Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

This recipe is loosely based on a classic by Martha Stewart, with quite a few adaptations and one big change to make this version very easy!
While I nearly always prefer from-scratch recipes, I am not sure that Ghirardelli's Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix can be beat for rich, chocolately, delicious brownies. So, instead of making the chocolate part of these from scratch, that's what I used instead.
The only thing I'd change about these next time would be to add mini-chocolate chips to the pumpkin batter (this was Scott's request, and I think it's a good idea).
Otherwise, these turned out well and I'll probably make them again before fall is over.
Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies
Makes about 24 brownies


1 box Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie mix, made according to directions (high-altitude, if applicable)

For the pumpkin batter (make usual altitude corrections if needed, i.e., 1-2 Tbsp more flour, a bit less baking powder):
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
(optional: chocolate chips)

1. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Spray a 9″ x 11″ baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Prepare brownie mix according to directions; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the pumpkin batter (flour, baking powder and salt)

4. Beat together the 2 eggs and 3/4 cup of sugar. Mix them for 3-5 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Add the melted butter and spices and blend well. (If desired, add some chocolate chips here!)

5. Pour the dry pumpkin batter ingredients into the wet and use the stand up mixer to combine thoroughly, again without overmixing.

6. Pour 2/3 of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Spread pumpkin batter on top of the chocolate (this will require being gentle and patient to try and get the batter to stretch evenly across the brownie mix). Using a ziploc bag with a hole cut in the corner, or else working carefully with a spoon and your hand, spread the remaining brownie batter into 3 lines parallel to the long-side of the brown pan. Using a knife, swirl the pattern by slicing through the batter in alternating directions parallel to the short side of the pan.

7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan.

Halloween Oreo Cheesecakes

I made this recipe from Baking Bites for Scott's office Halloween party, where everything had to be themed.They turned out ok...I think they taste alright, but weren't quite as pretty as I'd hoped -- the black and orange got sort of smeared into a mess.
Anyway, I'd make them again, but maybe with a few tweaks, like more attention to decorating the tops to look cooler.
Halloween Oreo Cheesecakes
1/2 cup sugar
2 8-oz packages plain cream cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped Oreo cookies (Halloween colors)
20-24 whole Oreo cookies (Halloween colors)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper cup liners.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar, cream cheese, eggs, milk and vanilla extract until very smooth. Blend in flour. Stir in chopped Oreo cookies.
Place 1 Oreo in the bottom of each muffin cup. Top with approx. 1/4 cup cheesecake batter. (Make sure cheesecake batter settles in completely around Oreo at the bottom!)
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until cheesecakes are set. Cool in pan.
Chill cheesecakes before serving for at least 2 hours.

Makes ~20-24

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Toffee Crunch Muffins

I adapted this recipe slightly from Baking Bites. I doubled it when I made it, and it turned out great, yielding about 30 sizable muffins (the single batch recipe below will likely still give you a few more than a dozen though).
These have a really nice texture -- not too heavy and overly moist, but not too light and cakey/crumbly either. They'd probably also be good with a vanilla/cinnamon glaze drizzled on top too if you wanted to go the sweet route. As they are, they're nice for breakfast or dessert.

Pumpkin Muffins with Toffee and Pecans
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (+ ~1/8 cup for altitude)
2 tsp baking powder (I used 1 1/2 tsp for altitude)
1/2 tsp salt1 tsp ground cinnamon (also added 1/2 tsp of additional pumpkin pie spice)
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (I added just a touch (maybe 1/8 cup?) more)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped chocolate-covered toffee bars (such as Skor or Heath)
1 cup toasted, salted pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or lightly grease and flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low or working by hand, gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Fold in toffee bits and chopped pecans.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each about to the top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Broccoli Panzanella with Walnut Sauce and Basil

I adapted this recipe from the NYT -- my main changes were to reduce the olive oil and exhange about 2/3 of it with water...which I probably shouldn't have done, as it turned out a bit dry. I'll post it below with the original amounts, as that's what I'll follow next time.
Turned out tasty still though, and the roasted broccoli had an awesome nutty, roasted kick to it.

    For the broccoli:
  • 12 ounces broccoli, florets cut into pieces 1 inch in length and stem peeled and cut into pieces 1 inch in length and 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (I used more)
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (I used more)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the walnut sauce:
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (I used 2-3x this amount)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch finely grated lemon zest (I used a tsp of lemon juice)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For assembly:
  • One-day-old baguette, crust discarded and remaining cut into 3/4 inch to 1-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup julienned basil leaves (I used more, about 1/2 cup)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings, optional.
  • 1. For the broccoli: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the broccoli, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread across a baking sheet or shallow roasting pan, and roast until the broccoli is crisp-tender, and is beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare walnut sauce.
  • 2. For the walnut sauce: In a dry skillet or toaster oven, toast the walnut pieces until fragrant and lightly browned. Place in a blender with garlic, olive oil and lemon zest. Blend until smooth, adding just enough water to make a thick yet pourable sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • 3. For assembly: Spread the diced bread on a baking sheet (I sprayed the bread pieces w/ Pam butter spray and sprinkled them garlic salt) and bake until crisp and golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add broccoli (there should be equal parts broccoli to bread), and mix lightly.
  • 4. On a serving platter or in a shallow bowl, spread the walnut sauce and pile the broccoli and panzanella on top. Garnish with julienned basil and, if desired, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Toasted Walnut Carrot Bread

This bread is SO right up my fall-baking alley -- it is delicious and fairly nutritious, filled with carrots, applesauce, and toasted walnuts! I got the recipe from the Boulder Weekly's Dessert Diva's column, but I skipped the cream cheese frosting. While I'm sure that would also be great, I wasn't in the mood for super-sweet (that doesn't happen often...), and this bread really works well as a breakfast bread, or a not overly-sweet dessert (especially with a little butter and a glass of ice-cold almond milk...yum!)

Toasted Walnut Carrot Bread

1 3/4 cup flour (I used 1/2 AP and 1/2 spelt)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in bowl. Set aside.

In large bowl, mix eggs and brown sugar, add in apple sauce and vanilla, stir until well combined. Fold in carrots that have been peeled and grated.

Combine flour mix with carrot mixture and stir well. Fold in walnuts, reserving a tablespoon to put on top.

Spread mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle on reserved walnuts. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Take out and let cool.

Slow-Cooker Mayan Harvest Bake

This recipe is adapted somewhat liberally from Hungry Girl's take on the Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake frozen meal. Even though I added some ingredients back to this, it's still a very healthy dish, and definitely perfectly suited for the cooler fall and winter months ahead. Plus, it makes a ton, so you'll have lots of leftovers as a reward for all of your veggie-chopping efforts.

2 cups cubed butternut squash (about half a squash)
1 medium sweet potato, cubed
1 large eggplant, stem removed, and cubed
1/2 head of cabbage, cored and cut in chunks
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 15-oz can of black beans
One 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
One 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground ginger, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground cumin, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. chili powder, or more to taste
1/2 cup plantain chips
1/4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds

10-12 1/2-inch thick slices of polenta

Place all cut veggies in an extra-large bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine all other ingredients and thoroughly mix. Spoon this mixture over the veggies and stir to coat.

Transfer mixture to a crock pot with a capacity of four quarts or more. If needed, pack it in tightly. (It will cook down*)

Cover and cook on high for 3 - 4 hours or on low for 7 - 8 hours, until veggies are very tender.

With about 1 hour left before serving, layer polenta slices on top of veggies and sprinkle with salt and pepper (could also eat this without polenta, or perhaps on top of some cornbread instead)

*While the veggie juices will squeeze out while cooking, if after a few hours, you feel like there is not enough liquid or that things are drying out, try adding a little more water, more pumpkin, or even a little unsweetened applesauce to keep things juicy.

Stir well and serve, topping with additional pumpkin seeds if desired.