Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Turkey Risotto

A few weeks ago, we made this bolognese, which at the time I claimed was the best in the world and I will continue to stand by that statement.  This time around, we made creamy, delicious, equal parts al dente and soft, flavorful, and slightly cheesy risotto to use as the base for the bolognese. 

Best idea ever.

Turkey Risotto
  • 2 cups of Arborio rice
  • about 5 cups of warm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of chicken boullion
  • 1/2 a sweet onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup of white wine
  • about 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • about 1/2 cup lowfat mozzarella cheese, grated
  • the turkey bolognese + one bunch of chopped asparagus
  • parmesan cheese for the top
  1. In a very large nonstick saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. At the same time, microwave two cups of water with one teaspoon of boullion until it is warm and the bouillon dissolved.
  3. Add the onions and cook until soft.
  4. Add the risotto and stir until the little kernels have a lovely sheen (be careful not to burn them)
  5. Add the wine and stir until evaporated.
  6. Add the water/boullion.  Turn the heat to medium low.
  7. Get another two cups of water with one tablespoon of boullion in the microwave and ready.
  8. Stir the risotto regularly and be sure it does not stick to the bottom, dry out, or begin to burn.
  9. While the risotto is cooking, make the bolognese in another large saucepan.  Add the asparagus pieces to the sauce and let it all cook.
  10. When the risotto begins to lose liquid, add the other two cups of water slowly.
  11. Continue stirring and cooking.
  12. You may need to add even one more cup of water.
  13. When the risotto is cooked to perfection, stir in the mozzarella cheese.
  14. Serve the risotto with the bolognese on top.
  15. ENJOY!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

Dear Hungry Alaskans, I realize I have completely neglected you for a week.  I have plenty of excuses:  end of the quarter, 40 progress reports to write, 11 meetings in one day, the first ski movie of the year!, yoga, running, cleaning the house, baseball playoffs, chalkboard paint, mod podge, and many other really good reasons.  OK, 90% of my excuses are lame, but give me a little credit for trying.  

The real reason I haven't posted is because I have not been able to find adequate words to describe these chocolate pumpkin cupcakes.  Seriously.  The simple combination of pumpkin, chocolate, a few spices, and cream cheese make these cupcakes heavenly.  They are infinitely better than your average chocolate cupcake due to their decadent density, and they are far better than pumpkin pie because they do not have the consistency of baby food/I-lost-my-dentures-and-have-to-eat-paste.  

The perfect amount of chocolate, the perfect amount of pumpkin, and the perfect hint of cinnamon/nutmeg/cloves/ginger/allspice lead to the best fall treat ever created.  Even my absolutely phenomenal niece who only eats quesadillas, hot dogs, mac and cheese, goldfish, and skinless apples thought they were great!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes:
Loosely inspired from this recipe.

For the Cupcakes...
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of  vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup (heaping) of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
For the Frosting...
  • 4 ounces of 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup better, softened
  • 3-5ish cups of powdered sugar (depends on your consistency preference)
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
To Make the Cupcakes...
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line your preferred size muffin tin with liners--my favorite are the mini-sized.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, pumpkin, salt, vanilla, and pumpkin spice until blended.
  3. Turn off the mixer and add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.  
  4. Turn your mixer on to the lowest speed until things begin to combine, then turn the speed up.
  5. Blend until smooth.
  6. Fill a gallon-sized ziploc bag with the batter.  Cut a centimeter-ish wide hole in one of the corners of the bag.
  7. "Pipe" the batter 3/4 of the way full into the lined muffin tins.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  This will vary based on the size of your muffin tins.  At 15 minutes, I would start to keep a very close eye on them.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.
To Make the Frosting...

  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. 
  2. Add the milk and again beat until fluffy.
  3. Add the pumpkin spice.
  4. Add the sugar, about a cup at a time.
  5. Beat on high until your desired consistency is reached.
  6. Fill a gallon-sized ziploc bag with the frosting.  Cut a centimeter-ish wide hole in one of the corners of the bag.
  7. "Pipe" the frosting onto the cupcakes.
  8. Lightly cover with sprinkles if you want.
  9. ENJOY!

Beat cream cheese and sugar then add powdered sugar pumpkin pie spice and milk and mix until fully blended together and fluffy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Fudge = Angel Pumpkin Delights

Often when I do not want to work or clean or exercise, I think of things to bake.  That is generally enough motivation to do whatever I need to do first so that I can reward myself with a new creation in the kitchen.  Holy smokes, did I get a great reward the other day for cleaning the kitchen, decorating the house for fall, and going for a very good run.  The reward was in the form of these little pieces of spiced pumpkin fudge.  I shared some with a very dear friend of mine who stated, "Pumpkin Fudge = Made with the help of angel pumpkins (former Jack-O-Lanterns) in heaven," therefore I have taken to calling them Angel Pumpkin Delights.

They truly are angelic and delightful--I even surprised myself.  They taste like the best parts of pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and white chocolate fudge combined into one (well, essentially that's what they are).  The perfect amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger marry with the pumpkin and white chocolate in a pillow of marshmallow creme.  This new, innovative, and unique fall dessert is a hit!  Also, since they are bite-sized, you can easily limit yourself to one...or in my case have 6 or 7 really small ones.

These Angel Pumpkin Delights are meant to shared!  Take to a Halloween party, bring to Thanksgiving dinner, surprise your co-workers or your neighbor...just make them!  You will be thrilled that you did.  (That was a weak attempt at a Halloween pun.)

Pumpkin Delights:

  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of butter
  • 2/3 cup of evaporated milk
  • a heaping 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice
  • about 1/8 teaspoon each of cloves, ginger, and nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 cups of white chocolate chips
  • a heaping 1/4 cup of butterscotch chips
  • between 7 and 10 ounces of marshmallow creme (that stuff is impossible to measure)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  1. Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with nonstick tinfoil.
  2. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter, and all of the spices in large, nonstick saucepan. 
  3. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
  4. In the meantime, scoop out the marshmallow creme into a bowl (it is quite a challenge to get it out of the jar and you need to be able to add it all at once and quickly).  Also measure out the white chocolate and butterscotch chips.
  5. The mixture needs to boil for 10 to 12 minutes--until a candy thermometer reaches 235 degrees.
  6. Once at temperature, quickly stir in the white chocolate and butterscotch chips, marshmallow creme, and vanilla extract. 
  7. Stir vigorously until everything is melted. 
  8. Immediately pour into the prepared pan. 
  9. Let stand on wire rack until you are able to touch it.  Then place the whole pan of fudge in the fridge and let it sit until it is completely cooled.
  10. Use a sharp knife or cookie cutters to cut into pieces.  (Make sure you get the nonstick foil off the bottom.)
  11. ENJOY!!!!  Sooooooo good.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Soy Seared Salmon

We eat so much salmon around here that I oftentimes forget to blog about it.  It's like cereal--a staple of our regular diet.  This year's supply of sockeye came entirely from our own dipnetting efforts.  Ryan fished while I read books/attempted to not freeze in our "lovely" July weather that averaged 48 degrees. 

Well, this seared salmon is blog-worthy.  Fresh sockeye salmon marinated in soy, teriyaki, brown sugar, chives, and ginger then seared in a really hot pan for just a few minutes.  We paired the salmon with basil infused jasmine rice and sauteed broccoli in soy.  Aside from probably too much sodium from the soy (we used low-sodium, though!), this meal is perfectly healthy and absolutely delicious.

The best way to serve fresh Alaskan salmon highlights the deep and rich flavors of this fish, and with this recipe, we certainly managed that!

Soy Seared Salmon:
Sorry friends, I didn't measure...
  • about 1 pound of fresh Alaskan sockeye salmon (again, absolutely NEVER use farm-raised or Atlantic salmon)
  • a number of glugs of low sodium soy sauce (I would guess between 1/4 and half a cup)
  • a number of glugs of teriyaki sauce (probably about an 1/8 of a cup)
  • 1 tablespoon of packed brown sugar
  • ground ginger (probably between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon)
  • dried chives (probably about a tablespoon)
  • a few glugs of olive oil
  1. In a medium bowl, add the salmon and all of the other ingredients.
  2. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.
  3. In a stainless steel pan (not non-stick), heat olive oil over medium-high heat (mine was between a 7 and 8 on the dial).
  4. When the oil starts to ripple, add the salmon.  (If you fish still has skin, put the skin side up when you first add it to the pan.)
  5. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the salmon releases from the pan on its own.
  6. Flip the salmon and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes (on the skin side now if your fish still has skin).
  7. Serve with rice and veggies.
  8. Appreciate the deliciousness of fresh salmon!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes = Heaven

I love fall.  It is my favorite season of the year.  The gorgeous leaves, the brisk air, the anticipation of snow--I love it.  Sadly, fall up here lasts for about a week total.  We woke up to snow in the yard on Saturday???!!!!...(I don't know which to use).  I also love fall because of the flavors--apples, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, caramel, cranberries, cloves, nutmeg, squash, dark chocolate, and so much more.  Delicious.

Fall baking in this house was kicked off two weeks ago with the pumpkin brownies.  As a thank you for all of the love I received for my fall birthday, I decided to make these baked pumpkin donuts.  Two bites of heaven per donut hole.  Since I just turned 30, I decided that I needed to have about 30 slices of heaven; that's how good these little donuts were.  They were the perfect combination of doughy and flaky, with just the perfect amount of pumpkin, and covered with a light layer of cinnamon and sugar.  An added bonus, they made the house smell like a decadent bakery.

These little guys were the perfect thing to ring in fall, my birthday, and a new decade.

Baked Pumpkin Donuts:
Adapted from this recipe.

For the Donut Holes...
  • 1 3/4 cups flour (next time I am going to use wheat flour--I think it would be great!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a heaping 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • a heaping 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin 
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
For the Coating...
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees. 
  2. Spray two mini-muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves. 
  4. In a separate, large bowl whisk together the oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin, and milk until smooth. 
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. 
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. While the muffins bake, melt butter in one bowl and combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. 
  9. Remove the muffins from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 2 minutes. 
  10. Dip each muffin in the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yes, Braided Spaghetti Bread

A few days ago, I delineated all the reasons why I love pasta and basil infused olive oil.  That to die for turkey bolognese was taken to a different stratosphere of awesome and delicious in the form of braided spaghetti bread.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Homemade bread braided around spaghetti with bolognese.  I ate it for the first dinner in the decade of my 30s and shared it with many of those I love most.  I can't believe we haven't thought of this before!

Yes, it is as good as it sounds.  And very easy.  I can't wait to try this again with all kinds of fillings!

Braided Spaghetti Bread

  • 6 tablespoons of warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1 tablespoon of packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons of nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • a heaping tablespoon of Italian seasoning
  • about a 2 cups of your leftover spaghetti and turkey bolognese
  • grated parmesan cheese
  1. In a small bowl, combine the first four ingredients (water, sugar, yeast, and flour).  Stir well and set aside to proof for about 10 minutes.  It will look be cloudy and poofy when ready. 
  2. After the yeast mixture is done proofing, pour it into the bowl for your stand mixer along with the milk, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla.  Mix to combine using the paddle attachment.
  3. Slowly add the flour and to the bowl and mix to combine until the dough is rough and flaky.
  4. Switch to your dough hook attachment.
  5. Knead until the dough is soft and smooth--about 5 or 6 minutes.
  6. Place the needed dough into a bowl that has been lightly sprayed with Pam.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap or a very light towel and allow to rise for 30 to 60 minutes and the dough is puffy and nearly doubled.
  8. Gently deflate the dough and roll it out onto a very-well floured counter.  Roll into a rectangle that is no longer than the cookie sheet you are going to use. 
  9. Transfer your rectangle to a sil-pat or a piece of parchment paper.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
  10. With your hand, lightly press a dent down the dough lengthwise, dividing the dough into three columns, with the middle column being a little bigger than the sides.
  11. Spread the leftover spaghetti and turkey bolognese.
  12. Leave the top and bottom two inches of the dough free from filling.
  13. Cut one-inch strips down each of the side columns to use as the "strands" of the braid.  Make sure that there are an even number on each side. 
  14. Remove the four corner segments of the dough so it looks like a tic-tac-toe board with the center row filled in.
  15. To braid the bread, alternate sides of the strips and fold them over the spaghetti and sauce.
  16. Transfer the sil-pat or parchment paper with the bread to your cookie sheet.  
  17. Let sit for 30 minutes or so.
  18. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  19. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
  20. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  21. Revel in your culinary amazingness.