Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

I saw this recipe for pumpkin alfredo sauce in an issue of Food Network Magazine and put it away to make another day. I completely forgot about it until I found a can of pumpkin hiding in the back of my cupboard. I couldn't stand the thought of making another pumpkin dessert, so I decided to incorporate it into something savory instead. I love pumpkin in veggie lasagna, but I wasn't in the mood for lasagna. I remembered the pumpkin alfredo recipe and decided it was time to try it. I really enjoyed this sauce. It was a little on the heavy side, but what alfredo sauce isn't! The pumpkin flavor was very subtle and the shallot added a great flavor to the sauce. If you're looking for a simple, out-of-the-ordinary sauce to top your pasta, then this recipe is for you.

Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce
Source: Food Network Magazine, October 2012

1 tablespoon butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped (I only used half.)
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (Plus more for topping.)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. 
Add the shallot and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until soft. 
Stir in the pumpkin and nutmeg and cook for a few more minutes. 
Whisk in heavy cream and bring the mixture to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.
Whisk in cheese until melted.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Top your favorite pasta with the sauce and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese. 

Tip: If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it with either a small amount of warm milk or reserved cooking water from your pasta.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes

After I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it right away. And then I made it again and again. It fast became one of our favorite, go-to dinners. Don't be fooled by this recipe. It looks very simple and unassuming, however, I was blown away at how much these tasted like a real cheese steak, minus all the grease. Don't get my wrong, I love cheese steaks, but these are a nice alternative. If you're looking for an easy, flavorful dinner, then this recipe is for you.

Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes
Source: adapted from Rachael Ray

1 pound ground beef
1 medium green bell pepper (chopped)
1/4 cup steak sauce 
1/2 cup cup beef broth
3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper (to taste)
4 to 5 slices provolone cheese

Brown ground beef in a cast iron skillet with the green pepper.

Drain well and return meat to the skillet and add steak sauce, beef broth, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. 

Simmer over a medium-high heat for about 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

Layer the provolone cheese on top of the meat mixture and either cover with a lid, place under broiler, or in a hot oven to melt the cheese. Serve on hardy rolls.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Beer-Candied Bacon

Who doesn't love bacon? After all, it's all the rage. Bacon can be found just about everywhere these days—even in desserts and drinks. (Bacon martini, anyone?) I decided to to jump on the bacon bandwagon and make a sweet version to top a cupcake recipe that I've been developing. (The "mancake" recipe to come later.) Candying bacon is a sticky, lengthy process, but it's not hard. When you have a pound of crunchy, sticky, sweet, and salty pieces of pork when you're finished, however, it will make it all worth it. I promise! It was hard to save some of this glorious bacon for my cupcake recipe. It was that good! This bacon is perfect for breakfast (crumbled in pancakes or waffles), as a snack, or for topping cupcakes. Make this NOW!

Beer-Candied Bacon
Source: Tide and Thyme

1 pound bacon 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons beer (I used Saranac Caramel Porter.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a wire cooling rack on top and drape the slices of bacon over the rack, overlapping if necessary. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together brown sugar and beer in a small bowl.
After 10 minutes, carefully remove the bacon from the oven and brush one side with the beer syrup. Flip each slice of bacon and brush the other side with the syrup. Return to oven and bake for more 10 minutes. Repeat process two more times until bacon is crispy.
Cool on wire rack for at least 1 hour.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mini Pink Velvet Cupcakes

I love red velvet cupcakes. I love the tangy cake paired with the sweet cream cheese icing. I have experimented with blue velvet cupcakes, but they were awful and bitter. You were able to taste the blue food coloring. I stayed away from all other colors of velvet until recently when I decided to make pink velvet cupcakes for my coworker's baby shower. She loves red velvet, but since she is having a girl, I wanted to make them pink. I was going to use my old standby, use pink food coloring, and omit cocoa, but I didn't want to mess with the recipe since it's perfect. I did a quick search online and found a recipe for pink velvet. It doesn't use cocoa, vinegar, or oil like my favorite recipe, but it does use buttermilk and butter. I was skeptical that these would be dry because of the butter, but boy was I glad that I was wrong. They were perfectly tender and tangy—just like red velvet cupcakes should be.

Mini Pink Velvet Cupcakes
Source: Taste of Home via Pinterest

1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 and 1/4 cups white sugar
a few drops pink food coloring
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line four mini cupcake tins with 48 paper cupcake liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and food coloring until light and fluffy. 

Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.

Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture in three additions, ending with the flour mixture.

Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake for 10–14 minutes.

Remove cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese (room temperature)
1 stick butter (room temperature)
4–6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. 
Add powdered sugar one cup at a time. Beat well until spreading consistency.