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October 2007

BravoForFoodies.com

I missed the last two episodes of Top Chef and went to BravoTV.com to find out who won. If you're like me and didn't see the winner, it was Hung. Personally, I wasn't all that fond of Hung's personality, but he was definitely very focused and has an incredible passion for cooking. I was rooting for Casey, but Hung was deserving too. Oh well, life goes on...

While at Bravo's website, I discovered the BravoforFoodies.com website, which is packed with all kinds of cooking info. You can find all kinds of Foodie blogs including The Chocolate Blog, Rocco DiSpirito's blog and Tom Colicchio's blog. There's a recipe finder which includes many of the Top Chef recipes. If you salivated over Hung's food, there are several of his recipes posted.

If you like Match Games, check out the Memory Match and Foodie Match. I found the Foodie Match to be easier than the Memory Match. Once you play a round of either game, you'll have access to additional match games. I'll warn you that it's a little addicting, so don't start if you don't have a little time to play.

The recipes are the highlight of the website. There's a recipe for Berry Cheesecake in the Desserts section that is calling my name. Go check it out and grab your favorite Top Chef recipes at www.BravoForFoodies.com.


Win $1000 Worth of Free Steaks

Omaha Steaks is currently running a contest to win $1000 worth of free steaks. All you have to do is provide your email address and you will automatically be entered in the drawing. If you haven't shopped with Omaha Steaks before, you're going to be in for a real treat!

Omaha Steaks offer a vast array of steaks, seafood, poultry, veal, pork and lamb. Choose from incredible pasta dishes including lasagna, ravioli and fettuccine alfredo. Make dinnertime easy and delicious with frozen prepared meals including family style meals, premium beef meals, gourmet chicken meals, great start breakfasts and more.

The Ultimate Sampler normally retails for $201.00, but it's currently on sale for $59.99. That's a savings of $141.01. Additionally, Omaha Steaks is offering 4 free gifts with the purchase of the Ultimate Sampler, including: 6 Omaha Steak Burgers, 6-piece Cutlery Set, Cutting Board and a very handy Document Bag.

OmahaSteaks.com, Inc.

Omaha Steaks also has you covered on side dishes, appetizers, sauces and seasonings, and the most delectable desserts you have ever tasted!

As if that weren't enough, Omaha Steaks offers a nice selection of monthly or quarterly Gift Plans, along with cookbooks, wines and even pet treats.

Stop by Omaha Steaks website and enter your name in the $1000 Free Steaks drawing. While you're there poke around and see all that they offer. Their monthly Gift Plans are perfect for the person on your holiday gift list that is hard to buy for or already has everything.

If you're planning to entertain guests during the holidays, try the Ultimate Sampler which includes:

4 (5 oz.) Filet Mignons,
4 (5 oz.) Top Sirloins,
4 (4 oz.) Boneless Pork Chops,
8 (3 oz.) Gourmet Franks,
4 (4 oz.) Omaha Steaks Burgers,
10 portions of Potatoes au Gratin


Announcing: The Pumpkin Patch Recipe Collection

Pumpkin_patch_2
It's here!! The fabulous "Pumpkin Patch Recipe Collection" is now available as a free download! This 20-page PDF report includes recipes for:


  • Baked Pumpkin with Rice Pilaf
  • Pumpkin Chili
  • Pumpkin and Romano Dumplings
  • Perfect Pumpkin Stew
  • Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries and Almonds
  • Pumpkin Dip
  • No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie
  • Pumpkin Seed Brittle
  • Pumpkin Smoothies
  • Homemade Whipped Cream (including Pumpkin Whipped Cream, of course!) and...
  • A Pictorial Guide to Types of Pumpkins

The Pumpkin Patch Recipe Collection is a PDF file that requires the use of Adobe Reader. If you do not have Adobe Reader installed on your computer you can download it for free at www.Adobe.com.

Click here to download
The Pumpkin Patch Recipe Collection


Baked Stuffed Pumpkin with Rice Pilaf

Baked Stuffed Pumpkin with Rice Pilaf
Baked Stuffed Pumpkin
Serves: 6
Pumpkin Prep Time: 15 minutes
Pumpkin Bake Time: 1 hour
Pilaf Prep Time: 5 minutes
Pilaf Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Stuffed_pumpkin_with_rice_pilaf Ingredients:

1 5-6 pound Pumpkin
3-3/4 cups Water
1 cup Brown Rice
1/2 cup Wild Rice
1 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
1 cup Shallots, finely chopped
2 small Granny Smith apples, cored and diced
3/4 cup Pecans, chopped
1/8 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1/8 tsp Nutmeg, ground
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Tbsp Apple Cider
1/2 cup Golden Raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut off top of pumpkin. Scoop out seeds and pulp and discard.
  3. Place the pumpkin and pumpkin top on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake in center of oven until inside of pumpkin is tender, about 1 hour.
  5. Remove from oven and cover top of pumpkin with foil.
  6. While pumpkin is baking, add water to medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  7. Add brown and white rice and return to boil.
  8. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until most of the water has been absorbed, about 50 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
  10. Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat.
  11. Add scallions and saute until light golden brown.
  12. Add apples, pecans, spices, salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  13. Add apple cider and saute additional 5 minutes.
  14. Add raisins and saute for 5 more minutes.
  15. Remove from heat and combine with rice. Mix well.
  16. Transfer rice pilaf into pumpkin and cover with top.
  17. When serving, scoop out pumpkin flesh with pilaf.

Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries and Almonds

Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries and Almonds
Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Pumpkin_cranberry_bread

Ingredients:

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour (or all-purpose white)
1 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1/4 tsp Ginger, ground
1/4 tsp Cloves, ground
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 cup Pumpkin, canned, solid pack
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup dried sweetened Cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped unsalted Almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. Butter 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Line bottom and long sides with waxed or parchment paper.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk flour, spices, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until blended. Set aside.
  4. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy.
  5. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until blended.
  6. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  7. Add pumpkin and vanilla; beat on medium-low speed until ingredients are well incorporated.
  8. Slowly add one-third of of dry ingredients and one-third of buttermilk into pumpkin mix. Repeat two more times.
  9. Fold in cranberries and almonds.
  10. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  11. Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon sugar, if desired. 
  12. Place loaf pan in oven and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean; about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  13. Cool bread in pan on baking rack for 15 minutes.
  14. Cut bread at short ends of pan to loosen. Turn bread out onto rack; peel off waxed paper.
  15. Cool completely before serving.

*Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries and Almonds can be made up to two days in advance. Securely wrap loaf in plastic wrap and store in cool, dry area. Bread can be frozen up to 3 months if wrapped in plastic wrap, then a layer of foil. Let thaw at room temperature.


Pumpkin and Romano Dumplings

Pumpkin and Romano Dumplings
A touch of crispiness and a dusting of cheese is the perfect balance with the smooth pumpkin texture.

Serves 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18-20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tsp salt for boiling water
1 cup Pumpkin, canned solid-pack
2 large Egg
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Nutmeg, ground or 1/2 tsp freshly grated
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour (or all-purpose white)
6 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
1 cup Romano cheese, finely grated

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot halfway full of water. Add salt and bring to a boil.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together pumpkin, egg, sea salt, nutmeg and baking powder.
  3. Add flour, 1/3-cup at a time and mix well. Dough will be soft.

You'll want to use the 1/2-teaspoon from a measuring spoon set for the next step. If you don't have a measuring spoon set, use a teaspoon, but only scoop out 1/2-teaspoon of dough.

  1. Dip the teaspoon in boiling water, then scoop up a generous 1/2-teaspoon of dough.
  2. Place the dough into boiling water, allowing dough to drop off spoon.
  3. Continue this process until you run out of dough.
  4. Boil dumplings until thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes.
  5. Drain dumplings in colander.
  6. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.
  7. Add dumplings.
  8. Sauté until outside begins to brown, about 8 minutes.
  9. Transfer to bowl, sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.

Pumpkin Dip

Pumpkin Dip
Yields: 3-1/2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour

Pumpkin_dip Ingredients:

1 (8-ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
1 (16-ounces)  Pumpkin Puree or 2 cups fresh
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Spice
1 tablespoon Orange zest


Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin together either by hand or using an electric mixer.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well-blended.
  3. Place in refrigerator and chill for at least one hour.
  4. Serve in small, hollowed-out pumpkin, if desired.
  5. Sprinkle a pinch of Orange zest on top for garnish, or add slivers of orange peel.
  6. Serve with sugar cookies, vanilla wafers, ginger snaps, pound cake or crackers.


Emeril's Kitchen Challenge Sweepstakes

Emeril_2 Emeril's Kitchen Challenge Sweepstakes is presented by B&G Foods. The Grand Prize winner receives roundtrip airfare for for two to Las Vegas, 3 days/2 nights accommodations at the Venetian Hotel, dinner for two at Emeril's renowned Delmonico Steakhouse, plus $1000 spending money. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Three First Prize winners will receive a 14-piece set of Emerilware Stainless Steel Cookware Set and five Second Prize winners will receive an Emerilware Grill and Panini Maker. The Sweepstakes end on November 30th and you can enter once per day. It's open to legal residents within the 48 contiguous states.

Click here to learn more about Emeril's Kitchen Challenge Sweepstakes. This contest has expired.

While you're at the website signing up for the sweepstakes, you MUST play the Kitchen Challenge Game. I'm one of those people who skim directions, so it took me a few tries to figure it out. Here's how it works...

  1. Emeril tells you what ingredients he needs.
  2. You click on the ingredient and a timer starts.
  3. When the ingredient is ready, it turns green.
  4. Click on the green ingredient and drag it over to the Emeril who ordered it.

Visit B&G Foods, Inc. to for future contests and information on brand-name products.


No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie

'Tis the season for pumpkin recipes and I have an abundance of recipes for you! This week, I'll be sharing some of my favorite pumpkin recipes including pumpkin dip, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup and an oh-so-delicious baked stuffed pumpkin.

On Friday, you'll have access to "The Pumpkin Patch Recipe Collection" - a collection of pumpkin recipes you can serve for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and party fare. If you haven't already done so, be certain to subscribe to "The Cheap Gourmet Newsletter" to be automatically reminded when the report is ready. Additionally, you'll receive all kinds of useful cooking tidbits, product reviews and a chance to win gourmet cooking gifts!

Let's kick off the week with one of my favorite pumpkin pie recipes. This no-bake pie can be prepared in 15 minutes (or less), but needs to be refrigerated overnight or for at least 6 hours. Top it off with a dollop of vanilla whipped cream for a bewitching tastebud sensation!

No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie
Serves 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 6 hours minimum, overnight preferred

Cream_pumpkin_pie Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 (8-ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) Butter, softened
1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1 (16-ounce) can pumpkin
1 (9-inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, add sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla and spices. Using an electric mixer, beat ingredients on medium-high setting for 1-2 minutes, until mixture is fluffy.
  2. Add pumpkin and using a wooden spoon, stir by hand until blended.
  3. Spoon mixture into pie crust.
  4. Place in refrigerator and chill 6 hours or overnight.
  5. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

*Individual spices can be replaced with 1 tsp pumpkin spice

Vanilla Whipped Cream
Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 3-5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Add ingredients to a chilled, medium mixing bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat ingredients until soft peaks form.

New to Making Homemade Whipped Cream? Click here for step-by-step directions and whip cream tips.


Halloween Fun FREEBIE!!

Jackolantern_catIt's hard to believe Halloween is less than two weeks away. How times flies! If you love Halloween, you're going to love the free "Halloween Fun - Recipes and Party Games" ebook. This delightful ebook is filled with family activities, Halloween party games and tips and tons of yummy recipes.

Game Ideas include:

"Pick Their Brains"
"Pin the Wart on the Witch"
"Halloween Graveyard Hunt"
"Mummy Wrap" and more.

Recipes include:

"Skeleton Bones"
"Ghostly Eyeballs"
"Halloween Napoleons" - to die for! (no pun intended)
"Marshmallow Haystacks"
"Yummy Witchy Fingers"
"Hot Witch's Cider"
"Ghoulish Brain Dip" and more.

For massive amounts of Halloween Fun, download this awesome e-book. Pass it along to your friends, family, co-workers, daycare center and anyone else you loves good old fashioned Trick or Trick F-U-N.

Enjoy!!

Download HALLOWEEN FUN

P.S. This book requires Adobe Reader to view. If you do not have Adobe Reader, you can download it for free at www.Adobe.com.
 


Perfect Pumpkin Stew

October is the perfect month to make this fabulous pumpkin stew recipe. From start to finish, this hardy stew is ready in under an hour. It's rich flavor and creamy texture are delightful and will fill you up and keep you warm during the upcoming cold weather months.

Perfect Pumpkin Stew
Serves 8

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes

Pumpkin_stew Ingredients:

2 large white or yellow Onions, chopped
3 cups Pumpkin, skin removed and diced
2 cups Sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup Parsnips, peeled and diced
6-8 cups Water
1 cup Carrots, sliced
1 cup Millet
1/2 teaspoon Cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon Coriander seed, ground
1/2 teaspoon Ginger, ground
2 each Bay leaves

Directions:

1. Wash and rinse vegetables.
2. Remove skin from onion, remove core and chop loosely.
3. Remove skin and seeds from pumpkin. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
4. Peel and dice sweet potatoes and parsnips.
5. Add 2 tablespoons water to large pot and saute onions until golden brown.
6. Add the rest of the vegetables, millet, spices and water.
7. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook covered for 1/2 hour or until pumpkin, vegetables, and grains are soft.
8. Remove from heat and serve immediately.


Play "Just Catch This" with Sam Zien of "Just Cook This" Online Game

In September, "Just Cook This" with Sam Zien debuted on The Discovery Channel. I'm still on the fence with this show. I like it, yet I don't like it. There's something about it that keeps my attention, but when a commercial comes on I really want to switch to another channel. I always stay tuned because the recipes look good and I want to see how he makes them. But, the format is B-O-R-I-N-G!

Watching Just Cook This reminds me of watching Julia Childs. The woman bored me to tears, but I learned many cooking techniques from her. Sam Zien bores me to tears too, (sorry Sam!) but I've learned a lot from watching his show. He always has unique shortcuts and when it comes to cooking, I want to discover all the shortcuts possible!

Anyhoo, Discovery Channel just launched the "Just Catch This" game. Sam shows the ingredients of three recipes and you have to "catch" the correct ingredients as they fall from the top of the screen. The first recipe is for Mexican Bruschetta and ingredients include tomato, garlic and cilantro. The game starts off slow and it's easy to catch ingredients.

The further you progress in the game, more ingredients fall at a faster pace. By the time you get to the third recipe, it's total chaos. As far as I can tell, you don't win anything. But, you can invite your friends to play and have a little friendly competition.

"Just Catch This" is entertaining and good clean fun. If you need a break from reality, go check it out:

CLICK HERE TO PLAY "JUST CATCH THIS"


P.S. My total scores were 692 and 1884. Not so good :-(


Food Recall Update

On Sept. 26th, I reported the food recall by Topps Meat Company. At the time, Topps was recalling over 300,000 pounds of beef patties tainted with the deadly e-coli bacteria. Three days later, Topps Meat Company recalled an additional 21.7 million pounds and have now closed their doors for business.

Topps Meat Company recall includes all Topps hamburger products with either a "sell by date" or a "best if used by date" between Sept. 25, 2007 and Sept. 25, 2008. All recalled products also have the USDA establishment number EST 9748, which is on the back panel of the package or in the USDA legend. A full list of the recalled products is available at www.ToppsMeat.com.

On October 7th, Sam's Club recalled hamburgers manufactured by Cargill and sold under the brand name "American Chef's Selection Angus Beef." Cargill Meat Solutions said it is voluntarily recalling approximately 844,812 pounds of frozen ground beef patties because they may be contaminated with E. coli. A full list of recalled Cargill products is available at www.Cargill.com.

You can protect yourself from encountering e-coli in ground beef by cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't already have a meat thermometer, it's a good idea to invest in one. You can purchase a meat thermometer for less than $20. It's well worth the investment.

Thermometer_on_a_rope_2

Thermometer on a Rope icon


Tea Trivia

Tea_etiquette For as long as I can remember my mom has consumed large quantities of tea on a daily basis. She's an avid iced tea drinker now, but when she drank hot tea she always added a splash of cream to it.

In the early 80s, I visited London as part of a group tour. The hotel we stayed at served coffee and tea in a quaint room located in the lobby. I'm not one who likes to intentionally embarrass myself, so I watched how the English prepared their tea, how they held their cup, and how they sipped.

I thought I had everything figured out until I asked if there was any cream. It was if I had just said a vulgar 4-letter word at a daycare center, because the room became silent and all eyes were upon me. Our tour guide pulled me aside and explained the following to me...

The custom of drinking tea with milk has its roots not in taste but with economics. The long journey from the Orient made tea prohibitively expensive. Milk, on the other hand, was cheap and became the condiment of choice among the lower classes. The amount of milk added became a telltale of one's social standing. The wealthy took their tea undiluted. The middle class poured the expensive tea and then diluted it with milk. The lower class filled the cup with cheap milk and then added a splash of the costly tea.

Although I had been taught to add a splash, which placed me in the middle class, I prefer to be in the wealthy class. From that day forward I have never added milk to my tea again ;-)