Monthly Archives: October 2011

Catching Up and Pumpkin Pancakes

Don’t say it.  I know already.  I didn’t post yesterday for All About Mondays.  Apparently I’m incapable of sticking to an ed-cal.  *Sigh*

In short form, I am currently all about:

1. The Suzan.  Awesome Japanese riot girl band that mixed addictive beats with a pop-jungle vibe.  I especially love Come Come and Home.

2. Pho.  Specifically, vegetarian pho.  This Vietnamese noodle soup is traditionally made with beef, but there are a couple good places in Denver that have veggie varieties – broth included.  A huge, spicy bowl of soup is perfect for a cold day – and it’s supposed to snow tonight!

3. Smitten Kitchen.  I know, everyone and their mom has heard of this site already.  I hadn’t.  I just found it.  I love it.

4. Arsenic and Old Lace.  Cary Grant?  Yes please.  This Halloween movie is absolutely  hilarious, in a classic, clever way.  I can’t even say how much I adore this movie – one of my seasonal favorites.  Plus I love the nostalgia and romance, as you know, of eras in which I never lived.

5. Old-fashioned candy.  Like Bit ‘O Honey and burnt peanuts and Charleston Chews.  Again, my tendency to romanticize bygone eras is at play here, but I always do that around the holidays and this particular holiday includes a lot of candy.  Okay, so most of it is made with corn syrup and refined such-and-such, but I feel cooler eating Jordan almonds than I do eating a Snickers.  …Except I also like Snickers.  Shut up, judgey.

And now, ladies and gents (probably just ladies): the real post.  It’s about pumpkins (surprise!).  Have I told you yet how much I love pumpkins? Because I DO.

This past Friday my friends and I went to a pumpkin patch.  Like a legit pumpkin patch, where you go out in the field and cut your pumpkin on the vine and then go pet goats and draft horses and run around in corn.  (You remember Christine, right?  She was there taking awesome photos, as usual.  She took the photo above.  This is her below.)

It was a gorgeous fall day and so much fun.  Now I have to decide what to carve in my pumpkin.  Last year it was a zombie cat…maybe this year it should be something REALLY scary, like a Republican in the White House.

Anyway.  I’m also excited to roast up some pumpkin seeds, which I’ll post about.  But my latest pumpkin creation has been pumpkin pancakes with apple-maple compote, which I got from Shutterbean, who got it from Honey and Jam, who apparently got it from 101 Cookbooks.  They are, in a word, fantastic, and the perfect ending to a weekend that included all my favorite autumn things: the pumpkin patch, the annual Denver Zombie Crawl, and watching Arsenic and Old Lace with a boy I like a lot.

(That’s him.  And me, of course.  Christine took the photo.)

Pumpkin Pancakes (adapted from Honey and Jam)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 tablespoon allspice
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Combine the dry ingredients, then stir or beat in the buttermilk, eggs, pumpkin and butter.  Pour onto a well-buttered pan; flip when the edges start to look dry and bubbly.

Apple-Maple Compote (adapted from Honey and Jam)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 semi-tart apple (like a Gala), sliced
  • cinnamon
  • pure maple syrup

Melt the butter in a small sautee or sauce pan, and add apple slices.  Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste, and sautee until apples just begin to soften, stirring often.  When the apples are al dente, add enough maple syrup to coat or cover the apples (again, to taste) and satuee a couple minutes more, until apples are to your liking.  Spoon over pancakes – the extra syrup at the bottom will be extra buttery and a little caramelized!

So perfect.  Just…amazing.  I can’t imagine a better breakfast in the fall.  Next up: pumpkin carving, pumpkin seeds, homemade gift ideas, budget updates…and more?


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Caramelized Onion Kale Salad

Yeah I know I’m bad at posting.  Sorry.  I missed my second installment of All About Mondays already, but I’ll post next week, I promise (and it will totally include this song by The Suzan.  So fun!).

I’ve been baking a lot lately, but it’s mostly been pumpkin cookies for LITERALLY everyone and their mom.  Okay not literally.  But for family and coworkers and friends and boyfriends and coworkers’ kids.  And I don’t even really like kids.

But I finally got back in the kitchen and made something delicious.  It’s a kale salad with blistered tomatoes and caramelized onions, which I had originally planned on making with quinoa and sauteed spinach instead of kale, and which I would still highly recommend trying.  As it is, it turned out to be a really fantastic and healthy little veggie dish.  You should try making it between batches of pumpkin cookies and handfuls of candy corn.

The caramelized onion recipe originally came from Tracy of Shutterbean and her caramelized onion jam.  If you make a whole bunch of this you will not regret it.  It tastes good on everything…like flatbread with melted mozzarella, gorgonzola and a drizzle of balsamic.  Try it on everything.

Caramelized Onion Kale Salad

  • 1 large sweet yellow onion*
  • 4-6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable stock or broth
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • handful cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups torn kale leaves

*Sorry my measurements are a little inexact, but I think most of us have a good idea of what to add to taste. If you want to make more of the caramelized onions I would use Tracy’s original recipe as a better guide for measurements.  For me, one large onion yielded about a half pint of “jam”.

First make the caramelized onions, as this will take the longest time.  Thinly slice your onion and add it to a sautee pan with the oil on medium-high heat.

Cook the onions until translucent, which will take about 10 minutes or so.  Stir occasionally so the onions don’t brown prematurely.  Once translucent, add the veggie stock, balsamic, brown sugar and salt.

Continue cooking uncovered and stir occasionally until onions are caramelized, about 25-30 minutes more.  They will reduce A LOT – don’t be alarmed.  They’ll turn into a sort of compote, very soft and brown and delicious.

Even in this photo they’re not all the way done!  Keep cooking, trust me.  When it’s done you can let it cool and put it in a jar, or start prepping your other ingredients for the meal.

For the kale, wash the leaves and remove the ribs, then tear them into pieces (however much you want to eat – it cooks down, too!  I love kale, I’d say a serving is about 2-3 cups of raw shredded leaves.  But that’s just me).  Use a vegetable steamer and steam them in a pot, covered, until tender.  Again, this is totally subjective – I love the chewiness of al dente kale.  It’ll turn deep, beautiful green but still mostly have its shape when al dente.

I wanted to grill the tomatoes, but I don’t have a grill, and it’s fall, and they’re little cherry tomatoes, and I didn’t feel like turning on the oven for one serving.  Solution: put them in the toaster oven.  Can I tell you a secret?  I really love my toaster oven.  It allows me to make fresh individual scones (by freezing the cut scone dough and cooking it when you want it – I’ll post the recipe!) and single servings of roasted vegetables.  I lined my toaster oven tray with foil and put it on 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.  I kept an eye on the tomatoes and hit the broiler for a few minutes to char the tops.

I learned something by doing this, which is that tomatoes will burst and bubble when put under a lot of heat.  You can’t see it in the picture, but I got little cherry tomato splatters on the inside of my toaster.  I was pretty alarmed when they started popping.  You can try setting a little foil over the top of the tomatoes, but you might not get that good char on the skin.

When everything is done to your liking, just put it all in a bowl with a little pepper on top!

Seriously, you don’t need to do much more to it than this.  The earthy kale, sweet onions and tangy tomatoes all work so beautifully together that you don’t need much in the way of extra seasoning.  Feel good about that!  I love when natural flavors speak for themselves.  It’s refreshing and comforting at the same time.  I’d still try it with quinoa and spinach, too.  How can you go wrong?

As for the pumpkin, that will be making an appearance again soon.  Maybe as pancakes…or pumpkin seed brittle…or pumpkin walnut cake.  I’m going a-pickin’ tomorrow, I’ll be sure to post pictures and a variety of ways you can roast the seeds!


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All About Mondays

I’m not really all about Mondays.  It’s not that I hate Mondays – it’s not their fault they kick off the workweek, after all.  I just don’t dig them as much as, say, a Saturday.  Or a Thursday I call out from work.  But I digress.

I am all about a lot of other things, and I’ve been meaning to start some sort of editorial schedule in this blog, part of which will be a list of things I love/am in to/recommend.  A la McSweeneys.  So in the interest of convenience I’m going to start doing it today: hence, All About Mondays.  Here goes.

1. The Whole Foods bulk aisle

I have mixed feelings about Whole Foods, but you can’t beat their bulk aisle for baking.  Who wants to pay five dollars for a teeny-tiny bag of grocery story chopped walnuts, or worse yet be forced to buy a ginormous bag of walnuts, when you can just waltz into a Whole Foods and buy just as many as you need?  Appreciate the little things in life, people.  I for one enjoy control where I can get it.  AND it’s eco-friendly if you use those little reusable burlap bags…which I totally don’t.  But I should.  Plus they sell roasted, salted, unshelled bulk pistachios (pro tip: you will eat ALL of these if you buy them) and amazing little ginger cookies that are crispy and spicy and perfect for snacking.

2. Old-school wooden puzzles

There are so many good things about these: the authentic vintage charm, the portability, the aesthetic appeal and decorating value, the hours of entertainment.  Seriously, hours.  See that puzzle there?  It took me two solid hours to put back together.

3. Created Equal by Mark Liata

Mark Liata‘s magnificent portraits are paired in thoughtful, touching and sometimes arresting dichotomies of the human experience.  So beautiful, so enlightening.  Love love love.

4. The work of La Touchables

I love the found-art quality of the jewelry made by Dawn of La Touchables on Etsy.  If you read her featured seller interview, especially, you really get a feel for how she creates and the unexpected inspiration that drives her art – like the resourcefulness of poverty.  I especially love this cuff, but all her work has a certain worldly, ethereal, rough-hewn-but-somehow-prim quality that I adore.

5. Bessie Smith

I love all Blues, but lately I can’t get enough of Bessie Smith (well, and Muddy Waters).  The smoky voice, the sometimes doleful, sometimes flippant lyrics, the whole feel…perfection.  I can’t stop listening to her anthology, especially when I cook.

6. Boots

Duh.  As if I have to say any more.  This is like one of the only photos I have of me in boots…Why?!

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Pumpkin Cookies

Hot dang, it’s been too long!  I apologize for the uber-crazy time between posts, sometimes life gets in the way.   Sometimes the Great American Beer Fest happens and you discover Mexican Chocolate Stout.  What??  Yeah, that’s a thing.

Anyway, I hope you’re in full autumn mode like I am, because all you’re going to hear about for the next two months is PUMPKIN.  Maybe some apple and cinnamon and nutmeg, too.  But mostly pumpkin.  Like these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that my mom always used to make around Halloween time when I was a kid.  I don’t even know where the recipe came from; it’s handwritten in one of those old home recipe books with splotches and butter stains all over them.   Side note: this is also the book where she keeps her secret peanut brittle recipe that even I don’t know how to make.

It took me a long time before I attempted to make these cookies on my own.  You know how some things are only so amazingly good because someone else always makes them for you?  And you only get them like once a year?  That’s how these cookies were for me.  That and this potato soup my mom ONLY makes on Halloween.  Then I came to my senses and realized these cookies are too fantastic to wait for,  so I started making them…but still only in the fall.  Obviously.

Pumpkin Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar*
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips OR
  • 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
*I found you can remove a quarter cup of sugar from just about any recipe and it’s still fine.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg, pumpkin and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, blend the remaining dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.  Then blend this into the wet mixture.  Stir in the add-ins: chocolate chips/walnuts/cranberries/whatever.  The original recipe calls for chocolate chips, but really any experimentation would be good in these cookies.  I like to divide my dough and put a half cup of chocolate chips into two thirds of the dough, and a quarter cup each of walnuts and cranberries into the other third.
Drop teaspoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet about an inch or two apart; smallish (1 1/2 inch) cookies don’t spread that much, but leave more room if you want them bigger.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the “peaks” of dough just start to brown.
My batch made about 45 cookies at around 90 calories apiece.  They taste like crisp days and warm scarves and trick-or-treating.  You should make double batches.  Give them to everyone you know.  Give them to yourself.  A LOT.  That’s how you know it’s autumn.

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