Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Bread with Maple Cheesecake Layer

Allright, so once again I bow to a blog that just blows me away..... Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Her recipes are fantastic in my opinion, presentation and photography amongst the best out there..... One thing I really appreciate is, although I'm a new blogger, she keeps in touch and is always willing to let my try her recipes on my own. Plus, she's a Hockey Player!!! I mean what could be better????

A class act, I must say.

Allright, lol, enough about her...... (ahem!)

I made her recipe for Pumpkin Spice Bread with Maple Cheesecake Layer....I mean, how could I NOT? Three of my favorite tastes in one recipe...... I did modify it a bit, because I didn't want nuts in it..... But I have made Pumpkin Bread for years.....and always smeared it with cream cheese, and the thought of flavored cream cheese baked into the bread hooked me....

Here we go....

Maple Cheesecake Layer:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
6 TBSP real maple syrup
1 tsp maple extract
1 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 large egg

Pumpkin Spice Bread:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree (plain, not the already made pumpkin pie kind)
½ cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Lightly grease and flour three mini loaf pans. (Or two medium pans like I did) In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the maple cheesecake ingredients; beat until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside.

Place pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl of an electric stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat for about 1 minute, until fully combined
Add flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture and mix just until combined.
Pour half of the pumpkin bread batter evenly into the three prepared loaf pans. Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of pumpkin batter layer and then pour on the remaining pumpkin batter.

Now here I departed a bit, I swirled the batters.....just to see, and the outcome was surprising....

Bake in preheated 350° oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool bread in pans for 10 minutes.
Remove bread from pans and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve at room temperature or cool.

Now, if you look at MY photos you see that obviously I didn't save enough pumpkin batter to cover the cream cheese layer, but here's what interesting...... The cream cheese layer 'sank' during baking, so it didn't matter.....

Now admittedly, Peabodys looked better, but having eaten my share, and taken it to work and spread it around, I bet mine tasted just as good!

Thanks Peabody, you rock, as usual.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cream Cheese Brownies

Delicious, decadent chocolate brownie base with a delicious cream cheese topping swirled throughout. Simple, easy and good.

Chocolate Batter

6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips (Semi-sweet works well)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Batter

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease and flour an 8 x 8 baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Carefully microwave chocolate and butter in 30 second increments until melted. Combine well with sugar and eggs.

Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt, then the vanilla and chocolate chips.

Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

Mix cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla extract.

Layer the cream cheese on top of the chocolate mixture and swirl both batters together.

Bake for 45 minutes. Check carefully for doneness. This chocolate mixture does not make a 'cakey' texture, it's more of flourless chocolate cake consistency, which frankly is why I like this recipe.

Let cool completely and cut into squares.

Adapted from The David Lebovitz blog. Thanks David.

A Sincere Thanks to FoodBuzz

Man I had a great Saturday afternoon and owe it all to FoodBuzz. You've no doubt seen their icon on a number of food blogger sites.

Well earlier in the week they notified some of their blogging folks in Seattle of the Seattle Food and Wine Experience and offered to pay for the ticket if we would attend and write about it.

So I volunteered.

It was held at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.

So I strolled on up to the will call window and was given a small package. Inside? A ticket, a brochure for the event, and a credential that designated me as 'press'.....Which I thought was very cool, and turned out to be just that.

I was welcomed everywhere, free to take photos of whatever I wanted, was able to give out lots of Foodbuzz business cards, etc. I even, as I was going in, was waived around security and bag search because of the credential.

Anyway, the event was so much fun to attend. There were 7 executive chefs from fine restaurants around the Seattle area.

As you walk in, you pick up your wine glass, your VIP food tickets, a bag to carry the swag in, and begin roaming from booth to booth.

17 different restaurants in attendance at the booths offering gourmet appetizers, cheeses, soups, and desserts. And wine. As for the wine, there were over 1,000 different wines from Napa Valley, Washington/Oregon, California, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Germany!!!

Some of the other attractions.....

Cheese, cheese, and more cheese....

As a result of visiting the cheese display several times, I now have a new friend....

Oh this stuff is so good.....

KitchenAid display for cancer awareness. Their rep told me everytime they sell an appliance of this color they donate $50 to cancer research....

Chutneys, mustards, lemon curd etc........

And oh yeah, the pumpkin soup from a restaurant called The Herb Farm. This soup was incredible! Not just the best pumpkin soup I have had, but probably the best soup ever. Seriously, I couldn't get over how tangy with subtle hints of spice and smooth pumpkin flavor. The white sauce you see is NOT sour cream or anything like that, I'm not sure what it is frankly but it was delicious. (My foodie side showing through, I know) But, alas, the lady would NOT part with the recipe. No amount of bribing, or promising to cook for her, or publish photos of her on my blog would budge her. Darn it.....

The KitchenAid demonstration kitchen....

And I easily would have spent my 401k in this display.... What absolutely beautiful, well crafted cookware....

I work for Starbucks, so my stop at this booth was not all that wonderful.....The brewmaster, jokingly gave me a cup of coffee made from this contraption, but wouldn't tell me what type of coffee it was. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't Starbucks either. We had a lively conversation for 15 minutes.

In summary, like I said at the beginning, I had a great Saturday afternoon. Thank you Seattle Food and Wine Experience and thank you Food Buzz.

I note this was the inaugural event in Seattle. I think it was excellent and I'll see you next year, believe me.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Foodbuzz Publisher Community Launches.

I'm a member of the FoodBuzz Community. And this weekend, they are sending me credentials to go observe, photograph, and blog the happenings at the Seattle Food and Wine Experience (

It's pretty cool to launch a blog and receive these kind of benefits..... Thanks to FoodBuzz, please read on.....



San Francisco – October 13, 2008: Foodbuzz, Inc., officially inaugurates its food blogger community with more than 1,000 blog partners, a global food blogging event and an online platform that captures the real-people, real-time power of food publishing in every corner of the world. At launch, the Foodbuzz community ranks as one of the top-10 Internet destinations for food and dining (Quantcast), with bloggers based in 45 countries and 863 cities serving up daily food content.

“Food bloggers are at the forefront of reality publishing and the dramatic growth of new media has redefined how food enthusiasts access tasty content,” said Doug Collister, Executive Vice President of Foodbuzz, Inc. “Food bloggers are the new breed of local food experts and at any minute of the day, Foodbuzz is there to help capture the immediacy of their hands-on experiences, be it a memorable restaurant meal, a trip to the farmers market, or a special home-cooked meal.”

Foodbuzz is the only online community with content created exclusively by food bloggers and rated by foodies. The site offers more than 20,000 pieces of new food and dining content weekly, including recipes, photos, blog posts, videos and restaurant reviews. Members decide the “tastiness” of each piece of content by voting and “buzz” the most popular posts to the top of the daily menu of submissions. Foodbuzz currently logs over 13 million monthly page views and over three million monthly unique visitors.

“Our goal is to be the number-one online source of quality food and dining content by promoting the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of food bloggers around the globe,” said Ben Dehan, founder and CEO of Foodbuzz, Inc.


The Foodbuzz blogger community is growing at a rate of 40 percent per month driven by strong growth in existing partner blogs and the addition of over 100 new blogs per month. “The Web site is like the stock of a great soup. The Web site provides the base or backbone for bloggers to interact as a community, contribute content, and have that content buzzed by their peers,” said Mr. Dehan.

Global Blogging Event

Demonstrating the talent and scope of the Foodbuzz community, 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs offered online food enthusiasts an international, virtual street festival of food and diversity. The new feature showcased blog posts from 24 Foodbuzz partner bloggers chronicling events occurring around the globe during a 24 hour period and included:

24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs” captures the quality and unique local perspective of our food bloggers and shared it with the world,” said Ryan Stern, Director of the Foodbuzz Publisher Community. “It illustrates exactly what the future of food publishing is all about – real food, experienced by real people, shared real-time.”

About Foodbuzz, Inc.

Based in San Francisco, Foodbuzz, Inc., launched its beta Web site,, in 2007. In less than a year, and its community of over 1,000 exclusive partner food blogs have grown into an extended online property that reaches more than three million users.

# # #

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

CrockPot Guinness Beef Stew

A delicious savory stew that is wonderfully complemented by my Irish Soda Bread.

2 pounds beef stew meat. Usually you can find it already cut into pieces and trimmed of fat. If not, be sure to trim the fat so it doesn't end up in the stew. (Note to Kate, lol)

1/4 cup of flour to dredge beef in.

salt and pepper to season flour

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large sweet onion, diced

2 large shallots

2 large parsnips

2 large carrots or 8 oz peeled and washed baby carrots

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups draft Guinness beer (Use Guinness Stout only!)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon thyme

3 bay leaves

1 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 pound red potatoes, quartered

2/3 cup flour (to thicken the sauce)

Heat oil in large skillet until almost smoking. Dredge beef chunks in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and add to hot oil, brown thoroughly on both sides until very brown. (5 minutes per side) Toss into crockpot, and repeat with remaining beef.

Now, you see that pan with all the little bits of browned meat stuck to it. Those are some mighty tasty bits and I would suggest you add that to the stew. Do you know what they are called?

Fond. Yes those bits of leftover crisp tasty meat are called fond. Did you know that? I didn't either.

Anyway, take about a half a cup of the chicken broth and pour it into the hot pan, bring to a quick boil and scrape the pan thoroughly to loosen the fond and the flour left in the pan. Toss into the crockpot, right on top of the browned beef.

Now, peel and chop up the turnips, carrots (unless you bought the baby ones like I do for convenience) and potatoes and add to crockpot.

Dice onions, no need to be finely diced, nice chunks of onion are good, and the same goes for the shallots. They'll separate during cooking anyway.

(Isn't this a purty picture? I just took it 'cause the veggies looked all colorful and stuff.....I never used to even THINK about this crap, much less photograph it until I started blogging ..........UGH!)

Add the seasonings (and bay leaves, don't forget) and sugar and chocolate. The reason we put chocolate in this recipe is for sweetness and to help offset the tartness of the beer. Believe me, together, they are an awesome combination.

Now pour the chicken broth over the top of everything in the crockpot. Then pour 3/4 of the Guinness into the crockpot. You want to reserve the last of the Guinness to add at the end when mixed with the flour. This will thicken the sauce a bit as well as add fresh Guinness taste to the stew after cooking for so long.

Now, put the top on the crockpot and only stir once or twice during the next few hours. I frankly cook it on HIGH for two hours or three hours and then turn it down and cook on low for eight more hours. Truth be told, I'm forever tasting it, and testing it, and stirring it, but I know this makes it take longer to cook. But seriously, it may take 12 hours of cooking before it's ready.

You'll know it's done when it's DARK brown, and all the vegetables are tender.

NOW, and this is critical, the soup needs to be salted and peppered. Pepper, no like a lot of pepper, add a lot of pepper, you not so much like pepper, don't pepper to much.

Ah, but the salt, here's the problem. It's EASY to cook something delicious for 12 f'ing hours and oversalt it. Believe me, I've DONE it!

Here's why, we taste it, at the end of the cooking cycle, and it will taste bland and obviously needs salt. So pour about a teaspoon of salt into it. But here's what a lot of people do. They wait about 5 - 10 minutes, taste it again, and it's still bland, so they salt it again, and later do the same thing, and on and on.

The fact is, once you salt, it takes about 20 minutes for the salt to completely melt, and stirring, to totally distribute the taste so you have an accurate measure. You see what I'm saying?

Err on taking your time when salting....let it cook for 20 minutes, stir, and taste again.

Actually, sometimes I just salt the soup when serving.....

Anyway, sorry to go on and on, but I've done it and KNOW better.....

Salting it would be a good time to also mix the flour thoroughly into the remaining beer and pour it into the crockpot. (btw, flour mixes with a liquid a lot easier when it is added first, and the liquid poured onto it, instead of the other way around)

Anyway, cook on high again for like 20 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. And turn it off, and let it sit.

And if you're like me, you've smelled the stuff cooking for 12 hours, tasted it numerous times, tested it, eaten a couple potatoes and turnips as it neared completion, and by the time it's done, the LAST thing you feel like eating is Guiness Beef Stew! That's OK, that's normal. It's better on days 2 and 3 and 4 anyway.......! LOL After the flavors blend, and it cools down and, this is worth making.


Man this stuff is good. It's not JUST the Guinness, it's the slow cooking of all the spices, and sugar, and root vegetables, and all their goodness, and the essence of the beef.....Totally, one of my favorite crockpot recipes..... Did I just SAY totally? God I'm so like my kids....

Sup Gee?


Really, do try it.....I think you'll like it..... Leave a comment if you do, that's all I ask.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole

I love breakfast casseroles. I like the fact they are prepared ahead, and just popped into the oven. I have grown kids who have a tendency to still come and visit the old man and expect me to cook/bake for them, which I admittedly willingly do. And always one breakfast is my morning casserole.

I mess around with the ingredients from time to time, but generally stick close to the following.

One note however, and an important one. The base ingredient in my casserole is either hash browns or bread, either one. I like the hash brown one because a little ketchup on the side is ideal for the potatoes, but I must say my personal favorite is with the bread substituted for the hash browns. It's crunchier and absorbs the egg a bit better I think, and comes out fluffier, but YOU decide what's right for you.

1 pound of sausage. You can use any type but I, for some reason prefer the frozen pre-cooked links, especially the maple flavored.

2 tbl butter

2 shallots You can use onions but I think they tend to overpower the eggs.

1 large package of frozen hash browns.

1 package Jiffy muffin mix

6 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups of milk

1 bunch green onions

1 tsp dried mustard

salt and pepper to taste.

Put sausage links into saucepan and saute until brown on all need to constantly break up the pieces until they are smaller and smaller.... (If you're using bulk sausage, the same principle applies, just don't overcook the want to saute until the "pink" just disappears)

Mince shallots and add butter to the sausage in the saucepan. Add shallots and hashbrowns to pan and lightly saute until shallots are translucent and the hashbrowns just begin to brown.

Spoon into a lightly greased 13 x 9 casserole dish.

In a bowl, beat eggs, and then add mustard, and sour cream and milk and mix well. When well mixed, beat in Jiffy mix.

Pour contents evenly over the hashbrowns, sausage, onion mix.

Slice thinly or cut the green onion all over the mixture.

Cover with cheddar cheese, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour covered with tinfoil..... remove tinfoil and bake an additional 15 - 20 minutes until browned.

Let sit for 15 minutes and served immediately.

Freezes well.


Note: Obviously, if you are using bread instead of hashbrowns, you don't saute the bread. Just saute the shallots and sausage. You should tear up into one inch size pieces about 10 slices of bread or 1 baguette. Just break into pieces and layer in the baking dish.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

I came across this recipe on another blog Southern Grace and just had to make them immediately.

First of all I love brownies, (who doesn't) and I love peanut butter and the two together are delicious. But the addition of Cream cheese to the peanut butter is what piqued my interest. So here's the recipe:


1/2 cup butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tsp espresso powder (my addition)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Peanut Butter:

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk (I used cream)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8-inch pan.

To make the chocolate portion, melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Melting chocolate in the microwave is the way to go but it's easy to burn it, so watch it carefully. Let cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and espresso powder and set aside.

Whisk the sugar into chocolate mixture. Add the eggs, and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir until well incorporated. Pour into prepared pan.

For the peanut butter part, beat together all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Now in the original recipe from Southern Grace she layered the peanut butter on top of the brownie layer and I decided to swirl it together instead. Although mine came out great, the peanut butter mixture is a bit thin, even after baking, so NEXT time I make these, I'm going to put part of the brownie mix in the dish, part of the peanut butter, swirl it around and then repeat the process on top of that first swirled layer. Just my preference after trying them simply swirled.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (I found they needed to be baked close to an hour for my preference for doneness) Cool completely before cutting. Cut in squares and serve. Enjoy, and thanks to Southern Grace for this great recipe.

I really liked these brownies. The chocolate brownie part was delicious. The peanut butter part, because of the cream cheese, was light and delicate and subtly tangy, not overpowering, so the two together are a winning combination. Please try them and let me know if you agree.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Broccoli Casserole

In looking my blog, since it's a new one, I noticed that I have started out with family recipes, comfort food and the like.

With the advent of fall and the upcoming Holiday Season, I can sense I'll switch modes to casseroles, side dishes, my FAMOUS apricot glazed Turkey, (well famous in my family and circle of friends) and a variety of soups and crock pot dishes that I've made over the years.

As a teaser for you, this weekend I'm making Guinness Irish Beef Stew and Irish Soda Bread. (I gotta make sure you want to come back and read my blog, right?)

But let's start with a casserole.

Here's a side dish that is delicious and so easy to make and tends to go well as an accompaniment to beef, chicken, turkey, pork, etc.


1 large bag frozen broccoli florets
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cans broccoli cheese soup (salt free if available)
2 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
pepper to taste (no salt necessary)


Place broccoli and onion into a large frying pan, add 1/2 cup of water. Bring water to a gentle
boil and steam the broccoli and onions for 15 to 20 minutes.

Discard excess water and transfer broccoli/onion mixture to a bowl.

Beat the eggs and add to bowl along with shredded cheddar cheese and soups and mix well.

Add pepper to taste and mix in.

Pour into 13 x 9 baking dish and liberally sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until it is bubbly and the top is golden brown.


I know a lot of folks work carefully to set up their food photos. I do too, sometimes. But then again, every once in a while, a simple unorchestrated picture is JUST as good.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Crock Pot Potato Leek Soup

Well, there's a snap in the air, perfect football weather, sunny during the day, but crisp, and cool at night and getting darker earlier. Time to start transitioning from Barbecuing, potato salad, cucumbers, and the usual summer harvest.
It's time for some SOUP!

(And truth be told, I bought a new Immersion Blender and wanted to try it out, so forget all that season changing stuff, lol)

I personally like to make soup in the crockpot. I love cooking it all day, (or all night) and having that aroma waft through the air. The one downfall is, that because I've smelled it all day, tasted it endless times, that by the time it's done, I don't want any. LOL
But, it's even better the next day and the days after that. Besides, this soup freezes very well.
Here we go, Crock Pot Potato Leek Soup.

3 leeks
3 large russet potatoes
2 large containers chicken broth
1 medium sweet onion
1 large shallot

1 tablespoon italian seasonings
1 cup apple juice or cider (Yes, apple juice or cider)

1 cup heavy cream
parsley for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Peel the first tough outer leek leaves until the white and pale green parts are showing. Rinse well as leeks can be very gritty. You may even want to strain them after cutting but I've never found that necessary if you peel and wash well.

Chop the white and pale green parts only fairly thin and add to crock pot:

Now peel and finely dice the onion and add to crock pot.
Wash the potatoes and remove any blemishes on the outside. Leave the skins intact. You may slice or chop or dice the potatoes anyway you like. It won't make any difference as you are going to cook them long enough that they will be very soft. Add them to crock pot.
Peel and mince shallot and add to crock pot.
Add Italian seasoning.
Add the chicken broth. The reason I didn't specify a specific size of broth to get is that crock pots vary in size and shape. You want just enough broth to just cover the vegetables.
Add apple juice.
Add pepper to taste. (I like a healthy dose of pepper)

Heat on high for two hours until it comes to a boil and then turn down to low and cook for another 6 hours approximately.
In the last hour of cooking, salt the soup. At first it will taste bland and obviously needs salt, but be careful. You may know this, I know this, and I still mess up occasionally. It's easy to salt soup, taste it 5 minutes later, and because it still tastes bland, add more salt. It takes at least 20 minutes and a good stirring before you are sure of the saltiness. It's easy to oversalt if you aren't careful. And there's nothing worse than a huge beautiful pot o'soup that's too salty. So be patient in the salting of it.

An hour before the cooking ends, add one cup of heavy cream. At this point you can use a hand potato masher directly in the crockpot to break up the potatoes and leeks, or puree in batches in a food processor, OR use your spiffy new Immersion Blender:

I wouldn't puree ALL of the soup, as I like it to be still having some chunks of potato and leek. As for the Immersion Blender, be careful there too, they work FAST! Before you know, you've pureed the entire batch.
Anyway, it's a very comforting and very satisfying soup. I hope you enjoy it.