Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Simple Cake Mix Pumpkin Bar

I was planning to post the English biscuit cake recipe this week, however I have a few recipe requests for the pumpkin bar pic I posted on Facebook. It is a very simple recipe. You will need a box of yellow cake mix, a jar of pumpkin butter, some butter, eggs and a little bit flour and sugar. The most troublesome part was to have 2-3 bowls ready to prepare the layers, otherwise it's quite simple. I got this recipe a few year ago at the William Sonoma Store at Mall of America. They were doing a tasting of a new brand of pumpkin butter. I ended up making this every fall, the house smells so good while it is baking. This is a perfect fall treat!

This is not a traditional pumpkin bar. There is a soft cookie like layer on the bottom, the filling resemble pumpkin pie with a strudel topping. I use this recipe in the summer too. I can easily replace the pumpkin butter with mango butter. Fold in 1/4 cup of shredded coconut with the topping. You now have a tropical mango bar! Have fun and experiment! The house smells so good while it is baking in the oven! 

Simple Strudel Pumpkin Bar
A box of yellow cake mix
1 jar Pumpkin butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
3 eggs
1/8 cup milk
1/2 stick (4 oz) softened butter
1 tbsp flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray or grease a 13"x9" baking pan. Set aside
Remove 1 cup of cake mix and place in a small top to make a strudel topping later
  Pour the reminding cake mix into a large bowl, add 1 egg
 Slowly add in 1/2 cup melted butter. Mix well
 The mix will be crumby. Pour the mix into the prepared pan
 Press the mixture tightly into an even layer
 In the same bowl, combine pumpkin butter, 2 eggs and 1/8 cup of milk
 Whisk well, set aside
 To make the strudel, combine the reserved 1 cup cake mix, with flour, sugar and cinnamon
 Cut in 1/2 stick of the soften butter
You can use a pastry fork to combine the ingredient to resemble crumbs.
 Pour the pumpkin mix on top of the cake mix layer, even out the filling.
 Sprinkle the strudel topping evenly on top of the filling.
 Bake for 35-40 min until golden brown
 Remove from oven and let the bar cool for about 10-15 mins, cut into square and serve

Make 12-16 very generous serving


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Brussels Sprout make-over: Asian Brusselsl Sprout and mushroom side dish

Brussel Sprout can be a very imitating vegetable. It should not be that way. If you like cabbage, brussel sprout, if not boiled to death, can be a very delicious side dish. Here is a very simple recipe with some crimini mushroom with a shoyu and sesame sauce that may help you rediscover this very mistaken vegetable

Asian Brussels Sprout and mushroom
About 1/2 lb brussels sprout
1 carton of sliced crimini mushroom
1 shallot sliced
1 tsp chopped garlic
3 tbsp shoyu
1 tbsp sesame oil
Vegetable oil for stir fry
Salt and pepper

Clean the brussels sprout, remove the outer layer and trim the stem
Roughly slice
Separate the leaves
In a small bowl, combine shoyu and sesame oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
In a medium pan, heat a couple tbsp oil till hot. Saute garlic and shallot till frangrant
Add the the greens, saute till soften
Mix in mushroom and cook for a few min till the vegetable is tender.
Drizzle the sauce over the vegetable. Stir fry for a couple of min.
Ready to serve!

Great as a side dish


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gingered Squash bake with cranberry

I love fall in this part of the country. It's so beautiful with the change of season. As much as I dislike winter, I look forward to the end of summer and into the Fall. We are at the end of the fall season. I started to "stock up" on cedar vegetable. I passed by a farm stand on my way to Mr Wonderful a couple weeks ago and picked up the last of some fall squash. I think I might have gone a little over board. I need to use some of them.

I love squash, however they can be a pain to prepare during the week. You can certainly microwave them, however baking and roasted brings out the sweetness in the vegetable. Here is a very simple one-dish preparation that I make quite often. You can serve this as a side dish hot, or leave it in the fridge to toss in with your salads during the week. It's great reheated too.

The candied ginger give it a bit of spice and will not overpower the the vegetable. I added a little stock in the pan to soften the cranberry. You can also rehydrate the cranberry in some orange juice and skin the stock if you prefer.

Roasted Squash with ginger and cranberry
1 squash, I am using a buttercup. Peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1" pieces
2 tbsp chopped candied ginger
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup of vegetable stock
Salt and Peppe
Olive oil
Pre-heat oven of 375 degrees
In a medium size pan. Season squash with salt and pepper, drizzle in olive oil to coat (about 3-4 tbsp)
Sprinkle in candied ginger
Toss with cranberries
Mix in the stock, and give the mixture a quick mix.
Bake for an hour. Give it a quick stir 30 mins into the baking. Once the squash is tender, it is ready.

Serve 4-6 as a side


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vegan Greens and Squash Gumbo

A friend was making a roux for gumbo during the week. He had some issue with the first batch. I thought it was be a lot simpler if I could just show him how a cooked roux should look like since, by coincident, I was going to make some gumbo this weekend. I made the roux, took a picture of it. Great thing about roux, you can actually make it ahead of time and pour it into a jar and store in the fridge for a week of so.

The treat to make a good roux is all about patience, slow and steady. Keep stirring on low heat, then the flour is toasted and you will have a popcorn like smell and a runny peanut butter color and texture, it's down.

As with the recipe here, this is a modification of the classic Good Friday Greens gumbo. I added squash since it is in season and it also add a little texture to the stew. When you assemble this, you will notice it is very thick at the beginning. Not to worry, as you cook the greens, the sauce will loosen up since the vegetable will release juices/liquid.

By the way, this is not a low-cal dish since we are using a rich roux.

Vegan Greens and Squash Gumbo
4 large bunches of greens such as collard greens, chard or kale. I am using 2 bunches of collard greens, 1 rainbow chard and 1 green kale. If you are using collard green and kale, remove the rib, roughly chopped the greens.
1 large leek, cleaned and diced
4 stalks of celery, cleaned and diced
1 large green pepper, cleaned, seed and stem removed, diced
1 large onion, diced.
1 large tbsp chopped garlic.
2 large shallot, finely chopped
1 squash, peeled, seed removed and cut into 1" pieces.
1 14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

File mix:
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ancho chilli powder
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp grounded black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour

Bring a large pot of water with a dash of salt to a boil.
Blanch the green in batches to soften.
Bring the green to a quick boil.
Remove the green from the water. For this recipe, you don't need to shock this
Save 3 cup of the liquid, set a side.
In a large dutch oven, add the roux mix reheat till hot.
Add spice mix, let it toast for a min
Stir in the garlic, you will notice the roux with bubble with the moisture from the garlic
Stir in onion, green pepper and celery. The roux will be come very thick. Lower the heat to med and let it cook for a few mins.
Stir in leek and shallot.
Add squash.
Slowing pour in the reserved liquid from the greens. Bring to a boil
Return the greens to the gumbo mix in the dutch oven.
Add in the tomatoes, stir well.
Add bay leaves once everything is mixed well

Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper. Lower heat to low. Cover and let it slow simmer for about an hour. Stir the gumbo every now and then to make sure the stew is not sticking. (I use a non-stick dutch oven which make cooking quite simple)
Once the greens and the squash are tender. It's ready to serve.
Ladle the gumbo over rice.

How to make a roux
Heat the oil in a small saucepan till hot. Slowly add in the flour. Keep stirring the mixture till the color the roux turn to a peanut butter color, with a consistency of runny peanut butter. You will also get a popcorn-like fragrant. The roux is ready.
You can transfer the roux mix in a glass jar once it's cold and store in the fridge.
Or if you are using it right away, you can cook the roux in the dutch oven.

Make 10-12 serving.