Tag Archives: cooking

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

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Welcome fall with its blanket of beautiful colors, crisp mornings and pumpkin muffins ūüôā Just the smell of these filling the house as they bake puts me in a ¬†more relaxed mood. ¬†So slow down, grab a cup of tea and enjoy one of these delicious muffins.

Pumpkin Cream cheese Muffins (makes 24 muffins)

Preheat oven to 325F. Line or grease two (12 muffin) pans.

Muffin Batter

  • 3 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 1 tsp ground cloves

Sift above ingredients into a large bowl

  • 2 cups pumpkin¬†puree ( canned¬†or fresh)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Wisk the above ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix well.  Fill each muffin liner 3/4 full.  Divide the cream cheese filling evenly between the muffins. The cream cheese filling will spread out while baking.

Cream cheese filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp orange zest

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Bake 30 mins. Enjoy !

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“Sun-Dried” Cherry Tomatoes

Little morsels bursting with flavor…..that’s what they are! Sun dried tomatoes, even though they are not dried by the sun per say, but by my oven, are such a a treat. ¬†They are great on sandwiches, salads, pizza or just by the handful. ¬†I’ve had an abundant cherry tomato harvest this summer, and what better way to preserve these juicy globes of goodness than preparing them as follows:

Sun-Dried Cherry Tomatoes (makes about 2 cups)

  • 3 lbs cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

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Halve all the tomatoes and spread evenly on the baking sheet. ¬†In a small bowl, mix the ¬†olive oil with the minced garlic and drizzle evenly over the tomatoes. ¬†Sprinkle them with generous amounts of salt and pepper (taste them to make sure they are to your liking.) Place baking sheet in the oven and roast for 30 mins, after which you turn down the temperature to 200F and continue roasting for 3-4 more hours, or until desired dryness. ¬†Cool completely, see if you can help yourself from eating them all, and place in a clean jar or airtight container. ¬†I’m not sure how long they keep in the fridge for because ¬†mine didn’t last past day 2 since we ate them all. ¬†If you have better self control than me, leave ¬†a comment with the amount of time yours lasted in the fridge. Enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Burst Cherry Tomatoes

I accidentally grew a spaghetti squash. ¬†At first I thought it was a weird looking cucumber, but it gre larger, rounder and eventually yellow. ¬†I’m so glad we got this extra vegetable from the garden. It’s sweet, a bit crunchy, versatile and fun to make.

  • Spaghetti squash (2-3 lbs in size)
  • 1 cup Cherry tomatoes
  • ¬†Fresh Basil, small handful chopped
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash, cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds.  Drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil on the flesh side and season generously with salt and pepper.  Place on microwave safe dish cut side down and cook approx 10 minutes or until skin feels soft.  Remove carefully from microwave and let cool enough to handle.  In the meantime, in a small pan heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil, place cherry tomatoes in the pan along with the garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook on low to medium heat until tomatoes burst gently, approx 6-8 mins. Remove from heat and set aside.  With a fork scrape the flesh from the squash into a large bowl stirring gently to break it up.  Pour the tomato mixture on top, season with more salt and pepper if needed, sprinkle with the parmesan and fresh basil.

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Back to School Pizza Rolls

I feel like I blinked and summer break has spread it’s wings and flew by in a rush. ¬†With my youngest homeschooling again and my oldest doing independent studies, plus all the other things I’ve got going on the side, I felt an easy dinner was in order. ¬†With the girls being able to help with this meal it made it even easier on me. ¬†Use store bought pizza dough ( I use Trader Joe’s brand) of your choice and follow pre-cooking instructions on box before starting. I use a 12 muffin tin to cook the rolls in because it keeps them from falling apart and spreading everywhere. ¬†Grease the muffin tin with small amount of olive oil and preheat oven to 350F

Pizza Rolls (makes 12 rolls)

  • 1lb pizza dough
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce of your choice
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • any other toppings of your choice, just try not to over load the dough or it’ll be hard to roll

Flour your workspace and roll the dough into a rectangle approx. 13×18 in.

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Spread the sauce, cheese and choice of toppings onto the dough. Starting at the long end roll the dough away from you as tight as you can.

Cut the roll into 12 equal pieces using a large knife or bench scraper. Place rolls into the muffin tin and bake about 30 mins or until dough is golden brown and cheese is bubbly.  Serve with a garden salad for an easy back to school dinner.

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From the Garden-Caprese Salad

One of my favorite produce from the garden are the tomatoes. ¬†So sweet and juicy right off the vine, we eat them like candy. ¬†The weather has been so hot here that I’ve had no desire to turn on the oven, so for dinner ¬†the kids picked a bowl of tomatoes and we turned them into this delicious caprese salad. ¬†Try it with this¬†smoky eggplant dip.

Makes about 4 servings

  • 1 1/2 lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves and add them to a medium bowl followed by the oil, salt, pepper and vinegar.  Toss gently and taste, adjust the seasoning if needed.  To the tomatoes add the mozzarella and top with the basil.  Toss again gently before serving. Enjoy the taste of summer in this simple salad!

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Smoky Eggplant Dip

eggplant dip

Growing up, this was one of my favorite dishes, and still is. ¬†My mom would usually make it in the summer to early fall months, when eggplants were in season. ¬†Simple to make, yet so full of flavor. ¬†Make it as an appetizer with crusty french bread for dipping or spreading, pita chips, or use as topping for chicken or steak. ¬†It can be adjusted¬† to become a vegan dish if you omit the mayo. ¬†I use sunflower oil, but if you don’t have any on hand you can substitute your favorite oil instead, I recommend something mild in flavor , you want the eggplant to shine.

        Smoky Eggplant Dip  (makes approx. 2 cups)

  • 3 medium to large eggplants (pick the ones that are darker with shiny skin)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 Tbsp Sunflower oil
  • 1 Tsp Mayonnaise
  • Salt to taste

Turn on your grill until hot.  Pierce the eggplants 2-3 times with a fork in the thickest part.  This will prevent them from exploding on the grill.  When grill is very hot, place eggplants on it and close lid.  Grill 15-20 mins on each side until charred and softened.  This will give the dip the smoky flavor.  Remove eggplants from grill and place in a colander to cool and drain.

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While eggplant is cooling, place the finely chopped onions in a small bowl and add a few generous pinches of salt to it and rub with your fingers.  This will release most of the juice from the onions and will prevent the dip from having strong onion flavor/spice.  Leave onions in salt mixture until you finish cleaning the eggplant.

When eggplant is cool enough to handle, remove the skins with your fingers, rinsing your hands under water if necessary to clean char off.  Place flesh in a bowl while removing skins from eggplant, we will then add them back to colander when peeled to finish the draining process which should take about 5 mins. Place eggplant into a medium bowl, squeeze the diced onions until most of the juice is out and they feel dry.  Add them to the eggplant along with the sunflower oil,  salt to taste ( start with 1 tsp and adjust from there depending on taste.)  With handheld mixer turned to high, mix all the ingredients together until homogenized for approx. 2 mins.  Taste and adjust salt as needed.  Mix the mayonnaise into the dip, and chill it for at least one hour.  The longer the dip sits in fridge, the more the flavor develops. Serve with bread, pita chips or fresh veggies.  This also makes a great spread for sandwiches.

Serve with the marinated roasted peppers.

 

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Enjoy and please let me know how you liked it!

 

 

 

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