Monday, October 31, 2005

Pumpkin Cake

For my parent's 30th Anniversary I made them this cake. Like me, they are both big fans of pumpkin. I also made them a batch of the pumpkin cookies which I reviewed previously.

I got this cake recipe from the Kraft Foods website. I was doing a search for pumpkin recipes and when I saw this cake I knew that I had to give it a shot. If you click on the link, you will notice that the cake was supposed to be 4 layers and as you can see from the picture above, mine is only 2. I think that they used smaller cake pans since my layers did not come out thick enough to cut in half. And since I didn't have multiple layers I decided to put the whipped filling on top along with the caramel and pecans (I also toasted the pecans, the recipe didn't call for this but I think that they taste better toasted).

This was another of the "uses a boxed cake mix as a base" recipes that I love. These type of cake recipes are great because they make the preparation quick and easy. The creamy filling for the cake was a combination of cream cheese, pumpkin, powdered sugar, and cool whip; and it would make an excellent fruit and cookie dip on its own.

This cake was a true winner. This recipe takes top honors for my October posts.

As a side note, since this is now the end of October, I'm going to be putting a hold on the pumpkin theme at least until Thanksgiving. I haven't decided what I will bring to the family dinner, but its highly likely that it will contain pumpkin. I also need to take a short break from desserts at least until closer to Christmas.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 24, 2005

Pumpkin Cookies

Continuing on the pumpkin-fest, presented today are pumpkin cookies. The batch actually made 3 dozen cookies but I took the photo while the rest were still in the oven. I got this recipe from the Libby Company who makes the canned pumpkin. At some point last year I requested their pumpkin mini-cookbook and dug it out last night to get this recipe. The whole process took about an hour since I only have one cookie sheet and one silpat (**christmas gift hint**), but I was talking on the telephone a majority of that time so it didn't seem as long.

The cookies are sweet but not overly so. I brought them into work this morning and shared them with my coworkers. One said that they reminded her of a scone and the more I think about it, I agree. These cookies are pretty similar in flavor the pumpkin scones at Starbucks.

I expected a recipe from the Libby cookbook to turn out well and these met that expectation. This recipe is a definite keeper.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Review: Coffee-Mate Pumpkin Spice Creamer

No longer am I tied to Starbucks to get my Pumpkin Spice coffee kick since Coffee-Mate introduced their new seasonal creamers. Along with Pumpkin Spice, Coffee-Mate also offers Peppermint and Gingerbread flavors. I am only going to discuss the Pumpkin Spice today since I think its too early to be thinking about peppermint and gingerbread (check back after Halloween, I will probably be in the Christmas mood after that.)

I will admit, this is not the same as the Pumpkin Spice Latte that I usually get, but it is a close second. There is a lot of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavor in the creamer. With a little sugar and a strong brewed of coffee, it makes a very nice drink. And with the fact that it was less than $2 for a bottle that has at least 15 generous servings, it is a great deal. If you like pumpkin spice coffee you need to try this creamer.

As of today Coffee-Mate does not show it on their website, so it might not have hit all the grocery stores yet. Just keep your eyes open for it. Its worth it.


Pumpkin Soup w/ Pumpkin Cornbread

I was in a pumpkin mood last night. To better put that, I was in the mood for pumpkin last night. As I said in earlier posts pumpkin a great fall flavor and I will use it as often as I can.

Last night's creations were a simple pumpkin soup and pumpkin-pecan cornbread.

The original recipe for the soup called for a can of condensed cream of potato soup. I was hoping to find a low-sodium variety and when I could not, I substituted it for cream of chicken. As a side note, I'm not monitoring my sodium but I think you should always be aware of how much you are ingesting. The rest of the soup consisted of pumpkin, cream, seasonings, and water. I added more seasonings than the original recipe called for since I knew that the reduction in sodium would reduce the flavor. The soup then simmered for about 30 minutes. Its a creamy soup and doesn't have much texture but does have a good flavor. I wouldn't serve it for a main dish, but as a side it would be great.

The pumpkin-pecan cornbread muffins were made from scratch; it too was a simple recipe. Flour, corn meal, leavening, and salt are mixed with pumpkin, brown sugar, oil, and eggs until blended then chopped pecans are folded in. Then the muffins are baked until they look done. Although a bit dry, the cornbread had great flavor. I tend to like my cornbread a little sweeter so in the next batch I will probably increase the amount of brown sugar and possible dust the surface of the muffins with sugar before baking.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Peach Cookie Cobbler

I've been waiting to make this dessert for a while now. My original plan was to make individual cobblers in my onion soup bowls (these are the same shape and size as mine but a different color), but I saw that they were not oven safe. So instead I made the cobbler in an 8"x8" dish.

The thing that makes this cobbler unique and simple is that the topping is ready-made sugar cookie dough. If you wanted to make it even easier you could use canned fruit. I cooked down 2 bags of frozen peaches with a little sugar until the peaches were warmed through and a slight syrup had formed. The peaches were poured into the baking the dish and I rolled out the dough so it would cover the top of the dish. All that was left was to put the dough on top of the peaches and put the dish in the oven. I think it took about 40 minutes to bake (I kept checking until the top was golden brown.)

I served the cobbler with whipped topping but ice cream would make a great compliment as well.

Labels: ,

Spinach Bread

I was in a bread baking mood this weekend and since the first batch did not work out as planned, I'm glad I made this one as well. This is a basic white bread with chopped spinach baked within. I found this recipe off the foodtv website and since I had a large bag of fresh spinach I thought I would give it a try.

The original recipe directed that it be done by hand. I used my stand mixer which made it pretty simple. The only out of the ordinary process was that you first have to wilt the spinach and that the water you used to wilt the spinach goes into the mix.

This dough rose very well and very quickly (verifying the fact that I did indeed kill of the yeast in the previous recipe and not that my yeast was dead to begin with.) I baked it in a silicone loaf pan which is why it looks wider than a typical bread loaf. [I didn't even think about this fact until my cousin questioned what pan I used to get a loaf that was wide.]

This bread turned out really well. There is a slight spinach flavor to the bread (if I remake this, I would add more spinach the recipe called for.)

Labels: ,

it ended up being breadsticks. . .

My original plan was for this to be a loaf of white bread. However during the yeast proofing process I believe my water was too hot and I killed off the yeast. The dough came together rather well but would not rise. Since I didn't want to throw the dough away I stretched it onto a cookie sheet and rubbed it with olive oil, italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Then I baked it until it looked done (I honestly don't remember how long it was in the oven).

They aren't the best breadsticks but they are alright.

I learned my lesson about the temperature of the water thankfully before I started the next loaf of bread.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Review: McCormick Skillet Paste, Teriyaki Style

As you can see from the title, this post is a review of McCormick's new skillet pastes. In the newspaper a few weeks ago there were coupons for the paste and since the grocery store had them on sale, it was practically free. I chose to go with teriyaki over the other flavors of sweet and sour, barbecue, or country herb.

I followed the 3 step instructions on the back of the paste packet (and made some rice) and came up with the meal seen above. Since the sodium counts in the paste were on the high side I used only half of the packet and I found there to be plenty of sauce.

As for flavor I thought the sauce was pretty good. It's about equal to take out quality teriyaki. My cut of beef wasn't the highest quality and the quick cooking time didn't allow for much tenderizing; so I suggest in the future to cut the beef into smaller pieces before cooking or get a more tender cut to begin with.

It was good, it was quick. I would make it again.

And yes, that is real steam in the picture.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pumpkin Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup

Fall is definitely here and with that comes food involving pumpkins and apples. These are some of the best reasons to enjoy fall. The leaves turning and cooler weather are nice, but pumpkin and apple are what really make fall great.

Last year around this time I made lots of pumpkin pancakes, but with the gift of the Belgian Waffle maker, I decided to try pumpkin waffles this time around. Since getting the waffle iron I have tried about all of the mixes and I think the best one for plain waffles is by Krusteaz (some day I will post about "Trader Joe's Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancake and Waffle Mix").

The side of the Krusteaz box had a recipe for apple waffles and I used that for the basis of the pumpkin waffles. In their recipe they used applesauce so I in turn used canned pumpkin and added fresh grated nutmeg and cinnamon for extra flavor.

On their own, the waffles were great, but what's a waffle without syrup. If I had real maple syrup on hand I probably would have used that; since I did not, I decided to make a syrup out of apple cider (it seemed appropriate for the waffles). In a small sauce pan I boiled apple cider and sugar for about 10 minutes until it had cooked down and thickened. Once cooled it thickened to a syrup consistency. I didn't add any spices but if I make this again I'm going to add cinnamon I think.

These waffles were great. This morning I reheated one in the toaster oven and it was just as good. I also thought that a pumpkin butter and whipped cream mix would make a good topping. I might try that the next time around. I'll be sure to post the results.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Chicken Tenders

I get an email about once a week from Kraft where they give a few recipes and advertise one of their products. In this week's email the main recipe was chicken tenders with Shake and Bake. The recipe was simple and the chicken tenders looked mighty tasty. I already had the chicken but no Shake and Bake mix; so in my avoidance of going to the grocery store twice in one week and my desire to make things homemade whenever I can, I made my own Shake and Bake coating mix.

I looked up the ingredients of Shake and Bake on the Kraft website and saw that is was basically just flour and spices. I took it a step further and used dried bread and seasons that I made into a semi-powder in the food processor. I have a little 1 cup processor that worked great for this. To get the dried bread I put a few slices of bread into the toaster oven for about 45 minutes at 200 degrees. The spices I used were pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, and paprika.

And just like Shake and Bake all that I needed to do was put the chicken strips in a bag with the coating mix and shake. I baked the tenders for about 30 minutes in the toaster oven set at 350 degrees. The chicken tenders came out perfectly. The seasonings blended together really well and the coating stuck to the chicken (past attempts to bread chicken had resulted in a pile of breading and a bare chicken piece).

Although there is no picture, I also made some Mrs. T's mini-perogies to go with my meal. Instead of pan frying them after boiling, I too put them in the toaster oven. I gave them a quick spray with non-stick cooking spray and then seasoned them with a little salt and pepper. The baked perogies had the crispness of pan frying but without the extra butter and oil.

Both of these are recipes I will use again. The homemade coating mix was so easy to do and much cheaper than any store bought mix. Plus this way I was able to adjust the spices to my liking. I am already thinking about altering the spices to include more italian seasonings and using it for a chicken parmesan meal. I'll be sure to post the results.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 03, 2005

Checker-Board Cake

Before I get into talking about the cake, I would like to point out the fact that I do not have any decent cake tray and had to use a cookie sheet to transport the cake. I'm sure a nice cake carrier or even a cake stand would make this dessert look even better. I think I could have really cleaned up the sides as well if I had the proper equipment. If anyone feels inclined to provide me with such a stand/carrier, I would greatly appreciate it.

As you can see, the cake has a checker-board pattern; the flavors are yellow and carrot. The main purpose of this cake was to try out the checker-board kit, so I took the easy way out and used box cake mixes. I got the kit from my mom which she got for turning in the points from Pillsbury products (thanks Mom!). If you want to see what it looks like, I found it on My advice to anyone using such a kit, pour slowly. I made quite a mess on the counter by pouring too much batter into the pan and having it overflow.

To finish off the cake I made some pudding to go in between the layers and iced the cake with a canned butter cream icing. I had one slice so I could take the picture and then brought the rest into work. I predict that it will all be gone by mid-morning.

For the right occasion this is a neat cake. Its a little extra work, but I think the results justify the effort.

Labels: , ,