Monday, November 17, 2008

Halloween Dinner

I had a couple friends over on Halloween (yes, I am only just now, almost a month later, getting around to blogging about Halloween) for a low key dinner.  It was the first time we had hosted guests at our house since the remodel, so even though it was low key, it was still special.  I still had the cooking/baking itch, so I made quite a spread: cauliflower and roasted garlic soup, chicken Marsala, chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, and chocolate pumpkin cookies. (I also made red potatoes braised in white wine, but I didn't make it from a recipe.  It's easy!  Just saute potatoes, add wine, add a nice herb like rosemary, and simmer until done!) Phew!  It was a lot of work!  But everything turned out delicious.  I'll have to talk about the soup in another post because 1) it was a practice run for Thanksgiving next week, and 2) I apparently forgot to upload the pictures I took.

Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have to show for the chicken Marsala.  Our guests showed up as it was cooking and I was a bit rushed to get everything on the table.  I've also found I'm a bit self conscious about photographing my food in front of anyone other than my husband.  He already knows I'm crazy, and I know I don't have anyone else fooled to the contrary, but I don't like clueing them in on exactly how crazy I am.  Anyway, I will say that it was very different from the chicken Marsala my mom used to make growing up, and it sure was delicious.   It wasn't super saucy (something that is a must for me for chicken usually), so I was surprised at how flavorful it was.  I would definitely make this again either for everyday or for entertaining. 

My favorite thing about fall is by far the food.  I love squash, and I love pumpkin!  Soup, cookies, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, scones, lattes (I just found out that if I ask for the pumpkin latte at Starbucks with 2 pumps instead of 3 it is actually quite delicious!), etc.  You name it, I love it.  So for a Halloween dinner I wanted to make some of the recipes I had been eyeing for awhile, namely these chocolate-glazed pumpkin cookies, and the pumpkin muffins below.  

I have to say, these cookies were good, but not great.  They probably would have been better if I hadn't had the pumpkin muffins right beside them because they were way overshadowed by the deliciousness of my muffins.  Even so, they were too cake-y, not cookie-y enough.  Without the chocolate dripped on top they would have been bland I think.  But I did enjoy them the next Monday when I brought them into work to share.

I think the cookie I'm really looking for here is more of a sugar cookie with a slight hint of pumpkin.  Something I can roll out and use cookie cutters on, not a drop and bake kind of cookie.  Well I now have about 6 cans of pumpkin thanks to all the sales at the grocery stores, so I think I'll try and find a better recipe and give it another go!

These pumpkin muffins are just the bomb.  Fantastic.  I made them once last year around this time and Mouth has been bugging me to make them again ever since (and he just happened to be one of the house guests).  I use the large Ghirardelli chocolate chips they sell at the local grocery store, which I think makes the muffins a lot more tasty than normal sized chips. That separation of flavors just makes it taste better.  Also, I added a chip to the top of each muffin which turned out so melty and delicious I always saved that bite for last.  These muffins aren't super pumpkin-y.  It's just a hint.  A perfect hint.

Husband was hoarding these like they were his precious.  He ate two before anyone showed up, ate two more that evening, and proceeded to finish the off the next two days.  I barely got any!  I ended up having to count out how many our guests and I had eaten so I could show him just how many he had gorged on.  "Eighteen muffins minus seven muffins means you ate eleven you piggy!"  It was hilarious on the last day listening to him whine to me "there are only two left!" 

Of course, one of the downsides of having a nice dinner on Halloween is the constant interuptions by trick or treaters, but I didn't mind so much.  I was sad I didn't get more...and at a more reasonable hour!  Why are your kids out at 9pm people?  Shouldn't you be walking them around when you get home from work at 6pm?  Shouldn't little Billy be tucked away in bed at that hour? *sigh* Kids today....

In other news, I just realized I don't even have one pumpkin anywhere close to completion and Thanksgiving is next week!  I'm going to be knitting all night! D:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm Back With Buttermilk

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post for like 2 weeks (it's only been 2 weeks, right?). Ok, maybe more like 3. Anyway, I ended up going out of town for one of those weeks. And I've been busy doing NaBloPoMo on my dog blog. Blah blah blah. Anyway, I'd like to get back to posted regularly, starting now.

I'll be posting more about what I've been cooking a little later. For now I'm just going to say how absolutely in love with buttermilk I am. I've been using it in everything! The buttermilk pancakes I made a few weeks ago were just to die for. I don't think I'll ever go back to Bisquick again. Pancakes from scratch really aren't that much more work. It's just measuring out a couple of extra ingredients. Who doesn't have time for that? Have you ever tried just putting a little buttermilk in your scrambled eggs instead of regular milk? It really adds something extra. I love it. And buttermilk biscuits? Well I haven't tried those yet. But I want to! I think buttermilk is going to be something I always have stocked in my fridge from now on.

What do you love buttermilk in?