Cooked Grated Vegetables

I have a tendency to eat a lot of meat and to not always eat healthy. There are times, though, when I want to switch things up. I’ve made a variation of this dish in the past, but I was really happy with the results for tonight’s dinner. This is a vegetarian, low-sodium dish. I eyeballed some of the spices, but will put down my best guess estimates for the portions that I used.

Ingredients – Rough estimates

1 pound carrots

1/2 pound onion

2 pounds potatoes

1 5 ounce bag baby spinach

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon chopped ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

1/8 teaspoon of citric acid.

I used the grater attachment for my Cuisinart and grated 4 large carrots, 1 yellow onion, and 2 large potatoes.

I heated one tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a wok. Once the butter was completely melted, I added the grated vegetables.

I continuously stirred the vegetables for about 10 minutes. The carrots and potatoes were still a little firm, but they were definitely getting closer to the proper texture.

I then added 1 teaspoon of chopped ginger (from a jar), 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds and 1/8 teaspoon of citric acid. I continued to stir for about 2 minutes, until there was a consistent release of steam.

I then added one bag of baby spinach (I rinsed the spinach first, and shook out all of the water) and continued stirring for another 3 minutes.

Once the spinach leaves lost their stiffness, I removed from the heat. The spinach would continue to cook, but would not get overcooked and mushy.

It was ready to plate and eat. You can add seasonings or sauce if you want, or just have it like this. I had this as my main dish (I ended up having a second portion as well). This would work as a side dish. I’ve made this with grated broccoli stalks instead of spinach in the past, but would caution you to use just a little broccoli stalk (and shave off the outside first). They can take longer to cook, but do provide additional fiber.

I used citric acid instead of salt, but that was just my preference to make this a lower sodium dish. I like to use ground turmeric from time to time. There are many health benefits, and it adds flavors that my taste buds enjoy. Ground coriander also brings some additional health benefits. Caraway seeds were something new for me to use. They are good for digestive health, and the seeds add a nice textural element to the dish. If you want to use fresh ginger, garlic and turmeric, I say go for it. I would just recommend adding them after the vegetables have cooked for about 10 minutes and not blending them in with the vegetables at the beginning, since you don’t want to overcook the ginger, garlic and/or turmeric, and possibly lose of the potency of the flavor or health benefits.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have fun with this healthy, flavorful, and colorful meal.

Food Truck Tuesdays – Koco Food Truck

Today was the last Food Truck Tuesday for the season at the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department. They were doing a “Truck or Treat”, so there were a few young ones wearing their costumes, which made it more fun. I had been checking out the trucks that would be there, and decided that I would be going to the Koco Food Truck, as long as the lines weren’t too long.

I arrived just before 5PM, since I wanted to get there before it got too busy. The lines at Koco were not too long, so I was happy to wait. After reviewing the menu, I decided to order the Bibimbap with Bulgogi.

Bibimbap is a Korean rice dish. Bulgogi is Korean barbecued meat (beef, in this instance). I decided to stick with the basics of their bowl and added Bulgogi. There was white rice on the bottom, followed by the mixture of vegetables: red cabbage, carrots, lettuce, squash, bean sprouts, and cucumbers. The Bulgogi followed, and the dish was topped off with sesame seeds, oil and their special “K Sauce”.

The bulgogi had a very nice flavor. There was a nice kick to the dish, which was balanced by the cool flavors of the cucumber and squash. I’m not usually a fan of squash, but it worked well in this dish. The rice was cooked well and also helped to bring all the flavors together. The portion was perfect for me. Not too little, and not too much. I was able to eat it all without getting an uncomfortable feeling, and did not feel like I needed more.

I’m glad I was able to visit this truck today. I’ve wanted to try it out for awhile, so it’s good that I got to taste their flavors. We are getting to the time of year where food trucks will be more scarce due to weather, so this is a truck I will definitely have to keep an eye on next year. They did a great job with the Bibimbap, so I look forward to trying out some of the other items on their menu. I’m sad that Food Truck Tuesdays are winding down this season, but I’m glad that they were fairly close to home for me. Definitely a positive way to get through the first half of the week.

Spending Time in New York

I’ve been out and about this past week, so I haven’t had a chance to write. I visited with family, which is always nice. I started my travels by heading over to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Pikesville. They had a new drink, a Maple Ice blended, and I decided to give it a try. I’ve had maple flavored drinks and sweets before, and there tends to be an overly sweet tone at times. Not with this drink. It might be due to me having added an extra shot of espresso, but the flavors all blended well quite nicely. I planned on trying Sion’s bakery, but it was not open when I got there, so I will try it some other time.

During my drive North, I was able to see some really nice colors on the trees. All different shades of green, yellow, orange, and red, with some purple added in there for good measure. When I got to the Delaware Bridge, it was so foggy that I was not able to see the water. I could see the cars in front of me, which is much more important.

I visited the family for a few days, but also had one day where I went into New York City for a meeting. It was a productive meeting and will hopefully lead to some good things. The meeting was early, so I decided to try Essex Market for some breakfast. Since it was early, most of the vendors were not yet open. I did manage to visit Cafe D’Avignon and Porto Rico Importing Co., which were both pretty good. If I am able to go back and visit, I’ll try to get there closer to lunch time when all of the vendors should be open. There is a bottom floor that is apparently going to have another 30 vendors, so the place should be jam-packed if you get there at the wrong time (or the right time, if that is your preference).

Before I headed back home, I decided to stop at Magnolia Bakery in Penn Station. I got a brownie, which was delicious, as well as their specialty flavor of banana pudding, Pumpkin Gingersnap Banana Pudding. The flavor of the pudding was really good – much better than I expected. The pumpkin and gingersnap flavors worked well together, and they really enhanced the flavor of the bananas.

I was able to spend some quality time while on Long Island. I visited Broadway Mall, Roosevelt Field Mall, Friendly’s, Carvel, Nordstrom’s Ebar, and more. A lot of good meals were eaten. Too many good meals, but that’s a good thing. My mom and I worked together to make a birthday cake for my sister, who was visiting. So I was able to get some quality time with family.

During this visit, I was much more contemplative and reflective than usual. A lot of thoughts about the impact music had on me when I was younger, and thoughts of my Junior High School and High School years. Good and bad, but it was all good to think back on those times.

When it was time to drive back down to Maryland, the only concern was the weather. There was rain expected, with some heavy rains expected to hit around 10AM. I left a little before 9AM, hoping to be on the New Jersey Turnpike before the heavy rains hit. Unfortunately, the rain started getting heavy around 9:30, so I had a slow, careful drive. The rain was expected to stop in Maryland around 12PM, so I thought I would be arriving in Maryland right when the rain let up. I had some lunch at Earl of Sandwich (I got the original, since the holiday sandwich won’t be there until around Thanksgiving), and got something to drink at Peet’s Coffee. The rain was still coming down pretty hard, and didn’t let up until close to 1:30PM, which led to some major traffic delays. It was still fun to drive down and see the nice colors on the trees and to drive in the rain. Even if it was slower going, there wasn’t flooding and there weren’t any accidents along the way. As I got closer to home, there were some dark clouds, which I really enjoyed. Nothing like being on the road at 2:30 PM and having it be so dark it looks like it’s closer to 8PM.

This post isn’t as expressive as usual and no pictures in this one. I’ll try to post some more during the next few days about some of the thoughts and memories that I had while I was in New York. It’s good to be home, especially when you have a lot of places that you can call home.

Homemade Dark Chocolate Truffles

Homemade Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Homemade Dark Chocolate Truffles. I like the sound of those words so much, I had to repeat them.

It’s been a few years since I made some chocolate truffles, but I wanted to make them this weekend, and today was the perfect day for it. The process can take 6-8 hours from start to finish, but there is plenty of time for breaks in between. The recipe that I use is from a book titled “Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers” by Nick Malgieri. I have a couple of slight differences from his recipe, but I use his as the base for mine.

The type of chocolate that you use matters. You don’t have to use the most expensive chocolate in the world to make these, but you want to make sure that there is a level of quality to the chocolate, since you don’t want to have it break down during the steps that involve melting. When selecting the dishes that will be melting or mixing the chocolate, please make sure that everything is dry. Water can cause the chocolate to seize, which will result in a lumpy, muddy mess of chocolate. It can be fixed or used for other things, but will not be good for the truffles.

The first part of this recipe is the Center of the truffle. 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon corn syrup and 8 ounces of melted chocolate. The recipe calls for heating the cream, butter and corn syrup in a nonreactive pan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from the heat and wait 5 minutes. Add the cream mixture to the chocolate and whisk smooth.

I use a slight variation. I heat 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup in a pan over medium low to low heat. As soon as the butter is melted, I remove from the heat and continue to stir.

If you have a glass blender/mixer bowl, place the chocolate in there. While the cream mixture is melting, I heat the chocolate in the microwave over medium – low power for 30 seconds at a time. You don’t want the chocolate to be melted. If it is at a slightly soft consistency, it is done. The chocolate disks that I used took about 1 minute 45 seconds, but if you have smaller disks or chips, that should take less time, since there is less surface area. You want to make sure the chocolate doesn’t get too a temperature that is too high, or it might break down, which will result in a more grainy consistency.

The cream mixture should have cooled for a few minutes, so you can add that to the chocolate mixture and start whisking together.

You should have a nice, melty chocolate mixture once it’s all combined. The next thing you have to do is wait. 2-3 hours should be good enough. You want the chocolate mixture to be at room temperature.

After the chocolate is at room temperature, whip the mixture using an electric mixer on medium speed, for about a minute, until it lightens in color. It should be a duller brown color (similar to the picture above). Make sure you use a scraper or spatula along the bottom and the sides to ensure the mixture is completely combined.

The next step in the recipe is to spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tube. Pipe 1/4 inch balls on to the prepared pan. My variation is to use a small scooper/squeezer. It’s similar to an ice cream scoop and can be found in many kitchen stores. I have multiple sizes, which help if I’m making larger truffles, or if I want to make some uniform sized cookies.

I scoop these onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with wax paper. The next step is to chill for at least an hour. I usually put these in a refrigerator for 2 or 3 hours. The next step will involve dipping these and coating them in melted chocolate, so you want to make sure that the centers are chilled enough so they won’t melt as soon as they get into the chocolate to be coated.

Next is coating the truffles. The recipe calls for 12 ounces chocolate and 2 cups cocoa powder. Once the centers are chilled, melt the chocolate by tempering, or allowing it to cool to about 90 degrees. Coat the truffles using your hand, depositing them into a pan of sifted cocoa.

I have a slight variation for this as well. I use a double broiler to melt the 12 ounces of chocolate. You do not want the water on the bottom pot to be touching the top pan. This can lead to burning the chocolate. Once the last bits of chocolate have melted, I add just a little bit of vanilla (less than 1/8 teaspoon). This is just a personal preference. Let this rest for 5 minutes or so, to make sure the chocolate isn’t too hot for coating.

I use one fork and one spoon. I place one or two truffles into the melted chocolate, cover them with the spoon and bring them up with the fork. The chocolate will fall through the prongs of the fork and will be easy to transfer back onto the wax paper. I don’t put them in cocoa powder, but again, it’s just a personal preference.

This picture is taken at the half-way point from one of my trays.

This is one of my trays that has been completed. The chocolate is shiny and still very melty.

You can let these sit at room temperature for a couple of hours.

You should be able to notice a change in the appearance of the chocolate as it cools. You can touch the truffles to see if the outer layer has gotten firm. Once it has, they are ready to be eaten.

I used a 75% dark chocolate for the center and a blend of 75% and bittersweet for the outer coating. In the past, I have placed the truffles in the refrigerator once I finished coating them. If you do that, you’ll want to keep them refrigerated. If you take them out to sit, they will get melty and you will have chocolate fingers. There is nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to give you a heads up.

You can always mix things up. If you want to add some unique flavors to the center, add a little more chocolate if you are going to use a liquid. I’ve used peppermint extract, Amaretto, Espresso, etc., to change things up. I’ve also switched peppermint extract for vanilla for the chocolate coating, but it still has to be a very small amount. Too much liquid will affect how the chocolate will settle and solidify. If you want to use an outer coating of chocolate powder go for it. If you want to try something different, you can also change things around. Powdered sugar, cinnamon, chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc.

If you want to try the center and chocolate coating with different chocolates, then go for it. Make it your way. It’ll be delicious. And if you make any mistakes, they will be delicious mistakes!

Capriotti’s – Annapolis

While I was out earlier today, I had lunch at Capriotti’s. Capriotti’s is a Delaware based sandwich shop that has locations in multiple states. They began in 1976, and in 1987 they rolled out some signature sandwiches. Among these was the “Bobbie”. This is their Trademark Holiday Sandwich. It has been listed in several publications over the years as the Best Sandwich in Delaware, as well as “The Greatest Sandwich in America” by AOL in 2009.

I’ve eaten many Capriotti’s sandwiches in my life, and they are very filling. When I went there today, I decided to get the half, which is 5″, but still a good portion for me (the small is 8″). I decided to go with the old reliable, the Bobbie. The sandwich is turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayonnaise on a roll. Although you can get it cold, I always order mine hot since it brings something special out of the stuffing.

Their Cole Turkey, Slaw Be Jo and Capastrami are also high on the list of the sandwiches I like from Capriotti’s, but the Bobbie is at the top. The thing that sets Capriotti’s apart from most sandwich or sub shops is how they prepare the meat. Their turkey and beef are slow roasted and then hand pulled. Instead of the standard sliced meats, you get some shreds and some chunks of meat. They also make their own Cole slaw, which is one of the ingredients on the Cole Turkey, Slaw Be Jo and Capastrami. I have ordered a side of Cole slaw to go in the past, because it is just that good. They do have more sandwich offerings, salads, and vegetarian options.

Capriotti’s is more than just an occasional sandwich shop for me. It’s also a tie in to when I was living in California. There were a couple of different Capriotti’s that I used to frequent (several times a month). I loved going there. Sometimes it was for lunch, sometimes I just wanted to stop there on the way home from work and it was the perfect dinner. They are definitely comfort food sandwiches. When I first moved back to Maryland, there weren’t any close by, so I didn’t think about it. But when I realized there was a shop in Annapolis, I knew I had to check it out. The quality is still good, which is why I’ve been going back there a few times a year ever since. If it wasn’t a one to two hour drive, I would go more often.

Unfortunately, the shops that I used to frequent in California have all closed down. Maybe if they expand again, there will be opportunities for other people to get a chance to try the sandwiches that I’ve been enjoying.

Saturday Morning in Annapolis

Whenever I plan on a trip to Annapolis, it’s usually for just a few places – Annapolis Towne Centre, Annapolis Harbour Center (for the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market), or the Mall, with an occasional visit to Capriotti’s. I planned on going to Capriotti’s this morning, but I also decided to walk around Main Street this time, instead of doing my usual routine. My Terrapins don’t play until 3:30 PM today, which made it easier to plan the time.

I checked the weather report this morning and it was supposed to be in the 40s and low 50s until 12PM. When I woke up, there was frost on the car, so I put on some jeans and a long sleeve shirt, as well as a jacket. I definitely needed them at my house in the morning. There was a thick layer of frost that took about 5 minutes to scrape off. By the time 10:00 AM came around, it was already in the upper 50s, and I was regretting my attire. Not just because I didn’t get a chance to rock my jean shorts, but because it was too hot for me in long pants and a long sleeve shirt. The inside of my house was colder when I got home (62) than it was in Annapolis after 10AM.

After I arrived and parked in a Parking Garage near Main Street and the Bay, I walked over to City Dock Coffee (this was my intended place). I ordered a Mocha Cappuccino Chill, which is their version of a frappe. The frappe had nice flavor to it. It was the proper thickness and there was no iciness to it. This was definitely a good way to start the morning.

I then took some time to go walking around. I had a couple of hours planned, so I was able to get in some good walking. More hills than I was expecting, but I did not mind the exercise. I went to the Visitor Center and asked them about any historical buildings, and the response was that they were all historical. Not far off from the truth on that one. They did mention a couple in particular, so I made sure to walk by those. I did take the time to take a lot of pictures, so I’ll share those now.

This was the early morning down at the docks at the end of Main Street. I liked how the sun was shining and reflected nicely off the water.

Here are a few that reflect how old some of these places are. When I walked by St. John’s College, I was surprised at how long ago it was founded.

It took me awhile to get used to some of the signs. When I have walked around some of the local Historical Districts, they usually have big plaques with the dates and information. There are small little signs on the building in Annapolis that reflect the age. You might miss it if you aren’t looking (that’s what happened to me). This picture is from the Maryland Inn and has 1772 as the first date on there.

Just a few more pictures of some of the historical places.

I also walked over to the Naval Academy and took a few pictures.

The last picture was taken while standing along the water inside the Naval Academy, just outside the Visitor Center.

I decided to a little more walking on Main Street before I headed out. One of the stores I visited was Kilwins, which is a chocolate store. It’s based in Michigan, but has several locations in Maryland. I ordered a dark chocolate buckeye, which was really good, and some double dark chocolate fudge, which was also really good.

I then headed over to Capriotti’s for lunch, which I’ll write about later in a separate blog. So it was a good morning. I was able to do a lot of fun things, eat some good food, see some nice scenery and listen to some good music. Can’t ask for much more than that!

Big Belly Deli – Sykesville, MD

I was not originally planning on putting up a post today, but sometimes good things happen and I want to share them.

Today was expected to be a low-key type of day. I was getting a haircut and running a few errands, but planned on being home early and making myself something for lunch. I went to HeadMasters for my haircut and it went well. My stylist asked me if it was warming up outside since I was wearing shorts (jean shorts, to be exact) and a t-shirt. I said it wasn’t any warmer, but since it was in the 50s, it was still shorts weather to me.

I walked over to French Twist Cafe and ordered a small Pumpkin Mocha Frappe. It was delicious, and I’ll get it again. The Pumpkin Frappe is a vanilla base, but the Mocha base adds a different flavor dynamic, which I enjoyed. I ran a couple more errands and then decided to check and see what Big Belly Deli was serving for lunch. They had a chicken pot pie soup on the menu, so I knew I would not be making something at home for lunch.

I had confirmed beforehand that there were no mushrooms, which was a sigh of relief for me. The base was very thick and creamy. This is something that can be tricky with cream based soups, but they managed to keep the soup at the proper temperature, so there was no break-down of the liquid. The chicken had good flavor, and the variety within the bites made it easy to see that this was fresh chicken that was pulled and then chopped (not basic chicken breasts or thighs that are uniformly sliced). There was corn, carrots, green beans, peas and potatoes in there (might have been other vegetables, but those were the ones I could tell). The flavor of this soup really hit the spot. Even though I enjoy the outside temperatures when they are in the 50s, it’s still nice to have a good, hearty soup.

Before I ordered my soup, I was checking out the sweets. There was a Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie that caught my eye, so I ended up buying that as well. The pie is 5″ across, just for some perspective.

The crust on the bottom and sides is a chocolate crust. It’s very crumbly, but it works well with this type of pie. The peanut butter filling was very thick and very rich. This is why I feel that the crust worked well with this. Chocolate drizzle and peanut butter cups topped it off, and was a nice finishing touch.

Right before I left, there were some people who were staring at the menu. They asked me if I had any recommendations. Just like something that happened to me previously at French Twist Cafe, I was very happy to share with them about all of the goodness on that menu. I let them know that I never had a bad experience, gave them some 5 or 6 sandwich options as well. The regular Friday special includes a chicken curry sandwich, and I made sure they had a heads up on that one. Really good flavor, really big portions. Two of them planned on splitting, which is definitely a good idea. Big portions for a good price is nice, but when you add in the quality flavor, it makes it even better. I also let them know to check out all the sweets as well. I’m sure they enjoyed their meal, no matter what they ended up ordering.

A light, easy day turned out to have some moments that compelled me to write a little today. I’m planning on a fun-filled weekend, so hopefully I will have some more Positive moments to share.

Wednesday Morning in Westminster, MD for a Good Cause

When I have time on Sundays, I try to buy a couple of the Sunday newspapers. I was fortunate to get the local newspaper this past Sunday. There was an insert for Boscov’s and it mentioned a special event they were going to be doing today, starting at 8:00 AM. It is Boscov’s 23rd Annual Friends Helping Friends event. If a customer wants to donate $5 to one of the participating non-profits of their choice, they will receive a coupon for 25% off. Since that sounded like a good idea to me (even if I didn’t end up buying anything), I decided to plan my morning. We were scheduled to get some heavy rain starting anywhere between 10AM and 12PM, so I knew I would need an early start.

The two places I wanted to visit before Boscov’s were JeannieBird Baking Company and Birdie’s Cafe. They are about 3/4 of a mile apart. I decided to park close to Birdie’s Cafe and then walk down to JeannieBird, and then come back up. Sometimes a walk can do you good.

When I arrived at JeannieBird’s, there was not a long line (this was around 8:30 AM on a weekday morning, so it’s not surprising). I looked through the different sweet options since I had ordered a savory breakfast sandwich the last time I was here. The thing that caught my eye was Pumpkin Rolls. Think Cinnamon Rolls, only with pumpkin. I asked if there were raisins in it, and thankfully the answer was no. I had three options, though: regular frosting, cream cheese frosting, or crumb topping. I decided to go with a crumb topping, and I’m glad that I did. They warmed it up for me, which was even better.

The three main components to this are the dough, the filling, and the topping. The dough had good flavor. Not a heavy yeast flavor, not too sweet. And cooked to the right consistency. The filling was also very good. The spices and the pumpkin blended well together, so the pumpkin wasn’t overbearing, but it was definitely there. The crumb topping was great. There was a texture that I wasn’t used to in crumb topping, and it worked really well. I thought that it might be oats, so I asked the team, and they confirmed with the chef that they indeed use oats in the crumb topping. This was definitely a good choice by me, and something that I would order again.

While making the walk from JeannieBird’s to Birdie’s Cafe, I saw a couple of neat signs. The first was in front of the Post Office building and the second was on the building itself. I don’t remember when or if I’ve seen a Fallout Shelter sign before, so I thought this was pretty cool.

Snowbird from Birdie’s Cafe

Birdie’s frozen coffee drinks are called Snowbirds, which is a pretty fun take on their name. They have plenty of options as well. Since we are still in the season, I decided to go with the Pumpkin Snowbird. There was a nice pumpkin flavor, which was not too heavy, and a very subtle spice flavor. This was not icy at all. The straw was very thin, and there were no issues drinking this, which means there were no chunks of ice to clog things up or get stuck on the bottom. Very good drink and one I’ll get again. I’ve been to Birdie’s Cafe several times, but haven’t had a chance to write about it until today.

I took a couple of tree pictures, but this was the best of them. Quite a few colors, which made for some nice scenery. I was walking when I took this one. There were some other tree ranges which looked really nice, but I saw them while I was driving. There are signs that indicate no stopping unless for emergencies, so I couldn’t stop to take pictures.

I did finally make my way over to Boscov’s. I paid $5 for a non-profit of my choosing, and got a coupon. I only bought a couple of clothes that were already on sale, so my 25% got me less than $5 off, but I was perfectly fine with that. I wasn’t sure if I was going to buy anything. I had to assess my needs versus my wants, with a little grey area for in between. My wants included an all in one turntable/CD player/Radio/Cassette, but that was not something that I really need right now or have the room for in my house right now. There were some cooking appliances that fell into that same category. It didn’t matter to me, since I was just there for the $5 to a non-profit anyway.

The rain started to pick up a little after 10:30AM, so it was while I was finished shopping at Boscov’s, but still running errands close to home (grocery shopping). I took a video of the sounds of the rain from my enclosed patio. Feel free to check it out on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr account if you would like.

There are days when I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. Today was one of those days. I can’t help but feel positive after a morning like this.

Quick and Easy White Chocolate Pumpkin Pudding Pie Recipe

I am sharing a twist to a recipe that some of you might be familiar with. You might have seen the traditional pudding pie recipe on places such as the back of the label of a graham cracker crust, the side of a pudding box, or somewhere else. White chocolate and pumpkin occasionally go together in recipes, which is the reason I wanted to try this twist today.

The total prep time for this was less than 20 minutes. Once it’s put together, it should still be refrigerated for at least an hour or so, but at least the prep work can go by fairly quickly. The ingredients I used for this are as follows:

4 cups of milk split into two equal portions (I used 2% milk)

1 small package instant pudding – Pumpkin Spice

1 small package instant pudding – White Chocolate

1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1/2 – 3/4 of an 8 ounce container of whipped topping

The first step is to make the instant pudding packages as directed (usually 2 cups of milk and the pudding mix mixed together for about 2 minutes). If you happen to have a 32 ounce Blender Bottle around, this works really well for mixing each of the puddings. Once the puddings are in their bowls, they should take about 5 minutes to set.

I put the puddings into the Graham Cracker Pie shell side by side.

I then used a fork to swirl them together. I didn’t want to have them completely mixed together, but wanted there to be a distinction between the white chocolate pudding and the pumpkin spice pudding.

The final step was to put the whipped cream topping on top. If you want to use the entire container, then go for it. I only used slightly more than half the container, since I didn’t think it would need a heavy amount of the topping, and it would be harder to use the lid to seal the pie if there was too much.

It is now ready to dig in. I hadn’t tried this before, but I like how the flavor turned out. The white chocolate pudding is a very smooth, mild flavor. The pumpkin spice pudding gives it a little kick that it needs. The graham cracker crust adds another layer of flavor as well as some much needed texture. The whipped topping adds some creamy sweetness to round it all out.

I have tried different variations before, but usually with chocolate pudding – layering with ganache, combining the pudding and whipped topping together, etc. It was nice to try something I hadn’t done before and have it turn out to taste good, too.

Modified Shepherd’s Pie

I had planned on making some Shepherd’s Pie tonight, but since I got home early from my morning errands, I made it a bit earlier.

Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally lamb that is cooked in gravy or sauce with vegetables, and topped with mashed potatoes. Cottage pie is similar, but with beef as the main source of meat. There are variations of the meats and vegetables, but this is a nice hearty meal that is perfect for the Fall season.

My version has slight modifications, but the overall spirit of the meal still exists.

One ingredient that I use, but can be hard to find, is Ballymaloe Original Sauce.

I first discovered this sauce about 7 or 8 years ago. It works well on hamburgers, but is great with Shepherd’s Pies. This is a tomato relish and includes sultanas. I’m not usually a fan of raisins, but these work really well in this sauce/relish.

Start by preheating the oven to 400.

My first cooking step includes a big cheat. I used one pouch of instant mashed potatoes. Once those were hot and ready, it was on to the next.

I cooked up one pound of ground lamb. As soon as the meat is no longer pink, drain the fat. Reduce heat to medium. Add in one can of peas and carrots (14.5-15 ounces) with the liquid drained. I then added one 7.5 ounce jar of Ballymaloe to the mix. I put 1/2 cup of water into the jar and swirled it around to make sure I got all of the good bits of the relish, and then added them to the mixture.

Continue mixing for another 2 minutes, making sure the ingredients are mixed in. Grease an 8 inch round casserole dish and add the meat mixture.

Add the mashed potatoes (should be 2 cups) and gently press down to make an even layer.

Place in the 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Let cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy!

This was just one of my modifications. If you want to have more crisp to the mashed potatoes, you can put it under a broiler for about 5 minutes. You can add cheese on top of the mashed potatoes before cooking. You can add in other vegetables. Create your own unique version if you would like.

Making this was one thing, but it all comes down to the taste. I was really happy with how this turned out, in terms of flavor. The lamb wasn’t gamey. The sweetness of the tomato relish came out well and the mashed potatoes really brought everything together. It would have been interesting to have a different texture, so crisping the mashed potatoes a bit under the broiler might have done the trick, but it wasn’t necessary. I enjoyed making this today and was happy to share.

Eat Well!