Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween!!


Pumpkin Cookies

Fall is wonderful. I love the abundance of fall squashes, especially pumpkins. Roasting pumpkins on a weekend afternoon is a wonderful way to warm up the house. Oh, and then I roast the seeds with some olive oil and salt and they are delicious. Roasting the pumpkin and seeds is an easy process. First, wash and cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out pulp and reserve the seeds. Heat the oven to 350 and then place the pumpkin halves cut side down in a dish/pan with ~1/4″ of water. Depending on size roast for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Allow to cool a bit and then scoop pumpkin into a strainer and let rest for about an hour. You want to set the pumpkin in a strainer to allow excess water to drain from the pumpkin. Next, puree and the pumpkin mash is ready to use in all your favorite recipes. Oh yeah, back to the seeds. Separate them from the stringy part of the pumpkin and rinse. Let them dry a bit and heat the oven to 325. Toss seeds with olive oil and salt, and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Now on to the cookies. To be honest I am not a frosting fan. This is probably because most frosting others use is the store bought kind that is full of crap. I am a bit of a food snob and believe food should be as natural as possible. Is the frosting in these cookies super healthy, well no, but I can pronounce every ingredient. ūüôā These cookies are almost cake/cookie and I say that because of the nice soft texture they have. Once, you top them with the creamy, dreamy frosting you will wonder why you haven’t made these before. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting Cookies

Cookies:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1-3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/4 cup pumpkin purée

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the cookies:

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt; set aside.

In your mixer bowl cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the pumpkin, egg and vanilla until smooth.  Mix in the dry ingredients until blended.

Scoop the batter onto greased baking sheets and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the cookies spring back when you gently press the tops.  Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

In your clean mixer bowl, beat together the remaining 1/2 cup butter and the cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until fluffy.  Spread on top of the cooled cookies.

For best results, store these cookies in the fridge and let them come to room temperature before serving.


Banana & Yogurt Dog Treats

 

                           Roscoe                                                                       Riley

Last winter I made a ton of dog treats. When making home brew we always have a lot of spent grain from the mash so I use it in dog treats. Well, I have been a little lazy and haven’t been saving any grains from our recent brews but now that it is cooler out I wanted to have the oven on for awhile. When making dog treats it is important to keep them in the oven for an hour or two to make sure they get nice and crunchy. I got the idea to make these yummy smelling banana and yogurt treats from the fancy dog food brand Blue.

The other day I picked up a couple over ripe bananas at the co-op because they seemed to be the perfect fit for my treat recipe. Besides the bananas we had everything else at home. I used regular sized cookie cutters and ended up with 50 treats! The batter smelled so good that I almost tasted it, and I could have, but they were for the dogs.

Banana & Yogurt Dog Treats

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 3 cups flour
  • Mix all ingredients well and then roll out and cut out any shape. Pre-heat oven to 325. Bake for 12 minutes, turn treats, bake 12 more minutes. Then lower oven temperature to 200 and leave for 1-1/2 to 2 hours to harden.

Stuffing Hops into a Keg

This past weekend was barely nice enough for us to brew beer in our backyard. And by barely I mean the wind was howling, leaves were floating by but luckily a light jacket and sweatshirt made the temperature bearable.

To start the weekend off right we dry hopped our beer “Hop Yard.” This beer got its name because it was made only with hops we grew in our yard over the summer. Dry hopping occurs when you are almost ready to carbonate and drink a beer. We accomplished dry hopping by filling a mesh bag with a bunch of our whole hops and then shoved it into the keg. This will add a nice aroma to the beer. And it worked! We snuck a little taste tonight just before hooking the keg up to the CO2.

Dry hopping took place in the house but we had to face the elements and brew a milk stout outdoors. A milk stout is smooth, creamy, and perfect to drink when the temperatures begin to fall. Dan formulates all the recipes for our homebrew and I provide moral support and what ever other assistance is needed. I made sure to keep watch of the brew kettle and keep flying debris out! At the end of the boil cooling of the wort needs to take place. Wort is essentially water that grains have been steeped in and with the help of yeast will turn into beer. Cooling of the wort involves a LOT of stirring while cool water runs through a coiled copper tube called a wort chiller. Thankfully we got done just as it was getting dark!


Fig Flatbread

Fall is in the air. The wind is brisk and the leaves are changing. Even with the cooler temperatures we spent a nice amount of time out of doors this weekend. Saturday was the last Mill City Farmer’s Market for the year and I had to go! We picked up some delicious local goat cheese, granola, garlic, and squash. After that we enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee on a park bench.¬†

I also ended up picking up some fresh figs. We love fig jam so I figured we'd like fresh figs too. Well I tasted one and felt it needed to be incorporated into a dish with big flavors. For pizzas I usually make dough from scratch but this was a lunch so I cheated with a pre-made flatbread. Lunch was ready in no time with the little amount of prep needed and quick cooking of the broiler. 

This flatbread was tasty and I enjoyed some for lunch today too! The flavors included the sweetness of apple, bite from the cheeses and a smooth balance provided by the figs. The only thing I may try differently is to smear the figs all over the flatbread instead of the pieces we used.

Fig Flatbread

  • 1 apple
  • 6-7 fresh figs
  • 4 oz blue cheese
  • 4 oz parmesan reggiano
  • flatbread
  • olive oil
  • honey

Preheat broiler. Slice apple and figs thinly, shave parmesan, crumble blue cheese. Broil flatbread for 2 minutes, remove, flip and brush with olive oil. Arrange all other ingredients, broil for 5 minutes and then drizzle with honey. Enjoy!


Iron Fork 2011

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Iron Fork was somewhat of a knock-off of the Food Network show “Iron Chef.” On “Iron Chef” a celebrity chef (ie. Bobby Flay) competes against a chef from a classy restaurant. They each need to create a delicious, nicely plated dish using a secret ingredient. At Iron Fork there were 5 local chefs that competed and their secret ingredient was peppers. Essentially this ingredient needs to be incorporated into their dish and they found out what it was right as the time started to count down. I forgot to mention they only get one hour!
Let’s talk food. While the competition was going on, guests waited in line to sample beer, wine, and food from 15 local restaurants. There was everything from lamb to falafel to sushi! The lines were long but worth the wait. My favorite sample was the butternut squash cheesecake…yum! I’m probably going to make that soon.
My only disappointment was at the end of the competition. Each chef had their food plated and 4 judges went around to taste and look at presentation, but the cameras were positioned poorly so I couldn’t see. In addition I had a hard time hearing because the announcers didn’t hold the mic close enough to the chefs. All in all it was fun and I left with a full tummy.


Grilled Salmon

The weather in Minnesota has been unseasonably warm lately. I think it was this same day last year when snow first fell. Right now I am out by the grill and comfortable in just shorts and a t-shirt. To go along with my pretending that it is still summer I had my man grill while I sat near by sipping on a beer. Since, it gets dark at 6:35pm we had to use a flashlight to take our meal off the grill. Overall it was a delightful evening and our dinner was amazing! The marinade gave the salmon a hint of sweet and sour while keeping the interior moist. After dinner Dan said “why haven’t we been eating more fish like this!” I was flattered and a bit sad that grilling season is probably over.

Grilled Salmon

Marinade

  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1-1/2 lb. salmon fillets

Approximately 2 hours before grilling mix all ingredients together and place in a bag to marinate. Then grill for about 6 minutes each side. Enjoy!