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Red Deer Foodie

…getting busy in the kitchen!

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween!!  Right now in Red Deer, it’s storming away – blowing hail/snow and major gusts of wind.  Poor kids – they really have to put in maximum effort for their hauls tonight!!

Last night, I prepped for the office potluck – because Todd and I work in the same office, it means that by proxy I have to cook up two items 😦   But it’s all good, because I got to get my spook on with food!  I started with Chocolate Sugar Skulls – an adaptation from an old Martha Stewart Recipe for “chocolate sweet hearts” (originally published in Everyday Food January/February 2009).  They turned out awesome though and I only got about 2 dozen.  I highly recommend this recipe and am scheming how I can do something with them for xmas – possibly with peppermint icing??  Back to Halloween – here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Sugar Skulls
Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup Fry’s Cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg

Icing Ingredients:
2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp meringue powder
4 tbsp warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract (or whatever flavor your would like)

Method:
In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients and set aside. 

In another heat safe bowl (glass or metal), add butter, chocolate chips and brown sugar.  Set bowl over top of a pot with simmering water – create a “double boiler” effect.  Stir frequently until almost melted.  Remove from heat and stir until all the way melted – let cool slightly.

Home-made double boiler!

Add the egg to the chocolate mixture.  Using a handmixer on low, beat until well blended.  Gradually stir in flour mixture – you will be pleasantly surprised to see a dough ball form all on it’s own!

Divide the dough into two and roll out each half onto a sheet of parchment paper.  Roll to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Transfer to a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350degrees.  Carefully pull the dough from the paper and put down on a clean work surface (no need to flour if you move quick!)  Take your cookie cutter and cut out those shapes, placing on parchment-lined cookie sheets, about 1/2 inch apart.  Bake for about 8 minutes until they are firm and “fragrant” – you’ll know!  Let cool completely before icing!!

To make the icing, simply add all ingredients in a bowl – you can control the consistency with the amount of water you add.  As with anything, start with a little and add as you go – you will know when you hit it.  I added a lot of vanilla extract, but keep in mind that it did alter the colour a bit – was more beige than stark white.

Make sure to let the base harden up or set first before decorating!

Once those cookies are totally cooled off, then you can put your icing into a piping bag and start working on your designs 🙂   **one thing to note, these cookies should be nice and crisp – they were BUT I iced them last night, so by the time lunch rolled around, they were quite soft – they were still really good, but not crispy like I thought they would be – maybe I needed to make the icing a bit more firm.  LEARNING!!

For Todd’s offering, I made up a batch of my hummus, but presented in a more barfy way. 

There were also some really hilarious and creative foods brought in by my co-workers – here are a couple:

Carol’s “meat head” !!!

Sheree’s cake pop eyeballs!
Happy Halloween!!!
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Okay, okay – I promise this will be the LAST pumpkin related recipe for the season!  But I have to say, this recipe is the best!  I love the annual tradition of carving pumpkins at Halloween time and I love coming up with ideas on what to do with the seeds!  On Friday, my office did a pumpkin carving contest and I nabbed all of the seeds to bring home and create something savory, sweet AND spicy! 

Maple Spice Pumpkin Seeds
Ingredients:
4 cups pumpkin seeds, washed and dried
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne paper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Preheat oven to 350degrees.  Spread the pumpkin seeds on a large baking sheet and toast for about 20 minutes, stirring half-way through.  Remove from oven and cool.

Drop the oven heat to 250degrees. 

Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with baking paper (arg I ran out so had to use tin foil on one of the sheets!) In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients – add the pumpkin seeds and toss to coat.  Divide equally between the two baking sheets and bake for about an hour, stirring about 3 or 4 times throughout the cooking time.  When you take them out of the oven, break them up and let cool.  These will keep for about a week if stored in an airtight container.

My office pumpkin!

We’re on our way to a Halloween party tonight and since I was out all day, I needed something fast to pull together for a little appetizer to take to my hosts!  What’s easier than stuffed mushrooms?  And what’s tastier than three cheeses and lots of garlic??   NOTHING!

Here’s my recipe:

3-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Ingredients:
1 450gram (1lb) package of button mushrooms (the ones that say “stuffing or stuffer” on the sticker – the bigger ones!)
1/2 portobello mushroom
1/2 white onion, chopped finely
2 large cloves garlic, minced finely
2 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp butter
2tbsp goat cheese (flavoured kind works best here)
2 tbsp light cream cheese
2 tbsp parmesan petals
2 tbsp grated parmesan (the kind in a shaker jar)
2 tbsp fine bread crumbs
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
salt & pepper

Method:
Preheat oven to 375degrees & line a cookie sheet with baking paper.  Clean the mushrooms (using a damp paper towel, brush any dirt away – don’t emerse the mushrooms in water).  Carefully remove the stems from the mushrooms and set aside.  Arrange the mushroom caps upside down on the baking sheet and bake for about 10 – 12 minutes, until they start to shrivel a bit and juice starts coming out.  Don’t throw the juice out – save it for the cheese mixture.  Set aside and let cool slightly.

This is after they have been cooked!

Meanwhile, chop up the stems and the portobello.  Melt the butter in a non-stick saute pan.  Saute the mushrooms, onion, garlic and parsley until all the juice that comes out has evaporated.  About 10 minutes.  Season with salt.  Set aside and let cool.

In a food processor, combine 1/3 cup of the mushroom mixture with the goat cheese, cream cheese, parm petals, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Add any reserved mushroom juice – I even squeeze my mushrooms into the processor to get rid of the excess moisture in the caps!!  Pulse till you have a nice smooth mixture.  Combine with the reserved mushroom mixture.

Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish, turned up this time.  Spoon the stuffing mixture into each cap – pile it high even!  Sprinkle the tops with the shaker parm and the breadcrumbs. 

When you’re ready to serve, bake in the oven at about 375 for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese and crumbs turn golden.  Deeeelish!  One variation that I do with these is add a tin of crab meat to the stuffing – but not everyone likes seafood, so I usually only do that when I know who’s going to be eating them!!!

I’m taking mine to my friends and will heat them up there!!  Everyone have a great Halloween weekend!

Appies to go!

Being that I’ve only been blogging since June of this year, I am super excited about all the opportunities for baking and gift exchanges coming up!  I love baking so much so fun times ahead for me!!  Check out the details for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, the brainchild of  Lindsay from Love & Olive Oil and Julie from The Little Kitchen

I can’t wait to get baking for the swap!!  If you want to be part of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, click here.  Stay tuned for updates!

So we went a little bit overboard with the pumpkin recipes.  Okay, a LOT overboard.  But what’s not to love about pumpkins?  Whenever I see a pumpkin, my heart swells and I think about poor old Linus sitting in the punkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin! 

Back to the pumpkin-o-rama extreme bake-off…. Erin and I decided we needed a cookie option, so selected and recreated a recipe from Sweet Happy Life.  One thing to note about this recipe (and we figured this out a bit late in the game) the dough needs to be chilled for 2 hours before baking!  I just thought I`d pre-warn you before you get elbow deep in dough and have a bunch of hungry kids drooling all over your kitchen!!  The cookies bake up not too sweet and have a nice cakey – almost muffin-like – texture. 

Pumpkin “Chip” Cookies
Ingredients:
1 cup butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
1 whole egg +1 egg yolk
2 tbsp 1% milk
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice or ground cloves (optional)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Method:

Melt butter and set aside.  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Pour the melted butter into a large bowl and add the flour mixture ½ a cup at a time, mixing between additions. Add both sugars and using a hand mixer, cream on medium speed until fluffy – about a minute.  Add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat for another minute or so.  Stir in the chips. Chill dough for approximately two hours in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Remove dough from fridge and . Spoon balls of dough onto baking sheet, spacing them two inches apart. Gently press balls of dough down so that they look like thick, rounded circles.
Bake for 14 minutes at 375 degrees, rotating the pan halfway through baking to ensure even browning.  Let cool completely on a wire rack. 

Here is the next installment of the Erin & Shannon Pumpkin-o-rama; Erin dug up a very nice recipe for Pumpkin Scones on a blog called the Shoebox Kitchen.  Of course we had to improv on a few of the ingredients, but they turned out wonderful!  My past experience with scones have been heavy, biscuity, flourey… these were light and fluffy – they turned out great!  So give a try and see what you think!  The next time I make these, I would actually sub maple syrup or even rum for milk in the the Spiced Glaze… sometimes the good ideas come later!

Pumpkin Scones
Ingredients:

Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp granulated sugar (we used turbinado)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp 1% milk
1 tbsp sour cream
1 large egg
 
Powdered Sugar Glaze
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk

Spiced Glaze
1 cup plus 3 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves

Method:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with baking paper.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, sour cream and egg. Set aside.  Combine the dry ingredients (for scone recipe) in a large bowl.  Add the cubed butter on top.  Using your hands, rub the butter and dry ingredients until your reach the consistency of coarse cornmeal (pieces of butter should be no larger than a small pea). 

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, making sure all flour gets wet.  You can use your hands to get that last bit of flour to incorporate into a ball of dough.  At this point, I thought this dough was way too gooey to produce what I thought was going to be a heavy scone!  But once I started working it on a floured surface, it really came together.  Now take the dough and form  into a large thick rectangle (original recipe suggests 12x4x1).   Cut into little triangles (scone type shape). 

Place the triangles of dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for just 15 minutes, or until light brown.   While the scones are baking away, get to steppin’ on your glazeS – that’s right, not ONE but TWO of them – fancy!!! 

Pre-glaze

Remove to a cooling rack and let cool  completely before icing.  Use the powdered sugar glaze as an all over coating, let it set up a bit.  Then take the spice glaze and drizzle.  For some reason, our glazes were too similar in colour so you can’t really identify the two different layers!!  Again, I would really recommend maple syrup or spiced rum in place of milk on the spice glaze.  If you try it out, let me know how it turns out!

Post-glaze

Its all her fault; Erin grew too many pumpkins this year…   This Pumpkin Fudge was ONE of FOUR pumpkin sweets that we cooked up yesterday.   We both took a sampling to our offices and it seems to be a hit!  Enjoy:

Pumpkin Fudge (with butterscotch & walnuts)
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter

2 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1 7 1/2 ounce jar of Marshmallow Fluff (scrape out as much as you can – its sticky!!!)
3/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Method:
Line a 9×9 inch pan with aluminum foil.   In a large saucepan, heat evaporated milk and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon – keep an eye on this, because you don’t want that sugar to burn!  
very strange consistency at the beginning!
Slowly it starts to come together (this is after the pumpkin and fluff are added!)
Mix in pumpkin puree and cinnamon; raise up to a boil again. Stir in marshmallow creme, vanilla and butter. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring it constantly for about 18 – 20minutes – you will know it’s ready because the colour of the mixture will deepen and take on a nice pumpkin colour.   
See what I mean – colour change!!
Remove from heat, and the butterscotch chips and walnuts . Stir until creamy and all chips are melted. Pour into prepared pan.
The hard part is waiting for it to set!!!
Cool, remove from pan, and cut into squares. 
Happy Halloween: Michael Myers helped out with the cutting!
Store in a cool, dry place.   WARNING: this fudge is majorly sweet, so cut into  very tiny pieces or you will look like a monster with no teeth by the time Halloween rolls around!

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