One of the nice things about the cooler weather is that it gives me a good excuse to do more cooking and baking. In the Summer I like fruit and salad and smoothies – probably better options for my waistline – but in the Fall I start craving soup and casseroles and hot beverages.
I’ve been wanting to try some of the recipes that have been accumulating on one of my Food Pinterest boards and I’ve slowly been crossing them off my to-do list.
On Fridays we have homemade-pizza-and-a-movie night; Gwen and Josiah love our pizza picnics. Since I’m doing preschool with Gwen, I try to pick a movie that starts with the letter of the week or goes along with the theme. While browsing through The Pioneer Woman‘s cookbook, I happened upon a recipe for Potato Leek Pizza. It’s not too girly since it has crumbled bacon and oodles of cheese on top, but it was definitely a departure from the norm. It was very tasty, but I have to admit I missed the tomato sauce that we usually use on our pizzas.
For the crust I used our current favorite recipe for rosemary whole wheat pizza dough. Since the recipe yields two thin-crust pizzas I had to divide up the toppings and I think I should have cooked up a few more leeks. I used a small package of mozzerella, and instead of the goat cheese I sprinkled asiago on top.
One evening I didn’t plan ahead for dinner so I was scrambling, trying to figure out what to make for the kiddos and me. I happened to have a package of soba noodles on hand; I remembered making peanut butter soba noodles in the past but couldn’t find a recipe, so I did a quick search and settled on a version of Soba Noodles and Spicy Peanut Sauce.
The recipe is based on one bunch of soba noodles, so I adjust accordingly depending on how many bunches I cook up. I stayed pretty true to the original recipe, except that I used the garlic press with garlic cloves, added a small spoonful of bottled ginger, and ended up ladling more cooking water into the mix so the sauce wasn’t too thick. We didn’t have broccoli on hand, but frozen peas thrown into the cooking water make a nice addition. Both Phil and the kiddos gobbled this up; this one is staying on our family favorites repertoire. Note: this is also very good – and cheaper – on wheat pasta.
Lastly, in honor of Autumn, I bought my first canned pumpkin of the season and tried my hand at Pumpkin Mac & Cheese.
Why I can’t just stick to a recipe, I don’t know. (pause) Well, okay, I do know… it’s nice to make things healthier or to improvise based on the available ingredients. I combined the recipe with The Pioneer Woman’s Macaroni and Cheese recipe (can you tell I’ve been thumbing through her cookbook?), using her suggestion for adding an egg, flour and ground mustard. I didn’t have nutmeg on hand, so for spices I went with paprika, thyme and allspice. Since I didn’t feel like measuring cups of dried pasta, I just used one box and hoped the amounts would all pan out well. I baked the mac and cheese in the oven, but in retrospect think I would have liked it in it’s more creamy state right from the pan. So… I loved it, it was a rich and savory pasta… but Phil and the kiddos? Not so much. *sigh* I might try it again with elbow or shell pasta, slightly less pumpkin, nix the ground mustard, and serve it straight from the pan.
And what kind of foodie post would this be without a dessert? My mom mentioned making wheat germ brownies, which reminded me of a childhood favorite of the same name. Well, the recipe from Vicky Lansky’s Kids Cooking is actually called Fudge Brownie Favorites, but we called them wheat germ brownies because of the two cups of wheat germ in the recipe. These no-bake wonders are more like fudge than a brownie (hence “fudge brownie”?), so you can cut them into pretty small pieces – but only if you really want.
The original – which is very yummy – calls for 1 8oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk, 1t vanilla, 1c chopped walnuts and 2c honey crunch wheat germ. I substituted dark chocolate chips for the semi-sweet, a can of coconut milk for the sweetended condensed, and when I discovered the sugar content in honey crunch wheat germ I substitued plain for half of it. You melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, add the milk and vanilla and stir till blended, then stir in the wheat germ and half the nuts. Spread into an 8″ pan and top with the remaning nuts then chill till firm. The coconut milk yields a slightly softer “brownie” but it’s still very yummy.
Let’s see, what’s next on my list? Trying to narrow down the cake recipes for the kiddos’ birthday party this month, and I’m going to try Cranberry Curd Bars with Walnut Shortbread Crust for Thanksgiving.
What’s shaking and baking in your kitchen? What are some of your Fall favorites?