Pumpkin Butter

23 09 2010

Why I like Fall… it’s so versatile. A person can be completely content in pulling on a sweater, throwing your face to the sun and letting an autumn breeze smack you in the kisser. A “Hey, you’ve almost made it through another year”,-smack, as you proceed to fill your home with the aroma of cloves and seasonal gourds. Fall is also perfect for couples and for friends. Outdoor activities abound, yet it’s getting nicer and nicer to come in and curl up with someone once the sun goes down, or sit around with buddies and drink Pumpkin Ale (which I have just started and will blog about in a few weeks).

My Fall experience today was meeting up with my friend Al and walking to the market to pick up some pumpkins. We were discussing our respective situations, both of us relatively down in the dumps. But something about getting that first pumpkin of the season helped serve as a reminder that we’ll be alright. Seasons change, things are always growin’, we’ll be OK.

Anyways, pumpkin butter! Super easy to make and there’s tons of things to do with it. Eat it on toast, with oatmeal, ice cream, whatevs. Or just hang out in the kitchen, eating it from the jar, enjoying the moment.

Pumpkin Butter
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 (15 oz) cans pumpkin puree
¾ cups apple cider (or juice)
2 tsps. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1 tb. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg

Juice of ½ a lemon

1. Combine pumpkin, apple cider, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently to prevent it from burning to the bottom. Adjust spices to taste. Stir in lemon juice, or more to taste.
2. Once cool, pumpkin butter can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Chili-Bean Tortilla Wraps

19 09 2010

I didn’t intend for this blog to be so mopey & angst-filled. It’s sort of tough though, trying to get over an intense relationship while also living at your parents house. Awesome. What’s also tough is being a recipe fanatic, but having no one to serve food to most nights. Hence my eating alone picture (below), then proceeding to wrap up leftovers that I’ll eat throughout the rest of the week. Food is healing. I will give it that. These tortillas, especially when dolled up with all the garnishes, make me feel really reminiscent of being in cheap taco joints in Texas last summer. Drunk with friends, late at night, with spicy salsas waking us up to the awesomeness that is life. So take that, tortillas. You make me lonely, but you’re delicious.

Chili-Bean Tortilla Wraps
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

Chili Beans:
2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 small red chilis, seeded & chopped
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (15.5 oz) kidney beans
1 tb. tomato paste

12 soft flour tortillas
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Sour Cream (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)

1. To make the chili beans, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over low heat and saute the onions, garlic, pepper, and chilis for 8-10 minutes, or until softened. Add the remaining ingredients, along with 1/2 cup water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season to taste.
2. Lay the tortillas on a work surface. Put some of the bean mixture along the middle of each tortilla, sprinkle with some cheese, and roll up. Place seam side down on a heated/oiled pan and grill each side until golden brown. Serve with sour cream & lime wedges. Or some home-made guac and/or salsa.





Rich Chocolate Cheesecake

10 09 2010

This cake is ridiculous. The texture/taste is a mix between fudge and chocolate gelato. This cake is not fucking around. Usually I’m not really a sweets/dessert/chocolate person. But in the past month or so, I’ve found myself picking up cupcakes on my coffee break at work. Usually anytime this starts to happen, I automatically assume Hell, I’m Pregnant. But since I’m not having sex anymore (wahh), there’s no excuses. Now I’ll just look pregnant. Fuck It.

So I’ll post the recipe how I found it, with some minor changes. What I did differently though was use a food processor for all of the mixing, not use a double boiler to melt the chocolate because I don’t friggin have one, and I used a store-bought Oreo crust. I ended up with some extra batter so you could always do what I did, and fill a couple of ramekins with what’s leftover, bake them with the cake, and then eat them straight from the oven. Because life’s too short.

Rich Chocolate Cheesecake
Adapted from eat me, delicious

Chocolate Crumb Crust
1 1/2 cups Oreo (or similar cookie) crumbs
4 tbs. unsalted butter, melted

Filling
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 lbs. cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbs. natural (not Dutch-processed) cocoa powder
4 eggs, room temp.
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsps. vanilla
2 tbs. Kahlua

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×3-inch springform pan. Cut an 18 inch square of heavy-duty aluminum foil and wrap the foil around the outside of the pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the Oreo crumbs and melted butter. Pat the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 8 minutes, until set.

3. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool the crust completely. Leave the oven on.

4. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat, leaving the chocolate over the hot water.

5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed until creamy and lump-free, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Gradually add 1/4 cup of the sugar and beat until blended. Add the cocoa powder and mix until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand.

6. In a clean mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and beat at high speed until tripled in volume, about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl and whisk from the mixer stand and replace them with the bowl containing the cream cheese mixture and the paddle attachment. Mixing at low speed, gradually add the egg mixture to the cream cheese mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary to ensure that the mixture is even-textured. Mix in the melted chocolate. Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and Kahlua (or Cognac) and mix until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir the filling several times to ensure that it is evenly blended.

7. Scrap the filling over the baked crust in the pan. Place the pan in a roasting pan or large baking pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough hot water into the pan to come 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 35-40 minutes, until the center of the cake is set but slightly wobbly (the cake will set completely as it cools).

8. Remove the cake pan from the water bath. Place the pan on a wire rack and carefully loosen the foil. Immediately run the tip of a paring knife around the sides of the pan, to prevent the top from cracking. Let the cake cool completely.

9. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before serving.