Friday, November 22, 2013

Mad About Minis: Mini Pumpkin Pie


Mini Pumpkin Pie

I can’t let pumpkin season pass by without attempting to make a mini-pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin pie, but usually we just get a small pie (about 6 inches in diameter) and it lasts us about 2 days. Pumpkin pie will definitely be a great candidate for a mini.

Plus, since its National Pie Week this week, I thought it would be appropriate to blog about pie.

A mini pie, of course.

Of course, I never made a pie before. I just ate ‘em.  And a lot of them.

Wait, does pizza count?


My first challenge is the filling. I have never made pumpkin pie before, so I really am not sure what is in it. I researched recipes, including single serve ones. I found that lot of them are fairly similar in ingredients and proportion, so the recipes were relatively easy to combine. In my first attempt, I think I used too much filling for my 3 inch ramekin (oh, what a dilemma). I adjusted, and my second attempt had a better proportion.

The next challenge is the crust. There was no single-serve recipe for crust, so finding an adequate crust is the challenge. I first considered using an Oreo crust, but I don’t think that chocolate and pumpkin is a good combination. I also tried a vanilla wafer and butter crust, but that hardened in the baking process.

I finally settled on a cinnamon graham cracker crust. I did not add that much to it, just a little butter for moisture and a tiny tiny pinch of salt. I think this is the best option for this pie; it just turned out a bit crumbly. I was hoping that it would somewhat hold.

Here’s what I have. I think it’s great.  It's not too sweet (since I try not too put too much sugar, even agave nectar). I am also a bit conservative on the salt. This was just right for me.

It may still use some improvement, especially around the crust. I would love to hear what you think.


Mad Gourmet’s Mini Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2 Tbsp of pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp of flour
  • 1.5 Tbsp of milk  (4 ½ tsp)
  • 1 1/2 tsp (1/2 T) of sugar/maple syrup/agave
  • Generous pinch (about 1/16 tsp) of pumpkin spice
  • Generous pinch (about 1/16 tsp) of cinnamon
  • Tiny pinch of nutmeg
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • whipped cream (optional, but why not?)

Crust

  • Cinnamon graham crackers, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 tsp of butter
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions 
  1. In your ramekin, combine all pie ingredients well.
  2. Microwave for 30 seconds on medium high. Stir.
  3. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes until sides firm up.
  4. Put in mini pie in the refrigerator to firm up for at least an hour (Think of this as contemplation time).
  5. Serve with whipped cream.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mad About Minis: Single-serve "Frosted" Vanilla Cupcake ... with sprinkles



Vanilla cupcake with sprinkles

I’ve been in a cupcake mode lately. We’ve been out and about in our Discovery Weekends and been encountering cupcake shops everywhere. Thank goodness for mini cupcakes; otherwise, I’d gain ten pounds.

In an effort to have a healthier cupcake and just limit myself to one, I looked for a single serving option. I found Shape Magazine’s online article on Delectable Deserts for One, and the vanilla cupcake seems to be a good start.

The advantage of this recipe is you probably have all the ingredients handy. The one thing that I usually do not keep is applesauce, but if I just made a batch of applesauce muffins, I am sure to have some left. I also used less butter and compensated with more applesauce. I may continue to reduce the ratio.

I am also used to baking single-serve muffins (see my low-fat chocolate banana muffin), so cupcakes should not be a huge transition. However, I did read once that the difference between a cupcake and a muffin: a muffin goes "Thud" when thrown at the floor. I take this as a challenge to get a cake like consistency to the cupcake.

Also, for these mini or single-serve recipes, use your toaster oven or the microwave. I am not that big on microwaved cakes, but if you don't have a toaster oven, use your nuker. It takes too much energy to heat up the big oven for this.


Single-serve "Frosted" Vanilla Cupcakes
Serves 1

Ingredients
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP + 2 tsp unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1 TBSP egg whites
  • 1 TBSP skim milk (I used unsweetened almond milk) 
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBSP whipped cream or prepared frosting (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sprinkles (optional)

Directions
  1. Preheat toaster oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with one liner.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together applesauce and sugar until combined. Stir in butter, vanilla, and milk.
  3. Add flour and baking powder and mix everything together well.
  4. Spoon batter into cupcake liner and bake for 27 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely.
  5. Frost and add sprinkles, if desired.
  
Verdict

Cupcake in Ramekin
Baked cupcake in ramekin...Nothing wrong eating it here.
Making this cupcake is so easy. It also spreads that yummy baking aroma all over the kitchen that drives my husband nuts. We ended up sharing the cupcake.

My husband loved this cupcake. It does have a very vanilla flavor. I am hoping that baking it in the toaster oven saved energy compared to turning on your big oven, but it did take a long time. Think of it is as contemplative time – to see if you really want to eat the entire cupcake.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

HELP WANTED: How to bind Butternut Squash-Tofu Patties?


ButterNut Squash Patties
I often have some leftovers from my Slow-cooked Butternut Squash recipe. Leftovers are great: it makes the meal the next day easier; often sometimes much easier. Plus, the cleanup is minimal if you just heat it as is. However, sometimes I do get tired of it and like to transform them for variety.

I have been working on making butternut squash-tofu patties. I figure that this would be great as a sandwich or a starter especially for Meatless Mondays. The sweetness of the squash with the protein from the tofu is a great combination for a sandwich, especially with 21-grain bread. Also, if you are fortunate enough to have some quinoa or kale, adding these would add texture and more protein. Kale would even add some color.

ButterNut Squash Patties Cooking
Promising beginnings, but...
I do think I need some help.  The patties are delicious, but I am having some problems binding them. My first three patties fell apart, but I was able to salvage two of them for the photo op.

I suspect that the pan may not be hot enough. I am also thinking for my next batch I may add some breadcrumbs, maybe 1/4 cup, to make it easier to bind.


Butternut Squash-Tofu Patties
Makes about 5 patties

Ingredients 
  • 1/4 block of tofu (I use extra-firm), mashed roughly with a fork
  • 2/3 cup leftover butternut squash (from Slow-cooked Butternut Squash recipe)
  • 1/3 cup of quinoa, cooked (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of egg whites (or 1 egg)
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic powder (to taste)

Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Heat a large skillet, grease the base lightly with oil.
  3. Fry the tofu-squash mixture in small patties (I use my 1/3 cup to measure)
  4. Make a few and keep warm on a hot plate until all the mixture is cooked.

 Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Slow-cooker Maple-Butter Butternut Squash


Served with corn and meatless meatballs
It is officially fall. And for me, that means winter squash: all sorts of them. I have not really worked much with the different types of winter squash in the past; I primarily stuck to what I knew, like spaghetti squash and something that vaguely resembled the squash that I enjoyed growing up in the Philippines (They say it's Pumpkin, but I don't think so). I AM excited this season to try out different varieties.

That said, one of my favorite squash dishes to prepare is a variation of “Maple-Butter Acorn Squash, Slow Cooked” from Kate Heyhoe’s Cooking Green book. I bought this book a year ago and have been trying to incorporate practices from this book in my cooking routine.  One of the techniques that she suggested was to use our crockpots or slow-cookers more, since these are more energy-efficient than using the oven or the cooktops. They “also consume less electricity than an incandescent light bulb”.

Butternut squash done
All done - ready to be served.
So, I brought the crockpot out…

This recipe also appealed to me since it sounds fairly simple. However, I am somewhat intimidated with slicing squash (of any type), so I decided to just get pre-packaged diced butternut squash. It is widely available and cheaper this time of the year.

Again, in the interest of not violating any copyright laws, I am not publishing the recipe. All I can say is that it contains maple syrup, some butter, salt, and not too much water. I really enjoy this recipe: I would combine it with some grains (barley or quinoa is my favorite) and some protein (vegetarian or not) to make it a complete meal. I love preparing this for Meatless Mondays (as seen in the first photo).

Maple Butternut squash with Kale
Or add some greens like kale
She also did suggest to experiment with flavors. I once combined it with yams and parsnip, but the maple flavor did not come through as much. I am thinking of changing up the spices, using chile, just garlic and butter, or even bacon next time.

I may even make the squash and green bean recipe that I enjoyed in my childhood…. but in a crockpot.

We’ll see.