Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Halloween!

We pretty much, with very little exception, carve pumpkins every year. I like to recruit as many willing participants as possible to join in on the mess making, and this year some friends were kind enough to let us carve pumpkins at their place!
Mine (sunglasses & mustache pumpkin) is on the far left, next is Nate's scary face pumpkin, then Adam's vampire pumpkin & Erin's super happy pumpkin!

We don't live in a "neighborhood" environment and don't think we've had a trick or treater in the past 5 years, so this evening of carving pumpkins and watching Bravo's Top 100 Scary Movie Moments special on Saturday turned out to be our big Halloween happenings this year.

Here's my "seeds" recipe- although we ate them too fast for me to get a pic!
De-gut seeds as well as possible, then place in a large bowl and wash remaining guts off by swishing around and "kneading" seeds in the water, drain & repeat until seeds are all clean.
Then I pour them out onto a paper towel covered platter to dry a bit, pat dry on top with another paper towel.
Let sit for about an hour, then spread evenly over a wax covered cookie sheet and let dry overnight. Separate any that stick together and spread foil over a cookie sheet, grease lightly w/ non-stick spray & spread seeds over in an even layer.
Spray with Misto olive oil sprayer, sprinkle with kosher salt, cayenne pepper and a little chili powder.
Bake at 300 for 10-15 minutes, then turn- spray other side and bake an additional 10 minutes. My oven is insane so I really had to keep an eye on these because it changes temp at it's own will and these do go from perfectly roasted to burn-city quick in that situation :)

Wishing everyone had a safe and fun Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Puff Pastry Cheese Cake Cups w/ Pear Topping

These were a baking experiment gone RIGHT. I wanted to create a fun fall desert with stuff I had on hand. I couldn't find any recipes online combining cheesecake, puff pastry and I improvised this one, Nate is not super fond of graham cracker crusts & cheesecake, which I totally love, so I was excited to see if this worked because I had a feeling he would really dig it! Thankfully, they turned our awesome and would be great with any fruit topping, or a fabulous desert for parties!

Beth's Puff Pastry Cheese Cake Cups w/ Pear topping

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
2 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened and at room temperature (very important!)
3/4 c sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp all spice

2 pears peeled, cored & chopped up into small pieces
1 T white sugar
1 1/2 T Brown Sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
*optional caramel for topping

Spread thawed puff pastry over floured surface and roll out. Grease a muffin pan (I used a 12 muffin-pan). Cut the pastry into 12 even squares (you could probably get 18 squares out of it if you rolled it out more. Place one square in each muffin cup.
Preheat oven to 350.

Place all toppings ingredients into a foil packet and cook in the toaster oven at 350 for 25-35 minutes.

In a large bowl combine cream cheese & sugar and mix well, until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well, then add eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Make sure the batter is smooth and not lumpy. Use a large spoon to fill each muffin cup with cheese cake batter.
Bake cheese cake cups for about 17 minutes, then turn off oven and let stand in oven for 7 minutes. Then let cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes until removing from pan to cool. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, serve topped with pears and caramel.

Zucchini Snack

I saw these recently on Janet is Hungry one of my favorite blogs. She makes so many yummy things that I want to try! I had pretty much all the ingredients for these BAKED ZUCCHINI COINS and thought it would make a perfect football watching snack!

These were so easy and delicious I'll definitely make them again!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cranberry Apple Crisp

I am a total sucker for the magazines they put at the grocery store check out. Especially at this time of year, and especially the magazines with amazing deserts on the cover. This desert is not the cover feature, which I am hoping to try before the month is over, but a little bitty recipe from the "Harvest Menu" article in October 2007's Country Living Magazine.

It was really how SIMPLE this recipe is that made me excited to try it. I followed it almost exactly, and it was so gooood! I think other than pumpkin, cranberries are my favorite thing to bake with at this time of year, and this was perfectly tart and sweet. It would make an excellent Thanksgiving desert. We had it while it was still warm with some vanilla bean ice cream.

Cranberry Apple Crisp
Source: Country Living Magazine, October 2007
4 large green apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/2 inch
1 C. fresh cranberries
3/4 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. rolled oats
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup softened butter

My changes:
I used 2 golden delicious and 2 gala because they're sweet to balance the cranberry & cubed them.

Heat oven to 375 & lightly grease an 8 x 8 baking pan with butter. Add apples and cranberries to pan. Combine sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg & softened butter in a bowl & mix well. Spread the oat mixture over the fruit with a spoon until covered, and bake until golden brown about 30 minutes.
Makes 6 servings

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cornbread Muffins

On Sunday we kept it very relaxed and I made my CHILI in the crock pot. I've been searching for an awesome homemade cornbread (or corn muffin in this case) recipe for a while and decided to try THIS ONE from PEABODY'S BLOG, pretty much one of my ALL time favorite blogs in the world & they were FANTASTIC. Please use the link for recipe info.

I'll be sticking with this as a great go-to cornbread recipe, I had to add the honey too, it looked to good to resist!

Beer Bread

I have not quite yet become brave enough to whip up some badass bread like some of my fellow bloggers, but fortunately I found this perfect "training wheels" recipe. I did buy some yeast and other bread making goodies, so stay tuned for Beth Baking Bread...coming soon (most likely when I have a long weekend circa Thanksgiving)
As I am sure you've noticed I LIKE BEER, and incorporate it in anything and everything when ever possible, another reason this recipe was screamin' my name.

Beer Bread
3 C. Flour
1 T. Baking Powder
1/4 C. Sugar
1 bottle of beer (I used Pumpkin ale)
2 T. ground flax seed

Combine ingredients, pour into greased loaf pan & bake at 350 for 50 minutes.
Next time I'll make this with regular non-pumpkin beer and add some roasted garlic and some fresh herbs.

The Beverly Hills Hotel...

I have been severely neglecting my blog, and my kitchen lately!! Mostly because I was working on assisting with a big charity event/ gala at The Beverly Hills Hotel. It was tons of fun and I managed to snag a pic of the killer ice sculpture martini bar and my dinner which was a perfectly cooked fillet Mignon, which was delicious! Anyhow, more updates to come (with actual food I made).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Perfect Pear...Pumpkin Pear Strudel

I took a day off this past Friday and headed down to my moms to spend the day with my her & my sister. They teach year round school, and this was their last Friday of a 3-week break before going back for 10 weeks (until Christmas break).

I have been itching to bake with some pears since I saw some awesome pear recipes featured on WILLIAMS SONOMA RECIPES. I found this recipe on VERY BEST BAKING and modified it slightly. It was perfect because it made 2 strudels so my mom and sister got to keep one and I got to bring one home to Nate!

This was also my first experience working with puff pastry, which is super fun and I can't wait to make something else with it!. Here is my version of the Very Best Baking recipe for Libby's Pumpkin Pear Strudel...

2 Large ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced
1 can Libby's Pure Pumpkin Puree
1/2 c brown sugar
1/8 c sugar
3/4 c crushed pecans
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
Cinnamon & sugar mix
1 egg beaten
2 sheets puff pastry (17oz package) thawed according to package and divided and edges cut like this:

In a medium bowl, mix pumpkin, pears, nuts, spices & sugars until well combined. Spoon 1/2 of the mix onto the center of each prepared, thawed puff pastry. Braid/ criss-cross the fringed sides together like this:

Seal each end by pressing firmly. Brush beaten egg over the top of each strudel and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mix.
Bake 30 minutes at 375, until golden and puffy. Serve warm.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Eliza's Pork & Apples~ Two Ways...

Pork, apples, sweet onion, honey mustard...this is one yummy dish! A special thanks to Eliza, who hooked up this recipe. Which, to be honest is a Crock Pot recipe that I ended up making in the oven this time! Hence, "two ways" this can be made in the crock pot or in a corning ware in the oven.

Eliza's Crock Pot Pork w/ Apples & Beth's oven version

2 large apples peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 large sweet onion
2-3 lb boneless rolled pork roast or pork tri-tip
honey mustard (Beaver Honey Mustard is highly recommended!!)
salt pepper
1 T cornstarch
2 T water

In the crockpot lay down the cut apples and chopped onions. Cover the roast in honey mustard and salt and pepper to your liking. Place the roast on top of the apples and onions and cook on low for 7-8 hours. When roast is finished, in a pot, wisk together the cornstarch and water. Remove the roast from the crockpot and keep warm. Add apples, onions, and all juices to the cornstarch and water and stir over medium flame until it boils and thickens.
Slice the pork roast and cover with the thickened sauce.

I used 3 apples (2 golden delicious and one honeycrisp and left the peels on, and used a pork tenderloin because it was what I had on hand, and of course 'round here the only honey mustard we use is the BEAVER. I placed the apples & onions in a corningwear and the tenderloin on top, covered in mustard and baked at 350 for about 45 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 160 (med-well) to 170 (well). Then removed the tenderloin onto a plate, poured the corningwear contents into a sauce pot and followed sauce thickening directions above.

We served it with a steamed artichoke and homemade applesauce for desert. For artichoke Dippin I mixed 2 spoonfulls of mayo with 2 spoonfulls of light sour cream and 1 spoonfull of crushed roasted garlic (from a jar- don't tell Nate! :) It was delicious and I can't wait to make it again! I'll post the recipe followed propperly/ the crock pot method next time!

The Doggie Lama

Sorry to update with something WAY outside the kitchen...more like the back yard to be exact!
For those of you in Southern California who may need some training so you can better your relationship with your canine best friend, check out the spectacular training skills of my human best friend Val. A certified, bonafied badass with pooches she can help with any issues you & your pal may be having...
Check it out by clicking HERE!!!

Leela HIGHLY recommends it!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pepperoncini Crock Pot Beef

I am keeping up with my goal of making one crock pot dinner a week to help us save money and have more time to relax or do whatever we want after work. This was a recipe given to me by a friend at work, it only requires 5 hours of cooking and my crock pot has no timer, so I made this on Sunday for Monday nights dinner. Which was great, because Monday I just came home, toasted some rolls and made spicy beef sandwiches.

1 Chuck Roast (I used a tri tip because that's what I had here)
1 packet Italian Dressing Seasoning/spices- All Seasons or 4 Seasons brand
1 can of beef consume
1 bottle of beer (I used Amstel Light)
2 jars of pepperoncini peppers with liquid (I only used one jar because we have a weeeee little crock pot)

Cook on low for 5 hours, slice and serve on toasted rolls.

Chicken Pot Pie

Ahhhh, this was excellent. I can't wait to make it again. A super easy- super delicious dinner that (when you're cooking for 2) makes multiple dinners.....unless you leave it out all night long. I foiled it up but it was still ever so hot, so I thought I'd let it sit for a bit, and then I fell asleep & we went to bed and forgot about the beautiful, wonderful chicken pot pie. I polled everyone I knew (thanks for your thoughts and stories!) and decided that we toss it rather than risk a very upset tummy or worse. So alas, this was only one dinner, but a great, easy recipe that I will definately make again!

Frozen Pie Crust (both sides) thawed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 cooked roticerie chicken remove skin and bones and fat & chop up
3/4 of a bag of frozen broccoli
3/4 of a bag of frozen baby carrots
(I love peas, but nate hates them...I think you should add them!! They're delicious!!)
(spices are aproxamate, I just added & tasted)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400
Lightly grease glass pie dish and roll out bottom crust, place on foil covered cookie sheet. in a large pot over medium heat combine all ingredients and stir until all are well combined. Pour mix into pie crust and top with second crust,press & seal edges. Cut a few little vent holes in the top.
Bake at 400 about 35-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Let cool at least 20-30 minutes before slicing....and DON'T forget to wrap and refridgerate your leftovers!!!