Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

Pumpkin RollI feel a little bit older every time I find myself saying "Can you believe its already {insert current month}?" I surely don't remember muttering things like that in college. Perhaps my more youthful self had more exciting things to talk about, but I now find myself saying this phrase every month and even every holiday. Seriously though -- Can you believe its already Thanksgiving?

For the 3rd year in a row, I'm hosting Thanksgiving in San Diego for my family. This year, I think I need to shake things up a bit. Any ideas? I've been glued to the Food Network looking for some inspiration, but I just end up wondering how did all these people get their own TV show?

In the meantime, if you're looking for a fantastic Thanksgiving dessert try this pumpkin roll. Not only is it pretty, but its orange. Classic Fall if you ask me.

Classic Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll
courtesy of Libby's Pumpkin

1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin

Cream Filling
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for sprinkling on cake

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray or butter pan; line with wax or parchment paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel liberally with powdered sugar.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Slowly stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

3. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

4. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla until smooth. Slowly & carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Re-roll cake tightly. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, and slice.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Soft Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffies

A lot of women have specific characteristics they seek out in a potential mate or husband - say, sexy & rich yet romantic & can ride a unicycle. Me? Not that I have low standards but I always just wanted someone who could make me laugh and swoon simultaneously. It never even crossed my little black book to find someone who could cook.

pumpkin chocolate chip muffieLuckily, hubby has become quite the chef on his own (well under my tutelage, of course!). First Man Food Mondays, now cookies?! Apparently marriage does get better with age. These cookies are so soft they're more like muffies to me. Regardless of what they are, I know that they taste good and I just ate one too many of these tonight.

Super Soft Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffies (Muffin + Cookie)
Adapted from Joy the Baker and Spork or Foon?

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Position a rack in the middle of the oven . Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it. Mix in the chips.

Using an ice cream scoop with a 1/4-cup capacity, scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart. You could also simply use a 1/4-cup measuring cup if you don’t have a scoop. Use a thin metal spatula to smooth and flatten the rounds.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 16-18 minutes. Cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gourmet's Latin Style Chicken and Rice

When hubby and I moved to San Diego two years ago we couldn't wait to fully embrace an active, outdoorsy lifestyle - hikes on the weekends, laps in the Pacific ocean, kayaking & surfing, perhaps a few evening sunset runs. While we have indulged ourselves of each of these activities, life and work tend to get in the way and make for some very good excuses.

Gourmet's Latin Style Chicken and Rice
After two years of gym free living, we finally took the plunge and decided to join one, realizing our appetites were larger than our desires for physical movement. Ho Hum. I'm both excited and a little sad. Maybe joining a gym will get me running outside more often :) Funny how I need to pay someone else money to inspire myself to indulge in a free activity!

On to the food, I made this Latin Style Chicken and Rice when looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal. First spotted by Cate from Sweetnicks this yummy dish originated from the soon to be defunct Gourmet Magazine (sad, very sad). The dish doesn't strike me as particularly Latin, but I liked it nonetheless. Hubby especially loved the chicken thighs as we traditionally eat chicken breasts or tenders out of habit and ease. As a compromise, I used half and half and was happy with the results. The original recipe calls for bone-in chicken thighs so proceed as you please!

Gourmet's Latin Style Chicken and Rice
adapted from Gourmet Magazine

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup medium grain white rice
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas (not thawed)
salt & pepper

Season chicken salt and pepper to taste. Heat butter and oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet (at least 2 inches deep) over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then brown chicken, turning once, about 10 minutes total. Transfer chicken with tongs to a plate.

In the same pan, cook onion and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add broth, water, saffron, tumeric, garlic salt and bay leaf and bring to a full boil. Nestle chicken in rice, keeping as much rice around (rather than under) chicken as possible, and add juices from plate.

Simmer, covered tightly with lid, over low heat until chicken is cooked through, rice is tender, and most of liquid is absorbed, about 20 -25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peas. Cover with a kitchen towel and then lid and let stand until all of liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf.