Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Oh, so good.....Apple Pumpkin Brown Betty!

I have heard of the Brown Betty for years now, but this is the first time I have ever made one. It is so simple, and good, I can't believe I waited this long. I was curious about the origin of this fabulous dessert, and I did a little reading. Did you know that the brown betty has been around since colonial times, and is one of the oldest known desserts? It was basically designed around the fact that bread gets stale, but you don't throw it away, and voila!..... the brown betty was born! I am thinking it was born into a nice family too, because the recipe is a mix between a cobbler and bread pudding. Sounds like they may be cousins! Whatever it's heritage, this Apple Pumpkin Brown Betty is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving meal.
Apple Pumpkin Brown Betty
(adapted from Food Network magazine)
1   2-3 pound Sugar Pumpkin
3 tablespoons Butter
1 cup cubed Bread
2 Gala Apples
1/4 cup light brown Sugar
1/4 cup Golden Raisins
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
pinch of Salt
Maple Syrup (for drizzle)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Slice the top off of your pumpkin.
Scoop out the seeds and the stringy pulp.
Peel and cut your 2 apples into 1/2" pieces. Set aside.
Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in your skillet.
Add the bread cubes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about
4 minutes and until golden in color.
Transfer to a bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan,
along with the apples, brown sugar, and raisins to
your pan. Cook about 4 minutes. The apples
should be crisp tender.
Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
Add the bread back in, and mix together.
Put your pumpkin in a small baking dish.
Fill the pumpkin with the apple mixture.
Add approximately 1" of water to the dish.
Cover the pumpkin with the pumpkin top, and
cover the top, loosely, with foil.
Bake until tender, about 1 hr, 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Then remove the foil, and let the top brown by
baking it for approx. 10 more minutes.
Transfer to your serving plate, and drizzle with maple syrup.
To serve, scrape the pumpkin flesh and stir into the apple mixture.
 Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Yummy, Yummy Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Crepes!

I think that crepes are one of those recipes that carries a little bit of mystique with it, don't you? On the surface they seem difficult to master, and I always file the recipes into my "make someday" folder. Well, no more! When I was assigned Denise's blog, Creative Kitchen for the November Secret Recipe Club I found a great recipe for crepes, and I decided it was time to step outside my comfort zone a little. I am so glad I did! Denise's recipe for crepes was easy to follow and oh, so good! I served mine for breakfast, and they were a huge hit. I do need to practice my technique some, but I don't think that is a problem, as I plan on serving them on several occasions during the holidays! You can make these for breakfast, lunch, dessert or, I was thinking, maybe appetizers?!!

2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled & sliced
1 teaspoon Butter
1 tablespoon  Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 tablespoon Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups whole Milk
2 Eggs
2 cups Flour
pinch of Salt
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
Place your apple slices in your pan with a teaspoon of butter.
Add the brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir together
over medium heat. Add the cream cheese, and melt
everything together.
Place milk and eggs in the blender.
Blend thoroughly.
Then add flour, 1 cup at a time, blending after
each addition. Add the remaining ingredients, and
blend until smooth.
I poured the mix in to a measuring cup, 
and poured it onto the hot pan that I had melted 
a teaspoon of butter in.
Swirl the pan so that it is coated with the batter.
After a few minutes you will see bubbles as the crepe
is cooking. Turn the crepe over to cook the other side.
Denise says in her recipe that she found it easiest to turn with
her hand, and I agree.
I put my apple mixture in the center of the crepe.
Place the crepe on the plate, and roll by putting the top 
of the crepe over the apples, and puling snug, but not too tight.
Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.
I think it looks Christmasy, don't you?

Read Denise's original recipe for all her great ideas on what to 
fill your crepes with. She suggests things like Nutella, strawberries,
lemon curd, maple syrup, peaches, and more!

I can't tell you how happy I am I tried these crepes. I used up
all of my batter practicing on getting my crepes thin, but I kept
everything I cooked. I think I will freeze them, and then pull them out
to experiment. I really do think there is an appetizer 
recipe in there somewhere!

Thanks for joining me today!
Let's see what everyone else made!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sensational Pumpkin Bread Pudding w/ Gingered Creme Anglaise

I can never say no to bread pudding. It doesn't matter how good I am trying to be, or how full I say I am. If bread pudding is on the menu, I am a goner! This Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Gingered Creme Anglaise is the perfect example. It is to die for! The pumpkin flavor is subtle, but upfront, and the pudding  is creamy, yet crispy, with a ginger creme anglaise topper that just hints that the ginger came to the party. You have to try this! You will be so glad you did!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding 
w/ Gingered Creme Anglaise
(adapted from C&H Sugar)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
4 cups White Bread, stale or day old
4 Eggs
3 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 cups Milk
1 1/2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
3/4 cup canned Pumpkin Puree
1 cup Sugar
pinch of Salt
1 tablespoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves
1 tablespoon Butter

Gingered Creme Anglaise
1 cup Milk
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1-2 teaspoons ground Ginger(to taste)
5 Egg Yolks
1/2 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanila

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
I had a fresh loaf of french bread, and I wanted to use it,
so I cut it into small cubes, placed it on a baking sheet, and.....

  dried it in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
If your bread is already stale, just go ahead and
cut your bread into cubes.
Butter a 13x9x2"  baking dish.
Pour your cubed bread into the dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together all your ingredients,
except for the butter.
Pour your mix over the bread crumbs.
Pat down all the bread cubes so they are wet.
Let sit for 10 minutes to make sure the bread is fully soaked.
Place the 1 tablespoon of butter on top.
Bake for 40-50 minutes. The pudding should be set
in the center, but not dry. The edges will puff up
during baking, but it will deflate when your pan is
removed from the oven.
While the bread pudding is baking, make your
creme anglaise. Place the milk, cream, and ginger in
your  pot, and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, remove
the pot from the heat, and let it stand, covered, for
15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, beat the yolks with the sugar until
it is pale and thick. This should take 3-4 minutes.
I used a whisk for this, and it worked great.
The recipe calls for straining the cream mixture through
a fine sieve, discarding  the ginger. If you don't have one,
you can improvise like I did. Place a piece of cheesecloth
over a small bowl. Pull it somewhat tight.
  Pour the cream mixture through the cheesecloth
into the bowl. The ginger will sit on the top and will not go through.
Discard the ginger with the cheesecloth.
Slowly pour the cream mixture into the egg mixture.
Stir constantly until blended.
Return the mix to the saucepan.
 Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly with
a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
Be careful not to let it boil. If the sauce boils, it will curdle.
If it curdles, remove the sauce from the heat immediately,
and pour it in your blender. Spin around a few times,
but be careful it doesn't splash you because it is hot.
When I felt the sauce was thick, I checked it by pulling
my spoon out of the sauce pan and running my
finger across the back of the spoon. If the line looks like
the picture, your sauce is thick and you should take it off the heat.
 If the line runs, it needs to be thicker.
Add the vanilla,
 but make sure the heat is not on when you do.
Your sauce is done. Place it in a small container, and let it cool.
I think the best way to eat this Pumpkin Bread Pudding is to
heat the pumpkin bread, and add a couple spoonfuls
of chilled or slightly room temp creme anglaise. 
Of course, the pudding is great cold also!

When I made this recipe, I cut it in half, as my family is small.
But the recipe I gave you is for 8-10 servings.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sweet Potato Hand Pies!

Everything Thanksgiving has been going through my head now for about 2 or 3 weeks. I am constantly churning over ideas like menu items, seating charts, table settings, and of course ~ dessert. When I discovered that this months Improv Cooking Challenge was all about making something great with sweet potatoes and honey, I had the perfect recipe. I have been thinking about expanding the dessert course to include a dessert bar, so everyone can munch through out the day. Later after dinner, I will fill up the dessert bar with all the traditional pies and cakes and some non traditional tastes that are fun! I think these little Sweet Potato Hand Pies are perfect, and are destined to become part of our tradition!
Sweet Potato Hand Pies
(adapted from Pillsbury)
Makes 14 pies

3/4 cup of mashed Sweet Potato
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Honey
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla
1/8 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1 box Pillsbury refrigerated Pie Crusts, softened
1 Egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bake a fresh sweet potato in the oven
 for approx. 30-40 minutes. Let cool, and then
peel the skin off.
In a small bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, brown sugar,
honey, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg.
It can be mixed with a spoon and spatula.
Unroll the pie crust.
Cut out 7 4" round circles. 
I used a cookie cutters.
Place a heavy teaspoon of sweet potato
 mix onto each pie crust round, just slightly off center.
Brush the crust edges with water.
Fold the crusts in half, and then seal them by crimping
the edges together with a fork.
Brush the tops of each pie with egg, 
and sprinkle sugar over the tops.
Bake in oven for 16-18 minutes.
Enjoy hot or cold!

Check out what everyone else made: