October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin Tops

We enjoyed a GREAT weekend in Green Bay, although I do wish we had been in town this weekend to attend the Octoberfest HighCross Farm CSA Member Gathering. 

We got home around 8pm this evening, which tells you we weren't in Green Bay to see the game :)  Although we had eaten dinner before leaving, we both wanted something to eat when we got home.  Chris immediately said "are you hungry for an apple?" which is a running joke from Michael Pollan's book "Food Rules."  If you're not hungry for an apple, then you're not really hungry, is what Pollan says.

So I probably wasn't really hungry, but I had recently come across this recipe, I had all the ingredients on hand, so I made the recipe anyway...and these muffin tops are delicious!!  I used regular whole wheat flour (not pastry flour) and I didn't have quite 1/3 cup real maple syrup, but they were still great.  I thought I might have made them too big but they didn't spread at all, and were done in the recipe's estimated 15 minutes, so I think they were the right size.


2 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 C canned pumpkin
1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
1/3 C real maple syrup
1/3 C dried cranberries
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat over to 350.  In two separate bowls, mix dry, then wet, and then combine.  Spoon onto a cookie sheet (you'll need 2...or just bake one after another) and pop them into the oven for about 15 minutes.

October 21, 2010

Seven Layer Taco Dip

We have a favorite layered taco recipe from our friends Josh and Tracy but their recipe doesn't have any quantities and I'm not skilled enough yet in the kitchen to estimate, so I consulted two recipes that I liked elements of and the recipe written out below is what I came up with.

1 16oz can refriend beans
1 1oz package taco seasoning mix
1 16oz container sour cream
1 16oz jar of salsa
1 large tomato, chopped
1 bunch chopped green onions
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 6oz can black olives, drained

1. In a medium bowl, blend the taco seasoning mix and refried beans. Spread the mixture onto a large serving platter.

2. Spread the sour cream over the refried beans.

3. Top the layers with salsa. Place a layer of tomato and green onions over the salsa, and top with cheddar cheese. Garnish with black olives.

October 18, 2010

Harvest Pumpkin Cupcakes

I'm lucky this recipe made 2 dozen cupcakes because I overcooked the first batch.  So now I have 1 dozen cupcakes for my potluck at work tomorrow, a "spooktacular potluck" to be precise.  30 minutes was too long for my oven, which surprised me because the cooking times in recipes are usually ok.  I baked the second batch for 25 minutes and they were much better. 

I used about 2 cups of pumpkin puree.  Also, I omited the orange juice and orange peel from the frosting based on the online reviews, and the fact that orange frosting did not sound good.


4 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter OR margarine, softened
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons Spice Islands® 100% Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel
4 cups powdered sugar

1. To make cupcakes: Blend the eggs, oil, sugar, and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl; set aside. Stir together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and beat until well blended. Pour into lined muffin tins. Fill about 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 30 minutes or until center springs back when touched. Cool 30 minutes. Spread with frosting.

2. To make frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cupcakes.

October 17, 2010

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans

Our friends Dave & Kristel are visiting this weekend, and when Kristel told me she had extra chard from her garden to bring with, I immediately thought of this recipe that I had seen.  It was very tasty, and I'm thankful to Kristel for going out to her garden with a flashlight to get fresh chard before they left Iowa at 7:00 this morning.


1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi,
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
6 cups chopped chard leaves, (about 1 small bunch) or spinach
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.

October 15, 2010

Herbed Spaghetti Squash

This side dish that we had with pork chops tonight was fantastic!  I used fresh basil, chives and parsley.


1 small spaghetti squash, about 2 1/4 pounds
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped herbs, such as basil, chives, chervil, parsley and sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl.

Heat a skillet. Add the butter, spaghetti squash, herbs, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

October 11, 2010

Black Bean Soup

This soup smells and tastes great...but the look of it is quite weird.  Then again, this is my first time seeing black bean soup, so it's hard to know if it looks normal :)  I didn't try the suggestion of shredded cheddar but I did add scallions and they're great with this soup!


3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1.5 c dried black beans, rinsed
2 T Chili powder
1 T Cumin
1 t Salt

Once all the ingredients are chopped, place ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cover with water (about 2 inches over the beans) and set it to low for 8 hours.

8am - I chopped everything last night, so I just had to turn the crockpot on this morning before leaving for work.

Noon - home during my lunch hour.

6pm - everything is dark except the peppers.

October 10, 2010

Roasted Delicata Squash Stuffed with White Beans, Greens & Sage

Chris told me he really liked the "squash that looked like little boats."  Cute and delicious!


2 delicata squash, halved and seeds scooped out
1 large garlic clove, minced
extra-virgin olive oil
1 15-oz can small white beans (such as navy beans), drained and rinsed
about 4 large handfuls greens – baby spinach, chopped chard, chopped collards, etc.
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash halves (cut side up) on a sheet pan or in a baking dish. Drizzle the surfaces with some olive oil, and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in the oven until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife or fork, about 1 hour. Remove the squash halves from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, make your filling: heat a little extra-virgin olive oil (about 1-2 Tbsp) in a saute pan over medium heat until hot, then add the minced garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the greens and saute until wilted. Now add your drained, rinsed white beans and continue cooking the mixture until the beans are heated through. Stir in the chopped fresh sage, season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, and set aside to cool slightly.

Now you’ll fill the squash halves: first, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese. When the bean and green mixture has cooled slightly, stir half of the breadcrumb mixture into it — this will help bind the filling together slightly. Divide this filling mixture between the cooked squash halves, mounding it in each.*

Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumb and cheese mixture over the top of the filled squash halves. Drizzle some olive oil over the top of each squash half. Return the pan to the oven and bake the squash halves until the topping is golden, about another 15 minutes or so (check a little bit before so the topping doesn’t burn.

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

It seems like this recipe took forever to make...I started at 7pm and it's now 11:30pm and my last batch of muffins just came out of the oven.  However, these delicious muffins were worth it.

First, I followed the baking method listed here to transform my sunshine squash into puree.  My squash yielded 2 cups of pumpkin puree which was twice the amount called for in the recipe, yet the muffins only vaguely tasted like pumpkin, with apple being the dominant flavor.  Not quite what I was expecting for a pumpkin muffin, but still great.

I made the following substitutions from suggestions listed in the online comments:
1 1/4 cup wheat flour, 1 1/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup applesauce (instead of 1/2 cup vegetable oil)
1 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apple
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons butter

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 18 muffin cups or use paper liners.

2.In a large bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin and oil. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stirring just to moisten. Fold in apples. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

3.In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping evenly over muffin batter.

4.Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.