Orange Pumpkin Cornmeal Cake

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 11.34.45 AMLisi from Lisi’s Luscious Desserts shares the perfect cake recipe for fall. This cake is rich in color and texture. Though there are a number of steps, it’s so very very moist with a hint of citrus. It’s not as pumpkiny as you may think.
2 sticks or one cup of soft butter
1 cup sugar (which reader Anne pointed out that I forgot to include my in initial post as she was getting started.  thank you!)
1 tablespoon grated chopped orange zest
1 large egg
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup fine-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup fresh orange juice from about 2 oranges
1/2 cup sugar
Butter a 9 inch bundt pan (click to show better butter detail – scroll down in baking tips) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Separate your eggs and keep both whites and yolks.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal.
With your paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 3-4 minutes.  Add the egg yolks (one at a time) and then the egg and beat well after each addition.  Scrape down the bowl, and beat again.  Beat in the pumpkin puree and vanilla.
In three additions, slowly add the reserved dry mix to the mixer – stirring on lowest speed (or gently by hand) until just incorporated.
Beat the 2 egg whites until soft peaks form.  I find this easier to do by hand with a whisk but you can certainly do with a hand mixer.  Or, you can transfer your pumpkin batter into another bowl, clean the mixing bowl well, and then beat your eggs with the whisk attachment.  (If you bake a lot, you may want to invest in a second bowl for your stand mixer.)
Then gently fold the egg whites into the pumpkin batter – until you can’t see any more streaks of whites, but be careful not to over due it here.
Pour the batter into the prepped pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes (mine took 43 minutes).  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool.
While the cake is cooking, make the orange syrup.  Juice the oranges and place the fresh juice in a saucepan with the sugar.  Mix until sugar dissolves and there isn’t any white sugar on the bottom of the saucepan (it will burn if so).  Boil the mixture for about 2 minutes and then remove from heat.
When cake is warm, brush with the orange syrup.  You can repeat when cool if desired.  For service, dot the  syrup on the side of the cake (if plated) or serve on the side and accompany with vanilla yogurt.
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Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore with Rosemary

Oven-Braised-Chicken-CacciatoreThis Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore brought to us from Jeanette Chen is scented with rosemary and braised in a rich tomato sauce flavored with red wine, mushrooms and mixed bell peppers. Serve this over simple Lemon Poppy Seed Noodles alongside sauteed green beans for a simple but elegant meal. This delicious and hearty. Italian-inspired autumn recipe will pair very nicely with a Chianti Classico. And Stewart’s Spirits has the perfect Chianti right next door (and online) . . . the Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Chianti Rufina Nipozzano Riserva 
Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore with Rosemary
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 green bell peppers, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 8-ounce packages mushrooms, sliced
2/3 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 28-ounce box or can tomato sauce
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 pounds chicken on the bone (The recipe uses drumsticks and thighs)
salt and pepper, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
chopped parsley, for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan. Add red peppers, green peppers, onions, garlic, celery and mushrooms. Saute until onions are translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Add red wine; simmer 2-3 minutes. Add broth, tomato sauce and rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Season chicken pieces with salt, pepper and garlic powder. In a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Brown chicken on both sides, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Place chicken in large Dutch oven. Pour sauce on top. Cover pot and place in oven; bake 1 hour or until meat is tender and falling off the bone. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving if desired.

Jeanette Chen, a resident of New Canaan for 20 years, is the busy mom of 4 boys and author of a popular health and wellness food blog, Jeanette’s Healthy Living. She was recently named 2013’s Best Allergy Blog by Healthline and is always looking for ways to make healthier meals for her family and friends. See more by clicking here

Fall Bruschetta

Our guest contributor Katherine Vitucci at The Parsley Thief has given us a wonderful recipe that will be sure the pair well with the coming autumnal months. For parties or just for a healthy snack, her Fall Bruschetta is perfect for any occasion.

Fall Bruschetta

Adapted from Nicole Straight, via CT Bites
Serves 8, as an appetizer
1 baguette
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons olive oil {divided}, plus more for toasts
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons agave nectar
3 cups peeled & cubed butternut squash
1 1/2 cups finely diced eggplant {unpeeled}
1 cup finely diced apple {unpeeled}
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup ricotta cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the baguette into 1/2″ slices & lay them out on a baking sheet. You can use more than one baking sheet, or make these in batches. Drizzle the bread slices with some olive oil & bake for about 5 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Set aside.
Quarter & thinly slice the onion. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add the onions, balsamic vinegar & agave. Cook until the onions are softened & all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, toss the butternut squash, eggplant, apple, 1 tablespoon olive oil & paprika. Season with salt & pepper. Spread the mixture out on a baking sheet & bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway through the cooking time, until the squash is just tender.
Transfer to a mixing bowl & add the onions. Toss well. Check for seasoning & add a bit more salt & pepper, if needed.
To assemble, spread a bit of ricotta cheese over each toast, then spoon some of the bruschetta on top. Transfer to a serving platter & serve.
Note: The bruschetta & toasts can be made ahead of time, stored in separate air tight containers, for up to 2 days