Wednesday, November 25, 2015

To Market, To Market...

to buy a fat pig.

Oh, wait. I'm going for spuds, butter, cream and a secret ingredient for a new mashed potato recipe I want to try.

Yep every time I make mashed potatoes its always the same way. I mean cream and butter and some russets is purely a mash made in heaven.

But...I saw that the Pioneer Woman had a recipe that made them using cream cheese and I thought, why not give it a try. And so I did. And y'all listen up~
They. Are. Good.  
These are not your basic mashed taters for sure. The cream cheese adds a nice little tanginess.  These are so good that I may never go back to the old way of making them again. Just sayin y'all. Ok, and to be honest I gotta say that I did modify her recipe ever so slightly. I didn't use the season salt or the half and half. My mama's first rule of making mashed potatoes was to always use cream and only cream. So I never, ever use anything but cream in my mashed potatoes. On that I don't budge.
You might want to try them for yourself and see what you think.

Here is what you need~

5# Russets Potatoes
3/4 cup of butter
8 oz. of Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 - 3/4 whipping Cream
1/2-1 teaspoon Salt
1/2-1 teaspoon Black Pepper

Peel, quarter and wash the potatoes. Place the potatoes in just enough water to cover them and when they come to a boil simmer them for about 30-35 minutes or until fork tender.

Drain and return to the cooking pot. Add the butter and the softened cream cheese. Now you can mash them and pass them through a ricer.

Lastly add the seasoning and the cream. Start with a half teaspoon of each seasoning and see how it tastes before adding more.

According to the Pioneer Woman these  can be made a day ahead and re-heated in the oven. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Most Divine Cookie Bar

I've been looking for some recipes for our Women's Bible Study cookie exchange in December and I came across a cookie bar that I knew I just had to try. It combined two of my favorite things~ Cheesecake and Pecan Pie. I did make a few changes to the original which you can find here. To say that these are good would be an understatement. They are positively divine. And with a drizzle of chocolate on top they are positively scrumptious. Try them for yourself. The original or my chocolate drizzled version.You'll thank me later. Really.

Ingredients for the shortbread layer
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup of butter that has been softened
1/2 finely ground pecans

Ingredients for the cheesecake layer
2 bricks of cream cheese (8 oz. each)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Ingredients for the pecan pie layer
3/4 cup packed brown sugar 
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup melted butter, cooled
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter

Steps 1-2-3

With a pastry blender mix butter, flour and brown sugar until it looks like pea size crumbles. Then add pecans and mix to incorporate.

Press shortbread layer into a 9x13 pan that has been greased. Bake for 10 minutes at 350* Remove and cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix together the cream cheese, sugar milk and vanilla until smooth. Pour over shortbread layer and smooth out. Like so~

Bake for 15 minutes at 350* Remove and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. While this is cooling pull together the pecan pie layer. Slightly beat the eggs, add the sugar mix and lastly add the pecans.

Pour over the cheesecake layer and return to the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the pecan pie layer is a beautiful golden brown. Remove from the oven and enjoy just like this or add a chocolate ganache.

For the ganache, heat cream until almost boiling. Pour over the chocolate chips and butter and mix until melted. drizzle over the cookie bars.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pumpkin~The Other Squash

Being that I am the only person in our home that really enjoys squash I had to put my thinking cap on when it came to this month's Improv Cooking Challenge ingredients of Squash and Sage. Now, I may or may not have, fooled my guys into eating something on more than one occasion, but could I pull it off with squash? Hmm... Then a light bulb turned on in my head. I'll use pumpkin. It's a squash, even though they don't think of it that way.  And my guys eat pumpkin...
All. Fall. Long. 
There is lots of pumpkin, AKA squash goodness happening at Casa Solîs during this time of year; pies, cookies, breads and the list goes on. So how about working that into a sage and pumpkin bread? I think it could work. What if I add some browned butter, walnuts and a streusel topping? Nutty, a little savory, and sweet.
I must say I was plenteously surprised at the way it turned out and I think I may have made a few converts to eating squash (pumpkin), even if they don't think of it as a squash. ☺ Here is what I did~

Brown Butter Pumpkin And Sage Quick Bread

3/4 cup of unsalted butter
2 tbls. sage
1-1/2 cups all-purose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the stuesel topping~
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1tsp. cinnamon
2 tbls. butter melted
2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Grease and flour a large loaf pan and set aside. Set oven to 350. Melt your butter in a saucepan over medium heat stirring constantly until it starts to foam. continue stirring until it becomes all golden brown and you can see brown bits at the bottom of saucepan. remove the butter to a bowl and allow to cool while you get everything else together. whisk together your dry ingredients. In another bowl mix together your pumpkin, eggs, cooled brown butter. incorperate with dry ingredients just until combined. Pour batter into your greased and floured pan. Smooth the top and evenly place your stuesel topping. Bake in the center of your oven on a baking sheet for about 40-45 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning out. Enjoy warm with some butter. We ate ours with a little whipped maple butter. I made it using some Vermont Maple syrup I was given by a sweet friend who recently vacationed there.

This is a modified version of a recipe I found @Martha Stewart's webpage.

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Pumpkin Mousse

Pumpkin is one of the quintessential flavors of fall. It's great in breads, pancakes, pies, cookies, ice cream and the list goes on. Here is a pumpkin mousse recipe that I think you'll enjoy. It is super easy to make and you can whip it up in no time. 

Pumpkin Mousse

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling 
3 cups heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar
1Tablespoon Vanilla Bean Paste
Ginger Snaps for garnish 

Whip the the cream with the vanilla bean paste and the sugar until soft peaks form. Reserve 1/2 cup aside in the refrigerator. Gently fold the rest of the whipped cream into the pumpkin. Pour into serving dishes, cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour. When you are ready to serve, garnish with small dollop of the reserved whipping cream and sprinkle with the finely crumbled ginger snaps.
Makes 8-10 servings

I am a huge fan of the Pioneer Women. When her dinnerware line came out I fell in love with her her Adeline dessert cups. Aren't they a pretty and festive way to serve the mousse? And the salad plate underneath is from her Cowgirl Lace dinnerware set. Together they make the mousse stand out in such a lovely way. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Black Walnut Orange Sponge Cake

I had a family emergency come up and thought I wasn't going to get my recipe posted for October's Improv Cooking Challenge  Thankfully Lesa extended our deadline a bit. So....
Without further adieu may I present

This is my modified version of the recipe from Epicurious website. I also made an orange syrup to drench the finished cake in and bit of sweet whipped cream with orange zest for a simple garnish. Sometimes less is more.

Here's what you'll need to whip up this scrumptious cake.

4 eggs at room temperature 
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1-1/2 cups finally chopped black walnuts
1 cup flour
1tsp. baking powder

Preheat the oven to 325* Line the bottom of an 8" spring form pan with parchment paper, and rease the sides with olive oil. Mix the flour, walnuts and baking powder together and set aside.
Whisk the eggs in the mixer for two minutes until they are frothy. Gradually add the sugar to the eggs and beat on high for 4 minutes more. In three additions fold in the flour/walnut mixtures. Last fold in the orange juice and olive oil and place the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack until cool. Garnish as desired. I think a drench made with Gran Marinier would also give the cake a superb flavor. 
Check out some of the other tasty Orange and Black creations in this month's Improv Cooking Challenge