Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's Pumpkin Season!

It's that time of year again...my favorite time of year.  When the weather changes slightly (and I mean slightly) in Miami.  The mornings feel crisper and leaves start turning into deep shades of red, orange, yellow, and then brown...well, at least in some parts of the world not too far from here.  There is definitely something special about it; it's cozy, inviting and most welcoming, especially for some of our favorite comfort foods.

Pumpkin is one of those foods for me: pumpkin bread, pie, cake, doughnuts, soup, and even pumpkin filled pasta...yummy! So please bear with me through the next several posts since many of them will have some form of...wait for it, wait for it - pumpkin!

For my first recipe of the season I decided to make Pumpkin Cheese Dip.  It's very simple to make and really delicious. The taste is different from traditional dips; it's cheesy, spicy, and somewhat sweet at the same time. You can adjust the heat to your liking. Enjoy!!

Pumpkin Cheese Dip


1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 can (10 3/4 oz) Lipton Nacho cheese soup
1 cup solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder (depending on how spicy you like it, add to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt


Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and bell pepper; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in soup, pumpkin, half-and-half, 1 t chipotle pepper powder and salt; cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Taste and add additional chipotle pepper powder, to taste.  Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy 4th of July - Ina Fridays

Flag Cake

I am happy to be blogging again and especially about one of my very favorite chefs - Ina Garten. I happen to have all her cookbooks, however, which dessert to pick was my dilemma!  A BBQ with our best friends were our holiday plans and I was in charge of dessert, so that narrowed it down to something patriotic or at least red, white, and blue. After browsing through all her recipes I decided on a Flag Cake from her Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook. 

This is a very easy recipe to make, however you should start early because the assembling of the fruits takes a while.  The batter was delicious (hard not to try it while mixing the ingredients) and the icing...yummy!!! I was a little concerned because the cake is somewhat dense, perhaps next time I will an additional half cup of sour cream. However, this did not affect the final verdict: delicious, flavorful, fresh, and everyone had seconds! This recipe is a definite keeper!!! 

Flag Cake
Courtesy of Ina Garten/Food Network 

Ingredients for the cake:

18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the icing:

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

To assemble:

2 half-pints blueberries

3 half-pints raspberries


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 18 by 13 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.

For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth.

Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Outline the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.

I serve this cake right in the pan. If you want to turn it out onto a board before frosting, use parchment paper when you grease and flour the pan.

Please visit some of these wonderful bloggers for more of Ina's delicious recipes:

Monday, October 1, 2012

September's Foodie Pen Pals

This picture should have been very crowded with all the cookies I got from my Foodie Pen Pal,  Lorraine, but they never made it to the picture!!  Along with all these goodies I got yummy chocolate sandwich cookies, the best coconut shortbreads and the delicious scones in the picture, they only made it because of my threats.

Thank you Lorraine, for all the goodies, the homemade cookies, and for sharing the the recipes with me!

The great thing about Lindsay's, from The Lean Green Bean, Foodie Pen Pals is that you actually get two every month.  One that you send goodies to and one that sends to you.  I sent to Leia at Dirty Girl Running, check out her website.......just the kick I needed to start exercising!!

The Lean Green Bean

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

50 Women Game Changers in Food - # 39

Even though our group made it to #50 two weeks ago I will try to post on the ones I missed.  Some because I joined them at number 16 and others because.....well, life got in the way!

At number 39 of the 50 Women Game Changers in Foodis one of my personal favorites - Ina Garten.  She was a former White House nuclear policy analyst, taught her self how to cook by working her way through Julia Child's "The Art of French Cooking" while living in Paris with her husband.  She later owned a specialty food store in the Hamptons and then became a Food Network favorite with her own show The Barefoot Contessa, still very popular today. She has published at least 7 cookbooks with another to be published in October 2012.

I have all her books and all her recipes are great. However, I had no problem deciding which one to choose for this post.  Eli's Asian Salmon has been a longtime favorite in our home.  I guarantee this one is a keeper.
Eli's Asian Salmon
Courtesy of Food Network
  • 2 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/2 inches thick)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted (dark) sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili paste
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions (2 scallions)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (8 large cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs


Line an 8 by 12-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the salmon in the pan.

In a mixing cup, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Pour 1/3 of soy sauce mixture over the salmon fillet. Sprinkle the panko evenly over the fillet. Pour the rest of the soy sauce mixture evenly over the panko. Be sure to soak the panko completely and if any runs off, spoon back onto the salmon. Set aside for 15 minutes, leaving all the sauce in the pan.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Roast the salmon for 18 to 20 minutes, or for about 12 minutes per inch at the thickest part of the salmon. The internal temperature will be 120 degrees F on a meat thermometer when it's done. Remove from the oven, wrap tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Friday, May 18, 2012

50 Women Game Changers in Food - Week 48

This week at number 48 of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food we have Cat Cora.  Not only is she an Iron Chef, has published several cookbooks, is Executive Chef for Bon App├ętit magazine, is developing her own talk show, owns two restaurants, is a mother of FOUR,  but is also a great humanitarian.

Picking just one of her recipes was hard.  She had many that I really thought my family would enjoy.  However, this one not only sounded appealing for my boys, the combination of spices with pineapple had me drooling. Mine were more like fajitas than tacos because I used flour tortillas instead of corn, just because I know my family prefers them.  I am happy to announce the results were fabulous!  My husband could not stop raving about the taste of the steak,  the boys really enjoyed them, and my daughter and her hubby said they were a keeper! Can't top that!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

50 Women Game Changer in Food - Week 38

Darina Allen, co-founder of the of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland, is #38 on the list of 50 Women Game Changers in Food.  She is the author of several cookbooks and has been called "The Julia Child of Ireland".

In honor of Ms Allen, I made her Winter Leek and Potato Soup.  It is mild and delicious with a
velvety smooth  texture. It's amazingly simple for a weeknight meal and yet elegant enough for your guests.  Definately a keeper!