Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Anticipation of Fall - Making Caramel Apples, Pumpkin Bread + Cabbage & Kielbasa Soup Recipes + Fun Video

Late last week it was a tad bit cold. In the mountains they even got an inch of snow. This put Ellie and I into a Fall kind of mood. She and Kohlton decided they would welcome the new season with a bit of caramel apple creations.
Ellie tried out and liked these new little balls of caramel. I was skeptical, but I am now won over. I thought the caramel would be weird since it can be thinned with water. I like the fact that we no longer the tedious job of unwrapping small square caramels.
Ellie also assembled some fun toppings.
Kohlton had never made caramel apples, so Ellie taught him and he picked it up quickly.

Pumpkin Quick Bread

1 1/2 cups Pumpkin Puree
3/4 cup Applesauce
1 3/4 cups Sugar
3 eggs
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
3/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
3/4 tsp Ground Allspice
3/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
Cooking Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9x5 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, applesuace, sugar, and eggs until well-incorporated. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Gradually pour into the pumpkin batter a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition until the mixture is well-blended. Be careful to not over
mix the batter.

Divide batter evenly between the loaf pans and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

Allow to cool completely in pans before removing the bread. Run a knife around the edges of the bread in the pan to loosen. Store any remaining bread in plastic wrap.


Last night we hung out with the Cure family and had a casual meal to go along with our visiting. They thought the Cabbage and Kielbasa soup was humble, I thought it was delicious:

Cabbage & Kielbasa Soup
Via: The Cure Family

1 large Yellow Onion, chopped
3 TBL. Olive Oil
1 ring (about 1 1/2 pound) Kielbasa Sausage ring, cut into pieces or diced
2 large Potatoes, or 6 New Red Potatoes, cubed
6 cups Chicken Stock
1 head Cabbage, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute the onion and the kielbasa in hot oil in a soup pot until the onion is softened. Add the potatoes and stock. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 30 min. Bring the soup to a boil and add the cabbage. Stir. Turn the heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes or more. The longer you simmer the soup, the more the cabbage will incorporate. If you make this in a crock pot, some of the cabbage will sort of dissolve or melt and begin to thicken the soup a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a nice bread, such as thick slices of French bread.

I will add:
chopped apple
beer (maybe)

And finally, a little English Teacher fun:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cooking with my kids, "The Hundred Foot Journey" + Rio Muffins Recipe

Last night I went to see "The Hundred Foot Journey." It is the story of a young Indian boy whose family opens an Indian restaurant in France. The young man, Hassan, has a rare talent for cooking and a love for the process. The movie is about how he blossoms into a remarkable chef in adulthood. It is also about making connections with those who you love, and memories of the past, through food. It was a wonderful movie. I will have to buy it once it comes out on DVD. I have included the trailer below, should you like to view it.

I am thankful that I have been able to create similar connections with my own kids. Ethan loves to cook. Ellie loves to bake and make desserts. She is rapidly picking up cooking as well. It is gratifying to watch them work their own magic in the kitchen; it is wonderful to see how they imbue their personalities in the foods they create.

Ethan collects food, spice and recipes where ever he goes. When he went to Jamaica when he was 15, he brought back a suitcase half full of spices and candy. When he was working construction, he picked up a few great recipes from a few of the people he worked with. One of them, Rio Muffins, has become a family favorite. In fact, when Larr was making a calendar list of things Ethan needed to get done while he is at home, Larr listed "make Rio Muffins" every day. I've shared that recipe below.

Ellie loves to bake. She especially loves to make beautiful cakes. If you read my blog on a regular basis, you will have seen some of her recent, amazing creations. I am always eager to see what she will create next. I am so thankful to be able to witness her creative journey. I enjoy buying tools and supplies so that she has many options at the ready.

Ellie also appreciates a well presented meal. Sometimes this inspires me to take more care with presentation than I might do when I am more rushed, busy or distracted.

I am also thankful that both of my children have well defined palettes and that they can give me reliable, specific feedback on recipes that I try out. I love trying new recipes and so there are many opportunities to refine, modify or adapt recipes. Larr likes to eat, but he says that food is food and he rarely offers suggestions.

The movie also made me weep a bit. I found myself in the father's shoes, watching and struggling a bit with letting our young ones move on into adulthood. I am happy for them, but sad for my lose.

Preparing Bacon in the Oven

Line a baking sheet with foil.

Arrange the bacon slices on the foil and place the baking sheet on the center rack of a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 400°F.

Come back 15 to 20 minutes later. The timing on the bacon has to do with how thick the bacon is and how crispy you like it to be. As soon as the bacon is golden brown, remove it from the oven.

Rio Muffins

1 English Muffin, lightly toasted
Raspberry Jam
2-3 pc. Crispy Bacon
1 slice Cheddar Cheese (we prefer the sharp cheddar for this recipe)
1 Sunny Side Up or Fried Egg
Yellow Mustard, to taste

While the egg is cooking, put a generous amount of raspberry jam on the top muffin and yellow mustard on the bottom muffin. Place the egg on the bottom muffin. Top with the cheese and bacon. Place the top muffin with raspberry jam on top and enjoy right away.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Celebrating Ethan's 21st Birthday with a Party and Five Kinds of Pie + Lots of Pie Recipes

Ethan came home about a week ago. We were all so excited to see him! We thought it would be nice to throw him a birthday party. Ethan loves a big party and thankfully we had lots of friends who joined us.
His friends from his construction job, brothers Josh and Austin, were so happy to have a chance to hang out with Ethan. They really miss him a ton. They tried to talk him into coming back to work construction again. I think Ethan might have been a little tempted.
Our usual crowd was happy to share food, grill, party and gab.

When I asked him what he wanted to eat at his party, he answered, "Five kinds of pie, please." And so we had pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, apple caramel pie and butterscotch meringue pie. My, I started making the crusts on Friday evening and then finished them on Saturday. People enjoyed the pies. It made me pleased.

I started with the crusts. I love the Flaky Crust found in Cookwise by Shirley Corriher. (It is a really excellent book, especially if you are interested in food science.)

Flaky Pie Crust
by Shirley Corriher (I have written the instructions in my own words, not hers.)

1/2 tea Salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
1/3 cup Icy Cold Water
1/2 pound (2 sticks) Butter, cut into cubes
11 oz. (about 2 cups) Flour, all purpose
Parchment Paper
2 1/2 cups Rice, dry

Dissolve the salt in the water. Place the flour and the cubed butter in a food processor and process until it looks a bit like sand. Be careful not to over-process. Add in 4-5 TBL of extremely cold water and pulse until the water is beginning to absorb.

I wipe down the surface where I am going to roll out the dough with a damp cloth. Top that with waxed paper. The damp table/counter surface will make it cling. Dump the mixture onto the waxed paper and knead the crumbly mess into dough. Once it is beginning to form a dough, pat it out with the heel of your hand and then cover it with waxed paper. Roll out with a rolling pin until it is the desired thickness.

If you have time, you can place it in the refrigerator so allow the butter to get cold again. This will result in more flake in your crust. Transfer to the pie pan, trim and crimp to make a nice edge.

If you need to pre-bake the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a piece of cooking parchment in the pan and pour in the rice. This will weigh the crust down and prevent bubble from forming in your crust. Bake it for about 20 minutes, or until it is very lightly browned on the edges. Remove from the oven, remove the parchment and the rice.

Apple with with Caramel Sauce
modified from:

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie

1/2 cup unsalted butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tbl. Cinnamon, ground
1 tea. Allspice, ground
1/2 tea. Nutmeg, ground
1/4 tea. Clove, , ground
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
6 - 8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced
2 TBL. Butter, cold and in thin chunks of very small slices

Make the caramel syrup:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar, brown sugar and spices bring to a gentle boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer until it is thickened into a syrup and all of the sugars are melted. Be sure to stir often. Once this is done, stir half of the syrup in with the apples in a bowl. Mix gently to distribute the caramel sauce.

Assemble the pie:
Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with the spiced apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the remaining syrup over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off. Dot the open spaces of the lattice with small bits of butter.

Bake the Pie:
Bake for about 45-minutes to 1 hour at 350 degrees F (175 degrees). About 10 minutes before the pie is done, sprinkle a little bit of extra cinnamon and sugar on top of the crust for a nice presentation.

Cherry Pie
via: America's Test Kitchen, also found on KCTE

6 cups pitted sweet cherries or 6 cups pitted frozen cherries
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 small lemon, zested to yield 1 teaspoon zest and juiced to yield 2 teaspoons juice
1⁄8 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon brandy (I omitted this and used 1 tea. Almond Extract instead)
1-2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Toss fruit with sugar, lemon juice and zest, spices, almond extract, brandy, and tapioca; let stand for 15 minutes.
Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into pie shell. Scatter butter pieces over fruit. Refrigerate until ready to top with remaining dough.
Place pie on baking sheet; bake until top crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer.

Pumpkin Pie, Basic
via: Libby's (slightly modified)

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) Evaporated Milk
1 pre-baked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Turn off the oven and let the pie cool slowly. (Cooling too quickly is what causes a pie to crack.)
Pecan Pie

Butterscotch Pie with Meringue Topping
Butterscotch filling recipe via: Midwest Living

Soft Meringue via:Cookwise by Shirley Corriher

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups whipping cream
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter, cut up
1 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare Baked Pastry Shell. Set shell aside.

For filling: In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and the 1/4 cup butter. Cook and stir over low heat until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar, the flour and cornstarch. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; stir until combined. Gradually stir in whipping cream. Return saucepan to heat. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks with a fork. Gradually stir about 1 cup of the hot filling into yolks. Add yolk mixture to saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in the 3 tablespoons butter and vanilla. Pour filling into the Baked Pastry Shell. Cover surface of filling with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

Soft Meringue

6 Egg White
1 tea. Cream of Tartar

12 TBL. Powdered Sugar

Make sure that the beaters and the bowl are very clean. Use a cooper bowl, if possible. Whip the egg whites until they are just beginning to form soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar at this time. It will help stabilize the egg whites.

In a small glass bowl, such as a ramakin, add 1/3 cup of cold water to 1 TBL. of cornstarch. Stir to mix and heat to thick. Beat this into the egg white peaks gently. This will prevent the meringue from shrinking.

Place on top of the cooled butterscotch pie. I use a wide rubber spatula to form gently peaks. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes, or until there are nicely browned tips on the meringue.

Preparing Bacon in the Oven

Line a baking sheet with foil.

Arrange the bacon slices on the foil and place the baking sheet on the center rack of a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 400°F.

Come back 15 to 20 minutes later. The timing on the bacon has to do with how thick the bacon is and how crispy you like it to be. As soon as the bacon is golden brown, remove it from the oven.

Rio Muffins

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Long's Peaks Scottish Irish Highland Festival in Estes Park + Welsh Rarebit with Guinness Balsamic Reduction Sauce Recipe

On Sunday Ellie and I joined Kohlton, Mark and Martine at the Long's Peaks Scottish Irish Highland Festival in Estes Park. Ellie and I had not been in about nine years. We had a great time, but it seems to all of us that the actual festival is smaller than it used to be. At the end all of the Pipe and Drum groups play together. There used to be so many groups that when together, the line snaked around the large vendor's tent. That was not the case this year. It was still wonderful. One group was the 1st BN Scot Guard from Scotland.

Welsh Rarebit with Guinness Balsamic Reduction Sauce

2 bottles Guinness Stout
1 1/2 TBL Balsamic Vinegar
2 TBL Butter
2 TBL Flour
1 TBL Mustard Powder
1/2 tea Cayenne
2 TBL Worcestershire Sauce
1 # Cheddar Cheese, Grated (about 2 cups, roughly)
1 loaf of good bread (We like ciabatta, or other country breads with a crispy crust and chewy bread inside. Regular white toast might be too weak for this meal.)

To make the reduction -
In a heavy sauce pan, place 1 bottle of stout and heat on medium and stir until the beer is reduced by at least half. (Make sure to use a pan with plenty of room. I started out in a smaller pan only to find that heating the stout causes it to foam significantly.) Once the reduction is done, stir in the balsamic vinegar. It takes the bitter edge off of the stout reduction. Do this to taste.

Preparing the Toast -
Preheat the broiler on high. Be sure the rack is close to the heating element. Slice the loaf into as many pieces as you like. Place them on a cookie tray and broil them until they are lightly browned. Be sure to keep on eye on them as they burn easily. Flip them over and toast the other side half as much.

Make the Cheese Sauce -
Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add in the flour and stir with a whisk over medium heat until it is lightly browned. Be sure to stir the entire time so that it does not burn. Add in mustard and cayenne, stirring until fragrant. Next, whisk in the bottle of stout and the Worcestershire sauce. Once this part of the sauce is combined, remove from the heat and let cool until it is about 158 degrees. (This temperature will melt the cheese without causing it to become grainy or change the smooth texture.) Fold in the cheese
and stir to melt. (At this point the cheese sauce can be refrigerated for up to a day or so.)

To Serve -
Place the toast on the the cooking sheet, pale side up. Spread the mixture on top of the bread and place under the broiler until bubbly. (The broiler part is optional.) Add a tiny bit of the Guiness Reduction sauce on top and serve. It is traditional to add a side of tomato slices. It is also lovely with tomato soup. We liked it with a Caesar Salad. [I actually have the Guinness Balsamic Reduction Sauce in a gravy boat and I let everyone add as much or as little as he/she likes.]