Chocolate Ganache Truffles

Chocolate Ganache Truffels‘Tis The Season For Treats
I love this time of the holiday season. This is treat season. This is the time when I start planning what treats I am going to make to hand out to the people who mean a lot to me to thank them for services rendered or to thank them for just being a positive part of daily life.

So far my daughter and I have made our traditional Ginger Cookies.  (That first batch is always a sacred ceremony for everyone in my family.) Last weekend we made a batch of addictive and decadent caramels, a King Arthur Flour recipe, to hand out to a teacher who refers to them as holiday gold. We plan to continue the treat making this weekend with some more cookies. Shortbread? Check. Sugar cookies? Check? Gingerbread? Check. But I want to do something else a little special this year.

About 16 years ago I took a chocolate class to learn how to make truffles because I wanted to recreate the gorgeous treats that Joseph Schmidt was producing at that time. I quickly learned that tempering chocolate is no joke. It takes patience, and time, and passion for the art. While I had the passion, I was lacking in the other attributes. But, one of the recipes we made in that class is easy enough for anyone to do. I haven’t made many truffles since then. And, this year I wanted to make those basic ganache truffles. The biggest challenge was finding the recipe.

I have this drawer in my kitchen that holds all of my loose recipes that I have either printed off the internet or were part of a recipe packet from a class. I can’t tell you how many pages are in that drawer—but I can tell you that it is probably time to cull the heard. I can also tell you that the chocolate packet wasn’t in there and I sort of panicked because, after that many years, it’s not like I can call the place and get another one.

The elves took pity on me…I found it! My office is a revolving door of cookbooks and recipes. And, I happened across the chocolate packet while looking through a dessert binder I made after yet another cooking class. Yee Haw!

These truffles are so easy to make and you can choose to flavor them or not. (Adding a little espresso or Chambord liqueur can be a tasty thing)

Chocolate Ganache Truffles
Yields about 25 truffles Read more…

Mom’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Mom's Pumpkin Chiffon PieLife of Pie
It’s crazy to think that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. And, while today is a day to stop and give thanks that the political ads are done, it is also a day to start making plans.

For me, Thanksgiving is going to be different this year if for no other reason that I will be hosting it for the first time. It should be an adventure given that we will be a party of 16. Granted, I annually host Christmas Eve for 14 so two more people shouldn’t be that big of a deal and it’s not. The difference is what I will need to cook and if it will all fit in my oven. I expect I will be much like a game of Tetris. As of right now, I have ordered two 18 pound organic turkeys which should be plenty—we’re big on leftovers. However, if there is one area of concern from those who will be seated around the table, it is whether there will be enough pie.

Turkey is generally the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving meal and it is for us as well but the true star of Thanksgiving in our family is the pie and everyone has their favorite. This year, because we are blending three families for dinner, there is concern that there will not be enough pie and, of course, everyone is worried that their favorite will run out quickly which is why I will probably end up making 4 pies.

My Dad’s favorite is mince pie. This is the pie most likely to have leftovers because he is the only one who eats it but it’s tradition so we gotta have it. In my family of five, it’s all about the pecan pie. If there is no pecan pie there will be rioting in the streets. I’m thinking I will also do an apple pie because, why not? Last but not least, you can’t have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. We do pumpkin pie a little differently though.

Growing up my mother always made the pumpkin pie. But, it wasn’t your usual pumpkin pie. Mom made Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. If you have never heard of it, and most people haven’t, pumpkin chiffon is basically a lighter fluffier version. And, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without it. Since this is the first Thanksgiving without my Mom, there is no question that her pie will be there….

Mom always made this pie using a traditional pie crust but feel free to use a graham cracker crust if you prefer.

Mom’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Yields one 9-inch pie  Read more…

Autumn Pumpkin Recipes

Autumn Pumpkin RecipesSquashes, Pumpkins, and Gourds Oh My!
One of the things I love most about the Fall, and October in general, is all of the displays with various pumpkins and gourds. They are so pretty and interesting. True, not all of them are edible like gorgeous Goose Neck Gourds but the better majority are.

Granted most of the larger pumpkins and squashes purchased around this time end up on your front doorstep with fangs carved out of them. Not much you can do with them after they have been out there for a while. At least nothing edible…

My question is what do you do with the ones that have been inside and are still good? If we’re talking about a cute little Sugar Pie pumpkin the answer is obvious. Bring on the pies and breads baby!

But there is more to pumpkins than pie…

Acorn and Delicata squash are fantastic to eat and easy to prepare. A giant Cinderella pumpkin is perfect for stuffing with cheese, cream, and other decadent goodness. Pretty green Kabocha squash is used in all sorts of cuisines from Mexican to Moroccan. Of course, Spaghetti squash can be a nice change from your usual pasta. Butternut squash is by far the most well known and eaten of all of the squashes and is great as a soup, in a casserole or on its own.

To help you figure out what to do with your squashes, pumpkins, and gourds, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite dishes for you to try. Read more…

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese FrostingSpice is Nice
The other day I was doing my grocery shopping, filling up my cart with the usual this and that, when I noticed something strange. I was purchasing the same general items…bagels, cereal, coffee creamer…but when I looked in the cart I froze. It had happened again….

As September turns in to October you notice that the air smells different—and it’s not just a change in the weather or the fog rolling back in. There is a hint of spicy sweetness in the air that tickles your nose and makes you long for cozy sweaters, falling leaves, and warm fires. For many, there are no adverse reactions to this autumnal aroma. But for others, like myself, you can find yourself making unexpected stops for a grande latte or worse, you notice that you have filled your shopping cart with multiple items with the same theme. You can try to fight it but resistance is futile.

My friends, it is the Revenge of the Pumpkin Spice. 😱

All kidding aside, I am one of those people who does like pumpkin spice (though I draw the line at candles and dog treats). My son’s love of The Spice is even worse.

If I have one complaint it is that some of the products’ flavor tastes way to fake. So, to combat the fake pumpkin spice, I load up on the organic canned pumpkin and make things like this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Scones or some straight up pumpkin bread. I have included the ingredients for my cream cheese frosting in case you wanna go crazy-decadent.

Happy Pumpkin Spice Season!

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields 12 scones Read more…

Morning Dash Muffins

Morning Dash MuffinsLet’s Grab Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say. This works for me because I am a lover of all things breakfast. I have no issue with eating foods that would normally be served between the hours of six and eleven at any other time of day. If I am at a diner that serves breakfast all day you bet your biscuits there will be hash browns and eggs in my future.

I would love to actually have what I consider to be a legit breakfast every morning but that’s just not feasible. The truth is I have become a grab and go breakfast eater. That means whatever I am eating can’t involve turning on the stove or oven. That also means that more often than not, my breakfast comes in handheld forms like a muffin, bread, roll, or bagel—most of which are not the best choices from a health standpoint. They say an apple a day…not a croissant a day!

Lately, I have been trying to make muffins that are more than just a sweet start to the morning. I made this recipe last Saturday to have on hand as a quick meal since we had an early start on Sunday morning. And, I am happy that I did. I sat in my folding chair, sipped coffee, and enjoyed my muffin while totally content watching soccer.

These are muffins that you can play with. The original version called for raisins which I switched out for dried cranberries as those are more acceptable to some in my household. Next time I make them I might swap out some of the flour for a little protein powder just to kick it up a notch.

Morning Dash Muffins
Adapted from NY Times
Yields 12 muffins Read more…