Halloween Display Tip #1: Pumpkin Bowl

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It’s October now!  October means the start of Fall, and the coming of Halloween.  If you’d like to add some of that October flavor to your meals, use a pumpkin for a serving bowl!

No, I’m being serious.  What better way to add pumpkin and Fall to your life than hollowing out a pumpkin to use as a serving bowl?  You could also get a couple of smaller pumpkins for a personal touch.

Simply heat up some canned soup if you don’t feel like cooking, hollow out a pumpkin, and that’s it!  (The pumpkin filling with some spices and a pre-made pie crust would make an amazing pumpkin pie.)

Photo credit: http://www.aruba.com/forum/f12/recipes-28166/index2.html

Idea credit: Christina

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes For Halloween!

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What you need:

Whole milk

1 1/4 cup of Pumpkin

2 Teaspoons of Baking powder

1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda

Brown Sugar

What to do with it:

In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and chocolate chips together until combined. Set aside.

I like to mix the wet ingredients in a blender. This guarantees a smoother batter and breaks down the pumpkin. This is especially necessary if you are using fresh pumpkin puree. Add the pumpkin, brown sugar, egg, oil, and whole milk to a blender and blend on high for 45 seconds until combined. Alternatively, you may whisk by hand or use a hand mixer. Blender is best.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk by hand gently to combine the ingredients. The batter is extremely thick. Do not thin it out. Whisk until *just* combined, no more. A few lumps may remain. Taste the batter. If you want to add more spices, go ahead. I usually add more cinnamon.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Coat generously with butter. Once hot, drop about 1/4 cup of batter on the griddle. Cook until the edges look dry and bubbles begin to form on the sides, about 1 minute. Flip and cook on the other side until cooked through, about 2 more minutes. Coat griddle/skillet again with butter for each pancake or batch of pancakes.

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Keep pancakes warm in a preheated 200F degree oven until all pancakes are cooked. Serve immediately with your favorite pancake toppings. Pancakes taste best right after they are made. Pancakes freeze well, up to 2 months.

Microwave Mashed Potatoes

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Desserts will always be my favorite, but there’s something to be said for mashed potatoes.  They’re easy, (or at least this recipe is) filling, and flavorful.  Here’s three variations you can make it with a microwave!

Ingredients:

4 approximately 6-ounce potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (doesn’t have to be perfect!)

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (go for normal sour cream if you’re going all out)

1/2 cup 1% low fat milk (2% works too)

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper

(See below for alterations for the variation of microwaved mashed potatoes you like best)

Instructions:

  1. Put your cubed potato into a big microwave-safe bowl. Stretch some plastic kitchen wrap over the bowl to cover it, then cut a small slit, about an inch is good.
  2.  Microwave on high for about 10 minutes. Let it stand for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the sour cream and all the other ingredients to the bowl.
  4. SMASH!  You can use a fork, or a potato smasher if you have one.

SOUTHWEST VARIATION:

  1.  Leave out the sour cream and chives
  2. Decrease milk to 2 tablespoons and decrease the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon
  3. Add 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt, 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

ROASTED GARLIC VARIATION:

  1. Leave out the sour cream and chives
  2. Increase the amount of milk to 3/4 cup.
  3. Add 1/4 cup coarsely chopped roasted garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage.

BACON AND CHEDDAR VARIATION:

  1. Decrease salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
  2. Add 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese and 1 slice center-cut bacon (cooked and crumbled, mash to the consistency you like)

Enjoy!  This makes about 4 servings.

Credit: http://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/microwave-recipes/microwave-smashed-potatoes

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Nutty Brittle!

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Craving something sweet?  Want something you can easily bring to a group hangout and share?  Not very confident of your cooking ability?  How do you feel about Peanut brittle?

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup

3/4 cup cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds (or a nut of your choice)

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:

1. Line a pan with parchment paper.

2. Mix the sugar and syrup in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for around 3 minutes, depending on your microwave.  When the mixture is clear and bubbly, remove.

3. Stir in the almonds or nut of your choice.

4. Microwave on high for about another minute.  Stir.  Repeat this three times, or until your mixture is the color of light caramel.

5. Stir in butter, vanilla, and salt.

6. Microwave on high for 90 seconds, or until your brittle mixture looks like chunky peanut butter.  Then add the baking soda, and stir until everything is foamy.

7. Immediately pour the contents of your bowl onto the pan you prepared in step 1.

8. Spread it so it’s about 1/4 inches thick.  Leave it alone for half an hour to cool and harden.  Then break it into pieces.

Now you’re done!  Break your brittle slab into pieces, and if you store it in an airtight container, like a ziploc bag, it should stay yummy for a week.  Enjoy!  And share with friends.  This should make enough for a dozen of your friends.  Or less, if you all eat like I do.

Credit: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/almond-brittle-50400000127539/

Pavlova Cake Recipe

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Hello Readers!

Here is an amazing cake recipe. Pavlova cake is a meringue based cake that is extremely light, super easy to make and its taste can be changed by whatever fruit you decide to put on it. There are some recipes out there online but having done the cake more than 10 times now. I’ve decided the recipe below is the one to follow.

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What you need:

4 large (120 grams) egg whites

1 cup (200 grams) superfine (castor) sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour)

Topping:

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) granulated white sugar (or to taste)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

What do with it:

Fresh fruit – kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, passion fruit, peaches, pineapple, or other fruit of your choice

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (130 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the circle is on the reverse side.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat, on high speed, until the meringue holds very stiff and shiny peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers). Beat in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, gently fold in. Spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the outside is dry and is a very pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.) 

The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days. 

Just before serving gently place the meringue onto a serving plate. Whip the cream in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Sweeten with the sugar and vanilla and then mound the softly whipped cream into the center of the meringue. Arrange the fruit randomly, or in a decorative pattern, on top of the cream. Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold for more than a few hours.

Serves 6 to 8.

Microwave Choco Pudding

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It’s still early in the school year, but that dreaded time has come. Midterms. In between study sessions, I find myself craving something sweet and easy. What’s easier than a chocolate pudding you can whip up with a microwave in about 15 minutes? This recipe makes 4 servings, so share some with your study group!

Serving size: 4 cups of puddin

Ingredients:

  • ​1/2 cup white sugar
  • ​1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ​2 cups milk
  • ​2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional: (for toppings) chopped bananas, sliced almonds, caramel drizzle

Instructions:

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a microwave-safe bowl.  Add the milk in a little at a time to avoid lumps.
  2. Cook everything for one minute.  Stir, then cook again for another minute.  Stir.  Continue microwaving for one-minute intervals, and stirring until the pudding looks shiny and thick.
  3. Then stir in the vanilla.
  4. Carefully place a piece of plastic kitchen wrap smoothly onto the surface of the pudding.  This will prevent a rubbery layer of “skin” from forming.  Chill in the refrigerator.  Once the pudding has set, it’s ready to serve!
  5. Stir in chopped bananas and sliced almonds or whatever you feel goes with chocolate pudding!

Enjoy!

Source: AllRecipes.com

Quinoa, Avocados, and Egg Whites Are All You Need

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Got another easy quinoa dish for you guys! This one takes twenty minutes max, and all you need is:

  • Roughly a cup of quinoa (white, red, mixed–whatever!)
  • An avocado (half an avocado will also do)
  • Egg whites
  • And, of course, salt and pepper to taste

Each of these ingredients should be prepared separately. Any mixing that occurs will happen way later, in your mouth and stomach.

First boil a cup of quinoa in a saucepan filled three-quarters of the way with water. A whole cup of quinoa might be a little excessive if you’re only cooking for yourself, but it doesn’t hurt to have some extra quinoa lying around for those lazy days where even boiling water seems far too strenuous.

As the quinoa cooks, split open an avocado and mash it into a guac-like consistency, seasoning to taste with black pepper, lemon or lime juice, and salt (though we recommend substituting salt with Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, which you can buy here).

Keep an eye on the quinoa, stirring every two minutes or so because that is the responsible, chef-like thing to do. Quinoa generally takes about 15 minutes to cook, so when you hit that 13 minute mark, turn down the heat and pull out a skillet to make an egg white omelette.

After turning the stove to medium-high heat, drizzle a line of oil on the skillet, then after about a minute, drop the egg white onto the pan. (Presumably, you’ll have separated the yolk from the egg whites beforehand.) Let it sit for about thirty seconds, sprinkling salt and pepper on it as it cooks. Poke at the edges of the omelette to keep it from sticking, then after about a minute, flip the omelette over for about ten seconds. And voila! Egg white omelette!

Scoot the omelette from the skillet to the plate with the avocado mash, then (after draining the quinoa) also scoop a generous helping of grain onto the plate. Sprinkle a little black pepper over the whole dish, then sit down, put on an episode of The Mindy Project, and enjoy!

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BTW, fun fact about avocados: they are also identified by some as “alligator pears.”