November 23, 2014

The Original Pumpkin Pie - The Way The Pilgrims Made It

I am SO excited about this recipe!!

Pumpkin Pie may have been at the original Thanksgiving in America, however it was not the pie we know it to be today.  393 years ago at the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth (Massachusetts) there was no butter or flour that would have made it possible to make any sort of pie crust. Plus, settlers hadn't yet come up with an oven for baking. 

According to some accounts, early English settlers in North America improvised by hollowing out pumpkins, filling the shells with milk, honey and spices to make a custard, then they roasted them whole in hot ashes.  As a matter of fact pumpkin pie as we know it didn't appear in an American cookbook until the early 19th century.

This is easy to make and impressive to set out.  This actually tastes like creme brulee, its delicious (which is why allowing the top to brown is an excellent idea!  And guess what, since a pumpkin is your "dish", when you are finished just throw it out! Whoop!  One less dish to clean on Turkey Day!

If you are looking for a dish to add to your Thanksgiving gathering this year, one with a 
great story, history and a wow factor, why not try whipping my modern take on 
The Original Pumpkin Pie! 

The Original Pumpkin Pie - The Way The Pilgrims Made It
1 small pumpkin (4-5 inches in height and 18 inches in diameter, sugar pumpkins work great)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs plus 4 egg yolks
1/2 TBS vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
Pinch of salt

Prepare your pumpkin by scooping out the seeds and pulp, place it on a baking sheet, do not put the top of the pumpkin (stem) on the sheet just yet. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
In a mixing bowl combine the sugar, eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Add in the heavy cream, cornstarch and salt and whisk until fully combined. Pour mixture into your prepared pumpkin (allowing about 3/4 of an inch space between the filling and the top of the pumpkin and begin baking it.  Bake at 400 degrees uncovered.  After 15 minutes, cover the top of the pumpkin loosely with foil and bake another 15 minutes.  Lower oven temp to 375, place the top of the pumpkin on the tray and continue baking for 15 minutes more.  Remover the foil and bake an additional 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the custard comes out mostly clean.  Turn off the oven, allow the pumpkin to cool for an hour, then place it in your cold garage (loosely covered with wrap or foil) or your refrigerator and allow the custard to set 6 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, scoop out custard into small dishes (you can even scrape the sides a bit as you scoop it out if you choose to add some pumpkin flavor.

This makes an impressive dessert offering, one of these will serve 4-5 people so you could make a few to run down the center of your dessert table.

Looking for more Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas?  

Check out these 10 Mini Thanksgiving Desserts!  Your guests will love these!  Embrace the Mini!!

Wishing your and your family a delicious & Happy Thanksgiving!


November 21, 2014

Perfect Pomegranate Mojitos

Looking for the perfect festive holiday drink for a gathering?  

I've got you covered!

Pomegranate Arils are not only crazy good on their own, they also made a gorgeous accent to cocktails & dishes. My kids and I eat them by the spoonful!

If you are lucky enough (like me) to have a farmers market that sells them already pulled out of the fruit...Yeah! If not THIS video on how to do it easier than any way I have ever seen blew-my-mind!

Check out my Pomegranate Mojito's over on Jo-Lynne Shane's Site.  They are delicious & festive!! 


November 17, 2014

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup For Kids

One of the best parts for me as a passionate cook and a mom is watching my kids blossom in the kitchen.  Samantha turned 10 recently and I was reflecting on me at that age.  I was making cookies, cakes from a box and in charge of mashing the potatoes and making the Russian Dressing for my dad's salad.  But that was about it in the cooking department.

I love that I have empowered my kids to think for themselves in the kitchen and come up with ideas on what it is they want to eat...and therefore make.  From simple to a stretch, I enjoy letting them try their ideas out.

Since she was 9 Samantha has taken over the stock making at our house, you never know when the mood will strike her and watch out when we have any chicken on hand...she stalks us for our bones, skin and any other parts she can get her hands on.  I will never forget the day at the age of 7 she said to me while shopping one day, "hey mom can I buy one of those chickens to make stock?" I was like "Ummm, aaah sure sweetie." 

Of ALL the things for a 7 year old to ask for at the grocery store...Mine wanted a chicken, lol! Samantha has even taught her cousins to make stock as well and their parents happily report back that their kids have been puffed up and excited about what they can do. (ages 8, 9 & 10).  I love it!!

Today Samantha shares her Simple Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe with you, minus the meat.  She wants nothing to do with meat in her soups (but YOU can add it, lol)!

Hi, its me Samantha and I LOVE Chicken Noodle Soup BUT without the chicken! Lol!

This is my favorite way to make chicken noodle soup and its really yummy.  My secret to this soup is that I make my own stock.  Making your own stock is very very easy!  I will share my secrets with you next week!

To make an easy chicken noodle soup that will make any tummy happy, all you need are noodles, stock and any other ingredients that you want like carrots, chicken, celery, onions or herbs.  It's SO simple!

Just make sure your don't put too many noodles in the stock because they can suck it all up (I have done THAT before...oops)!

Samantha's Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
5 cups chicken stock (yours or store-bought)
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 cup small noodles like Ditalini
1 TBS minced parsley or Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs

Put your stock in a big pot, add in your carrots and bring it to a boil and then add your noodles and boil them until they are the way you like them (the box will tell you how long).  Turn off your soup and let it sit on the stove for a little bit.  Taste it and add anything you think it needs (a little more salt or pepper). Add in your herbs and eat it up with some crackers.  I hope you like it!

Samantha's Notes:  You can add chicken in, I don't for mine but I do for my dad and brother's bowls since they like it that way, just add cooked chicken at the end so it does not dry out from when you boil the soup.

If you like cooked celery, you can 1/2 cup of sliced celery into the pot when you add the carrots, onions too if you want.  You can make this how YOU like it.  This is just how I like it.

Mom always says to taste and adjust, taste and adjust.  She teaches me that I can always change the way food I make tastes to make it taste how I want, so you can too.


November 11, 2014

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

I am soooo loving this October & November!  The weather has been gorgeous here in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and the local pumpkin crop is stellar.  That may be the reason that my family and I seem to be having a pumpkin something almost daily.  Or maybe its just because we look forward all year to Fall and the pumpkin delicacies we can enjoy!

I had been thinking about a cake or pound cake flavored with pumpkin for a couple of weeks and the word 'crunch" was popping into my head whenever I thought about it.  So I tinkered and tinkered until I got it where I wanted it.  In my first attempt, I grabbed a bundt pan.  I'm not sure what I was thinking since the crunch was on top, so getting that cake out of the pan, then flipping it was a feat for sure...not so smart especially since this cake is so moist and heavy from all of the pumpkin. Miraculously it didn't break apart, but I knew that was not the way to go!

This cake is SO moist and explodes with pumpkin flavor, it reminds me of something but what that something is, I just can't figure out.  I can vaguely remember a boxed cake when I was a kid that said it had pudding in it, that might be what this reminds me of, its so moist and dense.  My husband and my sister especially were crazy for this cake, they begged me to stop making it (since I made it 3 days in a row to get it right) so they could stop eating it, they couldn't control themselves!

If you are into nuts, feel free to add some chopped pecans in for extra crunch, my kids are allergic so no nuts for us. Initially, I envisioned a pumpkin flavored drizzle over-top the cake but trust me, it doesn't need it.

1 1/2 cups sugar
4 oz butter, room temp
2 cups )16 oz) fresh roasted pumpkin or pumpkin puree (not pie) from a can
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 TBS vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 TBS pumpkin pie spice
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Crunch Mix
3/4 cup toffee bits
3/4 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup Quaker Oats Oatmeal
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 TBS butter

In your mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter, pumpkin, yogurt & vanilla and mix until blended.  Add in the eggs and mix until incorporated.  In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then pour them into your wet mixture and mix until fully incorporated.  Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine toffee bits (made by Heath), cinnamon chips (made by Hershey's), oatmeal and brown sugar.  Work it together with your fingertips, then add in the butter and mix it in with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until its crumbly and worked in.

Spray/grease a springform pan and place half the batter in it, scatter 1/2 of the crunch mixture over-top.  Place the rest of the batter in and repeat with the remaining crumb mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean and dry.  Cover your cake lightly with foil after 30 minutes.

Colleen's Notes:  My favorite way to make the topping was by using 2 packets of an organic snicker doodle oatmeal I had on-hand instead of straight up oatmeal.  Feel free to try something like that if you have packets of some sort you feel will go well in your pantry.  If not the oatmeal works just fine.

If you want a less dense cake (however I think this is what makes this cake so good), only use 8 oz of pumpkin.  If you need to make Pumpkin Pie Spice, my Little Chef shows you how to here.  If you need to know how to roast a pumpkin, again my 9 year old has your back!

If you're looking for more pumpkin love, here are some of my favorites:

Pumpkin Pie Shooters
Thanksgiving  Pumpkin Parfait Dessert Bar
Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Roll Cookies
Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding With Maple Glaze
Easy Baked Pumpkin Donuts


November 6, 2014

Copycat Brownie Brittle

My son, Connor, fell instantly in love with Brownie Brittle the second he took his first bite a few years ago.  I wasn't far behind him!  In my family, we are split down the middle when it comes to brownies.  Connor and I want to eat up all the edges while my husband and daughter opt for the soft & chewy center.  That coupled with us being split down the middle on the whole dark meat vs white meat thang, are two of the things that make us a laid back get-a-long kinda family...For now anyway!

Talk to me once I have teenagers underfoot!

I tinkered and tinkered until I was able to make the crisp brownie brittle at home just the way we like. Check out how I did it over on Babble and start making your own at home!  

I hope you enjoy it as much as my son & I do!

November 2, 2014

Hearty White Bean and Bacon Soup

I absolutely love both the making and the eating of a good soup.  I mean, both the smell and warmth that emanates from your kitchen when you have soup simmering is something I right?

One of the best soups to ever come out of my kitchen was one I had tasted out at a restaurant, then immediately knew I had to replicate.  Immediate as in I replicated it in under 24 hours, lol!

And it was goooood!  Like SO good!

I actually posted it over on Jo-Lynne Shane's site at the beginning of the year and it has become one of her most popular recipes.  I wanted to make sure you were in on the deliciousness.  It's been on my mind since...ya know, I make it kind-of often.

Don't you just love making a big batch of soup then gifting a jarful of it to your parents, friend or neighbor?

I do.

And this is one of the soups I most often do that with. This White Bean & Bacon Soup is bursting with layers of flavor, its hearty and it makes a good amount.

I hope you love it as much as I do. Get the recipe here, then run for a pot...and a spoon!