Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Saints Roost Gathering - Some of the best Barbecue I've ever had

        I recently went to a party hosted by a co-worker of mine. She hosts an annual gathering for all her friends and the food is always great. At least that's what I always heard. This was the first time I actually made it, and I'm very glad I did. It's a bring the whole family kind of party that she hosts every fall. She gets a DJ, so there is good music. Her yard is big so there is room for the kids to run around and for people to play some games or just move around. At this time of year the weather where I live is just perfect. The day of her party the weather was clear and beautiful  In addition to all these fine things to make for a great get together, the food did not disappointing. Everything was great.

        Several people brought some sort of dip for all of us to try. I think there was about ten different kinds of dip. There was a Philly Cheese Steak dip, a Bean and Queso dip, a Buffalo Chicken Wing dip, a Jalapeno Cheese dip, some fruit dips, and even a Reuben dip and others. There were so many great dips to try. I personally liked all of those I just mentioned. That's probably why I remembered them. All of them were very good. There was no shortage of delicious things to scoop up and eat with chips or bread. I think next year I will bring something too.

        Also there was a yummy pasta salad and some coleslaw to go along with the main course. Ah, the main course. The highlight of all that yummy food was the barbecue. My co-workers husband always smokes various meats for everyone to enjoy. It was some of the all time best barbecue that I've ever had. He smoked some pork ribs. I was told they were baby-back ribs. Also he smoked some beef brisket and some chicken breast. The ribs and brisket were tender and juicy. The chicken was a little dry but chicken breast often is. It was, however, superbly flavored with smoke flavor. To be honest I'm not really sure what woods were used, but I believe the pork was smoked in pecan and the beef and chicken in mesquite. At any rate the flavor was through the roof and perfect for their respective meats. While I prefer barbecue sauce to be cooked onto the meat a little bit, it was provided on the side. Considering the numerous people in attendance that was probably the right move. They had some different flavors to try so everyone was able to choose. I think there was a sweeter sauce and a tangier sauce. There might have been others but those are the ones I remember. Any combination I tried with the meat and barbecue sauce was amazing. All in all the entire meal was a great collection of great flavor. The food was all so very good.

        Thanks goes out to my co-worker for hosting such a great event and a special thanks goes out to all those who helped provide the great food, especially my co-workers husband. I will do my best to go to her next get together. I can't see myself missing out on that again. My sons really enjoyed themselves and were sad to leave. I had a really enjoyable time with good friends and great food. I hope you too can have the opportunity to share a great time and good food with good people. There are few things in life that are better. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

I love pumpkin, and this time of year when pumpkin is in season. So what to do with all that pumpkin. Well we carved our Jack - o - lanterns the other night and I saw this as an opportunity to toast some yummy pumpkin seeds. So here is what I did to make some crispy pumpkin seeds
First, I place all of the seeds into a colander. Then I run water over them and with my hands try to separate all of the other pumpkin guts from the seeds. This does take some time and patience. After I've got all the seeds separated and rinsed off I put them into a large bowl. In another bowl I mix salt and water. About 3 tablespoons for every cup of hot water. The idea is to dissolve the salt into the water. The saltwater mixture is then poured over the top of the seeds until it just covers them. I let this sit for about 15 to 30 minutes. After it has had some time to sit I spread out the seeds on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir the seeds about every 10 to 15 minutes. After they have baked, the seeds should all be completely dry and crunchy. If they are moist at all or chewy give them another 15 minutes in the oven, then check them again. Repeat as necessary.

I love the salty, nutty crunch of these pumpkin seeds. I hope you enjoy them as well. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Single serving Cookie

        First, I have to say I can't think of many good reasons to only make one cookie. I'm all for making dozens at a time. That way, you can have some right out of the oven, and save some for later. Second, I'm not sure cookie is an accurate description either. Maybe, "Single Serve Chocolate Chip Bar". The flavor was just like a chocolate chip cookie. However the texture was a lot closer to that of a brownie. Criticisms aside, it was pretty good. My wife found it on Pinterest. It leads to a blog that is no longer available so I'll just include a link to the pin. The pin my wife found and re-pinned can be found at http://pinterest.com/pin/133208101449311094/ and the process is:

 Mix into microwave safe cup or bowl
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 3 drops of vanilla
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoonfuls chocolate chips
Then microwave 40 - 60 seconds. 

         The power of microwave ovens vary a lot from one persons to the next, so you will need to experiment a bit to get the time just right. I also like my cookies a little chewy and gooey. I might try it with a whole egg next time just to see how it turns out. 

      At any rate it was really easy and tasted great. I think the best use for this recipe would be to make this in a bowl and then scoop some ice cream on top. Maybe a little chocolate or caramel syrup and you've got yourself a Chocolate Chip Cookie Sunday. Sounds great to me, I'll have to give it a try sometime.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pumpkin Bars

        As promised, here is my post on the Pumpkin Bars. I found this particular recipe on Pennies on a Platter's website and she let me share it here. The recipe and post for her Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies can be found at http://penniesonaplatter.com/2010/11/02/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-brownies/

Her recipe is:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line an 11" x 7" pan with parchment paper.

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine until smooth and set aside pumpkin, egg and oil. In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, spices, salt and sugar. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture until well incorporated, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Completely cool before cutting.

        So basically, I followed the recipe. However, I did tweak a couple of things.

        First off, I don't have an 11" x 7" pan. I don't know many who do. I used a 9" x 9" square stoneware pan. As it is stoneware, I skipped the parchment and it came out just fine. I substituted the cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg with about a teaspoon and a quarter of pumpkin pie spice. I was out of allspice, and I don't know that it would make much of a difference anyway.
        I mentioned in the previous post that I made a second pan. For the second pan I used a glass 8" x 8" pan that I did line with parchment. I also skipped the chocolate chips. While I am usually fond of the way simple things can bring a great flavor all on their own, I felt that this pan needed frosting to set them off. I mixed up a simple cream cheese frosting by mixing in about 2 cups of confectioner sugar into a packet of softened cream cheese. I mixed in about 4 tablespoons of milk to get the texture how I wanted it. I think frosting the second one was the right choice.

        I don't know that calling these brownies is quite right. I always think of brownies as being, well, brown, and chocolate. That being said this is an excellent bar recipe. The name has absolutely no bearing on how great they tasted. A Rose by any other name and all that. I found the texture to be closer to cake  than brownies. I like mine a little gooey. I'm not sure if I should decrease the baking time or do all whole eggs, rather than a couple with just the whites. Even so I found the texture moist and soft. Even though I did the second batch in a slightly smaller pan I found that the size difference didn't have much difference on baking time, or on how it turned out. Neither the chocolate chips or the frosting proved to be a better fit. Both batches were very tasty.  My family loved them and my coworkers loved them. They are definitely worth a try.

Monday, October 1, 2012

These Pumpkin Bars Are a Hit

        My grandmother invited my family over for Sunday dinner and asked us to bring dessert. Me being somewhat of a procrastinator meant that I was scrambling for a recipe that looked good, and which I had all the ingredients on hand, Sunday afternoon. As autumn is here I came across quite a few recipes with pumpkin, and my wife remembered that we still had a few pints that I had canned a while back. It must have been meant to be.
        I decided on a pumpkin chocolate chip brownies recipe that my wife pointed out. I'll post the recipe and my experience on that later. The recipe yielded one pan. I was sure that wouldn't be enough because for some reason I thought it would be my family, parents, siblings and grandmother all over for dinner rather than just my family and grandmother. My solution was to make another pan, which I then decided to alter a bit to see how it turned out.
        The first pan I did with chocolate chips in it. The second, without chocolate chips and with cream cheese frosting. Both went over really well. I had most of it left after dinner because I made to too much, so I brought them to work with me. Everyone just gobbled them up. It's always good to be the one who brings the treats.

edit: the post with the recipe is at http://foodyadventure.blogspot.com/2012/10/pumpkin-bars.html