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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The BEST Pumpkin Pie Filling


Back in the day when I had my little food to go restaurant a woman came through the doors to check out my establishment and to see what I offered. After looking around we conversed for quite some time as we hit it off instantly. She owned her own tea room at one time and dabbled in other business ventures and was a school graduated culinary chef. When it was holiday time and I wanted to take orders for pumpkin and apple pies she gladly came on board to help out. This is her recipe that she found and tweaked to perfection. We got loads of compliments on those pies that year, especially the Pumpkin Pie.
Although I blogged it way, way, way back when I've decided to make another pie and take some new photos as the one I took with my flip phone was horrendous.
This truly is the tastiest pumpkin pie filling I've ever had and my family is hooked on this. Truth be known if it weren't for the raw egg thing I could drink this stuff before it gets cooked! It's that good. Seriously good. Please forgive that the crust is not perfectly crimped and even. I know the crust is delicious though and the filling is the best ever.


Pumpkin Pie Filling:
  • 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  1. In a small bowl beat your eggs.
  2. In a larger bowl add in the pumpkin puree, the beaten eggs and the rest of the ingredients. Mix on medium speed until fully incorporated.
  3. Make your pie shell and fill the pie.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350°. This could take an hour or longer until the filling slightly rises and is firm in the middle. 


Monday, September 29, 2014

The Versatility of Pork


Back in 1987 Pork® The Other White Meat® was aggressively campaigned in the United States. Until that time pork was deemed to be the fatty protein and in order to increase sales and consumption they bombarded us with lots of televised advertising and print campaigns. Although I never had to be coerced into buying, cooking and eating pork I suppose others had shied away. During that time the roasts were trimmed down to almost no fat cap which I personally was not fond of. Thankfully our local store started a few years back adding some fat cap back on because many of us requested it. I am not an expert by any means but my personal opinion is that fat adds flavor and the fat seals the meat when seared properly.
Pork is incredibly versatile as it can be prepared with various cooking methods and the result is a very tasty piece of meat. Common methods of cooking include grilling, oven roasting or using a rotisserie oven or an outdoor rotisserie for the grill as well as pan sauteing, using pork in a stir-fry recipe, slow cooking in a crock pot or braising in a pot.
I have made pork in a myriad of ways and have lots of recipes in this blog. No matter which way I've cooked it, the pork has always been juicy, tender and full of flavor. The pork cutlet takes just a couple of minutes or so per side depending on the thickness so dinner is ready in a snap. I've done cutlets several ways and two are represented here in this post. You can search out the other recipes for pork on the blog as well by going to the entree menu.

Starting at the top left and going right and down each row, here are the links to each recipe.
  • BLACKBERRY BRAISED PORK CHOPS - what a dinner treat this was and it was inspired by a jar of blackberry preserves I picked up while out shopping. A little fresh thyme and some port wine added such great flavor to the dish. An out of the everyday kind of pork chop recipe you and the family will love.
  • PORK CUTLET MARSALA - this is one of my favorite pork dishes that I make time and again. The mushrooms coupled with the hint of Marsala wine in a chicken broth based sauce give this dish a lift. It's a play on veal Marsala but far less expensive. Don't let the little bit of Marsala scare you off. The wine cooks and reduces down so it is a great family recipe.
  • STUFFED PORK LOIN - The pork is butterflied, stuffed and oven roasted to perfection! A boxed stuffing mix and apple sauce combined with other savory ingredients makes this a wonderful Sunday dinner for family and friends.
  • GRILLED ASIAN PORK CHOPS - I think this was first attempt at grilling pork chops and the beautiful flavors of the mirin and cast of ingredients kept these chops flavorful and tender and juicy. We grill year round outside but you could also do these using your indoor grill or grill pan. It's a wonderful way to cook pork.
  • ROTISSERIE HONEY GLAZED PORK LOIN - Inspired by a fellow blogger I made my own version of this rotisserie honey glazed pork loin and it was so juicy and delicious. Your family will love the flavors in this dish and the wonderful taste of the outer bark of the loin. It's an easy recipe to put together.
  • SHAKE AND BAKISH STYLE PORK CHOPS - This one is a new family favorite. The bread crumb coating is so tasty and makes a nice crunchy crust on the outside of juicy pork chops. Panko bread crumbs with spices you all ready have in your pantry. Simple and easy to make and the chops cook in 30 minutes!
  • ROSEMARY AND THYME BRAISED PORK CHOPS - Fresh herbs make this such a delightful dinner. Braising the chops in liquid makes them fall off the bone tender. You will love this recipe and probably will want to add it to your dinner line up.
  • OLD WORLD DUTCH OVEN PORK - This is a family dish that I've made over and over and added a new spin on it using a spiced apple cider. While the pork ribs braised in the spiced cider liquid with sauerkraut and caraway seeds they become fall off the bone tender and the succulent flavor of the pork and the cider shine through. Definitely a slow cooked meal for the weekend. It's hearty and delicious and can be served over mashed potatoes.
  • PORK CUTLET MILANESE - What can I say about pork cutlets except that these thin little cutlets are so much fun to work with. This is a great family meal that you can make any night of the week. Except for panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese all you need are some pantry spices to make the coating. An excellent and easy way to cook pork with the result being fabulous flavor!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Bell Peppers


Clearly our pepper plants produced loads of peppers. We gave a good deal of them away as well as produced two batches of stuffed bell peppers, freezing a portion of those for us and giving some to family members. Well the last of the peppers were harvested last weekend and most of them were small and longer than the heartier looking and more rounded peppers of the earlier harvests.
The peppers were on my counter top and daily I walked by them pondering what to do with them. The physical look of the pepper reminded me of a poblano pepper; not as long and certainly not as dark but my mind wandered to the poblano.
Being a big Bobby Flay fan I immediately thought southwestern stuffed peppers. Something with chicken and Mexican spices and lots of cheese. However, when I got in the store I was not thinking about the peppers and never thought to get some chicken. The proteins I came home with were a ham, a turkey breast and some sweet Italian sausage - but no chicken. Needless to say that idea went out the window. Instead I went with an Italian theme using the sausage and decided whether I used all of them for this recipe or not they had to all get roasted or used in some way.

So what I did is roast all of them. Roasted them up in a 450° oven on a commercial sized baking sheet for about 40 minutes until the skins darkened and began to blister. When they came out of the oven I placed them in a large bowl and covered them with plastic wrap. That makes the peppers easier to peel and the juices from the pepper settle at the bottom of the bowl.


After 20 minutes or so you peel the skins and remove the stem and get out as many seeds as you can. DO NOT rinse to get the seeds off. You'll destroy the flavor of the roasted pepper. A few seeds won't hurt so don't go mental over it.


Don't worry if you can't find longer peppers - use any bell pepper you like for the recipe.


  •  12 roasted peppers prepared as directed above for roasting
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage - out of the casings (I used sweet, but hot is fine.)
  • 1 cup onion - small dice
  • 2 cups or so red sauce (spaghetti, marinara)
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese (approximately 3/4 bag for filling, remainder for the top)
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • cooking spray
  1. In a skillet over medium heat add the sausage to the pan and begin to break it down into small pieces. Keep turning and breaking it down until it is about half way cooked and add in the onions. Turn the heat down to medium low and stir. Cook the onions and keep breaking down the sausage as you go. Cook the onions for about 2 minutes.
  2. Next, add in the ricotta cheese and stir until combined and add in the Parmesan cheese and dried spices, salt and black pepper to taste. Add in about one cup of the red sauce and mix. Once combined remove from the heat and allow this to cool down.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350°.
  4. Once the mixture has cooled down, add in the mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 of the bag or a little less) and mix well.
  5. Spray a non stick baking dish or glass dish with a cooking spray as it makes clean up so much easier.
  6. Add about a half cup of red sauce to the baking dish, spreading it over the bottom.
  7. Stuff your peppers and add them in the baking dish. Pour a little sauce over each one and top with some of the cheese.



Bake in a preheated 350° covered with aluminum foil for about 30 minutes. Serve over pasta.

These peppers can be frozen. It may not be a weeknight meal to prepare but you could make this ahead on the weekend and pull it out during the week to bake! Allow extra baking time when baking after these have been refrigerated. These taste great and I especially loved the roasted pepper flavor as it added another dimension to the dish. The peppers do release some juice (still) when baked but you may want to have a little extra red sauce if you serve these over some pasta. All in all this is an appreciable way to use up the tail end of your gardens bounty.