Cinnamon Rolls

DSC_7526 (1600x1060)We had a sudden desire for cinnamon rolls yesterday and these 90 minute wonders came up.  I have to say that the allrecipes site has been very good for me lately.  They have a Youtube channel with the best recipe instructions – good photography and concise descriptions without silly banter.  They feature the recipe and not some self aggrandizing twit being cute.  The video link is on the page I linked to above and is well worth the few minutes it takes to watch.  DSC_7529 (1600x1060)I heard the nice lady mention cream cheese icing towards the end of the video so I did a quick search and found a recipe:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

We had some maple syrup on hand so I substituted a few ounces of that for the vanilla extract and used a hand mixer to beat it until it was smooth.


Friday Recipe Exchange: Pumpkin Patch Edition

pumpkin-bars1a

I made pumpkin bars by request a week or so ago for a friend’s birthday. You should always have whatever sweet treat you want on your birthday. That recipe is here.

It put me in the mood for more pumpkin. I don’t go crazy and want everything pumpkin flavored during the season, I generally stick to pumpkin donuts (Dunkin Donuts are my preferred and difficult-to-acquire style), pumpkin bars and the occasional pumpkin pie. I prefer the Pumpkin Cream Pie that is the featured recipe tonight, to a traditional custard style pie.

That does not mean I don’t have a bunch of pumpkin recipes at my finger tips. To see everything, click here and it will take you to the pumpkin patch, er, page.

Last week when I mentioned tonight might be pumpkin week, several people sent me links to recipes and these two caught my eye:  from Mnemosyne: Mini Pumpkin Pies (recipe here) and a savory, Roasted Pumpkin Soup from Emeril – click here – (sorry I couldn’t find who sent this to me).

Friend of blog, Tes from TesatHome.com posted a good looking and definitely unusual, Pumpkin and Coconut Curry (click here).

And on a non-pumpkin note, this week’s menu of Lemon-Nut Pork Chops and Raspberry Poppyseed Cake is here.

There you go, a nice mix of sweet and savory for your pumpkin cravings. So what are some of your favorite pumpkin recipes? And what’s on the menu for this beautiful fall weekend, food or otherwise?

We’re not done yet…there’s still pie: Continue reading

Friday Recipe Exchange: Twice-Baked Potatoes

JeffreyW's Loaded Baked Potato

JeffreyW’s Loaded Baked Potato

I think potatoes are one of my favorite foods. So many things you can do with them. I’ve covered a lot of recipes for potatoes over the years, but there always seems to be more. Tonight I wanted to cover a simple recipe, but one that is oh so good.  Time consuming, but you can make part of it ahead of time and assemble before the final baking.

For some less laborious baked potatoes, let’s start with some easier, foolproof recipes:

Quick and easy baked potatoesinstructions here. I love these because by splitting the potato you get a nice crispy roasted flavor.

Smashed potatoes are fun, flavorful and a great side for a dinner party. We have two good recipes, here and here.

And if you missed it, this week’s Dinner Menu – Beef and Pepper Subs with Walnut Pear Salad, can be found here.

What’s on the weekend agenda? Any fun pre-Halloween plans like corn mazes or pumpkin hay rides? Hit the comments, and don’t forget to share your favorite potato (or other) recipes. And what do you think, should we tackle pumpkin recipes next week?

Tonight I’m feature two recipes:

Twice Baked Potatoes

(pictured at the top of the post)

These potatoes are packed full and could be a complete meal with a nice salad. You can bake the potatoes a day ahead, refrigerate them and then prep quickly before dinner.

  • 5 large baking potatoes, washed and scrubbed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped (reserve 2 tbsps of chopped greens for garnish)
  • 4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz shredded Jack cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 4 tbsp butter, at room temperature

Additional Ideas to make it a meal: Fresh chopped broccoli, diced mushrooms to mix in

Baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Rub the potatoes with the olive oil and salt. Place in the oven, pierce each with a fork and bake until fork-tender, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let the potatoes sit until cool enough to handle (or refrigerate for preparation the next day)

Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and the fat is rendered, 5 to 6 minutes. Add chopped onions and cook until tender-crisp, 1-2 minutes. Drain bacon and onions on paper towels.

Cut ONE potato in half and scoop out completely. Place the pulp in a large bowl.

Cut the top quarter from each of the remaining FOUR potatoes and using a spoon, scoop the pulp from the potatoes into the bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch layer of pulp on the skin. Season the inside of the shells with salt and pepper and place the potato shells on the baking sheet.

Using a handheld masher, mash the potato pulp until smooth. Add 2 oz of each cheese, the sour cream, butter, bacon, cooked onions, salt, pepper and mix well with a fork. Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shells, top with the remaining cheese and bake at 400 degrees until hot and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with remaining onion greens.

All those leftover potato tops can be used in soup or other recipe.

How about  changing things up with the next recipe?

DSC_9875 [1024x768]

Photo by, who else, JeffreyW.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 sweet potatoes, washed scrubbed
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Baking sheet

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Pierce potatoes with a fork and place sweet potatoes on sheet tray and bake for 1 hour or until soft. Remove from oven and let stand until cool enough to handle (again you can make a day ahead and refrigerate at this point).

Cut the top quarter from each of the potatoes and using a spoon, scoop the pulp from the potatoes into the bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch layer of pulp on the skin. Season the inside of the shells with salt and brown sugar and place the potato shells on the baking sheet.

In another bowl, add brown sugar, butter and cream cheese and the all of the spices and mash with a fork or rubber spatula. Add the butter and cream cheese mixture to the sweet potato flesh and mash completely. Add the filling back to the potato skins and place on a half sheet tray. Sprinkle tops with brown sugar and chopped pecans. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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Crab Rangoon

 

It’s been a while since we have made these.  They are a favorite appetizer at the Chinese buffets we have around here.  I assume they are a staple at similar buffets all across the US.  The filling is simple:  a softened brick of cream cheese with a package of crab meat.  We use the fake stuff because we are cheap.  I added a half teaspoon each of soy sauce and Worcestershire, two grated cloves of garlic and an inch of ginger root, also grated.  I would have used a chopped green onion but settled with a good tablespoon of finely chopped chives instead.  Here’s a short Youtube that you may find useful. (And eerily similar!  I just noticed that the plates are exactly like mine!)

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Yum. What do you mean I have to take a bunch of pictures before I can even try it?

Finally got the cream cheese in between two snow storms. It’s sunny now, I expect by noon the snow to be completely gone and I’ll be cycling by late afternoon. So I took the morning to make this pie.

A week or so ago, a neighbor brought over a slice of store-bought pumpkin cream pie, wanting to know if I had a recipe. It was very good, creamy as opposed to custard style. I preferred that, because one of the things I’m only so-so on is the texture of standard pumpkin pie. This addressed that, while keeping all the flavor.

The slice was heavily spiced and I like that, too. So when I went searching for recipes, none of them had enough spice, so I knew I was going to have to take some risks with the spices.  I tasted in between and continued to add until I felt like I had a good ratio.  I got a good idea from several recipes what would make it creamy and then I just went and played.

The first thing, the crust. I didn’t want a traditional pastry crust because I think those get mushy when you do a custard type pie. I thought I’d do a graham cracker crust until I saw someone use a ginger snap crust in a recipe and thought that would be a great, so that’s the crust I included with this. You can use any type you like and if you want graham cracker, just substitute the same amount of graham cracker crumbs for ginger snap crumbs.

Then I saw a recipe for brown sugar whipped cream and knew that would be perfect for this pie. So when I put it all together, this is what I came up with:

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Crust:

  • 2 cups ginger snap crumbs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (more as needed, mine could have used a couple more tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Mix together in a 9-inch pie pan and press around the bottom and sides. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Cool while making pie filling.

Filling:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp salt (test after 1/2 and see if it needs more, pumpkin very bland without)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

bowl, electric mixer

Combine cream cheese, pumpkin, cream, sugar and spices, mix until well combined and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Pour into cooled pie crust. Place on a baking sheet in the oven and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes, until the pie is mostly set, you’ll want the center to still move a bit, it will set completely while cooling and you don’t want to overcook it. I put foil over the pie for the first 40 minutes so it didn’t burn and took it off for the last 10 minutes to caramelize the filling.

You wouldn’t want to do this with a pastry crust, because it needs to bake, but with the crumb crusts they don’t need that baking time. You may end up covering a pastry crust the last 10 minutes if it is browning too quickly.

Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, ice-cold
  • 3 tbsp, packed, brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin spice

mixing bowl, ice-cold (I also put the beaters in the freezer)

Whip cream on med to high until it forms peaks. Using your fingers, crumble the brown sugar over cream, so it’s not clumped and add spices. Fold ingredients gently until incorporated. Spread or pipe over COMPLETELY cooled pie and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 pieces

I think this pie is a great Thanksgiving idea and can be made a day or so ahead – it’s actually better the next day.

Mmm… cheesecake

We (and by “we” I mean Mrs J!) made a cheesecake last night using a spring form pan we’ve had for a long time but haven’t used till now.  Mrs J said she saw a link to the recipe on her Facebook thing and was determined to try it out.  The Google found the recipe in that link when I entered “ultimate turtle cheesecake” and it would appear to be pretty much what Mrs J used.  She did use the caramel I made from the can of sweetened milk I posted about here.Very artistic in a Jackson Pollock kind of way!  Because it was late when the cake had cooled some but not all the way the slices we sampled were a bit wobbly still and not something I wanted to photograph.  Tasty!  I stuck the remainder in the freezer overnight and trimmed it a bit this morning for a formal portrait.You can see the caramel layer on top of the Oreo crust, the brown lumps are pecan pieces.  One more:

Orange Brownies

I started with Paula Deen’s recipe and after the first test batch it was apparent I would have to make some adaptations. Her original recipe was so over the top buttery and sweet it overwhelmed every other flavor. If you like gooey, buttery brownies, her recipe works well. I was baking for an audience that likes citrus more than sweet, so I adjusted accordingly. It’s a lighter, more tangy recipe.

Orange Brownies

Photo from Just a Pinch.com because my photos didn't turn out.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate (do NOT add water)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.

Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange juice concentrate, zests and vanilla. Using a handheld electric mixer beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly and pierce entire cake with a fork. See frosting directions.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, more as needed
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice, more as needed

In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice. The spread should be light, whipped and moist, not stiff or firm. Spread 1/2 over brownies while they’re still warm. After cooled completely, spread remainder.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Super Bowl!

JeffreyW's Awesome Nachos look "super" in a "bowl"

It’s that time again.  Super Bowl Sunday, when you sit down to stuff your face with favorite snack foods, drink beer and watch the Super Bowl Commercials.  I think there is some football in there somewhere.  What’s on your Super Bowl party menu? Do you make your own snacks or go for the quick and reliable chips and dips?  Need some ideas for quick and easy snacks?

You can’t go wrong with nachos – easy and easy to pile high with your favorites ingredients. Here’s rather healthy (?) version: Black Bean and Corn Nachos,  JeffreyW gets a little more creative with his pizzas, here , here and here (the man does love a good pizza).

I’ll never turn down nachos, or pizza for that matter, but when I was thinking about favorite party foods, tortilla pinwheels came up pretty quickly.  So many things you can do with them. Four variations follow.

Now it’s your turn, what are you planning on making this Sunday and more importantly what beer are you serving?  Who has the best recipe for hot wings, a football must have food? (Up next week: Slow Cooker/Crock-Pot ideas)

Basic Tortilla Pinwheels

  • 1 (8 ounce) package whipped cream cheese
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped ham slices

You spread the ingredients on the tortillas, roll them up and slice them into 1 inch pinwheels. Couldn’t get much easier.

So how do we add some dazzle? Flavored tortillas and a variety of fillings.

Here are some ideas I had:

Jalapeño & Cilantro Tortillas and Black Bean Tortillas

  • Cream Cheese
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Sliced green chilies
  • Turkey
  • Salsa
  • Black olives
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Roasted Red Pepper Tortillas and Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Tortillas

  • Cream cheese mixed with crushed roasted garlic
  • Spinach
  • Pepperoni
  • Grated parmesan

Plain Tortillas and Whole Wheat Tortillas

  • Cream cheese
  • All-fruit style strawberry preserves
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

The list is endless, limited only by your creativity.

Cross-posted at Balloon-Juice.