Saturday, October 28, 2017

ChezCindy: Double Oat Peach Crumble Bars

Double Oat Peach Crumble Bars

These oat bars just happen to be gluten free.  Using a standard old fashion bar cookie recipe, normally made with all-purpose flour and raspberry jam, I made them with oat flour and peach jam.  I wanted to test out how the recipe would do eliminating the gluten.  There is zero difference in process or results.  Peach jam was used as the filling thanks to a successful peach season this past summer.  I had made several batches of peach jam with an abundance just waiting to be eaten.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can use your favorite fruit jam of any flavor, homemade or store-bought.  The outcome is somewhat like a crumb-topped pie, but much easier as there is no rolling of dough.  It is a great recipe for kids to make who are just starting to learn about baking. 

Double Oat Peach Crumble Bars
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups oat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups peach jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch square pan, line with parchment paper. 

Working with a stand mixer, add the softened butter, flour, oats, sugars, and salt to the mixing bowl.  Mix on low speed to combine.  With the mixer running, add in the beaten egg, mixing until the ingredients come together resembling coarse crumbs.  Remove 2 cups and set aside.  Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, forming an even layer.  Spread the jam over the crumb layer.  Crumble the 2 cups of crumb mixture over the jam to form a top layer. 

Bake until lightly browned, 40-45 minutes.  Cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

ChezCindy: Roasted Pumpkin Squash

Roasted Pumpkin Wedges

Pumpkins can be roasted in the same manner as any other squash, such as butternut or acorn.  The exterior pumpkin skin is such a vibrant orange color, yet when the skin is peeled away, the interior flesh is surprisingly pale in color.  You will want to choose small pumpkins, often named as Sugar or Pie pumpkins.  The larger pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns are too tough and fibrous.  If you are lucky enough to find the heirloom variety pumpkins at a farm market, look for Long Island Cheese pumpkin, with pale yellow-orange skin, or the Cinderella pumpkin, more squat in shape resembling the carriage in the Disney story Cinderella. 

To roast the pumpkin, wash the pumpkin and dry it well.  Working on a stable cutting board that will hold its place on the counter, lay the pumpkin on its side; cut across the top about an inch away from the stem to remove the top.  The top can be roasted for presentation, but I usually toss it out.

Cut the pumpkin into quarters, remove the seeds and fibers.  The pumpkin quarters can be roasted with the skin on, or cut away the skin and cut the quarters into large 1-inch cubes.  Place the pumpkin onto a large rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with oil, rubbing the oil over the pumpkin flesh to coat lightly with the oil.  Season with salt and pepper, adding herbs as desired.  Pumpkins go well with fresh sage, rosemary and thyme.

Have the oven preheated to 375 degrees.  Place the sheet tray into the hot oven, roasting the pumpkin for 45-55 minutes, stirring once during the cooking time.  The pumpkin should be tender when pierced with a fork and lightly browned.  Remove the sheet tray from the oven, allow the pumpkin to cool on the tray.  If you have not already removed the skin prior to roasting, remove it when cool enough to handle, as the skin is not meant to be eaten.

The roasted pumpkin can be served as a side dish tossed with butter and salt.  Puree the pumpkin for making ravioli filling, or cube into small bite-size pieces adding to grains or soups.  Below is a link for roasted pumpkin with quinoa and kale. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

ChezCindy: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

 Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin pie spice can be purchased in the spice aisle of your local grocer, but consider making your own.  It is generally a combination of warm spices used when making pumpkin pie.  You most likely have the spice ingredients in your pantry to make pumpkin pie spice, with a considerable difference in taste from store-bought.  And, there are endless uses when making Fall and Winer recipes from quick breads to cakes, cookies and granola.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

Measure each ingredient and add to a small bowl, whisking to combine.  Transfer to an airtight jar with a lid, such as a small glass canning or jelly jar.  Label and store in your pantry for 6-9 months. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

ChezCindy: Quinoa with Roasted Pumpkin, Kale and Cranberries

Recipe inspiration can come from unlikely places.  Today, as I was walking the aisles of Costco, I noticed that they had a packaged product of quinoa and kale.  I thought to myself, what a nice convenience that is.  But then thought, hmmm...I have cooked quinoa in my freezer, and fresh kale in the fridge.  I think I'll make this.  And so this recipe was created. 

The recipe came together quickly as I have been testing recipes with pumpkin, both in the can and fresh pumpkin squash.  I had just roasted a small whole pumpkin, sitting on my counter cooling.  It made sense to add it to the quinoa and kale.  These are Fall ingredients that are in season together and go together on the dinner plate.  Think of Thanksgiving with both squash and cranberry relish as side dishes with your turkey.  All are good flavor profiles.  And yes, this would be great for Thanksgiving.  Or Tuesday.

Cooking whole pumpkin is the same process as roasting any other type of fall squash, such as butternut or acorn.  Either of these squashes would work well as a substitute for the pumpkin.  Quinoa freezes well, as does brown rice or farro.  I usually have one or all of these in freezer bags, ready for their next use.  This makes dinner come together easily for a quick weeknight side dish.

Quinoa with Roasted Pumpkin, Kale and Cranberries
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup diced cooked pumpkin squash
2 cups chopped raw kale
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Working in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add in the thinly sliced onions with a pinch of salt.  Stir, cooking for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the chopped raw kale and minced garlic, stir to combine.  Cover to wilt the kale, stirring occasionally, cooking for 5 minutes.  Add in the cooked quinoa, cooked diced pumpkin squash, dried cranberries, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper.  Stir to combine, cooking for roughly 5 minutes until quinoa and squash are heated.  Add in remaining tablespoon of olive oil and tablespoon of butter, stir to combine.  Taste for additional salt, adding as necessary.  Dish can be served hot or at room temperature. 

Directions on how to roast pumpkin squash.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

ChezCindy: Apple Pumpkin Muffins

With the changing seasons, the farm markets and grocers are stocked with welcoming sights of crisp apples and bright orange pumpkins.  Should I make apple muffins? Or should I make pumpkin muffins?  No decision to make here.  Make apple pumpkin muffins.  These Fall favorites have big pieces of apples, moist pumpkin batter, and warm spices of cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  A perfect combination to celebrate the season. 

Apple Pumpkin Muffins
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large firm-sweet apple
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Makes 18 standard size muffins.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line the muffin cups with paper liners or grease each cup with butter.  Working with a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and the spices until combined.  Peel and core the apple, cut into 1/4 inch pieces.  In a second smaller bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, oil and vanilla; stir in the apples and walnuts.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Stir to combine.  Fill the prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake until the muffins are puffed and golden for 20 - 22 minutes.  Allow the muffins to cool for 15 minutes before serving. 

Recipe inspired by:  The Apple Lover's Cookbook by Amy Traverso