Party Pumpkin Squares


A pumpkin for your thoughts! Pumpkin is such a wonderful food, so loaded with health benefits, and available throughout the year, that it's a wonder we don't eat it more.  Now, during this season of pumpkin pies, pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin casseroles, I pulled out an old favorite of mine from many years ago and decided to give it a few new twists by adding ground cloves and allspice.  The result was "Pumpkin Party Squares," great for a buffet dessert because, like brownies, they need no forks or spoons to eat them .... unless, of course, you put a dollop of freshly-whipped heavy cream on them, as I did, or vanilla ice cream.  The result is a sumptuous dessert and is a real treat on a cold October or November night. A great gift for your Thanksgiving hostess, too!

Ingredients


For the crust:

1 package store-bought pound cake mix
1 egg, slightly beaten with fork
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
2 tbsp. melted butter

For the topping:

8 oz. container of whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten with fork
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin pie filling
1/3 to 1/2 cup of walnuts, or as desired

Process

(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

(2) Mix crust ingredients in bowl and press into a lightly greased and floured 13" x 9" baking pan. Mixture will be crumbly but firm.

(3) Whip the cream cheese, eggs, condensed milk and pumpkin pie filling in a large bowl with an electric mixer or wire whisk until well blended.

(4) Add dry ingredients -- pumpkin pie spice, salt, cinnamon -- and stir to combine.

(5) Pour filling on top of crust. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Bake 45 minutes until set.

Cool, cut into squares, and serve with ice cream or whipped cream, or just as they are!

Italian Plum Cake - A Wonderful Late Summer Pastry


We've been enjoying this lovely European recipe for decades, which is best only at the end of the summer, when Italian plums are in season. Recently, we were delighted to learn that plum cake is a dessert widely eaten on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Seems all ethnicities do come together at the table. (Props to Barrie Rubinstein for this sweet culinary info.)

It's simple, light and airy. The plums are tart, the sugar is sweet. And dusted cloves and cinnamon on top of the cake will fill your house with an irresistible autumn aroma. Enjoy with ice cream, more dusted confectioner's sugar, or plain with a cup of tea.

Ingredients

3 lbs. ripe Italian plums, pitted and quartered
1/4 lb. butter
3 eggs, separated
1-1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1-1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Ground cinnamon for dusting
Gound clovves for dusting
Granulated or sanding sugar for dusting

Process

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
2. Butter and flour a half cookie sheet.
3. Pit and quarter the plums and set aside.
4. Cream butter, 3 egg yolks and sugar with hand mixer.

5. Mix in baking powder and flour.
6. Beat 3 egg whites and gently fold into batter.
7. Spread on prepared cookie sheet.
8. Place plums on top of sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon, ground cloves and sanding/granulated sugar.

9. Bake for 30 minutes in 350F oven.

Finished, baked and ready to serve!




FATHER'S DAY BURGERS

Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers


Not for the faint of heart or appetite, our blue cheese stuffed burgers, topped with caramelized red onion and sautéed cremini mushrooms, are a hearty dinner for Dads on their special day, and anyone else who loves burgers!  The magic of this meal is the complexity of flavors created by use of spices and herbs. It's easy! Here's how we did it:

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1/3 c seasoned breadcrumbs
4 T crumbled blue cheese
Salt & pepper
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 red onion, sliced very thinly
Butter and extra virgin olive oil for sautéeing
Pinch granulated sugar for caramelizing
Whole wheat hamburger rolls (optional)
Vine ripened or heirloom red tomato (optional)
Dry white wine for deglazing
Pinch each of oregano and thyme for seasoning
Onion and garlic salt for seasoning


Process
1. Mix breadcrumbs into beef. Divide into four sections.
2. Add 1 T of blue cheese into center of each patty, fold over and seal.

3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano. Set aside.


4. Heat sauté pan with 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil. Thinly slice red onion, and add to hot sauté pan. Sauté until limp, then deglaze with white wine. When wine has evaporated, lower heat, and allow to sauté gently until brown and caramelized.


5. In another sauté pan, heat 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil. Add chopped creminis, and sauté until until soft (about 7 minutes). DO NOT ADD SALT OR PEPPER until cooking is complete. It will rob the mushrooms of their natural flavor. When mushrooms are done, sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Set aside.

6. In third sauté pan, heat 1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil and add burgers to hot pan. Sprinkle with more salt, oregano, onion salt and garlic salt. AlsSear 6 mins on one side, flip and another 5-6 minutes on the other side.

7. Serve on toasted whole wheat buns. Note: Adding tomato slices on bottom of bun will absorb juices of burger and "cook" the tomato. Absolutely delicious!

Serve with a green salad and watch them disappear!



MEMORIAL DAY DRY ROASTED RIBS 
Low-carb, almost no sugar


Our recipe for dry roasted ribs is a delicious alternative to slathering sugary, high-calorie, carb-laden sauce. Containing almost no sugar, all you need is an oven set at 300F for four hours, a little water, and the delicious ingredients that are listed below. We serve them with our Poblano Cornbread. This rub works equally well with chicken, just turn up the heat to 375F after 3 hours and roast for another 30 minutes, until brown and crispy.

Preheat oven to 300F

Ingredients

2-4 lb. rack of ribs
1 T high-quality smoky paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 T cumin, or more if desired
1 T ground chili seasoning, or more if desired
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion salt
Generous grind 5 pepper medley (Williams Sonoma)
2 T dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt or fleur-de-sel (Williams Sonoma)
Water

Take ribs out of refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (about 20 minutes).

Mix spices well in bowl, rub generously into both sides of a rack of ribs. Place ribs on a sheet pan that has been fitted with alum foil to catch drippings and place ribs on a wire rack over pan with 1/4 c water beneath rack. Roast in oven 4 hours, turning every 20-30 minutes, replenishing with 1/4 c water as needed.

Here's what they will look like when they are ready. Carve and enjoy!




Mother's Day Strawberry/Blueberry Muffins



What better treat for mom on Mother's Day -- or any day -- than home baked muffins with strawberries and blueberries?

They're simple and take only minutes to mix up a batch.

Here's how:

Ingredients

1 c chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 c fresh blueberries
2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/8 t kosher salt
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c half and half

Sanding sugar to top muffins before baking


Process

Preheat oven to 375F
Fill large muffin cups with paper liners, or coat well with melted butter.

1. Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt).
2. Mix and beat gently wet ingredients (egg, half and half, oil)
3. Add berries to dry ingredients, mix gently and coat well

4. Add wet ingredients to dry, mix well.
5. Fill muffin cups

6. Top each muffin with sanding sugar (about 1/8 t)

7. Bake for 25 -30 mins @ 375F or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out dry.


Added tips:
1. You can use frozen blueberries, but be sure they are completely defrosted and drained well before mixing into batter.
2. You can use milk instead of half and half for a lighter muffin. We like half and half because it adds a creaminess to the muffin.
3. You can use light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar.
4. You can add rolled oats to batter (1/3 c) to give the muffins even more heft.

What is sanding sugar?
Sanding sugar is a fancy topping for baked goods. It's clear and sparkling, comes in many colors, and doesn't melt in the oven. It adds a wonderful sweetness to every bite of your muffins (and pies). Available in most specialty food stores, or online.





Arriba! Arriba! Cinco de Mayo! Fiesta Rolls!

Spice up your Cinco de Mayo feast with these awesome veggie treats that go from the hors d'oeuvre table to the dinner table ... They take less than 30 minutes to prepare, and just need a few hours in the 'fridge before serving. Serve with your favorite spicy salsa and guacamole. Makes four rolls, approximately 32 pieces.

Ingredients
One package of large ("burrito size") flour tortillas
Two containers (approx. 10 oz each) red pepper hummus
One green bell pepper, minced finely*
One yellow or red sweet pepper, minced finely*
One medium sweet onion, minced finely*
3 carrots, minced finely*
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced finely*

*Can be processed (separately) in food processor; drain of any water before mixing together

Process
1. After mincing/draining veggies, measure out same amount of each ingredient and mix together.

2. Spread hummus thinly on large tortilla (approximately 1-2 tbsp. per tortilla)

3. Sprinkle with vegetable mixture.

4. Roll tightly.

5. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2-3 hours.
6. Unwrap, cut on diagonal.
7. Serve with your favorite Mexican tomato salsa. Delicioso!

Cinco de Mayo Muffins


Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with these easy muffins. Here's how:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Ingredients

1 package Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
3 T chopped red pimiento pepper
1/2 c Mexican cheddar cheese
1/3 c whole kernel corn
1/4 t red pepper flakes or 1 T chopped jalapeño pepper
1/3 c half and half
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Process

1. Mix the half and half and egg, add the corn muffin mix.
2. Add the pimiento, corn kernels, cheese and jalapeño.
3. Mix until just blended.
4. Bake in lined muffin cups for 20-23 minutes or until golden brown.
5. Top and serve with butter for an extra creamy texture.