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Archive for January, 2013

Passionate about Pumpkin

I love pumpkin.  When Thanksgiving gets close, the grocery stores stock up on canned pumkin.  They don’t carry much of it the rest of the year, so I go nuts and buy a couple of cans every time I shop.  It doesn’t go bad, right?  So I end up with LOTS of cans of pumkin over-running my pantry.  I’ve been experimenting with different ways to use it up.

What’s wrong with experimental cooking?

As long as nobody gets hurt, right?  My husband is a champ.  He will try everything I invent, even if he doesn’t like all of it.  He doesn’t care much for pumpkin, but he’s learned to trust me.  I disclosed up front that yesterday’s oatmeal had pumpkin in it, and he at it, anyway.  His philosophy is that if you put enough brown sugar in a dish, it will be all right.

Pumpkin Oatmeal & Barley Hot Cereal

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup rolled barleypumpkinoatmeal
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 2 tsp kosher flake salt or 1 tsp table salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mace (gives that nice pumpkin pie flavor but not as sharp as nutmeg, and hubby hates nutmeg)
  • 1 cup Libby’s pumpkin puree
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup nuts (pecan or walnuts), coarsely chopped, optional
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 cup eggnog

Bring the water to a boil in a 3-5 quart saucepan.  Add the oatmeal and spices.  Stir, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes).  Stir in the pumpkin, apple, nuts and sugar.  Simmer another 10 minutes until the apple is soft.  Stir in the eggnog and serve hot.

Pumpkin Curry Eggnog Soup

Yes, I created a holiday soup.  Actually, I got a little heavy-handed with the spices and needed a way to cool it down.  Plus, I had more eggnog in the ‘fridge than I could drink, because Hubby doesn’t like it.  Problem solved.  Did you know that pumpkin and eggnog go together really nicely?

  • 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 can Libby’s pumkin puree (NOT pie filling!!)
  • 1 T Madras yellow curry powder (if you can, visit an Asian market and get a Thai curry)
  • pumpkinsoup1 t Paprika
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • salt to taste
  • Eggnog.

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and simmer for 30 minute

s.  Taste it, and adjust the seasonings to suit.  It should be very spicy, but don’t panic.  This is where the eggnog comes in.   Stir eggnog into each serving to:  cool the soup to a perfect temperature for sipping; drop that spiciness; cream up the soup;  and, add the perfect complimentary sweetness to all that pumpkiny flavor.  I tossed in a handful of my sister’s crunchy cheese straws and had the perfect winter warmer.

Pumpkin Chocolate Bars

No all-pumpkin feast would be complete without dessert, right?  Reprised from an earlier post, here are the pumpkin chocolate bars.

pumpkin chocolate bars

http://wp.me/p1LNpx-3W

 

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New Years Eve Traditions for Fuddy-Duddies

 Do you stay at home on December 31?

Hubby and I will celebrate 14 years of marriage next week.  This is the 2nd trip down the matrimonial road for both of us, so we’re not young ‘uns.  In our years together we’ve gone out on New Year’s eve maybe twice?  They were nice times.  We enjoyed dressing up, eating great food and listening to music.  The public kiss at midnight was pretty great, too.  Most years, however, we’ve stayed at home.  We don’t have to dress up, or even watch the dumb stuff on TV.  The firecrackers in the neighborhood let us know when it’s time to kiss…or whatever.  Unfortunately, the older we get, the less lively the “whatever” has been…

  • We hate crowds
  • We fear drunk drivers
  • He doesn’t drink
  • Staying awake past midnight is hard
  • It’s cheaper to stay home
  • The best New Year’s tradition happens at midnight in bed (ahem)

What are your traditions?

Reuben Tarts

reubentarts

Many Anglo homes believe good luck comes in the new year if you consume cabbage on New Year’s day.  The Irish New Year meal is corned beef and cabbage.  In the South, it’s blackeyed peas, often with rice and ham in a dish called Hoppin John.  I found a tasty diversion on the Reuben sandwich at a party about 20 years ago.  It is a simple pie made from corned beef and sauerkraut.

If you host or go to a New Year’s event, these are a great and impressive treat.  You can make them ahead of time, freeze them and pop them in the oven for 15 minutes to thaw and brown.  Don’t skimp on the ingredients if you can afford it. You can make these with canned corned beef, canned sauerkraut and pre-shredded, store brand swiss cheese, but come on, this is for New Year’s eve.  If you buy top shelf, it will cost about  $30.

16 frozen tart shells (My grocery carries the Dutch Ann brand in the freezer section, 8 to a box)
1 lb really good quality deli corned beef, chopped fine
1 cup 1000 Island salad dressing
1 T caraway seeds
1 lb Boars Head (or similar good quality) sauerkraut, drained
1 lb Jarlsberg Swiss cheese, grated

Set the tart shells out on a cookie sheet.  I use a jelly roll pan (you do have a set of these, don’t you?).  Preheat the oven to 380 F.

Mix the chopped corn beef, salad dressing and caraway seeds (the seeds give the tart that rye bread flavor).  If you have a set of measuring cups that includes an 1/8 cup, use that to fill each tart.  Otherwise, use a soup spoon and divide evenly.   Place 1 tablespoon of sauerkraut on top of the corned beef mixture.  Sprinkle grated cheese on top, evenly distributing among the tarts.

Bake at 380 for 25 minutes, or until the crusts are brown and the cheese has melted.  Serve in the tins.

Goetta Pie

goettapie

New Years Breakfast needs to be substantial.  My best friend Clairee turned me onto Goetta years ago.  She’s from Cincinnati, so she grew up on this odd combination of steel cut oats and sausage.  It’s the kind of subsistence food a practical German culture would invent to stretch the meat through the winter.  It’s kind of meatloaf-meets-porridge.  You either love it or not.  We adore it, and every time we’re in Northern Kentucky, we load up the cooler.

We usually just slice the Goetta (pronounced “guh-duh”) and fry it slowly on the electric griddle, smashing it flat, until it’s brown and crispy on both sides.  It takes about 30 minutes.  We’ll eat it solo, or put it in a sandwich with a fried egg and cheese on a whole grain sandwich thin.  It’s very high in fiber, although the fat content is also high.

Today called for something rib-sticking and special, so I made up a pie.  This is so simple it practically doesn’t require a recipe, so pay attention.

Goetta on the bottom.  Scrambled eggs in the middle.  Cheese on top.

Okay, so I jazzed it up just a bit.

  1. Cook Glier’s Goetta (accept no substitutes) slices very crispy.  Place the HOT slices in the bottom of a pie pan.
  2. Crack 6 lovely brown or high omega 3 eggs (like Eggland’s Best) or farm fresh (if you’re lucky enough to have a source) and add 1/2 tsp Penzey’s Mural of Flavor.  If you don’t have a big jar of “MOF”, get some. I put it on veggies, in eggs, on fish, in soups….it’s my go-to seasoning.
  3. Melt 2 T butter in a non-stick pan and lightly scramble the eggs.  Don’t murder the eggs by over-stirring them.  Just pull the cooked part away from the bottom of the pan a couple of times.  Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the eggs are about half cooked.
  4. Put the half-cooked scrambled eggs on top of the Goetta in the pie pan.
  5. Cut a dozen grape tomatoes in half and place them, cut side up, on top of the eggs.  You can substitute plum or salad tomatoes.
  6. Cover with shredded cheese.  I used what I had on hand, which happened to be Gouda and a bit of Mexican blend.  Cheddar or Swiss would work.
  7. Put something crunchy on top, like cereal flakes, crushed potato chips or bread crumbs.  I used a couple of handfuls of crushed sweet potato chips.
  8. Bake at 380 F for 25 to 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the chips are browned.
  9. Let it stand for 5  minutes to set, then serve like pie.

Afterthought:  I think it could have used some gravy in there, like under the eggs.

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