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Jan 2, 2009 01:47 PM

Penzeys Recipes

Hello all - Do any of you use any Penzeys recipes from their catalogs or magazines? If so, are they worthy, and what is your favorite recipe?? I'm addicted to their spices and curious to know what your go to recipe is from them. Thanks for sharing!!!

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  1. I also, am addicted to Penzey's, and have been receiving their catalog since sometime in the early 90's. I have tried serveral of their recipes over the years, and have enjoyed some of them enough to modify them and make them regulars. I especially appreciate the recipes that use a new (to me) spice, herb, or blend. Some that became regulars:
    Goulash Soup -- modified to include lots of potatoes, also add some wine for balance/acidity
    Peach Cake
    Pumpkin Cake
    Ham and Asparagus egg casserole

    I don't know if any of these are on the website, but they were my "winners".

    1 Reply
    1. re: dkenworthy

      I LOVE the Pumpkin Cake! There's another recipe that involves canned artichoke hearts, bread crumbs, and Parmesan that's awesome.

    2. My experience with Penzey's recipes is much like my experience with Weight Watchers recipes; they frequently require alteration. Sometimes the recipe's ingredient list is fine, but needs a different or more refined technique than described by the text. Sometimes, I have to alter the ingredient list quite substantially to come up with something palatable. I find I can usually tell by reading over the recipe a couple times what will need to change, so it's not that big a deal. They are a good jumping off point, basically.

      The one that comes to mind specifically was a pumpkin chiffon pie that I first used a couple years ago. It was a great alternative to the usual pumpkin custard pie, but I used a different technique with the egg whites and whipped cream, so the texture would be smoother and more homogenous.

      1. I love their recipes and have incorporated many of them into my repertoire. I tend to change them to use fresh stock and garlic instead of bullion and dried garlic, but they always work.

        The beef stroganoff is a very popular entrée at the free meal where I volunteer.

        1. I treat their recipes just like the recipes that come with my KitchenAid mixer....

          They're tailored to be popular to the masses. I.e. bland and salty. Chuck the recipes. Enjoy the spices.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Indirect Heat

            You are assuming that recipes from a spice company are bland? Have you ever tried any of them? You can always increase the amount of spice in them, or use the hotter variations they have for some of their spices (chili powder, curry, etc.) True, they're a mid-west company, but a lot of their recipes have a lot of flavor. Off the top of my head, without my clipped recipe book in front of me (so the names might not be correct), some of our favorites are the chocolate snowflake cookies, the grilled Turkish kabobs, and the chili. I'm sure there are more that I'm not thinking of right now.

            1. re: AmyH

              Yes those cocoa snowflake cookies are terrific! I am a non-baker and it is so gratifying to make these, as they are easy, yummy, and look just like the picture every time.

              1. re: GretchenS

                Aren't they the best?! I make them every year and they're the first to go.

                So I'm home now, and some other Penzey's recipes that I've enjoyed over the years are the adobo steak tacos, the beef roast family dinner, the family style shredded barbecue (but I just used beef, not a mix of beef and pork), the harvest vegetable bake, crispy herbed new potatoes, chocolate cake, peachy cheesecake squares, banana chocolate chip muffins, maple pecan cookies, and the easy fudge. Wow! I didn't realize how many of their recipes I've made and liked. I need to make some of these again.

              2. re: AmyH

                It should be noted that it's best to start with the amount of seasoning specified in a Penzeys recipe because the spices are of excellent quality and tend to be more intense than those found in the supermarket. A colleague asked me to pick up some Pumpkin Pie Spice for her, after which her husband (another colleague) decided to increase the amount called for in their pie recipe. I understand that the results were very nearly inedible. It's very easy to increase seasoning prior to completing a recipe; trying to correct for too much tends to be pretty futile.
                "Bland and salty?" I also have to wonder which ones you've tried.

                1. re: MacGuffin

                  I have no experience with Penzey's but I would assume you are correct in your assessment of the amount of spice in their recipes. I would be very surprised if they didn't call for generous amounts of spice, as that's what they're selling. You want a lot of oats in your oatmeal cookies, you go by the recipe on the oatmeal canister. If you bake cookies from a recipe on the Domino's bag, you can bet they'll be VERY sweet....

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Rather than "generous," I'd have to give them a Goldilocks "just right" general assessment for amounts although some recipes, like those calling for vanilla, will mention that if you want to be REALLY decadent, you can use the full amount specified, rather than half, if you're using their double vanilla. They also mention in general that you might want to cut the cinnamon by about a third if you're using the Vietnamese, which is VERY intense.

              3. re: Indirect Heat

                I'm borderline with you on this - I still buy a few things here and there from Penzeys - live down the street from one of their shops. I will credit them with my introduction to the world of Indian cooking, although, this is also where my issue lies. Their recipes for Indian food were pretty much a joke. I can't say how they are now, I don't refer to them any more for that, nor do I buy any more of their Indian Masalas. I can fill my entire pantry with Indian spices and staples at any Indian market for the price of two Penzey's jars of masalas. Seriously. I still shop there for some things tho, and I buy boxes for presents for other folks.

                1. re: gordeaux

                  I don't know that I'd use their recipes for anything very ethnic, plus I live a short walk from all of the prepared Indian food anyone could want, so it's not something I'd be likely to bother cooking. If I were, though (using someone else's recipes, mind you), I'd likely still buy their curries and such because I trust their quality. I don't mind being proved wrong, though. :)

                  1. re: gordeaux

                    I also like Penzey's, but after getting a gift pack of their Curry spices I found their Indian recipes to be dull.

                  2. There is a sticky chicken wing recipe that my family really likes a lot that came in a Penzey's magazine. I sometimes make it with chicken legs. And the pumpkin cake is delicious.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                      The pumpkin cake TOTALLY rocks, especially if you take their suggestion and double the frosting. :)

                      1. re: MacGuffin

                        Based on the recommendations here, I looked at Penzeys' website but found only pumpkin bars. Is that the recipe you mean? With the brown-butter icing?

                        1. re: Cliocooks

                          No, it's a sheet cake with cream cheese frosting and it was in one of the catalogs. I have to have a look at the pumpkin bars recipe though--brown butter icing! Woo hoo!

                          1. re: MacGuffin

                            I think this is it. Their website sucks as far as the recipes go. Some stuff they don't post at all and the older stuff isn't listed but you can find it with a google search if you know what you want.


                            1. re: SuperGrover

                              HA HA--agree--just like Chowhound, you can easily find what you're looking for by googling rather than searching on the site itself.

                              And while we're here singing Penzey's praises, I completely love their double-strength vanilla and use it ALL THE TIME in my baking...and gelato-making!

                              1. re: SuperGrover

                                BINGO! That's EXACTLY the one you want and it's delicious. However, I cut the sugar by 1/3 cup (it's still plenty sweet) and double the frosting. I also just use a whole can of pumpkin and don't bother measuring.
                                Penzeys pumpkin pie spice is AWESOME; it contains some mace in addition to the usual spices found in such blends, and it's extremely intense. I also use the full amount of the double vanilla in the cake and's Mexican vanilla in the frosting: . These folks are an EXCELLENT source for Tahitian and Mexican vanilla (I'm pretty devoted to Penzeys for their double Madagascar), as well as some other really funky extracts, not to mention their wonderful saffron. Their prices are great, the shipping is reasonable, and they're the nicest folks you'd ever want to do business with. They're also very proud of their products (the Mexican vanilla is, like a fine rum, brewed in a sugarcane alcohol base and the flavor tempered with a bit of piloncillo). If you aren't familiar with them, you owe it to yourself to peruse their site.

                                1. re: SuperGrover

                                  You're quite right--their site sucks for recipes. I've been trying to locate a baked artichoke recipe that contained their Italian seasoning, olive oil, fresh bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Neither their REALLY unhelpful Web site nor Google seems to be turning up anything. I think it might have appeared in 2006 or so. Their search engine is really bad.

                                  1. re: MacGuffin

                                    Many years ago, just about when they first began publishing recipes in their catalog, they had one for Chicken Salad with Curry-Ginger Dressing. I made it a few times to rave reviews and then misplaced it. I was asked to bring it to a picnic and couldn't find it. I wrote to Penzey's and asked if they could send it to me. They did. Very graciously. Try writing to them.They replied promptly and couldn't have been nicer.

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      Thanks a lot--I'll take your advice. I've called them a few times in the past and you're right, they couldn't be a nicer bunch. Always a pleasure to do business with a firm like that.