Category Archives: In Season

Cranberry Salsa

I’m not going to be making Thanksgiving dinner this year. I thought about attempting it, but my mother offered to cook and I decided to take her up on it. I’m not so sure that everything would have gotten done in between snuggle time with the baby.  She likes to snuggle.  She also likes to scream when she is not snuggling.

Of course, the fact that I won’t be hosting Thanksgiving dinner didn’t stop me from stockpiling bags of cranberries on one of my trips to the grocery store. I adore cranberries, and I always stock up the freezer this time of year so that I have them all year round… Or, until about April, which is usually when I run out.

I couldn’t resist throwing together a few Thanksgiving-inspired dishes this week, though, and yesterday I decided to put a few of the cranberries to good use.  I had a bag of chocolate tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good (from a 2012 Holidays’ Simple Survival Kit that was sent to me!) that were just begging to be eaten. Of course, regular salsa just wouldn’t do. The idea of a cranberry salsa had been marinating in my mind for a few days, so I decided to give it a shot.

The salsa turned out even better than I had expected.  It was so good that I sent my husband (who was working in his office upstairs) a message on Skype (yes, I regularly IM my husband when he is upstairs) to tell him to come down and taste the salsa. We both agreed that it was a winner. It’s nice and fresh with a hint of sweetness (from just a bit of honey) and a little bit of a kick. It would be great with regular tortilla chips, but if you can find chocolate tortilla chips, pick up a bag.  The pairing is just perfect.  I think the salsa would be pretty fabulous with the sweet potato tortilla chips, as well.

So, if you need a simple last minute snack for Thanksgiving (whether you are hosting hungry guests or want to have something to take along with you for your family and friends), I’d recommend picking up a bag of tortilla chips and whipping up a batch of this salsa. It’s a fun twist on the usual cranberry relish that is sure to please.  And, did I mention you can make it in about 5 minutes? Continue Reading

Pumpkin Sticky Buns

Pumpkin season is officially here, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me! If you are a regular reader, you’ve most likely already figured out that I’m big fan of the fall, and I especially love pumpkin. I put it in just about everything – from cookies and cupcakes to pasta and beef stew. So, it should come as no surprise to you that, when experimenting with some new yeast from Red Star Yeast, I decided to throw some pumpkin into the mix. Seems reasonable, right?

Let’s take a step back and start at the beginning, shall we? Most of you are also aware of my ongoing relationship with Red Star Yeast.  I bake a lot of homemade bread, and their yeast has always been my favorite (long before I had a blog). So, I’ve been working with them for the past year or so to bring you some great recipes and take some of the fear out of baking with yeast.  Just over a month ago, I was given the opportunity to try their new PLATINUM Superior Baking Yeast.  I played around with it in a lot of my favorite recipes (pizza, sandwich bread, and even some challah!), and I was quite pleased with the results.

PLATINUM is a premium instant yeast that has been blended with dough enhancers that are commonly used by professional bakers.  So, the result is an easy to use yeast that helps to leaven the dough while producing consistently good results.  And, my favorite part? It is particularly good for baking with whole grains and sweet breads. Most of the breads that I bake at home are, in fact, whole grain, and they have turned out beautifully with the PLATINUM yeast. You can get all of the details on the official PLATINUM page on the Red Star website. And, while you’re there, I’d definitely recommend checking out the tips on how to use the yeast, as well as the video.  There’s a lot of great information!

You can also find out more about the PLATINUM yeast by following Red Star on Twitter (@RedStarYeast) and checking out their Facebook page. They’ve also got a great collection of recipe boards on Pinterest, as well.

Ok, so now that you’re up to speed, let’s get to the pumpkin!  While I enjoyed playing around with the new PLATINUM yeast in my usual recipes for pizzas and sandwich breads, I knew that I had to step it up a bit and come up with a fun new recipe to share here on the blog. That’s where the pumpkin comes in.  Perhaps you remember these Pumpkin Pull-Apart Pan Rolls that I featured from the Red Star site last October. They quickly became one of my favorite fall recipes, and I think I’ve made them at least 10 times since.  I knew that I wanted to make another batch now that pumpkin season is upon us, but  I couldn’t just leave you with a repeat recipe, could I? Of course not. So, I used the rolls as a base for some decadent pumpkin sticky buns. Continue Reading

Roasted Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad

I’ve heard a lot of people say they think it’s easiest to eat well in the summer… After all, there is a wide variety of fresh produce readily available and we are all supposed to just whip up a salad for lunch and dinner every day. I don’t know about you, but that’s not generally how it works at my house.  Sure, we certainly eat our share of veggies throughout the summer, but I am much more likely to use that fresh, local lettuce to garnish a cheeseburger than I am to whip up a giant dinner-sized salad. Salad really isn’t my thing.

Strangely enough, I actually find that I tend to return to healthier meals in the fall. Part of it is that I enjoy cooking in the fall… It’s much more fun to stand in front of the stove when it’s no longer 100 degrees outside. I also love the flavors of fall produce.  I could eat butternut squash pretty much all day long. I also find that I develop more of a taste for hearty whole grains in the fall. While I’m still not always reaching for the lettuce (though, I do like the fall mixes of lettuce better than giant heads of leaf lettuce), I tend to make a lot of vegetarian dishes that are full of whole grains and veggies.

On a chilly day not too long ago, I decided to put together a nice warm salad for lunch (have I mentioned that I also prefer warm food to cold food?).  I started with some butternut squash from our garden and decided to pair it with quinoa.  For a dose of some green, I wilted some arugula (one of my favorites) into salad.  Topped off with a quick Balsamic dressing, some walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese, I had a hearty and flavorful salad that both my hubby and I enjoyed. Perhaps it’s just me, but I think this kind of salad beats a bowl of lettuce and cold veggies any day. Continue Reading

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Pan Rolls

Baking season is here!

I can think of very few better ways to spend a chilly fall afternoon than baking homemade bread. It warms up the kitchen and fills the house with a wonderful aroma.  Plus, your family will thank you when they sit down to dinner with warm, freshly baked bread on the table!

You may be one of those people who gets nervous just thinking about baking with yeast… But, stick with me here. It’s not that tough!  In my Bread Baking Basics series a few months ago, I covered a variety of topics including the necessary equipment, types of yeast, and how to mix up a batch of bread without a big mess. It’s a great place to start when it comes to conquering your fear of baking with yeast. However, as with most things, the best way to conquer any yeast baking fears is to just jump in there and give it a try!

So, I’m happy to announce that I am partnering with Red Star Yeast to bring you some great new recipes over the next few months. I’ll be featuring seasonal recipes from the Red Star Yeast website that are certain to become new favorites. And, I’ll be walking you through the recipes with photos of each step along the way!

Since October is the height of pumpkin season, we’ll get started with some pumpkin pan rolls. There are plenty of sweet recipes out there for pumpkin – pies, cakes, muffins, and quick breads. I love them all, but I can only eat so many sweets! So, I was happy to give these not-too-sweet pumpkin rolls a try.  Continue Reading

Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream

I have professed my love of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte many times. I love all things about autumn, and I wait all summer for the first cool day when I need to wear a jacket.  So, when the first pumpkin spice lattes grace the menu at my local Starbucks, I’m there.

As much as I love my occasional drink from Starbucks, I try to keep them exactly that… Occasional.  I think that both my wallet and my wasteline thank me.  The drinks are so rich that having one is like having dessert… And, I also don’t think it’s a good idea to have a $4-5 cup of coffee on a regular basis.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when Tracey told me she had a great recipe for Pumpkin Spice Lattes over at Sugarcrafter.  I’ve been meaning to make it for a while, but haven’t actually gotten around to it.  Here’s the thing… As much as I enjoy my pumpkin spice lattes when I’m out and about, they are more of a special treat to me, and I don’t really have the motivation to make one at home.  I’m not much of a coffee drinker when I’m at home.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the flavor combinations, though, so I decided to use Tracey’s recipe as a guide to make some pumpkin spice latte ice cream, instead. After all, I don’t think you can go wrong when you take a coffee drink and turn it into ice cream.

I used my standard custard base recipe and added all of the flavors of a pumpkin spice latte. The result was a perfectly rich and creamy ice cream, the perfect tribute to the actual drink.  I think the only way to top the ice cream is to use it to make a pumpkin spice latte milkshake!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream
(Makes about 1 1/2 quarts, adapted from the recipe for Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Sugarcrafter)

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half (whole milk would be fine, too)
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

Beat the egg yolks and the granulated sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed until the mixture is light in color (much like mayonnaise) and falls back into the bowl in ribbons.

Meanwhile, combine the heavy cream, half and half, espresso powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a sauce pan over medium heat and bring up to a simmer. Gradually ladle about 1 cup of the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture, beating the entire time, to temper the eggs.  Pour the tempered egg mixture into the sauce pan and whisk well.

Add the pumpkin puree to the saucepan, and whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Continue to cook over medium-low heat until it has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Transfer the custard to a mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap against the surface. Chill the mixture for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s directions until the ice cream is a soft serve consistency.  Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for 3-4 hours until the ice cream has hardened. If the ice cream has frozen too hard, simply allow it to set at room temperature for a few minutes until it is scoopable.