Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pumpkin Bubble Tea

It’s Halloween!! So what else? A pumpkin recipe! Not just any pumpkin recipe mind you. PUMPKIN BUBBLE TEA!!! In case that didn’t make it obvious enough, I am very excited about this recipe. I think I may have dreamed about it and it came out just as well as I hoped!

For those who are not familiar with bubble tea, it originated in Taiwan. It is a drink containing some kind of tea base and chewy tapioca pearls, also called boba or bubbles. I fell in love from my first sip! Most of the commercially made bubble teas use powdered flavoring. I prefer to use flavored simple syrup and teas to keep it natural.

For the simple syrup, combine one cup brown sugar, two cups sugar in the raw, and three cups of water. Basic simple syrup is a one to one ration sugar to water. Switch it up as you prefer. I seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon. I chose to both grate some in and leave some whole for maximum flavor.

Combine all the ingredients except the water in a small stock pot over medium heat.

Add in the water and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugars are well dissolved. Turn down to low and simmer for about half an hour to really infuse the flavors. Strain out into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Next to make the tea. I used our favorite chai blend because I thought the flavors in the chai would marry well with the pumpkin. I used eight teaspoons of loose chai to thirty-two ounces of water. Brew for five minutes and refrigerate to get cold.

Next for the boba. Boil approximately a cup and a half of boba for five minutes, then strain and put into a dish covered with some of the simple syrup to keep them from sticking.

The simple syrup comes out such a beautiful dark brown. The smell is sweet, spicy and savory all at the same time.

To make the bubble tea, spoon one-third cup of the boba, one-third cup of the pumpkin simple syrup, and  one-third cup of vanilla almond milk into your favorite cup. Top off the remainder of the cup with your chai and enjoy.

Drinking bubble tea invigorates me! I feel like a small child walking into a candy shop for the first time. The flavor, and the feel of the bubbles swimming in your mouth will delight you. This pumpkin variety? My favorite yet! The pumpkin, brown sugar, chai and vanilla almond milk combined perfectly!

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Since, Halloween is rapidly approaching, I decided to focus on pumpkin this week! Today’s recipe, pumpkin bread pudding, showcases pumpkin in a warm and savory bread pudding.

This is a pretty simple recipe. Some day old bread, pumpkin, almond milk, eggs and spices is all it takes to create this fabulous fall dish.

Start by cutting the bread into one inch cubes and placing them into a non-dairy buttered nine by twelve baking dish.

Next, mix the custard. Six cups of vanilla almond milk and four eggs get whisked together. Season with grated nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger. For a sweeter version you could add brown sugar to the custard.

Pour the custard mixture over the bread and place aside. This needs to sit for about two hours to absorb the custard and flavors. If you are in a hurry and must cheat, let it sit for a minimum of thirty minutes.

While the bread mixture sits, cube up your pumpkin. Scatter over the top of the bread mixture and cover with aluminum foil. Place in a 350* oven for forty-five to sixty minutes until the top is nicely brown and the middle is firm. I apologize, somehow I forgot to take a picture of the bread pudding fresh out of the oven.

Scoop into your favorite bowl and enjoy! I topped mine with a little warm vanilla almond milk and grate cinnamon for dessert. This dish makes a wonderfully warm earthy dessert but would also work well as a side dish with roasted chicken or turkey. Maybe Thanksgiving dinner?


Crock Pot Roast & Root Vegetables

This is a meal to welcome you home on a long, cold, dreary day. From the moment you walk in the house, the warm aroma will begin to comfort your body and soul. Once you plate it and begin to enjoy, it will warm you to the core.

To start, the night before get a skillet hot and add in some extra virgin olive oil. I used one infused with mushroom and sage to form the first layer of flavor. Sear the roast well on all sides, let cool and transfer to the fridge for overnight storage.

Also, to make the morning rush easier, all the root vegetables can be chopped up the night before. Chop four large carrots, six turnips, two large parsnips, two large onions, and peel five cloves of garlic. Leave the root vegetables on the large side or the will get mushy. Feel free to mix up the vegetables with whatever you have on hand. Once chopped they join the roast, in a seperate container, in the fridge.

In the morning, before heading off to work, place the roast in the crock pot and surround with the vegetables. Season well with sea salt, black pepper, and ground garlic scape.

Add in one cup of your favorite red wine. If you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it! Also, one cup of beef broth.

This is what awaits you when you arrive home, after simmering on low seven hours while you were away. How I wish I could share the smell with you. Earthy, hearty, irresistible aromas will assault you immediately!

Next, to make the gravy. It only takes ten minutes or so! Heat a skillet over medium heat on the stove top. Four nice size ladles of the juices go in.

Mix three tablespoons or so of cornstarch with a half cup of cool water and pour into the broth. The cool water will prevent the gravy from lumping while the corn starch thickens it. Whisk constantly as the gravy begins to thicken.

When the gravy has reached this rich, deep, dark brown and thickened nicely it is ready. This savory gravy adds an amazing depth to the meal. The deep red wine and earthy vegetable and beef drippings marry marvelously.

On this night, I served it up with some dairy free smashed red potatoes that I made prior to starting the gravy. One more layer of comfort in my book. Comfort sums this wonderfully warm meal up well.


Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding

Two of my absolute favorites are mushrooms and bread pudding. So, one afternoon I thought why not combine them? This recipe is a savory, earthy and hearty bread pudding perfect for enjoying on a cool autumn afternoon.

The now not so secret ingredient in this recipe is Casina Rossa mushroom-truffle pate. I was introduced to this gem at a local store In Bethlehem called Seasons Olive Oil and Vinegar Taproom. You only need include a small amount for an amazing infusion of rich delicate mushroom flavor.

First, prepare the custard. Six cups of plain almond milk, four eggs, two tablespoons of the mushroom-truffle pate, salt and pepper. Whisk together well.

Coat a nine by eleven baking dish with your favorite non-dairy butter substitute or olive oil.

Cube up one loaf of day old sour dough bread and place into the nine by eleven baking dish. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and allow to rest to absorb for a couple of hours.

Aren’t these mushrooms beautiful? Found them at my favorite stand at the Easton Farmers’ Market, Primordia Mushroom Farm. I buy their mushrooms up by the pound every chance I get. Here I have creminis and two types of oysters.

Time to go out on the deck and pick a few sprigs each of thyme, basil and oregano. Love having my herbs growing right outside the kitchen door!

Rough chop the mushrooms and the herbs to top off the bread pudding. No need to be precise, rustic is good.

Top the bread pudding generously with the mushrooms and herbs. Yes, it is under there, I promise. Now is a good time to get the oven preheated to 350*. Once preheated, into the oven the bread pudding goes to bake forty-five to sixty minutes until the top is browned and the center is nice and firm.

When it comes out of the oven, it is a fine example of food as art. Enjoy all on its own or as a side dish. I think this would make an excellent addition to the Thanksgiving dinner table. This is a beautiful dish sure to warm your soul.

If you would like to check out Seasons Olive Oil and Vinegar Taproom, their website is:

http://www.seasonstaproom.com/

If you would like to check out The Easton Farmers’ Market, their website is:

http://www.eastonfarmersmarket.com/

I highly recommend you check them both out if you are local or visiting the area. You will not be disappointed.


Chorizo & Lentil Stew

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This stew is a hearty and healthy way to warm up now that the cooler weather is  coming. It came about by simply looking around the kitchen to see what was available.  Combining kale, garlic, lentils and chorizo creates a spicy and savory stew sure to leave you satisfied.

Start by heating a four quart dutch oven over medium heat on the stove top. Peel and chop one pound of chorizo, and into the dutch oven it goes to brown.

Be sure to move the chorizo around so that it is nicely crumbled. Once nicely browned and all the fat is rendered, about ten minutes later, remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

While the chorizo is browning, rough chop one large onion, four medium carrots, two poblanos, and four small hungarian peppers.

Once the chorizo is removed, add the vegetables into the dutch oven and salt well to get them sweating.

Make sure to scrap up all the brown bits from the bottom. They hold the secret to amazing flavor!

Once the onions are translucent, add the chorizo back in. Press or mince five cloves of garlic and add in to the dutch oven as well. Stir well to combine.

Rinse and sort one pound of dry lentils. Any variety would work, but I used plain brown lentils I happened to have in the cupboard.

Next six cups of unsalted chicken broth and one can of unsalted diced tomatoes. Of course, fresh tomatoes would work as well, but I didn’t have any on hand. If using fresh I would probably use four medium size tomatoes, chopped.

Bring to a rolling boil to start the lentils, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until lentils begin to get tender. This will take somewhere around thirty to forty-five minutes. Be patient, it is well worth it.

Rough chop a nice size bunch of kale and add in once the lentils begin to get tender. Simmer another ten to fifteen minutes until the kale is done.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, oregano or whatever other herbs suit you. Dish it up with some nice toasted pita like I did, with a loaf of crusty bread, with corn bread or all on its own. Feel yourself warm to the core as you enjoy it.


Chicken Marsala & Root Vegetables

Fall has arrived, and with it, my craving for heartier meals. Heartier meals with earthy flavors. In come root vegetables and earthy flavorful mushrooms.

First, the root veggies! In come four beets, two kohlrabi, a dozen tokyo turnips, and some fresh garlic.

Chop everything up, somewhat evenly so that it cooks evenly as well and place into a nine by thirteen baking dish. Toss in some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 375* oven for forty-five minutes or until fork tender.

When they come out, you have this caramelized goodness waiting for you.

While the veggies are roasting away in the oven, time to make the main dish. This is far from a typical marsala, but delicious all the same. My version includes tuscan kale, fennel, and some more of the fresh garlic.

Rough chop the fresh garlic and fennel. Start sautéing in a large skillet over medium heat in your favorite olive oil.

I also vary my mushrooms, first a half pound of shiitakes get chopped.

Next a half pound of creminis get chopped.

Last of the mushrooms? A half pound of these beautiful oyster mushrooms! These also get chopped.

All of the mushrooms join the garlic and fennel in the skillet. Look at how beautiful already!

Next, rough chop the kale and add in to the mix.

Rough chop a whole head of raddichio, and also add into the mix.

Now that all the lovely vegetables are together in the skillet, add one-half cup of marsala wine and one-half cup of chicken broth. Simmer, covered, over med-low heat while preparing the chicken.

While the vegetables are simmering, toss one pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs in seasoned flour. I seasoned mine with salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder. In a separate skillet, brown four minutes on each side. I choose to use the thighs because I think they bring a much deeper flavor to the dish.

Once the chicken is browned, nestle in the skillet with the veggies, cover and let simmer thirty minutes.

Once simmered down you will have this saucy goodness. The fabulous smell wafting through the house will be the best indication that dinner is done.

All that is left is to plate next to the root veggies and enjoy! This is a hearty and earthy fall meal that will warm you to the core as the temperatures outside get cooler.


Quick & Easy Hummus

Yesterday, the hubby and I went to a local garlic festival which left me craving delicious, healthy garlic dishes. While we were there we purchased three different types of garlic. German, Vietnamese, and Purple Czech. This afternoon when I was in the mood for a snack I decided to put some of our new purchases to good use.

First quarter one small onion and peel two heads of garlic. Yes, two heads. I used Purple Czech which has a mild flavor. Depending on the type of garlic you have on hand, this amount may need to be adjusted.

The garlic and onion go into the food processor. If you do not have a food processor this could easily be done in a blender.

Rinse and strain one sixteen ounce can of chick peas, reserving the liquid.

The chickpeas join the garlic and onion in the food processor.

Season with salt, pepper and parsley. Add in one-half cup of the reserved chick pea liquid, two tablespoons or so of lemon juice and a tablespoon of sesame oil. Traditionally this would be tahini, but there was none in the pantry so I substituted the sesame oil.

Pulse for forty-five seconds or so until nice and creamy. If it doesn’t achieve the desired texture, add in a little bit more of the reserved chick pea liquid. This is a very basic hummus, showcasing the garlic. To dress it up a bit, you could add roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, or olives. The possibilities are endless really.

This recipe made about two cups of hummus. I served it up with toasted pumpernickel bread. You could also serve it with pita or chips. There is extra in the fridge for weekday snacking. Hummus is a delicious, healthy, quick and easy snack. Why buy it when you can make it?


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