Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Butter

Happy Halloween! This is the pumpkin my daughter carved (love it). I can't wait to put it out tonight all a-glo! With Halloween and pumpkins on the brain I've been looking for pumpkin recipes, besides the usual muffins, breads, and cookies. 
There was a cute recipe on the Tasty Kitchen for stacked oatmeal to-go: Apple-Pumpkin Butter & Banana Oatmeal jars. It was the "pumpkin butter" that caught my attention. I grew up with apple butter that my mom made (and canned). The recipe I found for pumpkin butter is sweetened with brown sugar and honey. Honey seems very complimentary to this type of dish. I think there's a honey harvest in the fall based on... Google recently tweeting that they had completed their honey harvest.

So how do you chose your spices for your pumpkin butter? I would recommend following your bliss. Start by adding small amounts of what you normally add to "pumpkin pie" and give it a taste. I upped the cinnamon and cloves from the original recipe and pulled the other sprinkling of spices from pumpkin pie recipes. It turned out very autumn-y, and was better the second day.
All of the ingredients in the pan and ready to go.
By the end of the cooking time the mixture thickens a little.

 Pumpkin Butter
1 C Pureed Pumpkin (15 Oz. Libby)
2/3 C brown sugar
1/4 C honey
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1/8 t nutmeg (fresh grated is nice)
1/8 t ginger
1/8 t mace
1/8 t pure vanilla bean paste

Combine and bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes or until thicker. When done, cool. (See Nestle's Very Best Baking for storage tips!) 

Recipe Inspiration: Very Best Baking: Pumpkin Butter (I let my "pumpkin pie" imagination run away with me. I didn't have any lemon juice, but it turned out okay.)

I hope you have a fun Halloween!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Omelets with Garden Peppers

Last Sunday morning my daughter and I took a walk around Silver Lake which is located at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, in Brighton, Utah. Fall is officially here and I wanted to show you.
There's a trail around Silver Lake and it's a popular fishing spot. Near the beginning of the walk you pass a grove of friendly old pines. Back in "the valley" (Salt Lake) fall is everywhere. Pumpkins are spilling out of grocery stores (near the entrances) and Halloween costumes are on the brain so when my husband sent me a photo of peppers, it seemed a little random.
I didn't understand until later, that these little beauties were coming home. One of the guys at his work was sharing the bounty of his garden. (Thank you!) They arrived Monday night and my husband has been asking me why I haven't used them yet. I can see his point, I blog about cooking after all and he  brought home some cool fresh ingredients. So why the hesitation? One big reason: I don't know what kind of peppers they are. They didn't come with a key to heat levels. If you happen to know, please comment. :)
So last night I made omelets and chose three peppers to work with.
I hadn't seen the purple peppers before. They're a pretty shade, like eggplant. Today I'll be chopping up the rest of the peppers to dry in the oven. Last night I sautéed the peppers shown above in olive oil and then added them to our omelets.
Omelets with Garden Peppers
Olive Oil
2 eggs (per omelet)
1 T water
1/2 C peppers (green and red bell peppers, chopped)
2-3 T onion (chopped)
2 Mini Babybel cheese, light (sliced), or 1/4 C grated cheddar (per omelet)

Wash the peppers and clean out the seeds and white membrane. Chop the peppers and sauté with onion in 1 T olive oil using a non-stick pan. Crack 2 eggs into a bowl and add the water and whisk together with a fork. When peppers and onions have cooked put them aside in a bowl. Pour the eggs into the hot pan. It'll look like the eggs are staying wet on the top, don't try to flip it, just use a spatula to lift the edge of the omelet and tilt the pan to lit the runny egg run under the omelet to cook. If you get a hole in the omelet it's no big deal, let the runny egg run into it to cook. Repeat until the egg is mostly set then sprinkle peppers/onions (to taste) over 1/2 of the eggs (covering 1/2 circle). Add cheese over the half of the omelet that you added the peppers to. Sprinkle some cheese along the edge of the omelet so the cheese will fry and get a little crispy. This really makes the cheese flavor "pop!" When the cheese is melting, fold the plain half of the omelet over the side with the peppers, onions and cheese. To get the omelet onto a plate, tilt the pan and allow the omelet to slide out onto the plate (using your spatula to guide it.)

I learned to make omelets from my Betty Crocker cookbook and watching Julia Child. Great teachers! :)



Saturday, October 8, 2011

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

Did fall seem to come early this year or is it just me? Maybe I just wasn't ready for the cold weather part of fall. I mean I was clued in by the trees changing colors across the mountains--then last week the temperature dropped. We pulled out coats, scarfs and umbrellas, and I put away the sandals I was wearing just a week ago. I think that even the flowers were surprised by the sudden temperature drop.
At work I sit one cubicle away from large windows and have a great view of the Wasatch mountains. The other morning the storm clouds were so thick you couldn't even see the mountains. Around lunchtime the clouds had cleared and the mountains had turned from green to white. It had snowed. Poof. "Insto-presto!" or is that "Presto-Chango?" Welcome to soup weather.
I've been surfing Cooking Light lately for recipes and found a recipe for Broccoli & Cheese soup. As you might imagine, my family is quite patient with my habit of trying new recipes. I had just made this soup when I left to pick my daughter up from a meeting and I came home to hear all about how good the soup was. Everybody liked it! Thank goodness! BTW, I know the "cheese" in the photo isn't the "light" stuff mentioned in the recipe below, but I was lucky to even get it. I never know where to look for it. It's never with the other cheese, right? It's not by the macaroni and cheese either. The bagger ran and got it for me at the checkout, so I didn't learn the secret of where they keep it. Where do they display it?!? Ahem. And now back to the soup...
Broccoli & Cheese Soup
Cooking spray (I used about 1 t olive oil too, because the onion was sticking to the pan)
1 C chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 C fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-oz.) package broccoli florets
2 1/2 C 2% reduced-fat milk
1/3 C flour
1/4 t black pepper
8 oz. light processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta Light)

Spray stock pot with cooking spray, add olive oil, then sauté the onion and garlic until tender, add broth and broccoli. (I had a 12 oz bag of broccoli and only 1 can of broth so I made up for the fluid with water and chicken bouillon). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium, cook 10 minutes. While it's cooking combine milk and flour with a whisk and add to the stock pot. Cook 5 minutes or until it's thickening (stir regularly). Remove from heat, add pepper and Velveeta (cubed) cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Put 1/3-ish of the soup into your blender (I put hot water in the glass blender first to hopefully make the glass hot so it wouldn't crack with the hot soup). Blend until smooth and pour back into the stock pot and stir to combine. Serve.

Source: Cooking Light, January 2002 (They even have nutrition facts with the recipe! Way to go Cooking Light!)

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