Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

I would like to start my post today by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with everyone up North affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Watching the coverage on TV has stirred up many emotions and memories of the first time a hurricane actually impacted my life.  We moved to Pensacola in May of 2004 and Hurricane Ivan hit in September.  I know that actually living through a disaster is nothing like watching it on television.  My heart goes out to you.
Now, on a lighter note…if you’re like me, you think of pumpkin as an ingredient in dishes such as pies, bars, or breads.  Anything sweet, but usually not savory dishes.  Initially, I really didn’t think this dish was something I would like.  Then, I  remembered seeing a sauce at Williams-Sonoma over the weekend…Pumpkin Parmesan Pasta Sauce.  I love anything Williams-Sonoma so I took a second look at the recipe.
This is my take of a recipe I found on Better Homes and Gardens website.  After reading reviews of their recipe I came up with this.  It is quite delicious!  In fact, I liked it before I baked it too.  So, serving it simply as a pasta sauce would be great.

 

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. dried penne or elbow pasta
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 6½ oz. goat Gouda cheese, grated
  • 3 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp. snipped fresh sage
  • 2-3 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Sage leaves, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.
  2. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.
  3. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and snipped sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to prepared dish.
  4. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, oil and Parmesan; sprinkle over pasta. If desired, top with a few sage leaves. Bake, uncovered, for 15 - 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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Apple Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  We spent the weekend in Destin, FL.  Greg had booked a deep sea fishing trip with friends.  Because of Hurricane Sandy’s winds the water was too rough and the trip was cancelled.  I, on the other hand, did exactly what I wanted to do.  I shopped at the outlet mall.  I completely finished shopping for Savannah’s Christmas gifts and bought a few things for others (including myself).

Savannah, Greg, and I went with our friends, Michelle and Jimmy, and their son Mitchell, and were able to stay in Jimmy’s dad and stepmother’s house.  Thank you so much Grandma Maryetta and Grandpa Lonnie for allowing us to stay in your lovely home!!  It was beautiful and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

I’m posting a recipe for a coffee cake that I made after going to the applehouse a few weeks ago.  It was delicious and moist and filled the house with a wonderful cinnamon smell.  This can be made ahead or if you plan to make it in the morning I would suggest having the ingredients measured and ready the night before.

 

Apple Sour Cream Coffee Cake
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • ½ c. Crisco shortening
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 c. sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 large apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • For the streusel:
  • ¼ c. packed brown sugar
  • ¼ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ c. chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13" baking pan and set aside.
  2. For the streusel:
  3. Combine the sugars and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour & pecans. Mix well and set aside.
  4. For the cake:
  5. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  6. With an electric mixer, cream the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until mixed well.
  7. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  8. Fold in apples and lemon zest.
  9. Spread the batter in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over batter.
  10. Bake 45 - 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool.
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Grilled Cabbage Wedges

I’m not sure how it is for everyone else, but after a relaxing weekend it’s hard for me to get going on Mondays.  I always feel like I need to cook on Monday night too.  Especially if we’ve had one of those weekends where we’ve eaten out several times.  Sometimes I just need easy dishes on Monday night because, even though I enjoy cooking, sometimes I’m just not in the mood to cook.

I think cabbage is probably one of those love it or hate it vegetables.  I love it!!!  Greg hates it…and even hates to smell it cooking.  I tried it grilled for the first time a few months ago and it is delicious!  In fact, all three wedges pictured were for me.

 

Grilled Cabbage Wedges
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • Cabbage wedges
  • bacon slices for each wedge
  • butter
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. You'll need a piece of foil large enough to wrap the wedges in. Place bacon on the foil and place cabbage wedge on top of bacon. Dot with a little butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Seal foil well.
  2. Grill over hot coals flipping occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until bacon is cooked.
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Caramel Caribou Popcorn

I’m heading to my moms for the weekend and I’m ready for a dose of home.  She lives in North Georgia in the same house I grew up in.  I’m hoping to see my brother and his family this weekend and a few cousins that I haven’t seen in a while.

We are planning a trip to the apple house.  Growing up in North Georgia it was tradition for my family to ride to the mountains when the air turned cool and the leaves started to change colors.  Over the years apple houses have grown into much more than they were when I was a kid.  Many of them now have petting zoos and hay rides and almost all of them have fresh baked apple treats.  I can’t wait for a fried apple pie!!

While searching the Internet for a fall type treat to take to my moms I found a blog I had never visited before…Something Swanky.  She has tons on popcorn ideas and this one really appealed to me.  I also thought this would be a great treat for my niece and nephew.  It is quite addicting. After tossing in the chocolate chips I stuck mine in the refrigerator for the chocolate to harden.  Once out at room temperature the chocolate does soften a bit, but it is still delicious and I think it would be perfect for any fall party.

 

Caramel Caribou Popcorn
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • ¾ c. packed brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 6 - 8 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. white chocolate chips
  • 1 c. cashews
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Remove all unpopped kernels and pour popcorn into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine butter, corn syrup and brown sugar over medium heat. Cook and stir until mixture boils. Continue boiling at a steady rate without stirring for 4 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla.
  5. Pour caramel over popcorn and quickly stir to coat.
  6. Spread onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and add chocolate chips and cashews, gently toss.
  8. Cool and serve or store in airtight container.
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Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake

Many of you have probably had a Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake sometime in the past.  This recipe has been around for as long as I can remember.  My mom made it when I was a child, and I have made it as long as I’ve been cooking.

When they called from the bank last week to ask me to make a couple of desserts for a luncheon this was the first dessert that crossed my mind.  I baked the cake just before time to deliver it.  This Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake is a very moist cake and is especially delicious served warm and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream…YUM!!

 

Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. butter
  • ⅓ c. cocoa powder
  • 1 c. Coca-Cola
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1⅓ c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 lg. eggs, slightly beaten
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½ c. miniature marshmallows
  • Chocolate Coca-Cola Icing, recipe follows
Instructions
  1. Combine butter, cocoa powder, and Coca-Cola in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking soda; stir in butter mixture. Add eggs and stir until blended. Stir in buttermilk, vanilla, and marshmallows. Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan, making sure to evenly distribute marshmallows. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes or until done. Remove from oven; spread icing over warm cake.

Chocolate Coca-Cola Icing
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. butter
  • ¼ c. cocoa powder
  • ⅓ c. Coca-Cola
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Combine butter, cocoa powder, and Coca-Cola in a saucepan over medium heat; stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat; stir in powdered sugar, vanilla and pecans. Spoon immediately over warm cake.

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