Archive for October, 2011

Put a Lil’ Pumpkin in Your … Cocktail Glass?

Monday, October 31, 2011
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Long a hero ingredient in a variety of pies, breads and other baked treats, pumpkin can also play a role in your next cocktail party. Not on the table, but in your glass.

Try mixing up these unique adult beverages ..

Pumpkin Smash

Pumpkin Smash

Pumpkin Smash

1 ¼ oz. hazelnut liqueur
1 ¼ oz. dark rum
¾ oz. pumpkin puree

Shake hard with ice and strain out into a martini glass.

Garnish with sprinkle of ground clove or nutmeg.

 

Pumpkin Pie Fizz

Pumpkin Pie Fizz

2 oz. dark rum
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree *
1 egg yolk
club soda

Dry shake, shake with 3 ice cubes and strain into a wine glass. Garnish with star anise.

Pumpkin Martini

Pumpkin Martini

Pumpkin Martini

2 oz. vanilla vodka
½ oz. cream liqueur
½ oz. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. whipped cream

Pour the cream liqueur and vodka into a shaker filled with ice. Add the pumpkin puree. Shake again.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 

* TO MAKE PUMPKIN PUREE: Take 1 pumpkin, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on a foil or  baking sheet with. Bake at 350 degrees until soft, about 45 minutes to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh and puree in blender along with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon ground cloves and 16-28 ounces simple syrup (adjusted to desired sweetness). Store in the fridge and freeze whatever you don’t use for future use.

The Pumpkin Parade Continues. Next Up, Spiced Bread.

Monday, October 31, 2011
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Nothing beats a hot cup of coffee with a slice or two of sweet bread (but not sweetbreads, mind you) on a cool fall day.

So whether it be for breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack, enjoy this easy-to-make spiced bread flavored with fresh pumpkin …

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

15 ozs. cubed fresh pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
2 cups sugar
1cup brown sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves 

  1. Boil fresh pumpkin in water until tender. Cool, strain and puree with immersion blender.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  4. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Recipe courtesy of Krups.

Pumpkin Pizza? With Chorizo and Cheese, You Betcha!

Friday, October 28, 2011
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We all know pumpkin makes a great pie, delicious muffins, even a nice creamy soup. But pizza?

Absolutely.

When paired with spicy chorizo sausage, fontina cheese and sage-, it creates a unique flavor combination that makes for a nice change of pace from your traditional pepperoni pie. Why not give it a try?

Pumpkin-Chorizo Pizza

Pumpkin-Chorizo Pizza

Pumpkin-Chorizo Pizza

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
12 oz. pizza crust
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup cubed fontina cheese
¼ pound thinly sliced Spanish chorizo
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves
olive oil and chopped sage for garnish (optional) 

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil over crust; set aside. Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and pepper flakes to hot pan. Sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Stir in pumpkin puree, smoked paprika and salt. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened and hot. Spread sauce evenly over pizza crust; scatter with cubed fontina. Arrange sliced chorizo evenly over top and sprinkle with chopped sage.
  3. Place pizza on a cookie sheet or directly on oven rack, if preferred. Bake for 12 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted. If desired, drizzle a little olive oil over pizza and sprinkle with additional chopped sage. 

 Recipe courtesy of www.BetterRecipes.com.

Pumpkin-Palooza, Part Deux: Delicious Cannoli

Thursday, October 27, 2011
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Yesterday I shared a simple recipe for a nice ginger and cinnamon-spiked creamy pumpkin soup. Today brings a sweet pumpkin cannoli — filled with mascarpone, pumpkin puree and chopped pumkin seeds and topped with whipped cream and mini chocolate chips.

It’s a gorgeous dessert, tastes great and is definitely something out of the ordinary. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cannoli

Pumpkin Cannoli

Pumpkin Cannoli

8 ozs. mascarpone cheese
¾ cup fresh pumpkin puree
¾ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ cup chopped pumpkin seeds (pepitas), divided
2 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips
½ cup heavy whipping cream
12 cannoli shells (two 4 oz. boxes)
powdered sugar for dusting 

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together mascarpone cheese, pumpkin puree, powdered sugar, ricotta and pumpkin pie spice until blended.
  2. Fold in 1/4 cup of the pumpkin seeds and the mini chocolate chips; set aside. In a chilled mixing bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into pumpkin mixture. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Right before serving, pipe pumpkin filling into cannoli shells, going all the way to the ends. Sprinkle the ends with remaining 1/4 cup chopped pumpkin seeds.  Sprinkle shell with powdered sugar and serve. 

 

Recipe courtesy of www.BetterRecipes.com.

 

Pumpkin-Palooza Underway – Get a New Recipe Every Day!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
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Today kicks off a “Pumpkin-Palooza” blogfest, during which I’ll share a new pumpkin recipe every day from now until Halloween.

I have lots of cool things in store for ya’ (pumpkin cannoli, pumpkin-chorizo pizza, even fresh pumpkin cocktails!) but today kicks off with a more traditional pumpkin soup. Spiked with ginger and cinnamon, this creamy soup is bursting with fall flavors — perfect for a crisp autumn evening.  

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 cans chicken broth
15 ozs. pumpkin
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream
dash of paprika 

  1. Boil pumpkin in water until tender.  Strain, cool and puree pumpkin with an immersion blender.
  2. Sauté onion in butter in a medium saucepan until tender. Add 1 can chicken broth, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for  15 minutes. Blend mixture until smooth with an immersion blender.
  3. Return mixture to saucepan. Add remaining can of broth, pumpkin, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and ground pepper; stir well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in whipping cream and heat through. Do not boil. Sprinkle paprika on top and serve

Recipe courtesy of Krups.

Looking for “The Great Pumpkin?” Here’s How to Find It

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
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Halloween is less than a week away and we STILL don’t have our punkins – a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the 4, 6 and 8-year-old little ones in our house.

When we finally make our trek to the market to get them (soon boys, swear!) we’ll use these tips to help pick the best of the bunch.

How to Pick a Perfect Pumpkin

  • For Show: A mature pumpkin will be difficult to scratch, bright orange, have a green stem and be fully hardened. A shiny skin indicates that it was picked too soon. Also check for scaring, soft spots and bruises.
     
  • For Painting: The best pumpkins for painting have smooth skin and shallow ribbing. The varieties Orange Smoothie, Cotton Candy and Lumina are great for this purpose.
  • For Carving: Choose a pumpkin with structural strength, a flat bottom, sturdy stem and the ability to last several days after being carved. (It will sound hollow when tapped.)
  • For Eating: Look for a pumpkin that feels heavy for its size, an indication that it will have more dense, edible flesh. Popular “pie pumpkins” include the Small Sugar (also known as Sugar Pie, New England Pie and Northern Pie), Winter Luxury, Cinderella, The Cheese and Golden Cushaw.

And speaking of eating, check back here every day from tomorrow (Oct. 26, 2011) through Halloween next Monday for great recipe ideas using pumpkin. From sweet and savory treats to pumpkin-infused cocktails, I’ll give you the scoop!

Check Out These Top 10 Go-To Snacks

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
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Writing about great new food discoveries the past few weeks got me thinking about my all-time favorite snacks – the things I love to nosh on when I get the munchies.

It’s an interesting selection, because I really don’t do potato chips (not healthfully high-and-mighty, just don’t care for the taste) yet I really don’t get jazzed up over carrot sticks, either. I mean, really.

So over the years I’ve assembled a hit list of go-to goodies that not only stop a rumbling tummy, but also taste great.

1. Cheese and crackers, but good quality crackers with really nice cheese. Nothing sprayed out of a can.

2. Pita and hummus – Spice it, garlic it or herbify it; just keep it coming.

3. Steamed edamame showered with sea salt.

4. Holy guacamole! Not the best-looking item on the table, but it still tastes great.

5. Marcona almonds, toasted with a little olive oil and dusted with salt.

6. Or, for something sweet, dark chocolate-covered almonds.

7. The sesame sticks and dark bagel chips picked out of a bowl or bag of party mix. (Yes, I’m that guy.)

8. Deli or homemade curry chicken salad on crackers, toast or just out of the container.

9. Mediterranean Terra Chips – An exception to my “no potato chip” rule, along with …

10. Funyons. (I know, but I stand by my choice.)

So what do you eat when you get the munchies?

Eat Great Chocolate AND Help Save the Ta-Tas!

Sunday, October 2, 2011
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It’s not a new product, but now is a great time to rediscover Ghirardelli Chocolate – and help a good cause in the process.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, specially marked pink ribbon packages of the company’s Intense Dark™ chocolates available now through December will carry a code inside the package redeemable for a $1 donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The company also is teaming up with award-winning author, television host and food-and-wine expert Leslie Sbrocco to come up with some delicious pairings for Ghirardelli Intense Dark™ chocolates.

Check out www.intensedarkpairings.com for tips, videos and more.