Monday, November 24, 2008

Almond Sugar Cookies

I had an urge to get all cutesy and decorate some sugar cookies. I got the candy corn originally so i could make the cookies look like these Pillsbury Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies but my cookies ended up being too small to fit the design, so I came up with this instead.

I got the cookie recipe from The Splendid Table, but substituted the vanilla extract for almond extract to add an alternative flavor. The chocolate frosting on top is Nutella, and as you can see for some cookies I used sliced almonds.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What's on Your Thanksgiving Menu?

I am having a few friends over for Thanksgiving this year, so not only do I have to figure out how to make an entire Thanksgiving meal in my matchbox sized kitchen, I have to figure out what to make!

Here is what I am planning:

Breakfast (after all, you can't starve yourself all day waiting for the feast):
1) Bananas Foster Scones and Sweet Potato Hash Browns and coffee, obviously.

2) Kosher Turkey (thankfully my friend Sharon is in charge of this one)
3) Sourdough Stuffing with hazelnuts and sour cherries

4) Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
5) Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios (normally I don't like Brussels sprouts, but they are great when made this way)
6) Mom's Homemade Rolls with jam and butter
7) Cranberry Sauce
*I'm still trying to decide if we need a salad or if I should substitute one of these sides for a yam or sweet potato dish

8) Apple Pie (My friend Jesse is preparing this one, apparently he has some secret recipe and wants to do a guest post on here about it)
9) Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

10) Hot Spiked Apple Cider

Now I just have to figure out a plan of attack, such as what can I make the day before, and in what order I need to make things the day of. I have never done a Thanksgiving dinner before, so if any of you have any advice or suggestions, send 'em my way!

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Whats on your menu?

Me and Daniel at Julie's house for Thanksgiving last year

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cranberry Sauce: Look Ma, No Cans!

The players: an orange, a bag of cranberries, and a cup of sugar

Thanksgiving is - gasp! - just a few days away. Last year, Beth and Daniel visited us here in Austin, and we had a grand time. This year, it will be just Oscar and me and the girls, plus Oscar's mom, who arrives tomorrow.

If you're still planning to pull a can from the pantry when it's time to serve the cranberry sauce at your holiday table, please consider trying this fresh, no-cook cranberry sauce instead. It's so easy, so simple, so fresh, and so very delicious. Try it; I'll be very surprised if you decide to go back to the canned stuff after this. Also, keep in mind that this sauce has great versatility - it goes well with turkey, of course, but it is also an excellent companion with practically any meat or fowl.

This recipe comes from my trusty, tattered Joy of Cooking, which we received as a wedding present nearly nine years ago. The binding is barely holding on, but there are still many good things to make from it's pages. My Joy says you should make this at least two days before serving to allow the flavors to mellow, since the whole orange - rind and all - is used, but I've made it right before serving, and still thoroughly enjoyed it. Besides, I don't think a bowl of this stuff would last that long in my refrigerator. Oscar and I have been known to eat this by the spoonful, all by itself. Yes, it's that good.

Uncooked Cranberry-Orange Relish
from Joy of Cooking

One 12-oz package of cranberries
1 orange, un-peeled
1 cup sugar

Pick over and rinse the cranberries, discarding any that are soft, spotted, or discolored. Cut the orange into pieces and remove seeds (if present). Place half of the cranberries and half of the orange in a food processor (see note below).

Pulse until mixture is evenly chopped, but not pureed. Transfer to a medium bowl; repeat with remaining cranberries and orange. Stir in the sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

We enjoyed our cranberry relish the other night with a pork loin roast.

My Joy says this will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator, but I find that information entirely inaccurate. We eat all of ours in just a day or two - it has never lasted two weeks in this house! I guess I'll have to make more next week.

Note: If you do not have a food processor, this can also be made in a blender. I did it last year. You'll have to stop and scrap down the sides a few times before getting a satisfactory texture, but it will work.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pomegranate Muffins

So, I wanted to make muffins but with a little twist. Pomegranates are in season right now, and they are really juicy and red. A little tip when picking out a pomegranate: The uglier, the better. For some reason the ugliest ones are the reddest and juiciest.

These got good reviews by some friends who happened to be over, and I thought they were pretty good too. Try them out if you are tired of the same old blueberry muffins!

Pomegranate Muffins
adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
makes one dozen

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 or 1 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds and juice
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray or grease your muffin tin, set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and set aside.

In another medium bowl, beat melted butter and sugar vigorously until light and fluffy. Use an electric mixer if you have one. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well combined, then mix in the vanilla.

Now add the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture, gently mixing just until combined and then slowly add milk (don't over mix). Fold in the pomegranate seeds and juice.

Divide batter evenly between muffin tin cups, lined with paper cups if you prefer.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until muffins are a light golden brown. Let cool for about ten minutes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Toasted Coconut Pumpkin Pancakes

Tired of pumpkin yet? I hope not, because I can't get enough of it. Most of you have probably had pumpkin pancakes before, but have you had it with toasted coconut? It adds a great texture and a nice little crunch. The pancake recipe itself is low fat and fairly healthy, especially if you use nonfat milk or whole wheat flour instead of white.


1 cup flour
2/3 cup toasted shredded coconut
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 large egg
1 Tbs canola or vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1/3 cup pumpkin puree


Evenly spread shredded coconut on a cookie sheet. Place in oven and set to broil. Broil for about 10-15 minutes or until coconut is evenly toasted and a medium golden brown. You will need to keep a close eye on it and stir often to ensure even toasting and to make sure it doesn't burn. Set aside and let cool.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, coconut, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a small bowl, beat together egg, oil, milk, and pumpkin. Add the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Let sit for five minutes.

Meanwhile, get your pancake griddle or skillet hot over medium-low heat, sprayed with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto middle of skillet. Turn over when it batter is bubbly and edges appear to be cooked (2-3 minutes). Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on the other side, and serve immediately.

Try spreading cream cheese and pumpkin butter over the top, or just use butter and syrup. Yummmm!!!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread to me is just one of those breads that warms the soul. This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. Make this bread and your neighbors will smell it and break down your door. No need to buy baked goods from Starbucks when you have a recipe like this up your sleeve!

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 buttermilk

Heat oven to 350F and grease two loaf pans with non stick spray or butter. In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all of the spices.

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree and sugars. Martha suggests using an electric mixer on medium for 2 to 3 minutes, but I just mixed it by hand until well combined. Add the eggs and oil and mix until combined. Add half the flour and mix just until barely combined. Add the buttermilk, then add the flour and mix just until combined.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Place loaf pans on a cookie sheet and bake for 55-60 minutes, rotating the pans 180 degrees half way through. When knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, bread is done. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Of course it can be enjoyed right away, but the next day the flavors will have combined more completely.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Caramelized Onions

Red and yellow onions were taking over my kitchen counter last week, and something had to be done.

So I caramelized a big batch of them, and now I have lots of carmelized onion delicious-ness. Think about the possibilities here. Pizza. Pasta. Soup. Risotto. Quesadillas. Omelets. With goat cheese and herbs, baked into a savory tart!

The first necessary step was peeling and slicing all those onions into rings. Then pouring a few glugs of olive oil and piling those onion rings into a pan.

I don't know if you can tell, but that is a big pan of onions. It's a 12" wide deep-fry pan, so it has deep sides. Note the pot of white beans bubbling away on the back of the stove.

Now all that's necessary is long, slow, and gentle cooking over a low flame. No lid! We want the onions to caramelize, not steam. Poke at them and turn them around every so often with a wooden spoon or tongs, but find something else to do, too. These onions will take their sweet time, here.

The onions are done once they have turned a delicious caramel-ly brown color and are so sweet that they practically melt in your mouth. This might take 45 minutes to an hour, or more.

Remember the white beans on the back of the stove? They were delicious topped with the caramelized onions, along with oven-roasted tomatoes and fresh rosemary.

I wonder if onions can be caramelized in the slow cooker? The idea inspires the lazy cook inside me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

No-Knead Sourdough Bread (1st attempt)

As promised, here is the sourdough bread I made. This is my very first attempt at homemade sourdough bread, it wasn't perfect but turned out pretty well! Give it a try and let me know if you can come up with some improved techniques.

Many of you have probably heard about the New York Times article on No Knead Bread, adapted from a recipe by Jim Lahey. The basic idea is that you let time do the work for you rather than the traditional method of kneading and rising. I thought this would be a great recipe to try out with my sourdough starter, and an added bonus is that I would not have to use any additional yeast since its already in the starter.

I used an adapted recipe from Sourdoughs International. The bread turned out to have a great sourdough flavor, but it wasn't light and fluffy enough for me. I think some of the problem may have been the temperature in which it was rising (may have been too warm) which inhibits the wild yeast and makes it leven poorly. The other complaint I have is that the dough was really wet, sticky and difficult to work with. Don't get me wrong, the bread will definitely be completely gobbled up within a couple days- I just think the recipe and my technique could use some improvement.

No-Knead Sourdough Bread
makes one loaf

1 cup sourdough starter
3 cups flour (I used white, but I am sure whole wheat would be really good)
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp salt

Measure out your sourdough starter the night before, or a few hours before you start so as to make the starter fully active.

In a large bowl lightly combine all ingredients (do not use a metal bowl). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a safe place which is preferably between 70-75F for 12-18 hours.

After this proofing period, the dough will be very sticky. Sprinkle a work surface with flour and transfer dough to the surface, and sprinkle dough with additional flour. Let rest for about 15 minutes.

While handling as little as possible and using additional flour (no more than 1/4 cup) form dough into a rough ball and then place directly into your greased baking container (I used a loaf pan). Cover with a cotton towel and set aside at room temperature for about 4 hours or until it doubles in size.

Place in an unheated oven and then turn the oven on to 450F. The recipe I used calls for it to be baked for 1 hour and 10 minutes, which I found to be too long. Maybe you could try baking it for 45 minutes and then checking it. It will be done with the crust is a light golden brown.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

How's the Pumpkin Butter, You Ask?

Positively scrumptious! Velvety-smooth, sweet, spicy, and so full of pumpkin-ey goodness it will warm you up inside. We enjoyed it this morning with freshly baked scones and scrambled eggs.

I ended up letting it bubble away in the Crockpot on low for about eight or nine hours. Long enough for it to get so thick and rich that it sticks to the spoon when turned upside-down.

For the recipe and related post, click here.

Basil Chicken in Lettuce Cups

I harvested the last of my basil the other day and immediately put all of it to good use in this flavorful Thai-inspired basil chicken. Oscar says it is even more awesome as leftovers for lunch the next day.


4-5 cloves garlic, minced fine
1/2 cup or so of finely minced red peppers, sweet and/or hot (I used a combination)
zest of one lemon and/or lime
2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast, minced fine or ground
1 Tbsp sugar
1-2 Tbsp fish sauce
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
fresh whole basil leaves, at least 2-3 generous handfuls (the amount of my harvest, shown above, was not quite enough basil for me)
juice of one lemon or lime
Bibb lettuce leaves

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, peppers, and zest; stir-fry for one minute. Add chicken and cook thoroughly, mixing and breaking up with a spoon as necessary. When chicken has fully cooked and browned, mix in sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Then add basil leaves.

Cook and stir until basil leaves have wilted, and then squeeze the lemon or lime juice over the basil chicken mixture. Scoop mixture into lettuce leaves and serve.


blogger templates | Make Money Online