Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

These were a hit with the whole neighborhood. Or to be honest with my three boys and the neighbor girl mainly. They ate the whole sheet full of them in a matter of oh about a 1/2 hour. I did manage to get five hidden from their view so a few other people were able to try them. They are delicious and full of pumpkin flavor. And the cream cheese frosting took them over the top flavor wise. Trust me you won't be disappointed in these bars. The only problem with them is I am sure they are chocked full of calories and as such not so good for the waist line.

Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon each ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
1 cup (7 ounces)vegetable oil
1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup (9 1/2 ounces) pumpkin puree

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons(1 3/8 ounces) maple syrup
2 cups (12 ounces) confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 18 x 13-inch half-sheet pan.

For the cake: Put the first five ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until well incorporated. Set aside. Beat the oil and the sugars together until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes and turn onto a rack to finish cooling. Frost the cake and cut into bars when cool.

For the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and the butter together. Add the maple syrup and stir well. Mix in the confectioners' sugar until the frosting is the right consistency; adjust the consistency with more maple syrup or confectioners' sugar. Frost the cake. Cut into bars; a pizza wheel works well for this chore. Yield: 36 (2 x 3-inch) bars.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Summer Garden Vegetable Soup

Okay so looking at this picture it doesn't look like soup. I'm guessing the barley I added soaked up the broth in the half hour I waited to take the picture. However don't let this stop you from making this soup cause it was really really good. The flavors blended together well for a really delicious creamy soap. I added cooked pearl barley to the dish just for some added nutrients. And if you know me well you know I just had to add garlic to the dish. I think I add garlic to every recipe if it doesn't call for it. I especially love garlic with vegetables.

Summer Garden Vegetable Soup
slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

3 medium zucchini, chopped into bite-size pieces
4 medium tomatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk (can use fat-free or low-fat)
1 ½ cups frozen or fresh corn kernels
1 cup cooked pearl barley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the zucchini, basil, parsley, garlic and onion and saute, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir and cook for one minute. Gradually add the chicken broth, whisking or stirring constantly. Add the lemon juice; mix well. Bring the soup to a simmer, stirring to prevent sticking, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the zucchini is tender but still has some bite to it (it will continue cooking for a few more minutes). Add the tomatoes, evaporated milk, pearl barley, and corn. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the soup and simmer until the corn and zucchini are tender. Stir in the cheese just before serving.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Best Tuna Salad

Those who know me know I don't like seafood and tuna ranks up there with something I'll never touch. However I married someone who loves tuna sandwiches and as such I've been learning how to make the best tuna sandwich. According to my husband this recipe comes the closest to perfection that I have hit. In fact he has asked for this to be made several times over the past month.

The Best Tuna Salad
Cooks Country Magazine Aug./Sept. 2010

3 5 oz. cans solid white albacore tuna packed in water
1/4 cup minced onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 celery rib, chopped fine

Place tuna in fine mesh strainer and press to dry with paper towels. Transfer to medium bowl and mash with fork until finely flaked. Microwave onion and oil in small bowl until onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Combine onion mixture, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and sugar with tuna and let sit 10 minutes.

Stir mayonnaise and celery into tuna mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Serve. Can be refrigerated in airtight container for one day.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vegetable Kabob Marinade

Honestly this recipe also works well for beef and chicken. Lately though I've been eating a lot less meat so I made vegetable kabobs. I love this marinade. I've made it several times and every time I like it more. It's a perfect blend of seasonings and makes a nice grilled meal. It's also easy to make and the longer you marinade the more flavor your veggies (and/or meat) will have. Use what ever veggies are your favorites. We prefer mushrooms, red onions, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, and whatever other veggie we have extras of.

Vegetable Kabob Marinade

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or I've used 3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 pinch ground ginger or I've used about a half teaspoon freshly grated ginger

In a large resealable plastic bag, mix the teriyaki sauce, honey, garlic powder, and ginger. Add veggies (and/or meat) and marinade 4 to 24 hours. Prepare as desired.

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