Monthly Archives: October 2010

Pumpkin Bars with Penuche Frosting

Do you remember that time — oh, I don’t know, like two posts ago — when I boasted over my resolve for keeping the pumpkin seal intact?  Yeah, well it broke.  No, no, it wasn’t that same day.  It was the next day, and I am taking no responsiblity for my weakness decision to give-in.  I blame it completely on Maryanne, from Boston, who tempted my inbox with one of her family’s favorite pumpkin cookie recipes.  How could I resist soft, cake-like cookies smeared with a rich, smooth frosting?   Well, exactly — I couldn’t.

Now, this frosting isn’t just any frosting.  It’s a sweet explosion of caramel-y goodness in your mouth.  Penuche Frosting — where have you been all my life?  The fact that I have never eaten this sinful indulgence before, astounds me.  But I, of course, have total confidence in my ability to make up for our lost time together.  Starting with pumpkin bars, ending with pumpkin cookies, and maybe a pumpkin scone or two thrown in the middle.  Oh!, how I can’t wait to start eating pumpkin!  Shhhh, don’t tell Maryanne!     

*If you choose to make bars instead of cookies, pour the batter into a 9×13, greased pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes.

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350F and grease cookie sheets. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.  

In a separate bowl, cream together shortening, brown and white sugars.  Mix in pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Add the dry flour mixture and combine. Stir in walnuts if desired.

Drop dough by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.


In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the 3 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then stir for about 1 minute while it thickens. Cool slightly, then stir in the milk, and beat until smooth. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar until frosting has reached desired consistency. Spread on cookies and enjoy!




Filed under All Posts, Recipes, Seasonal - Fall, Sweet Treats

Macaroni and Cheese Revisited

If you follow this blog, you’ve realized by now that when I told you my husband accuses me of having a secret Mexican heritage, I wasn’t joking.  Give me just about anything and I’ll turn it Hispanic.  In the mood for pizza?  Pepperoni Quesadillas, it is!  Hamburger?  I’ll take mine with extra guacamole, please.  Oh, and my favorite pasta, you ask — Mexican Macaroni & Cheese.  It’s like I’ve died and gone to a really cheesey, Mexican heaven.  Complete with sombreros. 

Mexican Mac & Cheese

  • 1/2 lb macaroni (cooked and drained)
  • Roux (2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp flour)
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 3 cups + 1 cup shredded cheese (a mix of Monterey Jack, Mild Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar)
  • 2 garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ ancho chili powder
  • ½ chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 cup roasted corn
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 can green chilies
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • cilantro about two tbsp


In medium sauce pan whisk together the flour and butter (roux) and cook  for about 5 minutes until smooth.  Add the garlic, milk, cumin, ancho, chili and cayenne.   Simmer for about 10 minutes or until sauce begins to slightly thicken.  Once the sauce thickens, remove from heat and whisk in 3 cups of the cheese until smooth.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350F.  In sauté pan cook onions and corn in olive oil until onions are soft. Add chilies and beans to the pan to combine and then transfer onion mixture into the pot with the cheese sauce.  Add the pasta, tomatoes and remaining 1 cup of cheese and mix well to coat the macaroni.  Transfer to a greased baking dish.  Top with additional cheese if desired and bake for about 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.  Top with cilantro before serving.


Filed under All Posts, Pasta!, Recipes, Uncategorized

Frosted Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies

I’ve been waiting longer than usual this season to break the pumpkin seal.  I know that once I do, my life will  become crazed by pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pies, and maybe even some pumpkin-filled ravioli.  I’m not really sure what the delay is since I usually start waiting in line for seasonal spiced coffee in August.  It could be my competitive side trying to burst out for a challenge, or it could just be that I am not yet ready to surrender my freedom to the Orange Fall Goddess.  Either way, over the weekend, I found myself needing to get a fix.  Somehow.  Someway.  So, a little pumpkin cookie-decorating it was, thank-you-very-much!     

P.S. I rely on sprinkles, sprinkles, sprinkles to cover up my multitude of decorating sins! 

Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies

(derived from the Joy of Baking)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.  Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for at least an hour.  

Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick circle.  Cut into rounds or other shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter.  Place on the prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. (This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked.) Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.


  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • orange coloring
  • green coloring
  • sprinkles as desired

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.


Filed under All Posts, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Recipes, Seasonal - Fall, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

Apricot Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with a Thyme-Mustard Glaze

I’ve never been much of a fruit lover.  I will opt for the chocolate-y-est of chocolate cakes over a blueberry crisp, I take my vodka without cranberry juice, and it’s likely you’ll never see me eating an apple in its raw state.  But! pair any of those up with a juicy and perfectly tender piece of pork, and I will die a happy woman.


  • 1 pork tenderloin, 3 pounds
  • about 15 dried apricots
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp stone ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat oven to 400F. 

In small bowl combine honey, mustard, thyme and garlic.  Set aside.  To prepare the tenderloin insert a long knife through the center and turn, creating a narrow hole.  Stuff the apricots into the whole stuffing the center. 

In an oven proof skillet heat olive oil to a med-high heat.  Season Pork generously with salt and pepper and sear on all sides until golden brown.   Brush with glaze, reserve the rest and place pork in oven to roast for about 20 minutes (note that cooking times will vary depending on the size of your loin), or until internal temperature reads 150-160.  Remove from oven and brush another coat of glaze on top and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Filed under All Posts, Pork, Recipes, Uncategorized

White Bean Chicken Chili Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust

Pot Pies make regular, sometimes even weekly, appearances on my dinner table.   Besides the fact that they are my husbands all-time favorite, and that they are delicious, I’ll admit that I sort of have a thing for one-pot dishes.  I used to be much more narrow-minded when it came to a pot pie, giving my affection only to the kind that met the stereotype of a flakey pastry crust with creamy chicken and vegetables.  But, because adopting the pot pie into my weekly cooking schedule came along with the territory of marriage,  I’ve discovered a whole new realm of the comforting one-pot classic!


White Bean Chicken Chili:

  • 3 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 jalapenos
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 can green chiles
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 3 tbs heavy cream
  • handful of cilantro for garnish

Sauté pepper, onion, and jalapeño until soft and then set aside ½ cup to reserve for topping.  Add garlic and cook for few minutes.  Add flour and cook for about a minute.  Add chicken broth, heavy cream, spices, green chiles, and beans.  Simmer for about 20 minutes or until broth begins to thicken.  Remove 2 cups of the chili and pluse in a blender. This will help to further thicken the chili.  Return to the pan and add the chicken.  Transfer to a baking dish, and prepare the topping.


  • ½ cup flour
  • 2/3 yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • reserved ½ cup vegetables

 Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sift flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt in med bowl.  In separate bowl stir buttermilk, egg oil and vegetables.  Pour buttermilk mix over dry ingredients and stir slowly with large spoon for about 20 strokes just to combine. (a few lumps is fine). Spoon batter on top of chili in small baking dish and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

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Filed under All Posts, Recipes, Recipes - Chicken, Uncategorized

Andouille, Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo Pizza

I have a teensy-tiny confession to make.  There was a time in my life when I couldn’t bear the thought of eating pizza without saturating every slice in Ranch dressing.  Straight from the bottle.  Strategically poured across the entire surface, leaving no space for red or yellow.  Just pure snowy white.  This wouldn’t be as embarrassing if this time period wasn’t like…last month.  You see, before I moved to New Jersey my exposure to real pizza was minimal.  I wouldn’t dare do this to the real stuff, but a few weeks ago when I was forced into a situation where I had to eat pizza from a popular chain — that shall remain nameless — I did just as I would do back in the day.  Ahem…pass me the…cough, cough…Ranch.  No, I meant the whole bottle please.

Now that I live in an area where there is an abundance of the legit kind — the kind where gooey mozzarella soaks up fresh homemade marinara laced with sweet Italian basil or a perfect garlic white sauce lays beneath the surface of three cheeses melted to a light golden brown — I’ve learned to give up that habit.  Quickly.

Andouille, Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo Pizza

  • Andouille Sausage
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, blanched and chopped
  • 2 cups chicken
  • shredded parmesan. mozzarella and provolone cheese
  • Alfredo Pizza Sauce, See below
  • Pizza Dough

Alfredo Pizza Sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Heat cream and garlic in medium sauce pan. Whisk in butter and melt add parm cheese while whisking and simmer until thickened and smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 500F.  Roll out dough and brush with olive oil. Place on pizza stone, or pizza baking sheet and spread a thin layer of Alfredo sauce on the dough (you will have extra sauce from the recipe, do not use it all or your pizza will be too soggy). Top with shredded cheese, sausage, broccoli and chicken.  Bake pizza for about 15 minutes, turning once.   


Filed under All Posts, Pizza, Pork, Recipes, Recipes - Chicken

Asian-Style Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

If you noticed something different about Monday’s cookie post…something bigger, something brighter…something better, I’m so psyched to introduce you to the newest member of the family — Canon EOS Rebel T2i.  AKA a super fly camera, for those electronically illiterate (like me).  Although, at this point, my shooting skills are minimal, I’ve been zooming, flashing, and snapping away these last few days getting myself familiar with the world of apertures and shutter speeds (shout-out to Anne Constance Photography).  So, while I continue on with my endeavour to bring you mouth-watering visuals of each recipe, sit back, relax, and come along with me on the gastronomical journey ahead!  

First stop — sautéed shiitake mushrooms and asparagus with silvered almonds and toasted sesame seeds.  

  •  2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ pound shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 bundle of asparagus, ends trimmed off
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond slivers
  • spoonful of toasted sesame seeds

Blanch asparagus quickly, drain and then cool in ice bath.  Cut asparagus into thirds (I also like to cut the asparagus in half length-wise to make them extra thin, but this is optional). Set aside.

Clean mushrooms, discard stems and slice in half or thirds.  Saute mushrooms and garlic in sesame oil for about 1-2 minutes.  Add soy, vinegar, sesame seeds and sugar and cook for a few minutes or until sauce just begins to slightly thicken. Add asparagus to pan just to heat through.  Toss with almonds and serve.




Filed under A taste of Asia, All Posts, Healthy Options, Side Dishes, Uncategorized