18 October 2014


Are you all about the pumpkin right now?  I totally am.  I know everybody complains about the plethora of "pumpkin spice" flavored products this time of year, and they have a point.  But I am a big fan of adding real pumpkin to all kinds of stuff.  Most pumpkin recipes you see around are sweet, but I love adding pumpkin to savory dishes.  Remember my Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins, Pumpkin Beef Curry, Pumpkin Sausage Baked Pasta, Garlic Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes, Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce, Pumpkin Black Bean Enchiladas, and Pumpkin Sage Polenta? Wow, I have more savory pumpkin recipes than I realized! 

This is a recipe I created last fall.  I'm not sure what inspired me, but I just kind of threw it together and it came out perfectly the first time.  I love it when that happens!  Pumpkin, ham, and cheddar are really great together, especially with eggs.

Individual Pumpkin Quiche

Ingredients:
2 eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt
⅛ tsp smoked paprika
1 slice deli ham, chopped
1 rounded tbsp pumpkin puree
2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat a 7 oz. ramekin with baking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix well and pour into prepared ramekin.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until eggs are set in the middle.  Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before serving.

Makes 1 serving.

For a full-sized quiche:

Ingredients:
6 eggs, beaten
¼ tsp salt
4-6 slices ham, chopped
¼ cup pumpkin puree
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Pour into pie plate (can use a pie crust, if desired).  Bake for 45 minutes, or until eggs are set in the middle.  Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes 4-8 servings.

I like to make these in my little individual-sized ramekins, but I included the directions for making a 9" pie-sized quiche as well.  The little ones are nice because they cook up more quickly.  And they are the perfect serving for an adult.  My daughters usually split one.  I also have a 16 oz. dish just like the ramekins, so I double the recipe for that one and cook it about 10 minutes longer.  My husband and I can split that one.

When the first come out of the oven, they will have puffed up beautifully.  They will kind of deflate a little bit as they cool, but they will still look nice.

I feel pretty good serving these to my kids.  Not only do they have all kinds of protein from the eggs and the ham, but have you seen the nutrition info on canned pumpkin?  That stuff is loaded with vitamins.

These reheat pretty well in the microwave, so I usually make several at a time.  The leftovers are great for a quick protein-packed breakfast.



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16 October 2014


Before I get to today's recipe, I have to share some exciting news.  I won a $500 grocery store gift card in a recipe contest!  I am so excited!  The gift card is for Festival Foods, a grocery store chain here in Wisconsin, and my favorite grocery store in Kenosha.  They chose my Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza as the grand prize winner in their tailgating recipe contest for September.  I got the phone call yesterday and have been on Cloud 9 ever since!  They actually want to present the president of the company to present the gift card to me and do a photo op kinda thing.  Wow!  This pizza will forever more be known as "$500 Pizza" at our house! :)

Now onto today's recipe!  It's time for this month's Improv Challenge!


The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it. 

This month's assigned ingredients were peanut butter and chocolate.  Classic combo!  The options were literally endless!  I started looking around and got so overwhelmed with all the chocolate and peanut butter goodies.  I decided that I needed a way to kind of narrow things down a bit.  So I challenged myself to find a peanut butter and chocolate recipe that also included a third ingredient.  Since it is October, I decided to throw pumpkin into the mix.  I wanted a recipe that included peanut butter, chocolate, and pumpkin.  I thought those ingredients would be good in a muffin.  I couldn't find the "perfect" muffin recipe that I had in mind, but I did find a quick bread over at Crazy for Crust.  It looked amazing.  Several people who tried it commented that they had trouble getting it to cook all the way through in the middle since it was such a heavy, dense batter, so turning it into muffins seemed like the perfect solution.  Here's how I made them.

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
¾ cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¾ cup brown sugar
1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, pumpkin, eggs, peanut butter, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice.  In another bowl, stir together the flour and baking soda.  Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Batter will be very thick, like cookie dough.

Divide batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups.  Lightly press batter down into the cups and smooth out the tops as best you can, because these muffins won’t change their shape at all while baking.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and they begin to brown on the top.

Makes 12 muffins.

I wasn't sure how many muffins the recipe would make, but it ended up being the perfect amount of batter for 12 muffins.  

This is a most unusual muffin batter.  It is not thin like most muffin batters.  It is super duper thick like cookie dough.  It's kind of weird!  And like I said in the recipe directions, these muffins do not change their shape while baking.  However you put them into the muffin cups is how they are going to look when they come out.  They do not automatically conform to the shape of the muffin cup.  So make sure you press the batter into the cup so there are no little air pockets, and kind of round the tops off a little bit so they are pretty.  I didn't do that, and most of them were a little funky-looking, but that was okay.

I made these when my sister and her family were visiting and they were gobbled up.  I had never had the peanut butter/pumpkin combo before, so I had to sneak a taste of the batter after I combined those two things.  Wow!  I loved it.  It's a very interesting combo.  You can clearly taste both the peanut butter and the pumpkin, and they really do work well together.  I would say the peanut butter flavor is slightly more prominent than the pumpkin, but adding the pumpkin pie spice helps even it out a bit.  

The bread recipe said to mix most of the chocolate chips into the batter, then sprinkle the rest on top, so I did that with the muffins.  I don't recommend doing that, because the chocolate chips kept falling off of mine.  Maybe I didn't press them down enough, but next time I will just mix them all in.

Even though we loved them, I probably won't make these muffins a lot because one of my daughters is allergic to peanuts.  The day I made these, I also made a batch of my Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Muffins for her, subbing chocolate chips for the cinnamon chips.  I would guess that these muffins can be made with almond butter instead of peanut butter; maybe I will try them that way and see how they turn out.

Be sure to check out all the great peanut butter and chocolate recipes below and come back next month to see what I make with apples and cinnamon!




07 October 2014


I have two things for you today: a great meal-in-one recipe and the winner of my Red Gold apron giveaway.  I'll start with the recipe, so scroll down to find out the giveaway winner.

This is one of those convenient one-pot meals.  Well, it can be.  I made the rice separately, but if you want to do it all together, just pick up some Ready Rice.  I don't use that stuff very often, because I am home a lot and have no excuse not to make my own brown rice, but I like to keep a package or two on hand for rice "emergencies".  It can be your best friend on those super busy weeknights when you only have a few minutes to get dinner on the table.  (No, this post is not sponsored by Uncle Ben's; I just like that rice!)  My kids absolutely love brown rice, so we have it at least once a week, if not twice.  They also love sausage, so I thought this dish would be a big hit with them.  It's adapted from Cooking Light.

Sausage, Spinach, and Brown Rice Skillet

Ingredients:
1 tsp olive oil
½ large onion, chopped
1 lb. ground sausage
6 cups fresh baby spinach, torn into pieces
1 tomato, chopped
3 cups brown rice (homemade, or 2 pouches Ready Rice)
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika

Directions:
Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet.  Sauté onion until it softens.  Add the sausage and cook over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon, until it is no longer pink.  Add the spinach and the tomato, stirring until spinach is wilted.  Stir in brown rice and season with garlic powder and smoked paprika.  Cook another minute or so, stirring constantly to make sure everything is evenly distributed.

Makes 4 servings.

I was right; my kids loved this recipe.  They aren't huge fans of spinach, but they tolerated it in this dish.  I left out the Parmesan, and I thought it needed a little something for color.  I had some vine-ripened tomatoes in my produce basket, so I chopped one up and threw it in there.  That was a great addition, not only for the color, but it also added a punch of brightness and acidity.  Worked out really well.

Speaking of tomatoes, it's now time for me to announce the winner of my Red Gold apron giveaway.

The winner is: Bonnie Boucek!  Congrats, Bonnie!  Check your inbox for an email from me!

I used Random.org to choose the winner:



A huge thanks to all of you who entered my giveaway.  I wish I could give all of you an apron!  :)



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05 October 2014

 

It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club! The Secret Recipe Club is a group of food bloggers who secretly make one of someone else's dishes and post them all on the same day at the same time.  It's really fun, choosing a recipe to make, making the recipe, then reading about everyone else's recipes.  It's a great way to "meet" other bloggers and check out some great blogs that you never knew about before.  


This month I was assigned the blog My Hobbie Lobbie, written by Trisha.  Trisha is Indian, but living in Australia.  Cool!  I found so many yummy things on her blog.  I really wanted to make an Indian dish, so I was drawn to her Chole (garbanzo bean curry).  But I also love potatoes, so her Hasselback Potatoes definitely caught my eye.  I also thought her Beef Cutlets sounded delicious.  In the end, I decided to combine Indian cuisine, potatoes, and beef  and make her Potato Chops. The best of all three worlds!  Potato Chops are curried potatoes, wrapped around Indian-spiced beef, then breaded and pan-fried.  I knew my family would love this.  The beef filling she used for her potato chops was very similar to the Keema that I make regularly, so I just used a quarter batch of that for the beef part.  

Potato Chops

Ingredients:
1 tsp canola oil
¼ large onion, diced
¼ lbs. lean ground beef
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
½ tbsp Garam Masala 
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt
¼ tsp curry powder
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
2-3 tbsp canola oil

Directions:
Heat the 1 tsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened and golden. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon until brown and cooked through. Drain off grease.  Add the garlic, ginger, Garam Masala, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook, stirring regularly, for 3-5 minutes until tomatoes are softened and flavors are combined. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and more Garam Masala if desired.  Add the peas and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes until the peas are softened without being mushy.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, boil potatoes.  Drain and mash.  Stir in curry powder, cilantro, and salt to taste.  While potatoes are still warm, take about ⅓ cup, roll it into a ball, and flatten it to form a patty shape.  Make a well in the middle and place about 2 tbsp of the beef mixture there, gently folding up the sides of the potato patty to completely cover the beef and peas.  Handle the patties gently, as they are delicate and fall apart easily.  After making each patty, dip them in the beaten egg, then coat in the breadcrumbs.  

Heat 2-3 tbsp oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Place patties in the skillet and cook until they are golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes.  Very carefully flip the patties and cook on the other side until browned.  Remove to a serving platter.  Serve warm.

Makes 6 patties.

I know that looks like a long list of ingredients, but these are really pretty simple to make.  You are simply browning ground beef, adding spices and peas, then wrapping mashed potatoes around it and pan-frying them.  Really not difficult at all.

The beef filling.  I left the tomatoes out of the recipe I usually use, worried that they might be too wet for this application.


One of the patties before breading and frying.  Isn't the color gorgeous?  And I love the flecks of green from the cilantro.



I served these patties over Indian-Spiced Spinach, a recipe from a fellow SRC member.  Hi Sara!  My husband and oldest daughter loved these patties and the spinach too.  My four-year-old didn't eat it, but she doesn't like potatoes and was being picky that day anyway.  This was actually my husband's birthday meal.  I had it on my meal plan the week before, but when he saw it posted on the fridge, he asked if I could make it on his birthday instead.  Unfortunately, the weather was beautiful and sunny the day I had planned to make it, but cloudy and super windy the day of his birthday, so my pics aren't great, but I was happy to oblige the birthday boy.

Thanks so much, Trisha, for an awesome Indian meal!




   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

04 October 2014


I love hummus.  It's perfect for as easy light lunch and for an evening snack with a glass of wine.  Remember last month when I shared my recipe for Pizza Hummus?  I had to buy tahini for it, and if you've ever bought tahini, you know that it comes in a large jar.  Very large.  And most hummus recipes call for only 1/4 cup of it.  Since the jar is kinda pricey, I decided that I was going be diligent about using up that jar!  So I started pinning unique hummus recipes to my Dips and Party Foods board on Pinterest.  One that I came across was this one from The Healthy Maven.  I couldn't wait to try it.  I adapted it slightly; here's my version.

Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus

Ingredients:
2 lb. butternut squash
2 tsp + 2 tbsp olive oil
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp lemon juice
2-4 tbsp water
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp smoked paprika

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°.  Cut butternut squash in half, lengthwise.  Scrape out seeds and rub cut sides with 1 tsp olive oil each.  Place squash halves cut sides down in a baking dish.  Roast for about 45 minutes, or until flesh is completely soft.  Remove from oven, flip squash over, and let cool.

When cool, remove 1½ cups of squash from the skins.  In a food processor, blend together the squash, chickpeas, tahini, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, 2 tbsp water, salt, and smoked paprika.  If it is too thick, add another 2 tbsp water and pulse again.

Place in serving dish and garnish with an additional drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of smoked paprika, if desired.

Makes about 3 cups.



Oh man, this hummus is amazing!  I love the slight sweetness from the squash.  The smokiness from the paprika brings it out even more.  Please do not settle for just any paprika when making this; you really need the smoked kind.  Usually I add more than a recipe calls for, but in this case, it was just perfect. 

My husband and I ate this with pita chips, but it would be awesome with anything: chips, crackers, and especially your favorite cut-up veggies.

This is the perfect dish to take to all of those great fall get-togethers you are invited to.  

Before you go, please hop over and enter my Red Gold giveaway.  Only a few more days left!



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