Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cheesy Potato Chard Bake #SundaySupper


This casserole of potatoes, chard and two cheeses is a great vegetarian main course option. It’s deliciously rich so it’s very filling and, best of all, you can easily double or treble the ingredients to feed a crowd. Add a green salad, tomato salad or some grilled asparagus to round out the meal.

Last spring I was in Providence visiting my girls and, as usual, they invited their friends over for dinner. I miss a full house now that they are living away but those evenings make up for it a little bit. Such a delightful group of young people, almost all students or recent graduates of Rhode Island School of Design! We had taken advantage of the farmers’ market that morning and had a couple of big bunches of fresh chard and some locally made goat cheese in hand, so we adapted a recipe from Bountiful for creamed Swiss chard that is supposed to be served over baked potatoes, and made it into a casserole. It turned out gorgeously! One of the talented friends (Deborah V. Fulop!) who helped to cook the meal has promised to illustrate some of the steps, since we didn’t take many photos and as soon as she gets around to it, I’ll share that recipe. Right now Deb is busy designing jewelry but she also takes commissions for other illustration and design work.

Meanwhile, this version is much healthier, with no cream in sight. I did use a mix of feta and mozzarella that makes this just as fulfilling to eat.

This week, our Sunday Supper group is celebrating the official start of autumn in the northern hemisphere with cozy dishes that fit the season. As temperatures start to cool down and you are looking for comfort food, it doesn’t get more comforting, in my opinion, than something made with potatoes and melted cheese. Make sure you scroll on down to see all the beautiful seasonal recipes we have for you today and find out how to join Sunday Supper on our mission to get folks back around the family table.

Ingredients
3 1/2 oz or 100g (without the hard stems) Swiss chard or other local greens - Kale also works great!
1 lb 6 oz or 635g new potatoes
2 cloves garlic
About 4 1/2 oz or 125g feta (I like to use sheep's milk feta for stronger flavor.)
About 4 1/2 oz or 125g fresh mozzarella
Olive oil
Black pepper – freshly ground
Cayenne pepper or paprika- optional

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Cut the new potatoes into chunks and chop your garlic. (If you can't find new potatoes, by all means, use regular ones but peel them first. I even peeled some of my new potatoes because they had some funny bits.)

Wash your Swiss chard or other greens really well and cut out and discard any hard middle stems. Chop the leaves roughly.

Slice the mozzarella and crumble the feta. Set aside.

In an ovenproof pan that is big enough to hold all of the potatoes, sauté the garlic with a good drizzle of olive oil. Add the potato chunks into the garlic pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring them around so they are coated with the olive oil. Drizzle in a little more olive oil, if the pan is too dry.



Add the Swiss chard, cover the pot and allow the chard to wilt.



Sprinkle everything with some generous grinds of fresh black pepper and stir the pot so that the chard and potatoes are evenly distributed.

Top with the crumbled feta and sliced mozzarella.



Sprinkle with a little bit of cayenne or paprika for color, if desired. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake, uncovered, in your preheated oven until the potatoes are tender and the cheesy top is golden and bubbling. Mine took about 30 minutes.



Enjoy!

Many thanks to our host for this week’s Fabulous Fall Foods Sunday Supper, Coleen of The Redhead Baker and, her host mentor, Conni of The Foodie Army Wife. Is summer still hanging on where you live or are you ready to celebrate autumn with seasonal fruit and vegetables and warming dishes for cold nights?

Appetizers and Drinks
Soups, Stews, Chili, and Casserole
Salads and Side Dishes
Main Dishes
Desserts and Baked Goods



Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday!

We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET.

Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

  Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.



*This is an Amazon affiliate link. I earn some small change if you buy through this link, at no extra cost to you.


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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sweet Potato Pecan Spice Cake with Toasted Pecan Glaze #BundtBakers


Baked sweet potato, peeled then mashed, can be used in a variety of sweet or savory dishes. In this beautiful Bundt cake it adds flavor, sweetness and texture. With the pecans inside and then piled on top in a sticky glaze, this is a dessert that will add autumn spice to any holiday table.

Autumn Harvest
This month’s Bundt Baker theme is Autumn Harvest and I was fully prepared to try something new. New to me, that is. I could have sworn it was around this time last year that I saw quince for sale in the Dubai supermarkets but this year, nothing. Come to find out, quince season starts in October so I’ll have to wait a month to get out my runcible spoon. Meanwhile, I chose to use my favorite of all fall produce, the sweet potato. I’ve been known to boil and freeze these babies and haul them, Ziplocked, in my suitcase to various countries, just to make sure we will have candied yams for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. No kidding.

Sweet Potatoes vs Yams
In the southern United States we use the terms sweet potato and yam interchangeably to mean those root vegetables that are pinky brown on the outside and brilliantly orange on the inside. I’ve discovered in my travels that yam refers to a very different vegetable in other places. There are, in fact, 600 species of yams and the American sweet potato is not even in the same family genetically. Who knew? But I’ll tell you what, I learned to call a sweet potato a sweet potato overseas or risk getting something white or yellow or even purple set on my plate. Real yams are much drier than our sweet potatoes and not nearly as sweet. They are a staple for many in our world, especially in Africa because they can be stored for up to six months without refrigeration or can be dried and milled into flour which can last even longer. Now I’m not saying they wouldn’t make a decent cake and many swear that ice cream made from the purple ones is the best, but, if you can, use the orange sweet potato for this recipe.

Many thanks to our wonderful host, Tux of Brooklyn Homemaker, for proposing the great Autumn Harvest theme and doing all the behind-the-scenes work this month for our Bundt Bakers group post.

Ingredients
For the Bundt cake batter:
1 cup or 100g pecans
3 cups or 375g flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups or 500g sugar
1 cup or 240ml canola or other light oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups or 385g cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (nothing else added)
2/3 cup or 160ml buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:
1 cup or 100g pecans
2/3 cup or 130g sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Good pinch salt
1 tablespoon browned butter (or normal butter if that’s all you’ve got), at room temperature

Method
Toast your pecans (2 cups or 200g total – for the batter and for the glaze) in a dry skillet over a medium low flame. This takes just a few minutes so keep stirring and mixing the nuts up to make sure that none scorch. When you can smell the rich aroma of toasted pecans and all of them are little bit darker brown, remove the skillet from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside.

Chop the pecans roughly with a sharp knife and divide them in two.



Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg and set aside.

In another large mixing bowl, beat the oil and sugar together until well blended. Add the eggs one at time, beating well between them. The mixture should turn light yellow and a little fluffy.

Add in the flour mixture, the sweet potato, the buttermilk, one pile of the chopped pecans and the vanilla. Mix on a low speed until completely combined and then mix on medium high for two to three minutes.



Pour into your prepared Bundt pan and bake in the preheated oven for one hour and 15 minutes. Start checking it for doneness at one hour though, as ovens vary in consistency and often have temperature fluctuations.



Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before turning the Bundt cake out on to a wire rack to cool completely.



When it is completely cooled, prepare your glaze by putting the sugar, water, vanilla and a good pinch of salt into a small pot.

Heat over a medium flame until the sugar is dissolved then add the second pile of chopped toasted pecans.



Cook for a few minutes or until the glaze thickens slightly.  Take the pot off the stove and add in the browned butter. Stir well. You can add in a little more water, if the glaze seems too thick.



Carefully spoon the pecans and glaze over the cooled cake. Yes, it’s a lot of pecans. No, it’s not too many. Just keep spooning. There can never be too many pecans on a sweet potato cake.



Enjoy!




BundtBakers


Who else is ready to bake with Autumn produce? Check out the gorgeous bunch of Bundts we have for you this month with apples, cranberries, carrots, zucchini, figs, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and more!

#Bundt Bakers
Interested in learning more about us? BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board right here.

Links are also updated after each event on the BundtBaker home page here.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com. If you are just a lover of Bundt baking, you can find all of our recipe links by clicking our badge above or on our group Pinterest board.



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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dark Chocolate Chunk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange


These wonderfully soft, chewy cookies are chock full of pecans in addition to the cocoa, dark chocolate and creamy peanut butter. But there is only so much information one title can contain. A cold glass of milk is an essential accompaniment.

Comfort Food Cookies
The theme for this month’s Creative Cookie Exchange is comfort food cookies.  Hmmm, comfort cookies. There are a lot of things that I find comfort in but, I’ve got to say, as a person who doesn’t crave sweets as much as she does salt and fat, I’m more likely to go for a link of smoked sausage or a slice of cheese than a cookie. I considered baking savory cookies but, I’ll be honest with you, that didn’t really say comfort to me either since they are usually more cracker-like. So, what it came down to was, if I were to eat a cookie for comfort, what would it look like? 1. It would have to have dark chocolate - black chocolate, as the French call it, because sweet milk chocolate is for chocolate wimps. 2. It would have a salty element. I considered bacon but decided on peanut butter, which helps with the next requirement. 3. It needs to be chewy. And for good measure, 4. I was going to throw some pecans in there. Because pecans are my favorite nut. They remind me of home home and that’s a comfort.

What would a comfort cookie look like for you?

Ingredients for 2 dozen thick cookies or more thin ones
3 1/2 oz or 100g dark chocolate
1 cup or 100g pecans
1/2 cup butter or 115g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup or 140g creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/2 cup, packed, or 100g dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups or 190g all-purpose flour
1/2 cup or 40g cocoa (I used Hershey’s regular, not the dark special.)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method
Roughly chop the chocolate and pecans with a sharp knife and set aside.



With your electric or stand mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter and two sugars together until they are light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down a couple of times as you go.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Add the egg and vanilla into the butter/sugar and beat well.



Now add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix till combined. You will have a fairly stiff dough.


Add in the chocolate and pecans. Mix again.



Turn the dough out onto a large piece of cling film and shape it into a large roll.



Cover the roll tightly with the cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Slice your dough into rounds and place them on the prepared pan. Neaten them up with your hands, if need be. I like my cookies thick and chewy so I sliced mine pretty thick. If you prefer a crunchy cookie, by all means slice yours thinner.


These don't spread out much so you can put them fairly close together.


Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are done the way you like them. I baked my thick cookies for just less than 10 minutes.



Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. Okay, go ahead and eat one!



Serve with a glass of ice-cold milk.



Enjoy!



The Creative Cookie Exchange theme this month is Comfort Food Cookies! What cookie says comfort food to you? If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links. Many thanks to Laura for all the work it takes to organize this great group each month! 

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!

Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out all the comfort cookies my fellow CCE bloggers have made this month:


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