Creamy Spinach Noodles

Creamy Spinach Noodles

Last week when Jamison was in class Alexis wanted noodles. I had my mouth all set for a really basic egg noodle with butter and chopped parsley when I realized I was out of butter. Not wanting to venture out in the cold, dark, rainy night I decided there had to be something I had on hand that while not exactly what I wanted, would fit the bill and this dish came in to being.

Was it good? Yes! Was it even better that what I originally planned? You betcha! I was really pleased with the outcome. With a few simple ingredients you have a really great, hearty, comforting pasta dish that comes together in no time. And the left overs? Well the leftovers were even better the next day. This will definitely be seen again at my house.

Oh and be sure and stop over at the Greenists today and see my post about making your own holiday gifts!

Now let’s talk a little pasta!

What You’ll Need:
1/2 of a large bag of egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a red onion, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bag of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of fat free half and half (Note: Regular half and half or heavy cream would work as well.)

Cook noodles, drain and set aside.

While noodles are cooking saute onion and garlic until onions with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper until they are tender. Stir in spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes to heat through. Add cheese and half and half and stir until cheese has melted. Pour spinach mixture over noodles and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

How easy what that?

Notes: You could use any type of onion, scallion, shallot, etc. You could also add other vegetables if desired.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

For the past few weeks Jamison has been teaching classes at work. We went to Connecticut so he could teach class and when we got back to Maryland he’s been teaching classes each day. I think he’s teaching classes next week too, so he’s had a whole lot of teaching going on!

We were discussing it the other day and he asked if I could make something to send in on one of the days he was teaching. I used to do this quite often, but when he started working from home a lot I sort of fell out of the habit. He brought up the idea of cinnamon rolls and that made me wonder…Why not make a pumpkin cinnamon roll?

I started thinking about the whole process and at first I thought maybe it would be neat to just add a layer of pumpkin in with the cinnamon and sugar before rolling the dough, but then I decided I wanted to actually put pumpkin in the dough itself! In the future I may go back and try the other idea, but I have to say I was quite pleased with how this version turned out!

The cinnamon rolls turned out with a nice subtle pumpkin flavor. Overall the flavor just melds together perfectly! These are just the thing for a lazy fall morning!

What You’ll Need for the Dough:
2 cups of mashed pumpkin, warmed (Note: I used some I had roasted myself, but canned will work as well.)
1 stick of butter, mostly melted
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of yeast
4-6 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

Place pumpkin in a glass bowl and microwave for 30-40 seconds until just warm. You want it to be warm, but not hot to the touch.

Melt the butter in a similar manner. Again you want it just warm, not hot. Mushy chunks of butter throughout are fine. You basically just want to soften it up a bit and give it a bit of warmth to help the yeast along.

Place pumpkin, butter, sea salt, sugar, eggs and yeast in a mixer bowl and mix until blended.

Add 1 cup of flour and mix until incorporated. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.

After two minutes put the mixer back on low and slowly add flour until dough ball forms. You want a nice dough that isn’t too sticky. Turn mixer back to medium speed and let mix for 3 minutes. Your mixer is doing the kneading work for you.

Once 3 minutes has passed move dough to a well oil or buttered bowl:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Dough

Let rise for one hour. (Note: Due to the pumpkin this dough isn’t going to double in size or anything like that. After an hour it should be ready to go. It should be springy when touched.) Once the dough is risen you’re reading for your next step.

What You’ll Need for the Filling:
1 stick of melted butter, divided
Organic cane sugar
Natural brown sugar

Punch down dough and on a floured surface roll out to 1/4 an inch thickness:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Ready to be Brushed with Butter

Next brush the dough with half of the melted butter:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Butter

Sprinkle with some organic cane sugar:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Sugar

Then sprinkle some natural brown sugar:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Brown Sugar

And last but not least cinnamon!:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Cinnamon

I went heavy on the cinnamon because I’m a big fan, but you can go a bit lighter if you like.

Slowly roll the dough into a long roll:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Rolled

Cut roll into 1/2 inch slices:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Sliced

Place slices on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. Continue until roll is completely sliced:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Ready for Butter and Sugar

Next brush the tops of each roll with the remaining melted butter and then dust with more organic cane sugar:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Butter and Sugar

Place in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Risen

The rise on these isn’t going to be much. But letting them sit allows them to just breath and get ready for baking.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Baked

Let cool for 5 minutes and then frost (see below).

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: Ready for Frosting

What You’ll Need for the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1/4 cup of maple syrup
2 cups of powdered sugar

In the bowl of a mixer mix together cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add maple syrup and mix until incorporated. Slowly add sugar and mix until smooth. Use to ice cinnamon rolls above.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: The Inside

Notes: The pumpkin I used was very pale in color, so it didn’t really give an orange glow to these cinnamon rolls. Canned pumpkin would most likely give them a bit more of an orange flare. If you wanted you could add a little grated nutmeg to the filling, but I like to use just cinnamon and sugar.

Fish Tank Humor

Scene: Alexis standing next to the fish tank watching the fish and frogs do their thing when the yellow neon fish starts chasing the blue guppy.

Lex to the fish sternly: Stop that right now Banana! You know that it is not the right thing to chase your friends and Blueberry is your friend! There are two rules in the fish tank, you don’t chase your friends and you must say you’re sorry if you do! You have to be a very, very normal fish! You must never chase Blueberry again!

Lex to me sighing: Man this raising fish thing is hard!

I. So. Love. This. Kid!

Originally posted at Daffodil Lane.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I love Broccoli Cheese Soup, but I’ve never actually made my own. Something about it intimidated me, though I’m not quite sure why. It’s really a simple soup, but for some reason in my head I had built it up to mythic proportions, when in reality something that tastes good doesn’t have to be difficult.

When I get blue I want comfort food. Yes I know, food shouldn’t be comfort, but what can you do? It happens, I won’t deny that it does. I had bought the ingredients I thought would be good in a Broccoli Cheese Soup last Friday, but then I didn’t feel much like cooking over the weekend. Monday for lunch I thought it would hit the spot since it was a dreary sort of day. I told my sister last week I needed to come up with a Broccoli and Cheese soup, so no time like the present!

What I came up with was fabulous! It’s rich, creamy and yes you wouldn’t want to eat this everyday, but there are a lot of foods that are that way. If you’re a fan of Broccoli Cheese Soup this is the soup for you!

What You’ll Need:
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
4 shallots, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 quart of chicken broth (Note: I used some I had made, but store bought will be fine.)
2 cups of fat free half and half (Note: Regular half and half will be fine, or even heavy cream if you just want to go all out.)
7 ounces of Colby cheese, shredded
1 – 16 ounce package of frozen broccoli

Melt butter in olive oil and sauté shallots until slightly caramelized:

Broccoli Cheese Soup: Shallots

Add flour, salt and pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often until slightly browned:

Broccoli Cheese Soup: Mini Roux

This makes a mini “roux”. You want to basically cook the flour, but not let it go all the way to nutty brown.

Add chicken broth and half and half and stir until smooth. Bring to a quick boil, then lower heat to simmer. Add cheese and stir until melted. Next add broccoli and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Serve immediately.

Notes: If you can’t find shallots, finely chopped red onion will work fine. You could top this with chopped bacon if you preferred. Also if you wanted to process the soup to make the broccoli finer you could, but I like my soup chunky.

Pumpkin and Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

So I’ve been in a funk since Friday. It happens from time to time, but this one seems to be sticking around a few more days than normal. I haven’t been this depressed since high school and I’m generally just a snarky ball of angst. Saturday morning I woke up with a wild hair for pancakes, but my mood was not conducive to cooking, as it often is not when I’m in a bad mood, so I had left over beef stroganoff instead. Isn’t that an exciting breakfast?

I love pancakes, but nine times out of ten I’ll make waffles instead, because though I love them, I hate making them. All the dipping and turning and then dipping more and turning more gets old to me and fast! Once in a blue moon though I do make actual pancakes and yesterday morning, though I was still blue, I was feeling some better, so I decided we’d have pancakes and baked sausage for brunch.

Pumpkin is a fabulous flavor and makes a really great addition to pancakes. This version makes a very satisfying, fall treat that will quickly become a favorite. Toss in some chocolate and you’ve got the perfect breakfast time delight.

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 cup of mashed pumpkin (Note: I use some that I roasted myself and had in the freezer, but you could use canned pumpkin if you liked.)
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of safflower oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
Chocolate chunks or chocolate chips (Note: I used some chopped milk chocolate that I had in the cupboard, but any type of chocolate will do. Dark chocolate would be particularly fabulous.)

In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, sea salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg until incorporated. Add remaining ingredients, except the chocolate and stir until batter forms:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Batter

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spray pan with non-stick spray or brush with oil. Pour batter in circles on the heated/prepared pan or griddle:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Ready for Chocolate

After a minute or two add some chocolate chunks or chips and cook for another minute or so:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Chocolate Added

Don’t let them go too long, you don’t want to burn them.

Flip the pancake over once set and cook for an additional minute or two until done through:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Flipped

Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

How fabulous do those look?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

Notes: You could leave out the chocolate if you preferred. You could also add in a chopped nut. Pecans or walnuts would be fabulous or maybe even a few raisins.