December 31, 2015

A look back at 2015

2015 has been a great year for us overall. It's the year my husband got a terrific new job and the year we bought our first house. It's been the year where I've attempted to perfect my pie making skills. I still haven't run out of recipes to make and create, which is a great thing because it's what keeps this blog going. As always, I'm so happy to be part of the terrific food blogging community. I love learning from all of you, reading your posts, reading your comments, and sharing in our love of cooking. I hope all of you had a wonderful year and wish you all the best in 2016!

Now, let's take a look back at my favorite recipe from each month of the year and then my husband will do his picks! I always like to see if we pick the same favorites or not.

Happy New Year!
Chinese Kabocha Squash & Sesame Pancakes: These little kabocha squash pancake appetizers were a favorite of mine. Not only were they delicious, they were something completely new for me to make.

December 24, 2015

25 Pies in 2015 - A Review

If you saw my last pie post, you saw that I was lamenting a bit about not completing my 25 Pies in 2015 Challenge that I set for myself. But, I've accepted that 25 pies in one year was perhaps a little too much for both my baking time and our waistlines! (I do usually try to reserve sweet pies for when we are having company.) That all being said, I still managed to make and post 15 pies this year - both sweet and savory. Let's take a look at them!

December 17, 2015

Peppermint white hot chocolate

My posts have been a little sparse this month, and also very short on the usual Christmas cookies and other holiday treats! That's because we are in the process of moving! So, the majority of the kitchen stuff except for what we absolutely need has been packed away. I expect it will be a couple weeks before we get into our new house and settled and I get back into a normal cooking routine. We are moving from a rental into our first house, so we are super happy! But, not having all of my kitchen stuff and props at hand has been a little difficult for me.... Plus, we have NO Christmas tree or any Christmas decorations out. We are really missing our tree this year. Between that and the warm weather, it's not feeling like the holidays at all to me! But, we are so excited to move into our new house. So, after a long day of packing I whipped us up some of this white hot chocolate with a bit of peppermint flavor to help get us into the Christmas spirit. This recipe will make two servings. 

December 11, 2015

Eggnog pudding pie

I think this will be my last pie post of 2015.... meaning that I only made it to 15 pies, not my goal of 25. It was a lofty goal to be sure, but for whatever reason I thought I'd be able to do it! But, 15 is still a respectable amount and I'll be continuing to post pies in the future, of course. My pie making (and crust making) skills have definitely improved through the year. Eggnog pie was high on my list for the holidyas. We always enjoy eggnog, and putting it in a pie seemed like a great idea to me! This pie is super easy because I cheated and used pudding mix in the filling. While I'd usually make the filling all from scratch, this time of year I'm a big fan of some help and shortcuts in the kitchen. So if you and your family enjoy eggnog, this is a nice holiday dessert for you!

December 7, 2015

Chicken, gnocchi, and spinach soup

We aren't having a very cold December here in the Buffalo area, if you can believe it. In fact, we haven't even had a measurable snow fall yet! It's crazy and we've actually broken a record for the latest measurable snow fall. It's been in the 40s and 50s, which is unheard of in December if Buffalo. It doesn't feel like the holidays at all. But, that doesn't stop me from making and consuming cozy warming soups. It's high soup season in my kitchen

Now, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, my husband isn't always a huge soup fan. It's gotta be a really hearty soup for him to feel like it's a full meal. This soup definitely fits that bill because it's full of vegetables, chicken, and little gnocchi pillows - it's a complete meal with a thick and creamy broth. A hearty bread is never a bad idea to sop all the leftover broth at the end! This soup will serve about four people. It's perfect for a wintery evening or afternoon. 

December 2, 2015

Shoofly pie

Shoofly pie is a Pennsylvania Dutch classic. Several years ago my husband (then boyfriend) and I were in Lancaster, PA for a few days and we kept seeing and hearing about Shoofly pie and supposedly this one place had "the best" around that we had to try. We had no idea what to expect, but we went there, got a couple pieces and they were sad-looking. They were really thin and they didn't look super fresh... But we ate them, and felt very unimpressed and let down. We never had Shoofly pie before that day and not after that day until I decided to read up on it and make one for myself to see if it could be redeemed. I didn't have really high hopes for this pie. But, I made it for an extra pie for Thanksgiving this year so that others could test it out too. The verdict? A big win! Most people thought it was good, but others really loved it. I thought is might be too strong from the molasses, but to me it was perfect. It reminded me of a gingerbread almost. Super delicious! I think the flavor profile makes it a lovely pie for the holidays and through the winter.

So I hope I've been able to convince you to give this old-fashioned pie a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. This recipe is the one I made after reading several versions. They all have varying levels of molasses, some white sugar and some brown sugar (to me brown sugar would have been overkill), some with spices and some without, etc. 

November 27, 2015

Peanut butter cup bars

Need a quick and easy dessert that is also sure to be a crowd pleaser? Then look no further than these Peanut Butter Cup Bars! There are recipes for these bars all over the internet, so I'm not creating anything new here (but I also don't know where they originated from either). I do know that they were something I waited too long to make and that they are good enough that all of you should know about them too if you don't already! They really taste a lot like everyone's favorite peanut butter cup candies, but in a simple bar form. I made these to take to my brother's house warming party and they were a hit. Plus -- there's no baking involved! They will also be perfect for when you need a quick treat to take to a holiday gathering or potluck.

November 23, 2015

Winter squash dinner rolls

I'm behind this year.... It's week 3 of 12 Weeks of Winter Squash, one of my favorite food blogger events... But I missed the first two weeks this time. This year our event is hosted by LeAndra at Love & Flour. Last year I actually made a recipe for each of the 12 weeks! It was a goal of mine since we had so many winter squash and many varieties. I think this is my third year participating in this event and I'm going to try to hit as many weeks as I can. You'd think I'd run out of new ways to use winter squash, but it hasn't happened yet!

This recipe infuses winter squash puree into light and fluffy dinner rolls. There's still time to add these to your Thanksgiving dinner menu. They make a perfect bread to accompany your meal with their light orange color. They don't taste overwhelmingly of squash, especially with the bit of whole wheat flour, but you can detect it. Keep this recipe around to go with your soups and chilis as well all through the winter. I used butternut squash puree, but pumpkin, acorn, kabocha, or any thick winter squash puree will work. This recipe will make about 9 dinner rolls, depending on how much flour your dough takes up.

November 18, 2015

Skillet tamale pie

Well readers, here I am with another pie recipe. I really overshot the idea of actually making (and consuming?!) 25 pies this year, but I'm thinking that I'll get to 15 so I guess that will be good enough for me. Sure, this isn't a traditional pie with a full crust, but it counts! This is a main dish pie that's perfect for a hearty cold-weather dinner. Tex-Mex food is where it's at for me. I've always loved it and we eat it quite frequently. I've never met anyone who doesn't love it. This tamale pie has a chili-like filling that is topped with a lightly sweetened cornbread and then baked until golden and bubbly. It's sure to be a hit in your house!

Last week I was featured in The Public, Buffalo's alternative newspaper as the Buffalo Chowhounds of Instagram of the Week. You can read the article here and come follow me on Instagram if you aren't already @savory_moments.  I haven't been on Instagram for all that long yet and would love to find more people to follow. Thank you! 

November 13, 2015

Bean with bacon soup

As a kid, one of my most favorite soups to eat was a can of bean with bacon soup. I loved it. That and split pea. I have always found both of these soups to be oddly comforting. So I've been trying to recreate bean with bacon soup at home. I've tried a few times now and I think this version was pretty close in terms of flavor, though it has a bit more vegetables. I tried using dried beans to make it in the past, and it was okay, but only canned beans were able to recreate the texture I was trying for, no matter how long I cooked those dried beans. It's definitely getting into the time of year when we are having soup for dinner (and then lunch leftovers) at least once a week. It's getting cold and that means all the soup we can eat! Soups are one of my favorite things to make because they are warming and comforting, but also they are usually a great frugal meal and a terrific way to stretch meats and use up odd vegetables you have in the fridge.

So now when the weather is cold, or I'm feeling under the weather, I can make a big pot of this soup to warm me up. This will make enough for several servings of soup. Serve this with a side of crusty bread or some cheese and crackers for a complete meal. 

November 9, 2015

Cranberry apple pie

Thanksgiving is coming and that means it's time for PIE. Well, here it's pretty much always time for pie, but Thanksgiving is the official pie holiday. Each year I like to make a new pie along with the standby of Old-fashioned Pumpkin Pie. Concord Grape Tart has pretty much become a standby now since I first introduced it to my family a few years ago. Others we love for Thanksgiving are Maple Pecan Pie, Honey Walnut Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, and Chocolate Cream Pie. This year I wanted to try a pie with cranberry. I really love cranberries and am striving to incorporate them into more dishes through their season other than just cranberry sauce (which I love by the way). We still had some apples left in the crisper from apple picking so I though I'd try combining the two into a pie that is perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner.

I enjoyed this pie a lot because it was sweet, but not cloying sweet - the tartness from the cranberries was a lovely compliment to the pie. I used my favorite lard-butter crust for this pie - a double batch. We render our own lard when we get our half of a pastured pig each year, so I'm good with using lard. It's also a pie that's perfect to be served with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving pie?

November 6, 2015

Pickled quince

Do you have quince growing in your region? We can find it here in Western New York from a couple local farms in the fall and occasionally in the grocery stores in the fall and winter. They are a very hard fruit that needs to be cooked before eating. A few years ago my husband and I discovered this old Bing Crosby Christmas song "Christmas Dinner Country Style" (if you've never heard it, check it out - it's great) on a holiday album we bought. I absolutely love the song, and then became kind of obsessed with the idea of pickled quince at a holiday table. Lucky for me I have a copy of Ripe and it contains a whole section on quinces and also a recipe for pickles. 

I actually made these pickles last year at this time, but ran out of time to post them before quince season was over.... so I saved them until now. Now is the perfect time to scout out some quince and make a batch of pickles to serve along with your holiday roast, turkey, or ham. These pickles offer a unique and lovely compliment to roasted meats - sharp, sweet, tart, and delicious. They will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks and indeed I'd recommend making them at least one week ahead of when you want to eat them so they become extra flavorful.

November 2, 2015

Bacon cheeseburger pie

Oh my, Bacon Cheeseburger Pie is now in my life and it's left me wondering where it's been all these years. At first, I was skeptical of this idea... But, you see, since I'm trying to work my way through 25 Pies in 2015 (not going to make it to 25, folks) and found myself with a block of Yancey's Fancy Grilled Bacon Cheeseburger Cheese, I had to give it a go! I first saw a recipe for a cheeseburger pie here and have been thinking on this idea for a while now..... We loved it! I mean, we truly could not get enough of this tasty pie when we had it for dinner and I totally looked forward to my lunch leftovers the next day. It tasted a lot like a cheeseburger, especially with the dill pickles on the side. Don't forget the pickles, they are very important! My husband kinda swooned over this pie a bit.

I think next time I will serve it with a salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and Thousand Island dressing to keep the burger feel going. This recipe will serve about 4 people (or more especially with a nice salad, or less if you love it as much as us). I'll warn you right now - it's addictively delicious! 

October 30, 2015

Pumpkin spice caramel corn

This popcorn is a treat for you to snack on while giving out candy to trick or treaters, or while watching some scary movies, or at a Halloween party. I took my Salted Caramel Popcorn w/ Peanuts and turned it into a caramel corn with a touch of pumpkin puree and spices in the caramel for a extra festive treat. I packed up a container for my brother and threw a few white chocolate chips into it for a little something extra. Either way, it's a tasty Halloween or autumn snack. 

Caramel corn is best made a day ahead of eating so that the caramel is completely dried and crunchy and so that the salt, and in this case, the spices, will come through in the caramel. So make this popcorn today for any plans you have over the weekend! I don't know about you, but I still watch all the classic Halloween specials and I also love to watch scary movies (but my husband not so much with the scary movies). I always like to have a treat to munch on and maybe a fall beer or hard apple cider to go along with it. Happy Halloween!!

October 27, 2015

Greek yogurt football brownies

Disclosure: Chobani provided me with the yogurt as part of their tailgating recipes #MadewithChobani promotion. However; as always, all opinions are my own. Check out their recipes section for more ideas on how to incorporate Greek yogurt in your cooking. 

It's football season and that means it's time for tailgating and game-day eats. Full disclosure, I'm not a huge football fan, but my husband and a lot of our friends and family are big sports fans. I prefer to supply and eat the goodies! While you are out there tailgating with your friends before the big game, don't forget to include something sweet to end your feast. These fudgy brownies are made with Chobani Greek yogurt so they are a slightly lighter treat to indulge in. Greek yogurt provides the brownies with a nice dense and fudge-like texture without the eggs and butter in most brownie recipes. I used non-fat yogurt and you can't tell at all. The yogurt gives these brownies a distinctive and pleasant tang that compliments the sweetness well. 

This recipe will make about 10 football-shaped brownies (and you'll have plenty of scrap pieces to nibble on while you are decorating them). These are a perfect little treat for your next tailgate or game-day gathering and everyone will love their fun football shape! 

October 22, 2015

Apple fritters

Apple fritters have long been one of my favorite doughnuts (just behind the peanut stick really). I will admit though that we rarely eat doughnuts and through my whole life they were more of a treat than a regular thing (and that's probably a good thing and how it should be). In my quest to try and make more apple recipes though, fritters have been on that list for a while now. Now I can happily check them off! Apple picking always inspires me to use apples in new ways each autumn. Golden fritters that are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and filled with fresh apple chunks, apple cider, spices, and then topped with an apple cider-spiced glaze. I mean, come on! Who can resist??!! I made these fritters on a Sunday night to eat while we watched some Halloween specials. They were a perfect treat with a cup of decaf coffee!

I slightly adapted these from a recipe I found over at The Pajama Chef. I made a few minor changes and my batch ended up making 10 fritters. One big change I made was cutting back on the glaze -- I think there was still more than enough. Apple fritters aren't the most pretty thing to look at or photograph, but they are super tasty!! These fritters are best enjoyed on the first day. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container, but they won't be as crisp the next day. 

October 19, 2015

Mulligatawny soup

Mulligatawny soup is something I've been intrigued about since the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld many years ago. I recently decided it was time to do a little research and give this intriguing sounding soup a try. I learned that Mulligatawny is an English soup based on an Indian soup. I read a lot of recipes and not one was the same... some used chicken, some used lentils, some used cream, some used coconut milk... but a lot of the basics were the same - onions, carrots, celery, apples, curry powder, bay, and something creamy. 

The soup turned our terrific. My only complaint is that it was terrible to photograph. All the apples floated to the top and all the other stuff fell to the bottom. So, it just looks like a curry broth of apples! But trust me, there are a lot of other goodies hiding and swimming below the rich curried broth. This is a soup absolutely fit for a chilly fall or winter evening. It will serve about four people.

October 12, 2015

Pawpaw cream tart

This is a recipe for all of the lucky folks out there who have the ability to get their hands on some pawpaws in the fall. We only discovered the pawpaw a few years ago after I heard a piece on NPR and kinda became obsessed with finding them. Lo and behold, we found them a few weeks later sitting in a box at one the our favorite farmer's stands at our local farmers' market. To this day, this is still the only place we've found them, even though they are a native fruit to our region. If you live in the region where pawpaws are native, I highly suggest seeking them out. They have a short season and are rarely found in grocery stores. They are also called "custard apple", "poor man's banana", and other names. Once you smell and taste one you will be very surprised that they grow in the mid-West and mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. because you will swear you are eating a tropical fruit -- custardy and sweet with a taste and smell like a cross between a pineapple, banana, apple, and mango. If you want to learn more about the pawpaw, check out this book - I'm currently reading it and it's really fascinating so far.

We pretty much always just enjoy our pawpaws raw and out-of-hand (well, spoon). But this year I decided I wanted to try a recipe with them and decided on a simple tart. This tart has very few ingredients and no spices -- it's all about the flavor and texture and smell of the pawpaw. This recipe will make one 9-inch tart.

October 9, 2015

Three-cheese apple and bacon pizza

Now that we have an abundance of apples from apple picking last weekend, I'm going to try to be using them up in all sorts of new ways as I do every year. Sure, we eat plenty out of hand and I can some applesauce (and sometimes apple butter), but coming up with new recipes to incorporate our apples is part of the fun. This year we took our copy of Apples of Uncommon Character: Heirlooms, Modern Classics, and Little-known Wonders into the orchard with us. I adore this book and have been looking forward to taking it apple picking with us since it came out last year. We go to LynOaken Farms where they have an orchard with well over one hundred heritage apple varieties growing, in addition to all the classics. It's amazing to step back into the past and bite into these apples with names like Moonlight, Old Fashioned Limbertwig, Hidden Rose, White Winter Pearmain, Crow's Egg, and so many more. I dream of owning an apple orchard sometimes, or at the very least having a nice little collection of trees in my yard.

This year I knew I wanted to incorporate apple into a pizza and bacon, blue cheese, cheddar, and caramelized shallots all seemed to make sense to pair with a crisp, sweet apple. It was an experiment that worked perfectly. This recipe will make one pizza. 

October 5, 2015

Chocolate chip pumpkin cookies

Well it's now officially fall for me because we have gone apple picking. Apple picking at Lynoaken Farms has become an early October tradition since my husband and I got married. We go with a bunch of family members from both sides of our family and it's always a good time. Another part of this tradition is that I always bring a post-picking treat for everyone. This year I went with these chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. I was inspired by a recipe from the amazing Sally of Sally's Baking Addiction for these cookies. I only changed it up a little. I doubled the below recipe and put semi-sweet chocolate chips in one batch and white chocolate chips in the other batch. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the ones with the white chocolate in them. They really complimented the pumpkin flavor and didn't overwhelm it. Even my mom who was resistant to try those claiming she didn't like white chocolate, also agreed after reluctantly giving one a try (and then a couple more). Don't get me wrong, the semi-sweet chocolate ones were also delicious, but I highly recommend giving the white chocolate a try.

I love the tip from Sally to press in a few extra chips into the top of cookies after taking them out of the oven. It really makes them look a lot prettier! I've made them a couple times now and they are best enjoyed a day after they are baked so that the pumpkin and spice flavors really come through. This recipe will make about 2 dozen cookies.

September 29, 2015

White cheddar cauliflower gratin

Another reason I love fall is that it is the season of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, turnips, rutabaga, romanesco, and cauliflower. I found a lovely head of light orange cauliflower at the farmers' market this past weekend that I couldn't resist. I love to use it in soups and simply roasted in olive oil, but this head was just calling out to be gratin-ized. I love cauliflower gratin, but it's something we don't have very often as it soft of negates the nutritional value of the vegetable you are covering in cheese sauce, but that's okay to do every now and again, right? Plus it's so darn tasty! 

This is a super fall and winter side dish. It's sure to get even the most pickiest of eaters to accidentally eat a little vegetable! We enjoyed this gratin along with a ham steak and some homemade applesauce. The cauliflower gratin will feel about 4 people as a side. 

September 22, 2015

Pumpkin oatmeal pancakes {for two}

Pancakes are kind of a thing on this blog... Mainly because I love them. I've posted my recipe for pumpkin pancakes in the past - like, way in the past, before I had a decent camera and stuff like that... They are delicious, but this time I was looking for something a little more hearty and decided that pumpkin pancakes + oatmeal were the ticket to a delicious autumn breakfast. I know people get a little pumpkin crazy this time of year, but that's okay with me. I adore pumpkin, spices, and winter squash of all kinds.

This recipe makes about 7 pancakes so it's the perfect amount for two hungry adults. My husband and I ate them all up on our day off when we were having a leisurely morning. These pancakes, plus some nice sage-filled breakfast sausages, plus a hot cup of coffee on a cool fall morning = happiness. 

September 15, 2015

Pumpkin streusel muffins

Who else is ready for pumpkin season?? Have you already been making pumpkin foods or are you waiting a bit longer? I'm trying to use up the last bit of last year's pumpkin puree we froze from all the Long Island Cheese pumpkins were grew before it's time to restock from this year's pumpkins. At least that's my excuse for these tasty pumpkin muffins. We had our first preview of fall weather this past weekend and I loved every second of it. This week will be getting warm again, but not as hot as it's been. I was so excited to get to bring out sweat pants, socks, and a blanket. Oh, and a hard apple cider. It's the little things in life, right?! The leaves are just stating to get hints of colors in them and that makes me happy.

These pumpkin muffins are perfect for a fall time snack or breakfast with a warm mug of coffee or tea. This recipe will make one dozen muffins - perfect for sharing.

September 9, 2015

Chorizo and rice stuffed peppers with spiced tomato sauce

This is my kicked-up twist on classic stuffed peppers taking stuffed peppers to a whole new level of yumminess. A homemade spiced tomato sauce makes the base of the dish and sweet peppers stuffed with chorizo sausage, rice, scallions, and cilantro are nestled in the sauce and topped with cheese. Yum! These peppers are a meal to make now as we are still getting tomatoes and peppers from our gardens, but are starting to get into fall and seeking some more comfort food. It's one of those late summer/early autumn transition dishes. I, for one, am really looking forward to fall - my most favorite season. I love this time of year when you are in the midst of peak harvest season and surrounded by fresh produce. It's time for me to get canning!

We really enjoyed these peppers a lot. If you want a spicier version, try using poblano peppers instead of sweet peppers - this was my original intention when I was thinking of this dish; however, they didn't have any at the market that day but did have these really lovely red peppers. This dish will feed 3-4 people. 

September 3, 2015

Southern tomato pie

Southern tomato pie is a dish that I've had on my "to make list" for a while now. Since it's peak tomato season and since I'm doing my 2015 Pies in 2015 Challenge, I was able to get this one crossed off my list. I've always been a little hesitant of this dish because the top is slathered in a mixture of mayo and cheddar and some recipes I've read over the years contain just insane amounts of mayonnaise (in my mind anyways). So I played around with the topping a bit and used less mayo and added a touch of sour cream along with two cheeses. The topping is important because it makes the pie rich and delicious, and this version turned out great. 

Make this pie in late summer when you have the freshest and ripest tomatoes from your garden or the farmers' market or just from a nice neighbor. This savory pie really highlights the flavor of fresh summer tomatoes and provides a main dish way to enjoy them. This pie will serve about four people. Serve it with some pickles and a side salad, if desired.