Friday, October 26, 2012

Pumpkin-Parmesan Biscuits

This month's theme for What's Baking was Cooking with Sweet Potato and/or Pumpkin.  While I could eat sweet potato every day of the week and be perfectly happy, I like to use What's Baking to expand my palate, so I opted to go with a pumpkin recipe.  This month's Food Network Magazine included a recipe for Pumpkin-Parmesan Biscuits.  As soon as I saw this, I knew it was the recipe I wanted to use.

I had almost everything on hand, except for the pumpkin, so it just took a quick stop at the store and I was good to go.  The steps were easy to follow and it only took me about an hour to make these.  The one thing I did differently from the printed recipe was that I didn't have a 2 inch cutter, so I used the smallest thing I had - a 3 inch round glass.  Instead of making 16 biscuits like the recipe says, I ended up with 10 (it could have been a few more, but I was lazy and didn't want to roll out the leftover dough and use a second baking pan).

They ended up being very tasty.  You can taste the pumpkin, but it's not overwhelming.  At least in the few bites I got in before my husband stole the rest of the biscuit I was eating for himself (after eating 2 of his own!).  So I think if he's the judge, then these were a big hit!

Pumpkin-Parmesan Biscuits (as printed in Food Network Magazine, November 2012

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced, plus melted butter for brushing
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/4 cup heavy cream

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl.
- Whisk in 1 tablespoon parmesan.
- Add the diced butter and work it in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
- Mix the pumpkin and cream in a small bowl and pour over the flour mixture.
- Mix with your hands or a fork to make a soft dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle using a floured rolling pin.
- Cut out biscuits using a 2-inch-round cutter and arrange about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
- Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parmesan.
- Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let the biscuits cool slightly before serving or cool completely and freeze.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin-shaped Cheddar Cheese Ball

Instead of having a boring tray of cheese and crackers out for our party, I wanted to do something different.  Food Network Magazine had this recipe which was shaped like a pumpkin.  How unique but easy to do?!  But that recipe made nacho-flavored cheese, which didn't fit in with the rest of the dishes I had planned, so I set out to find a cheese ball recipe that better suited my menu.  I came across this one from, which seemed simple enough.  Of course, I have no idea what "cheddar cheese food" means.  My guess is that they meant Veleveeta which if you look on the Kraft web site it was originally advertized as a "Cheese Food".  I decided to nix the Velveeta, and went with regular sharp cheddar.

The trick for this is to have it at room temperature.  I left it on the counter for a few hours until it was malleable.  Then threw everything in my standing mixer and set it to 4 and let it beat away and mix everything together.  The original recipe called for 2tsp of garlic salt, but if I ever make this again I'm only using 1tsp, as I found it a bit too garlicky.

To make it look like a pumpkin, you cut out the stem of a green pepper, make a little notch in the top of the ball and press the pepper top into it.

Cheddar Cheese Ball (slightly adapted from

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (at room temperature)
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 tsp. garlic salt 
A couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce 
Nuts, chopped
- Mix real well until all blended
- Put into small mixing bowl that has been lined with Saran Wrap and chill overnight
- While in wrap, form into a ball
- Before serving, roll in nuts
- Serve with crackers of your choice

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Party Recap

October is a big month to celebrate in our home - my husband's birthday is in October, and our 1st anniversary is less than 2 weeks later.  In addition, although we had some friends and family over for a meal, we never actually had a party.  Most of our friends had either been in our apartment in passing or not at all, so we figured it was high time to have some people over.  Our apartment isn't too large, so we couldn't invite everyone, but we asked a handful of friends over.  Neither of us had ever really hosted a party before, so we just jumped in feet first and tried to not screw it all up.

Things we learned from our party:
- always plan ahead.  Leave plenty of time for shopping, setting up and cooking.
- while making everything from scratch sounds like a wonderful way to impress your friends with your cooking skills, it's ok to buy some things pre-made to cut down on prep time.
- Set everything out the night before, so you know what serving dishes/utensils you need and where they will go.
- Don't worry too much, it'll all be done, and if it's not, your guests will never know dishes were missing!
- Open the plasticware the night before.  The plates we got had a film on them and had to be washed as guests were about to arrive.

Our party was apps & desserts.  We served dairy and parve dishes.  This was our menu (I will make the links clickable as I post the recipes throughout the week)

Tapenade with pita chips
Hummus (store-bought) w/pretzel chips
Butternut Squash soup (served in mugs)
Veggies & dip
Avocado Tartlets
Cheese Ball w/crackers

Mini cheesecakes

We had a few other things in mind to make, but ran out of time.  In the end, it didn't matter and it seemed like everyone had a good time.  And now we will be better equipped to play host and hostess next time! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

French Toast Casserole

This month's Recipe Swap theme was Breakfast.  I was very excited about this, because during the week breakfast in our home usually consists of cereal or oatmeal (in the colder months) and on weekends it's nice to have something a little more special.

My assignment was French Toast Casserole, submitted by Coleen at Does Not Cook Well With Others.  It's similar to a dish my father makes that I've been dying to try, but swap rules say that you have to make the recipe given, not just something inspired by it, so my dad's recipe will be a post for another day.  I know how much I like that French toast, so I was excited to try this one out!

The recipe is simple to follow.  The only thing to take note of is that this needs to set for at least 8 hours in the fridge and then come back up to room temperature before cooking for 50 min, so you need to prep it the night before and take it out of the fridge almost 2 hours before meal time.  This is a meal you definitely have to plan ahead for.

I copied the recipe below from the recipe given me, but I did end up using some slightly different ingredients.  The recipe calls for Pepperidge Farm Hearty White bread (according to reviews on the original recipe post on Cooking Light, that's the bread that holds up best after soaking up the custard).  Well, I wasn't going to a big grocery store that week.  I ended up at a country food market that's known for its baked goods, so I bought a loaf of their country white bread and used that.  They also didn't sell reduced fat cream cheese, so I bought the full fat kind (it's not like I was eating this entire thing in one sitting, right??).

I think it still came out great.  Of course, there were only two of us eating it, so I ended up having it not only for breakfast on Sunday, but also Monday and Tuesday and still had about half of the pan left.  I think this is the kind of dish you only make if you have plenty of people to help eat it!

French Toast Casserole (given to me by Does Not Cook Well With Others

16 slices Pepperidge Farm Hearty White bread, sliced into 1-inch cubes 
Cooking spray 
8 ounces ⅓-less-fat cream cheese at room temperature 
8 large eggs 
1 ½ cups reduced fat (2%) milk 
⅔ cup half-and-half 
½ cup real maple syrup (not pancake syrup) 
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the cubes evenly in the dish.  
Beat the cream cheese until smooth (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add in the milk, half-and-half, maple syrup and vanilla and mix until incorporated.  
Pour the custard over the bread cubes. Cover the dish and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours.  
When ready to serve, remove baking dish from refrigerator and let come to room temperature on the counter (about 30 minutes).   Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake for 50 minutes or until custard is set. Serve warm or room temperature.
Sift powdered sugar over casserole just before serving, and serve with additional maple syrup.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lemon Chicken

In an attempt to eat dinner prior to 10pm, I have been trying to find good weeknight dinner options.  In my cookbook collection I have Better Home and Gardens Big Book of 30-Minute Dinners.  I bought this book several years ago, when I was living on my own.  I made 2, maybe 3 recipes from it for myself and when my husband and I moved in together last year I put the book with my other cookbooks and promptly forgot about it.  It caught my eye the other day and I now have many recipes on my "to do" list!

This recipe for Lemon Chicken seemed very easy to make.  One thing I'd do differently next time is to buy thin-sliced chicken breasts.  The recipe says to take regular chicken breasts and then use a meat mallet to thin it out.  I didn't have a meat mallet, so I didn't thin the chicken out before cooking.  It ended up taking a bit longer to cook (about 20 min, not the 4-6 that it says).  It was the perfect amount for the two of us.  My husband loved how the flour coating made the chicken a bit crispy as if it had the skin on it.

I served this with sesame green beans and couscous.  It was delicious!  Not only that, but I didn't start cooking until 7:30 and we were sitting down maybe an hour later.  I know next time I'll be able to go a little faster and get the meal ready closer to the 30 min the book promises!

Lemon Chicken (slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Big Book of 30-Minute Dinners)

4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound total)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp soy margarine
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)

- Rinse chicken; pat dry.
- Place each chicken breast half between two sheets of plastic wrap.  Working from the center to the edges, pound lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet to 1/4-inch thickness.  Remove plastic wrap.
- In a shallow dish, stir together flour and pepper.  Lightly coat each piece of chicken with the flour mixture.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  When butter is melted, cook the chicken for 4-6 minutes, or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, turning once.
- Remove chicken from skillet.  Keep warm.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together chicken broth, lemon juice, and cornstarch.  Add to the skillet.
- Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.
- Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
- Stir in green onions.
- Serve chicken with sauce and, if desired, hot, cooked couscous.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sesame Green Beans

As I've mentioned before, up until recently I was not the biggest fan of vegetables, especially green beans (just ask my mother-in-law!).  But as I've tried to expand my palate and eat healthier, I knew it was one of the foods I would try to conquer.  A few weeks ago I finished my Saturday morning run and stopped off at the farmers market nearby.  I picked up some kale, some tomatoes, and then decided to just go for it and bought some green beans.  I wanted to do something a little more interesting than just steaming them (plain, unseasoned green beans were why I was convinced I didn't like them in the first place!).  I was making a chicken dish that evening, so I had to find a recipe that didn't call for butter or cheese.  I did a search on and came across this one for Sesame Green Beans.  Sounded good to me!

This recipe was super easy to make.  One warning - when you add the green beans to the sesame seeds & oil, stand back, the sesame seeds pop!  It's not like you can just cover it with a splatter guard and leave it, because you need to keep stirring the beans.  I usually make this on a rear burner and then wipe down the stove (and wall) afterward.

It calls for chicken broth, but if you're having it with a dairy meal, you can always use vegetable or No-Chicken broth.

I am happy to say that I am now a green bean lover.  I've made this recipe 3 times in the past month so I knew I had to share it!

Sesame Green Beans (originally posted on

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 pound fresh green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add sesame seeds.
- When seeds start to darken, stir in green beans
- Cook, stirring, until the beans turn bright green
- Pour in chicken broth, salt, and pepper.
- Cover and cook until beans are tender-crisp (about 10 min)
- Uncover and cook until liquid evaporates (***I have never had to do this, it's always been gone by the end of the 10 min) 

Welcome to my new blog!

As most of you know, my blog Newlywed and Newly Cooking has been up and running since February of this year.  When I started blogging, I had been married for 4 months and was just starting to get serious about making real meals.  I was afraid that I messed up almost everything that I tried to make.  Most of my cooking sessions ended and I felt frazzled and exhausted and I barely had the energy to eat (and I would go so slow it was usually 10pm by the time we sat down, anyway!).

Well, although less than a year has gone by, I am feeling much more comfortable in the kitchen.  While I'll always be a newlywed at heart (1st anniversary is in less than a month!), I know I won't consider myself a novice chef much longer.  It was because of this that I decided to shake things up a bit and change over my blog.  As someone who keeps a kosher home, I always had to double check the ingredients of any recipe I found on other blogs or websites to see if it could work for me, or if it was easily adjusted.  I wanted to make sure my readers knew that if they kept kosher, they can make anything I post without any adjustments.

While I happen to keep kosher, I don't think that the recipes I post speak only to kosher households.  I believe that anything I post can be made in whatever kitchen you're in, no matter what your religious beliefs are.  With the exception of maybe a holiday-specific recipe or two.....I will say that I'd love to hear if any non-Jews out there make my grandma's gefilte fish!

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