Maple Ginger Pumpkin Pie

Life has been way too busy. The only reason I have time to write this right now is because I felt sick to my stomach and decided to stay home. I usually have acting class on Wednesday nights.

Naturally the best way to cure an upset stomach is to stay home and write about food right?

I’m exhausted. I’ve been working another 9-5 temp gig and I’ve had to be somewhere right after work for the last week and a half. Most of those events were auditions. In fact,I had to go to Culver City for an audition today. For those of you who are not familiar, Culver City is on the west side and I work/live close to downtown. This means an hour long drive to go only ten miles. Having a chance to audition is worth it, but I need a break from driving and being to places on time.

Why couldn’t I have a slew of auditions when I was in-between temp jobs and doing nothing? I’m getting tired of your games universe! Can we dial it back to easy mode now?

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Hurt me plenty seems to be the setting I have for relationships too

Thankfully Maple Ginger Pumpkin Pie has a setting of “Hey, not too rough.”

In other words it’s easy to make.

The recipe is from Week Night Menus and I actually made it for Thanksgiving. I waited this long to write about it because I have an OCD setting level of “Hey, not too rough”. My OCD level is ok with making the recipe out of my constructed order, but only if I keep the writing order in tact.

I have problems. That’s my best explanation.

A specific crust recipe is included in this pie recipe, but it isn’t necessary to make. Grocery stores carry frozen crusts that you can add to, but I do feel it’s worth making this crust and as long as you don’t get all Martha Stewart about it, it’s not too difficult.

I have a couple of aunts that make perfect looking crust. They’ll admit it took some time to perfect, so don’t be hard on yourself if you struggle.

What you’ll need for the crust

  • 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup of hazelnut meal or ground nuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons of softened butter
  • 6 tablespoons of cold orange juice or water
  • Super secret bonus option of 1 tablespoon of date sugar

For the Filing

  • 1 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 cup of evaporated fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated and peeled gingerroot

The first step is to whip out your food processor and pulse the flour, nut meal, spices, and butter. The consistency should be a little crumbly. Pour that mixture into a bowl and slowly add the OJ in.

This process will form your dough and when you mix and pound that dough into a nice shape you will then spread it onto a 9 inch pie pan. Be sure to spray PAM on your pan first. PAM. On. Your. Pan. I like it.

Once you spread your dough on your PAM pan the recipe says, “if desired, sprinkle with date sugar”. You will desire it, so I recommend you just do it. Why deny yourself of your date passions?

Bake your crust sprinkled with or without desire at 325 for 8 to 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, go ahead and make the filing by combining all the ingredients except the flour and gingeroot in a bowl. Mix this mixture until it blends evenly and then add your remaining two ingredients.

Your filling is now ready to be added to your crust. Marry those two together and send them off on their hot 375 degree honeymoon for 55-60 minutes.

Once time is up all you’ve got to do next is cool the happy couple off until they are ready to be served.

I was pleased with my final result. This was the second pie I ever made and the first time I ever made pie crust. It wasn’t a perfect pie, but it was appetizing. The best way I can describe the taste, is that it is just like Pumpkin pie with an added kick of ginger.

Admittedly the ginger could be a bit overpowering. I’d dial that back a little next time, but the maple flavor was delicious. My crust came out a little crumbly too, which I’m not sure was supposed to happen. It’s not your typical crust recipe and it reminded me of the crust for cheesecake. Whether it’s supposed to be crumbly or not, it tasted delectable and that’s what matters most for me.

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The Pie

 

Scallops and Gravy

There are four foods that almost everyone (excluding dietary restrictions naturally) universally seems to like, ice cream, pizza, bacon, and gravy.

I like three of those things. I even like two of those things together. I have never ever liked gravy though. My brother, on the other hand loves gravy. He would sometimes pour it on my mashed potatoes just to watch my eyes turn red. Then he’d laugh and ask me if he could eat mine. I’d like to think my brother was trying to teach me at an early age that all men are bastards, but something tells me he just wanted more mashed potatoes and gravy.

This recipe, which I got from Weeknight Menus, made it seem like this was a non gravy like sauce. They presented it so well. They called it Seared Scallops with Ginger-Thyme Pan Sauce. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

What they should have called it was, Ginger Gravy, because that’s what it tasted like to me. I kind of wish my brother was around to try this meal, because he might have liked it. Despite this disappointment though, it was still an edible meal for me. I didn’t enjoy myself, but I didn’t want to spit it out either. So there’s a saving grace.

If you enjoy gravy and want to try this out, here’s what you’ll need. 8 large scallops, 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 minced shallots, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 1 cup of thinly sliced carrots, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme, 1/3 cup of white wine, 1 cup chicken stock, salt, pepper, and canola oil.

The first step is to pre-heat your pan with the canola oil under medium heat. Season your scallops with some salt and pepper and then heat them in the pan for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Once brown and golden, you will remove the scallops and replace them with one teaspoon of butter. Cook the shallots, ginger, and carrots with this butter until it melts. Once melted, you will add the wine and thyme until the wine reduces. After that add your stock.

Admittedly the reason my sauce turned gravy like, might have been because I used these chicken stock pods instead of buying a whole can of chicken stock. I was trying to save money/ingredient use. I hate wasting food. I always feel so guilty when an ingredient goes to waste. I really wish there was a way to buy 1/4 cup of whipping cream and one cup worth of chicken stock because everytime a recipe calls for that my leftover stock and cream goes bad and into the trash.

So, the pod chicken stock did seem a little thicker then the one I’ve bought from the can. I probably needed to add water to it. I admittedly just plopped the pods in and didn’t check to see if you were supposed to add anything to it. I’m guessing water would have helped.

After you add all those things, you will simmer and reduce the liquid in half. After that’s done you whisk in another tablespoon of butter. This should complete your journey of making ginger gravy.

So as I said, I wasn’t a fan of this dish. I think if I had used actual chicken stock it would have turned out better. Looking back, it did seem like the overpowering taste was the chicken stock. Water or using actual stock would have resulted in less over-powering sensation.

If you are a gravy lover, though, this could be an interesting alternative. I dare you to try.

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Gravy scallops and rice

Pork Parmesan

This is another recipe from my ruined cookbook, Weeknight Menus. I was excited about this recipe, because Chicken Parmesan was my favorite dish as a child and I still love it, but I’ve got tons more favorite dishes now.

This dish isn’t too different from the chicken version nor is it difficult and the best part about it is that you bread with Japanese panko crumbs. As a general rule one usually uses Italian bread crumbs for Parmesan dishes. Panko bread crumbs are light and crisp in comparison to Italian bread crumbs. I think it’s perfect for pork, but I have to admit I’d stick to the Italian bread crumbs for chicken.

The first step in this recipe is to boil your side dish of pasta and pre-heat your oven to 400. This particular recipe called for fettuccine, but I prefer spaghetti as a side. I feel like fettuccine is a bit too thick of a pasta to pair with a whole slab of meat.

Meanwhile, while your pasta is boiling, you bread the pork. I ended up buying a thin sliced package of four boneless pork loin chops from Von’s which worked out perfectly. Whenever I make boneless meat dishes, I can’t help but be thrilled that I don’t have to slaughter and cut my own meat. I’m very much an omnivore, but I understand vegetarians who became so because of their love of animals. Even if I wasn’t sympathetic to animals, though, that whole process seems like a lot of work. I still remember this story my mother told me about watching her grandmother kill and prepare a chicken. She was extremely sweet in her methods, but it was a slightly horrific and fascinating experience for my mother.

My great-grandmother’s method of killing chickens was to gently pick the chicken up from it’s pen. She would then hold it in her lap, grab it’s legs and stroke the chicken’s neck until it calmed down. Once it was calm, she would make sure it’s neck was extended and that it was still calm, grab her cleaver with one hand and WHACK! It’s a frightening concept that I  can relate to life. Whenever things are going well for me, I keep waiting for that cleaver that’s going to chop off my neck. That’s what that story taught me anyway. It’s the calm before the storm.

Ok, so I’m done being a Debbie downer for today, I promise. Let us all be thankful we don’t have to do that.

The next step is to bread your pork. All you do is get two shallow plates and one wide shallow bowl. One shallow plate has flour and the other panko crumbs. The bowl will be filled with two beaten eggs. Take each pork loin and cover with the flour, than cover it with the egg, and finally the panko crumbs. Once all the pork loins are breaded, you fry them in olive oil until golden brown and then set aside.

If your pasta has cooked in this time, you drain it and toss with olive oil and parsley. If not, just do that when it is, whenever that is.

The next step is to make some tomato sauce and the first step to do that is to saute a cup of diced onion and two minced garlic cloves in olive oil. Then you add a 280z can of diced tomatoes along with a cup of chicken broth, a bit of red wine vinegar, sugar, and oregano. The recipe then calls for you to smash the sauce with a potato masher. I do not own one, so I did my best attempts to smash everything. I did this by taking a  flat wooden stirring spoon, scooping up as many chunks of tomatoes as possible, and smashing it against the spoon with a fork.

Once that’s done you boil your sauce and then allow it to simmer for ten minutes.

Now you go back to your pork. You place the pork on a pan and add sliced mozzarella strips on top. Place it in the oven until the cheese melts, which will be around 5 minutes.

Once the pork is done you place it neatly beside your pasta and pour the sauce wherever you like and garnish with Parmesan. I like to pour it everywhere, by the way. I love my gravy. I blame my half Italian-American mother for that.

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As my 5 year old self would say, “Yummy in my tummy!”

Strawberry Salad

For those of you who have read my other entries, you know I like to come up with what are hopefully funny and creative titles. I couldn’t for this one. I thought about Strawberry Salad…Forever, but that just felt too cheap. I imagined John Lennon and George Harrison coming to me late at night in spirit to chastise me for making such an awful joke in expense of their song. Then they would haunt Ringo and Paul until they came to visit me in person to do the same.

Speaking of The Beatles I actually like the movie Caveman, which stars Ringo, by the way. My brother and I used to watch it on HBO when we were kids. It’s not a great movie, true, but it has it’s moments. It still makes me laugh and it’s entertaining. Also some nostalgia is involved because whenever my brother and I would hurt ourselves my mother would ask us if we were pooka. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll understand that reference.

Anyway, because of this movie, Ringo was my favorite Beatle for a very long time. Then 500 Days of Summer (or 500 Days of Bummer as a friend of mine likes to call it) came out. In that movie Zooey Deschanel’s character also claims that Ringo is her favorite. I have such issues, ladies and gentlemen. I hate that movie so much and that character that I was like, “Ringo is not my favorite Beatle anymore!”

I really didn’t give the decision of my favorite much thought anyway. I grew up with The Beatles because of my parents and I didn’t really listen nor appreciate them as much because The Beatles were like second nature to me. Also I can be such a hipster. I didn’t want to be like everyone else and love The Beatles when I was young. I’m trying to let that go, but it became thing for me to not like what everyone else liked long before it was a thing. Honestly, it was. I am a purebred hipster, unfortunately. There’s a reason I turned out that way though and someday I’ll write about it.

There is a good reason why everyone loves The Beatles. They were a perfect quartet of talent and personality and they were able to transform their image and style with ease.

Plus, I watched A Hard Day’s Night for the first time a couple of years ago and it made me fall in love with each one of them. If you haven’t seen it, do so.

Back to this recipe though. It’s another easy one which is why I felt like talking about The Beatles. It came from my cookbook, Cooking Light. The authors of the recipe were kind enough to include a dressing recipe too which is your basic balsamic and oil dressing. If you are not aware of what that is, it’s an equal ratio of oil and vinegar sprinkled with salt and pepper to taste. The next step is to add sliced strawberries, onion, and basil with romaine lettuce. Then you lightly toss the salad with your dressing resulting in a light and tasty strawberry salad

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Amy’s Strawberry Salad

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The Amazing Sweet and Sour Scallop Dish

This recipe comes from my lost cookbook Week Night Menus. I typed out the recipes I wanted to try before throwing out my dirty water soaked copy.

It’s a shame that I lost this cookbook because I like all the recipes I’ve cooked out if it so far. The best part is that they are also extremely easy to make.

My favorite part in this recipe was making the sauce which consisted of ketchup, soy, hoisin sauce, vinegar, sugar, and a bit of sriracha.

You can make the sauce first or later but it is the last ingredient added in the wok. That is, if you choose to make it in a wok. I recommended it. Woks are fun.

For your wok cooking, the first step is to lightly fry the scallops in cornstarch and oil. Once they’ve been lightly browned you add bell pepper, pineapple, and snowpeas. When all of that looks good and tasty you just pour the sauce on top and let that sauté for a bit.

Once the sauce is heated and mixed you garnish your plate with cashews and sliced green onion.

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Arugula and Mushroom Quesadilla

This recipe is also very simple and it came from a cookbook that I sadly lost about a month ago. I flew to my homestate for a visit and while I was gone my building decided to checkups. This resulted in my kitchen sink overflowing and ruining almost all of my cookbooks. I used to keep them lined up on the shelf next to the sink. I now keep them on top of my fridge. Lesson learned.

Thankfully I was able to replace all of my cookbooks, except two. This one was called Week Night Menus and the other one was called Wal-Mart Family Cookbook. Finding the Wal-Mart one has been really frustrating because I can’t figure out what edition it was. It had a recipe from an ex boyfriend’s mother in it. I thought it was from 2005 but I ordered that and it didn’t have her recipe. I’m sure I could ask my ex, but we haven’t talked in years. We are still friends with our mutual friends but last time I reached out to him he was quite frankly a douche. This was years ago though, so I’ve been wresting with whether or not I should contact him.

I might encounter him in the future though. My best friend from home is getting married and he’s still friends with the ex, so I’m sure he’s invited too. I’m very excited about my friend’s wedding! I love his fiancee and I get to be a groomswoman! I only know one other person who had a grooswoman and it’s something I’ve wanted to see more of truthfully. Also when I was younger I only had one female friend so when I would think about my future wedding, my friend was my best brides man, the other guys my bridesmen, and then my friend Sara. As I got older I made more female friends so now it would be more mixed.

I’m not sure if I want a wedding or if I’ll ever even get married though. Not trying to be a downer. It’s still a dream of mine to be with someone I love, who also loves me, and have that relationship last. I’m just not pushing or looking for it as strongly as I was when I was younger. Also the most fun part about weddings is the reception. So if I were to get married, I’d probably just have a court ceremony with a few close friends and family and then I’d have a giant party.

I know this is a total digression, but honestly I don’t have much to say about this recipe anyway. The hardest and most fun part about it was making the sauce for the quesadilla. I mixed mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, jarred red peppers, and other spices. It came out tasting a little like ranch dressing. Ranch dressing with some kick to it to be more precise. That’s not surprising though because mayonnaise is an ingredient for ranch dressing as well. It’s not as creamy though as you can see below.

photo (7)The filling for the quesadilla is real easy too, you just saute the arugula and the portobello mushrooms before hand. When everything is cooked you spread the sauce, swiss cheese, the mushrooms, and the arugula on one end, fold, and then cook on a skillet. You heat one side for a few minutes and then you turn it over. It’s real easy and boring to talk about, but it was good!

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