Spicy Roasted Root Vegetables

Spicy Roasted Root Vegetables

Spicy Roasted Root Vegetables

With yesterday being the first day of Spring, I have high hopes for this cold dreary weather to turn itself into something resembling spring pretty darn quick.  I’m ready for “peep-toe” shoes, cut-offs, short sleeves and blazer jackets.  I’m also longing for some springtime foods, like strawberries, something lemon, rhubarb, grilled chicken and some different vegetables.  I’m dreaming of sunny days, flowers poking up thru debris in the garden, buds on the trees and getting my hands dirty in the dirt–not!!

So I jotted down some things on my foods “to-make” list. Things like lemon meringue pie, baked ham with scalloped potatoes, fresh peas, cupcakes with coconut on them……etc.   Then I made this instead.  I’m sure you understand.  Before you take that dive into forbidden territory, you must fortify yourself, get your system ready for what lies ahead.  So I put all my notes into a “Spring is not here yet, but it’s coming” file, and turned to what is available at hand now.

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What I had on hand was golden beets and sweet potatoes.  Similar colors, different textures and taste, but both are root vegetables.  So I decided to treat them both the same way.   Anyone who knows anything knows that roasting is the way to go when you want to bring out the natural sweetness in vegetables because their natural sugars get caramelized.  Beets and sweet potatoes are  both loaded with natural sugars, and Gwyneth Paltrow suggested that a light drizzle with good olive oil and some spicy seasonings would turn these vegetables into a dinnertime sensation.   You know what?   She was right!

SPICY ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES

Yield:    Serves 4IMG_6837

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch golden beets, (about 3 med-large size), peeled and cut into wedges.
  • 1 large, or 2 medium sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into wedges or sliced about 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika, either sweet or smoky
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together the spices (cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt).

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Isn't this an interesting pattern in the beet?

Isn’t this an interesting pattern in the beet?

Add cut up beets and sweet potatoes.  Drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss lightly to coat evenly with the spices and oil.  Spread into an even layer on the baking sheet.

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I kept the two kinds of veggies separate on the baking sheet and also on my serving platter, just for appearance sake.

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3.  Roast for 30 minutes, or until they pierce easily with a knife.   Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper if desired.  Serve warm.

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More thoughts on the subject:   this is a good spice mixture to have in a little jar ready for use whenever you have root vegetables to cook.  Mix up the combination of veggies.  Think of turnip, parsnips, carrots—I think any of them would be good cooked this way.

SOURCE:    my own imagination

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Harvest Pumpkin Scones

Harvest Pumpkin Scones

Harvest Pumpkin Scones

I do love pumpkin!!!  So I’m wondering why it is that I seem to bake with it only in the fall.  I know fall, October and pumpkins just go together, but pumpkin is available- the canned variety–all year long.  Are you like that, too? I think it might be that pumpkin’s bright splash of color matches the vivid colors of autumn around the country.  And as the landscape turns drab, pumpkin is still there giving us a lift.

Right now I have about six recipes lined up that include pumpkin,  so if they turn out well, I think you’ll be seeing the results of my baking in the coming weeks.

This recipe is one of the first I tried.  Mainly for two reasons:  1) I haven’t made scones in quite a while and these sounded really good to me, and 2) the recipe needs only part of a can of pumpkin, so I can make something else with the remainder.  A sort of two-for-one deal.  I try to match up recipes that each use only part of a can, so no pumpkin goes to waste.  Otherwise I freeze the part I didn’t use for a later date.

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This recipe did not let me down in the least.  I knew that my expectations were met when they came out of the oven, a deep-gold color and with an aroma of all the spices they contain.  Besides the cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg, I included some crystallized ginger and cinnamon chips to take their flavor over the top.   These are way-good.  :D.  Make them soon and see if you don’t agree.

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HARVEST PUMPKIN SCONES

Yield:   12 scones

Ingredients:

Whole allspice

Whole allspice

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice**
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 to 2 cups minced crystallized ginger, cinnamon chips, or chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs

    Ground fresh allspice

    Ground fresh allspice

  • coarse white sparkling sugar, for topping

**  I use whole allspice and grind it fresh as needed.  The flavor is so much stronger and better than when you purchase the already ground variety.

Directions:

1.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.

Mix together all the dry ingredients.

Mix together all the dry ingredients.

2.  Work in the butter using a pastry cutter or your fingers, just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly;  it’s OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

Some larger pieces of butter are ok.

Some larger pieces of butter are ok.

3.  Stir in the ginger and/or chips, if you’re using them.

Mix in crystallized ginger and cinnamon chips.

Mix in crystallized ginger and cinnamon chips.

4.  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and eggs till smooth.  Add to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

Mix together the eggs and pumpkin.

Mix together the eggs and pumpkin.

5.  Line a baking sheet with parchment;  or, if no parchment paper on hand, use the baking sheet without greasing it.  Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.

6.  Scrape the cough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half.  Round each half into a 5 – 6 inch circle, about 3/4’s-inch thick.

Divide dough into two 6-inch circles.

Divide dough into two 6-inch circles.

7.  Brush each circle with a little milk, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Brush with a little milk or cream.

Brush with a little milk or cream.

Coarse sugar (left), cinnamon sugar (right).

Coarse sugar (left), cinnamon sugar (right).

8.  Using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.

Cut each circle into 6 wedges.

Cut each circle into 6 wedges.

9.  Carefully separate the wedges from each other just a little, with about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.

10.  For best texture and highest rise place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.  While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425*F

11.  Bake the scones for 22 to 25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

Isn't that a beautiful rise?

Isn’t that a beautiful rise?

12.  Remove from the oven and serve warm.  Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature.  Reheat briefly in the microwave, if desired.

A pretty golden color.

A beautiful golden color.

P. S.  If you’re making your own pumpkin puree from a fresh roasted pumpkin be aware that fresh pumpkin has a lot more liquid in it than canned, and should be drained throughly.  You may use a colander, lined with coffee filters, or several layers of cheesecloth.

SOURCE:   King Arthur Flour

There’s What in the Cake?

Bettcha can’t guess what’s in this cake!  A secret ingredient that provides that extra moisture.  Hint:  Theme Thursday?  Tomatoes?

A moist and flavorful apice cake.

A moist and flavorful spice cake.

Some of you may have guessed it by now, but maybe some of you have never heard of  this  recipe for Tomato Soup Cake that dates back quite a few years.  It was popular when my Mom and Dad were young, and my mother used to make it when I was growing up.  She got the recipe from my Dad’s mother.  She made it about once a year, since it was my favorite cake and I always wanted it for my birthday.  I loved it with walnuts and raisins in it and lots of cream cheese frosting.

The recipe got lost after a while, and when my children were young I wanted to make it for them, but couldn’t find the recipe.  I was thrilled to find it on a web site called Heritage Recipes.  We had a family birthday get-together last weekend, and I made this cake.  The flavor and spiciness are just as I remember.  It was like meeting an old friend again.    If you are somewhat put off by using tomato soup in a cake, I promise you will never know its there.  It just tastes like a wonderful spice cake.  You must try it.

Tomato Soup Spice Cake

Tomato Soup Spice Cake

After having written the above introduction to this recipe I found another version of it using a spice cake mix, tomato soup, eggs and water.  So that is the one I actually made since it was quick, but I am including both recipes here because I really want to save the original so it doesn’t get lost again.   You can take your pick about which one to make, the quick version was also very moist and intensely spice flavored.

TOMATO SOUP SPICE CAKE

Yield:

Ingredients:IMG_5199

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ( 10.75 ounce ) can tomato soup, undiluted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Lightly grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch cake pan.

2.  Cream the shortening with the sugar using an electric mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.  Stir baking soda into the tomato soup and add to shortening/sugar mixture.

3.  Whisk together dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture.  Beat to blend well.

4.  Stir in raisins and nuts.

4.  Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350*F for 45-50 minutes, testing with a cake tester or toothpick for doneness.

5.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Quick Version:IMG_5181

  • 1 ( 18.25 oz.) box Spice Cake Mix
  • 1 ( 10.75 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Lightly grease 2  8″  or 9″-round cake pans, or a 13 X 9″ cake pan.

Mix cake mix, soup, water and eggs as per package directions.

Mix all 4 ingredients together at medium speed.

Mix all 4 ingredients together at medium speed.

Pour into prepared pan(s), and—-

Bake  for 30 -35 minutes till it tests done with a toothpick.

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Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting with cream cheese frosting.

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SOURCES:  Heritage Recipes,  and CampbellSoup.com

Pumpkin Ginger Scones

Pumpkin Ginger Scones

Pumpkin used in baked goods seems to be gaining in popularity.  It is one of the most common flavors of Fall and gets used right through the Holidays.  Most typically it gets made into pies and served as dessert, however I am seeing more and more recipes for pumpkin used in breads, muffins and scones.  I love pumpkin in any form, I am also crazy about scones and as most of you know by now, crystalized ginger.  So when this recipe with those three magic words as its title found its way into my house recently I was preheating the oven before I got to the end of the recipe.

An absolutely lovely breakfast item they are full of flavor from the spices and dried fruit, and they also have a pleasant bite from the ginger bits that will get you going in the morning.  They are extremely easy to mix together, bake up in a jiffy, and you can be enjoying them within an hour.  They are wonderful warm from the oven, but also reheat nicely in the microwave.  This is another recipe you might want to have handy for Thanksgiving morning.  If you are having house guests, set out a basket of muffins and scones, hot coffee and juice and let your guests help themselves to breakfast.

INGREDIENTS

YIELD:  Makes 8 scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

    Essential ingredients: pumpkin, raisins, and crystalized ginger.

  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick ) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup raisins ( use golden, dark, or some of both )
  • 1/2 cup crystalized ginger cut into fine dice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment, or lightly grease a scone pan.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.  Cut in the butter until it’s the size of peas.  Stir in the raisins and ginger bits.

3.  Stir the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg together and add to the dry mixture, mixing until the dough comes together.  Pat the dough into a circle on the prepared baking sheet, or scoop into the wells of your scone pan.

4.  Cut the dough into 8 wedges with a greased bench knife or other knife.  Pull the scones back away from each other to give them 1/2″ space between them.  Bake for 14 – 17 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and serve warm or cold.  (They are best warm!)

Fresh out of the oven, just waiting for YOU!

SOURCE:    The Baking Sheet,  King Arthur Flour,  Holiday 2012