Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Caramel Apple Creme Brulee

Hurry, hurry! It's Tuesdays with Dorie. Join in while you still can-new members are being accepted only through October 31st. Sharpen your baking skills, save some money and learn to bake like a pro at home with the rest of the gang. Today's offering: Creme Brulee....
Yesterday's science experiment (see yesterday's post) proved to be a boon for today's creme brulee assignment. You see, I don't own a blow torch for making the famously crunchy sugared topping. I don't foresee buying a blowtorch at least until the very sweet but slightly destructive five year old I call "son" is a college freshman-and even then, I'll probably lock it up over holidays and long weekends. It resembles a light saber just enough to be utterly enticing to a young Jedi in training.
But resourcefully blowtorch-less, I discovered that a bit of melted-sugar crunch candy on top of creme brulee makes a lovely and just as crackly substitute as that burnt sugar topping. And of course, my alterations didn't end there. My variation on Dorie's creme brulee has a delicious September twist with cinnamon apples and brown sugar for caramely undertones.
Now, creme brulee is notoriously naughty for you, since the main ingredients are cream and egg yolks. Slashing the fat in this delicate dessert seems pointless, leaving portion control as the only viable option. I made a 1/3 batch for my family of four; two servings to share among four people. I could have been deeply dangerous with a full batch. Wether it be with creme brulee portions, or five year old with blowtorches, I'm playing it safe. For today. I can't promise the same resolve when it comes to next week's Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake....

Money and Time-Saving Tips: Use whatever variety of apple you have on hand. Look for cream to be on sale from now throughout the holidays. I recommend using the microwave to speed along the prep process.
Caramel Apple Creme Brulee
Estimated Cost: $2.00 for two servings
1 apple, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of cinnamon
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place the apple in a small microwaveable dish. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Cover and microwave on high for about two minutes, or until softened. Divide apples between two 6-8 ounce ramekins. Place ramekins on baking sheet; set aside briefly. In a small bowl, heat milk and cream together in the microwave, watching closely, until just boiling, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk, brown sugar and vanilla together until blended. While still whisking, drizzle in about one fourth of hot cream mixture. Whisk in the remainder of the mixture. Strain the custard into the two ramekins, dividing evenly. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the custard jiggles slightly when tapped on the side of the dish. Cool completely, then refrigerate for at least two hours. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat sugar and water, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Do not stir but watch closely, and continue to cook until sugar becomes a deep caramel color. Pour onto greased cookie sheet. Let cool and break into irregular pieces. Top creme brulee with sugar candy pieces just before serving.
Coming Next:
The Final Item on the Fall Kick Off Menu:
Make-your-own-Caramel Apple Wedges

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pear and Walnut Salad with Parmesan and Honey Dressing

I'm getting my second chance at a good education. This week, my Sailor-girl had three science experiments to demonstrate common ways for separating a solution. We used evaporation, distillation, and chromatography. (It's amazing what I-the teacher-am learning. Hopefully the student is getting something out of it, too.) For distillation, we tasted a small skillet of sugar water and then boiled it, capturing some of the condensation on the pot lid, which we dripped into a cup. The point of the experiment was to taste the cooled, collected water and realize that it contained no sugar-the solution had separated through distillation. But I'm not just a teacher; I'm a cook and a frugal one at that. Even though the experiment was over, the point was proven, the budding scientist was recording her data...I had my eye on that sugar water. Within a few minutes of a hard boil, the sugars had melted and burned into a lovely caramel. I poured it out onto a greased cookie sheet, and started imagining how burnt sugar could turn into a school lunch. Maybe a pear salad with nuts and Parmesan with a little sprinkle of sugar crystals for sweetness? I could have added nuts before I poured it out-but as an afterthought, I crushed some of the candied sugar and tossed it with the nuts. The salad turned out to be the most delicious 4th grade science assignment I've ever tasted, sweet and crunchy, savory and peppery. My favorite place to experiment, for science or otherwise, is in the kitchen.

Money Saving Tips: I found my arugula ($2.50) on sale in the organic produce section. It's a good idea to always browse the whole produce section for unexpected deals. Regular spinach or even a baby spring mix would make a nice substitute. If you don't have pears, thinly sliced apple would work well. Substitute your walnuts for whatever variety you have on hand. Blue cheese or feta could replace the Parmesan.
Arugula, Pear and Candied Walnut Salad with Honey Dressing
Estimated Cost: $5.00 for four servings
Notes: I've written the easiest way to make candied nuts for this recipe and not the science experiment method described above.
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup walnuts
2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or other variety
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces fresh arugula or spinach
2 pears, thinly sliced, peeled or unpeeled
2 ounces thinly shaved Parmesan
Coat a plate sized sheet of waxed paper with cooking spray. In a small skillet, melt sugar over medium heat, watching closely. As soon as the sugar is a deep caramel color, toss in walnuts. Place nuts on prepared waxed paper and break apart as soon as they are cool enough to handle. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk in oil. To make salad, arrange greens on four separate plates. Top with pears, nuts, and parmesan. Drizzle with dressing and serve. Coming Tomorrow:
Tuesdays with Dorie
Caramel Apple Creme Brulee

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Corniest Corn Muffin and Slow Cooker Beef Chili

Want to hear a corny jokc?

A man walked into the Dr.'s office. In his ear he had a carrot, in his nose an ear of corn, and in his eye a wedge of cucumber. He complained to the Dr. that he wasn't feeling his best. "Well," the Dr. replied, "The trouble is you're not eating properly....."
Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
If you're going to make a recipe named "CORNIEST" corn muffin, then you'd better have some corny jokes to go with it.
Like this one: What did the kernel say to the other kernel? My pop's bigger than your pop.
Ooh, boy-that's pretty corny.
Or if you prefer that no one roll their eyes, serve up your corniest corn muffin with a less obnoxious partner, like William Sonoma's Crock Pot chili. Both recipes are part of my Fall Kick Off Menu, which also includes:
Pear and Walnut Salad with Honey Dressing (coming tomorrow)
Caramel Apple Wedges (coming soon)
Corn bread is particularly delightful baked in a muffin tin, since it provides lots of crispy surface area. Besides having fresh corn kernels in the batter, these are extra corny with a high ratio of cornmeal to flour. Serve these up with loads of honey butter to bring out that natural sweetness.
Money Saving Tips: Cut any corn off a leftover cob for this recipe. If you don't have buttermilk on hand, just put 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in a 1 cup measure. Pour in milk to the top and let stand for five minutes. If you're out of cornmeal, you can grind popcorn kernels in a wheat grinder or powerful blender to make your own.
Dorie Greenspan's Corniest Corn Muffins
Estimated Cost: $2.00 for 12
Notes: For picky eaters, you might want to make some without corn kernels. Just pour some batter into the tins before you add the corn, and add a bit less corn to the batter to compensate.
1 cup flour (I used half whole wheat)
1 cup cornmeal
6 tablespoons sugar
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
3 tablespoons corn or vegetable oil
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen or even canned
Preheat oven to 400. Thanks for the the reminder, Cat!:) Grease a 12 cup capacity muffin tin. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, oil, egg and yolk. Gently stir wet ingredients into dry just to blend. Stir in the corn kernels. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
William Sonoma's Slow Cooker Chili
The convenience of slow cooker chili is chief among its virtues. In fact, I first made this recipe about five years ago on The Quiet Man's birthday which also happened to be the day that we were running a marathon. How do you host a party (or do anything that requires movement at all) after a 26.2 mile run? I made the chili the night before and stuck the whole crock pot in the fridge, plugged it in the morning, left for the run and came back to scrumptious birthday dinner.

Money Saving Tips: Buy your ground beef in bulk during chili season. (Albertson's and other supermarkets frequently have it on sale for about $2 per lb.) Divide it into 1 lb. portions and freeze it for easy dinners. Cook your own beans from dried for an even cheaper meal.
Slow Cooker Chili, adapted from William's Sonoma
Estimated Cost: $8.00 for 8 large portions
2 lbs. ground beef
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3-4 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons corn meal
1 cup beef stock
2 (14 ounce) cans beans (I use almost any variety I've got on hand.)
In large frying pan, brown the ground beef. Transfer to crock pot with a slotted spoon, leaving behind the fat. Add remaining ingredients to crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with shredded cheese, onions, and sour cream.
Coming Tomorrow: Pear and Walnut Arugula Salad with Honey Dressing

Friday, September 26, 2008

Brown Sugar and Oatmeal Crumbly Apple Bars

As much as I love the Legend of Johnny Appleseed, it always bothered me-even when I was young-that he wore his cooking pot on his head. Somehow, that just didn't seem like the cleanest place to put the pot you'd be cooking in. Did he even get to wash his hair with real shampoo in the unsettled West? I'm sure he worked up a hot-headed sweat planting apple seeds all day. And even when he crooned about all the lovely things he'd be making with those red delicious apples, all I could think about was if he was planning to make them in his hairy pot. When I taught first grade, my fellow teacher friend dressed up as Johnny Appleseed for the Halloween parade. On her head, she wore a cooking pot, which besides being uncomfortable for her all day, also cemented the notion of never ever being able to come over to her house for dinner.

It's Johnny's birthday this week, and even if he had a dirty pot head, it's still worth recognizing. Especially since it's a great excuse to bake some cinnamony apple treats. And you must must must make these bars. They come from cooking contest friend, Anna at Cookie Madness, who included them on her Top Ten list for Fall. With a sweet creamy apple layer and a crumbly oat and brown sugar crust and topping, they are without a doubt the best apple bar I have ever tasted. Good ol' Mr. Appleseed would have loved this one.
Money Saving Tips: I've always used whatever apples I have on hand and even the non-baking varieties have worked out very well, so use whatever you can get for a good price.
Brown Sugar and Oatmeal Crumbly Apple Bars
Estimated Cost: $4.00 for 12 bars
Notes: I love these warm out of the oven, but they hold together much better if you wait till they're cool.
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used half whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon soda
3/8 tsp salt
10 tablespoons cold butter, divided
3 small apples, cored, unpeeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a nine inch square pan with foil. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, oats, flour, soda, and salt. Cut in 9 tablespoons butter. (This can also be done in a food processor.) Reserve 3/4 cup and pat the rest into prepared pan. It will be dry. Toss apples with half of lemon juice and arrange over crust in pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon. In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and hot water. Turn heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly until mixture begins to boil and thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, remaining 1 tablespoon butter and remaining teaspoon of lemon juice. Pour over apples. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture and pecans, if using. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Next Up:
Corniest Corn Muffins

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Barefoot Thursdays: Lightened Up Cream of Mushroom and Brown Rice Soup

It was seven years ago, the last time I made Cream of Mushroom soup. One of the tacit compromises I made when I said I do to the Quiet Man, was to put aside my love of mushroom soup. He didn't ask me too. He didn't have to. He just had to use the body language that I've become so adept at reading. The slightly slumped shoulder, the single inverted eyebrow, the tense wrists, the rummaging through the fridge, the occasional whole body quiver. Out of consideration, I turned to cream of broccoli, cream of potato, asparagus, corn, chicken-anything but the dreaded fungi.

Seven years ago, he was at a Navajo reservation doing an internship for his Master's Degree. The night he left, I skipped to the super market and bought a giant pack of mushrooms for my brew. I ate a whole pot full of the marvelous stuff, drinking in the earthy pleasure all week long. Seven years worth of pleasure in one week.
How fitting that this weekend, coinciding with my Barefoot Thursdays assignment for Garten's Cream of Mushroom Soup, The Quiet Man was in Denver doing work for his Doctorate. Back home, I was slicing and dicing those precious shrooms, marveling at the funny way that life works. Not quite alone but still nostalgic, I savored my luscious bowls of soup.
And Quiet Man, I missed you. But if you ever want to do some post-doctorate work, I know what I'll be having for dinner.
Notes: Of course, I couldn't really add 10 tablespoons of butter and oil, 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of half and half, as Ina suggests. Shocking state of affairs! Instead, I trimmed and slashed the fat, adding in some nutty brown rice to make it seem luxurious yet earthy and satisfying. To become a Barefoot Blogger, click here.
Money Saving Tips: Use whatever combination of mushrooms you can find on sale. I used sliced baby portabellos ($2.69 for 8 ounces at Albertsons) and just a handful of shitake. Make a giant batch of brown rice and freeze it in 2 cup portions, so it's ready to use in any recipe. You can double or triple the homemade stock recipe to use in later recipes. It's much cheaper and better than buying the canned variety.
Lightened Up Cream of Mushroom Soup with Brown Rice
Estimated Cost: $6.00 for 5 servings
Notes: You can use Minute Brown rice, or even the new steam-in-the-bags frozen brown rice if necessary.
8 ounces baby portabello mushrooms
4 ounces shitake mushrooms
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 potato, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, 1 coarsely chopped for stock
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 and 1/2 cups fully cooked brown rice
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup milk
sliced green onions, for serving
Remove stems from mushrooms to use for the stock. In a large pot, saute over medium heat the mushroom stems, carrots, potato, 1 coarsely chopped onion, and garlic. Saute for ten minutes, stirring often. Add 4 cups water and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I used about 1/2 teaspoon of each.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. This will be the stock for the soup. You need 4 cups so add water if you don't have enough.
Strain and set aside. (This can be done ahead of time and frozen or refrigerated.) In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Mince remaining onion and slice mushrooms and add to pot. Cook for about five minutes, or until softened. Add flour and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Stir in brown rice and warm through. Add cream and milk and warm through without boiling; season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with sliced green onions and serve.
Coming Tomorrow:
Johnny Appleseed's Birthday
Crumbly Apple Oatmeal Bars

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spicy Pumpkin Vegetarian Chili

I'm beginning to wonder if I'm ever going to get my full and complete "Fall Kick Off Dinner" Menu out there to share with you all. Between Tuesdays with Dorie and Thursdays with Ina, and give aways, and mix ups and my actual real life, I'm getting a little behind. Thank goodness the season lasts three months since it just might take me that long to kick it off. I'll keep patiently posting menu items one by one until we've made our way through dinner and dessert. Starting with this Fall-flavored, intensely delicious and satisfying pumpkin chili. A gorgeous vibrant deep reddish orange color, you might not even guess it has pumpkin at all. So spicy and satisfying and healthful, piquant and bright with fresh garlic and ginger, this one pot wonder has a silky smoothness from humble canned pumpkin. For parties, I always make two kinds of chili; one with meat and one without. I've learned my lesson to make big batches of both, since the carnivores will love this one too. Even my super-manly, Big Stuff dad couldn't get enough of this one. You might have to hoard it in the kitchen.
Fall Kick Off Dinner:
Today's Offering: Spicy Pumpkin Vegetarian Chili
Crock Pot Meaty Chili
Corniest Corn Muffins
Crumbly Oatmeal Apple Bars
Caramel Apple Wedges

Money Saving Tips: If you don't have canned pumpkin, you can swap it for pureed winter squash or even sweet potato, but you may have to add a little extra water to compensate. You can use your own cooked dried beans to save money. 2 cups of pinto beans will cook overnight on low in a crockpot without any presoaking or fuss.
Spicy Pumpkin Vegetarian Chili
Estimated Cost: $4.00 for 8 servings
Notes: You can make this chili a day ahead of time and store it in the fridge. It'll taste even better.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 large bell pepper, chopped (I used some red, some yellow)
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons chili powder (less if yours is hot)
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch of cayenne
2 (14 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained
1 (14 ounce) can Mexican style diced tomatoes with juices, blended in the blender
1 cup canned plain pumpkin puree
shredded cheese and chopped cilantro for serving
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, 2 cloves garlic, ginger, bell pepper, and carrots. Cook for five minutes, stirring often, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and cook for 1 minute. Add beans and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until all vegetables are softened. Stir in remaining garlic and pumpkin; warm through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with shredded cheese and cilantro, if desired.
Coming Tomorrow:
A Brief but Delicious Break from our Fall Menu
Barefoot Thursdays
Lightened Up Cream of Mushroom and Brown Rice Soup

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Molasses Cake with Sugared Apples

Just two little days can change my culinary mood so much. As of yesterday, it's Autumn. I can't begin to express the tingly excitement of being a Tuesdays with Dorie baker during the Fall. Join in and bring a little bit bit of cinna-magic into your kitchen.
This week's assignment was a Dimply Plum Cake. Dimply. And last week we made Chocolate Chunkers. Chunkers. Dimply and Chunkers. Perhaps it was this not-so-subtle 2 week message that inspired me to make a lightened version of Dorie's cake. And that's not all I changed. Craving the flavors of fall, I added molasses, ginger, and cinnamon to the cake batter and covered the top with not plums, but sugared slices of September apple. With yogurt standing in for half the fat, this cake is guaranteed not to make you dimply or chunky- although I certainly wouldn't hold it against anyone and expect the same courtesy when necessary. A plain and unpretentious un-frosted cake, it's unbeatable with a cup of hot cider, or with a scoop of low fat vanilla cream. I have it on good authority, ahem, that is also superb for breakfast with a dollop of vanilla yogurt. But don't take my word for it. Make some yourself to welcome in the season of "the winnowing wind and soft-dying days."
Money Saving Tips: Apples have a very long life, if stored unbruised in a cool, dark place. I keep mine in the refrigerator, but if I had a cool basement, that's where they'd be.
Molasses Cake with Sugared Apples
Estimated Cost: $3.50
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used half whole wheat)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup molasses
2 eggs
1/3 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 or 3 large baking apples, thinly sliced
1 heaping tablespoon granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar, and molasses until creamy. Add the eggs and beat well. Gently beat in yogurt and vanilla. Gently add dry ingredients, mixing only until blended. Scrape batter into prepared baking dish. Cover the top with apples and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40 minutes. Coming Tomorrow:
Fall Vegetable and Pumpkin Chili

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall Colored Chewy Oatmeal M and M Cookies

You're not crazy. This looks nothing like the sesame and scallion grilled tri trip that I intended to post today. I'm crazy. I thought Fall officially began on Tuesday, but it turns out the official first day is today. I treat the calendar like a Farmer's Almanac of yesteryear, so hooray! For someone who loves the leaf crunching season as much as I do, it's an important day and worthy of celebration. So anxious am I for this crisp apple time, that I always plan a special first day of Autumn dinner, sometimes with guests, and sometimes with our own little family. This week I'll be posting our dinner menu all week long, so you can host your own cider season welcome. For now, I'm sharing this fun fall cookie recipe and I'll save the Tri-Tip for next summer. Normally I pick out all the blue M and M's to make these chewy little cookies, but this time, I happened to have Indiana Jones M and Ms in the cupboard. They were just the right hues, like falling leaves with occasional little cream colored bitties. Even the skull face imprints seem to suggest that Halloween is right around the corner.

And my task today is to change the decoration on the fireplace mantle. For it is summer no more. Welcome Fall!

Money Saving Tips:

Shop around for butter sales, since some market seems to have it on sale every week. This is a great time to start stocking up on baking essentials when you catch a good price, since the holidays are right around the calendar's corner. Target has M and Ms on sale quite often too.
Fall Colored Chewy Oatmeal M and M cookies
Estimated Cost: $3 for 24
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup fall colored m and ms, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars, creaming until smooth. Add vanilla and egg and mix well. Sprinkle soda, powder, and salt over the top and mix. Add flour, then oats. Add half of the M and Ms. Shape into 1 inch balls. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheets for about 8 minutes. As soon as cookies come out of the oven, poke a few M and Ms on top of each one.
Coming Tomorrow:
Tuesdays with Dorie
Sugared Apple Molasses Cake

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lemon Sour Cream Pasta with Peas

For lemon lovers like myself, the news that lemon prices have nearly doubled comes as no surprise. I've felt the pocket book-pinch each time I've bought the juicy yellow babies at the market. No matter the price, I will always buy my lemons. Always. There is no substitute for bright, fresh lemon juice. But with the hefty cost, I will use my lemons wisely. To get the very most out of your pricey purchase, follow these tips:
-Never throw away your lemon zest. (Zest is the colorful outside coating on citrus fruits-not the bitter white pith beneath.) Using a vegetable peeler, remove all of the zest from your lemons. Chop it finely and freeze it in plastic bags.
-Juice your lemons using a reamer or juicer to get the most from each lemon.
-Reduce the juice in recipes by half, and add lemon zest to get that bright lemon flavor.
-For baking, rub lemon zest with granulated sugar to bring out a more pronounced lemony flavor.

This is one of my absolute favorite lemon pasta dishes. It makes a fantastic side with a bit of grilled or stewed meat, or a refreshing and light main dish. I make it all year long, but I love it most when the tomatoes are ripe and juicy. The best bites have a bit of sweet tomato and a long swirl of lemony, creamy pasta. You'll only need one pot and about 20 minutes, so get squeezing and zesting. And pray for a good safe lemon bumper crop this year.
Money Saving Tips: This pasta dish makes excellent use of your pricey lemon, by including both the zest and the juice. If you don't have green onions on hand, use chopped yellow onions but saute them a bit before you add the garlic.
Lemon Sour Cream Pasta
Estimated Cost: $4.00
1/2 lb. flat pasta noodles, such as fettuccine
1 cup frozen peas, if desired
1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sour cream, (light works well), or whole milk plain yogurt
juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese, for the top
sliced juicy red tomatoes
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding peas during last minute of cooking time. Drain pasta in colander. To the same pot, add butter and garlic and cook over low heat for one minute, or until garlic is very fragrant and softened. Add pasta and peas back to pot. Stir in sour cream, lemon juice and zest, green onions, and salt and pepper. Warm through. Serve with sliced tomatoes. Coming Tomorrow:
Sesame Scallion Grilled Tri Tip

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Give-Away Winners

Here ye! It's time to announce the three lucky winners!

I don't think I've ever been as hungry in my life. Or as greedy. Have you read the comments about favorite fall foods? Pumpkin breads, pancakes, raviolis, cookies, biscotti, pie, caramel apples, apple crisp, apple bars, stew, chili, pumpkin curry soup, roasted butternut squash, steaming bowls of stew and pot roast. I'm stealing all of your ideas and locking myself in the kitchen until the authorities have to break down the walls and roll me away. At least I'm considering it, so ravenous am I from your comments. I'm making a loooooong list of all your favorites to keep me busy through the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness." I've got all the inspiration I need to write a mighty tome of Autumn recipes.

Congratulations to our three loving winners! Email me with your mailing addresses at prudencepenny@aol.com
Random Integer Generator Here are your random numbers:22 199 142
Mary Anne, lover or Prudy's Roasted Red Pepper Soup.
Justin and Jess, lovers of all things pumpkin and chocolate chip.

Rebecca, lover of pumpkin ravioli with sage butter and pumpkin bread, spread with cream cheese.Thanks to everyone for playing along.

Coming Tomorrow:
The last of some summery favorites
Lemon Sour Cream Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Sneaky Little Give Away

Time's up.
Winners announced Saturday! Thanks for entering...

Winsome readers: As promised, today is the day for my sneaky little give away. And boy am I glad. Today is one of those days, that even had I woken up at 3 AM (which I considered), it wouldn't have been early enough to get everything done. I wish I could form a committee to attend my meetings, unload my dishwasher, instruct my charges, return my phonecalls, grade my papers, plan my lessons, fill in my crossword puzzle, sew my Halloween costumes, mop my floors. The only thing I don't want any help with is my blog. I'll wake up early and stay up late and leave the laundry in heaps and be late for meetings for Prudence Pennywise. I suppose that means that I love it. I do. I love it. Thanks to my many readers for making it worthwhile for me to cook and write and gush on an almost daily basis. Thanks for your comments, emails, for spreading the word about Prudence Pennywise, and most especially your readership. I promise to never run out of money saving tips and recipes, as long as you promise to keep coming back. Deal?
As for the give-away, leave a comment telling me your favorite fall food. That's it. If you feel so inclined, you can tell your friends to enter the give-away also. You've got till Friday, September 19, 2008 5:00 PST. I'll ship anywhere.
Here's what you've got a crack at winning:
A modern slow cooker recipe book.
I really need this one for the aformentioned busy days....


And I want this one also, because pancakes just sound fabulous on a fall morning.

And this one I have, but it's so wonderful that I have to give it away again. If I could only have one baking book, this would be it. Period.

Winners Announced Friday-uh, make that Saturday....

See you Then

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Summer Vegetable Gratin Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust

This summer, my friend Tanji sent me a recipe for a zucchini and squash gratin. I made it two nights in a row, sopping up all the garlicky juices with a multi grain baguette. It was fast, healthful, delicious and seemingly perfect in my book. Except for one thing. Nobody else in my family thought it qualified as dinner. "Is this it-what else are we having?" Now, for me the trick for converting a side dish into a main dish is just to eat more. But it's not that simple when you're dealing with strangers like your own husband and children. Still, my obsession with the squash gratin wasn't gong to die easy, so I compromised by putting the gratin on top of a whole wheat pizza crust. Same idea, basically same ingredients, only this time, it was deemed dinner by that tough crowd who matter most. Dinner accomplished.
Money Saving Tips:
Make your own crust to save money, or go ahead and purchase one if time is a greater issue. If you have your own garden, I'll bet you've still got loads of zukes and squash. If not hit up a neighbor or head to the farmer's market.
Summer Vegetable Gratin Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust
Estimated Cost: $$5.50
YIkes-I didn't meant to write $1.50 earlier. It's only $1.50 for the crust.
Notes: I don't proof the yeast since SAF is so reliable. If your yeast is iffy, combine it with some warm water and sugar in a small bowl and make sure it rises before adding it in.
3 teaspoons yeast (I use Saf)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
cornmeal for the pan
1/3 cup pizza sauce or plain tomato sauce
1 and 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 red tomato, thinly sliced
1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
Combine yeast, sugar, olive oil, salt, warm water, and whole wheat flour. Stir and knead in flour. Knead for 4 minutes. Cover and let rise for one hour. Punch it down and let it rest for five minutes. Lightly grease a baking sheet and coat with a bit of cornmeal. Roll out dough into 12 inch circle or press into rectangular cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread crust with pizza sauce. (Don't use much or you'll have a soggy pizza.) Sprinkle with mozzarella. Layer zucchini, squash and tomatoes in circles on pizza. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic, basil, and parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheeses are melted. If necessary, if the vegetables become too watery, heat the broiler and watching carefully, bake until the juices dry up a bit.
Coming Tomorrow:
Lemon Sour Cream Pasta and Peas

Stay Tuned for a Sneaky Give Away

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Salty Chocolate Chunkers

We're on our fourth cookie in about as many weeks now for Tuesdays with Dorie. Cream some butter and sugar and join along. The old blue guy's got nothing on us.... This week's cookie would have made the Cookie Monster positively jocular. Rich and chocolaty, and brimming with seductive add-ins, they might even put Oscar the Grouch in a good mood. Having just made a chocolaty chocolate cookie last week, I was ready to take things for a different twist. A salty and crunchy twist, using pretzels and salty potato chips as my add ins. I've added pretzels to cookies before, and they've always lost their appealing crunch in the oven. This time, I added an extra step of coating the pretzels with cooking spray and toasting them in the oven (350 for 15 minutes) to a heightened crisp-which they maintained even in the baked cookies. Soggy pretzel problem solved. The potato chips and pretzels in this little winner play on the blissful marriage of sweet meets salty. If you like chocolate dipped pretzels, Take five bars, Reese's peanut butter cups, or even salted caramel, then you'll love this cookie. Even if you don't, I'll bet you love it anyway. Unlike Granola Grabbers or even Malted Whopper cookies, this is a very rich, take-just-one kind of cookie. Unless of course, you're like me or the Cookie Monster, in which case, too many cookies is only just enough.

Click here for the real recipe. For my fellow penny-pinchers, the estimated cost for two dozen is $5.00. Money Saving tips: Use up the bottom of the bag potato chip crumbs, and revive stale pretzels as you roast them in the oven.
Coming Tomorrow:

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust with Layers of Summer Squash and Garlic Olive Oil

Stay Tuned for a sneaky give away this week.....