Pumpkin Spice Waffes

20151228_082645Waffles are always a special treat at our house. These Belgian waffles were even more special since they were made with pureed pumpkin and fragrant winter spices.  Since I served these on the morning of our 52nd wedding anniversary, I dressed them with some whipped cream and berries, but the ones we made by finishing up the batter and freezing them were just as tasty later when eaten with some melted butter and maple syrup!  This is a good way to use leftover canned pumpkin.

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

  • 1 1cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 2/3 cup milk 
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. In a second bowl, add eggs, sugar, pumpkin, milk, and butter; beat well. Fold in the flour mixture and bake in preheated waffle iron..

Leftover batter is best used by baking the rest and freezing those waffles.  I cool the waffles and put them in a stack separated by a square of wax paper, then place them into a large Zip Loc bag before putting them in the freezer.  When ready to use, waffles may be placed single layer on a baking sheet and reheated in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. I like to get them crispy again.

5 Spice Candied Pecans

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This is one more recipe I cooked during the holidays that makes a treat welcome anytime!  In fact, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and  these spiced nuts make a nice thinking of you surprise. I filled some glass star dishes with these for small gifts for friends before Christmas. .  There are many ways to make candied nuts but this one is different because of an ingredient called Five Spice Powder.  5 Spice is a blend of wonderful flavors and fragrances –  Chinese cinnamon, cloves,sichuan pepper, ground fennel seeds, and star anise.

Five spice is used in Chinese cuisine, but is also found in other Asian food and Arabic cookery.  It may be used with fatty meats such as pork, duck or goose. It is used as a rub for chicken, duck, pork and seafood, or added to the breading for fried foods.is used in recipes for It is used in recipes for beef stew as well as a marinade for Vietnamese broiled chicken.  In Hawaii, some restaurants place a shaker of the spice on each table.

I like having a small bag of these in the freezer to use as a topping for salads.An extra bonus for us is the fact we are able to buy locally grown pecans.

Five Spice Candied Pecans
Yields 2 cups, or four 1/2 cup gifts

4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
2 cups pecan halves
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°.
In a medium saucepan, warm 4 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar, 4 teaspoons water, 1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder; stir until sugar dissolves and mixture bubbles. Add 2 cups pecan halves; cook, stirring until pecans are thickly coated, about 3 minutes. Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Bake 5-8 minutes,or until fragrant and crisp. Cool completely.

Store in an airtight container, or place 1/2 cup portions in four cellophane bags and tie with festive ribbon.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Cranberry Breakfast Pie

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I had never heard of a Cranberry Breakfast Pie, much less baked one until I decided to try one more cranberry recipe to use the rest of my batch of fresh cranberries. Now, it has become one of my favorite cranberry dishes. This pie was delicious for breakfast, but would make a wonderful dessert with a bit of vanilla ice cream, or a welcome offering to serve with coffee anytime. Fresh or frozen cranberries can be used, but fresh is always best. I discovered the recipe on The Texas HIll Country website, which reports it is served at  The Seasons Bed and Breakfast in Tyler, Texas, which is the area where I was born and grew up.

Cranberry Breakfast Pie

3 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed, sorted, and drained dry

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

½ cup sugar

¼ cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1 tablespoon orange flavored liqueur

1 Tablespoon fresh orange zest

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 cup flour

Instructions:

Butter and flour a deep 10-inch pie plate. Place cranberries in the bottom of prepared dish. Sprinkle with pecans and ½ cup sugar.

In mixing bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, liqueur or juice, orange zest, sugar, and flour. Beat with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over cranberries. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until a pick comes out clean and top is golden brown. Cool pie on a wire rack.

Greek Beef Stew

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Continuing to post ways I used lovely leftovers during the holidays! We had a family favorite on our table for Christmas – Pancetta and Rosemary wrapped Beef Tenderloin. The pieces of leftover beef  and roasted potatoes were perfect in this pot of Greek Beef Stew, and fed a bunch of us again!  The spices keep holiday fragrances and flavors too!

Do not let the long list of ingredients keep you from trying this!  The many layers of flavor are so worth a little measuring!

2-3 cups cubed beef (I used leftover beef tenderloin.  If using uncooked beef, brown meat in olive oil)

1 onion,chopped

3 cloves of garllic, minced

1/2 cup red wine

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch ground cloves

1 Tablespoon brown sugarr

1 (28 ounce) can roasted diced tomatoes (do not drain)

1/2 cup water (add more if stew is too thick

2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces or equivalent of leftober roasted potatoes

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

salt to taste

In stew pot, heat several Tablespoons olive oil, add beef, onion, then  garlic. Pour in the red wine, red wine vinegar, and beef broth; stir in the tomato paste and mix well..Mix spices and add along with bay leaves and brown sugar..Pour in tomatoes and their juice; rinse the can with 1/2 cup water and add. Stir in potatoes and carrots.  Cover the pot and simmer until vegetables ae desired tenderness. Serve with crusty hot bread.

Black Eye Pea Fritters

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We always have a traditional East Texas New Year’s Day meal that includes Black Eye Peas, Greens (cabbage this year), ham, and cornbread. And we always have leftovers. I had both black eyes and purple hulls in the freezer, so I mixed them this year, simmering them until tender with some bacon, onion, red sweet pepper, and a jalapeno.  The mix was tasty, but we had more leftover than we ate.  I tried mashing the peas and making them into fritters and we gobbled them up!  We like mideastern food like falafel and these were even better! If you choose to use canned peas, be sure to add some extra veggies and seasoning to the mix before mashing. This is messy, but oh, so worth the cleanup!

Black Eye Pea Fritters

about 4 cups drained, cooked peas, or equivalent in canned peas

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

4 large green onions, green part chopped, plus more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt1 teaspoon your choice other seasoned salt, or more to taste

1 teaspoon your choice other seasoned salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

1 heaping cup fresh breadcrumbs

coconut oil for frying

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set out baking sheet coated with cooking spray

Heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in an iron skillet over medium heat. Heat peas briefly in skillet, then mash with potato masher until about 2/3 of peas are mashed, leaving some whole.

Add the flour, egg, green onion, oregano, lemon zest, cayenne, and  breadcrumbs to the pea mixture. Fold in the cheese. Add seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Place 1/2 cup breadcrumbs at a time in a shallow bowl.  With table spoon scoop mixture and roll into balls,  Press into flat 1/2-inch-thick discs and coat in breadcrumbs. Will make about 16 patties.

Wipe out the skillet. Heat additional coconut oil in batches, a few at a time, sear the fritters until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Place on a baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Cranberry Christmas Tea Cake

 

IMG_3801 When fresh cranberries begin appearing in the markets every year sometime before Thanksgiving, I usually buy several pounds because we have so many favorite ways to use them – whole berry sauces, in bars and cookies, relishes, and hot salads. I love their color, the way they heap up, glistening, in a colander or on a cutting board.  They are beautiful to work with, if a little frisky to chop!  But I like most the delicious foods prepared with them, plus the good nutrition they offer. This year I made a tea bread, beautiful in its simplicity and dusted with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. I even love the plate, one my sister gave me along with its companion book, A Cup of Christmas Tea. The title is on the plate under the cake!.

Yields 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries, roughly chopped (fresh or dried)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • powdered sugar, garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease 2 loaf pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl or mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy. 4-5 minutes.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5. Alternate between adding 1/3 cup of dry ingredients and 1-2 tablespoons buttermilk. Begin and end with flour mixture.
  6. Gently fold in chopped cranberries and pour batter into loaf pans.
  7. Place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool, then sift powdered sugar on top and enjoy! (But one of our loaves disappeared while it was still warm!)

 

Chicken, Kale, and Gnocchi Soup

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Someone asked me this week about my favorite type of food to cook. I quickly replied: “Soups!”  Of course, I love to cook many things, but this is my answer because there are so many wonderful, nutritious soups, often the main course of a meal. Most are very inexpensive per serving. I like trying new recipes, too. This one definitely belongs in Kitchen Keepers. I used fresh mini potato gnocchi found at Costco.  Make your own if you if the time, but these were perfect for the recipe. Is there any prettier soup on the table for a cold Christmastime evening?  The hearty, creamy goodness was just what we needed.

 

Chicken, Kale, and Gnocchi Soup

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups half-and-half
1 (12-ounce) package gnocchi*
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1 cup diced cooked chicken breast
2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth (if you enjoy thick soup, use just 1 can)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh kale (original recipe used spinach, but I have kale in my garden!)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (optional)

*You can find dried gnocchi in the pasta section of most grocery stores; some stores also sell fresh or frozen gnocchi. You may want to cut your gnocchi in half before cooking if it is large, or purchase the mini size if available.

Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and sauté until the onion becomes translucent. Whisk in the flour to make a roux. Let the flour mixture cook for about a minute and then stir in the half-and-half.

2. Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, add the carrots and chicken to the roux. Once the mixture has thickened, stir in the chicken broth. When the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasonings; simmer the soup over medium-low heat until it is heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt if needed.

Olive Piccanti

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Olives all by themselves are a treat, but with the addition of a few ingredients, a jar of large pitted olives becomes the star of the party!  This recipe is one I adapted from a tiny recipe book by Frances Mayes: Bella Tuscany, The Sweet Life in Italy. I have Mayes’ larger Tuscan cookbook and have used recipes in several other books she wrote, but this one was a freebie with one of the book purchases. It has lots of “want to try” recipes. This one is certainly a keeper!

Olive Piccanti

2 cups large green olives

2  hot peppers, 1 red, 1 green, minced

1/4 cup onion, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I use Meyer lemons from our tree)

1 thinly sliced lemon

Put all ingredients in a bowl with cover, mix, and refrigerate.  Best after about 24 hours.

 

 

 

Lemon Zucchini Pickles

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I have loved this recipe for a long time and have always made it with zucchini. However,  it is a great refrigerated cucumber pickle as well. We have a bumper crop of Meyer lemons so I am delighted to say my granddaughters went out to the tree the day before Thanksgiving and brought in a bucket full of lemons for our holiday cooking. This is a perfect side for so many meals,adds a fresh veggie touch that is more condiment than salad, but so good that you want to eat a bowlful!  It keeps in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, but never lasts that long around our house.

Lemon Zucchini Pickles

5-6 medium zucchini, sliced very thin.  Do not peel

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon sea salt

2 teaspoons celery seed

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 lemon, sliced very thin into rounds, then halved

Cut thin zucchini slices and combinewith green pepper, celery seed, onion, and salt in large bowl.  Toss gently and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Combine sugar and lemon juice and stir to dissolve. Pour over vegetable mixture and add lemon slices. Stir gently to blend, cover, and refrigerate at least 24 hours. This will keep up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Texas Pecan Pie Bars

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Maddie helped with baking Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie Bars for our Thanksgiving feast. She is recently very interested in history, so it was fun to talk about the history surrounding this recipe. I found the recipe in a cookbook I bought over 30 years ago while visiting Colonial Williamsburg, a wonderful living history site. The Williamsburg Cookbook, compiled by Letha Booth, is one of my most favorite cookbooks. It is a collection of nearly 200 traditional and contemporary recipes adapted for home kitchens – a good way of remembering my trips to Colonial Williamsburg.  I have never tried a recipe from this collection that was not delicious. Not surprising, since many of these are served in different Inns there.  Christian Campbell’s Spoonbread and Chowning’s Tavern Brunswick Stew have become family favorites as well as Williamsburg Inn Pecan Bars. I adapt this recipe to include Texas pecans and Meyer Lemons grown in my back yard. Pecan pie in small bites!

Texas Pecan Pie Bars

      Bottom layer, or crust

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

zest of 1 whole Meyer lemon

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat overn to 375 degrees. With baking or cooking spray, coat 2 nine inch square baking pans.  Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, lemon zest and mix.  Add flour and baking powder and add to creamed mixtures.  Combine well. Pull dough into a ball and chll for 15 minutes to provide easier handling.  Divide in half and press each half into bottom of baking pan.  Bake 12 -15 minutes but removefrom oven before browning. Add pecan topping which can be assembled while crust is baking.

        Pecan Topping

1 cup butter

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup honey

13 cup whipping cream

3 cups of pecans, chopped coarsely

Change oven setting to 350 degrees. Combine butter, sugar, and honey in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool 5 minutes, add cream and pecans and mix well.  Spread topping evenly over baked crust with a buttered wooden spon.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Cool and cut into 1X2 inch bars.