Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Muffins *melissa

I had a Halloween costume party to attend and decided to make these muffins to bring along. (I'll spare you the picture of me in my lame pirate costume.) I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman who titled the recipe Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins. Now, out of respect for my other two sisters and anyone else who finds an inherent creepiness in the word moist I have left it out of the title. I refer you to the synonyms given in the thesaurus for the word moist: clammy, damp, dampish, dank, dewy, dripping, drippy, drizzly, humid, irriguous, muggy, not dry, oozy, rainy, soggy, teary, watery. Now really, only one of these applies to these lovely muffins. (I mean no offense to The Pioneer Woman, after all, these muffins are in no way, shape or form dry.) Can we please find a new word to replace moist? There I go again, I promise it's the last time I'll use the word in this post. Forgive me! OK - on to the recipe! 

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 heaping cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional!)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease 12 muffin tins.

Sift all dry ingredients into large bowl...

(I have to confess that when I received this tool as a wedding gift I didn't really know what it was used for. It really comes in handy for recipes like this.)

Then take the chilled butter and cut it into little cubes...

and use a pastry cutter to cut it into the mixture...(another tool I didn't know what to do with--the pastry cutter. All I knew about this tool was that as a kid I used it to make cool shapes in play dough.)

In a separate bowl measure out the pumpkin puree and add the evaporated milk.....

...add the egg and vanilla

(This picture brings me back to Professor Wingert's Drawing I class where we had a week's worth of drawing eggs in juxtaposition to one's amazing what a little graphite on paper can capture.)

 Stir until incorporated then add the mixture to the dry ingredients, gently fold in....

.....fold in the golden raisins

Then Spoon batter into muffin tins and sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar...then bake for 25 minutes.

If you like pumpkin, cinnamony goodness, and plump raisins, you'll LOVE these muffins.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Creamy Corn "Chowdah" with Chicken *melissa

We've entered into one of my favorite seasons of the year - FALL - I love this season for many reasons but one of the reasons is that I love making soups and my husband loves eating soups. My husband, a Bean Town native, would call this soup "corn chowdah." Being my first attempt at making "chowdah" I consulted a number of different recipes and came up with this conglomeration of ingredients that yielded  a result that actually metered on my husbands, "A+" scale...and for a native Boston, Red-Sox lovin' guy, that's saying a lot.

1 red bell pepper chopped
1 jalapeno chopped (seeds removed to desired hotness)
2 medium potatoes chopped with skins on
1 medium onion chopped
2 cups frozen corn 
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste
4 slices bacon   
2 cups cooked chicken
1 can evaporated milk
sour cream (for garnish)
sharp cheddar (shredded for garnish) 

In large pot cook 4 strips of bacon until mostly crispy. Remove bacon and set aside, drain all but 2 Tbsp of the drippings. Saute chopped onions in bacon drippings until translucent -- about 5 min. Then add chopped red bell pepper, jalapeno pepper and continue to saute. 

Add chopped potatoes to pot and continue to saute. Then add frozen corn.

Add chicken stock and simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Then puree 3/4 of the mixture either carefully ina  blender or with a wand blender (I have one of these....and I lurve makes life in the kitchen SO much easier.) After soup is pureed add can of evaporated milk and shredded chicken, simmer until incorporated. 

Serve with dollop of sour cream, sprinkled cheddar cheese and some crumbled bacon, a side of sourdough bread for dipping and soaking up every last drop is a must...I promise, you will like this soup.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gajillo Tortilla Soup *melissa

So, I set out to make ancho chili tortillo soup. However, my grocery store didn't have any anchos. So I crossed my fingers, improvised and chose a chile pepper that I'd never heard of before...the gajillo (gwa-HEE-yoh) chili pepper. Now, I happen to live in an area with a LARGE hispanic population so my choices of dried chiles were abundant. My knowledge of these chiles, however, is nonexistent. BUT I will learn through experimentation in my kitchen. I'm so glad my husband is a good sport about my experiments.

Here's what I found out about gajillo chiles:
they "are thick, leathery dark reddish brown chiles that contain mild to moderate amounts of heat. The guajillo is one of the most commonly grown chiles in Mexico. This chile requires a longer soaking period than most due to its leathery skin."

Now for the ingredients:

3 dried gajillo chiles (remove seeds, boil in chicken stock, let soak)
2 jalapeno pepper (seeds and ribs removed)
1 habenero pepper (seeds and ribs removed)

1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
Meat from 1 small to med. rotisserie chicken
2 tsp cumin
2tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
sea salt to taste
1 bottle/can of beer
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
corn tortillas
CHEEEEESE, shredded (I heart cheese)
**believe it or not, this soup is not spicy...mostly due to the fact that removed all ribs and seeds from the peppers.I think I'll leave a few in next time.

First, take the gajillo chiles, cut off ends with the stem, slice open and remove seeds and ribs.
Pour 4 cups of chicken stock into pot with the gajillo chiles. Bring to low boil, cover, reduce to simmer. Allow to simmer
while you prepare your other ingredients. This can be done ahead of stated above these guys need a long soaking time due to their leathery skin. (You'd have leathery skin too if you spent as much time as they did out under the
hot Mexican sun.)

Next, chop onion...

Chop peppers, mince or press garlic...

**Disclaimer**this picture shows 3 habeneros...DO NOT use all three unless you're interested in burning off all your tastebuds...I just photographed them together because they made a pleasing composition.


"Why," you say, "is there a cat pictured here?"
Here's why: I have a weird cat. My cat loves green
bell peppers. Forget the meat! This guy goes for crunchy veggies. He comes begging whenever I'm cutting into a pepper...her practically climbs up my legs trying to get a taste. In this case he recognized the sound but didn't know I was chopping hot peppers. Needless to say, he didn't get any to munch on.

Saute onion, peppers, garlic,and corn in oilve oil in a heavy bottomed pot. Then add spices and saute a few more minutes. 

Then pour can of beer into pot to deglaze. Stir with wooden spoon to scrape up tasty bits on the bottom.

Add chicken to pot as well as the rest of the chicken stock.

Then, take the gajillo chiles and chicken stock and puree in food processor (HEED the fill to here for liquids line on your food processor or you will have a royal mess on your hands, not to mention all over your countertops and kitchen floor.)  

Add puree to soup 
and simmer 
until well incorporated.
Serve soup with strips of corn tortillas and shredded cheese. Did I mention I LOVE CHEESE? Now, in this case since this is a Mexican style soup you could go with an authentic Mexican cheese. I used what I had which was extra sharp cheddar.