Twofer: Honey Orange Chicken & Pumpkin Pear Streusel Cake

Before I continue rambling along with all my musings, I should probably back up a bit and introduce myself and where this blog came from a little better.  For those of you who know me, you all know this sudden passion for cooking and baking didn’t really assert itself until my junior year of college, just after I came back from my semester abroad in Taiwan.  To this day, I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when websites like Tastespotting and Foodgawker became my most visited websites, and I started spending more time thinking about interesting food item to make next than anything else (well, not everything else, but you get the point).  It was slightly obsessive, and is still that way, though I have other things to occupy my time…like watching Izzy leap around the living room.  She has some kind of cute-animal-magic-power over me, but I mean, come on, how could she not, she’s freaking adorable.

Anyway, so about a year and a half ago I was bitten by the foodie bug, and since then I’ve been infected with the fervent urge to read food blogs and garner inspiration from them.  And finally, I’m taking all those ideas, hundreds (so not kidding) of bookmarked recipes, and putting them to good use: by sharing it virtually with all you kind people.  I wish I could share it in person, but that would be slightly more difficult…

Today, I’m serving up a twofer post, dinner and dessert.  I’m definitely more of a baker than a cook, but I enjoy both equally.  Since I’m responsible for making dinner, I try to vary our meals and try new things every once in a while.  I’m also a huge fun of making a large batch of something, and then freezing half of it for a later occasion.  Consequently, our freezer is always full, but I like to think a full freezer is a happy freezer.

This orange honey chicken comes from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express cookbook.  I got it this past summer when Border’s was going out of business, and I’ve really enjoyed it.  It’s divided by season, and each season contains 50 or so recipes, ranging from appetizer to dessert, all of which can be made in 30 mins or less.  Definitely a useful tool in your cookbook arsenal.  This chicken comes together fast, and the sweetness of the orange juice and honey are counterbalanced nicely by cumin, salt and pepper.  It’s great served over rice or pasta, though I served it over something different that I’ll be sharing soon.

I saw this recipe for pumpkin-pear streusel cake on this website, and knew I had to make it.  Luckily, I had recently opened a 29 oz can of pumpkin (which I got four separate pumpkin recipes out of, score!) and decided this was one of them.  It’s tender, moist, and delicious without the pumpkin flavor being overpowering.  The sautéed pears are soft and lend a touch of sweetness, along with the streusel topping.  I sent some into work with Luke, and it received a stamp of approval from his co-workers.  And to me, that’s the highest praise I can get.

Honey Orange Chicken

Adapted from Kitchen Express

Makes 2-3 servings

 2-3 boneless chicken breasts, sliced to ½ inch thickness

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I always use olive oil)

½ cup orange juice

½ cup honey

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon salt and pepper

 Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Mix together all other ingredients and stir until honey dissolves.  Sear the chicken on both sides in the oil on medium heat for about four minutes total.  Add the orange juice mixture, cover, and allow it to simmer for about six minutes.  Serve over mixed greens, rice or pasta.

Pumpkin-Pear Streusel Cake

Adapted from My German Kitchen

 Pears:

* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 4 cups diced peeled cored firm pears (about 4 large)
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cake:
* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 1 cup (firmly packed) golden brown sugar
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
* 1/3 cup sour cream
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 large eggs

Directions:

For the pears:
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears; sauté until pears begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and cinnamon and sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes longer. Cool.

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. 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. Transfer batter to pan. Scatter pears 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. Release pan sides from cake. Transfer cake to platter. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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