Monthly Archives: October 2011

Halloween Food Statistics

Another holiday is upon us, which means that the U.S. Census has compiled another set of statistics. The observance of Halloween, which dates back to Celtic rituals, has long been associated with images of witches, ghosts and vampires. There are also foods related to Halloween; below are a few highlights from the Census findings.

1.1 billion pounds
Pumpkin production by major pumpkin-producing states in 2010. Illinois produced an estimated 427 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. California, New York and Ohio were also major pumpkin-producing states, each with an estimate of more than 100 million pounds.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

1,177
Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2009, employing 34,252 people. California led the nation in the number of chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with 135, followed by Pennsylvania, with 111.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns: 2009, NAICS codes(31132 & 31133)

409
Number of U.S. establishments that manufactured non chocolate confectionary products in 2009. These establishments employed 16,974 people. California led the nation in this category, with 45 establishments.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns: 2009, NAICS code (31134)

24.7 pounds
Per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2010.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Industrial Reports, Confectionery: 2010, Table 1

Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Glaze – for Halloween or a Snowy Evening

As I write this post, I am humming the tune of “Sleigh Ride” and watching the snow fall. And no, I am not at the North Pole! It has been a crazy October 29 here in the Northeast – the day started with the trees on full autumnal color display and is ending with a winter wonderland. What a wacky day! I have to keep reminding myself that Halloween is only two days away.

In preparation for a Halloween potluck lunch on Monday, I baked some cookies today. I was inspired by a recipe for Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies, and was especially impressed when the degree of difficulty was noted as “easy.” I played around with the ingredients, adding some whole wheat flour and substituting the refined sugar with honey. The result was a light and fluffy cookie…that really needed a sweet glaze topping. So I got out my saucepan and melted a few ingredients…into a sweet, yummy concoction. I drizzled the glaze onto the cookies and that looked much better. However, I had to try another one with the glaze just to make sure that they were good enough to bring to the potluck. I think that my coworkers will enjoy them…if the plate of cookies lasts until Monday!

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup honey
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup pure canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze (recipe follows)

Directions
PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

COMBINE flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger (or nutmeg) and salt in medium bowl. Beat honey and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto baking sheets.

BAKE for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle Glaze over cookies.

FOR GLAZE:
COMBINE 1/2 cup maple sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in small saucepan on low heat until smooth. Allow glaze to cool for a few minutes before drizzling on the cookies.

I am sharing this recipe with Joy of Desserts, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Lady Behind the Curtain, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, This Chick Cooks, Something Swanky, Food Trip Friday, Sweet as Sugar Cookies, Beauty and Bedlam and Everyday Sisters.

An Economical and Delicious Meal: Baked Chicken with Rice

Looking for a tasty dish to serve guests that doesn’t break the bank? Try this recipe for baked chicken thighs with rice from the October 2010 edition of Cooking Light. It is a little time consuming although the result is great and the leftovers are even better! I substituted the onion for celery (since I am sensitive to onion) and made my own chicken stock (since most store bought varieties contain yeast, sugar, onion or all of them). I also used whole grain wild rice instead of the white rice for a little extra nutrition, although this may alter the cooking time and you may want to add extra water into the pan (since brown rice uses more water to cook than its white counterpart).

As you can see in the photo, we served this meal with butternut squash cooked with a touch of maple syrup. I hope you enjoy this economical recipe, and let me know what you think!

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 carrot, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add 4 chicken thighs to pan; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat with remaining chicken.
3. Add carrot and celery to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add rice; sauté 1 minute. Spoon rice mixture into a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray; stir in broth, 1/4 cup water, and cream. Arrange chicken over rice mixture; sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until chicken is done.

I am sharing this recipe with Everyday Sisters.

Nuts About Fudge Brownies and Walnut Statistics

I could not resist baking these fudgy brownies that I found in the September 2011 issue of Cooking Light. Could I change the recipe so it did not have sugar but still had that fudge quality? I was willing to give it a try.

Walnuts, of the tree nut family, are optional in this recipe. According to the George Mateljan Foundation, walnuts are a great source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Almost 40% of the world’s walnuts are grown in the U.S., mostly in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 485,000 tons of walnuts will be harvested in California in 2011, down 4% from the previous year. The crop is supposed to be of high quality because of the mild temperatures during the growing season. The price per ton of the harvested walnuts is not yet confirmed for 2011 although last year’s price of $2,110 per ton was the second highest price in the past 20 years. During those 20 years, the highest price per ton was $2,290 in 2007, and the lowest price was $886 in 1999.

All of this talk about walnuts is leading me to think about these delicious brownies…and my successful attempt at creating this dessert without refined sugar. Hooray! Enjoy the dessert!

Refined-Sugar Free Walnut Fudge Brownies

Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips
1/3 cup fat-free milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, divided

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Combine 1/2 cup chocolate and milk in a small saucepan; melt chips on low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in butter, vanilla, and eggs. Add milk mixture, 1/4 cup chocolate, and 1/4 cup nuts to flour mixture; stir to combine.
3. Pour the batter into a 9-inch square metal baking pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup nuts. Bake at 350° for 19 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in the pan on a rack. Cut into squares.

I am sharing this recipe with Joy of Desserts, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Beauty and Bedlam, Lady Behind the Curtain, This Chick Cooks, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Sweet as Sugar Cookies and Something Swanky.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with a Modern Twist

Recently my aunt shared some family cookie recipes with me. They were all recipes of her grandmother and passed down to my grandmother, my aunt and now me. Last weekend as the temperatures cooled and the first feelings of autumn were in the air, I decided to try the recipe for Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies. However, I gave the cookies a modern twist: I substituted the refined sugar with honey, substituted the solid shortening with canola oil, and reduced the amount of water. While I made the cookies, I felt a connection with my family – I really enjoyed making the same cookie that my aunt, grandmother, and great-grandmother made for themselves and their families over the years. The entire house smelled of cinnamon and raisins while the cookies baked. And the result was a light and chewy cookie that tasted delicious. I hope that you enjoy this old-fashioned recipe with a modern twist.

Modern Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies


Ingredients:

1 cup raisins
1 cup water
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup honey
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour (a combination of all purpose and whole wheat works well)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 cups oats
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

Simmer raisins and water in a saucepan over medium heat until raisins are plump, about 15 minutes. While the raisins are simmering, mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the raisins and a bit (about 1/4 cup) of the water from the saucepan into the bowl and mix together with all the ingredients. Spoon level tablespoonfuls of the batter onto greased cookie sheets and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 10 minutes.

I am sharing this recipe with Joy of Desserts, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, This Chick Cooks, Lady Behind the Curtain, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Sweet as Sugar Cookies and Joy of Desserts – Vintage Recipes.

Marinated Chicken Thighs with Roasted Tomatoes

This recipe for grilled, marinated chicken thighs with roasted grape tomatoes caught my eye when I first saw it in the June 2008 issue of Cooking Light Magazine. Since the summertime weather is back in the Northeast portion of the U.S., I am inclined to make this again!
I prefer marinating the chicken for at least 1 hour, and will leave it all afternoon in the refrigerator if I have the time to incorporate more of the lemon and garlic flavors. To make this yeast free, I removed the capers from the tomato recipe because they are often stored in vinegar. This meal will have you enjoying picnic food all year round.

Ingredients
Chicken:
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tomatoes:
2 cups grape tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
1. To prepare chicken, combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour (or longer if desired), turning the bag occasionally.
2. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken on grill rack covered with aluminum foil with holes poked throughout. Grill 5 minutes on each side or until done.
3. Preheat oven to 425°.
4. To prepare tomatoes, combine tomatoes and 2 teaspoons oil in an 8-inch square baking dish; toss gently. Bake at 425° for 18 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Combine tomato mixture, parsley, and remaining ingredients, stirring gently. Serve with chicken.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, This Chick Cooks, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage and Food Trip Friday.

Still Have Squash? Enjoy it Simply Roasted!

Squash is very tasty and quite abundant. I have made zucchini bread and zucchini fritters although sometimes I want an easy side dish. My sister-in-law made this bowl for a picnic and it was fabulous. The instructions are below.

Slice the squash into 1/4 inch slices, and place on a baking sheet. Lightly toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and any other herbs you find to be interesting. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. The squash should have a nice caramelized look to it. Serve warm or cold.

It’s a simple and delicious recipe, which makes it a keeper in my reportoire.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

Quick! Make These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Before Prices Increase!

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the prices for peanuts and peanut butter are on the rise. The peanut supply is lower than normal due to two factors: (1) fewer peanuts were planted because farmers opted to grow more profitable cotton and corn, and (2) the prolonged high temperatures this summer adversely affected the peanut crop.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia produce the majority of the nation’s peanuts. According to the USDA, an extreme drought in Texas and Oklahoma has reduced the peanuts harvested.

J.M. Smuckers, which makes JIF, has announced that the price of its peanut butter will increase 30% starting in November. Other peanut companies are likely to follow suit.

So what should we do? I say let’s bake, bake, bake…and fast before the prices rise. There are lots of peanut butter foods from which to choose – I have already shared recipes for Peanut Butter Cups, Honey Peanut Butter Frosting and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies, and now I am happy to share a terrific recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies below. The recipe was inspired by Terry Walters’ Clean Food; I used whole wheat flour instead of teff and swapped grain-sweetened for semisweet chocolate chips. I plan on enjoying these delicious cookies often…and stocking up on peanut butter this month so I can keep baking them through the winter.

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chunky 100% organic peanut butter
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl and all wet ingredients in another. Pour wet ingredients over dry and blend until just combined – do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop batter by heaping teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Place in oven and bake 13 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place directly on wire rack to cool. Makes approximately 20 cookies.

I am sharing this recipe with Joy of Desserts, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Lady Behind the Curtain, This Chick Cooks, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.