Pumpkin cake and the Brussels sprouts reprised

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

lovely cake on a lovely table

lovely cake on a lovely table

D, J, and I spent Thanksgiving with my family.  Because they host Thanksgiving, I often just cook whatever is needed to fill in the gaps in the menu.  This year, that meant two cranberry sauces: the one from the Ocean Spray bag and a cranberry chutney.  The chutney was good and made an obscene amount of food.  Seriously.  Watch out everyone I know, you’re getting a jar of chutney for Christmas.

I was also in charge of bringing a non-starchy vegetable.  I made the Brussels sprouts salad again.  It scaled up pretty well, and, wouldn’t you know it, there were make-ahead instructions on another page!  I wrongly maligned that recipe.  You blanch the brussels sprouts and toast the pine nuts the day before.  That leaves only the dressing and slicing the apples the day of.

Another beautiful dish in a beautiful dish

Another beautiful dish in a beautiful dish

Pumpkin layer cake (recipe after the jump)

The real star of the show was the pumpkin cake.  Now, we had desserts more than covered.  We had a maple walnut pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, red velvet cake, pumpkin truffles, and a cheesecake.  But…when else was I going to make a giant layer cake?  My sister already rejected the idea of having it for her birthday next Sunday, so I piled on yet another dessert.  Nobody was mad.  This was a popular cake.  It’s very easy to bake and keeps wonderfully overnight.  I think the pumpkin pie spice in the cream cheese frosting (yeah, you read that right) really did add something.  I wouldn’t call it optional.  The cake was very moist.  I guess it reminded me a lot of pumpkin pancakes!  Giant pumpkin pancakes with cream cheese frosting.  You’re gonna want that.  Oh, one tip: the recipe says to use an electric mixer to make the batter and the frosting.  Incorrect.  Bust out the Kitchen Aid and the paddle attachment.  You’ll want the firepower of a stand mixer to get through all that butter and cream cheese.  Also, it’s a lot of batter.  Your arms will be glad you used ol’ Kitchy.

It just looks moist, doesn't it?  Gotta love pumpkin

It just looks moist, doesn’t it? Gotta love pumpkin

Oh, and check out the cheese from my trip to see B!

Cabot aged cheddar, buffalo wing sauce cheddar, everything bagel cheddar.

Cabot aged cheddar, buffalo wing sauce cheddar, everything bagel cheddar.

Happy Thanksgiving, wherever and whoever you are.

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Pin it to win it

Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans

Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

I ❤ Pinterest.  I ❤ it so much that I’m willing to use stupid emoti-hearts to express myself.  I don’t even know why I love it sometimes.  Sometimes I think it’s just relaxing to look through pretty pictures and drink wine.  That’s probably it.  It’s also interesting to see what people get into.  It teaches me things about my fellow humans that I never knew.  Ladies love nail art.  A lot.  Everyone thinks they have a recipe that tastes just like a Frosty (it doesn’t.  stop lying).  Chex mix is more popular than I thought.  Muddy buddies (puppy chow, white trash, etc. etc.) is apparently just the most versatile thing in the world.  Red Velvet puppy chow.  Nutella puppy chow.  Nutella, there’s another Pinterest thing.  There are two things that are arguably the biggest of all.  You’re probably already thinking it, Pinterest fan: crock pot recipes and pumpkin.  Seeing lots of nodding.  I made these two recipes and thought, “Man.  This is straight out of Pinterest.”  So paint your nails to look like candy canes, grab some Chex Mix, and find out why…

Tex mex chicken and beans is your classic Pinterest slow cooker dump recipe.  There’s very little prep.  I didn’t have bell pepper and I’ve had bell peppers get weird in a slow cooker, so I put in the other 1/2 of a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, cut up with scissors.  Those were from the huevos rancheros recipe in October.  Plus, my chipotles in adobo came from the freezer.  You never use a whole can, so I freeze the peppers with adobe in ice cube trays, one pepper per whole, lined with plastic wrap.  Once they are frozen, you can just slide them out wrap and all and put them in a freezer bag.  It takes maybe 2 minutes on defrost to bring them back to life.  I also added some more dried pinto beans because I was scared that the stuff wasn’t reaching halfway up the side of the crock, and the instructions on the crockpot are pretty explicit about that.  Other than that, it was just a matter of letting it heat up.  Super easy.  Very very good.

slow cookin', swayin' to the music, slow cookin', just me and Everyday Food

slow cookin’, swayin’ to the music, slow cookin’, just me and Everyday Food

The penne with pumpkin sauce recipe hits the other Pinterest high note: pumpkin.  But it does it in a more sophisticated way.  It’s not cloying and sweet.  The white wine vinegar cuts a lot of the sweetness.  I will say that you should believe the recipe when it says to salt it generously, the canned pumpkin needs salt.  Also, frying rosemary is a total mess, and it is stressful trying to pick little pieces out of hot oil with a slotted spoon.  Luckily, it adds some flavor and crunch along with the stress.  I made a separate serving for J without the rosemary and red pepper flakes.  He liked it well enough.

Not pictured: nails that look like jack o' lanterns

Not pictured: nails that look like jack o’ lanterns

Pumpkin Cookies….YUM!

Chocolate-Glazed Pumpkin Cookies

November 2007, pg. 182

http://www.marthastewart.com/338160/chocolate-glazed-pumpkin-cookies

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I hadn’t made pumpkin cookies in a few years.  They were one of my two ‘Go To Cookies’ when I lived with B in Syracuse.  I suppose baking pumpkin cookies just wasn’t the same without B there.  So I was pretty excited that pumpkin cookies were in the November 2007 issue (and B is somewhat part of the experience)!

I baked the pumpkin cookies at my parents’ house when I was visiting last week and then mailed them to my brothers.  My mom and I like to bake cookies and then mail them to people (so we don’t gorge ourselves). Both of my brothers won’t be coming home for Thanksgiving so the chocolate-glazed pumpkin cookies would be a perfect snack for the coming holiday.  Plus my baby brother, who is twenty-six, LOVES baked goods with pumpkin.

In the past I have prepared fresh pumpkin for recipes requiring pumpkin puree, and this is the perfect time of year to get a fresh pumpkin.  However, Libby’s pumpkin puree is also easy to get this time of year and personally I think it’s just as tasty as fresh pumpkin (and there are less dishes to wash).  So I went with the canned choice.

The cookies were extremely easy and didn’t take much time to bake.  It took me less than 30 minutes to mix all the ingredients together and start dropping batter on the cookie sheets.  I did use my mom’s ‘cookie dough scoop’, which was amazing.  My finger didn’t get covered in raw batter!  I found out the scoop was a little larger than a ‘heaping tablespoon’ because I only made 25 cookies, not forty-two.  The cooking time still fell within the 15-20 minute range published in the EF recipe.  I took Hank for a hike while the cookies cooled.

Later in the day I melted the chocolate for the top of the cookies.  I did use the microwave, not the stove, to melt the chocolate.  I cook it for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between.  I find it much easier than melting it on the stove and you dirty less dishes (which is very important when your only dishwasher is your own two hands).

The final product was delicious.  Of course my mom and I tried a cookie or two before packaging the rest up for my brothers.  The cookies were moist, spongy, and you could taste the pumpkin with the perfect amount of spice.  The chocolate-glaze made the cookies look really nice and of course taste better.  I’m not sure how the glaze will travel in the mail.  My brothers might get pumpkin cookies with chocolate crumbs.  Not that they care about how their cookies look, just how they taste!  Next time, I might put chocolate chips in the batter if the final product will be travelling.

In hindsight I should have baked one of the more difficult desserts from Issue 47 while I was visiting my parents.  They have a normal sized oven, that has a nice seal and you can trust the temperature setting.  If you remember from an earlier post, my kitchen is less than average…. Oh well.  The chocolate-glazed pumpkin cookies were a success and hopefully they will return to “Go To Cookie” status.

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Next, back to my own kitchen to bake a Maple Nut Tart!