Fall Punkin’ Pancakes

Something magical happened in the kitchen this morning. Homemade pumpkin pancakes! They were hands down the best pancakes i’ve made to date. I’m slowly getting closer to topping my fathers famous pancakes. I think I still have a ways to go though, his are abnormally delicious.

Ingredients:
(adapted from Pioneer Woman)

3 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin purée
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoons pumpkin spice
Butter
Maple syrup
Whipped cream
Chopped walnuts or pecans for topping

Mix together your dry ingredients- flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
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In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin purée, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and milk. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture in batches until fully incorporated and mixed well. 20121029-181628.jpg20121029-181634.jpg20121029-181640.jpg20121029-181646.jpg20121029-181655.jpg20121029-181659.jpg20121029-184600.jpg

Butter your pan, or use non-stick spray. Pour small batches of the mix into the pan. Once you see a decent amount of bubbles, you know it’s time to flip. My dad always butters the pancakes after he flips them, which is a great idea because the butter melts into the pancakes. Yum! I always stack my pancakes on a big plate and cover with aluminum foil so they keep warm. 20121029-182315.jpg20121029-182323.jpg20121029-182342.jpg
I had some leftover whipped cream in the fridge and thought it would be good idea if I mixed in a little vanilla extract. Turns out this was a GREAT idea. I topped my pancakes with maple syrup, chopped walnuts, and my vanilla whipped cream. I ate them standing up in the kitchen because I couldn’t wait to dig in.

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Vegetarian Shepard’s Pie with Sweet Potato and Rutabaga Mash

I had some Japanese sweet potatoes and rutabaga from my CSA vegetables this week, both of which I had never cooked before. I also had a couple leftover carrots and scallions and wanted to use those up as well. I found a vegetarian shepard’s pie recipe and figured I would give it a shot. Plus I’m sort of stuck inside due to the hurricane, so I had a whole bunch of time to kill…

Ingredients:
(Adapted from Dula Notes)

1 cup lentils (I buy mine pre-cooked from Trader Joes)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large rutabaga, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, chopped (I used half an onion and my leftover scallions)
2 small carrots
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can corn
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop the sweet potato and rutabaga. Toss them both in a salted pot of boiling water. I wasn’t sure what either of these would taste like. The Japanese (white) sweet potato doesn’t taste like your regular sweet potato, it was almost like a normal potato and a sweet potato had a baby. And the rutabaga is from the turnip family. Mashed together they were really great!

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While the potatoes and rutabaga are cooking, chop your onions (and/or scallions) garlic, and carrots. Once the potatoes/rutabaga are fork tender, put them in a big bowl, add your milk and butter, and mash away!

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Add your oil to the pot and throw in the onions and garlic, cook one minute. Next mix in the carrots, cumin, thyme, and lentils.

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Add the worcestershire, tomato paste, and 1 cup of water. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a few minutes.

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Put your lentil mixture on the bottom layer of your dish. Spread the corn next, then top with your potato and rutabaga mash. Put in oven on 375 for 25-30mins.

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This came out really great. And it’s healthy too! So I didn’t feel as bad later when I ate a dozen cookies…….

Roasted Beet Salad with Carrots and Feta

I LOVE beets. Everything about them. The color is beautiful, the taste is awesome, and you can do so many things with them! I had some carrots and scallions from my CSA veggies this week and also had some barley leftover in the cupboard so this recipe was perfect.

Ingredients:
(Adaped from Barefoot Contessa)

1 cup pearled barley (3 cups water for boiling)
3 small beets (or 2 large ones) peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large carrot (or 3 small like I had) peeled and diced
2 scallions, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

I think timing is one of the hardest things about cooking, which is why I try to look at the ingredients and start with what needs the longest cooking. This time, it’s the beets and barley.

Get your barley in a pot of salted boiling water. Simmer for 50mins, or until fully cooked and water is absorbed.

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20121025-142521.jpgPut your oven on 425. Wash and peel your beets. Be prepared to have fuchsia colored hands, and everything else for that matter.

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20121025-144053.jpgChop your beets into one inch cubes. Toss in 3 tbs olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on aluminum foil, and fold in the sides to make a little pouch. Place in the oven for 40 minutes or until fork tender.

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20121025-144351.jpgNext, wash and dice your carrots. You can peel them or leave the skin on, depending on what you like and how thick the skin is. I got these beautiful purple carrots in my CSA veggies this week! When you cut them the orange color looked so nice with the purple.

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20121025-145127.jpgMince the shallots, both white and green parts. Add to a pan with some olive oil and cook until they release that yummy onion smell, about 1 minute. Add your carrots. Cook until carrots are a little tender but still firm, about 4-5 minutes. Cook on low though so your shallots don’t burn.

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20121025-145428.jpgOnce barley is full cooked, remove from heat and place in a large bowl. Your beets will likely be done around now too, because we’re good at timing things, obviously. Add your carrot/shallot mixture to the barley. Mix. Then toss the beets in as well.

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20121025-150151.jpgAdd your balsamic vinegar, the s&p to taste. Spoon into bowls and top with feta cheese. Bon appetit!

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Apple Pie (That Will Knock Your Socks Off)

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I love apple pie. Especially on a cold day, with lots of ice cream or whipped cream melting on top. I decided to make one for my friend’s birthday. Perfect for fall and for a homemade present. The thing is though; I’ve never made one before! I figured it shouldn’t be too hard, and for the most part it wasn’t, BUT the pie crust was certainly a challenge for me. My little sister warned me about this (she is a baking and pastry chef) and gave me some tips, but I was still swearing at the dough as it was melting to the surface and breaking. Trial and error I suppose.

But alas, do not fear the pie! If I can do it, you can. And maybe even a monkey for that matter.

Ingredients: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman, and Smitten Kitchen for the pie crust.

Filling:
3 whole large granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping:
7 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup pecans
dash of salt

(I made two pies, so I ended up doubling the filling/topping ingredients)

Pie Crust: (makes enough dough for one double, or two single-crust pies)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup cold water, with ice cubes

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Peel your apples and core them. I used my apple slicer that my kick-ass grandmother gave me. After I sliced them, I cut each slice in half, and a few in thirds so I’d have a few thinner ones as well.

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Next, for the filling. Add both your brown and white sugar to a bowl, and mix. Add your heavy cream, vanilla, cinnamon and flour.

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Mix well. Pour over your apples and set aside.

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Now for the topping. Get out your food processor. Add the butter, brown sugar, flour, pecans, and dash of salt. Process it until mixed and big clumps form. Set aside.

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Ok. It’s pie crust time. Set your oven to 375.

It is very important that your butter is very cold. Is helps the dough from being messy and sticking to things. I learned this the hard way when my crust was basically stuck to the countertop.

Get one cup of cold water and add some ice cubes, set aside. Put you flour, sugar, and diced butter into the food processor. Pulse until crumbs form. Don’t overdue it though. Move your mixture to a bowl and add your ice water, one tablespoon at a time. You are trying to get the ingredients to form a dough, so once you have the right consistency no more water is needed. Also, don’t add the ice cubes! Once ready, split dough in half and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Leave in the fridge for at least one hour (the longer the better) so that the dough is cool enough to shape.

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Flour your surface and rolling pin. Plop your dough on there, and flour the top of the dough as well. Begin to roll your dough out- a few rolls to the front, a few to the side. Work toward making that circle. Mine looked more like it fell off a tall building and splat on my counter, but it’s okay because you will trim the edges anyway. While rolling keep flouring the dough here and there.

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Use a spatula to get your dough edges lifted from the surface. Peel it off and place over your pie dish. You’re laughing at my dough, aren’t you. It was my first time! I don’t know how people make it look so fancy. I like to think mine looks more “organic”

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Add your apples. Then cover with the topping.

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Wrap the side of the pie with aluminum foil to protect the edges from burning. Smart idea in the recipe I was following.

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Put in the oven for one hour. Check half way through to make sure the top is not burning. If it is, just add foil to the top to protect it. Remove all foil about 15mins before the timer is up and let it get all brown and aweeeesome. Remove from oven and set sit for about 20 minutes so you don’t burn your mouth off.

EAT.

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Coconut Mango Chia Pudding

I am a total sucker for a good breakfast sandwich and would probably eat one every morning if I could, but in an attempt to eat healthier I wanted to find something I could have in the morning that was good for me, flavorful, and energizing. I saw a recipe on Skinny Taste that looked yummy, plus it had chia seeds, which are a great superfood. I also really love the strange tapioca-like texture that it has!

Ingredients:
(Adapted by Skinny Taste)

1 cup almond milk
1 cup lite coconut milk
3/4 cup chopped fresh mango
2 tablespoons honey
Cinnamon sugar for topping

It is very simple to make. Just add all the ingredients and mix well. I used a whisk because the chia started to clump together once they hit the liquid. Let sit overnight so that the seeds can absorb the liquid and expand. I made mine late at night and it was perfect when I got home from work the next day. It came out great, and is good for both breakfast or a little night snack. I drizzled honey on top of mine and sprinkled some cinnamon sugar as well. I think next time I might try using vanilla almond milk, or maybe throwing in some shredded coconut like the original recipe had.

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Mushroom and Farro Soup

Having a cold is no fun. I wanted some nice warm soup to make me feel better, and remembered a recipe I came across on Smitten Kitchen. It has two of my favorite things- mushrooms and farro! It came out great and was exactly what I needed. I followed the recipe for the most part but tweaked a few things as I cooked.

Ingredients:
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1/3 cup dried mushrooms (I used porcini)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
Two garlic cloves, minced
1 pound mushrooms (I used cremini and they were great)
1/2 cup farro
4 cups low sodium beef broth (recipe called for 6 but I wanted less broth and more filling)
1/4 cup sherry wine for cooking
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

First, get all of your prep out of the way. I love grabbing my already chopped bowls of ingredients and just throwing them in. I also find that by doing this you don’t run into timing issues where something is overcooking while you’re chopping away!

Boil some water and pour 1 cup over your dried mushrooms. Let them soak for 20mins. While you wait, chop your onions, mushrooms, and carrots.

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Heat your oil over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5-10 mins.

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Add your fresh mushrooms and let them cook until they begin to release some liquid. About 5-10 minutes. Add the farro and cook about 10 minutes until it softens a bit. Next add your beef broth, followed by the chopped (soaked) mushrooms and the mushroom water. Lastly, add the tomato paste then season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
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Simmer for 40 minutes, or until the farro is fully cooked. Then enjoy!

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Fall Pumpkin Bread

The cool air finally hit today, and a couple leaves on the tree out front started changing color. I was craving something warm to celebrate the fall season quickly approaching. I also just moved into a new brooklyn apartment and wanted to test our oven! Right away pumpkin bread came to mind. It always makes me think of this time of year, and also makes me think of my sisters, who both love pumpkin bread as much as I do. Well, anything pumpkin for that matter.

Ingredients:
1 (15oz) can pumpkin purée
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cups water
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In your first bowl, mix the pumpkin, oil, water, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. You can mix this with the electric mixer, or if your feeling particularly energetic you can mix it all with a simple whisk. My mixer broke unfortunately, so I used my whisk this round (Santa take notes!). My sister likes to use apple sauce in place of the oil, makes it a wee bit healthier and also very moist!

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In a separate bowl whisk the rest of your ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. I made my own pumpkin spice because I happen to have all the ingredients in my cubbard, but you can buy it at the store as well.

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Pumpkin pie spice: 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves.

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Grease your two 8.5 x 4 inch pans. Sprinkle with flour and lightly pat out and remaining flour that hasn’t stuck to the grease.

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Pour mixture into your pans. You’re getting close to filling your house with the pure smell of awesomeness!

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Throw them in the oven! Set timer for 60 minutes. Don’t peak a lot while cooking. When you open the oven you throw off the temperature! You will know they are ready when you insert a toothpick and it comes out dry.

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Let it cool for about 5-10mins before you dig in. I like to add a little butter on top. Enjoy!

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