Cranberry Pumpkin Praline Muffins

The following recipe was featured in my Muffin Swap event. You can read about it and view other muffin recipes HERE.

Joelen’s Cranberry Pumpkin Praline Muffins

Recipe adapted from HERE

3 T. brown sugar
1 T. sour cream
1/3 cup broken pecans
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground clove
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 canned pumpkin
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup margarine, melted
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Grease twelve 2 ½ inch muffin cups or line them with paper bake cups. Set muffin cups aside. In a small bowl stir together 3 tablespoons brown sugar and sour cream. Stir in pecans. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves.

Make a well in the center of the dry mixture. In another medium mixing bowl, stir together egg, buttermilk, pumpkin, 2/3 cup brown sugar and melted margarine. Add the pumpkin mixture and dried cranberries all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into the muffin cups, filling each ¾ cup full. Drop 1 tsp. of pecan mixture on top of each muffin. Bake in a 400 degree oven about 20 minutes or until done. Cool slightly, and serve warm.

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Pumpkin Butterscotch Muffins

The following recipe was featured in my Muffin Swap event. You can read about it and view other muffin recipes HERE.

Stacey’s Pumpkin Butterscotch Muffins

Recipe adapted from HERE (?)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 3/4 cups pumpkin
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 cups nuts, optional
2 cups butterscotch chips/morsels

1. Combine all dry ingredients. Add pumpkin, eggs, and oil. Mix until smooth. Add nuts if desired and the butterscotch chips.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.

Peach Berry Cobbler

The following recipe was shared during my Chef Spotlight Dinner highlighting recipes of Chef Wolfgang Puck. You can view other recipes and pictures of the event HERE.

Peach Berry Cobbler
shared at the event by Mary
Original recipe found here

1 1/3 cups (330 ml) cake flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream, plus extra for brushing

Filling:
2 pounds (4-5 large) peaches
6 cups mixed berries, such as raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Peach brandy, Kirsch or Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons quick cooking oats
Pinch each cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamon
2 tablespoons heavy cream for glazing shortcakes
2 tablespoons sugar for glazing shortcakes

Make shortcake: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and pulse just until the mixture forms small gravel-like pieces. With the motor running, pour the cream through the feed tube, stopping just before the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead just until it forms a smooth ball, being careful not to overwork it. On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to a 1/2-inch (12-mm) thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch (6-cm) cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out 6 circles, gathering and re-rolling the scraps if necessary. Place them on a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cobbler.

Prepare filling: In large pot of boiling water blanch peaches for about 1 minute. Plunge into an ice-bath. Remove skins, cut in half and remove pits. Cut each half into 4 or 5 slices and place in large bowl. Add mixed berries, brown sugar, lemon juice, Peach brandy and cinnamon. Stir to mix thoroughly. Spoon fruit mixture into a lightly buttered 13x9x2½-inch baking dish.

Prepare streusel: In a medium bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a fork, cut in butter until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in remaining streusel ingredients.

Assemble cobbler: Preheat the oven to 375. Sprinkle prepared streusel mixture over fruit filling in dish. Place prepared shortcake circles on top. Lightly brush shortcakes with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until shortcakes are golden brown and fruit filling is bubbling and thickened. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Presentation: Warm the cobbler, if made earlier in the day. Serve with your favorite ice cream or softly whipped cream or just as is with a sprinkling of sifted powdered sugar.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

The following recipe was shared during my Chef Spotlight Dinner highlighting recipes of Chef Wolfgang Puck. You can view other recipes and pictures of the event HERE.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
shared at the event by Teresa
Original recipe here

2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into same size chunks
Salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream, brought to a boil
1/2 cup pureed Roasted Whole Garlic
Freshly ground white pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1. In a saucepan, cook the potatoes and raw garlic in lightly salted water to cover, until tender. Drain well.

2. Mash the potatoes through a food mill, or with a potato masher, into a stainless steel bowl.

3. In a small saucepan, heat butter and cream until butter has melted. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

When Spinach & Cheese Comes Together…

It’s time for pasta! My hubby doesn’t really like pasta too much but if anything, he prefers baked pasta dishes such as cannelloni. I had quite a bit of spinach to use so I thought a spinach & cheese cannelloni would be in order. I served this with sliced italian sausage. The recipe I used was inspired by Sara Moulton’s version. Here’s my recipe for Spinach & Cheese Cannelloni:

Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups half & half
salt & pepper to taste
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Cannelloni:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10 ounces baby spinach
1 12 oz container ricotta
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
8 dry or “no-boil” Lasagna noodles , boiled & cooled

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook the roux, whisking, 2 minutes. Add the half & half and whisk, bringing to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 2 minutes.
Whisk in salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese, then cover.

To make the cannelloni:
Heat oil in a 5 to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and saute, stirring, until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Stir together ricotta, egg, parsley, salt, pepper, and cheese in a bowl, then stir in spinach mixture.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Spread 2/3 cup sauce in buttered baking dish.
Spread about 1/3 cup ricotta filling in a line along 1 short side of 1 pasta rectangle, then roll up to enclose filling. Transfer, seam side down, to baking dish.
Make 7 more cannelloni in same manner, arranging snugly in 1 layer.
Spread 1/2 cup more sauce over cannelloni and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake, covered with foil, in middle of oven until sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes.
Turn on broiler. Remove foil and broil cannelloni about 5 inches from heat until lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Reheat remaining sauce and serve on the side.

**I’m also submitting this to the Presto Pasta Nights blogging event! This week the event is hosted by Gay of A Scientist in the Kitchen. Be on the lookout for great pasta recipes with their roundup coming up next week!**

Caramel Applesauce Cupcakes

This recipe was featured in my Springtime Cupcake swap event, which you can read about HERE.

Erin’s Caramel Applesauce Cupcakes:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup finely chopped, peeled apple
(Granny Smith or Jonagold apples for baking)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups applesauce

1/2 cup melted butter

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, butter, and applesauce. Mix for 2 minutes at slow speed. Scrape bowl. Mix at medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape bowl, and stir in chopped apples and walnuts.

Your oven should be preheated to 350 degrees. spoon cupcake batter into cupcake pans lined with paper or foil cupcake liners. You should fill each cup approximately 1/2 to 2/3 full making sure you have the same amount of batter in each cup.

Bake your cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the applesauce cupcakes from the pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.
Top with caramel topping or frosting and enjoy!

Alfredo Secrets!

One of my indulgences when I’m dining at an Italian restaurant is ordering fettuccine alfredo. I never seem to manage pulling it off consistently at home from scratch… and when compared to the restaurant versions, mine just doesn’t come out the same. Until now… and its better!

I’ve been on a cookbook kick and here’s another recipe I tried from Cooking at Home With America’s Test Kitchen (2006). The result was a silky, creamy cheese sauce that didn’t glop up. I added some chicken and asparagus to round out the dish… and it was perfect!

Another note is that time and temperature matter. The temperature of your serving bowls should be warmed (No wonder the plates at the restaurant are always hot when I order fettuccine alfredo!). According to ATK, serving the alfredo in warmed bowls helps to retain its creamy texture. Also, this dish must be served immediately because it does not hold or reheat well. Here is the recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo:
Cooking at Home With America’s Test Kitchen
page 177

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
9 ounces fresh fettuccine
( I used dried taglieattelle pasta)
1 1/2 ounces ParmigianoReggiano, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1. Bring 1 cup of the heavy cream and the butter to a simmer in a 3- to 4- quart saucepan over medium heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the mixture reduces to 2/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.

2. While the cream reduces, bring 4 1/2 quarts water to a rolling boil. covered, in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Using a ladle or heatproof measuring cup, scoop about 1/2 cup boiling water into each serving bowl; set the bowls aside to warm. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the pot of boiling water; cook the pasta until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

3. Meanwhile, return the cream mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to low and add the pasta, Parmesan, and nutmeg to the cream mixture. Cook over low heat, tossing the pasta with tongs to combine, until the cheese is melted, the sauce coats the pasta, and the pasta is just al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water; the sauce may look rather thin but will gradually thicken as the pasta is served and eaten. Working quickly, empty the serving bowls of the water; divide the pasta among the bowls, tossing the pasta to coat well with the sauce. Serve immediately.