Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pumpkin Pie 2012!

What's Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie right?
Therefore I present:
Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pecan Graham Cracker Crust!

Okay so I just wanted another excuse to make my pumpkin pie. After making some tweaks to a couple of different pie recipes last year, I ended up with a magnificent new recipe and I'm not just saying that because I made it, but seriously this pie is GOOD. Just how good? It passed my family's criticism good.

It may not seem much but my family are the pickiest eaters when it come to anything outside of Asian cuisine. What most people find good and delicious, I've have always only gotten an "eh, it's okay" but this time around, they actually LIKE it. That's like getting the gold seal of approval (yay personal victory!)! 

Since I've made this last year, I wanted to play with it a little bit more. We should always strive to improve right!? Plus even though last year's pie was good, it wasn't all that eye pleasing.... in saying that, making this was also an added excuse to play with taking pictures... 2 birds with one stone!

 What's new? The candied pecan graham cracker crust!

I'm going to be honest though, the crust did not turn out as I had envisioned but it was still very tasty, just more moist than preferred probably because the pumpkin pie mixture is more liquified than what I'd usually use the graham cracker crust for (cheesecakes).

Candied Pecans recipe here
Pumpkin Pie recipe here or here for the original blog post

Candied Pecan Graham Cracker Crust recipe:
  • candied pecan recipe
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 package of crushed graham crackers
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  1. Use a blender to crush the graham crackers and pecans (separately) and then combine all the dry ingredients.
  2. Melt butter in microwave (approx 30 secs) and mix will with dry mix
  3. Line and press the crust onto a pie tin. 
  4. Bake the crust at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Using a springfoam pan will allow for easy release but it does leak a little with the pumpkin pie mixture so beware. Make sure there's a sheet pan or something under the springfoam pan for good measure.
  • Using a little more butter will give you a stronger and probably crispier crust. 
  • Sprinkle some pieces of "chopped" candied pecan as topping for added crunch, you won't regret! 
Whipped Cream Topping:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 pint container of whipping cream
Combine and whip until strong peaks form. Then transfer into a pipping bag with tip (optional) and decorate pie. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

HAPPY THANKSGIVING (plus Candied Pecans)

Happy Thanksgiving and certainly there is much to be thankful for this year.

Here is just a few pictures to express my thanks for health, family and friends! Being able to enjoy this wonderful weather during late fall is just an added bonus which led to my photo inspiration. This series of pictures I took outside around my parents' house/garden area.

Just a concept I wanted to play around with while playing with my camera. I call it Garden Series (more on my Pinterest // GardenSeries // board). It's amazing how many beautiful simple things are around us.

Once in a while we just need to stop and smell the "roses." Modern day life is demanding and we've all been there but once a year when the holidays roll around, there is no better time to stop and enjoy what we have around us. Be grateful, be happy, and enjoy life!

Oh and don't forget to BE SWEET!
Candied Pecans!! I never knew how crazy easy these are to make! Here I was dreading the whole process this morning... and it took oh all of 15 minutes! I know, shocking!

Here's what needs to be done:

**Recipe from Better Homes cookbook

  • 3 cups of pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the pecan halve onto the sheet. Bake in oven @ 325 degrees for 10 minutes (stirring once)
  2. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan or 8in skillet over medium heat melt about 1/4 cup of the sugar, shaking pan to evenly melt the sugar (syrup-like), only stir to keep from over browning. Stir in remaining sugar as it melts.
  3. Reduce heat to low and continue melting until a light golden brown
  4. Add butter and vanilla to melted sugar, stirring until everything is well mixed
  5. Turn off heat, add warm nuts, stirring to coat.
  6. Pour and spread nut mixture onto a baking sheet and cool completely.
  7. Try not to eat all of it in one sitting (optional)
There you have it, some eye candy and some...well actual candy.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quick & Easy (cheater) Chicken Ravioli w/ Meatballs

Who says great meals can't come from a busy body!? Sure I didn't get the great pleasure of feeling truly accomplished that I made everything from scratch but sometimes in life when things get busy... preparing every last ingredient from scratch is just not possible... sometimes we have to cheat a little.

This, however, does not mean we can't be creative about it! In a recent trip to Costco, I picked up a few "ingredients" and made this incredible looking dish (quite tasty too).

Why settle for plain chicken ravioli when it can be great!? Just like dressing up, that's exactly what it needed. Some spinach for added nutritional value (yes that's always going to be the case), sauce for flavor, and meatballs for a bit more protein.

The trick?
  • 1 bag of precooked/pre-prepared chicken ravioli (or any pre-prepared pasta
  • 1 container of prepared soup of choice, usually in 16oz clear containers (Not the canned stuff, and depending on the pasta and what flavors I want to have, I usually use tomato based soups). 
  • precooked spicy mango chicken meatballs (or meatballs of choice)
  • fresh baby spinach chopped 
  • handful of cheese
  • about 1 tbsp of olive oil (optional)
Prepare everything via instructions on package.

Then I gave the pasta and meatballs a quick saute with some olive oil, add in about 1/2 container of soup ( I'd say about 8oz or less, I just use enough to coat the pasta well. Soup is meant to be sauce here, NOT soup) plus the cooked spinach. Let it all cook together for about 5 minutes then add in the cheese and you have a great meal ahead of you!

It might not be the greatest thing in the world nutritiously speaking but its better than a frozen dinner or something you'd pick up at the fast food place.

Note: I haven't used jar/canned pasta sauce in years...frankly I don't even bother. High in sodium and not even a good trade off for flavor/ingredients so I use soups ("fresh" soups in clear containers, not the canned stuff) as sauces for pastas instead. Many of them are meant for as meals so they tend to have all the usual ingredients you might want to add onto your pastas anyways. I don't know about other people, but those soups are usually not that satisfying...they lack volume and depth for me... so what better way to make things better than to dress that up too!

P.S. you do NOT need to add salt to anything, thanks to the high sodium content in everything else there is no need

....and lastly was this an excuse for taking pictures? You betcha!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Roasted Bell Pepper Soup!!

It's time for FALL! Cool air coming in as the long hot summer days fade away, what better way to celebrate than with a big bowl of heart warming soup!?

I love the season of fall, not only do you have every major sport going (FOOTBALL, basketball, and baseball), you have the beautiful changes in nature occurring in every corner no matter where you are. It's time to put away those summer sandals and tanks and replace them with rain boots and warm sweaters. With the holidays quickly approaching and harvest finally being over its time to spend some quality time back in the kitchen and sprawl out my craft supplies!

Hopefully this recipe is just a beginning of a long series of delicious recipes to come!

Roasted bell pepper soup made with chicken sausage and a variety of grains to give it a good boost of whole grains and fiber. Technically I didn't roast the bell peppers...they were lightly saute due to laziness but it was just as good!

Recipe here