Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Food: Pumpkin Cornbread

It's after Thanksgiving, so it's time for all of the holiday festivals, celebrations, open houses, markets, parties, and other hoopla to begin. One of those celebrations is the Holidays at Historic Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg, VA. My husband was once their Administrative Director and I still volunteer here and there. Since I love to bake, I often help with the sweets for Susanna's Tea Room at the Holidays event. Smithfield provides the recipes and the volunteers bake.

I chose the Pumpkin Cornbread and made two yummy smelling pans of it this morning. I adjusted the recipe below because, for my taste, I'd add more spices. I think it should be served with softened butter too. Or maybe cinnamon butter. Mmm...Try it yourself for a taste of history!

Pumpkin Cornbread

1 1/3 cups cornmeal
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
5 eggs
1 8oz container sour cream
1 can (15oz) 100% pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup butter, melted + 2 Tbsp

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 9" x 9" pan.
Sift all dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until the yolks and whites are well mixed. Stir in the sour cream, then the pumpkin. Stir in the 1/2 cup melted butter.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid all at once. Stir only until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center can be withdrawn clean. (Approximately 35 minutes for light colored or glass pans, 30 min for dark pans.)
Remove from oven, brush top with the remaining 2 Tbsp melted butter and allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting into 36 squares.
Freezes well.

(Note that I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 10" x 15" pan which seemed to work fine, but it also seemed to bake faster than I expected. So you may want to bake for a shorter amount of time and check it.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Food: Luella's Pecan Pie

My grandmother Luella used to make some really wonderful pies for Thanksgiving. Several years ago, I asked her to write out some of those recipes for me so that I could make them myself. I tried the Pecan Pie yesterday to rave reviews. The maple syrup adds a different flavor than the usual pies. And I was able to use real Georgia pecans from my aunt- and uncle-in-law to give this pie elements of the north and south!

Luella's Pecan Pie

3 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup pecan pieces
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup

Mix flour and sugar. Beat eggs slightly. Add remaining ingredients.
Mix well and pour into unbaked pie shell.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Lower temperature to 350 degrees and cook 45-50 minutes more.
It will be puffed up across top.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Inspiration Monday: The End.

I have a confession. I haven't been very inspired to write Inspiration Monday for several months.

I've been busy doing other things and it has become one more reason to not look forward to Monday. I started this feature as a way to be sure I blogged at least once a week. It worked for that, but frankly, it often takes a lot of time that could better be spent elsewhere. It also was stopping me from making postings about other things more interesting to me (and hopefully to you also). I was going to try to hold out until the end of the year so I could say I did it, but, frankly, I just need to let it go. Friday Food will continue (I enjoy cooking and helps me to try new recipes), but for Inspiration Monday, this is The End.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Food: Baked Spaghetti

This is a good, hearty spaghetti meal. You can make it without the ground beef if you prefer the vegetarian option and change up the veggies for variety or to serve picky tastes (which I did this time, but I have made it as written in the past). It's a nice warm meal for these cold nights! It comes from an old Taste of Home magazine.

Baked Spaghetti

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes with liquid, cut up
1 can (4 oz) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 can (2-1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives (the black ones), drained
2 tsp dried oregano
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained (optional)
12 oz spaghetti, cooked and drained
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, saute onion and green pepper in butter until tender. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, and oregano. Add ground beef if desired. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Place half of the spaghetti in a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish. Top with half of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheddar cheese. Repeat layers.
Mix the soup and water until smooth; pour over casserole. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until heated through.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Inspiration Monday: Zentangles

I've come a little late to the Zentangle craze. And, frankly, if it weren't for Pinterest, I probably wouldn't even know what it was. I've long been inspired by good doodlers and great graffiti. There's something about the free form nature of those drawings and how quickly and easily they are created that appeals to me. I had seen Zentangles and admired them as well, I just didn't have a name for them until recently. I didn't really know where to begin, but decided to purchase the One Zentangle A Day book by Beckah Krahula to learn more.

The book teaches several patterns each day that are then used with other learned patterns to create that day's Zentangle tile. The process gets you quickly into "the zone" because the patterns are repetitive and require a careful hand to keep lines spaced evenly. The idea is that you take the patterns and let them dictate your final 3.5" x 3.5" tiles. The tiles are small enough that they can be easily finished in one sitting so you also get a sense of completion upon finishing them.

There's a whole regimen to this that I am not following. I haven't orded official Zentangle paper. I'm not using the exact pens they recommend. I'm not following the 11-Step Zentangle Process. What I am doing is enjoying learning each of the patterns and using them to create my own pieces of art line by line. It does help me to slow down and think about each line I am drawing which will, in turn, improve my drawing skills. The more detailed tiles are inspiring and the patterns are likely to show up elsewhere in my work.

Starry Night Zentangle by Carol TenBrook

(The works featured on Inspiration Monday are those that I enjoy and I have not been compensated in any way to include them on my blog.)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Food: Maple Pudding

I may have mentioned in previous Friday Food installments that we were given a gallon of maple syrup. Unless you have pancakes daily, it's hard to get through a gallon of maple syrup so I've taken to finding recipes to use it in as well. I found this sweet and tasty Maple Pudding recipe in a local newspaper.

Make sure you use whole milk or cream for the recipe - I had 1% milk and made a thick maple soup. Still good, just a bit looser than your usual pudding. And, this goes without saying, use REAL maple syrup, not that sticky stuff that masquerades as pancake syrup in most grocery stores!

Maple Pudding

2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup (real!) maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup whole milk and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat remaining ingredients to boiling on high, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer. Whisk in cornstarch mixture; cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
Transfer to 6 parfait glasses. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
Top with whipped cream, of course!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Inspiration Monday: Adriana Willsie

I connected with Adriana Willsie via Twitter some time ago. Many of her paintings are pet portraits - dogs, cats, the occasional bird - that she often posts on her blog when complete. I like the bright colors and paint textures she uses to give the feeling of fur and feathers.

Spanky by Adriana Willsie

On occasion, Adriana expands her color pallet beyond fur and feathers to paint beautiful landscapes and still-lifes.

Autumn: Pumpkin, acrylic on canvas by Adriana Willsie

I'm inspired by Adriana's simple subjects that are made quite complex by the depth of color and texture of the paint.

Lemons and Cake, acrylic on canvas by Adriana Willsie
(All images are the works of Adriana Willsie. Visit Adrianas website to see more of  her work or click on the links above. The works featured on Inspiration Monday are those that I enjoy and I have not been compensated in any way to include them on my blog.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Food: Olive Nut Sandwich Spread

What to do? I had leftover cream cheese from last Friday's Ginger Cream Cake recipe, so I made myself a guilty pleasure. If you like green olives, then Olive Nut Sandwich spread is tasty, though not so good for you with all the fat and salt. This is one of my grandmother's recipes. It's good on crackers or as a sandwich, just ignore those little voices in your head telling you it's bad for you.

Olive Nut Sandwich Spread

6 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonaisse
1/2 cup walnuts (or pecans)
1 cup salad olives (the green ones with pimentos)
2 Tbsp olive liquid from jar
dash pepper

Blend all ingredients together well. Will stay fresh in refrigerator for weeks. Put in glass jar.