Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD: Pumpkin Muffins

It's October! So it's time for another pumpkin recipe. This week's Tuesdays with Dorie is from Kelly at Sounding My Barbaric Gulp. She chose for us to make the Pumpkin Muffins from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. These muffins are very tender and moist with a cake-like texture. You can find the original recipe here. I made the following changes to the recipe to mix it up a bit (and also because I had these ingredients on hand).
  • I omitted the salt in the recipe and used salted butter instead.
  • I substituted dried cranberries for the raisins in the recipe.
  • I omitted the pecans.
  • I added the zest of one orange to the batter.
  • I made a simple glaze of orange juice and powder sugar for the top of the muffins (1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon orange juice).
  • I substituted the sunflower seed topping with sliced almonds, which I sprinkled on top of the orange glaze.
  • The baking time in the book says approximately 25 minutes.  My muffins were done in about 18 minutes, so be sure to watch them closely.

Notes: I really liked the flavor of these muffins. The pumpkin flavor isn't very prominent, but it is definitely there. The cranberries add a tart contrast to the sweet muffins, and the orange zest in the batter smells and tastes great. The muffins are definitely sweet enough on their own, and the glaze is not needed, but it is a nice touch. I only used a small amount of glaze on each muffin, spread in a thin layer, as to not make the muffins too sweet. I will definitely make these again. I would like to make a couple of different versions of this muffins. The original recipe calls for raisins, which would be nice, but I would also like to try dried cherries or chocolate chips as well.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Low-Fat Pumpkin Apple Bread

Fall is my favorite time of year, and I was happy when I saw pumpkin recipes popping up on other blogs, so I decided to try one for myself. Along with pumpkins, apples are another one of my fall favorites, so I decided to make a pumpkin apple bread. I attended an Apple Butter Festival a few weeks ago, where they were making fresh apple butter on site. I purchased some of that apple butter, and I figured it would be a great substitute for the oil that is found in most quick breads. Even better, it makes the bread low-fat!

Low-Fat Pumpkin Apple Bread
-makes 2 9x5 loaves (I made one 9x5 loaf and three mini-loaves)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup apple butter
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider or water
  • 2 cups apples, diced (I used Honey Crisp apples)
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your loaf pans.
-In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
-In a large mixing bowl, combine white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, apple butter, pumpkin, and water. Mix until just combined.
-Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat until just combined. Make sure not to over mix or the batter will become tough. Gently fold in the apples into the batter and pour into the prepared loaf pans. (If using the two 9x5 loaf pans, divide the batter equally between the two pans. For my loaves, I poured half the batter into the 9x5 loaf pan, and I divided the remaining half equally between the three mini-loaf pans.)
-Bake the 9x5 loaf (or loaves) for about 60 minutes and the mini-loaves for about 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaves comes out clean. Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack, before turning them out onto the wire rack to cool completely.

Notes: This is a really nice low-fat version of a quick bread. It is extremely moist, and not too sweet, you can't even tell that there is hardly any fat in the bread. If you prefer a sweeter bread, you could always add some more sugar. Neither the pumpkin flavor nor the apple butter flavor is too prominent, but the two flavors blend subtly together, and the apples add just the right amount of texture and tartness to the bread. A very simple, mildly spiced bread. A perfect fall treat that isn't too bad for you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Roasted Cauliflower

I was never a huge fan of cauliflower. To me it was very bland, and it smelled when it was cooked, and the only way it tasted any good was when it was covered in mounds of cheese. That was, until I tried roasting it. Roasting it brings out the natural sweetness in the cauliflower. It takes on a different flavor that boiling it or steaming it can't do. And the great thing is that you can season it so many different ways. I have posted a few different options at the end of this recipe.

Roasted Cauliflower
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
-Remove the core of the cauliflower and slice into uniform pieces or divide into small florets. (I like to try and slice it because it provides more surface area for the cauliflower to brown and get crispy.)
-Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Toss the cauliflower to distribute the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
-Roast until the cauliflower is golden brown, crispy on the outside, and soft in the middle, about 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately.

-Season with cumin, ground coriander, and smoked sweet or hot paprika for smoky Spanish flavored cauliflower.
-Season with curry powder and garam masala for Indian spiced cauliflower
-Add some garlic and crushed red pepper to the cauliflower before cooking for a spicy version of roasted cauliflower
-After roasting, add some grated parmesan cheese to the cauliflower

Monday, October 6, 2008

Potato-Tomato-Zucchini Gratin

This dish was made in an attempt to use up some of the vegetables I had around the house. My garden is slowing down, and I am trying to get the most out of my fresh vegetables before winter comes. The combination of potatoes with tomatoes and zucchini works really well together.

Potato-Tomato-Zucchini Gratin

Serves 4

  • 1 lb. red potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped, divided
  • salt and pepper

-Preheat the oven to 400 degreees.
-Heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the potatoes and onions, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Saute until the potatoes and the onions are soft, but not fully cooked, about 7-10 minutes.
-Transfer the potato-onion mixture to a baking dish (I used a glass pie dish), and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and 1 tablespoon each of oregano and thyme.

-Layer the tomatoes and zucchini on top of the potatoes and onions, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and herbs on top of the tomatoes and the zucchini.
-Bake until the zucchini and the tomatoes are soft, and the cheese is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Notes: This is a very simple dish to prepare, and it tastes great. Make sure to season the vegetables lightly with salt because the cheese is very salty. Also, you must make sure to cook the potatoes before adding them to the dish because they will take much longer to cook than the tomatoes or the zucchini.