Friday, September 30, 2011

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bars w/ Almond Streusel

I think people are either pumpkin lovers or haters.

I am a pumpkin lover. I like it in soup, roasted with veggies in salads, and of course in pies—and bars. And ice cream. And ravioli. And sauteed with apples.You get the picture.

I wanted to make a pumpkin pie, but had no time for a crust, so I decided to make pumpkin bars.

I started with a recipe from Kittenkal's Kitchen. It features a shortbread crust, topped that with a delicious pumpkin pie filling, and I took the liberty of topping all of that with an almond streusel topping.

It was quick and easy to make, though the shortbread crust turned out a little hard. I confess I didn't butter the pan, so it is sticking a bit, but it still tastes great.

By the looks of the empty pan, my husband is also a pumpkin lover. My son seems indifferent—I think he would eat it if it were put in front of him. My daughter won't touch the stuff. Hey, more for the rest of us! Happy fall!


1 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces ( no subs!)

1 pinch salt


1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon flour

1 1/2-2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoons allspice

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 cup butter or 1/4 cup margarine, melted


¾ cup almonds

2/3 cup sugar

¼ cup butter

1/3 cup flour

Blend in food processor until crumbly

1 cup whipping cream ( whipped, to taste)


  1. Set oven to 350°F.

  2. Set oven to second-lowest position.

  3. Butter an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.

  4. To make the crust: process all crust ingredients on a food processor for about 30 seconds until well blended.

  5. Press the mixture lightly into the prepared baking pan.

  6. Bake crust for 15 minutes, then remove from oven.

  1. Meanwhile prepare the filling.

  2. With an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese with 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar for about 2 minutes.

  3. Add in eggs and beat well until combined.

  4. Add in the pumpkin puree, vanilla and melted butter; mix until combined.

  5. In a small cup combine flour, cinnamon and allspice, then add to the pumpkin mixture; mix about 1-2 minutes.

  6. Pour over the partially baked crust, top with streusel mix and return to oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until just set.

  7. Serve at room temperature or chilled, cut into squares with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Slow Cooker Thursday: Beef Stew

I've decided that Thursdays should be Slow Cooker Thursdays.

That way, when I have to meet my son at 2:45 after school, get my daughter at 5, take my son to soccer at 5:30, pick him up at 6:45 and get to dance class by 7:15, I feel a little less crazy.

I even have time to blog about it...

Soup's on, folks, help yourself!

Basic Beef Stew

1 beef roast (I had a Trader Joes tri-tip roast)
2 onions
3 potatoes
some green beans
1 kohlrabi
a few carrots
use whatever you have!

bay leaves, 2 cloves garlic
oregano, salt pepper
1/2 cup red wine

Sear salted meat in skillet on each side
Then throw chopped veggies in skillet and sautee a few minutes
throw it all in slow cooker (veggies on bottom)
add wine, herbs, garlic, water to cover
Cook on low about 6 hours or until meat is tender and falling apart.
Add salt to taste, tear up meat and serve.

Monday, September 19, 2011

World of Flavors Food Tours!

My husband once wisely told me, "If one door shuts, another will open." What a sweetie, trying to help me feel better after some rejection or another (was it an article that didn't get published? a cooking class that didn't fill? or maybe just that the babysitter cancelled?)

Well six doors opened last week--doors to some of Madison's best restaurants and cafes. I have been working on developing a walking food tour in two of my favorite neighborhoods, the Atwood Ave. neighborhood and Willy Street. Last week Amy (yoga instructor and partner in crime) and I led seven unsuspecting "tourists" through the Atwood neighborhood, admiring the historical buildings, tasting the delicious fare and enjoying the fall air.

We made our way from Ironworks Cafe (yummy bakery!), to Bunky's (to die for falafel and stuffed grape leaves!), to Lao Laan Xang (Squash Curry. Need I say more?), Alchemy (holy hanger steak!), Green Owl Cafe (BBQ jack fruit? Corn Chowder shooters? Yes!) and finally to Mermaid Cafe (sampled their new Thursday pizza dinner-fresh heirloom tomatoes, local cheese and a great red pepper sauce!). In each place, not only did we get to enjoy the great food (much of it locally produced), but we learned a little bit about the restaurants, their philosophy and history. We also had a great time socializing between stops, and checking out the neighborhood gardens, streets and buildings that were built when the east side was still farm land.

I am excited about the tours. I think that our locally owned, east side eateries have so much to offer; many of them support the farm-to-table philosophy and all have amazing food! The neighborhoods offer a great representation of what makes Madison a wonderful city for foodies and non-foodies alike.

I plan to offer 4 tours this October, and then launch the World of Flavors east side restaurant tours in full swing next April-October, 2012. Stay tuned

Friday, September 2, 2011

Foodie Weekend Awaits!

Glorious food (and beer, wine and chocolate) abound this weekend! Celebrate the bounty of produce, and our great Wisconsin food (and wine and beer) culture. You will almost forget that fall is around the corner. (no, I didn't say it!). Here are four great ways to celebrate. Know of any others?

Farmer's Market/Taste of Madison – Market open around Capitol Square (9/3 only) 6 am – 1 p.m.

Taste of Madison (9/3 and 9/4) to benefit United Cerebral Palsy of Dane County, 2-8:30 pm on 9/3 and 11 am-7 pm, 9/4, Capitol Square. 6-1 p.m.

New Glarus Brewing and LaFortuna Pizza – Sunday Sept 4, 11-4 p.m.

Come enjoy the most amazing wood fired pizza and award-winning craft brews at the Hilltop Brewery in New Glarus.

2400 State Highway 69
New Glarus, WI 53574

Chocolate Chase - 7:30 am-noon, 9/3
TEAMSurvivor Madison's annual benefit 20/10/4-mile bike rides, Pioneer Park, Middleton (registration 7 am), plus refreshments, door prizes. $40 ($30 through 8/15). 333-4016

Wine Tasting - Celebrating Lake Mills 175th Birthday - Saturday, September 3, 2011. 5 - 7 pm

Come and celebrate Lake Mills 175th with us as we sample some great celebratory wines. We will be sampling a Cava from Spain, Meritage from California, Argentinian Sparkling and a Sweet Chardonnay to name a few. $5 per person - drawings and birthday cake! Visit the website for other events. $5 per person. The Wine Vineyard, 217 N. Main St, Lake Mills, Jefferson County. Call 920-648-5481.