Apple Cider Bread

WIN_20150929_185548We’re using a bread machine today, folks, because November is a BUSY month! Between launching the Global Recipe Project cookbook and keeping up other projects, the convenience of my bread machine is alluring. If you prefer to go old school, this recipe will work just as well if you knead the dough by hand as we’ve done with many other bread recipes.

This bread is earthy and spicy, not too sweet – the perfect accompaniment to a hearty meal of beef stew or perhaps pumpkin soup. Enjoy!

WIN_20150929_151711Ingredients (Makes 1 loaf)

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cup lukewarm apple cider

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3 1/2 cups flour

1/4 ounce packet of active dry yeast

WIN_20150929_184640Directions

This is the marvel of bread machines… simply add the ingredients to a bread machine in the order listed above (wet ingredients in first, yeast in last), and turn on your machine! I used a “sweet bread” setting with “medium crust.” A “white bread” setting would work just as well.

My bread was ready in just over three hours; times will vary depending upon the machine.

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Simple Beef Stew

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A bubbling pot of beef stew on the stove has a way of settling people at the end of a busy day. November’s cold air and brisk wind can feel refreshing in small doses, but can make a person feel like hibernating by the end of the day! I start beef stew in mid-afternoon, so that the earthy aroma fills the house by the time others arrive from work and school. I enjoy watching my loved ones peel off coats and scarves, rub cold hands together, and sniff the air with wind-nipped noses. Invariably, they smile. That’s well worth a few minutes of prep time!

WIN_20150923_164751Ingredients (Makes 3 quarts)

3 pounds chopped beef (often labeled “Beef Stew” at the market)

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup oil

6 cups vegetable juice (such as V8)

3 cups water

1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence

1 tablespoon finely diced fresh rosemary

8 cups “root and tuber” vegetables, peeled and cut into chunks (any combination of potatoes, yams, carrots, onions, etc.)

WIN_20150923_170041Directions

Step 1) Combine flour, nutmeg, paprika, and black pepper. Add to a plastic bag (such as a disposable grocery bag) with the beef, and shake gently to coat the beef.

Step 2) Working in two batches, add half of the oil to a large stockpot on medium-high heat. Add half of the beef and brown with WIN_20150923_171521stirring for 3 – 5 minutes. Remove beef with a slotted spoon and set aside. Prepare the other half of the beef in the same way. Remove all of the beef and set aside, but don’t wash the stockpot!

Step 3) To the same stockpot, add vegetable juice, water, and Herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil. Add beef, stir, and reduce heat to simmer (covered) for one hour.

Step 4) After one hour, add 8 cups of vegetables as well as the fresh rosemary. Simmer, uncovered, for approximately 1 hour or until vegetables are fork tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking at the bottom of the pot. If mixture becomes too thick, add water or vegetable juice 1/4 cup at a time.

Step 5) Serve hot with crusty bread or wide noodles. Enjoy!

Candy Corn Campfires

WIN_20150926_153844These adorable treats are lightning fast to prepare – perfect for your next backyard bonfire or just a cozy evening by the fireplace. Happy Halloween!

WIN_20150926_140948Ingredients

1 bag of thin pretzel sticks

1 bag of butterscotch baking chips

1 small bag of candy corn

Directions

WIN_20150926_140918Melt 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until chips are fully melted. Arrange six pretzel sticks per campfire as shown, “gluing” pairs of pretzel sticks together using a bit of the melted butterscotch. Allow assembled pretzel sticks to set for a few minutes, giving the butterscotch a chance to harden. Finally, use melted butterscotch to glue two or three candy corn “flames” to each campfire. Store in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Spice Ricotta Muffins

WIN_20150910_154140I enjoy pumpkin spice treats at my local green-awning’ed coffee shop as much as the next person, but Holy Falling Leaves, that habit gets expensive! This recipe will help you reign in your spending while still relishing a pumpkin spice goodie. 😉 The perfect grown-up treat for autumn, Pumpkin Spice Ricotta Muffins pair beautifully with your morning cup of coffee at home. The low-fat ricotta adds richness and protein, while the abundance of spices allows us to keep the sugar content pretty low. Try a batch of Pumpkin Spice Ricotta Muffins today, and let me know what you think!

WIN_20150910_145123Ingredients (Makes 12 large muffins or 36 bite-size mini muffins)

1 cup pumpkin puree (homemade or canned pumpkin will work)

1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese (or substitute quark)

1 egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon mace (or substitute 1/4 cup nutmeg)

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 2/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

WIN_20150910_145919Directions

Step 1) Blend together pumpkin puree, ricotta, egg, and oil until smooth. Add sugar and spices. Mix well.

Step 2) Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to pumpkin mixture. Mix well.

Step 3) Spoon batter into muffin liners or greased muffin tins – liners or tins should be 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops with a little bit of sugar (optional).

Step 4) Bake muffins in a preheated 400 degree oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a pumpkin muffin comes out clean. Full size muffins will require about 18 minutes baking time. Mini muffins will require 10 – 12 minutes baking time.

FYI: These muffins freeze really well, and taste just as delicious when thawed and reheated. The trick is to seal them air tight before freezing! I wrap cooled muffins individually in either aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and then place the wrapped muffins into gallon size freezer bags. Be sure your pumpkin muffins are completely cool before wrapping! Trapped steam will turn into ice crystals, which can make muffins soggy. Nobody wants that!

Pumpkin Curry Bisque

WIN_20150906_115905Serve with crusty bread for a simple supper, or serve as an accompaniment to an autumn pot roast as part of an extravagant dinner. Either way, Pumpkin Curry Bisque is just the thing to keep you warm all the way to your toes as winter approaches!

WIN_20150906_113145Ingredients (Makes about 2 quarts)

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 small white onion, peeled and cut into WIN_20150906_115412quarters

4 cups good quality pork stock

2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon sweet curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pumpkin seeds for garnish, optional

Directions

Bring stock, potatoes, carrot, and onion to a boil in a large pot. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes and carrots are soft (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Add pumpkin, coconut milk, curry powder, and salt. Puree again with an immersion blender. Sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds before serving.

 Hamilton Beach 59770 Turbo-Twister 2-Speed Hand Blender

Apple Gingerbread

WIN_20150901_172011What tastes like autumn and makes your kitchen smell amazing? Apple Gingerbread! Imagine warm, fragrant gingerbread combined with baked apples… what’s not to love? This dish is equally fabulous for Sunday brunch or a weeknight dessert.

WIN_20150901_154959Ingredients (Fills a 9 inch pie dish)

1 large apple, diced

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/3 cup all-natural applesauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/3 cup molasses

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons milk

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Step 1) Grease a 9 inch pie dish. Sprinkle chopped apple evenly on bottom of the pie dish.

Good Cook 9 Inch Ceramic Pie Plate, Red

Step 2) Combine all remaining ingredients in a medium size bowl and blend well. Spread batter evenly over chopped apple.

Step 3) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.