Friday, November 21, 2008

Pumpkin Pie in a Cup!

I created this recipe based on a video I saw on where they scooped leftover pumpkin pie into a glass and layered it with vanilla ice cream. My wheels started turning and out popped this recipe! It requires a little work preparing each layer, but it's so worth it in the end! Another option would be to use the leftover pumpkin pie idea mentioned above. That would save you quite a bit of work. Man, you will absolutely love this dessert!

For the pumpkin pie layer:
1 15 oz can pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1 can evaporated milk

For the crust layer:
1 unbaked store-bought pie crust
cinnamon and sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream

For the pecans:
1 cup pecans
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream

Vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the ingredients for the pumpkin pie layer (through the evaporated milk). Pour into a square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the filling sets and is completely cooked.

While the filling is baking, unroll one pie crust and cut out 6 small leaves/person using a small cookie cutter. This recipe serves about 6 people, so you'll want to cut out at least 36 leaves. Brush each leaf with heavy cream and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. (another option would be to brush the entire crust with cream, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake on a cookie sheet. Then, crumble into pieces after its cooked.)Bake leaves/crust until light brown (approx. 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees, but keep an eye on it).

For the nuts, combine the pecans, 2 tbsp cream and brown sugar. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake alongside the filling for about 10-15 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Do not overbake or they will taste awful! The sugar should crystalize on the outside of the pecans.

For the ice cream: Spoon softened ice cream into a mixing bowl and sprinkle in cinnamon. Taste as you go, until you've added a generous amount.

To assemble each dessert: Using clear drinking glasses of your choice (or bowls would work fine), scoop a generous size scoop of WARM pumpkin pie filling. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, three pie crust leaves (or about a tbsp of pie crust crumbles), and a few pecans. Repeat the layers one more time, topping the dessert with three more leaves and pecans. Serve immediately. Wow, you will LOVE this!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sugar Cookies

I make these cookies at least twice a year, for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. The secret to soft, chewy cookies is to make sure you keep the dough relatively thick (don't roll it out any thinner than 1/4 of an inch thick) and to use a large cookie cutter that doesn't have a lot of little jagged edges (kind of "bubbly" looking like a big simple pumpkin, or a simple stocking or Christmas tree). The icing will set if you let the cookies sit out on the counter for a little while. This icing is SO tasty, because it has a little bit of butter in it.

1 c. butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
5 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 c. heavy cream

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Combine the salt, baking powder, and flour. Slowly add to the rest of the ingredients in the mixer bowl and mix until just beginning to combine. Add the heavy cream and finish mixing until just combined (don't over beat your dough!) Place dough on a piece of plastic wrap and wrap it in a disk shape. Chill until easy to roll out (about 2 hours in the fridge or 45 minutes in the freezer). Dust your counter with flour and roll out dough- it should be at least 1/4" thick (don't roll it out too thin!) Cut out cookies and bake for 12 to 14 minutes until just beginning to turn light brown on the edges.


1 1/2 cups powedered sugar
3 tbs butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp almond extract
1 tbsp milk
Food coloring
Sprinkles or colored sugar for decorating, optional

Combine the sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract, milk, and food coloring in a mixer bowl. Beat until nice and creamy. If its too thick add a drop or two of milk.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Amazing Flounder Simmered in a Tomato Garlic Sauce with Squash Couscous

I created both of these recipes myself! The fish recipe was based on a fish I remember my mom making all the time when I was a little girl. I remembered the flavors and tried to recreate it- it actually tasted exactly as I remembered! The couscous was an idea I had based on a recipe I saw on a cooking show that used zucchini. Both dishes are very flavorful, full of garlic and white wine. Yummy!

Flounder in Tomato Garlic Sauce

4 flounder filets or any white fish (snapper, cod, mahi mahi would all work great)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup white cooking wine or other white wine
1 can stewed tomatoes

Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet (choose one that has a lid). Sautee onion over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until tender and beginning to caramelized. Add garlic, salt, pepper and basil and sautee one minute. Pour in the wine and tomatoes. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to release bits from the onions and garlic. Bring the heat down to a simmer. Lay the fish filets on top of the sauce, trying to overlap as little as possible. Season the top of each filet with a little salt and pepper. Spoon some of the sauce over each filet. Cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked completely and flakes easily with a fork.

Couscous with Yellow Squash

2 tbsp olive oil
3 small yellow squash, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1 can chicken broth
3 tbsp white wine
1 1/4 c whole wheat couscous

Heat the olive oil in a sautee pan (that has a lid) over medium heat. Add the onion and sautee for about 2 minutes. Add the squash and sautee until tender (until it begins to brown). Add the garlic clove and sautee one minute. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Pour in the white wine to deglaze the pan. Add the broth and stir. Stir in the couscous, remove from the heat and cover. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice) Cuban Style

My Abuelita makes this recipe and it's so fantastic! The canned peas and pimentos added at the end give it a really unique flavor. (for the non-pea lovers, you can't really taste them-just a hint of peaness :) ) I promise your house will smell fantastic when you make this dish. Mundo and I aren't wine drinkers, so I use sherry cooking wine and just don't add quite as much salt. I can't even express with words how fantastic the flavors are in this dish. You will love it!

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt, pepper and garlic powder
vegetable oil
1 large bellpepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced (use fresh garlic-it tastes SO much better!)
1/4 cup sherry wine or cooking wine
4 oz. tomato sauce (just pour in 1/2 of an 8 oz can)
1 32 oz. container of chicken broth
yellow food coloring- I use 1/2 tsp of Badia brand yellow food coloring (found in the hispanic section of the grocery store). You can also use regular liquid yellow food coloring. Just add a little and stir and keep adding more until the liquid has a nice deep yellow color to it.
2 cups white rice (authentic recipe uses short grain, but I prefer long. Its up to you)
1 can peas, drained
1 medium sized jar of diced pimentos drained

Heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil in a large oven-safe pot. Brown the chicken thighs first, then the breasts and remove all of the meat from the pot. Add the diced bellpepper and onion to the pot and sautee until the onions are clear and tender. Add the garlic and sautee for one minute. Pour in the broth, wine, tomato sauce and food coloring (DO NOT ADD THE RICE YET!!). Add the chicken back to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and place in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and shredd the chicken. Pour in the rice, bring back up to a boil, cover and place back in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir in the drained peas and pimentos.