Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Two For One: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice and Whats For Dinner Tonight

I was at the grocery store earlier, and Pumpkin Pie Spice was on the top of my list.
This little canister was $5.79! Yeah RIGHT.
I can make that for a fraction of the cost...and I did! And it is so overwhelmingly better than this overpriced little bottle, there is just absolutely no comparison!
I know it's not the most convenient, but grinding your own spices really is the key to success here.

If you have a spice grinder by all means, make things easy on yourself. Unfortunately mine is buried deep somewhere in our storage unit so I had to put some muscle into it. First, the easy part:

Measure dried ginger into a small bowl.

Next, grind whole cloves into the finest dust you can manage and add to the ginger.

(I have no idea why some of these photos came out sideways, and equally have no ida how to fix it, eesh!)

Now, using a Microplane (if you do not own one of these, invest now, they are a wonderful and necessary kitchen tool!), grate the nutmeg.

Last, certainly not least, and certainly most difficult...the cinnamon. I ended up using an entire stick of cinnamon, and it took forever to grate down!

Be careful when using the Microplane, I got a little careless and chipped off part of my nail polish, oops!

It was well worth the work, the smell emanating throughout the whole kitchen was so delicious, and incredibly richer with a depth of warmness that you just can't get with the bottled stuff. And did you know that spices start losing flavor and intensity as soon as they are ground? Who knows how long the pre-ground stuff has been sitting around, losing all that complexity. And they want us to pay for that?

Stepping off my apparent soapbox now...mix the 4 spices together. 

I added a mere dash of allspice and salt to bring it all together, and wooowie it's good!
My first order of business with it is Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal that I'm going to try out for breakfast tomorrow, recipe to follow!

Pumpkin Pie Spice:
Yield: 2 Tablespoons

4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
A dash of allspice, an even smaller pinch of salt.
Mix and store in an airtight container.


For dinner tonight I tried out a recipe I stumbled upon over at The Cilantropist's blog:
Sausage and Goat Cheese Pizza with Balsamic Onions and 
Fresh Figs

Oh. My Word. This recipe is going to the top of my must-have-again list! The perfect harmony of ingredients and flavors was out of this world delicious! 

First up: The original recipe calls for italian sausage, but I had a stroke of genius at the grocery store and bought this instead:

Have you ever had aidells? This chicken and apply sausage is so full of flavor it's ridiculous, and you would never know it's chicken, I promise! Best. Sausage. Ever. 
I removed the casings and crumbled it and browned it in a saute pan and set aside.

Next up: the balsamic onion and fig marmalade. I sliced up one large onion thinly... 

(seriously annoyed that some of the photos flipped...that's what you get when you upload photos to your blog app from your phone?)

...and put it in another saute pan with a tablespoon of evoo and 2 tsp. of brown sugar. If you've ever caramelized onions, it's the same idea, cook them down low and slow.

Mmm, beautiful, perfectly ripe figs! Figs have a very short season and are pretty pricey; I've found that my local asian market has the best price on figs, they were a whole dollar and a half cheaper than a regular grocery store!

Next, add the balsamic vinegar and allow the mixture to further reduce. After that the recipe called for chopping the figs and adding the onions to them and microwaving the whole thing, but I didn't like that idea so I just added the figs right into the pan and let them cook with the onions, and they came out beautifully!

I know, it's looking pretty gnarly, but it tastes (and smelled!) amazing!

Next up: assembling the pizza. 
I used this extremely delicious garlic olive oil on the crust, to help it keep moist and add extra flavor.

I took a shortcut and bought ready-made, fresh whole wheat dough and rolled it out super thin for a crispy crust. Yum! The recipe calls for slicing the goat cheese and layering it on, but I was too impatient so I just grabbed a hunk of it and crumbled it evenly over the dough.

Then I spread the onion/fig marmalade on it:

Then I sliced the figs up and put those on:

Then the cooked and crumbled sausage:

And finally I tore some sage leaves and sprinkled them on top.

I cooked it in the oven for about 15 minutes, and out came perfection!

mmMMM this was good pizza!

To go with the pizza, I made a Fall Harvest Salad. This is probably my favorite salad, the flavors are at once complex and defined, it is rich and satisfying, but the ingredients are rather light. 

The dressing is balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, salt and pepper, a small minced shallot and extra virgin olive oil. SO good!

The finished salad, including slices of pear, candied pecans and shaved parmesan:


I had made a vegan Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie for dessert, but it didn't turn out so well, lol. Ah well, dinner was delicious and satisfying enough!!

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