Pumpkin Loaf

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WHAT FALL MEANS TO ME...

The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves immediately conjures images of Fall.  Leaves blowing off the trees, pumpkins that adorn farm stands and front doorways and the appearance of colorful mums at the garden centers. It's funny how baking can make these images appear as if by magic or by childhood memories of coming home from school to the spicy scents of what summarizes to me the meaning of Fall. Looking into the oven window to see a craggy pumpkin loaf begging to be eaten immediately and dying that it needs to cool beforehand. I see the same look with my own children and know exactly what memories are being created with the scents of Fall in my home.

Equipment needed:

Mixing bowl

Large whisk

Rubber spatula

9"x4" Loaf pan or 12 Cup Muffin pan

Pantry Supplies:

1 Can 15 oz. Can Pumpkin Puree

 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

2  1/4 Cups Flour

1  2/3 cup Sugar

3 Eggs

1 tsp Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp Clove, 1/4 tsp Nutmeg,  3/4 tsp Ginger

3/4 tsp Salt, 3/4 tsp Baking Soda,  1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

 

Recipe:

In a mixing bowl combine pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, and eggs. Mix well. Add baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add flour and mix to combine. Spray your loaf pan with non-stick spray and add batter. In a small bowl combine 2 Tbs granulated sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Cover the top of the unbaked loaf with the cinnamon/sugar mixture and bake in a 350 degree oven 65-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  This recipe can be adapted to make 12 + muffins as well.

 

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Base Muffin Batter

There's something about the smell of a muffin cooking in the oven that just says home. With this easy to make muffin base, no mix ever, you can be creative with the mix-ins to suit your pantry, or tastes. Nothing fancy, just wholesome, fresh ingredients. Get the pot of coffee on because you'll be amazed how fast these come together. I recently went berry picking at my sisters house and decided to base my mix-ins on my picking haul.

EQUIPTMENT NEEDED:

Mixing bowl, measuring cup dry ingredients, liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons, whisk or hand mixer, rubber scraper, large spoon or muffin scoop, zester, muffin pan and paper liners(optional but recommended) Oven is required

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 (1 stick) melted butter and cooled(I pop it in the fridge while I get everything else together)

2 large eggs

1/2 cup whole milk (or whatever you use for cereal)

1 lemon, zested

1 cup AP flour + 1 cup wheat flour (optional) you need 2 cups total flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 TBS sanding sugar (granulated sugar is fine) for the tops of the muffins

****2 cups fresh blueberries (dusted with flour lightly to prevent them from sinking like the Titanic when baking)

****This is where you can add your own mix-in of choice. I mixed several options in a separate bowl 2 scoops at a time.

I used blackberries and blueberries and diced apple and diced apricot for my separate mix-ins to please my picky eaters. Such a tough crowd I have. Short order cooking is a tough gig for sure. And I tell myself every time that I'm not doing it anymore but here I go making 4 muffin flavors. But as you see, it's really not a big deal, or at least to me it's not.....anymore.....Well at any rate I cook and bake to please my crowd and that alone makes me happy. 

Ok back to the instructions....

Preheat your oven to 375 degree F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners or if not using spray liberally with non-stick baking spray. The last thing you want is the muffin stuck in the baking pan. Oh the HORROR of that!!!!!

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the two eggs, milk of choice, cooled butter and sugar, and lemon zest. Mix to combine well about 3 minutes. Either hand or hand mixer is fine. I used a wire whisk cause I just didn't want to dig my mixer out.

Add you flour(s), baking powder, cinnamon and salt to the liquid mixture and mix until combined. Batter will be slightly thick and dense. Add your mix-ins now and gently fold into the batter. Oh NUTS, yes you can add nuts too. Chopped nuts are a great addition to muffins if your crowd likes them and you have them handy in your pantry. Go ahead, this is your muffin add what you like.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan or liners filling them to the top or scant below about 1/4" Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with sanding sugar to create a glistening top and crunchy crust.

Bake 25 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when poked in the center of the muffin. Remove from the oven and enjoy! They are best cooled about 10 minutes but defiantly hard to wait when you've been smelling them bake.  Store in an airtight container or freeze for a breakfast on the go moment. 

 

 

Chicken Saltimbocca

This Tuscan chicken dish is moderately easy to pull together for a family meal or to impress your dinner guests in about 30 minutes start to finish. Feeds 6 people.

The Ingredients are as follows: Equipment needed: large skillet, spatula, baking sheet with rack

6 thin-sit boneless, skinless chicken cutlets. 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

ground black pepper and salt

1 TBS. fresh sage leaves, minced

6 Slices of prosciutto

4 TBS olive oil

1 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth

2 tsp lemon juice squeezed

4 TBS cold unsalted butter cut into pieces (keep cold until ready to use)

1 TBS minced Italian parsley (leaves only)

salt to taste

1 Tsp Capers rinsed (optional)

 

Pat the cutlets dry with a paper towel (both sides) 

Mix flour with salt and pepper in a shallow baking dish (to dredge)

Dip each cutlet both sides in flour mixture and set aside.

Heat oven to 250 with rack in center position.

Press the minced sage into the top of each cutlet and place a slice of prosciutto on top. Press slightly to ensure it stays in place. A dab of water around the underside will help if needed.

Cook the chicken in 2 batches using 2 TBS per pan

Heat your skillet then add 2 TBS olive oil. Add 3 cutlets to the pan with the prosciutto side down first. Let it cook about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes more until golden. Transfer these to the pan with the wire rack and place into your warm oven.

Add the remaining 2 TBS olive oil to pan and repeat the cooking method. Transfer these to the oven after cooking while you prepare the pan sauce.

Off the flame, add your wine to the pan then place over a medium heat and let reduce to about 1/2 cup (5 minutes) Stir in lemon juice and reduce heat to low. Add pieces of chilled butter little at a time and incorporate with a wire whisk until all is added. Turn off heat and add chopped Italian parsley and optional capers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Remove the chicken from the oven and place in the pan sauce. Serve each cutlet with pan sauce served around the cutlet. I like to keep the prosciutto crisp, therefore I don't pour sauce over the top.

Serve with your favorite sides. I used wild rice and Italian flat beans.

This dish make a great entertainer because it can be made 30 minutes ahead and kept warm in the oven until serving.

 

 

 

Chicken Tinga Tacos

Smoky, slightly spicy and earthy chicken tinga takes less work than you thing and packs a powerful burst of flavor. Chipotles add the heat and the smoky while the other ingredients add layers of flavor. You adjust your heat level by removing the seeds inside the chipotle pepper too. You can always make it more spicy but once you go over your desired heat level, theres no going back so I like to make it mild and build from there by tasting along the way.

By browning the chicken first and then cooking them in the sauce produces a richer, deeper tinga flavor.

 

TINGA definition= A Mexican dish, origin Pueblo Mexico, made with shredded chicken in a sauce made of red and green tomatoes(tomatillos), chipotle chili peppers and onion strips served on a tortilla. 

INGREDIENTS

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 boneless chicken breasts

1/2 diced white onion

2 garlic cloves smashed

1 large tomatillo chopped

1/2 tsp Mexican Oregano

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 Can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes

2  chipotle peppers diced (seeds removed for less heat) plus 2 TBS adobo sauce from the can

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 bay leaf 

Salt to taste

In a Dutch Oven or heavy bottom pan, heat 1-2 TBS canola oil

Pat chicken dry and place in hot pan to brown about 6 minutes each side.

Remove from pan and transfer to plate leaving fat in pan

Add onions and garlic, cook to translucent. Add tomatillo and cook to soften.

Add oregano and cumin, tomatoes, chipotle with adobo and cook about 5 minutes on medium heat stirring occasionally to not burn.

Transfer sauce to blender and puree to smooth, adding the chicken broth as needed to thin.

Pour sauce back into pan and stir in remaining chicken stock and add bay leaf

Chop chicken in to strips and add into sauce along with any natural juices that may have settled on the plate.

Stir to combine and bring to boil over medium heat. 

Reduce to a simmer and let cook uncovered about 5 minutes

Season with salt to taste.

Spoon chicken into warm corn tortilla and top with salsa, onion, cilantro and cotija cheese

Serve with lime wedge(to help cut the heat) and radish and perhaps a side of black beans.

A cool brew or margarita and you're all set!

Defiantly not your ordinary taco. 

Enjoy!

 

 

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Jalepeño Popper Burger

It's football season both pro and college and that means tailgates and grilling. When you want to step up your game and wow your crowd, look to the burger.  Not an ordinary burger. You will need to impress with this jalepeño popper inspired burger. Two patties with a cream cheese, cheddar, jalepeño filling in the middle that yields a gooey and creamy burst of flavor.  These can be made in slider size or regular burger size depending on your serving needs. I guarantee your guests will definitely be asking for these again.  I hope you enjoy these.

Ingredients for 2 burgers:

3/4 to 1 lb ground sirloin
2 Tbs softened cream cheese
1 Tbs diced pickled jalepeños (nacho style)
1 Tbs diced red onion
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (orange or white)
Salt and Pepper
Your favorite bakery buns
Romaine lettuce
Tomato
Red Onion

Cream cheese mixture before adding the grated cheese

Cream cheese mixture before adding the grated cheese

After adding grated cheese

After adding grated cheese

Sriracha Sauce:
1 Tbs mayonaise or greek yogurt
A few dashes of sriracha to your taste
small squeeze of lime

Heat your indoor or outdoor grill while you make the patties.

In a small bowl mix softened cream cheese, diced jalepeños, diced onion together.
Add the grated cheese and mix to combine.
Set aside.
Divide meat in 1/2 and then each half in 1/2 again so you have 4 balls of meat.
Flatten your base burger and make a indented center well to house the filling.
Flatten another burger for the top cover.
Fill each base burger (with the indent) with about 2 Tbs of filling.
Top and seal with the flat burger sealing the edges together pinching with your fingers.
Reshape and repeat with the other burger.
Season with salt and pepper

Make an indentation by flattening the center of the burger a bit thinner than the rest to house the filling

Make an indentation by flattening the center of the burger a bit thinner than the rest to house the filling

Fill each patty with the jalepeño filling and top with the remaining patty.

Fill each patty with the jalepeño filling and top with the remaining patty.

Seal the edges and reshape the burger. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before putting on the grill

Seal the edges and reshape the burger. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before putting on the grill

And here is your finished grilled burger. Place some sriracha sauce on the bottom bun then add lettuce, burger, choice of toppings and more sauce on the top bun to hold. Cut it 1/2 for serving. The center will be a creamy, cheesy and spicy burst of flavor.

And here is your finished grilled burger. Place some sriracha sauce on the bottom bun then add lettuce, burger, choice of toppings and more sauce on the top bun to hold. Cut it 1/2 for serving. The center will be a creamy, cheesy and spicy burst of flavor.