Saturday, October 3, 2015

Gorgonzola, Pear and Walnut Pizza

Time for the Autumn shift in food.  Apples, pears, butternut squash, pumpkin.  Oh, I love it.  I love everything about Fall.  Putting on a sweatshirt, curling up with a blanket.  Swoon.  It's my favorite time of year. 
Today, I made some little pizza's and had some Raging Bitch Beer.  Believe me, yesterday it was totally apropo. It did not calm me down in the least.  But, hey, me and my hormones is not what this post is about. Its about food.

Yesterday, I had this beer with some roasted cauliflower that had this amazing Maple Dill Dressing.  Sadly, I can not give you this recipe.  It was developed by a chef at a lodge where I go for retreat.  Her and the lodge are seeking a patent at this time.  I have to tell you, this stuff rocks. 
Anyway Raging Bitch beer was everything she promised to be.  She's a very bitter woman.  My taste buds were not happy about it.  I drank half of it and put it away for another day.

So, today when I made my Gorgonzola, Pear, Walnut Pizza, I decided to give her a try again.  With the bold flavors of my pizza, it paired so nicely.  I really enjoyed the Raging Bitch tonight.  And I tell you, it was much calmer around here.

I made two small pizza's. After making my little round, I added two tablespoons of gorgonzola and half of a pear and a tablespoon of chopped walnuts.

Baked at 475F for about ten minutes.

Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, Kosher salt and arugula.  


Thursday, October 1, 2015

New England Apple Cake


My mother found this recipe years ago and has made it every year in the fall ever since.  It is really a moist and delicious cake. Prune puree was big in the 90's and it kind of went out of fashion.  It is still very delicious but I don't know if you can find jars of it anymore.  Maybe the baby food aisle.  Or you can easily puree your own.  Add a little water to get it going.  Not too much though. I have used my canned plums as well.

New England Apple Cake

I guess the original recipe is by Geneva Hultenius. You will find the cake seems very dry in the mixing stage.  Doesn't seem like it has enough wet ingredients but it does.  The apples moisten everything as it bakes.

1 cup sugar (I use 3/4 of a cup)
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup prune puree*
1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2teaspoon salt
2 cup chopped apples
1/2  cup chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8- X 8-inch square pan and put aside. In large mixing bowl combine sugar, egg, butter and prune puree. Mix on high speed for 2 minutes. Fold in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix just until flour is moist. Fold in the chopped apples and walnuts. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of cake batter with the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack.

Nutritional information per serving: 240 calories; 4 g fat; 30 mg cholesterol; 240 mg sodium, 49 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein

* Prune puree: Combine 1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) pitted prunes and 6 Tbs hot water in container of food processor, puree until smooth. Makes 1 cup. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 months in a tightly sealed container.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Naples Grape Festival

This past weekend we took the kids to the Naples Grape Festival. If you don't know about the Naples Grape Festival, I will tell you.  Naples Grape Fest claim to fame is that they have the Worlds Best Grape Pie Contest. "Grape Pies were created in the 1950's and credited to longtime Naples resident Irene Bouchard."(Naples Grape Fest ). 

The official grounds for the festival are at the high school.  Lots of people selling antiques and garage sale stuff line Main Street. Everything you can imagine jewelry, painted glass, sewing crafts, oils and incense, wood works. Lots of places to park, all at about 5 dollars per car.

Everything Grape is at this festival.  Grape taffy, grape frozen custard, grape suckers, grapes and wine (of course).  If we didn't have the kids, I am sure we would have done some wine tasting.  A couple huge tents in which to taste.  One at the Festival grounds and another put up by a winery.  As you can imagine there are lots of wineries in the hills of Naples.  It is prime, Finger lake Region, grape country.
Grape Taffy

Amazing grape frozen custard.

Deep Fried Pickles
There were also some local food trucks there that the kids have enjoyed previously.  They decided to share an order or Mac and Cheese.  It went pretty well.  It was kind of like feeding fish.  Threw in the food and a frenzy and flourish of energy ensues. Here is the before and after.


Our kids don't really get the opportunity to go to festivals.  It's not generally our thing.  So this time we decided to treat them to some "festival food". A bloomin' onion, a corn dog...

There was a couple Henna tattoo artists at the festival.


If you want to bring your dog...  I did see a few dogs there. A few tiny dog varieties.  3 Great Danes.  And one of those great danes I saw sitting on a womans lap.  I was not quick enough with my camera. An Italian mastiff. A few pit mixes.   Its very crowded there though.  The choice is up to you.  My dog would have been overwhelmed.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Healthy Meatless Stuffed Peppers

This is a great, light meal- full of flavor and texture and deliciousness. Very 5:2 friendly.  And I am all about 5:2 Diet.  I have lost a total 22 pounds since Fathers Day.  Which may not be a lot to some but for me it is a milestone.  I don't lose weight very easily.  This plan is totally working for me.  Just recently though I hit a plateau so I switched it up to every other day. Dr. Krista Varady is the pioneer of that one. The Every Other Day Diet.  My husband has been doing her plan since Fathers Day.  He has lost 32 pounds.  Wow!

If you want to read more about it go here to James Clear for an excellent article outlining why it works. Or you can watch the documentary from the BBC from Dr. Mosley.  He later wrote the 5:2 Diet Book.

I am totally sold on it.  Works for me.  I can eat basically what I want most days and fast for 2 or so days a week.  Even on the fasting days its fun for a foodie.  Trying to find delicious, seriously low cal meals that fill your belly.

These peppers totally fill the bill.  I made them last week and I am making them again tonight! It may be a lot of steps but it is totally worth it. 

Healthy Meatless Stuffed Peppers
Makes six stuffed peppers.

1/4 cup dry quinoa
2 tablespoons black beluga lentils
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 basil leaves
4 large tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup asiago cheese
1 small onion
1 red bell pepper
2 teaspoons avocado oil (or whatever oil you use)
7 green bell peppers (1 for chopping the rest for stuffing)

In a small sauce pan combine quinoa and beluga lentils with 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cover.

In another small sauce pan add tomatoes, garlic, salt, and basil. Bring to a boil and gently simmer uncovered until tomatoes are falling apart. Once the tomatoes are tender, puree gently.

While those are simmering away, chop up one green bell pepper, red bell pepper and the onion. Preheat oven now to 350F.

Once the quinoa and belugas are done, transfer to a bowl.  In that same pot sauté the peppers and onions until soft and tender. Transfer to the same bowls as the belugas and quinoa.

Cut tops off of peppers and scrape out the innards. In a pot with a little bit of water, steam the peppers until the are just soft.  The green color will lose its brightness and they will be a little flexible.  

In a 9 x 9 baking dish pour the tomato sauce. Place steamed peppers into dish and measure out a 1/4 cup of pepper/quinoa mixture into peppers.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of asiago and then layer another 1/4 cup of pepper quinoa mixture.  Then another tablespoon of asiago cheese.  If you like sprinkle some cracked pepper over top.  Cover with foil and place in the oven for about 30 minutes.

About 100 calories per pepper.

Monday, September 21, 2015

French Pumpkin Soup

I love my pumpkin soup with gouda- its by far one of the best pumpkin soups I have ever had. But I like to try new things and branch out a little into different tastes and such.  I decided to try this pumpkin soup to change it up a little.  I found it here on this blog, Bunky Cooks. A great food blog to be sure.
 Looks like some kind of agate, doesn't it?

French Pumpkin Soup

Adapted from this recipe at The (ex)Expatriates Kitchen

1 5-6 pound pumpkin (Galeux D’Eyesines)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
3 sprigs thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
8 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup half and half
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
grated fresh nutmeg, to taste
salt and pepper to taste

First, get a sharp knife. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds. Cut the halves into manageable chunks, then cut away the outer rind. Dice the flesh into 1-inch cubes. It's really not so hard if you have a good chef's knife.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot, medium heat. Add the leeks, onion and herbs and sweat the aromatics until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin cubes and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Puree using an immersion blender. Swirl in the butter and the half and half. Add the nutmeg, then taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Use the sugar if you like a slight sweetness to your soups.

If you can, make this soup a day in advance.  It is much better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to marry.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Beet Hummus


Because I love beets and I love hummus, of course I had to try this.

I liked it but I didn't love it.  I am a purist, though, when it comes to hummus.  Lots of garlic yes!  But nothing out of the usual, just garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon, olive oil, salt and garlic.  I don't like red pepper hummus.  A lot of people do.  The sweet potato hummus, it's good... But it's not hummus. All that aside, I would make this again.

Beet Hummus

1 can hummus (15 ounces)
2 garlic cloves
1 cooked beet (very tender)
salt to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon white vinegar
juice of half of a lemon

Place garlic in the processor first.  Add everything else except for oilve oil.  Add it in when everything else is fully blended and smooth. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mothers Walnut Cake

I found this recipe years ago in a Taste of Home Magazine.  It was a hit at our house.  I have made it several times over the years. For some reason I thought I blogged about it.  When I went to get the recipe from my blog, I could not find it. Now, it is on my blog.  Here it is. 

You really must make this cake if you like walnuts.  It is so good.  Very rich, buttery and nutty tasting. If you like walnuts, this cake will have you at your first bite.

It is named Mother's Walnut Cake and ironically it is my Mothers favorite cake.

Mother's Walnut Cake
I have made it with all butter and the mix of butter with shortening too.  Either way- so good. I make a two layer cake and freeze the third layer for another day.
Source: Helen Vail, Glenside, Pennsylvania, Taste Of Home, pg. 35, March 1998 © 2015 RDA Enthusiast Brands, LLC

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups ground walnuts

2 packages (one 8 ounces, one 3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
5 to 5-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup walnuts


1.  In a large bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk and vanilla. Beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in the walnuts.

2. Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

3. For frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Add sugar; mix well. Beat in vanilla until smooth. Spread frosting between layers and over the top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with walnuts. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 12-16 servings.

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