Friday, November 30, 2012

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, 113012

Monday: Bravo Burgers for two (I had the crispy chicken salad with honey-mustard dressing): $20.18
Tuesday: Bravo Burgers Crispy Chicken Salad with Salsa on a coworker
Wednesday: Deemer's for two (mine was a Caesar Salad burger): $12.71 (with punch-card discount)
Thursday: Bravo Burgers Crispy Chicken Salad with Italian on a coworker
Friday: Taco Factory for two: $14.26

Total: $47.15
Total for the year: $1404.80

Pumpkin-Spiced Granola



I like granola, in bars or not, and I thought pumpkin granola would serve as a killer snack or maybe a topping on ice cream or in yogurt. Food Doodles did a parfait, which is much more fancy than what I'd ever do even though it looks simple to put together.

Pumpkin-Spiced Granola
adapted from Food Doodles
click to print

4 c old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/4 c maple syrup
2 tbsp oil
3/4 c pecans, halves or roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Combine oats, spice, sea salt, brown sugar, puree, maple syrup and oil in a large bowl.

I stirred for about 3 minutes to ensure even coverage.

Transfer mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread evenly to the edges.


Bake for 20 minutes. Stir in pecans and spread the mixture evenly on the baking sheet.


Bake 10 more minutes and stir the granola.


If the granola is not completely dry, return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes or until done.


Cool completely and store in an airtight container.


Freakishly simple and yet fantastically tasty! The recipe is perfect! The only thing I wish was different was the courseness of the salt I used. Mine is huge (the Mediterranean sea salt from Costco) and when you bite into one it's sort of shocking and interrupts the pumpkin flow. This baked 35 minutes total and took just a few minutes to cool. Rather than doing Pumpkin Parfaits as Food Doodles does, I'll be making an attempt at pumpkin ice cream over which the granola will be sprinkled. That is, if it lasts long enough. It is hard to stop from grabbing handfuls to munch on.

Cost:
  • old fashioned rolled oats: $0.20
  • brown sugar: $0.03
  • pumpkin puree: free
  • maple syrup: $0.46
  • oil: $0.06
  • pecans: $1.38
Total: $2.13 or about $0.43 for each of 5 cups.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Cake



And now for the cake as written, with essentially no modifications. This is the control to the gluten-free cake.

Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Cake
adapted from Epicurious
click to print

APPLES
3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 c diced peeled cored Granny Smith apples (about 4 large or 7 small)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

CAKE
11/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c (firmly packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c pumpkin puree
1/3 c sour cream
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (a 12:6:3:3 ratio of cinnamon:ginger:nutmeg:allspice)
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs

APPLES
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.


Add apples; sauté until apples begin to brown, about 5 minutes.


Add sugar and cinnamon and sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes longer. Cool.


CAKE
Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside 2/3 cup of mixture for topping.


Beat pumpkin, sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, spice, and baking soda into remaining flour mixture, beating just until smooth.


Beat in eggs.


Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Transfer batter to pan.


Scatter apples evenly over top. Sprinkle reserved topping over apples.


Bake cake until topping is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 20 minutes.


Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake if necessary. Release pan sides from cake.


Transfer cake to platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.


Having gone through the exercise of making the gluten-free cake immediately before this one, I was able to shave off a few minutes of the total time. And it did turn out that the batter for this cake was a little less viscous than the gluten-free batter, but not by a tremendous amount. Like the gluten-free revision, it was so dense I was unable to get it tranferred from the pan to a plate.

And like the gluten-free cake, this wasn't exactly the most eye-pleasing dessert but it sure did taste good. It went fast at work!

Now I'm convinced Pamela's Artisan Flour Blend is completely suitable as a gluten-free substitute for regular all-purpose flour in cakes, which is really convenient since it doesn't require any other alterations or additions.

Cost:
  • unsalted butter: $0.66 
  • Granny Smith apples: $1.78 
  • sugar: $0.07 
  • all-purpose flour: $0.22 
  • brown sugar : $0.10
  • pumpkin puree: free
  • sour cream: $0.33 
  • eggs: $0.57
Total: $3.73 or about $0.47 for each of 8 servings.

Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Cake, Gluten-Free



Scouring the web for pumpkin recipes, I was aiming for those that use a lot of pumpkin. When I saw this one, it stood out since it also incorporates apples. The cake isn't ridiculously large, thus it would be suitable to make a gluten-free one in addition to a regular one and bring them both to work.

The pumpkin pie spice I used was from the pumpkin pie recipe; for convenience (or not?) I put it in ratios so you can calculate how much you want to make. If using a 1/8 measuring spoon, you'll use 1.5 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp ginger, 3/8 tsp each nutmeg and allspice.

Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Cake, Gluten-Free
adapted from Epicurious
click to print

APPLES
3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 c diced peeled cored Granny Smith apples (about 4 large or 7 small)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

CAKE
1 1/2 c gluten-free all purpose flour
1 c (firmly packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c pumpkin puree
1/3 c sour cream
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (a 12:6:3:3 ratio of cinnamon:ginger:nutmeg:allspice)
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs

Apples:
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.


Add apples; toss in butter.


Saute apples until browned, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and cinnamon and sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes longer. Cool.

The apples didn't brown at all in 5 minutes but rather than cook the crap out of them I proceeded with adding the cinnamon and sugar with the intention of keeping dice rather than making apple sauce.

Cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture resembles coarse meal.


Set aside 2/3 cup of mixture for topping.


Beat pumpkin, sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, spice, and baking soda into remaining flour mixture, beating just until smooth.


Beat in eggs.


Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Transfer batter to pan.

The batter was transferred and smoothed.

Scatter apples evenly over top. Sprinkle reserved topping over apples.

The reserved topping is the perfect quantity.

Bake cake until topping is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 20 minutes.

Mine cooled on the rack about 35 minutes and the cake had magically pulled away from the edges of the pan.

If necessary, run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides from cake.

Transfer cake to platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.


The prep was certainly different than any cake I've made to date but was quite simple to execute. I'm looking forward to seeing if the consistency of the batter is because of Pamela's flour. It was really thick, reminding me of the time I baked the Caramel and Apple Upside-Down Cake and forgot the milk. But when I licked the beaters the batter didn't taste "gluten free" like batters do with Bob's Red Mill. It did leave an extremely fine gritty feel on the palate though.

The apples didn't really brown, but they sure smelled good as they sauteed. The 1/2" pieces became soft on the edges, but with an almost firm center. I thought they'd wind up very much like apple sauce after baking in the cake.

Presentation wasn't beautiful and transferring to a platter was virtually impossible. The cake is quite dense and moving it without breaking it was too risky. I simply put the whole thing, cake and springform bottom, on a plate. After cooling completely the entire thing was wrapped in plastic, left at room temperature overnight and taken to work.

Visually pleasing or not, the cake went over extremely well with the gluten-free fans and was considered the best of the baked goods yet. It looks like this recipe is a winner and so is Pamela's Artisan Flour Blend. A quote:
OMG Cook this cake is amazing!!!!! It’s so fluffy and flavorful. A+!!

Cost:
Total: $5.07