Sunday, November 27, 2011

Local Product: Stingy Jack's Pumpkin Wine

Until recently, I wasn't the biggest fan of wine.  It wasn't until after I took a winery tour and enjoyed a tasting there that I found that I prefer sweeter white wines.  Once I hit upon this discovery, I'd been trolling the liquor store in search of wines that would suit my palate.  After quite a few great bottles, I hit upon this delicious elixir and have been hooked ever since.

I am talking about New Marlborough, Massachusetts' Les Trois Emme Winery's Stingy Jack's Pumpkin wine!  This was the season of all things pumpkin for me and this truly fit the bill.

Since I am a rather new "oenophile," please bear with my novice wine description haha.  This sweet fruit wine was not overly pumpkin-y (in my opinion) - it has a light and refreshing taste.  There are no heavy pumpkin pie spices, which is a perfect change from the usual heavily spiced pumpkin drinks and treats.

I have yet to try other Les Trois Emme wines, though I would like to visit their vineyard before they close up for the winter.  In that case, keep your eyes peeled for future product reviews!

(Note: The Les Trois Emme Winery did not endorse or in any way promote this blog post.  This is a product I personally use and enjoy.  All opinions are strictly my own.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Make It: Sticky Bun-Pumpkin Muffins

So, on Tuesday, a wonderful poster shared an amazing Southern Living recipe on a cooking forum I frequent.  As soon as I saw the post, I dashed into the kitchen and started baking up some...heaven.  Honestly, that is the only word coming to mind to accurately describe these.  My mom brought a few to work to share.  Her boss took a bite and immediately decided he was going to marry me.  Haha…a fairly good testimonial, I believe.

At any rate, you have probably skipped over the preceding lines in an effort to find out what the hell I was mooning over.

Sticky Bun-Pumpkin Muffins.

(My god do I need some work in taking good photos and setting the stage appropriately.  Ignore the splotches, please lol!)

I’ll let that sink in for a minute………


What a wonderful hybrid of two delicious treats…a genius mash-up, at that.  The flavors are very complimentary, the pumpkin creates a perfect crumb, and the pecans add that fabulous crunch.  Did I mention that the bottom holds a wonderful surprise?!

Give them a try to see for yourself and don’t say I didn’t tell you so.  Cuz I told you so.  ;)

Sticky Bun-Pumpkin Muffins
Original source: Southern Living 

2 cups pecan halves and pieces
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
2. Stir together melted butter and next 2 ingredients. Spoon 1 rounded teaspoonful butter mixture into each cup of 2 lightly greased 12-cup muffin pans, and top each with 1 rounded tablespoonful pecans.
3. Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pumpkin, next 2 ingredients, and 2/3 cup water; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling three-fourths full. Place an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan on lower oven rack to catch any overflow.
5. Bake at 350° on middle oven rack for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert pan immediately to remove muffins, and arrange muffins on a wire rack. Spoon any topping remaining in muffin cups over muffins. Let cool 5 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Make It: Delmonico Potatoes

Well, well, well...looks who's back!  These extended hiatuses really must stop - I need to get better about keeping up with blogging because I truly do enjoy it.

At any rate, during this past lull in posting, I tried all kinds of great recipes that I will be sharing here, as well as some new restaurant and local product reviews and other fun tasty tidbits.  Not only that but the holiday season is upon us and that means many more dishes will be churning out of my kitchen!

Now that I've tied up loose ends, I have a delicious recipe to share with you all!  Last night, my boyfriend and I made these wonderful Delmonico potatoes to enjoy alongside a honey-brown sugar glazed ham.

The potatoes get their name from the New York restaurant Delmonico's, which was the first full-service restaurant in the United States.  (According to my research, anyway!)  Variations abound on the Internet but the recipe we made comes from Cook's Country.  And, quite honestly, these were SO good that I don't plan on looking any further.

Truthfully, the potatoes are very similar to scalloped potatoes.  However, I think I prefer the Delmonico's because a great texture is created by using two different cuts of potato - both cubed and shredded.  Plenty of heavy cream (aided with a bit of chicken broth) provides an amazing consistency.  A helping of cheese only adds to this decadent dish - we used Romano to no ill effects, since we prefer it over Parmesan.

While these potatoes do take some time to make and they certainly aren't the healthiest of choices, I urge you to give them a try.  You won't regret it, even if your scale does!  ;)

Delmonico Potatoes
recipe from Cook's Country

Serves 8 to 10

We prefer the buttery flavor of Yukon Gold potatoes here, but all-purpose and red potatoes also work; do not use russets—their high starch content will make the casserole gluey. We had good results with Ore-Ida Country Style shredded hash brown potatoes, available in the freezer section of most supermarkets.

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (see note)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon grated zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 5 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed and patted dry with paper towels (see note) (Important!  Make sure they are very dry or they won't brown up)
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (We used Romano.) 
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onion until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 2 cups cream, 1 cup broth, Yukon Golds, nutmeg, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are translucent at edges and mixture is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon zest and juice.
2. Transfer potato mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking dish and bake until bubbling around edges and surface is just golden, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook shredded potatoes until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add remaining cream, remaining broth, and ½ teaspoon pepper to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup cheese and 2 tablespoons chives.
3. Remove baking dish from oven and top with shredded potato mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and continue to bake until top is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining chives. Serve.
Make Ahead: The recipe can be made through step 1. cooled completely, transferred to the baking dish, and refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for 1 day. To serve, proceed as directed in step 2, increasing baking time to 25 to 30 minutes.