Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is wonderful! One important tip: make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature or you will get lumps in your cheesecake.

Pumpkin Cheesecake (Paula Deen)

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.
Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Taco Soup

Excellent and easy soup to make.

Taco Soup (

1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)
crushed tortilla chips (optional)

Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.

Butternut Squash Risotto

I LOVE this risotto. Its so delicious that I want to make it all year round.

Butternut Squash Risotto (Ina Garten)

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced (I used bacon... so either works)
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan. Mix well and serve.
The flavors of this crockpot dish were excellent but it turned out a bit dry. Watch your liquids when you make it. Next time, I will double the sauce.

CrockPot Indian Curry (

- 1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
- 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 4-6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1 T tomato paste
- 2 T curry powder
- 1 t ground coriander
- 1 t ground cumin
- 1 inch peeled and grated ginger
- few dashes of hot sauce (skipped)
- 1 yellow onion. chopped
- 2 or 3 cloves of smashed and chopped garlic
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 of an eggplant, chopped skipped because I hate it and added butternut squash instead)
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped

The Directions.

Assemble all of your spices, coconut milk, tobasco sauce, and tomato paste. Combine the sauce ingredients in the bottom of your crockpot. The sauce will be a lovely yellow.

Add the chicken, flipping it over a few times to coat it nicely. Pour in the garbanzo beans.

Wash and chop all of the vegetables, and then add to the Crock-Pot. Don't worry about stirring them in the sauce. Let them sit on top of the chicken and steam away.

Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 4-6. I cooked our dinner on high for almost 6 hours. The chicken was fully cooked, but still had shape, and the vegetables were soft and quite nice.

Stir carefully to mix flavors. If you stir too rough, the sweet potato will fall apart.

Serve over rice;

Blueberry Streusel Scones

They blueberry scones had a different texture then scones I have made in the past. They still tasted good, but I don't think they are a favorite.

Blueberry Streusel Scones (

Scone Dough:
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup (150 grams) fresh blueberries
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon (5 grams) pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk or cream

Brushing tops of scones:
Milk or Cream

Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup (55 grams) brown sugar
1/4 cup (35 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons (30 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) and place rack in middle of oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

For the Scones: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Gently fold in the blueberries. In a small measuring cup combine the cream, beaten egg and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough or the scones will be tough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches (18 cm) round and about 11/2 inches (4 cm) thick. Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into four pie-shaped wedges (triangles). Place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream or milk.

For the Streusel Topping: In a small bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until crumbly. Top each scone with a teaspoon or two of the streusel mixture. Cover and refrigerate any leftover streusel mixture.

Bake the scones until nicely browned, about 15 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a scone comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. These are best eaten the day they are made but can be covered and stored for a few days.

Makes 8 scones

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

This soup is so good. You can control how spicy you like it by adjusting the amount of pepper you add. We love it spicy, so I added more than the recipe called for.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup (from Rachel Ray)

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups canned or packaged vegetable stock, found on soup aisle
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
2 cans (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (found often on the baking aisle)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 palm full
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 palm full
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, eyeball it in the palm of your hand
Coarse salt
20 blades fresh chives, chopped or snipped, for garnish

Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add oil. When oil is hot, add onion. Saute onions 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, black beans and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine ingredients and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and

Pesto Pizza

Homemade pizza is delicious but you can have the same wonderful taste without all the work. I typically pick up pizza dough at trader joes and then top it with whatever suits my mood at the time. Often, I make a veggie pesto pizza (using either homemade or store bought pesto).

1 pizza dough (I used whole wheat)
1 cup pesto sauce (or as much as you want.. usually a thin layer is best)
assortments of veggies (I used 1 red pepper, 1 zucchini, 8 oz mushrooms, 1/2 onion).
1/2 cup precooked chicken (optional if you want veggie only)
8 oz mozzarella cheese

Follow the directions on how to make the dough and bake it. After rolling out dough, top pizza with pesto, cheese, veggies, and chicken. Bake according to pizza dough directions until browned and cheese is melted.

Mediterranean Couscous with Zucchini, Chickpeas & Feta

I loved this salad. Its a great side for a BBQ. It has chickpeas and feta.. it can't get better than that.

Mediterranean Couscous with Zucchini, Chickpeas & Feta (

1 pound zucchini and/or summer squash, cut into V-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 to 3 cups total)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups plain Couscous
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 V to 2 lemons)
3 medium garlic gloves, pressed or finely minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
5 medium scallions, thinly sliced
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

1) Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add half the squash in even layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook without
stirring until golden brown on one side – 3 to 4 minutes.

2) Transfer to a plate to cool. Repeat with remaining squash. next Bring water to a boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat, add couscous and 1 V teaspoons Kosher salt (x teaspoon
table salt), and stir. Cover and let stand 10 minutes. Transfer couscous to a serving bowl and fluff with fork.

3) Meanwhile, whisk together lemon juice, garlic and olive oil in a small bowl. Add lemon juice mixture and chickpeas to couscous, toss well to combine and cool to room temperature,
about 20 minutes.

4) Stir in parsley, scallions, feta and squash. Season with a generous amount of fresh black pepper and Kosher salt.

Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage and Bell Pepper

I made this gnocchi minus the fennel. I actually found it to be a bit boring and needed some more sauce.

Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper, and Fennel (

1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi (such as Vigo)
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces basil, pine nut, and chicken sausage (such as Gerhard's), casing removed and sliced
1 cup thinly sliced fennel
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Asiago cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Cook the gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the gnocchi in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Keep gnocchi warm.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove sausage from skillet using a slotted spoon.

3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan. Add fennel, bell pepper, and onion to pan; cook 13 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add sausage, gnocchi, cheese, black pepper, and reserved cooking liquid to pan; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in parsley.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Butternut Squash Gratin With Goat Cheese And Hazelnuts

Wow.. this was amazing. If you love butternut squash and you love goat cheese, you will absolutely love this recipe. I will be making this again!

Butternut Squash Gratin With Goat Cheese And Hazelnuts (

3 1/2 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes (8 cups)

2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
3 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1 1/ teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 5.5-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped (I could not find hazelnuts so I used chopped walnuts and lightly toasted them in a dry pan)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place butternut squash cubes and olive oil in large bowl; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and ground pepper and toss to coat. Spread out squash cubes on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until just tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks and chopped sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Coat 11x7-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Spread half of leek mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of squash and half of cheese. Repeat layering with leeks, squash, and cheese. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour cream evenly over gratin. Sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if previously chilled).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lunch and Dinner in Ireland

When in Ireland, you tend to eat a lot of pub grub. I would equate this to the affordable food options that we have here in America. Its usually pretty simple food - stews, fish and chips, chowder, grilled sandwiches. After spending 12 days in Ireland, we got a bit sick of meat and potatoes so we ventured out to try some other cuisines - Thai, Indian, Italian. I wouldn't say that we loved Irish food as it seemed a bit bland, but we did enjoy trying the many variety at pubs and restaurants across the country. We did have some of the best thai food we have ever had in a little town called Kinsale. It was so hot, it really made me sweat! I can't even get them to make it that hot in California!

Fish Chowder and Soda Bread

Burger and Chips

Fish and Chips

Spicy Seafood Pasta

Bangers and Mash


Beef and Guinness Stew

Fish and Chips



Fish Chowder and Brown Bread

Meat Lasagna (sorry its dark)

Hot Irish Smoked Salmon


Chocolate Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Ice Cream

Panang Curry

Pad See Me

Fajita Wrap with Chips

Fish and Chips

Grilled Ham and Cheese

Fajita and Salad (sorry its dark)

Chowder (sorry its dark)



Real Fish and Chips

Breakfast in Ireland

We spent 12 days in Ireland and stayed at a B&B for each night. Breakfast is included and it was very interesting to see how the traditional Irish Breakfast changed from place to place. An Irish breakfast is normally 2 eggs (any way), 2 pieces of bacon (the best bacon ever.. not like american bacon), 2 sausages, 2 puddings (black and white, basically the leftovers of a pig and the black one includes the blood), grilled tomatoes, mushrooms or potatoes, toast, and brown bread. It was a ton of food! I'm not a huge fan of pudding but some people love it.

At some places we were lucky enough to get pancakes (crepes), smoked salmon, or omelets. Each B&B had their own variety.

Irish Breakfast

Irish Breakfast

Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs

Irish Breakfast

Irish Breakfast



Pancakes and Bacon

Half Irish

Eggs and Bacon




Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I apologize for the lack of posts, but summer has been crazy busy and I have not been cooking many new recipes. Once we get back from Ireland (end of Sept), I hope to get back to a more normal routine.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Roasted Potatoes with North Indian Spices

These potatoes were amazing. I know these will be a regular in our house.

Roasted Potatoes with North Indian Spices(

3 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 pounds small red potatoes, halved (about 8 cups)
1 3/4 teaspoons black mustard seeds (I used a dash of dry ground mustard instead)
6 dried red chiles
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (skipped!)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
8 lime wedges

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine 1 tablespoon oil and potatoes, tossing to coat. Set aside.

3. Heat remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons oil, mustard seeds, and chiles in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until seeds begin to pop. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add ginger, garlic, and jalapeño to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in salt, turmeric, and Garam Masala; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
I totally skipped this step and just made the spice mixture without cooking. I think this step only matters if you have actual mustard seeds. I couldn't find them.

Add spice mixture to potatoes, tossing to coat. Arrange potato mixture in a single layer in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

4. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and browned, stirring every 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, mint (skipped the mint because I am not a fan), and juice. Serve with lime wedges.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

I made this coffee cake the night before our trip to Vegas. It was a great snack to eat on the way to the airport. I froze the rest and we had it after our trip. I'm always on the look out for good coffee cake and this one is a repeater.

Blueberry Coffee Cake (

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 1/3 cups low-fat buttermilk
Cooking spray
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (I used regular sugar)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

3. Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add vanilla, egg, and egg white; beat well. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition.

4. Spoon half of the batter into a 9-inch round baking pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup blueberries. Spoon remaining batter over the blueberries; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 cup blueberries. Sprinkle the top evenly with 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Chicken and Mushroom Tacos

Sorry, no picture. Have you ever tried to take a picture of a taco? It doesn't look that pretty all the time. These tacos were good, but won't satisfy you if you like your tacos spicey. They have a very mild flavor.

Chicken and Mushroom Tacos

Cooking spray
1 3/4 cups thinly vertically sliced onion
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 cups presliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1/4 cup Madeira wine or dry sherry
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup light sour cream

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add jalapeño; sauté 2 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over onion mixture; sauté 1 minute. Remove onion mixture from pan.
2. Return pan to heat; recoat with cooking spray. Add mushrooms and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add Madeira to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Uncover; cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently. Stir in onion mixture and chicken; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

3. Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture onto each tortilla. Top each tortilla with 2 tablespoons cheese; fold in half. Serve with sour cream.

Broccoli with Cheddar Sauce

This cheddar sauce was ok. I might add some cayenne pepper and use it as a nacho sauce in the future. :)

Broccoli with Cheddar Sauce (

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extrasharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets (about 9 cups)

1. Place flour in a medium saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat 2 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and thickened, stirring constantly. Cook 1 additional minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, mustard, salt, pepper, and thyme, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Keep warm.
2. Add water to a large saucepan to a depth of 1 inch; set a large vegetable steamer in pan. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add broccoli to steamer. Steam broccoli, covered, 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Serve broccoli immediately with sauce.