Friday, October 28, 2011

Savory Pumpkin Pancakes (Kids Will EAT Them!)

Perhaps I should say this louder, "KIDS WILL EAT THESE!" Even kids not from my family (but wait a minute, maybe those are the kids I should be feeding and not my own.) We had friends over yesterday so that my friend Tracy could host a trunk show for her jewelry line. I said I would be testing out recipes on willing participants and I did. I've been toying with this recipe; I typically make pumpkin pancakes as a sweet pancake. I like pancakes as sides too. Eating Well Magazine has a wonderful recipe for Corn and Basil Fritters/Pancakes/Johnnycakes. When corn is in season and the basil is in bloom, that's a winning combination.

Well, I've ripped out my basil plants and the corn's now all the frozen kind (not that there's anything wrong with that, but fresh is best). I still have sage in the garden, and pumpkin is plentiful in the stores, both fresh and canned.

This makes for a simple vegetarian meal (Tracy thought it'd be great with a salad), or as a side for fish or chicken.

Savory Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes around 12 small pancakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Stir well and allow to rest while you prepare your frying pan. Grease pan with remaining 1 Tbsp. of canola oil (I'd do this by batch, so 1 tsp. or so at a time) and heat over medium low heat. Allow the oil to get hot enough to sizzle if you take a drop of water to it. Spoon a small amount of batter (I get four pancakes on a pan at a time) onto the pan and cook until the edges are dry and the batter bubbles towards the center (2 minutes or so). Flip and cook another two minutes or so. The pancakes will rise a bit. Serve with Grade B Maple syrup, plain, or with a little bit of butter on top.

Batter up!

Cooking. Better than the first batch. 

Cahir liked them. And he's not my child, so that counts!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pear Salad

It dawned on me that pear season is coming to an end fairly soon. Better to get them while they're still in the market and don't cost a fortune. Boy #2 has soccer practice at 5:30, so that means quick dinner on our return. This is easy to make ahead or make in steps. I did the rice early on and just now put it all together. It will be great with the piece of fish I'm planning to cook. (And came home to find the fish still frozen solid. Hot dogs instead.)

Pear Salad
Makes 6 servings
Prep Time: About 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes (rice)
Adapted from

3 cups cooked long grain brown rice
1 large firm pear (I used D'Anjou because the others felt like baseballs), cored and diced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup ready-made vinaigrette (I use because it's a really
versatile product)
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
salt to taste
1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss to coat. Top with dried cranberries.

Ingredients go together in a snap

The finished product. Note the Cub Scout Requirement growing in the background. Pumpkins.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sweet Potatoes with Granny Smith Apples

I went to the store today to purchase the usual staple items for the week (bananas, lettuce, carrots), and remembered at the last minute that I wanted to make Sweet Potatoes with Granny Smith Apples to go with last night's baked chicken breast. This is a very simple recipe, and one certainly worth repeating. I found it a number of years ago in our local paper, in an article where the paper tracks down a recipe from a local restaurant for a reader. In this instance, the restaurant is the OK Cafe. They mint money there, and have for 25 years now. This restaurant defies current economics. It's the place to see and be seen. I think my appendix ruptured there while having breakfast with a friend, but that's probably another story another time.

My husband ate after we did this evening and declared the sweet potatoes, "Excellent."

Sweet Potatoes with Granny Smith Apples
Adapted from, Atlanta
Four servings

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45-50 minutes
This is a great make-ahead recipe to put in the fridge early in the day, and bake closer to mealtime. Just cover it with foil or plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

1 pound sweet potatoes (3 medium), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into thick chunks
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup apple cider (or apple juice)
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine the mustard, brown sugar, ground ginger, olive oil, cider, rosemary and bay leaf. Add the sweet potatoes and apples to the baking dish and cover with the liquid ingredients. Stir to coat (and stir gently every 15-20 minutes while cooking) and bake for 45-50 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Sweet Potatoes and Granny Smith apples make an appealing combination

Before baking

After baking

This is what passes for dinner some nights. I was playing around with the Angry Bird and had one left over

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What to do with a Gallon of Green Tomatoes

My dear sister in law Julie is a vegetarian. She lives in Albuquerque and I've got to say, I'm a little jealous. Her parents have a cherry tree in their yard. And they get to go to the Balloon Fiesta with ease. Green chile and Sadie's hot salsa are ubiquitous. Julie comes to Atlanta in January for the holiday we call "Thanksmas." It was originally (before school schedules became an issue) the "holiday between Thanksgiving and Christmas for those of us too cheap to buy peak season airline tickets." So, in short, this dish was part of one of our festive "Thanksmas" celebrations. We try to vary what we serve so that it's not identical to either Christmas or Thanksgiving, and given the vegetarians in the audience, we serve an abundance of vegetable dishes.

That said, I'm usually at a loss with what to do with end of season tomatoes on the vine. The weather has gotten cooler, in sort of a roller-coaster sort of way. Today, it's 80; tomorrow it is supposed to be 60. I gathered the remainder of the tomatoes and set out to recreate Julie's recipe.

I used my Cuisinart's slicing attachment to uniformly slice the tomatoes. The recipe calls for a gallon of tomatoes.

I put everything in a really deep stock pot, and it took a few minutes to cook down enough to add all the ingredients. 

Canned for the season

Green Tomato Mincemeat
Makes 6 Quarts
Prep Time: About 30 minutes using Cuisinart for slicing
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Canning Time: 1 Hour

In a large, heavy stock pot, add: 

4 Quarts chopped green tomatoes
3 Quarts chopped apples (peel them or not depending on your preference)
1 lb. dark raisins
1 lb. white raisins
1/4 cup minced citron (* see note below)
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves

Cook over medium low heat for about 40 minutes. The fruit will cook down, so stir throughout the process. 

Prepare for canning. I use Ball Canning's book as a reference for canning. This required a 15 minute water bath after sealing the jars. 

Use as a filling for "Mincemeat" pie. Would also work well as a side dish for a pork roast. 

*Citron is a citrus fruit and if you can find it, great. I used candied lemon peel because it's what I had on hand. Each year, after the holidays, I buy the candied fruit I use in my Christmas Stollen because it's not available year-round. Plus, on the clearance rack, it's between 50-75% off! It keeps for a year, but use it! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Po So Lay

Posole (pronounced Po-so-lay) is a New Mexico treat. The Pueblo Indians who inhabit the Rio Grande Valley consider it a feast day favorite. But it's great for a gloomy, rainy day (which today happens to be). This can be done in either a slow cooker or in a heavy pot on a very low, well watched stove.

My friend Kelsey (fellow Bates College graduate) at mentioned in her blog this week that Costco has Boneless Sirloin Tip Roasts on sale. Down here, all I seem to find is pork butts for BBQ, so I was pleased to find this different cut of pork. I needed milk, so I went over to Costco after Zumba class and picked up some pork. 

By Tina Brickley Engberg

8-10 servings, takes about 40 minutes active time, and 4-6 hours in the slow cooker on low

2 cans of hominy, drained
2 small cans of chopped green chile (if you can get larger cans where you live, rock on!) 
3 medium onions, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 lbs. pork, cut into small chunks (preferably Boneless Sirloin Tip Roast meat)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt (salt about an hour before finished)
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water (optional)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced

Cooked white or brown rice

Heat a heavy pot on the stovetop over medium high heat, place 2 Tbsp. of oil in it, and add pork in sections, to brown the meat. Take meat out of pot on stove and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add onion and garlic to the meat in the slow cooker (you may brown the onion and garlic beforehand if that's your preference). Turn off fire on stove. Add thyme, bay leaves, pepper, chicken broth and jalapeno peppers to slow cooker. Cook on low setting for 4-6 hours. We like our posole to be more like a soup than a stew, so if need be, add a bit of water to it as it cooks. In the last hour of cooking, taste the broth for seasoning. Some chicken broths can be overly salty, so check that first, and then add salt to your taste. Also add the two cans of green chile and drained cans of hominy at the end, so that they don't get mushy. 

Serve over 1/2 cup of cooked white or brown rice (optional). 

Layer the onions, garlic, thyme and bay leaves in the bottom of the slow cooker

Brown your meats so they caramelize and seal in the juices

Posole getting started in the slow cooker. Check back in a few hours!  

Posole is the ultimate Southwestern comfort food. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Taqueria Del Sol's Green Chile Festival

I recently wrote a blog entry for a friend's great website, Here's my report on the Second Taqueria del Sol Green Chile Festival, held in Atlanta on 9/11/11.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin Granola

Every year I've had a garden at this house, a pumpkin plant has sprouted in the corner from the compost. I let it grow out, and train it to go away from the rest of the garden because the foliage is so huge and simply takes over. This year was no different, but instead of 10 or so little cooking pumpkins, this plant produced three medium sized pumpkins. That's it. Three. Not enough to get excited over. They ripen early, and I harvest them in mid-August, which renders them useless for Halloween. Oh well.

While I'd like to say that I cooked down the pumpkin this year as I have in the past, and used it in bread and pancakes and such, these got sent to the compost. So, maybe next year.

I've really been getting into making granola since I got this recipe from the amazing Tori Ritchie of Tuesday Recipe. I met her at the BlogHer Food conference back in May, and she's a supremely talented recipe developer and writer. This particular recipe is for Maple Almond granola, but what I really like about the recipe is the technique behind it. It calls for wet ingredients folded into the dry ingredients. Previous recipes I've tried didn't do such a good job of covering the oats before drying them back out. This works.

Since it's pumpkin-time, I decided to play around with the recipe a bit and focus on the pumpkin theme. I suggest that you get new pumpkin pie spice for this recipe. I know you have an old jar in your spice cabinet. I do.

Pumpkin Granola
Adapted from Tuesday Recipe

Makes about two pounds
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
(not instant, not quick cooking)
1 cup raw slivered almonds
1 cup toasted, hulled pumpkin seeds (a.k.a. pepitas)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup real maple syrup (Grade B if you can get it; do not use pancake syrup)
1/4 cup hot tap water
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two rimmed baking pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl or pot, combine oats and almonds (conserve the pumpkin seeds for later). In a small bowl, or two cup measure, whisk together the oil, pumpkin, maple syrup, salt, spices, and vanilla extract until blended. Pour over dry ingredients and stir until oats and almonds are completely covered. Divide mixture evenly between parchment lined pans, spreading it out. Bake on the middle and lower racks of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven to stir and re-spread the granola in each pan. Swap pan positions. Continue to bake 10 minutes more and add the pumpkin seeds (pepitas). Add these close to the end of baking so that they don't scorch. Bake for 10 minutes or so, for a total of approximately 40 minutes. Granola should be dry and golden brown.

Remove from oven and stir the pans one more time. Let the granola cool completely in the pans. Transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to two weeks, or refrigerate for a longer time.

Liquid ingredients look like a lava lamp

This is before I spread it out, but you get the idea. Parchment is necessary to keep it from burning.

It just looks like fall.