October 2010 archive

A Use for All that Pesky Halloween Candy – Candied Covered Shortbread

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I always giggle when I see recipes that offer you helpful suggestions on how to use up leftover Halloween candy.  Are there really parts of this great country where this is a problem?  Do people actually wake up on November 1 and say “You know – last night was a blast and the kids had a great time but what the heck are we ever going to do with this candy?”  I can’t ever recall this being a problem in our house as a child – actually, I remember much more clearly the times my mom would have to hide my brother’s candy so I wouldn’t eat it.

I loved this recipe.  I used standard Halloween candy but I imagine it would be even more wonderful with premium candy.  This is a decidedly salty shortbread dough but it was the perfect foil for candy that tends to be overly sweet and sometimes short on flavor.  I used Reese’s Pieces, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Dark Milky Ways & Heath Bars.  My favorite was the Peanut Butter Cups followed by the Heath Bars.

If you’re one of these strange people who laments over the extra Halloween candy you have lying around, than I offer the following recipe to you.  You’ll be able to use up all that pesky candy that would otherwise sit around for weeks.  If you’re like me, this recipe is a perfect excuse to run out and buy more Halloween candy.  In either case, you’re welcome.

Shortbread Candy Bars
Adapted from Everyday Food
Makes 16 bars

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned in cup and leveled
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups assorted chocolate candies or roughly chopped chocolate bars (12 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer on medium-high, cream together the butter, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Mix until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula a few times.

Change mixer speed to low.  Add flour in three additions and beat until combined.  The dough will be very crumbly.  Press the dough evenly in an 8-inch square baking dish.   Bake until golden brown and firm, about 30-35 minutes(My oven took 32 minutes).

Scatter chocolate chips on top of the shortbread. Place pan back in oven for 1 minute.  With the back of a spoon, spread the chocolate evenly over the surface of the shortbread.  Scatter the candies over the top.  Let the shortbread cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack.  Refrigerate briefly to allow chocolate time to set.  Cut into 16 bars.  Have a loved one hide them from you so you don’t eat them all in one day.

Please click here for a printable recipe!

The Beauty of being a Food Blogger and the Beauty of Pumpkin-Ginger Pancakes with Candied Ginger Butter

Pumpkin-Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Butter

The beautiful thing about being a food blogger is that you have a ready-made excuse for eating comfort food.  You’re not a sad sack of a person trying to eat your troubles away by consuming such a large quantity of Fried Chicken that even Colonel Sanders would shake his head in pity at you.  You’re just trying to find the perfect recipe for fried chicken to post on your blog.

You’re not hoping to to permanently change your brain chemistry to happy, by consuming so much chocolate that even Augustus Gloop would look at you, shake his head and say “Girlfriend – you’ve got a problem”.  That’s crazy talk.  You’re just trying to find the perfect recipe for flourless chocolate cake.  It’s some serious research, y’all.

And I was not reveling in the dumps, scrabbling through a craptastic crap of a week, trying to drown my sorrows in butter and maple syrup.  How dare anyone insinuate such a thing!!!  I was merely trying to find the PERFECT recipe for pumpkin pancakes so that I could instruct and inform the tens of readers that I get every single day here on such matters.

I forced myself to eat stack upon stack of light, buttery fluffy pancakes. The spices in the batter mixed with the candied spiciness of the ginger butter skipped across my tongue repeatedly.  I directed myself to not give up but to persevere my way through the sampling of the butter, making sure it was at its most gingered perfection.

What can I say?  I’m a giver.

Pumpkin-Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Butter
Adapted from Sunset

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Extra butter for cooking (optional)
Candied ginger butter (Recipe follows)
Maple syrup or honey

Stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, milk, pumpkin, yogurt and butter until well blended. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture until just barely blended.  There were still be a few lumps – you just want to get everything barely wet.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat (if you like, you can use a little bit of butter in skillet – I used 1 teaspoon) When pan is hot and/or butter is bubbling, using a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measuring cup, pour three or four pancakes into a non-stick skillet.  After 4 – 5 minutes the pancakes will be bubbly on top and the edges will have started to brown, flip them over for another 3 – 4 minutes. Place in stack, top with Candied Ginger Butter and serve with honey and maple syrup.

Candied Ginger Butter:
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
1/4 cup butter, softened

Mix together and chill before serving.

Please click here for a printable recipe!

Just Moved In!

I had all these wonderful plans for bringing out my new blog with a bang.  I wanted to have a pretty site design ready to go.  I planned on re-categorizing all my posts so that they were more organized and I was going to set up a new recipe index.  I was going to come up with a snazzy tagline.  I was going to make this site the virtual equivalent of glitter and unicorns.  But I can’t wait to do all that.  Patience has never been my strong suit.

Why did I change my name?  Honestly – I just wanted something a little more fun. I’ve been toying with the idea of changing my name for months now and when I thought of this name, I fell in love with it.  It’s just so me – mouthy and Southern.  It’s not that I didn’t like TN Locavore. I do and it does define my eating style. When I came up with that name, I just wanted a blog so I could participate in the One Local Summer Challenge.  I never thought I’d be blogging with it years later.  Mouth From The South just seems like it fits me more at this point in my life.

I don’t plan on changing the way I post very much.  I still plan on mainly posting recipes that focus on local and/or seasonal eating here in East Tennessee.  That’s how I eat and I blog what I eat.  I do plan to add more posts about my beloved 1894 house and all the renovations we’re doing to it.  I also plan on posting more about my favorite places in East TN and the surrounding area.

I hope you all like it. I’m still getting used to WordPress and have only managed to accidently post 2 drafts so far.  I’ve only started to figure out the difference between tags and categories and I just discovered the beauty of themes.  I’ll be learning as quick as I can but until then, please excuse this newbie for any dumb mistakes I make.

Come back tomorrow for my first recipe post – Pumpkin-Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Butter.  Here’s a teaser picture:

PS – I was kidding about the sparkles and unicorn part. Mostly.

Winning over Pear Haters with Red Cabbage, Pear, and Cranberry Slaw with Maple-Yogurt Dressing

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My husband has a severe aversion to pears.  I’ve tried feeding him the most delectable, melting specimens of pears in order to woo him over to the pear side.  How can you not like a fruit that gets so juicy when it’s dead ripe that there is no way to eat one without juice running down your arm?  I’ve tried impressing him with how sensual of a treat they are.  I mean – this is a fruit with lady curves.  How can you not get behind a fruit this sexy?  What the hell is wrong with him?

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All of this has been to no avail.  The man does not like pears. And despite all my ways to tempt him (or torture him – just ask him about the time I slipped him some pear Jelly Bellies), he’s not been swayed.  The taste and the texture do not appeal to him.  Since he’s not much of a picky eater, I just avoid cooking with them.  However I’m not averse to eating a pear in front of him with as many disgusting noises of ecstasy as I can muster.  Don’t feel sorry for him – he knew what he was getting into when he married me.  He walked into this eyes wide open.

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So, when it came to this week’s Fall Fest ingredient, I overlooked all the recipes that involved large quantities of butter.  Because, clearly I would be the only one eating this and my hips and thighs have enough fat stored for the winter.  I made this delectable slaw and my husband came in and scooped up a mouthful while I watched with bated breath.  He chewed it thoughtfully and said “This has pears in it, right? It’s not bad. I’d eat this.”  People – if the pope himself swept in and canonized this slaw, it couldn’t be higher praise than my husband’s words.

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This is one of the easiest slaws I’ve ever made and I couldn’t stop eating it.  The dressing is addictive – it’s such a simple combination but it’s pure win.  I even used fat-free yogurt in it.  I’m still not sure how a fat-free item made it into our house but it needed to be used up so there you go.  Even with fat-free yogurt, this dressing was delicious enough to make me scrape the bowl with my finger.  Although, if I made it again, I’d make it with yogurt that had a higher fat content.

Red Cabbage, Pear, and Cranberry Slaw with Maple-Yogurt Dressing
Adapted from Cooking with Shelburne Farms

1 small shallot, minced
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I used grade B)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 medium head red cabbage (around 1 1/2 pounds), cored & thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped, or 1/2 cup whole dried sweetened cranberries (I used dried)
1 large ripe but firm pear, unpeeled and cut into matchsticks

Whisk together the shallot, maple syrup, cider vinegar, yogurt and salt together in a large bowl.

Toss together the cabbage, cranberries and pear with the dressing. Adjust seasonings to taste and let sit for at least 30 minutes.  I thought this was best when it had sat for several hours.

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Please click here for a printable recipe!

Please join us by participating in Fall Fest 2010!  Post on your blog or in the comments or join us on Twitter by using #fallfest.

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Apple Loaf Cake – A Sweet Slice of Fall

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Let me put my biases & handicaps up front.  I am not a fan of most low-fat, "healthy" baked goods.  I think they're usually one note as far as flavor goes and are crammed with so much sugar that you risk putting yourself into an insulin coma after eating them.  They're usually not much lower in calories than regular baked goods (again – because of all the sugar) and they don't satisfy me which seems to be a common problem with most low-fat baked goods.

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I also am not that much of a baker.  Oh, I can make cookies, brownies, quick breads and even make a good pie crust.  But baking is not my strength so the idea of tinkering with a recipe is a bit scary for me.  But I'm determined to get out of my comfort zone – the only thing I'm risking is that a recipe won't turn out and that's not that big of a deal, is it?  

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With that being said, when I was looking for a recipe that used apples I kept coming back to a recipe I had marked at one point in my favorite cookbook, Passionate Vegetarian.  I had found several other recipes from other sources I thought would be tasty but something about this simple loaf cake intrigued me.  The other recipes I was contemplating trying all sounded delicious but they all seemed to be drowning in fat with sour cream, cream and/or butter being used in such liberal quantities that the apples seemed almost an afterthought.  Apples are so delicious and so in season now that I wanted a recipe that celebrated apples.  I wanted a recipe that stressed that pure apple flavor, rather than smothering it.

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Even so, I was a bit hesitant to use the whole wheat pastry flour that the author, Crescent Dragonwagon, suggested using instead of regular all-purpose flour.  I didn't want the cake to be too heavy and even though I've had very good results using whole wheat pastry flour, I felt a bit reluctant to add another "healthy" substitution to an already fairly low-fat cake.

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I don't know why I ever doubted Crescent.  I'm sorry and it won't happen again.  This is a seriously delicious cake.  I made my husband hide it from me because during the course of two hours, I ate a third of it by myself, sliver by sliver, using the excuse that I had to neaten out the ends.  This cake tastes like fall – redolent with spices and with such a strong apple flavor.  It's got substance but it's in no way heavy.  I loved it so much as is that I never even thought to try to make it with regular flour.  Everyone I've served it to has enjoyed it and asked for the recipe.  It's going in our regular rotation.

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I'm not a huge fan of raisins or nuts in baked goods.  Instead of using raisins, I substituted dried cranberries in for the raisins and left the nuts out.  I think the cranberries went very well with this cake and I wouldn't hesitate to use them again, even if I was making this cake for devoted raisin lovers.  I also decided to substitute butter in for the canola oil in the recipe.  If you'd rather use canola oil, go ahead.  Use 1/4 cup and increase the applesauce to 1 1/4 cups.  It's delicious both ways but I'm a devoted user of butter in all things baked so I tinkered and found that I liked it with the butter just a little bit more so that's the recipe I'm posting.  The recipe suggests sprinkling with powdered sugar for serving but I love it as is.

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Please make sure you use high quality spices in this recipe.  Don't use the canister of cinnamon that's  been sitting in your pantry since 2004.  My local food co-op sells bulk spices so you can buy very small quantities of whatever spices you need.  You can also purchase wonderful spices online from Penzeys. I am in love with their Vietnamese Cinnamon.  I also consider their double strength vanilla a necessity in my kitchen.

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Sweet Harvest Applesauce Breakfast Bundt Cake
Adapted from Passionate Vegetarian
Makes one 9-inch bundt cake, one 8-inch loaf cake or three 5-inch loaf cakes

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus a little extra for the pan
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8-10 vigorous gratings of nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of ground allspice
1/2 cup dried & sweetened cranberries
2-4 tablespoons walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons applesauce
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment: 9 inch bundt pan, 8×4 inch loaf pan or three 5×2 inch loaf pans. (I used the 8-inch loaf pan) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prepare your baking pan. Spray pan with cooking spray.  Dust the inside of the pan with a little flour, knocking out the excess.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Reserve 1 tablespoon of this mixture and place in small bowl, along with the cranberries & nuts (if using). Toss this mixture well and set both bowls aside.

Combine the sugars with the egg, applesauce, melted butter and vanilla.  Using a wooden spoon, gently mix the flour mixture into the applesauce mixture.  Stir until combined and stir in cranberries (and nuts if using). 

Spoon the batter into your prepared pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes(My pan took 40 minutes). Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into loaf to see if it comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and let cool on a wire rack for ten minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of pan and turn over onto the rack and rap sharply on the bottom of the pan to remove cake from pan. Let cool completely(if you have more will power than me!).

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Please click here for a printable recipe!  

Please join us by participating in Fall Fest 2010!  Post on your blog or in the comments or join us on Twitter by using #fallfest.

 

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