Friday, October 24, 2014

pumpkin scones with pumpkin spice icing


I'm crazy excited to share this amazing recipe with you!

I've been wanting to make pumpkin scones since I found this recipe in one of my cooking magazines last year, but the Fall season kept me so busy that I never got around to it.
   
          



Not this year though! I've made these several times since the start of Fall . . . and plan on making them through Thanksgiving!

So what makes these pumpkin scones so darn good?



Well, they're not only tender, light, and moist . . . but they're the prettiest shade of orange, smell like sweet pumpkin, and have an amazing pumpkin spice icing on them! Hello!

                  They're FULL of everything that Fall baking is all about!

I hope that my photos entice you to make some for yourself and your family this weekend. Be ready to fall in LOVE with them, too!



Pumpkin Scones
makes 8 scones
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
Scone
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree, chilled (don't chill in can)
wet ingredients
3 1/2 Tbsp buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp half and half
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp half and half, then more as needed
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
Pumpkin Spice Icing
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp half and half


Scone preparation
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a food processor pulse together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well blended (if you don't have a food processor you can whisk by hand in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry cutter). 
Add butter and pulse mixture several times to cut butter into mixture (large pieces of butter should no longer be visible). Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl and create a well in center.

In a bowl whisk together chilled pumpkin puree, buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract and honey. 
Pour mixture into well in flour/butter mixture. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon to incorporate, then knead in bowl (or on work surface) by hand several times to bring mixture together. 

Dust a work surface with flour then invert dough onto surface. Pat and shape dough into an even 8-inch round. Using a large knife, slice into 8 equal wedges (dust knife with flour as needed while cutting, it will be fairly sticky).

Transfer scones to a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush tops with 1 Tbsp half and half then bake in preheated oven 13 - 15 minutes until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 10 minutes (no longer) before spreading with glaze.

Glaze preparation
In a mixing bowl whisk together powdered sugar and half and half, adding more half and half as needed to reach desired consistency (it should be fairly thick not runny). 
Spoon and spread mixture scones to evenly coat tops (use all of it). 
Let glaze set at room temperature.

Pumpkin Spice glaze preparation
In another mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and half and half. Transfer mixture to a small Ziploc bag, seal bag, cut a small tip from corner and drizzle mixture over tops of scones. Allow icing to set. Best served day prepared.
Courtesy of  Fine Cooking magazine


Fall entertaining . . .
   Invite your neighbors over for a light brunch . . . These make a great addition!

 




LET'S STAY in touch!









Wednesday, October 22, 2014

farro & sausage stew . . . a Fall evening with friends




We recently hosted friends for a casual Fall-inspired dinner.

I don't know about you, but my favorite way to entertain in the Fall is by serving big, warm pots of soups, stews, and chilies FAMILY STYLE . . . rustic loaves of fresh breads . . . all in a comfortable, Fall-inspired setting.

For our Fall evening gathering, I served Farro & Sausage Stew and Artisan Rosemary bread FAMILY STYLE on our kitchen island. I stacked white bowls, linen napkins, and spoons on a large wooden board for ease and convenience.

And to create a fun and festive setting, I stacked a few of beautiful Cinderella pumpkins, and then tucked kale between them . . . for a sort of kale collar (say that 5 times!).  I had extra fresh thyme and rosemary, so I placed a few bunches here and there around our food, and it smelled heavenly.

Here's a peak at our evening . . . and a recipe for a delicious Fall and Winter soup!





These chocolate short-bread cookies are so good. They taste a lot like French Chocolate Sables . . . yum! We enjoyed them with pumpkin ice cream after dinner. I hope to share the recipe soon!


our menu
.     .     .     .     .     .
farro & sausage stew
artisan roasted garlic and rosemary bread
.     .     .     .     .     .
.     .     .     .     .     .
pumpkin shaped chocolate short-bread cookies with pumpkin ice cream




I've shared a few of my favorite soups and chili recipes on this blog, like here, here, and here . . . and I have a new one to share with you today . . . farro & sausage stew!

Whole-grain FARRO is the star of this hearty soup. Have you ever tried it?

It's a wheat berry that's high in fiber, protein, and nutrients. It's nutty and full-flavored, with an appealing chewy texture. FARRO certainly gives soups and stews a 'hearty' factor.




Fine Cooking shared great nutritional information on this ancient variety of wheat, here.

Since it can be somewhat hard to find, I want to share two sources that might help you find this WHOLE-GRAIN wonder . . . .

Bob's Red Mill is a brand commonly seen in most markets now, and sells packaged FARRO for approximately $5.49/bag, OR . . .

                you can also find WHOLE-GRAIN farro in the bulk buy bins section in your market. I prefer to buy it this way, since I don't cook with it very often.  Buying from bulk bins also allows you to buy smaller quantities, which is great . . . and costs less, too. I can buy 3 cups of FARRO for approximately $2.25.

Please note that this recipe calls for WHOLE-GRAIN farro, not pearled. I chose to use whole-grain because it's more nutritious, but with that extra nutrition comes a LONGER cooking time.  





So let's talk about this soup  . . . stew . . .

Besides that it's full of healthy ingredients, it's also a delicious, clean-tasting, and hearty.

The spicy Italian sausage adds a little punch of heat . . . the kale and fresh thyme gives freshness . . . and the FARRO - a yummy, chewy nuttiness.  The combination yields a delicious and healthy soup.

Another thing that made this soup/stew extra special was that I used home-made broth. You can see my recipe for it here.

Oh my heavens, and adding ribbons of shaved fresh pecorino-romano takes it to a whole new level of creamy yumminess! A must when you make this soup!




farro & sausage stew
serves 4
.     .     .     .     .     .     .
1 cup WHOLE-GRAIN (not pearled) farro
good olive oil
8 ounces hot Italian sausage (about 2 links), casings removed
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 cups chicken stock (*home-made, if possible)
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
SHAVED pecorino-romano for garnish!!
.     .     .     .     .     .     .

Preparation
In a large, heavy saucepan, cover the farro with a couple inches of water. 
Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, salt the water and simmer gently until the farro is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. 
Cook the sausage, breaking it up, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Cook the garlic until golden, 2 minutes. Add the stock; bring to a simmer. Stir in the farro and kale and simmer until the kale is tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Return the sausage to the pan and stir in the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the stew among bowls, top with the shavings of pecorino-romano and drizzle with olive oil.





Cheers, to cozy Fall evening with friends!



LET'S STAY in touch!







Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall leaves from the mountains . . .



We ventured to the mountains last weekend to enjoy Fall foliage at its peak.

After a little research, I learned that mid-October is the perfect time to witness the glorious hues of Fall.




We traveled 1.5 hours North to our local mountains . . . and I couldn't believe how beautiful the forest floor and trees were . . . golds and bright reds speckled the mountain sides. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

The temperature was also quite pleasant . . . low 60s during the day . . . and low 30s at night. That's heaven for us! 







While hiking, I couldn't resist snipping colorful branches from so many of the trees that graced our paths. I brought home enough to make a few bouquets . . . as well as send some to school with our kindergartner and first grader to share with their teachers and classmates.





Our home is filled with the vibrant hues of Fall this year . . . and I love it!



For isn't Fall about the celebration of these vibrant colors? So let's find Fall's beauty and bring it indoors!







LET'S STAY in touch!






Saturday, October 18, 2014

pumpkin coffee cake with brown sugar glaze



I've shared this recipe with you several times over the last few years.

It's my go to "company dessert" when my schedule is busy this time of year and I'm wanting a delicious pumpkin dessert.





I love its versatility!

You can make the traditional butter pumpkin version . . . or a scrumptious chocolate version. They're both so delicious! It's one of those kind of cakes that you find yourself going back for seconds and thirds.

It's bright orange hue . . . and moist and tender crumb is a beautiful tribute to pumpkin.

I use a butter cake mix base for added richness. And yes, this recipe, too, has a brown sugar streusel topping . . .  and a glaze that further moistens every nook and cranny.

I just love simple and delicious desserts . . . and this is one of them!




pumpkin coffee cake
⅓ cup water 
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin 
2 x-large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract 
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 18-ounce box Butter (or Yellow) Cake Mix 

brown sugar streusel
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour 
pinch of salt
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
.     .    .     .     .     .
In a small bowl mix together brown sugar, flour, and butter. 
Use your fingers to sprinkle over the top of the cake. 
.     .    .     .     .     .
brown sugar glaze
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar 
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 
1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
.     .    .     .     .     .
Combine the 1 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 
and heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. 
Remove from heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved.


Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl mix together the water, oil, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. 

Add the cake mix and baking soda and mix until just combined.
Grease a 9×13 pan with butter and pour batter into pan.
OR . . . to dress it up, line 2 8-inch rounds with parchment and then grease pans. Using a 1-cup scoop, evenly distribute batter into pans. 
Using your hands, crumble the streusel evenly over the top.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

When cake is finished baking, let cool for 5 minutes and then poke holes in the top with a toothpick. *If you baked the cake in rounds, then gently turn cake over onto your hand, and then back over onto a serving plate, so that the streusel is on top.
Using a spoon, pour glaze over the cake, making sure to cover all holes and surfaces. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.





LET'S STAY in touch!








Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Between Naps on the Front Porch, Rustic Refined,  Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweSweet Bella Roos, The Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid Simple,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Pure Grace Farms A Dish of Daily Life, Bacon Time, Sunflower Supper Club, Tater Tots and Jello,  Cooking with CurlsMade from PinterestSimply GloriaOne More Time Events, 3 Little Greenwoods







Friday, October 17, 2014

molasses spice cookies . . .



My husband  had a craving for cookies over the weekend, and I wracked my brain trying to think of a cookie that features all the warm flavors of Fall . . . and remembered a recipe for molasses spice cookies that I saw in my Cook's Illustrated Cookbook a few weeks ago.





They're tender, moist, chewy . . . and FULL of the warm flavors of Fall . . . cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, molasses . . . and they're so so so yummy!

We even made a few of them into ice cream sandwiches using vanilla bean ice cream . . . YUM!

As for me, I enjoyed them with a cup of Brown Sugar Cake coffee (I LOVE Gloria Jean's!) . . . again, YUM!

I hope you find time to treat yourself and your family and friends to these amazing little cookies this weekend.



molasses spice cookies
1/2 cup,  plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup light or dark molasses
.     .     .     .     .     .     .

Preparation
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar on a plate or shallow baking dish.
Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low and add egg yolk and vanilla, beat until incorporated. On medium-low speed add molasses and beat until combined, about 20 seconds scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give the dough a final stir to ensure that no flour pockets remain. Dough will be soft.
Working with 1 Tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into balls. Roll half of dough balls in sugar and toss to coat. 
Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw in between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes. 
Do not overbake.

Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

a tiger costume for my little girl



I am so excited to share this cute tiger costume with you!

You see, I've never made a costume before, so when this simple project came out as I had envisioned, I could hardly wait to share it!

                          Ok, so all this happened TODAY, before noon . . . 




Lauren, my youngest daughter, and I stopped into our local party store to find costume make-up for my oldest daughter . . . and she saw a tiger ear and tail set . . . "Oh Mom, I want to be a tiger for Halloween! Please! Please! Please, can I be a tiger?"

I was bummed when I couldn't find a costume to coordinate with the ears and tail, which seemed a little boring to me; BUT she was excited about them . . . and that's all that matters, right!?




Well, when she started telling me that we HAD to find a tiger striped suit to go with it . . . I panicked!

                    Where in the world was I going to find a matching suit?

I spent at least 30 minutes trying to persuade her that the ears and tail would look cute with a black skirt and shirt . . . but she wasn't going to have any part of that.

So . . . the wheels started turning, and I hoped (and prayed) that our local fabric store would have tiger striped FABRIC so that I could make her a simple A-line dress to be her 'tiger striped suit' . . .  and they did!! 




I kept this sewing project simple and traced one of her A-line dresses . . . cut . . . and then sewed this cute tiger dress in all of 45 minutes!

And then after picking up her brother from Kindergarten, we headed to our local craft store where I bought a 6-foot brown feather boa to trim the dress, tail, and head band.  

          I know that tigers don't have feathers, but isn't the brown boa trim an adorable addition?




I am so happy with how it turned out! And my little Lauren is so happy! 

The best part is that the whole costume took me less than 1 hour to sew and assemble.  

       Paint a little black nose and whiskers on her face . . . and, of course, add a pair of black sparkle shoes . . . and I'm done.

                            One costume down, 2 more to go . . . and 16 days 'til Halloween!







LET'S STAY in touch!








Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Between Naps on the Front Porch, Rustic Refined,  Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweSweet Bella Roos, The Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid Simple,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Pure Grace Farms A Dish of Daily Life, Bacon Time, Sunflower Supper Club, Tater Tots and Jello,  Cooking with CurlsMade from PinterestSimply GloriaOne More Time Events, 3 Little Greenwoods



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

pumpkin quesadillas with black bean & sweet potato salsa



Let's talk pumpkin puree.

Most people don't think of adding savory spices to pumpkin puree . . . and let me tell you  . . . you're missing out if you don't try the savory side of pumpkin! 

If you've ever tasted the puree on its own, then you'd agree that it's very mild (kind of flavorless) with a thick texture . . . It's not really anything to write home about.




It's not until you add sugar, or savory spices, to it that it takes on whatever flavor you're trying to impart on it. 

After baking and cooking with it for several years now, I've come to the conclusion that pumpkin puree should be regarded more for the texture that it adds to baked goods and savory dishes. It adds a sort of body and texture that is quite delightful to the palate.

Have you ever added it to chili? It's quite delicious. It's adds another dimension of body and texture . . . as well as color. I'm making a big pot of pumpkin chili next weekend, so please stay tuned to the recipe in a few weeks. I hope you give it a try.




Ok, so on to THIS recipe . . . pumpkin quesadillas with black bean & sweet potato salsa!

It's so fast . . . so easy . . . unique . . . and delicious.

It begins with flavoring pumpkin puree with warm spices like cumin and chili powder. The mixture smells quite heavenly! And wait until you try it slathered on a tortilla and then heated on a skillet with cheese. My kids prefer sharp white cheddar, but if you're entertaining adult friends, then be sure and try the more sophisticated flavor of goat cheese (paired with roasted walnuts) . . . YUM!

The black bean and sweet potato salsa adds more dimension to this dish . . . the creamy black beans, sweet sweet potatoes, punch of garlicand zing from the lime zest sends your mouth into an "Ahhhhh, yum! What flavor it that? And that?"  

It's a seasonal dish that's fun to share with friends and family.

I hope you give it a try and check out the savory side of pumpkin!





pumpkin quesadilla
.     .     .     .     .     .
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
8 8-inch white flour or whole wheat tortillas
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled OR 4 ounces sharp white cheddar, shredded
½ cup walnuts, toasted *optional
¼ cup vegetable oil
fresh cilantro, chopped
.     .     .     .     .     .


Preparation
In bowl, stir pumpkin, cumin, and chili powder; season. Spread over 4 tortillas.
Sprinkle with cheese and nuts.
Top with remaining tortillas.
In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon oil over medium-low.
Cook quesadillas 1 at a time, turning once and adding more oil in between batches, until browned, 3 minutes.
Cut into wedges. Enjoy!


black bean and sweet potato salsa
.     .     .     .     .     .
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 large clove garlic, mashed to a paste
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 1/2 Tablespoon fresh lime zest
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation
Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
Add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for 1 minute.
Uncover and cook, stirring until the onion and sweet potatoes are tender and the water is evaporated, about 3 to 5 minutes. Keep warm.

In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, lime zest, juice and 2 Tablespoons of canola oil.
Add the sweet potatoes and onions, black beans, and cilantro and toss gently to combine.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve atop the pumpkin quesadillas.

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