Somewhat Muddled Musings

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday's Food Report

Sweet Potato Pie ala Alton Brown

Now, I'll start by saying....I really do cook other things other than AB's stuff. Granted, we love him, love his technique, and so far, we've loved everything we've tried (though the green been casserole can use some extra..more on that, later). But I have to say, as a pie newbie, I was really happy with how this came out. I made it for Thanksgiving at my Dad's, and was justifiably out shined by my sister-in-laws Pumpkin Cheesecake (which I'll hopefully be able to copy soon!), but I was still really pleased with this pie. I haven't made a pie in fifteen years or so. And while I'd love to say that I mastered the art of pastry dough, I did use a store bought pie dough

Alton Brown's Sweet Potato Pie


  • 1 pound 3 ounces sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed, steamed
  • 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup packed, dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 5 egg yolks
  • Salt
  • 1 (9-inch) deep dish, frozen pie shell
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Special equipment: steamer basket


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put cubed potatoes into steamer basket and place steamer basket into a large pot of simmering water that is no closer than 2 inches from the bottom of basket. Allow to steam for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Mash with potato masher and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place sweet potatoes in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment. Add yogurt, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, yolks, and salt, to taste, and beat until well combined. Pour this batter into the pie shell and place onto a sheet pan. Sprinkle pecans on top and drizzle with maple syrup.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the custard reaches 165 to 180 degrees. Remove from oven and cool. Keep refrigerated after cooling.

My Notes:

I did not need to toast the pecans - they toast fine in the oven on their own.

Deep Dish pie crust is important. The shallower pie crusts won't hold the filling.

This pie was done in 40 min in my oven to 172 degrees. I'm so glad I was checking on the crust often enough to catch this. If I had waited, it would've been overdone. I did not need to cover my pie crust a all - it didn't burn or even get overly brown in that 40 min.

This is a yummy pie, and a much leaner version of the typical sweet potato pie. It got 2 thumbs up from my boys, which is always a great measuring device for my cooking!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Monday and Thursday are muffin days at our house. Muffins can be a really hearty, healthy food at breakfast time as well as a quick snack. I usually try to make a double batch on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning that will last us both days. If I can get in a full triple batch, I freeze the excess for use on a week I want a baking break!

We're on a fall fruit/veg. kick at our house right. Fall is our favorite time of the year, and the smells and colors just make us hungry and want to eat well! So, we mixed two of our favorite flavors in this yummy, moist, kid-friendly muffin!


preheat oven to 350

2 1/2 C flour (I do 1/2 white 1/2 whole wheat)
3/4 C Sugar
3/4 C packed brown sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C wheat germ*
1/4 C ground flax seed*

2 eggs slightly beaten
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/4 C applesauce (you can use the full 1/2 C oil, but I prefer to cut some calories and add a little more nutrition with this great substitution)
2 C peeled, finely chopped apples
1C finely chopped walnuts would be a great addition!

(*these are constant companions to our baked items, you can omit)

Mix dry ingredients with a whisk.
Combine wet ingredients in another bowl.
Add wet to dry (the muffin method!) and stir until just moistened (too long and you bring those ugly glutens to the mix which gives you tough muffins).
Stir in apples (and nuts if you're using them).

Spoon batter into a greased muffin tin or line with paper. Baking time is determined by the size muffin you are baking, your oven and how many you put in. We used standard muffin tins that were finished in about 20 min. Check often.

These freeze really well in a zip top bag with all the air removed (using a straw inserted into the top of the mostly sealed zip top bag and remove the air, then quickly seal).

You can add a streusel topping to these by combing 2 TB AP flour, 1/4C sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 2 TB butter and then sprinkling over the top of the muffins before baking, but I honestly think they're better being naked!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes from the kitchen of Chef Connor

My favorite taste is Cinnamon Apple. It should be the 5th taste in front of that poser umami. There's something about fall that makes me want to eat apple cinnamon cardboard because it's just that good.

We happened upon a great sale on Honeycrisp apples this week, and I bought a ton, so we've been on a cooking lark this week using them up. Muffins and pancakes are the easiest way to do this for us.


2 C instant pancake mix (we happen to use the Alton Brown mix that I make up in bulk, but Jiffy or Bisquik will work)
2 C grated apples
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of clove
1.5 C water (you'll want to eyeball this as the batter can be soupy if you have really juicy apples)
1/4 C wheat germ*
1/4 C flax seed *
finely chopped nuts would be another great addition
*these can be omitted, we just tend to toss them into just about everything. Be sure to adjust liquid accordingly if you're using them.

Mix all ingredients for no more than 30 seconds..and walk away. Really. This is like any quick bread mix and over mixing will cause glutens to form in the batter which make them rubbery and tough, which are NOT good eats! (is that I have to credit it to AB every time I type it?) Letting it set and absorb the liquid instead of stirring it to death is a good thing.This is about the time I get the stove top heating, get plates and drink going, etc.

Use a 1/4 C measuring device to plop down pancakes on a hot griddle pan. Turn when surface becomes dull and bubbles are setting on the surface.

Serve with sliced apples and warm maple syrup!

This was today's home ec lesson at instruments! We learned to use a peeler and a grater without cutting all the skin off our knuckles!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's Pumpkin Day at our house!

(Get ready - it's a long one)

First off, let me wish everyone a Happy All Saint's Day!

While the rest of the US and other countries celebrate Halloween, it turned out to be pumpkin day at our household. Once the boys were up, we made Pumpkin pancakes!

I adapted these from Alton Brown's Instant Pancake Mix:


  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (check expiration date first)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


Combine all of the ingredients in a lidded container. Shake to mix. Use the mix within 3 months.


  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 cups "Instant" Pancake Mix, recipe above
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 TB pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp allspice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg*)

Whisk together the egg whites and the buttermilk in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter.

Combine the buttermilk mixture with the egg yolk mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the pancake mix. Using a whisk, mix the batter just enough to bring it together. Don't try to work all the lumps out.

"Walk away - just walk away"- AB (seriously, at this point, just let the batter rest for about 10 min while you heat the pan, etc.

We do 1/3 C dollops onto the non-stick griddle, wait til the pancake is dull, and bubbles are formed around the edges, flip, cook and serve immediate. This usually gets us more than the original 12 pancakes, enough for all of us and a few leftover for snacking later. Serve with warm maple syrup!

*a word about nutmeg. I grew up on spice by the jar, and never knew things really did taste better when you ground them from fresh. Get nutmeg berries and use a grating plane to freshly great nutmeg for your dishes - it's like the difference between wood pulp and wonderful flavor - it does make a big difference.

Dinner was a Jack-o-lantern pizza pie from Papa Murphy's (borrowing photo from their site here)

How to carve a pumpkin with power tools!
Our little guy is all about Domo right now, so Dad thought it'd be a great idea to carve a Jack-o-Domo. We found a pattern through Think Geek, and we got to work.
(but make sure you make really icky faces pulling out the pumpkin guts!)

Then - set the man on the gourd with some power tools! Let the surgery begin!

It's ALIVE! (sort of?)

Then...Connor's best friend moved back into town yesterday, and we went on a candy hunt with their family and here are the boys - Dread Pirate Aiden, Luke Potter, and Connor-won Kenobi