Saturday, December 24, 2011

Almond Christmas Cookies

These get requested every Christmas!  I made up the recipe a few years ago and haven't changed it since.

What you need:

8 ounces almond paste, room temperature
1 cup butter/ margarine ( I usually go with half and half)
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
3+ cups flour (you may end up adding an extra half cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon amaretto
1/4 teaspoon salt

Start by beating the butter/margarine and almond paste until there are no more lumps ( I use a handheld mixer).  Beat in the sugar and the eggs until smooth.  Stir in three cups of flour, the salt, vanilla, and amaretto.  Add extra flour if needed to create a stiff dough.

At this point, you can put the dough in a cookie press or roll into a log to slice and bake.  Either way, refrigerate afterwards for half of an hour or so.  Then either press the cookies or slice and place on a lightly greased or non-stick cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 7-9 minutes or until the bottom JUST begins to brown.  The top should still be VERY light colored.  Let cool for a couple of minutes and enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Pork Chops

I needed to use up some extra pumpkin and came up with this.  Delicious!

What you need:
2 pounds bone-in pork chops (or boneless, we just don't have those here)
Salt and Pepper
1 cup chopped onion
3-4 hot peppers, chopped (something moderately spicy, or else use less)
2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, chopped
4 cups pureed roasted pumpkin (see how to roast pumpkin under my Curry Pumpkin Soup post)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup hot water with 4 chicken bouillon dissolved into it
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder

Start by sprinkling the pork chops with salt and pepper and then searing in a large frying pan on both sides until lightly browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Spray the same pan with oil and saute the onions and the peppers until softened and browned.  Add a splash of soy sauce as you do this to help them cook.  Next, add the pumpkin, applesauce, water, rest of the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and spices.  Stir to mix.  Now put the pork chops back into the pan, spooning the sauce over them until they are covered.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, occassionally moving the chops around to ensure even cooking and prevent things from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Top with some chopped green onions.  

You could serve this over rice or do it my style- over a bed of lettuce.  Enjoy!

Curry Pumpkin Soup

A thick and spicy pumpkin soup for colder weather.

What you need:
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 finely chopped ginger
3-4 chopped hot peppers (I'm not sure what variety mine were, but they probably comparable to jalapenos on the spiciness level)
1.75 ounces red curry paste (this is the amount that came in the packet I bought- probably 2 tablespoons.  My soup was pretty spicy, so you may want to use less)
1/2-1 3/4 cup coconut milk, depending on how creamy you want it.  I didn't use much because I was trying to keep it light, but I added a bit more to a small bowl later to see the difference and would say that using more does taste better and also cuts the spiciness.
5 cups roasted fresh pumpkin, pureed (see note below on roasting pumpkin)
4 cups of chicken broth or 4 chicken bullion and 4 cups water
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Greek Yogurt, Goat Cheese, Cilantro, and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (garnish)

Saute the onion, ginger, and hot peppers in a skillet sprayed with oil until slightly browned and softened.  Add the red curry paste and mix in, allowing the spices the brown slightly before adding the coconut milk.  If you are not sure how much to use, just start with a little right now, and add more after the soup is about done if you think it needs it.  Add the pumpkin, chicken broth, and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.  You may need to add more water during this if it becomes too thick.

After it is finished, you can puree everything if you want a completely smooth soup.  I didn't, and thought that the chunks of pepper, onion, and ginger were nice to come across.

Serve with a dollop of the yogurt or cheese, cilantro and pumpkin seeds.  Enjoy!

Roasting Pumpkin:

Cut your baking pumpkin (not the same as the type you make jack-o-lanterns out of) in half if it is small, or quarters if it is larger.  Scrape out the messy inside, saving the seeds if you have plans to roast them.  Spray the inside with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour or until soft and cooked through.  Let cool before pureeing.