Friday, November 23, 2012

post thanksgiving pumpkin muffins

What a fantastic Thanksgiving. This year was actually our first Thanksgiving together as a family, since Sam was in the hospital last year getting chemo. I remember I tried to make it special by having take-out delivered so we didn't have to eat cafeteria food, while Jack had his first bites of turkey and gravy with my parents at a corner diner. Neither of us even saw him that day since he wasn't allowed at the hospital. It's hard to believe how much your life can change within the course of a year. Obviously, we have much to be thankful for.
     Though there were many amazing dishes from last night, I just wanted to quickly share these muffins we baked up this morning. They're a great way to use up any leftover canned pumpkin and easy for small hands to help mix since they require no more than 2 bowls and a whisk. A sweet little morning after Thanksgiving tradition.

Pumpkin Muffins

Dry Mix
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Wet Mix
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare a regular 12 cup size muffin tin with liners.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together dry mix ingredients. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, whisk together all of the wet mix ingredients until smooth, then mix in the flour mixture just until combined. If you overmix, you're going to have tough, rubbery muffins.

Stir together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping.

Divide batter among muffin cups (each cup should be about 3/4 full), then sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon-sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer muffins out of the pan and on to a cooling rack.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

funeral grits

So simple. So good. Virginia Willis calls these "funeral grits" because they are the perfect sort of thing to take to the bereaved after a funeral. I love them because they can be made ahead of time and kept in a low oven while still retaining their creamy texture. Keep in mind, these cook for nearly 1 hour on the stove top and then bake for another hour in the oven, so plan accordingly.

Funeral Grits

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 cup stone-ground or coarse-ground grits (not quick cooking)
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese (about 6 oz)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and very finely chopped
2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a large casserole dish.
     In  large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the water and milk and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir in the grits and return to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until creamy and thick, 45 to 60 minutes. (I needed to add a bit more milk to keep them from scorching.) Remove from heat. Add the cheese and 2 tablespoons of butter. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Add the eggs, cayenne, jalapeno and green onions and stir until incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the casserole dish. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 1 hour. Cool slightly before serving.

recipe source: Bon Appetit, Y'all by Virginia Willis

Saturday, November 10, 2012

easy to read. harder to practice.

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

pumpkin stuffed with everything good

This comes from Dorie Greenspan's, Around My French Table , and it's the perfect sort of thing to make right now while all of those post-Halloween pumpkins are on sale. You basically cut the top off of a small pumpkin (jack-o'-lantern style), scoop out the innards, and stuff it with a mixture of bread, cheese, bacon, herbs and heavy cream. I served this with a simple roast chicken to make a lovely little Sunday supper. Dorie stresses these quantities are guidelines, and depend fully on the size of your pumpkin. I used a 3 lb pumpkin and it was just right.

Stuffed Pumpkin

1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds
   salt & pepper
1/4 pound (4oz) stale bread, cut or torn into small pieces
1/4 pound (4oz) cheese, such as Gruyere, cheddar or any combination, cut into small chunks
2-4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme
about 1/3 cup heavy cream
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

     Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and center your racks so that your pumpkin will fit nicely, without the stem touching the top of the oven. You can bake this on a parchment lined baking sheet, or place in a pot or pie plate that's slightly larger in diameter than your pumpkin. I used a 9-inch pie plate.
      Using a very sharp knife, cut the top off the pumpkin. Scoop out the seeds and strings, and season the inside liberally with salt and pepper.
     Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper and pack the filling into the pumpkin. At this point, the pumpkin should be well filled. Stir together the cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper and pour over filling.
     Put the cap back in place and bake for about 2 hours, though you may want to check after 90 minutes. Mine took the full 2 hours. You want the filling to be bubbling and the pumpkin to be tender when pierced with a knife. Dorie suggests removing the cap during the last 20 minutes so the top of the stuffing can brown a bit.
     I suppose there are two ways to serve this. You can cut slices (the prettiest) or scoop it right out, mixing some pumpkin in with the stuffing (the yummiest).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

i heart ny & nj

You all are constantly in our thoughts and prayers. We love you!