Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins

Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar (I used Splenda baking blend)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
2 eggs
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
coarse sugar, if desired

Preheat oven to 400.

Grease 12 regular size muffin cups or line with paper baking cups.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Stir in pumpkin, oil, eggs, cranberries, and pecans until just moistened. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle coarse sugar evenly over batter in each cup.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan to cooling rack. Serve warm.

Yield: 12 muffins

Two words - fall yumminess. Now that I'm on maternity leave, I figured I should bake these muffins since I've been wanting to make them for awhile. The combo of spices, pumpkin, and cranberries is really good. They're also not overly sweet for breakfast, but also good for an afternoon snack. Which I just had! I've saved one for P and have frozen the rest. I wrapped them individually in foil for an easy breakfast or snack from the freezer in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chicken-Penne Florentine Bake

Chicken-Penne Florentine Bake

From Kraft Foods

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
2 TBSP flour
2 cups multi-grain penne pasta, uncooked (I used Barilla PLUS penne)
2 TBSP Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing (I didn't have this and used Balsamic Vinaigrette)
1 cup fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth
2 oz reduced fat cream cheese, cubed
1 10oz package chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup 2% shredded mozzarella cheese
2 TBSP grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 375.

Toss chicken with flour. Cook pasta according to directions on package.

While pasta cooks, heat dressing in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 3 minutes or just until chicken is browned. Add broth and cream cheese; cook 3 minutes or until cream cheese is melted, stirring frequently. Stir in spinach.

Drain pasta. Add to spinach mixture; mix lightly. Spoon half into 2 quart casserole dish; top with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until casserole is heated through and mozzarella is melted.

Yield: 6 servings

Another easy, tasty recipe from Kraft. This one wasn't quite as quick as some of the others I've made, but using pre-cooked chicken would speed it up. I wasn't sure it would be flavorful enough at first, and it might not be for some people, but I thought it had a creamy flavor without being heavy. We can definitely get 6, if not more, servings out of this dish. I'm not a huge fan of leftovers, but this heated up well the following night without the pasta getting too dry.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Scones

Copycat Pumpkin Scones
Found online and unsure of original author

2 cups all-purpose flour
7 TBSP granulated sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 TBSP half-and-half (I used fat free)
1 large egg
6 TBSP cold butter

Plain Glaze:
1 cup plus 1 TBSP powdered sugar
3 TBSP milk (I used skim)

Spiced Icing:
1 cup plus 3 TBSP powdered sugar
2 TBSP milk (I used skim)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground ginger

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger in a large bowl.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half-and-half, and egg.

Cut butter into cubes and add it to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender, combine butter with dry ingredients. Continue mixing until no chunks of butter are visible.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then form the dough into a ball (I found the dough to be very sticky, so it might help to flour your hands). Pat out dough on a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1 inch thick rectangle that is roughly 9 inches long and 3 inches wide. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice along the width, making 3 equal portions. Cut those 3 slices diagonally.

Bake for 14-16 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Scones should begin to turn light brown.

While scones cool, prepare glaze by mixing in a medium bowl. Mix until smooth. When scones are cool, use a brush to paint a coating of glaze over each scone.

While glaze firms up, prepare spiced icing by mixing ingredients in a medium bowl (I used the same bowl from the glaze). Drizzle the thicker icing over the scones and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour).

Makes 6-9 scones, depending on how you slice the dough.

This was my first attempt at making scones, and these are so good! I'm not sure if I've ever had an original Starbucks pumpkin scones, so I can't say how close these are. If they're anything close to these, then they must be good. Next time I might add a bit more pumpkin, but other than that these will be a great breakfast treat.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes
From The Novice Chef
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 quantity chai spice mix (see below)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used reduced fat)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (I didn't have any and used plain vinegar)

Chai Spice Mix:
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I didn't have any and substituted pumpkin pie spice)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Mix together spices in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add vanilla and beat in one egg at a time. Stir in half the quantity of the chai spice mix. Fold in the flour and buttermilk and stir until combined, don't over mix. Mix together the baking soda and vinegar and mix into the batter.

Spoon into prepared cupcake cases until 3/4 full. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Vanilla Chai Buttercream:
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 quantity chai spice mix
1-2 TBSP cold milk, if needed

In a stand mixer, beat the butter until it's creamy. On low, mix in vanilla and the rest of the chai spice mix. Carefully beat in the sugar 1/2 cup at a time. If the buttercream is too thick, add 1-2 TBSP cold milk until the desired consistency is reached. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

I absolutely love vanilla chai, so when I came across this recipe I knew I had to try it out. These were not overly sweet (well, of course the icing was) and a good fall alternative to the typical very sweet cupcakes people make in the summer. I think the cake part would be good for breakfast with cream cheese instead of icing. The icing would also be good on a pumpkin cupcake or gingerbread cupcake.

I have very little cupcake decorating experience, and this was my first time attempting to do something other than smear icing onto the top of the cake. Not having any tools, I just used a ziploc bag and cut a small hole in one corner. Worked pretty well! I may ask for the Wilton 12-piece cupcake decorating kit for Christmas...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted from Gooseberry Patch Harvest Kitchen

2 9-inch pie crusts
2 TBSP onion
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
10 3/4 oz can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a 9-inch pie pan with one crust; set aside. Mix together chicken, vegetables, onion, soup and milk; pour into pie crust. Cover with remaining crust; crimp edges and cut vents in crust. Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

Serves 6.

I've been having a craving for pot pie recently, so I decided to make this really easy recipe. I like that it didn't call for any butter which is unusual for pot pie. This was quick and easy, as well as tasty. I was lazy and used pre-cooked chicken, and this would be a good use for leftover rotisserie chicken.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Turkey Pesto Sliders

Turkey Pesto Sliders
From Annie's Eats

6 slider buns
6 slices turkey deli meat
6 slices provolone cheese
3 TBSP pesto
3 TBSP mayonnaise
2 TBSP butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Split the buns and lay a folded slice of turkey on the bottom bun. Layer each with a slice of provolone. In a small bowl, combine the pesto and mayonnaise and mix until blended. Spread a thin layer of the pesto mayonnaise on the top half of each bun. Replace the top half to assemble the sliders. Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the melted butter. Bake 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sliders are warmed through.

I've always wanted to make something from Annie's blog, but am generally intimated by her cooking skills. I figured it would be hard to mess up these sliders, and I find myself looking for easier and easier meals as pregnancy progresses. These were very easy and hit the spot! 2 sliders and a small salad were enough dinner for me, and Patrick agreed that they were a tasty weeknight meal. I foresee eating these on a semi-regular basis when the baby is here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Easy Peach Cobbler

Easy Peach Cobbler
From Southern Living, June 1997

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar, divided
1 TBSP baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 cups fresh peach slices
1 TBSP lemon juice
Ground cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired (I decided to try cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 375.

Melt butter in a 9x13 baking dish.

Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).

Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm or cool.

Yield: 10 servings

I halved the recipe since I was just making it for the 2 of us on Labor Day. It's a good thing I did that because this was perfection as far a summer desserts go. We easily could have gone back for seconds, but are saving the rest for tomorrow night.

The peaches I had weren't super sweet, but if they had been the sugar would have needed to be cut in half. I usually use Splenda blends when I bake, but decided to just go for it with this recipe. It's even yummier served with vanilla ice cream. Maybe next time I'll make the whole recipe...