Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits

This dessert is Ina Garten's recipe, using chocolate pudding instead of the whipped cream layers.

  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1 packet (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1 (15-ounce can) pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 box of chocolate pudding, prepared
  • 8 to 10 chopped chocolate cookies
  • Crystallized ginger, for decoration, optional

Place the rum in a heat-proof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for 10 minutes for the gelatin to soften.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg yolks, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Set the bowl of gelatin over a pan of simmering water and cook until the gelatin is clear. Immediately whisk the hot gelatin mixture into the pumpkin mixture.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture.

To assemble, spoon some of the pumpkin mixture into parfait glasses, add a layer of chocolate pudding, then some chopped cookies. Repeat, ending with a third layer of pumpkin. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Top with a whole cookie for a beautiful presentation.

*Recipe courtesy of, modified for our own tastes.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey for a smaller crowd...

If you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a smaller crowd, or your crew doesn't really eat dark meat anyway, try these options!

Turkey Breast
  • 1 turkey breast, bone in (about 5-7 lbs.)
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 or 2 T herbs d' Provence
  • Salt & pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Season both sides of turkey breast with salt and pepper. Place breast side up in roasting pan. Baste with the olive oil and melted butter, then sprinkle with herbs d' Provence.

Place in oven, uncovered, for 1/2 an hour. Baste with juices that have dripped into the pan and return to oven. Check and baste every 1/2 hour until a meat thermometer registers at 180 degrees.

Total cooking time varies with each piece of meat, so that is why the thermometer is crucial. For 10 bucks, you never have to guess again.

Let the turkey rest, loosely tented with foil, for 20 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

For another variation, you can try Turkey London Broil.

Turkey London Broil
  • Turkey London broil, about 1 & 1/2 lbs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of canned whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 tsp. orange marmalade
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle both sides of turkey with salt & pepper. Place in a resealable plastic bag and add marinade ingredients. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Place turkey and marinade in a baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers at 180 degrees.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans

Unfortunately, this dish escaped the paparazzi and I have no good photos of just the sweet potatoes. I can tell you, however, that the addition of the candied pecans was good enough to earn me an invitation (with sweet potatoes in tow) to my soon-to-be brother-in-law's for Thanksgiving!

This is a unique way to jazz up those sweet potatoes! "Smashing" the potatoes is not quite mashing them, leaving them soft but chunky.

Candied Pecans
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups pecan halves
Beat egg white until foamy; slowly beat in the brown sugar mixed with flour.

Add salt and vanilla flavoring, then fold in pecans.

Transfer pecans to a greased baking pan and bake at 400° for about 8 minutes.

Smashed Potatoes
  • 6 medium (about 3 1/2 pounds) orange sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Candied pecans (recipe above)
Combine sweet potatoes and enough water to cover in 4-quart saucepan. Cook over high heat until water comes to a boil (5 to 6 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-high. Cook until potatoes are tender (30 to 35 minutes). Drain. Cool slightly.

Place sweet potatoes and all remaining ingredients except pecans in large bowl. Mash with an old-fashioned potato masher until just slightly "smashed".

Spoon 1/2 of potato mixture into lightly greased 2-quart casserole. Top with half of the pecans. Add the rest of the potatoes and top with the rest of the pecans. Cover; bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Brussels Sprouts You Will Love, Believe Me!

Brussels sprouts are commonly mispronounced as simply brussel sprouts. The modern Brussels sprout that we are familiar with was first cultivated in large quantities in Belgium, hence the name "Brussels" sprouts. I have to admit, I was one of the wide population who mispronounced the name and I also have to admit, this was also the first time I've tried them...

Their flavor was surprisingly delicious, not as bitter or cabbage-like as I was expecting. The pancetta in this recipe gives them a delicious, salty flavor. These Brussels sprouts made many a non-sprout eater huge fans!!

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta Bits
  • 1 & 1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 lb. pancetta, cubed into 1/4" cubes
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut Brussels sprouts in half. Put them in a deep skillet or wide pot and cover with water until water is about 1/2" above the sprouts. Cover and bring to a lightly rolling boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until bright green and beginning to soften.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pancetta bits until crispy. Remove from heat and spoon out pancetta bits with a slotted spoon, reserving grease. Set aside.

Add Brussels sprouts to pancetta grease, tossing to coat. Spread Brussels sprouts out on a cookie sheet and roast in oven for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on edges.

Place in serving bowl and top with pancetta bits.



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Michele's Aunt Lyle's Cranberry Relish *Guest Spotlight*

This makes a very chunky, flavorful relish that compliments poultry and pork. It makes a lot, but disappears quickly - believe me. While testing recipes, Michele, me, and 5 other people devoured this entire batch in no time!

It's not hard to make, but follow the notes.


  1. Use a 13x9x2 inch ceramic baking dish, NOT a metal pan, and crushed pineapple in juice, NOT heavy syrup.
  2. Plan to make this early in the day, or the night before. Cover with plastic wrap DIRECTLY on the finished relish to maintain freshness.
  3. As a variation, Michele also added finely chopped apple, but this is the classic recipe from her great-aunt.

Aunt Lyle's Cranberry Relish

  • 1 large package cherry Jello- 6oz.
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 scant cup granulated sugar
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 small can mandarin oranges, chopped
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup chopped celery

In a medium sized glass bowl, dissolve Jello and boiling water. Add sugar, lemon juice and pineapple juice. Pour into ceramic baking dish and refrigerate until partially set, about 30 minutes. Do not cover.

Add remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until set, then cover relish with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Stir to break up into a relish/jelly consistency before serving.

Hide a small container in the fridge for yourself for later. Seriously.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving time! Roasted Pumpkin Salad **Guest Spotlight**

The remainder of this week and into the next is all about a Foodie's favorite feast - Thanksgiving. My soon-to-be sister-in-law (holy hyphenations, Batman!) Michele invited me to cook up a feast with her in her lovely kitchen. We experimented with recipes, some tried and true, some new and not so true...

The menu:

Today, I'll start off with a first course - a Roasted Pumpkin Salad. Although the Italian family we were cooking for (including Michele) eat their salad at the end of a meal, I consider salad to be a beginning of a meal.

Keep checking back this week and next to see some great recipes and tips to try at your own thanksgiving feast! If you have a recipe that you're planning on making, send it to me - and if you have any pictures of your concoction, you may just be the very next Suburban Spoon Guest Spotlight!

Some tips I'd like to offer:

The pumpkin I used was something called a cheese pumpkin, purchased from a local farm called maple Acres. These aren't typical Jack-o-lantern pumpkins; they have a thinner, paler skin and are a lot shorter than the typical pumpkin.

While the flavor of the cheese pumpkin was great, preparing it (getting a knife through it to cut it, scooping out the seeds and all of its stringy innards, etc) was an awful pain. The flavor is so similar to its cousin squash, the Butternut Squash, I recommend using those instead if you are not up for a challenge.

Roasted Pumpkin Salad
  • 1 small cheese pumpkin, cut in half and seeds/strings scooped out
  • Seeds from pumpkin, rinsed free of all pumpkin strings
  • Salt
  • 1 bag baby arugula, washed and spun dry1 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 oz. Asiago cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • Dressing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place hollowed-out pumpkins, face side down, on a cookie sheet. Roast for 40-50 minutes, you will be able to tell when the pumpkin is done, it is visibly softer and a knife can easy pierce all the way through.

Peel off skin and cut into 1" cubes.

For the pumpkin seeds, spread them out in a single layer on another cookie sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 10-12 minutes.

Place arugula in serving bowl and add cranberries and shaved Asiago. Add with pumpkin cubes and pumpkin seeds, and drizzle with dressing (recipe below).

For the Dressing

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
Whisk all ingredients until well combined. Taste and add any ingredient, bit by bit, until the dressing is to your liking.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Meatless Monday - Chik’n & Avocado Quesadillas

Last week, I showed you how to make tostadas. I thought this week's Meatless Monday recipe would be a great chance to do a twist on Mexican food, using a chicken substitute product that even almost fooled my roommate, aka recently named fiance, Ryan the Carnivore!

Avocados are usually so substantial, they fill me up. But, I wanted to try Morningstar Farms meatless options, so I came up with this recipe.

Chik’n & Avocado Quesadillas

  • 2 tablespoons canola, divided
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups Morningstar Farms Chik’n strips
  • 1 fully ripened avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 diced tomato
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 4 flour tortillas (7 to 8 inches each)
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican Mix cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In medium-sized bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, lime juice and cumin. Add Chik'n strips, avocado, onion, and tomato; toss gently.

Lay tortillas on a baking sheet; brush both sides with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

Spread a layer of shredded cheese on first layer of tortillas.

Spoon Chik'n mixture over cheese, dividing evenly; top with additional layer of cheese (when the cheese melts, it will create a glue to hold the tortillas together!).

Top with second tortilla. Bake until tortillas are crisp, about 8 minutes.

Cut the quesadillas into wedges using a pizza cutter. Serve with salsa and/or sour cream.

*This recipe is excellent served with my Black Bean and Corn Salad!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shrimp Scampi

Looking for a quick & delicious weeknight meal? Frozen shrimp makes this dish an extremely satisfying and extremely easy dish which is good enough to serve to company!

Shrimp Scampi
  • 5 T olive oil
  • 6 T butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb frozen jumbo shrimp, de-veined and shells removed
  • 1 lb whole wheat linguine
  • Zest and juice from 4 lemons
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions.

Melt butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute (be very cautious, garlic burns quickly!). Add shrimp and cook for 5-6 minutes, until pink throughout.

Remove from heat and add lemon zest and juice. Serve over cooked pasta and garnish with parsley.

And enjoy!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Taco Tuesday - Meet Tostada Tuesday

Tostadas in Spanish translates to "toasted" in. When used in cooking terms, it refers to a flat or bowl shaped tortilla that is toasted or deep fried.

This version is an easy, delicious twist on the ol' taco. Try this for a weeknight meal - Taco Tuesday now meets Tostada Tuesday!

Toasty Tostadas
  • 8 tortillas (flour or corn, your choice!)
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • 2 T Penzey's Spices taco seasoning
  • 1 avocado, halved then sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican mix cheese
  • Hot sauce and/or sour cream for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush both sides of tortillas with oil and place on cookie sheet. Heat in oven for about 8 minutes (keep a close eye on them) until golden brown, lightly toasted.

Meanwhile, brown meat in a skillet over medium-high heat until browned through. Add taco seasoning and about 1/2 cup of water. Stir until sauce thickens and remove from heat.

Divide beef among toasted tortillas. Top with avocado, cheese, lettuce, onion, hot sauce and sour cream.

What could be easier?


Monday, November 2, 2009

Weeknight Meal - Asian Turkey Tenderloin

Looking for something easy, yet delicious to make for a weeknight meal? Try this extremely simple (there are only 2 ingredients!) & healthy turkey tenderloin with a side of green beans and cherry tomatoes...

Asian Turkey Tenderloin
  • 1 turkey tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Place tenderloin in dish and coat all sides with hoisin sauce using a brush.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into 1/4" slices.

Serve with jasmine rice and Asian green beans with cherry tomatoes (recipe below).

Asian Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 T peanut oil
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T sesame seeds
Heat peanut oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Add green beans and cook for 4 minutes, constantly tossing lightly.

Add cherry tomatoes and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes.

Stirs in sesame oil and soy sauce. Remove from heat and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.


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