Saturday, November 13, 2010


One of my favorite snacks is granola, and has been for a long time. Stir it into yogurt, eat it in a bowl with milk like cereal, sprinkle it on ice cream or frozen yogurt, eat it plain as a snack...  But I've never made my own, until today. I wanted to make a real simple, healthy recipe. This does have some sugar content (3/4 cups of brown sugar for a recipe that yields 6 cups of granola) but there is no butter or oil involved. It is delicious, has just a hint of sweetness -- and is incredibly addicting! The pan of granola was sitting out cooling while I was making dinner, and Paul and I kept sneaking handfuls even though we were about to eat.

I look forward to making this cheap, easy recipe again and again so that I can always have some granola on hand. Tomorrow morning for breakfast, I'm making yogurt/fruit/granola parfaits. Plain Greek yogurt (snagged the big container on sale!), blueberries I have stashed in the freezer (thawed, of course), granola, and a drizzle of honey. Yummmm. I can't wait for tomorrow morning, just for this breakfast.

This is a pretty basic recipe so feel free to add extras if you wish... dried fruit, chocolate chips, coconut, etc.



adapted from Kathleen Daelemans' Food Network Recipe

Makes about 6 cups of granola.

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups chopped nuts (I used 1 cup pecans, 1 cup walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  2. In a 2-cup microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, combine brown sugar, honey, and water. Microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes, or until sugar is melted. (If you double the recipe, use a bigger vessel in the microwave! The mixture bubbles while heating.) Stir the vanilla and salt into the brown sugar syrup.
  3. In a bowl, combine the oats, nuts, wheat germ, and cinnamon. Add the brown sugar syrup and mix well.
  4. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or greased), and bake for 45 minutes. Stir the granola every 15 minutes during baking. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Pancakes

So, this post concludes what I've officially named Pumpkin Week. Last night, thanks to Paul's suggestion, I made pumpkin soup to accompany our dinner of pierogies and roasted veggies. This morning, I made pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Amazing fact: all four pumpkin recipes I've written about in the last few days (pasta, bread, soup, and pancakes) were made from only one 29 oz. can of pure pumpkin puree. How's that for economical? Ah, the joys of cooking for only two!

This soup was absolutely delicious. Reminded me of a butternut squash soup I had at one of our favorite Philly restaurants, La Viola.

Pumpkin Soup
adapted from Cream of Pumpkin Soup,

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • about a cup of pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  1. Saute the onion in butter in a saucepan until tender. Add 7 oz. chicken broth, stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. By either transferring broth back & forth between a blender or food processor, or using an immersion blender in your saucepan, process until smooth.
  3. (If using regular blender, return mixture to saucepan). Add remaining broth, pumpkin, hot sauce, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper. Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the half-and-half and milk and heat through - do not boil. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg on top.
Now for the pancakes...

Morning sunlight makes for the best pictures. :)

GOOD morning!
Pumpkin Pancakes
adapted from Easy Pancakes,
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp wheat germ (optional)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped nuts of your choice (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the egg, milk, oil, and pumpkin. Whisk together just until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips or nuts.
  2. Heat a non-stick griddle over medium-high heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve with any of the following: butter, maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, chopped nuts. 

Sick of pumpkin yet?


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pumpkin Loaf

Consider this a continuation of last night's pumpkin post. As mentioned previously, I've been craving a good pumpkin quick bread. After conducting extensive scientific research in order to locate the perfect recipe, I decided on smittenkitchen's pumpkin muffin recipe. With my own tweaks, of course. I obviously changed it to a loaf recipe, omitted the cinnamon sugar topping, and because I refuse to spend money on "pumpkin pie spice" when I already have all the individual ingredients on my spice rack, I changed -- and increased -- the spices. I like my autumn cakes/muffins with lots of spices, but not to the point of overkill.

As a habitual over-mixer of muffin/quick bread batters, I really liked Deb's advice in her post:
A large wire whisk, when mixing by hand, really allows you to incorporate all of the drying ingredients quickly without mashing them up too much. It’s made it much harder to overdo it, despite my better efforts.
I found this to be totally true. Despite my efforts to gently fold in the flour, I've always unintentionally over-mixed my muffins and quick breads, leaving them to fall flat (literally) or become a giant sinkhole. This whisk thing sure does the trick!

Pumpkin Loaf
adapted from
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan or baking dish.
  2. Whisk together the pumpkin, oil, eggs, spices, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth and thoroughly combined.
  3. Whisk in the flour and baking powder just until combined. Pour the batter into your loaf pan/baking dish, and bake until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

That last picture is the most flattering photo I could take of the finished product. I had a minor disaster while turning the loaf out of the pan -- things were not pretty (including the string of swear words that came out of my mouth in the process). But, although it doesn't look pretty, it is darn tasty, and that's all that matters. :)


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pumpkin! Pumpkin!! Pumpkin!!!

Welcome to autumn. It is officially that season where you see pumpkin (or the ever popular "pumpkin spice") everywhere -- muffins, quick breads, pies...all sorts of foods for that matter, lattes, coffee beans, coffee creamers, beer, candles, bath products, etc. For a few months, everyone deems pumpkin their favorite food and believes it is the best thing ever invented. Then the holidays are over and it seems everyone forgets about poor pumpkin until next year. I admit I am one of those people. I wish pumpkin was in season all year. Since October rolled around I've been dying to use it in the kitchen. I've had pumpkin spice coffee creamer on hand for the past month -- currently on my second bottle. When one store was out of said creamer, I went to another store to find it (success!). I am that desperate to grasp tightly onto the pumpkin craze before it disappears for another 10 months. Anyway, I haven't cooked with pumpkin yet this autumn. I have plans for pumpkin bread tomorrow, but tonight it was pasta.

My coworker recommended a Rachael Ray recipe and I'm glad I tried it. I altered the portions to serve two, and used half-and-half instead of heavy cream to cut the fat content, among other tweaks. The original recipe calls for sage, but I had none. So, if you have it, use it. But, word to the wise... follow Rachael's directions and USE WHOLE WHEAT PASTA! I only had regular semolina pasta on hand, and upon my first bite, my face lit up at the taste of the sauce but then I frowned a little. This pumpkin cream sauce needs the nutty richness of whole wheat pasta to bring out that autumn-y essence. Without it, the dish just lacks...something. I taste the pumpkin, the spices, but my palate is craving something else. One of the many reasons I love a really good quality (read: non-cardboard/sandpaper variety) whole wheat pasta is the depth of flavor it adds, and this is one of those cases.

I also want to mention that this would be a great main dish if you added chicken or sausage. Tonight, this was the "second course" of our dinner. Paul cooked the first course, and I cooked the second. I love when Paul cooks because his dishes always have his personality in them... from the seasonings he uses, to the tricks he's learned from his mom, to the very diligent, delicate, and patient way he chops up carrots into perfectly shaped little pieces. :) His first course was a salad consisting of romaine lettuce, carrots, apples, walnuts, and dried cranberries; topped with a pan-fried salmon fillet. Simple, yummy, and refreshing. This was a nice warm follow-up.

Pumpkin Lovers' Pasta for Two
adapted from Rachael Ray's Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta

  • 1/2 pound whole wheat penne
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
  • 7 to 8 ounces pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
  • a dash of ground cinnamon
  • a dash of ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a sautee pan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft.  Don't burn the garlic, like I did, and always will do.
  3. Stir in the broth, pumpkin, and half-and-half. Add the hot sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Let simmer on low heat until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Toss pasta and sauce together, and serve with grated cheese and a dash of cinnamon on top.
Shallots & garlic cooking in olive oil. One of my favorite smells ever.

Simmerin' sauce.

Bon appetit!