Wednesday, October 22, 2014

American Cheese Month and a Whole Foods Giveaway!


It's American Cheese Month and Whole Foods wants you to know! Now just to make this clear, we are talking about cheese made in America, not the orange stuff that is called cheese.  Sorry! I never liked that stuff, but I know many of you do and that's OK, but this cheese board is like way better. I mean way better!

Check out the certified cheese professional at your local Whole Foods. They can help you put together a fabulous spread. I chose some Colorado winners-I just couldn't help myself- and I wasn't disappointed! I started with an Avalanche cheese that is made in the Roaring Fork Valley, near Aspen. And no, I don't know if it is named after our hockey team, but it has won some awards. Probably more than the team! I used a goat's milk cheddar, made in the style of a British cheddar. Very different than the usual cheddar that I use on most anything. This is a dry, but flavorful, but not strong cheese and works lovely with homemade jam. Avalanche has loads of fabulous products on their website and lots of cute pictures of goats. I think I love goats more than cheese!


I also included a fun cheese from Fort Collins, which is where I went to school way back when.  This was a whole milk cheese from MouCo called Ashley. Well, Ashley rocks! Totally a great substitution for when you want a brie or a Camembert to add to your platter. We loved this cheese and caught it at its milder side, as this is one that does get stronger as it ages. It comes in a cute little ash covered round, and is smooth with a lot of soul.

Third, I added a Colorado cheese from Haystack. Buttercup was a mild cheese made from cow and goat's milk. It was very mild and would be perfect as an everyday cheese to add highlights to any sandwich!


Last, but not least, I felt I needed a wildcard in this bunch, so I threw in the Beehive Barely Buzzed cheese. This is an original, unique American cheese made in Utah. But lest you think I left out Colorado, this cheese is covered in coffee beans roasted in Colorado. It has a smooth, creamy texture and since it is rubbed with lavender and coffee, it has a unique flavor that I adored!


Make your own cheese board! It is a perfect appetizer, dessert or dinner. I often add a variety of crackers or breads. Plenty of great jams, work well with the richness and saltiness of certain cheese. Sausages, salamis, chorizo, pates, what have you, help build a cheese platter and make it interesting. Olives and cornichons, dried and fresh fruits are all ways to create your own original combo!

Celebrate our country's bounty. You will not be disappointed.


Whole Foods is giving away 1 $25 gift card to help fill your basket.  This is a sponsored post by Whole Foods but all opinions expressed are mine, baby. All mine. This giveaway is easy to enter as long as you live in the US. Giveaway closes on October 31st, 2014. Subscribe if you don't want to miss the announcement of the winner or tune in on November 10th to see if you won!  The winner will be chosen by a Random Number Generator! So now, to enter: (dahdah, dah, dah, de DAH!) Enter once by leaving me a comment and telling me what your favorite cheese is. Enter twice by subscribing to This is How I Cook. Enter again by following me on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter. 


More things to try:
Frozen Cheese Souffle
Apricot, Blue Cheese and a Honey Drizzle
Pimento Less Cheese Filled with Peppadews and Green Chilies
Another Cheese Board

Magic Pumpkin Butter Bars with Pumpkin Seeds and a Gingersnap Crust


It is turn around day - meaning unpack, wash clothes and pack again. I'm not used to this! After having had a fabulous time with Zoe exploring the Brandywine Valley, it is now off to Phoenix where my landscape will be a sea of boxes! Though I am still not feeling 100% about my parent's move, I will be happy to have it over with. 

So very quickly, as I have way too much to do, I will tell you what makes these bars so magical. It begins with their ease of preparation and ends with their lovely Fall flavor. I brought a batch to Zoe's where I left them in the able hands of her boyfriend. I guess one exchange for the other, if you know what I mean! He happened to text Zoe that they were magical, so you will have to trust him on this. Of course he confessed to me that he also has a cookie and cake addiction, which means we have something in common. What we don't have in common is that he is tall and thin and well....I am just the opposite.

I took lots of "great" pics on the trip and even put a few on Instagram. My daughter finally feels I am entering the modern world! This involved getting rid of my flip phone which now means I need to learn something new! And if you tried to follow me on Instagram I had the follow name wrong. Mine is This_Is_How_I_Cook. What a hassle to type, so I will get a button soon! But I did take lots of photos of us having fun! I've never seen so many pumpkins in my life in PA, nor have I seen so many people picking them!

We also had a super time at the bed and breakfast. Check out Hamanassett, when you have a chance. Glenn and Ashley are fantastic hosts!


It was a close, quaint getaway from Philly. On the way we stopped and did some apple slinging, and some apple picking. Everyone picks apples carrying their Michael Kors bags, don't they? 




We also saw a lot of pumpkins. And oh yeah, we ate these decadent potato chips, too! Aren't they gorgeous? 





The next day we explored Winterthur, where we saw the Downton Abbey costumes and the fabulous mansion. And Zoe climbed in the giant bird's nest.





Sunday found us at the Brandywine Museum which contains an outstanding collection of Wyeth paintings that I have adored, ever since my parents had one of their art books on our coffee table. Yes, we ate a lot and also visited a store called Terrain that is owned by Anthropologie, and is a remarkable landscaping, garden and home goods store, that has a cafe I could live in. I've already checked out their great site and signed up for their blog. Wouldn't you just love to dine at this table?


That's it for now, except I will share the recipe for these bars. I started with a gingersnap crust, but one could use graham crackers, too. I topped this with a pumpkin butter filling courtesy of Trader Joe's, but if you can't find pumpkin butter, you can just use canned pumpkin, too. I finished this off with pumpkin seeds, but feel free to use the nut of your choice. They taste great cold, and are also decadent at room temperature. Sultry and spicy and rich, they are what the season of fall represents, at least to me. Let me warn you, they are also magical, which seems to be the best way to describe my trip!


Magic Pumpkin Butter Bars with Pumpkin Seeds and a Gingersnap Crust

Makes:  9 x 13 pan
Ingredients:
2 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs or gingersnaps crushed to make 2 1/4 c
1 stick butter
8 T pumpkin butter or 3/4 c pumpkin mixed with 2 1/2 t pumpkin spice
1 can condensed milk
1 c Heath toffee chips
3/4 c white chocolate chips
3/4 c semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1/2 c green pumpkin seeds
1 c shredded coconut
1/4-1/2 t coarse salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Mix butter with crumbs in a bowl and pat into the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan. In small bowl mix pumpkin and spices or pumpkin butter with condensed milk. Pour over top of crumbs. Top with toffee. Next the white chocolate chips and then the dark chocolate chips. Sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds. Last, but not least, add the coconut. Then sprinkle with a bit of coarse salt.

Bake at 350 for about 45-60 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate. Lift parchment out of pan and cut bars into size of your choice. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Now got outside and smell the fall air.  Now take a bite from one of these bars and taste it!


Don't forget to sign up for the Whole Foods giveaway. I have another one coming soon, in honor of American Cheese month. Also if you shop from the Whole Foods e-store from now until the 29th you can get 10% off. What a great way to save on your holiday orders!

Other Fall recipes:
Pumpkin Brown Sugar Muffins
Simple Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
Smoky Pumpkin Hummus
Chicken with Figs, Pumpkin and Red Wine
Brown Sugar Spice Cake with Pumpkin Glaze
Magic Cookie Bars


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chinese Noodles with Blackened Green Onions, Bacon and an Angry Egg


Tomorrow I'm leaving for Philly to spend a long weekend with Zoe. We haven't seen each other since Memorial Day and I am excited to see her and her new apartment. I am told it is a big girl apartment and I am sure it is, since I know it comes with a big girl price. She may be a big girl now, but she is still my little princess and always will be. Our weekend will be spent in the Brandywine Valley, so if anyone has any shout outs about where we should eat or what we should do, please let me know.

No sooner do I get back, than I leave less than 48 hours later to help my parents move. This is a big one and I am not sure how long I will be there. Honestly, I didn't think it would happen this fast. Truly I thought it would take longer to sell their home, but the gods always seem to be on their side. I am happy for them, but it is bittersweet for me. After they are settled we will be moving some things here, so life is getting what I might describe as a bit hectic.

Which is where these noodles come in. Last month, Manservant was in Sweden almost three weeks, which left me to my own devices. My own devices often mean comfort food in my belly, alongside a good book and Freddie at my side. Oh, but I do miss George during these lonely moments. I love reading other blogs when I can take the time to drool over each post and unfortunately during this month, this hasn't been the case. But last month, I found these.

I do have a weakness for noodles. AND I have a particular weakness for anything Asian, so Mandy's recipe caught my eye. If you haven't read Mandy's blog, "Lady and Pups" you should. She writes with a keen eye towards her words and her photography is stellar. But it is her food that I totally adore. She has remarkable, well thought out recipes and they are extreme in detail! Plus I know she loves dogs and lives in Beijing and let's just say I have a soft spot for people that love dogs and live in China. I wonder why! 


In any case, Mandy posted this recipe saying that this is her comfort food. Now I love aglio olio and that is one of my favorite dishes when I am home alone. Not to mention potatoes, anything breakfast and bacon. Bacon is its own subject, did you notice? I could add grilled cheese, but I hate to give away all my secrets. Well to make a very long story short and I must get packing...I made Mandy's noodles twice. And them Manservant came home and I made them for him, too. Comfort is a good thing in our house!

I tweaked Mandy's recipe a bit to encompass some garlic. And I added a fried egg to appease Manservant. It worked famously in this dish! Some sriracha made it extra spicy. If you are in need of a great, quick and totally rad noodle bowl, this is it. With the seasonings of hot and sour soup-vinegar and white pepper, one can take a bite and wonder what is going on. But after about the third bite you give up wondering and just slurp away. Gulp away.Whatever you want.

And that angry egg? Well, I couldn't think of a better way to describe it. But when that egg hits the hot bacon grease, well all that sputtering and splattering, just reminded me of Manservant when he is really angry. Best to put a splatter screen on this one to contain it! Just wish I could do that with Manservant.

One more exciting thing before you ponder this universe while eating these noodles. I entered the modern era and got a camera phone! I am so excited. Now I can send pictures to the kids! Here is one I took.

Freddie got a new t shirt that says, "I love my mom!"
 Yes, now I have one more thing to master. If you want to follow me on Instagram you can at This Is How I Cook. I know I don't have the button, but I will when life slows down a bit, though I may call my buddy at Fiverr.com for help. 

So many good things and so little time. Don't forget to enter the Whole Foods giveaway!



Chinese Noodles with Blackened Green Onion, Bacon and and Angry Egg
Adapted from "Lady and Pups"
Yield: 1 serving
Ingredients:
2 thick slices bacon
5 scallions
2 t chopped garlic
1/2 t white pepper
2 T soy sauce
2 T balsamic vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
1/2 T brown sugar
1 egg
7 oz Chinese noodles - I used a rice noodle meant for pad thai, because that is what I had on hand. A better choice might be a Chinese noodle such as one might use for lo mein, at least in my humble opinion!
Sriracha (optional)

Directions:
Prepare noodles according to package directions, but keep them al dente! We don't want soggy noodles in this dish! Drain.

Mix soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar in a serving bowl. Set aside.

Fry bacon on medium heat in skillet until crisp and golden. Remove bacon and set aside. Leave the grease in the skillet and throw the green onions into an almost smoking pan. Use the splatter screen, I mean it! Really. Cook until the scallions look almost burnt and right before you think they are burnt, stir in the garlic. When that is ready, stir in the white pepper and push to one side of pan. Now it is time to see an angry egg. Plop that egg into the hot pan and watch it splutter. (I know that's a word. Right?) Cook to your desired yolk setting! Manservant likes his runny.

Now mix the noodles with the sauce in the bowl. Stir in the green onions. Plop that egg on top and sprinkle with the bacon that needs to be crushed or broken up. I mentioned that right? Time to top this with sriracha if you'd like, mix this up, and relax.

Other Great Noodle dishes:
Lotsa Garlic Pasta
Pad Thai
Vietnamese Noodle Bowl
Linguini with White Clam Sauce








Monday, October 13, 2014

Apple Brown Sugar Sharlotka and a #Whole Foods #Giveaway

  
October is here and to me that means apples and pumpkins and lots of leaves to rake! I've already filled my freezer with tons of applesauce and my fridge is filled with grape, plum and raspberry jams. I still have to make the last of my oregano and basil into pesto and then I might be ready for the chill of winter. But I'm skipping ahead, aren't I?

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. It allows me to transition not only physically, but mentally, from a time of relative relaxation (think deck sitting in summer) to an urgent, more demanding season. I only have to look at the squirrels to know what they are thinking about. The glory of fall, I believe, is that it allows us to appreciate what is behind us and lets us have some time to get ready for all we still have yet to do. 

Enter the apple. Whole Foods want us to think apples. After a bumper crop of apples, and crab apples, it has been hard to get them out of my mind. We've had to rake them from our front yard to keep our yard from smelling like a still. This however brings every squirrel and rabbit in the neighborhood, right to our front door. I'm not sure if they get dizzy from eating these apples, but I can tell you that they leave way to many for me to pick up. I finally had to tell Manservant to stop sorting the good apples from the bad, because the freezer was full! 


But back to Whole Foods. Yesterday on a rainy, cold, gray day, I ventured out and filled my senses in their produce department. Apples of various varieties from Ela Family Farms, a local grower that produces Jonathans, Galas and Honeycrisps, quickly caught my eye. Other apples of many varieties were also available and all looked so resplendent in shades of green and red, and even yellow. My guess is that each state in the country has their own regional varieties and it would be fun to hear what you can find that I can't. Besides all the fresh apples, Whole Foods has a wide array of apple recipes and apple products including their apple pies, caramel apples, apple soap, maple, apple and bacon pizza (YUM!), apple soup and others too numerous to mention!

The timing of this all coincided with my receiving the latest Food and Wine issue that features a sharlotka on the last page of the magazine. I had never made one before and loved the idea that a cake could have no butter. Who would have thought? Now the picture I took looks nothing like the one in the magazine, but I'll wager it tastes better!
I chose to substitute in brown sugar because, not only do I love the taste, I also love its caramelly qualities. Caramelly is a word, right? If not, it should be!


After tasting a bite, Manservant said that it tastes like a professional made it. Well, I've spent over thirty some years in the kitchen cooking and baking and cleaning, so I feel that qualifies me as a professional. I have no clue what he meant by this!  This cake does have a meringue like top with a crisp bite to it, so maybe that's what made him think this. It is filled with lightly sweetened, tender apples, that contain a hint of cinnamon. You will think fall when you make this. You will smell fall when you bake this. You will taste fall when you eat this. Enjoy!


Whole Foods is giving away 1 $25 gift card to help fill your basket.  This is a sponsored post by Whole Foods but all opinions expressed are mine, baby. All mine. This giveaway is easy to enter as long as you live in the US. Giveaway closes on October 31st, 2014. Subscribe if you don't want to miss the announcement of the winner or tune in on November 3rd  to see if you won!  The winner will be chosen by a Random Number Generator! So now, to enter: (dahdah, dah, dah, de DAH!) Enter once by leaving me a comment and telling me what your favorite apple or apple recipe is. Enter twice by subscribing to This is How I Cook. Enter again by following me on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter. 

Apple, Brown Sugar Sharlotka (adapted from Food and Wine)
Time to Make: 30 minutes
Time to Bake: 60 minutes
Makes: 1 6" cake to serve 6 people who are watching their diet!

Ingredients:
4 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced (I used a mandoline, but you can slice them thin)
1 1/2 t fresh lemon juice
1/4 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c plus 1 T flour
1/4 t cinnamon
A few shavings of nutmeg
Pinch of Kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 t almond or vanilla extract
Butter for greasing pan
Powdered Sugar for dusting

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease the bottom and sides of a 6" springform pan with butter.

In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice and 1 T of sugar and let stand for about 15 minutes. 

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl.

In an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the extract, and the remaining sugar at medium high speed, for about 8-10 minutes, until thick and pale yellow, when the beaters are raised.This should form a thick ribbon falling from the beaters. Gently fold in the dry ingredients.

Spread the apples in the prepared springform pan and pour batter over evenly. Let stand for five minutes to allow the batter to sink in a bit.

Bake for about an hour, until it is golden and crisp on top and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove sides and transfer to a platter. Dust with sugar. Serve and feel like a professional!

Other Apple Recipes:
German Apple Pancake
Fresh Cranberry and Apple Salad
Halvah Stuffed Baked Apples








Monday, October 6, 2014

Not My Mama's Noodle Kugel or Finally, the Daughter Likes It!


Sometime last week the kugel popped up on my Facebook. Seems someone didn't know what it was. A day later, the daughter asked me for my kugel recipe. Shocker, that she would. After all, she never liked it as a child. I used to always tell my children that just a taste would do, so they would, taste that is. I also told them that their tastes can change and so it was always important to taste, to see if in fact, their tastes did change. This was viewed with skeptical eyes, but apparently tastes can change, as evidenced by this request.

So, who doesn't know what a kugel is? This really isn't that easy of a question to answer, because there are about a million ways to make it. A kugel is a pudding or casserole made from noodles. Unless it is made from potatoes. Ah, you see, that is the first question to ask when making a kugel. If one keeps kosher than a noodle kugel, which is made from dairy products, can't be served with meat, where as a potato kugel which is made from potatoes, eggs and oil could.  Unless it is my Omi's potato kugel which does not contain eggs and is not for Passover. Do you see the mishegas (craziness in Yiddish),  when it comes to explaining kugels? So... A noodle kugel can be savory or sweet. It can be served for dessert, or with the main course, and some eat it for breakfast.


My mom always made a savory kugel. It was a dairy kugel which she always served with roast beef. I know. BUT! We didn't keep kosher. Savory kugels are made without sugar. They can contain everything from onion soup mix to mushrooms, to caramelized onions, to zucchini. They are good. But another but! I like mine better. I like them a little sweet. And though I would never serve a kugel for dessert, I do like them with a meal.




Often one finds sweet kugels with every variety of fruit. This year I saw a recipe for a caramel apple kugel. And my friend posted a pineapple kugel. And one year I made a Jerusalem kugel which is a caramelized sugar and black pepper kugel, that is unique and outstanding. But this isn't what I often do. I make a semisweet kugel and serve it with dinner. In this case a roast chicken. Not kosher, I know! However, for breakfast, I heat a slice up and eat it with a dollop of my favorite jam. Total delish!


Kugel is comfort food in a Jewish home. Well, at least it was in my home. Their are a zillion ways to make it and they are all good. It is the perfect company dish because it makes a lot. Since there are just two of us, I did freeze quite a bit for future meals. You can Google kugel and find recipes out the yin yang. They are simple and quick to make. They are kind of like a Jewish mac and cheese, which my friend Shulie so eloquently mentioned.


So when to eat kugel? Well, Saturday which was was the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, our day of atonement, is the perfect day. A serious day, spent sitting in temple atoning for our sins. Remember, I told you about Rosh Hashonah? Well, 10 days later is Yom Kippur. We fast from sun down to sun down, so it is common when breaking the fast, to serve breakfast type foods. Every year we get together with friends and eat lox and bagels, my frozen cheese souffle, tuna fish, fruit and plenty of dessert. One could also serve blintzes or a noodle kugel. Yes, we have brinner!

So there you have it. Noodle Kugel in a nutshell. Or not. But anyway you cut it, this is Jewish comfort food, at its best!




Noodle Kugel

Serves: 8-12
Time to Make: About 20 minutes
Time to Bake: About 1 hour
Ingredients:
12 oz bag wide egg noodles 
1 t salt for boiling water
6 T butter (divided)
4 oz cream cheese
1/3-1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
1 c sour cream
1 lb small curd cottage cheese
1 t vanilla
1/2 c raisins or other dried fruit, plumped in 1 c of hot water if fruit is dry
1/2 c  to 1 c cereal, like cornflakes to crush for topping

Directions: Boil noodles in salted water for no more than 7 minutes, because you will be baking this and do not want them overcooked. Drain and return to pot and toss with 3 T of the butter. This should melt!


In a large bowl, by hand or with mixer, combine cream cheese, 3 T melted butter and sugar. Beat until somewhat smooth. Add eggs, sour cream,cottage cheese and vanilla and fruit if using. Stir well, until all is combined. Add noodles and mix well.


Generously butter a 13x9 pan. You could also bake this in a smaller pan and have a thicker kugel.  Scoop noodle mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top. Crush cereal between hands over noodles, until the kugel has crushed cereal over the top of it. Dot with butter. Place in preheated 350 oven for about an hour or until it feels firm and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. A thicker kugel may take a few more minutes.


Other Jewish Style Recipes:

Everything but the Bagel Scrambled Eggs
Chopped Liver
Sephardic Charoses
My Mother's Brisket
Latkes
Ilse's Passover Nut Cake

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