September 18, 2011


Pumpkin is in everything during autumn when the Squashes finally ripen and cooks everywhere seize the opportunity to create fall favorites like Pumpkin Spice Muffins , my creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake and my Amazing Butternut Squash Soup that you can substitute with Pumpkin.  Don't worry if you aren't the make-you-own-Pumpkin-puree-from-scratch kind of cook because you can use canned Pumpkin like most of us do.  I do!  Or if you are a purist and have fresh Pie Pumpkins from the farmer's market or your own garden then don't hesitate to make your own Pumpkin puree.  It could only be more Amazing!  This adaptable recipe can be made into perfect Muffins or Pumpkin Spice Bread by baking the recipe into loaves.  Either way you make it, you will get a very moist Muffin or Bread with hints of warm Cinnamon and Nutmeg that is truly Cooking The Amazing.

Here is the recipe.

2  Sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
1 1/2 c   Dark Brown Sugar, packed
1 1/2 c   Sugar
3  Large Eggs
1 c  Whole Milk
1/2 c  Sour Cream
1  15 oz. Can of Pumpkin
    (Not Canned Pumpkin Pie Mix)
2 t  Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 t  Cinnamon
1/2 t  Nutmeg
1/2 t  Ground Ginger
1/4 t  Ground Cloves
4 c  All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 t  Baking Powder
1 1/2 t  Baking Soda
3/4 t  Fine Grain Sea Salt
2 1/2 c  Chopped Walnuts or Pecans

1.  Plan ahead and allow 3 large Eggs and 2 sticks of unsalted Butter to come to room temperature.  Then preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle.  Line 24 large Cupcake liners into Muffin tins.  I use Reynolds brand jumbo baking cups 3 1/2 inches with the foiled outside liner.  Makes 22-24 jumbo Muffins.

2.  In a bowl of a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl and a using hand held mixer works just fine, too) cream the softened room temperature Butter with the Brown Sugar and Sugar for 4 minutes.

3.  Add the 3 Eggs, Milk, Sour Cream, Pumpkin, Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ground Ginger and Ground Cloves and mix for about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl often.  It will look curdled.

4.  Sift, over the wet ingredients, the All Purpose Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder and Sea Salt.
I use Fine Grain Sea Salt in 99% of my cooking because it doesn't have the odd taste of iodine and it dissolves easily unlike some Kosher Salts.  And I remember hearing Miss Julia Child saying she didn't like to use Kosher Salt for that very reason.  She knew better than anyone...

5.  Mix for about 45 seconds and scrap down the bowl.  Add the chopped Walnuts or Pecans and hand mix 20 seconds more.  Scoop into large Cupcake liners filling 3/4 full or use 2 (Pam Vegetable sprayed) Bread pans if making Pumpkin Spice Bread.  I use an Ice Cream scoop to make less mess and even sized Muffins.  On the center rack bake Muffins at 350 degrees for 30-35 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean and allow to cool in the pan on the counter top.  For Pumpkin spice Bread bake at 350 degrees on the center rack for 50-55 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.  Allow to cool in the Bread pan before removing.

Another great autumn recipe is my Apple Crisp.  The smell of the juicy Apples and bubbly Cinnamon Crisp coming from the oven is like nothing else.

If you really love Pumpkin desserts you will love my easy and creamy Pumpkin Cheese Cake.

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The Sweet Corn was exceptional this year where I live in the Midwest.   I was testing Corn Muffin recipes and thought Sweet Corn would be the perfect addition along with Sharp Cheddar Cheese to make an Amazing Corn Muffin even better.  Corn Muffins arose from traditional Corn Bread from Southern kitchens and is now served all over the country along side BBQ Ribs, Fried Chicken, and even with Honey and Butter at the breakfast table.  This recipe can easily be adapted by adding your favorites like Jalapenos, Bacon or Sauteed Onions.   Go to your local farmer's market or farm stand and buy local produce that will taste fresher and support your community all while Cooking The Amazing.

Here is the recipe.

1  Stick Butter, melted
1/2 c  Sugar
1 c  Buttermilk
1/4 c  Sour Cream
1/2 t  Fine Grain Sea Salt
2  Large Eggs
1  Ear of Sweet Corn, shucked
1 c Yellow Corn Meal
1 c  All Purpose Flour
1 t  Baking Soda
6 oz  Sharp Cheddar Cheese

1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Put 12 Jumbo Muffin/Cupcake liners in a Muffin tin.  Melt 1 stick of Butter in a large bowl in the microwave for 45-60 seconds.

TIP:  I use Reynolds brand Cupcake Liners 3 1/2 inch with a foiled outside for a perfect jumbo Muffin.
2.  Add Sugar and mix well for 1 minute.  Then add Buttermilk, Sour Cream, Eggs and Sea Salt and mix with a hand mixer for 2 minutes.
3.  Sift the Corn Meal and All Purpose Flour over the wet mixture and mix well for 1 minute with a hand mixer.
4.  Microwave 1 ear of Sweet Corn for 4 minutes on high still in the husk and cut off the kernels and add to the batter mixing well.  You can substitute 3/4 c of frozen Sweet Corn thawed for fresh if it is not available.  Cut Sharp Cheddar Cheese into cubes about 1/2 inches or so and set aside. 
5.  Using an Ice Cream scoop or large spoon fill 12 large Muffin (Cupcake) liners 3/4 full with batter and place chunks of Cheddar Cheese cubes into the tops of the scooped batter then bake 20-22 minutes at 375 degrees on the center rack of your oven or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan.  To make as a traditional Corn Bread place in a Buttered 9 x 9 baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

If you have extra Sweet Corn  you may want to make my Roasted Sweet Corn Salad which is delicious and will make use of your farmer's market finds.

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September 1, 2011


I can remember the first time as a kid eating Granola Cereal for breakfast. It seemed very "hippy" but I guess I was sort of a hippy kid with my long hair and living in the early 70's.  It's still a breakfast Cereal but it is also versatile enough to use as a topping for Vanilla Ice Cream or Yogurt.  When added to Pancake Batter or Muffin Batter before baking makes them more Amazing and gives a sweet crunch.  I wanted my Granola to be sweet and have lots of warm flavors like Cinnamon and Maple Syrup to round it out.  I added three kinds of Nuts and Coconut to give it crunch and real depth of flavor. Other great ways to use Granola is to sprinkle it over fresh Fruit like Apples, Plums, or Bananas or you can easily pack it in your work lunch to get you through the day when mid afternoon hunger strikes.  Granola has come a long way since the 70's and when you are Cooking The Amazing it can be easy and delicious.


Here is the recipe.

5 c  Rolled Oats
1 c  Chopped Walnuts
1 c  Chopped Pecans
1 c  Chopped Almonds
2 c  Sweetened Coconut Flakes
1 c  Roasted Sunflower Seeds
1 c  Raisins or Dried Blueberries
1 c  Dried Cranberries or Cherries
1 c  Dark Brown Sugar
1 t  Ground Cinnamon
1/2 t  Sea Salt, fine grain
1 c  Maple Syrup
1/2 c  Honey
1/2 c  Canola Oil
1 t  Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cover a cookie sheet pan with aluminium foil to make clean up easy.

2. Place 5 c of Rolled Oats in a large bowl.  Rolled Oats are also called Old Fashioned Oats. Do not use Instant Oats but Steel Oats will work, too.

3. Chop all the nuts into small pieces. Small enough to eat easily. Place in the bowl with the Oats. Add the Cinnamon, Salt, Coconut, Roasted Sunflower Seeds, Raisins and Cranberries and mix well with a large spoons or your hands.

4. In a medium bowl mix together with a spoon the Maple Syrup, Honey, Canola Oil, and Vanilla Extract well.

5. Pour the liquid mixture over the Oat mixture and mix well with a large spoon or your hands.  I use my hands which works best.  Be sure to get all of the dry ingredients covered with the wet ingredients.

6. Spread the 1/2 of the mixture in an even
Layer on the covered cookie sheet and place on the middle rack of a 325 degree preheated oven and bake for 22-25 minutes or until the Granola is browned. This will make enough for two batches.

7. Remove from the oven and let sit on the pan until cool before breaking up into chunks as big or as small as you like. When you first remove the Granola from the oven the Granola will still be wet and will feel crumbly.  It's the browned color you are looking for to ensure doneness.  When it gets toasty brown it is done.  Once it sits for about 1 hour it will dry out and cool.  Once cooled completely store in an air tight container.

Granola makes a great Cereal with Milk or Soy Milk.

Or cover your favorite Yogurt with a handful of Granola.

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Mediterranean cooking has been my style of cooking since traveling throughout Southern Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey and the Middle East and Northern Africa.  My cooking has been influenced by Amazing fresh grilled Fish with Rosemary and Lemon I ate in Spain, Falafels and Hummus in Egypt and even the Pigeon Pie in Morocco.  This Tuna Salad can be eaten like a Sandwich on fresh Bread or served over tossed mixed Lettuces and eaten with a fork chilled.  The Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice brighten up canned Oil Packed Tuna with crunchy Celery and Salty Capers to balance the textures.  I use Italian Oil packed Tuna when I can because the flavor does not compare.  The flavors of the Mediterranean are easy to bring home no matter where you live when you are Cooking The Amazing.

Here is the recipe.

2  cans Oil Packed Tuna (5 oz. each) drained
1 T reserved Oil from the Canned Tuna
Zest of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/4 c  Finely Chopped Celery
1/4 c  Finely Chopped Red Onion
1/4 c  Diced Tomato
1 T  Capers, drained
1/2 t  Fine Grain Sea Salt
1 t  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
10  Fresh Basil Leaves,  julieanned

1.  Drain the Oil from 2 cans of Tuna and reserve 1 T.
Place the Tuna in a large bowl.  Add the 1 T of Tuna Oil from the can back to the drained Tuna.  I use Italian Oil packed Tuna which is very flavorful but you can use any store bought Tuna like Starkist brand.  Make sure it is packed in Oil not spring water.  If you haven't tried Italian canned Tuna, you must.  There are several brands in local markets or if you have an Italian specialty store it will be there. 

2.  Zest a Lemon over the top of the drained Tuna.  Be sure to zest only the yellow part and none of the bitter white pithy part. 

3.  Chop the Celery, Red Onion, and Tomato into small dice and place in the bowl.  Add 1 T Capers and the Juice of 1/2 of the Lemon and the Sea Salt and Pepper.

4.  Mix all well with a spoon and taste for need for more Salt or Pepper or Lemon Juice.

5.  Stack all the fresh Basil leaves on top of each other and roll tight like a cigar.  Slice across with a knife into ribbons.  This is how to julieanne or chiffonade something.  Stir in the basil and cover tightly and refrigerate until cold before serving.

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