooks: From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens, by Phyllis Pellman Good and Rachel Thomas Pellman.

Here's what you need....
For the cake:

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter (Reserve the rest of the stick of butter for topping.)
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • flour, brown sugar, cinnamon - no exact measurements needed
  • butter (Use the remainder of the stick from the butter used above. Cut the remaining 7 tbsp. up into small chunks.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9" cake or pie pans with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Combine sugar, flour, and baking powder.

Add the melted butter, milk, and vanilla. Stir until well-blended.

Divide the batter between two, greased 9" pie or cake pans. The pans won't be filled all the way - the batter will just cover the bottoms.

Sprinkle tops first with flour:

Next, sprinkle brown sugar over top of the flour:

Then, sprinkle cinnamon over top of the brown sugar:

Lastly, push the chunks of butter into the batter. This makes holes and gets gooey as it bakes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve warm with coffee! Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carrot Cake

This carrot cake recipe is a family favorite and the only one I ever make. It's moist, rich; and, as far as desserts go - healthy (though it doesn't taste like it). It's shown here in a Bundt style, but you can bake it in a 9x13 pan if you wish.

Here's what you need:

  • 2 c. unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. shredded carrots
  • 1 small red apple, peeled and shredded
  • 3/4 c. canola oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10" Bundt pan with nonstick spray, dust with flour, and shake out the excess. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and egg whites. Beat lightly with a fork. Stir in canola oil, orange juice concentrate, and vanilla. Add carrots and apple. Stir to mix well.

Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until just moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

You will need:

  • 8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 to 4 c. confectioner's sugar, depending on the desired consistency
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and vanilla. With an electric mixer, beat on low speed until creamy. Gradually add the confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, beating after each addition until smooth and the desired consistency is achieved.

I used about 3-1/4 c. of sugar for a fairly thick frosting that was still able to be drizzled. If I were frosting a flat cake, I would have used the 4 cups of sugar for a thicker frosting.

This cake can be refrigerated, covered tightly, for up to one week. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Asian Turkey Burgers

I know a lot of people think of turkey burgers as dry, flavorless health food. If you're one of those people, I hope these burgers will change your mind! The bad thing about ground turkey is that it is bland and it needs the cook to give it flavor and make it palatable. And that's also the great thing about ground turkey - it's bland and it can take on lots of great flavors - it's a blank canvas, so to speak.  I think this recipe is simple, healthy, and flavorful. It only requires a handful of ingredients. One of them is Sriracha Sauce. You may be unfamiliar with it, but it's an Asian ingredient that is gaining popularity. You can find it in any grocery store around the Lehigh Valley - in the international foods section. Sriracha is a mildly spicy, garlic-infused chili sauce. Don't be afraid to try it - it's not so spicy that it will burn out your sinuses. And it's got great flavor. I only use a tablespoon in the recipe; and if you'd like, you can try mixing it into some mayonnaise to make a great condiment for these burgers.

Here's what you need:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce (low-sodium preferred)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (not pictured above)
In a large bowl, combine all of the above-listed ingredients.

Mix thoroughly and form into patties.

Remember that ground turkey doesn't shrink as it cooks like ground beef does, so whatever size you make your patties - that is the size they will be when finished cooking.

I actually got 6 patties out of this recipe, but if you prefer them to be larger, you may only get 4 or 5. Preheat a large skillet (coated with cooking spray) over medium high heat. Cook the patties for 3 to 4 minutes on one side.

Flip them, and cook them for an additional 2 to 4 minutes, or until they are cooked through. The cooking time depends on how thick you make the patties; you may wish to use a meat thermometer to be sure they are cooked through. The internal temp. should be 170 degrees.

Serve on a toasted kaiser roll with lettuce and/or tomato. If you'd like, try mixing 1-1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce into 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise for a great complimentary condiment.... spread on toasted bun. It adds an extra kick to this delicious burger!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Stuffed Shells

I've served this dish many times to company over the years, and it's always been a hit. Since it makes two, 9x13 dishes, you can always bake one for dinner and freeze one for another time. And I have to add that it has much more flavor if you use your own Meat Sauce for Pasta rather than store-bought sauce, (but store-bought is just fine if you're in a pinch).

Here's what you need:

  • 1 box (12 oz.) jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 c. ricotta cheese
  • 2-1/2 c. shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 1 c. shredded provolone or other complimentary Italian cheese
  • 3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese + extra for sprinkling over the top
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 recipe Meat Sauce for Pasta, or 2 jars of store-bought spaghetti sauce
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Coat the insides of two, 9x13 baking dishes with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook jumbo shells according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cheeses, eggs, salt, and pepper. Mix well to make the cheese filling.

Strain the cooked pasta shells and organize your workspace so that your baking dishes, shells, cheese filling, and sauce are nearby. Cover the bottom of each greased baking dish with 2 ladlefuls of sauce.

Begin filling your shells. Take a cooked shell in hand and stuff about a 1 Tbsp. of cheese filling inside. I do this by using a teaspoon (not the measuring kind; the kind you would use at the table). I take a heaping spoonful of the filling and push it off the spoon into the shell. (You can also put the filling in a large plastic bag, snip off one end of it, and using it like a piping bag, pipe your filling into each shell.)

Repeat with remaining shells until the baking dishes are full. Shells should be arranged in a single layer.

Top each dish of shells with the remaining sauce. Be generous - it will prevent the shells from drying out. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. Serves 8 to 10.

Serve with a Caesar salad and garlic bread for an awesome meal.... enjoy!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Meat Sauce for Pasta

I honestly can't remember the last time I bought jarred spaghetti sauce. And I'm not trying to sound like a food snob - it's only because my family of picky eaters never cared for it. I tried every brand out there, and neither my husband, nor my kids really liked any of them. So I started experimenting with a can of plain tomato sauce - adding things to it to "doctor it up". I now have two versions of sauce that I use. This one here, which is a deliciously flavorful meat sauce, is perfect for lasagna, stuffed shells (which will be the next recipe coming up), ziti, or just to pour over a bowl of plain pasta. Using two different types of meat gives it a depth of flavor you won't find in jarred sauce, and making it from scratch gives you control over the seasonings.

The other version is a simple, meatless sauce that I use for pizza and meatballs - I will post that recipe in the near future.

Now, I should explain....since my kids are picky eaters and don't like a chunky sauce with lots of veggies in it, I chop my veggies very large. I basically just quarter the onion and pepper, throw them in the pot, and leave them there throughout the whole cooking time. They do a great job of adding flavor and sweetness to the sauce. Then, right before I serve it, I grab my tongs, and fish them out. It's a compromise - we get a sauce with good flavor and some of the nutrients have cooked out of the veggies, but my family doesn't have to deal with the texture they don't like. So, if you don't mind a chunky sauce, by all means, chop your veggies to bite-size and keep them in.

This recipe makes a nice big batch - about 6-1/2 cups or so. It freezes well too, so you can use some now and keep some in the freezer for future use.

Here's what you need:

  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 8 oz. (about 2 to 3 links) of mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cans (28 oz.) tomato sauce (Be sure to use a brand that does not contain any corn syrup, sugar, or other sweeteners.)
  • 1/2 c. water to rinse out the tomato sauce cans
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
Pour the olive oil into a Dutch oven or large pot and preheat over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper, ground beef, sausage, and garlic.

Break up the meat into chunks, but don't move it around too much so that it can brown a bit. Allow the meat to cook through until no longer pink.

Drain off any excess fat. Add the tomato sauce. Rinse each tomato sauce can with about a 1/4 c. water and dump that in the pot as well.

Add the salt and sugar.

Add the Italian seasoning.

Stir all the seasonings into the sauce. Turn heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Using tongs, remove the large pieces of onion and pepper (or leave them in if you prefer a chunky sauce). Use this sauce as a substitute for any jarred spaghetti meat sauce. Yield: 6-1/2 cups.