Monday, November 25, 2013

Pumpkin Fudge

Perfect for the Holidays - Pumpkin Fudge

Whether for the Thanksgiving Table or for Christmas, Pumpkin Fudge is a delicious twist on the favored standard.   It's a melt in your mouth pumpkin pop!   Careful, they are addictive but easy to make.

Pumpkin Fudge

  • 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 C dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 C butter
  • 5 oz evaporated milk
  • 2/3 C packed pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t ground allspice
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 2 C white chocolate chips
  • 1, 7 oz jar marshmallow fluff
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1 C chopped pecan for added crunch 

Line a baking pan with parchment paper and use a little bit of butter to get it to stick to the pan.

In a heave saucepan, combine sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter and spices.  Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.   Continue to boil until a candy thermometer reaches 235-240 degrees.

 Remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate chips and marshmallow fluff until melted and combined.   Add vanilla extract.   Add pecans if you want.   Pour into prepared pan and let cool for 2 hours then refrigerate to fully cool.   Once completely cool, lift parchment from pan and cut into 1 inch pieces and serve.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hill Country Pumpkin and Pecan Pie

I know I've said it numerous times, but Autumn is my favorite season.   The promise of cooler temperatures, changing foliage colors, falling leaves and the smell of smoke from an outdoor fire make me the happiest!   I am able to put on the breaks of my busy schedule and actually take a moment or two or three and just sit outside enjoying it all.  And even though in Texas we don't get much color, I'm blessed to have wonderful friends who send me their pictures so I can enjoy it with them.   You know who you are... it's amazing and I'm very thankful.

When you make this unique pie, your home will permeate with the smells of Autumn and your family will devour it fast!

Hill Country Pumpkin and Pecan Pie

  • Grandma Bonnie's Double Pie Crust, recipe below (Longaberger Baskets) THE BEST EVER!
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t Ancho Chili Power
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla bean paste
  • 15 oz packed pumpkin
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 1 C Texas Pecans, rough chopped
Directions:   Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.   Using the double pie crust recipe below, roll out one large round and lay it into your pie plate, set aside.  Use the remaining dough and make fall cutouts; I used a small pumpkin and leaf cutter.

In a large bowl, mix the sugars and spices together then add your eggs and whisk. 

Add the vanilla bean paste and pumpkin, mixing well.   Slowly add the evaporated milk and again, mix well.   Toss in your pecans, mix and pour into your uncooked pie shell.

Using water as an adhesive, add your fall cutouts to the lip of the pie crust. 

Brush with an egg wash and place in the oven.   Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes more.   Cool completely.

Grandma Bonnie's Double Pie Crust from Longaberger Basket
(the best pie crust recipe ever, in my opinion)

  •  4 cups flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lard
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 T. vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
Directions:    In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix together egg, vinegar and water. Add to flour mixture. Mix until dough is moistened enough so it holds together when it is formed into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until well chilled. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12" circle.  Place the crust in the freezer while preparing the filling.
Makes 2 double crust pies.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shrimp Vodka Shooters

I co-hosted a couples themed Wedding Shower a couple weeks ago, entitled "Stock the Bar".   What better way to greet the guests to that type of function than to offer them a Shrimp Shooter as soon as they arrive!   It's easy, quick but yet makes for an amazing presentation.   Found the nice shooter type shot glasses as Marshall's for $6.00 a box - so I made sure I bought enough for our crowd.   Placed on a tray and carried it around, serving people.   A different approach would be to line a serving dish with course sea salt and put the shooters in that.   Either way these are great for any party you have!

Shrimp Vodka Shooters

  • 2 lbs large shrimp, deveined with tails on
  • Zatarains Shrimp Boil seasoning
  • Zing Zang Blood Mary Mix
  • Vodka, I use Tito's
  • Lemon, sliced thin
  • chives, minced
  • fresh cracked pepper
Directions:  Chill the Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix and place your vodka in the freezer to get them very cold.   Clean and peel your shrimp, leaving the tails on.   In a large pot, boil water and cook shrimp in the Zatarains Shrimp Boil seasoning per the package instructions.  Remove from the water, drain and chill!

To assemble and serve, pour 1/2part Bloody Mary mix, 1/4 part vodka, 1 chilled shrimp, garnished with the thin lemon, chives and cracked pepper.

Serve immediately and keep them cold!

Coming up... the Pumpkin Patch Food Demo

Please join me...

Sunday, October 28th, 2012 from noon to 3:00

at Faraday's Kitchen Store, Lakeway for

The Pumpkin Patch, a Texas style culinary demonstration down the autumn back roads of the Hill Country.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fire Roasted Hatch Green Chile and Jalapeno Pulled Pork Sliders

The title of this recipe is certainly a mouth-full, but the flavor you get with that mouth-full is amazing.

I hosted a "Stock the Bar" Couples Shower for my brother and his fiance, Amanda.   I thought having more finger foods would be fun, especially for the guys, as the football games were on and it was a casual atmosphere.   Pulled Pork sliders seemed the way to go and while at the grocery store I noted some Hatch Green Chile's so grabbed those and a few jalapeno's.   Though I fire roasted the chile's and jalapeno's I opted for a cole slaw topping on the first batch of sliders.   It wasn't until later in the evening with the party in full swing was I spurred to try it with those delicious charred gems and I'll thank my friends husband, Chet, for peeling the chile's and starting this.   So in the middle of a party in my home, I'm playing in the kitchen... how fitting.

Some people know my food story and others don't but I grew up playing in the pantry.   My father was an Air Force pilot and we moved every year for 16 years straight.   There were times when we moved into a new neighborhood and I didn't have friends to play with so I'd play in the pantry.   What I know now as marinade was simply the curiosity of a six year old, blonde hair and blued eyed, bored little girl.   I'd steal butter and sugar from the kitchen and run back to my room where I had a complete kitchen set up (in that lovely 70ies avocado green) and pretend to make cakes.   The year I got my Easy Bake Oven was monumental and I still remember it like it was yesterday.

Being able to play in the pantry without any restrictions lead me to my no fear attitude in the kitchen.   I will try anything, attempt anything and if I fail, so what.   I don't normally measure unless I am baking, and I will wander aimlessly through Whole Foods or Central Market to see what I can find to play with.   Yes I play with food... and I love it!

So here is the newly created Pulled Pork Slider recipe, which by the way, is far better than the one with cole slaw on it.  

Fire Roasted Hatch Green Chile and Jalapeno Pulled Pork Sliders

Fire Roasted Chile and Jalapeno Ingredients:
  • 5 Hatch Chiles
  • 5 Jalapenos
  • 1 paper sack
Directions:  Over a high flame on the grill, char and blister the skin of the chiles and jalapenos.   Place in the sack to steam.  Once cool, peel the charred skin.  Split open, remove seeds and chop.

Pulled Pork Ingredients:
  •  2 lb boneless pork shoulder roast, trimmed
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 T salt
  • 1 T cracked black pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C apple juice
  • 1 C Woody's Sweet BBQ Sauce
  • 1 T finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Directions:   Combine dry ingredients and rub over trimmed pork should roast until ready to cook, a day in advance.   In a large crock pot insert or regular pan, heat olive oil and sear roast on all sides.   Add apple juice and simmer, again in either the crock pot or on the stove top, until the pork is very tender.   Drain as much fat off the top as possible, then remove and shred or "pull".   Return to the crock and finish with the Woody's Sweet BBQ Sauce, chipotle in adobo sauce and keep warm until ready to serve.

To assemble:   Toast slider buns on a hot griddle with a bit of butter.   Add the pulled pork and top with a mixture of the fire roasted chile's and jalapeno's.   Slap the top on it and devour!   Perhaps you could add a slice of jalapeno jack cheese, but it's not necessary!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Banana Nut Bars - nom nom nom

Mmmmmmm are the sounds I heard from my family as we sat around the dining room and ended our Sunday meal with this little dessert.   Is it really a dessert - well no, because I think you can eat this for breakfast, lunch AND dinner as well.   Fairly simple and basic banana nut bread recipe with chocolate chips in a baking sheet with a brown butter glaze.   Simply amazing!

Banana Nut Bars

  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 C mashed ripe bananas *see note
  • 1 T vanilla bean paste
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C walnuts, chopped
  • 1 C chocolate chips
Directions:   Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease/flour a baking sheet.   In a large bowl, mix sugar, sour cream, butter and eggs until combined.   Add banana's and vanilla bean paste, mixing well.   Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix well then gently fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.   Pour into prepared pan and bake for 28 - 30 minutes until done.

Brown Butter Glaze

  • 1/2 C butter
  • 4 C confectioners sugar
  • 1 T vanilla bean paste
  •  1/4 C whole milk
Heat butter in a non reactive fry pan until boiling.  Watch this very closely, as you want to remove it as soon as it browns.   There is a fine line between brown butter and burnt butter.   Whisk the brown butter together with the confectioners sugar and vanilla bean paste.  Slowly incorporate the milk until you get a glaze which is thinner than frosting.  

Spread the glaze on the warm bars, cool then cut into servings.   Keep any leftovers {if any} in a covered container.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New York Strip with sauteed mushrooms and Beurre Blanc

Was in the mood for a sexy sauce... you know the kind you lick off your fingers?   This Beurre Blanc really compliments the simplicity of a salt and peppered grilled steak along with some sauteed mushrooms.   I paired it with a simple salad and this was our amazing dinner tonight.

This Beurre Blanc is really delicious and would be the perfect sauce to many things... so experiment!

Grilled New York Strip with Sauteed Mushrooms and Beurre Blanc

  • Your choice steaks, room temp and seasoned with salt and pepper only
  • 1 lb sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1 T olive oil
Preheat your grill.  In a medium sautee pan, add olive oil and sautee mushrooms on medium heat until dark and caramelized. Remove from heat and hold.

Grill your steaks the way you like them, then remove from heat and let them rest, covered with foil, for 10 minutes.

Beurre Blanc Ingredients:
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 8 oz white wine
  • 3 T heavy cream
  • 12 T cold butter, cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a saute pan, reduce the shallots and wine until about 2 T remain.   Add the heavy cream and cook until it bubbles, then remove from heat.  Slowly whisk in the nobs of butter, a few at a time, until incorporated.  As you whisk a few in, the sauce gets thicker and thicker.   Once all the butter in whisked in, season to taste with salt and pepper.
 Sauteeing the mushrooms

 Making the wine and shallot reduction

 Added the heavy cream and bubbling

To serve, top your steak with mushroom and then the Beurre Blanc.  I added some minced chive for a tiny bit of taste and color.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grilled Peach Shortcake

Fredericksburg, Texas is know for its amazing peaches.    Here in Austin, there are peach stands on almost every corner and they are so delicious.After grabbing a bagful, I made this summer dessert that we can't get enough of!

Grilled Peach Shortcake

Shortcake Ingredients:
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1/3 C butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat.   In a food processor, combine the dry ingredients.   Add the cold butter and blend until the mixture resembles corn meal.   Add the milk and the seeds from 1/2 of the vanilla bean.   Drop by rounded scoop onto silpat and bake for about 15 minutes.   As an option, you can brush the tops with a bit of cream for a glossy affect.

Peach Ingredients:
  • 8-10 peaches
  • baking spray
  • heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 C confectioners sugar
  • vanilla bean
Preheat your grill to medium and make sure the grates are really clean and free of the previously grilled food.   Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit.   Spray the cut side with a light coating of baking spray and transfer onto the grill for about 5 minutes.   In the mean time, whip the heavy cream with the confectioners sugar and remaining vanilla bean seeds, until stiff peaks are formed.

Remove the peaches from the grill.   The skins may fall or sluff off easily, then cut into slices and put into a large bowl.   You can add a bit of sugar to the sliced peaches to bring out the juices if you want.   To assemble, cut a shortcake open, add your grilled peach slices and juice, top with the whipped cream and up the top of the shortcake on.   Makes about 10 - 12 shortcakes!