Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekly Menu 10/28 - 11/3

This Week's Menu

Monday: Baked Potato Soup

Tuesday: Veggie Stir-Fry, Sesame Noodles

Wednesday: Butter Chicken with Chickpeas & Cauliflower

Thursday: Oven Puff Pancakes,

Friday: Roasted Veggie Quinoa Cakes with Eggs

Saturday: Spaghetti & Meatballs with Homemade Marinara (recipe to come)

Sunday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches (recipe to come), Oven Fries

Anything fun on your menu? Do tell!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate & Toffee

Pumpkin bread from Great Harvest was my biggest weakness in the fall in my junior high and high school days. I could not wait for it to make its appearance on their baking racks. Then I started making my own pumpkin creations, and fell hard for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. They were like mini pumpkin breads -- all puffy and pillowy-soft.

But these days when I want a cookie, I don't really want puffy and pillowy-soft. When I have cookies on the brain, I want chewy-yet-tender, with a little crisp on the edge. So when I found this recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction, boasting a chewy pumpkin cookie with none of the cakey-ness I was looking to lose, I couldn't wait to try them out. And they delivered! Fresh from the oven, these were perfection -- crispness on the edges, chewy and tender in the center. They stay yummy for a few days, too, though they do soften up a bit and lose those crisp edges.

They also remind me a lot of these cookies. (Also fabulous.)
You should bake some up this weekend!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate & Toffee
adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

2 c. + 1 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/4. c. dark molasses
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
3/4 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. dark chocolate chunks
1/2 c. toffee bits

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl (I used my pyrex measuring cup) combine melted butter, molasses, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Then add the egg yolk. Add the pumpkin and vanilla and whisk until throughly incorporated. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The dough will be very thick, heavy, and sticky. Fold in dark chocolate chunks and toffee bits.
Heat oven to 350º. Using a #40 cookie scoop, scoop cookie dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment. (About 2 or 3 Tablespoons of dough per cookie.) Slightly flatten, but don't flatten completely. I just used the back of my scoop to make the tops flat-ish.
Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned on the edges, and still soft in the centers. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days -- like they're going to last that long...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Smoky Corn Chowder

Hello, friends. I've been saving this recipe for over a year now (largely because I didn't get around to posting it last fall...), so I'm extra excited to share it with you.

This here is corn chowder, which, I must say, is my favorite of all the chowders. Fresh corn, creamy potatoes, smoky and crispy bacon, and springy chives all mingled in a bowl of harvest happiness. You can't say no. You can't. Don't even try.

Need more convincing? Picture me this: It's Saturday night, and after a fun day at the pumpkin patch or apple picking you're ready to settle into a relaxing night of watching football or snuggling up with your favorite snuggle buddy. You need soup -- something hearty and flavorful and rich. Oh, yes. This is it.

You know I'm right, don't you? I mean, I don't mean to be smug about it, but I knew this was just what you needed. Probably because it's just what I needed, and you and I can't be that dissimilar, deep, deep down.

Moving on.

I prefer to use fresh corn in this recipe, but frozen works well, especially now that fresh corn is reaching the end of its season. Happy snuggling!

Smoky Corn Chowder
from Autumn from the Heart of the Home

8 strips of thick-cut bacon
1 lg. yellow onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2″ coins
1-14 oz. can creamed corn
3 c. milk
1/3 c. heavy cream
pinch red pepper flakes -- I use Aleppo pepper (to taste)
1/4 tsp. ground sage
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. minced fresh chives, or minced green onion tops

In a large heavy saucepan, slowly cook the bacon until very crisp. Drain on paper towels. When cooled, crumble into 1″ pieces and set aside. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp. of the rendered bacon grease. Sautee onion, carrot, and celery med. heat until softened, about 10 min. Stir in corn, creamed corn, and milk. Simmer gently for about 25 minutes; stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender. Add cream, red pepper flakes, sage and half the reserved bacon pieces.  Heat through, taste for salt and pepper. Serve in soup bowls, garnished with bacon and minced chives/green onion tops.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekly Menu 10/21 - 10/27

It's a pretty chill week here at our house. (We're hoping our colds finally make their exit so we can go play!) Here's what we're eating:

This Week's Menu

Monday: Broccoli Cheese Soup in Pretzel Bread Bowls

Tuesday: Leftover Pork Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Peas

Wednesday: Veggie Fajitas, Corn on the Cob

Thursday: Garlic Shrimp over Creamy Polenta

Friday: Pancakes & Scrambled Eggs

Saturday: Open-Face Sloppy Joes, Spinach Salad

Sunday: Tuna Noodle Casserole, Spinach Salad

What's on your menu this week?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Honey Oat Sandwich Bread

I've gone through several bread recipes trying to find one that I super love -- one that blows me away for toast and sandwiches and eating with a mere swipe of butter over top. It has been shockingly difficult to find one that meets all of those criteria. But I think I've found it!

Other loaves have let me down -- one in particular was delicious and everything I wanted, except it was so darn fickle that it only turned out right half of the time. Sometimes a recipe I found would be great for sandwiches, but make abysmal toast. Sometimes the bread I came up with was so dense that lovely toast was all it was good for. (I mean, none of it was inedible, because no matter how you slice it, homemade bread is a delicious thing, but... you know...)

This loaf is the perfect compromise. It rises nice and high, thanks to the bread flour included, but still has more than enough whole wheat (and oats!) for me to feel great about eating it. I have a serious crush on this bread. It's wheaty and oaty (we all know how I feel about things that are oaty...). The texture is perfectly soft, but not so soft that it dries out when toasted.

Ah, yes. Fresh from the toaster with a smearing of butter and a dripping of honey...


Try it. I know you'll love it, too.

Honey Oat Sandwich Bread
adapted from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

1 c. boiling water
1 c. rolled oats

1 3/4 c. (9 2/3 oz.) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. (8 1/4 oz.) + up to 1/2 c. bread flour
1/4 c. oat bran
2 1/4 tsp. (1 packet) instant/rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 c. milk, warmed
1/4 c. honey
3 Tbsp. butter (plus more for brushing on top of loaf), melted and slightly cooled

cooking spray

Combine boiling water and oats, cover and let stand until just warm -- about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together flours, oat bran, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
Once water/oat mixture has cooled, add to it the milk, honey, and butter. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough comes together (about 2 minutes). Increase mixer speed to medium and knead 8 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. After 4 minutes, check the dough to be sure it clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom. If needed, add additional bread flour, 2 Tbsp. at a time, up to 1/2 c., until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. (I rarely have to add more flour.)
Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter, and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place in a large, lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled -- about 1 1/2 hours. (Don't skimp on this rise or you may get a shorter loaf in the end.)
Turn risen dough out onto floured counter. Pat into a 9x9" square, roll into a tight cylinder, and pinch the seam closed. Place loaf seam-side-down in greased loaf pan, pressing lightly into corners. Spray with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until nearly doubled -- about 45 to 75 minutes.
Heat oven to 350º. Brush loaf with melted butter, then lightly spray with water. Bake 40 - 50 minutes, until crust is golden and the loaf sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let cool completely before storing in an airtight bag.