Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Dinner Menu

This meal is basically a repeat of our New Year's Eve meal from January 2008. Some meals are worth repeating and this was one of them. It was as amazing yesterday as I remembered it. Best part is, this meal doesn't really require a lot of time in the kitchen which is nice when you want to enjoy Christmas day! I served my Rib Roast with mashed potatoes instead of the Boursin potatoes but I highly recommend the Boursin potatoes. I would like to make Yorkshire pudding to go along side this sometime. I planned on preparing it yesterday but after a big day of cooking the night before, we decided to go low key on this one. We were too stuffed for dessert. I had planned to make Ina's frozen berries with white hot chocolate. I have all the ingredients so I'm sure I will be making it soon!

Sunday Rib Roast
Sauteed Carrots
Mashed Potatoes
Frozen Berries with White Hot Chocolate

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chocolate Biscotti

Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Baking From My Home to Yours, is probably my favorite cookbook purchase of 2008. I've wanted to try making my own Biscotti for some time and I was always a bit hesitant. I didn't want to make those traditional tooth breaking biscotti we have all had. This particular recipe has been popping up in other cooking blogs I read quite a bit lately. I finally gave it a try today and I'm so glad I did. I think Biscotti may be my new favorite cookie to bake. Cookies aren't generally my favorite thing to bake. These were really simple and I didn't have to worry about making them all precisely uniform. The biscotti held together well but were nice and tender. The chocolate flavor in these was intense. I loved the taste of the melted chocolate in each bite. I dipped mine in white chocolate and they made a beautiful presentation. I know I will be making these again as well as trying some other flavor variations.

Chocolate Tiramisu

This dessert was totally sinful! I searched high and low for a tiramisu recipe that did not have raw egg in it and happened upon this one. This recipe takes some time to make but is totally worth the effort. Its rich, creamy and decadent. I could have eaten the chocolate zabaglione all by itself. I read numerous reviews of this recipe and made some changes accordingly. I had no problems with this dessert, it turned out perfectly. I have noted the changes I made below in red. This is a perfect dessert for entertaining since it can be made ahead. This would also be fun to make in individual portions.

Chocolate Tiramisu

6 ounces container mascarpone cheese (at room temperature)
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
Chocolate Zabaglione, recipe follows
2 1/2 cups espresso coffee, warmed
24 crisp ladyfinger cookies (recommended: Savoiardi)
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for garnish
Dark chocolate shavings, for garnish

Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the cream and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Then fold in the chilled Chocolate Zabaglione. Cover and refrigerate.

Whisk the warmed espresso and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in another medium bowl until blended. Line a 9 1/4 by 5 by 2 3/4-inch metal loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic to extend over the sides. Working with 1 cookie at a time, dip 8 cookies into the espresso, and arrange in a single layer side by side over the bottom of the prepared pan.

Spoon 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture over the cookies to cover. Repeat dipping 8 of the cookies in the espresso and layering the cookies and remaining mascarpone mixture 2 more times. Dip the remaining 8 cookies in the espresso and arrange side by side atop the tiramisu. Press lightly to compact slightly (the last layer will extend above the pan sides). Cover the tiramisu with plastic and refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Unwrap the plastic from atop the tiramisu. (I didn't try to invert mine I served it straight from the pan) Invert the tiramisu onto a platter. Remove the plastic. Sift the cocoa over the tiramisu, and with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, make dark chocolate shavings and sprinkle over top.

Chocolate Zabaglione:

2 tablespoons whipping cream, or heavy cream
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup dry Marsala
Pinch salt

Add cream and chocolate to a heavy small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the chocolate chips are melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm.

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, Marsala, and salt in a large glass bowl until blended. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, but do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Whisk the egg mixture over the simmering water until it is thick and creamy, about 4 minutes (actual time was 10 minutes). Remove from the heat.

Using a large rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate to chill completely.

Source: Giada De Laurentis, Food Network.

Christmas Eve Menu

Below is the menu for our wonderful Christmas Eve dinner.

For those who are not familiar with traditional Italian dishes, Sunday Gravy is a homemade pasta sauce which is studded with sausage, meatballs, braciole and ribs. The meats cook all day in the sauce and imparts a really nice flavor to it. Much better than a plain tomato sauce. Once the sauce is finished, all the meats are removed and served separately from the sauce. There are very few recipes that I won't share and this is one of them! My grandmother used to make this recipe and I started making it several years ago when I was first married. I don't have my Grandmother's original recipe but have been told my version is just as good!

I wish everyone who reads this blog, a very Merry Christmas. I hope you and your families enjoy a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Holiday Citrus Punch
Antipasto Platter
Proscuitto Puffs
Chopped Salad
Pasta with Sunday Gravy (My secret recipe!)
Garlic Bread
Chocolate Tiramisu
Chocolate Biscotti
Tea and Coffee

Holiday Citrus Punch

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with family. My favorite meal to cook on Christmas Eve is Italian. We started off our meal with a beautiful antipasto platter that my Mom put together and some delicious proscuitto puffs that she also made. I'm definitely going to get the recipe for those puffs! Instead of my usual Sangria, this year I decided to make a Holiday Citrus Punch from the December issue of Everyday Food. This was a hit with everyone! I didn't have any blood oranges, so I used regular oranges instead. You can't really go wrong with any kind of citrus at this time of year. I'm sure tangerines or even grapefruit would work well. I like that the rum is not a prominent flavor in the punch but adds just enough kick. This would be great in a non-alcoholic version too. This punch would be the perfect compliment to a brunch menu or even for a shower.

Holiday Citrus Punch

Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large pitcher or punch bowl; pour 2 cups bottled pear nectar and 4 cups orange juice (from blood oranges or regular juice oranges) through sieve into pitcher. Before serving, stir in 2 cups chilled club soda, and if desired 1 cup light rum. Pour into glasses over ice; garnish with orange slices. Serves 8.

Source: Everyday Food, December 2008.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Baked Artichoke Squares

I have a habit of collecting those cute little holiday recipe books sold at the grocery store check-out lanes. They are a handy source of ideas for holidays and party planning. I needed a recipe to take to a friend's house for a Christmas pot luck last night. I knew I needed an easy and quick recipe as I had a busy day of Christmas shopping before the party. I quickly consulted my stash of books and found these baked artichoke squares in a Pillsbury Holiday Appetizers and Desserts Recipe Booklet. These were really delicious. They took less than 10 minutes to assemble, cooked for 20 and were delicious! It was a fun spin on the traditional spinach artichoke dip. These went very fast at the party! Definitely a new favorite for us.

Baked Artichoke Squares

2 (8 oz) cans Pillsbury Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts chopped
1 (9 0z) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup sour cream
1/8 garlic powder

1. Heat oven to 375. Unroll dough into 4 long rectangles. Place crosswise in ungreased 15x10x1 inch baking pan; press over bottom and 1 inch up sides to form crust. Press perforations to seal.

2. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine all remaining ingredients; mix well. Spread mixture evenly over partially baked crust.

4. Bake at 375 for an additional 8-10 minutes or until topping is thoroughly heated. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares. Serve Warm.

Source: Pillsbury Holiday Appetizers and Desserts, 1998.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chocolate Apricot Spritz Cookies

I'm finally getting into the swing of baking Christmas cookies. I made these to take to a cookie exchange. I love Spritz cookies. I have wonderful memories of making spritz cookies with my Mom every year. I also can't resist a chance to whip out my cookie press! I just realized it has a snowman and pumpkin plate and that you can also make cheese crackers with it! So fun! I need to play with this gadget more often! I got this recipe from my 1975 Better Homes and Garden Homemade Cookies Cookbook. My Mom has this same series so I know the recipes are tried and true. I always have fun finding old cookbooks like this at the half-priced book store. This recipe was different from my usual plain butter spritz. These turned out really well and were perfect for the exchange because the recipe makes a large batch.

Apricot-Chocolate Spritz

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup apricot preserves, sieved
1/2 cup chopped almonds (I omitted)
2 tablespoons sugar (I omitted)

Cream together butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Add egg; beat well. Stir in cooled chocolate. Stir together flour and salt; add to creamed mixture with almond extract. Mix well.

Place half of the dough in cookie press. Using ribbon plate, make four strips 12 1/2 inches long on ungreased cookie sheet. Spread each strip with about 2 teaspoons of the preserves. Press another strip of dough over filling. Combine almonds and 2 tablespoons of sugar; sprinkle half of the mixture over strips. Cut into 2 1/2 inch bars. Make additional cookies with remaining dough, preserve and nut mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Makes 40.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Cookies Cook Book, Meridith Corporation, Des Moines Iowa, 1975.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers-Coq au Vin

Finally, a blog update! We've had a series of colds and viruses run through our house so there hasn't been much noteworthy cooking in my kitchen! I'm happy to report that we are all feeling well now and ready for a happy, healthy holiday and new year and of course lots of yummy recipes! This Coq au Vin was a perfect way to get back in the kitchen. It was also the perfect meal for a night with a rare Texas winter storm. We really loved this dish. I think I may like Coq au Vin even better than Beef Burgandy. The flavors in this dish were outstanding. I didn't have the Cognac or an onion but didn't feel this dish was missing anything. I served mine over mashed potatoes as suggested by Ina. This is definitely a great recipe for a nice Sunday dinner or casual meal with friends. Thanks to Bethany at This Little Piggy Went to Market for a delicious December pick. I will definitely be making this one again.

Coq au Vin

2 tablespoons good olive oil

4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced (I omitted)
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy (I omitted)
1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound frozen small whole onions (I omitted)
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

Source: Ina Garten/Food Network

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

We had dinner with family on Thanksgiving Day, however, I didn't want to be without turkey left overs and couldn't pass the chance to cook my favorite meal too so I made my own dinner on Sunday. I fully intended to have pictures of all of my dishes but got so consumed with making the meal and setting up for dinner that it wasn't until everything had been eaten that I realized I forgot! Since this meal was so amazingly delicious, I decided to go ahead and post the recipes with a review.

Apple Cider Brined Turkey-Having heard so much buzz about turkey brining, I decided to give it a try this year. I initially planned to make my own brine, but ended up purchasing one at Williams Sonoma instead. Luckily, I have a 20 quart stock pot and an extra refrigerator which makes this process much easier. I can honestly say my turkey turned out really moist and tender. Probably the best turkey I have ever made. I'm completely sold on the brining process. I don't think the brine imparted that much flavor, but it did enhance the meat tremendously. I used a 14 lb fresh free range turkey. After rinsing the brine off the turkey, I seasoned the turkey with an herb butter consisting of herbs de provence, paprika and freshly ground pepper. Taking the advice of Bon Appetit, I roasted the turkey at 450 degrees for the first 30 minutes then, 350 degrees for the remaining 3 hours. I also was careful to tent the turkey about an hour or so in when it started to brown to avoid an burning.

Corn Bread Sausage Stuffing with Apples-This was the first recipe I tried from my Silver Palate Cookbook and if it is any indication of the quality of their recipes, I can't wait to try more. I decided to forgo my favorite family stuffing recipe to try something new. This one got rave reviews and had similarities to my favorite recipe. I liked the mix of corn bread, white bread and wheat bread. I used a chicken and sage sausage instead of pork. We were really happy with this stuffing. It definitely runs a close second to our family recipe. I omitted the nuts because they seemed out of place in a stuffing. I also used organic chicken broth in mine instead of using the turkey juices.

Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Marshmallow Brulee-This recipe was a combination of a recipe from 101 Cookbooks and one from the Whole Foods website. These were definitely a hit and probably the best sweet potatoes I have ever had. This dish makes you stop and say wow! I hadn't originally planned to brulee the marshmallow topping but I put it on a bit too early and they melted completely. It ended up creating a really great dish.

Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Marshmallow Brulee
Source: As adapted from 101 Cookbooks and Whole Foods

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, cleaned and left a bit damp
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream ( I didn't have quite enough heavy cream, so I added milk to equal the total amount needed)
1/3 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped (I used Vanilla Bean Paste)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
kosher salt
white pepper in a mill
natural marshmallows purchased at Whole Foods
finely shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350F. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until tender to a fork tip, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cook until warm enough to handle, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel and discard the skin. Put the potatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a 2-quart pot, add the vanilla bean and orange zest, if using, and set it over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Use tongs to fish out and discard the vanilla bean. Pour the mixture over the potatoes in the processor and add the butter.

Puree the potato mixture until smooth. Season with salt and 4 grinds of pepper, or to taste. Prior to serving add marshmallows and coconut. Cover with lid. Marshmallows will dissolve. Finish off under the broiler until nicely browned. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve.

Serves four.

Sauteed Green Beans and Mushrooms-I made this recipe awhile back and it has since become my favorite green bean recipe. Definitely beats a green bean casserole any day!

Pumpkin Roulade Trifles with Ginger Butter Cream-I started out making this Ina recipe as a Roulade. However, when I took my cake out of the oven and rolled it, it cracked badly. It was clear I wasn't going to be able to unroll it in one piece. As a result, I decided on trifles as plan b. I have the most adorable mini trifle dishes so I knew I could make an elegant presentation out of this dish. I sliced up the cake and layered it with the butter cream in the dishes. I topped it with a little more candied ginger and a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg. Definitely a winner, there was none left! The candied ginger adds a wonderful spicy crunch this dish. I will definitely make this again.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving and Barefoot Bloggers Mexican Chicken Soup!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of good food and a loving time spent with family. Its the perfect day to sit back and reflect on all the many things we have to be grateful for. I'm not cooking my official dinner until Sunday so check back for blog updates next week!

This week's Barefoot Blogger's pick was Ina's Mexican Chicken Soup. I made this recipe a few months back and it was really good. It made so much we still have some left in our freezer! So, instead of making another batch, here is my original review of the recipe. Thank you to Judy for picking this one. It would be the perfect way to use up that leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Raspberry Creme Brulee

I'm not sure what prompted me to try this creme brulee recipe. I think it must have been the raspberries. Its not that I wouldn't want to make a creme brulee recipe, but I am seriously in love with the creme brulee recipe from the Culinary Institute of America that I have been making for years. To me it was the epitome of perfection. I recently watched Ina make this recipe and it reminded me of a local restaurant, Adelmos that makes the most wonderful raspberry creme brulee. I was already making Beef Burgundy for our anniversary and thought creme brulee would be a perfect ending since its one of my husband's favorite desserts. My original creme brulee recipe is a bit time consuming so this one worked out since it had very few steps. I can honestly say this recipe was amazing! One of those jaw dropping, wow this is good experiences! I was honestly sad that I halved the recipe and we had no more of these delicious custards to eat! Raspberries and creme brulee are just a perfect combination together. Now, I'm torn about which recipe is my favorite. My husband said he would have to try them both back to back. I'm not sure I'm going to be having a creme brulee tasting any time soon but at least now I have two absolutely decadent recipes to chose from! I should have gotten a picture, they were really beautiful, but I wanted to enjoy a romantic anniversary dinner and not worry about picture taking! So you will have to use your imagination! My husband and I have had six amazing years together and I am looking forward to celebrating our 50th one day!

A couple notes about the recipe: Several reviewers on the Food Network site stated that Ina added cardamom to the creme brulee on the show, however, its not listed in the recipe. I could not recall so I made the recipe as is and it was perfect. Also, I made one change. I used 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract. I just think creme brulee should have pretty little flecks of vanilla in it!

Raspberry Creme Brulee

1 extra - large egg
4 extra - large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons framboise liqueur
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste)
1/2 pint fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the framboise and vanilla. Distribute the raspberries among 6 (6 to 8 - ounce) ramekins and then pour the custard mixture into the ramekins until they're almost full. (I use a large glass measuring cup for easy pouring.)

Place the ramekins on a sheet pan and carefully pour hottest tap water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are just set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate until cold.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Source: Ina Garten/Food Network

Friday, November 21, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers-Chive Risotto Cakes

This Barefoot Blogger bonus recipe was chosen by Deb at the Kahakai Kitchen. This recipe is from Ina's newest cookbook Back to Basics. This one gets rave reviews in our house. I made mine late on Thursday so I had the benefit of the hints and suggestions of those who made them earlier. Several bloggers reported having problems with the rice mixture staying together. I made sure to refrigerate mine for about five hours and I used a ceramic bowl to hold the rice mixture The ceramic really helped to chill the mixture well. I also used my non-stick green pan to fry mine. Using these two suggestions, I had no problems keeping my risotto cakes together. I didn't have Greek Yogurt. I intended to have Greek Yogurt, but didn't realized I purchased a cup that had honey in it. So, I strained plain yogurt through a sieve and used that. I also mixed in Romano cheese with my Fontina. These would be the perfect compliment to a warm bowl of soup, which is how I served them. They would also do well as a lunch dish with a beautiful green salad or in smaller portions as an appetizer. Every year I make an Italian dinner on Christmas Eve and I may use these as a side dish or appetizer this year. I think you could change up the cheeses and herbs or add vegetables and really do a lot with this recipe. I also love that you can make it any time without having to slave over a pot of risotto!

Chive Risotto Cakes

Kosher salt
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup Greek yogurt ( I used plain organic yogurt that I strained)
2 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 ½ cup cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (5 ounces) ( I mixed Fontina and Romano)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Good olive oil

Bring a large (4 quart) pot of water to a boil and add ½ tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.

Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, Fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 1/4 –inch) ice cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inch thick. Place 4-6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried. Serve hot.

Source: Ina Garten, Back to Basics, Clarkson Potter, 2008.

Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite meals. I love turkey, sweet potatoes (marshmallows are a must), stuffing (real stuffing-made from tearing bread, not boxed or packaged), cranberry sauce and of course a dessert made with pumpkin. Although, we will not be hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, I just couldn't resist making my own dinner as well. After all, leftovers are one of the best parts!. I'm trying a few new things this year, brining a turkey, cornbread stuffing. This stuffing will have stiff competition against our family recipe. I'm also jazzing up my traditional sweet potato casserole and trading in pumpkin pie for a pumpkin roulade! My dinner will be served the Sunday after Thanksgiving so look for reviews then!

Apple Cider Brined Turkey

Corn Bread Sausage Stuffing with Apples

Cranberry Sauce

Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Marshmallows

Mashed Potatoes with Crispy Shallots

Homemade Rolls

Sauteed Green Beans with Mushrooms

Pumpkin Roulade with Ginger Buttercream

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers-Mini Chocolate Orange Chunk Cake

I haven't had any new recipes to blog this week since we've been enjoying some of our favorite standby recipes, penne with turkey meatballs, roast chicken with potatoes and lemon, and easy whole wheat dinner rolls. I did however, make Ina's mini chocolate orange chunk cake which was one of this month's barefoot blogger bonus recipes. I'm planning to make the other bonus recipe, chive risotto cakes, for dinner tonight. These cakes were really good. They would be darling on a dessert buffet for the holidays. The orange flavor combines really nicely with the chocolate. The only problem I encountered with this recipe was my ganache was a little too thick. I could have easily remedied that by thinning it out with some more half and half but I was in a hurry. So, my poor little cakes are not the prettiest things, but that is what happens when you end up finishing these at 9:30 p.m. at night. So please forgive their appearance and definitely give them a try. I made a few changes to the recipe as noted below, based on ingredients I had on hand. Thanks to Lisa at the Lime and the Coconut for picking this recipe. I always love an excuse to break out the mini-bundt cake pan! I would recommend making these a day ahead. The flavor seems to intensify overnight.

Mini-Chocolate Orange Chunk Cakes
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/8 cup grated orange zest (2 large oranges)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 ounces buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup good semisweet chocolate chunks

For the syrup:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I only had 1 orange, so I made a simple syrup and added about 1/2 tsp of orange extract after I took it off the heat)

For the ganache:

  • 4 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 6 individual serving baking molds, such as the flexible non stick 100 percent silicone molds.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the orange zest.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 1 tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the molds on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pans, put them on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.

Source: Ina Garten/Food Network (note a similar recipe appears in the Barefoot Contessa Parties, however, that recipe is double in quantity as it calls to be made in a full size bundt and there are some additional differences as well)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Slow Cooker Cajun Red Beans with Andouille Sausage

Yes, I will admit this is a Sandra Lee recipe! However, its one that passes muster in my house. No artificial or processed ingredients involved! This was really simple to make and definitely a keeper. We barely had any leftovers! Even our picky toddler ate a fair share. Who knew I should have been feeding him Cajun all along! I used the whole tablespoon of Cajun spice and it was just right for my husband but a little too spicy for me. I will probably adjust the seasoning next time. I also purchased fresh made andouille sausage rather than the pre-cooked kind. My natural grocer makes sausages on site with no nitrates, msg or other additives. If I make it with the pre-cooked sausage, I will buy the Whole Foods Chicken Andouille Sausage which is also free of additives. To adjust the recipe, for the fresh sausage I removed it from the casing and cooked it on the stove first and then added it to the slow cooker. This recipe is not a good one to leave cooking all day in the slow cooker. Mine stayed in the slow cooker on warm past the 4 hours and it was starting to get a little crispy around the edges of the pot.

Cajun Red Beans with Andouille Sausage

1 package (13 oz) Cajun style andouille sausage, diced

2 cans (15 oz each) kidney beans, drained (I used organic)

1 can 14.5 oz diced tomatoes with onions and green peppers

¼ cup frozen chopped green peppers (I omitted, but would probably use fresh bell pepper)

¾ cup converted rice (I used minute rice)

2 cups vegetable stock

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (I used a salt-free blend)

Salt and pepper

In a 4 quart slow cooker, combine sausage, beans, tomatoes and green peppers. In a medium bowl, stir together rice, vegetable stock, and Cajun seasoning. Pour into slow cooker and stir thoroughly. Cover and cook on high setting 3-4 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Sandra Lee, Semi-Homemade Slow Cooker Recipes 2, Meredith Books, 2007.

Barefoot Bloggers-Herb Roasted Onions

This week's Barefoot Blogger recipe of Herb Roasted Onions was chosen by Kelly of Baking with the Boys. This recipe could not have been easier to make. The onions were not only delicious but also make a beautiful presentation. I would love to try the dressing in this recipe on other roasted vegetables. I served these with Ina's Loin of Pork with Garlic and Fennel, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, and Chai Spiced Applesauce. These onions would also work well as a side for roasted chicken or turkey.

Herb Roasted Onions

  • 2 red onions
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel the onion. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onion in wedges through the root. Place the wedges in a bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned. Toss the onions once during cooking. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten/Food Network.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic

This week's Barefoot Blogger recipe is Ina's Roasted Onions (check back Thursday for the update and review!) I knew I wanted to make a whole meal around that dish. I was thinking pork and my grocery store must have been in sync because they had this perfect loin of pork which was beautifully frenched in the case. This dish makes a very elegant presentation with very little effort. The crust adds a great flavor to the pork. I used fresh thyme instead of rosemary since I had that on hand. I also adjusted the proportions since my pork loin was only 2 lbs. I cooked mine past 140 degrees since I don't like my pork pink inside.

Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic

  • 1 (5-pound) loin of pork, bone in,"frenched" and tied
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Allow the pork to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place the pork, fat side up, in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it comfortably. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade process the garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, and fennel seeds until roughly chopped. Add the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper and process until it forms a smooth paste. Rub the paste on top of the pork and roast for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, then remove the strings, slice between the bones and serve warm.

Source: Ina Garten/Food Network.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chunky Chai Applesauce

One of my favorite things to order from Starbucks is a Chai Tea Latte. When I received this month's issue of Cooking Light, I knew I had to make the Chai Spiced Applesauce. I decided this would be a perfect pairing with Ina's Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic. I also added buttermilk mashed potatoes and Ina's roasted onions to round out this meal. This recipe did not disappoint. This is probably the most flavorful applesauce I have ever had. The balance of spices works really well in this recipe. It also received high praise from our toddler who was shoveling it in his mouth like there was no tomorrow! Note, I mashed mine with a potato masher at the end so it would be a smoother applesauce. Prior to mashing it looked more like baked apples. This is a perfect accompaniment for pork and would also be a nice addition to a Thanksgiving menu.

Chunky Chai Applesauce

Yield: 3 2/3 cups (serving size: about 1/4 cup)

  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • Dash of freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine cider and apples in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar and remaining ingredients; simmer 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick. Cover and chill.

Source: Cooking Light Magazine, November 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Easy Comfort Food

I've been under the weather with a cold this past week and have not really cooked much. Thank goodness for Thai take-out and Pizza delivery! Last night, I decided I wanted to cook but didn't have the energy to go to the store. I remembered this recipe from a recent addition of Kraft Food and Family and luckily I had all the ingredients. This dish was so easy to make and really hits the spot if your not feeling great. Although the recipe is titled fettuccine Alfredo its better likened to a creamy chicken and noodles. It didn't quite have the rich creaminess I expect of an Alfredo dish. The dish was really good nonetheless. Peas or carrots would be a great addition to this dish. I used homemade chicken stock and chicken leftover from making the stock in this dish. Its really nice to have those items frozen on hand, ready for quick use.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken

1/2 lb fettuccine, uncooked (I used egg noodles)
1 1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (I used cooked chicken leftover from making chicken stock)
1 1/4 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used homemade)
4 tsp flour
4 oz Philadelphia cream cheese, cubed
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese grated
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
Fresh Parsley for garnish

Cook pasta as directed on package.
Meanwhile, heat large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat. Add chicken, cook 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet. (I used chicken already cooked so I skipped this step and just added the cooked chicken at the end). Mix broth and flour in same skillet. Stir in cream cheese, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and pepper; cook 2 min., stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in chicken.

Drain pasta; place in large bowl; Pour chicken mixture over pasta; toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese and top with 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley before serving.

Source: Kraft Food and Family, Fall 2008 Issue.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ginger Brownies

Last night I went to my monthly craft night get together. Each month someone picks a craft project and then hosts at their host. Its really been a fun thing to do and has taught me some craft projects I would have never known about. I am lucky to have some very crafty friends! In the last couple months I have learned of the wonders you can do with modge podge and scrapbook paper! This month's project was jewelry making. This was extremely fun to do. I may just be heading to our local craft store for more jewelry making supplies! Besides, the fun get together we always have some yummy snacks. My husband joked that he was going to start coming to craft night when he found out about the wine and snacks! I wanted to make a dessert to take last night so I looked through one of my new favorite cookbooks, Martha Stewart's Cookies. I found this recipe for ginger brownies and had all the ingredients on hand. These were really good and had a nice spice flavor to them. They would be delicious with a warm glass of Chai Tea. These would also be the perfect finish after a serving of chili. Besides being delicious, the nice thing about this recipe is you mix it all in one pot and pour it in the baking pan.

Ginger Brownies

Makes 16

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Line bottom with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over 2 sides. Butter parchment; set aside. Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining ingredients.
  2. Pour batter into prepared dish. Smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Lift out, and let cool completely on rack. Cut into sixteen 2-inch squares. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.
Source: Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and Share, by Martha Stewart Living Magazine, Clarkson Potter 2008.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

One of my favorite things to order out is La Madeline's tomato-basil soup. Last week when I received my copy of Ina's new cookbook, Back to Basics, I knew this tomato soup was the first recipe of many that I wanted to try. This recipe also allowed me the opportunity to make my own homemade chicken stock which is something I wanted to check off my cooking goals list. And who doesn't like the smell of chicken soup cooking all day? The stock was really not hard to make and I think it did make a difference in the flavor of the soup over the usual canned stock. A bonus to making the chicken stock is at the end you have a perfectly tender chicken to chop up for chicken salad or other recipes that call for cooked chicken. Of course I'm going to tell you this soup was wonderful, its an Ina recipe after all! I followed Ina's directions and pureed it with my food mill and I really liked the texture it had. It was very reminiscent of La Madeline's soup. My husband really liked the peppery bite the soup had and thought the Parmesan toasts were the perfect finishing touch. The only change I made to the recipe was to use half and half instead of heavy cream. I would note that unlike other Ina recipes which generally yield large quantities this one only makes 5 servings. Also, I halved the chicken stock recipe and still had plenty left over to freeze.

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used half-and-half)
Julienned fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Parmesan Toasts or croutons

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that's left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or Parmesan toasts.

Parmesan Toasts

1 French baguette
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices. Make as many slices as you like to serve with the soup.

Place the slices on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a thick layer of grated Parmesan on the toasts and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the toasts are lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.

Homemade Chicken Stock

3 (5 lb) roasting chickens
3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half (optional)
20 fresh parsley sprigs
15 fresh thyme sprigs
20 fresh dill sprigs
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a 16-20 quart stockpot. Add 7 quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim any foma that comes to the surface. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours.

Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander, discarding the solids. Pack in quart containers and refrigerate. When the stock is cold, remove the surface fat and refrigerate again.

Source: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter 2008.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Royal Chef

This last week was so busy, I almost forgot to post this! Last weekend, as one of my birthday presents, my Mom took me to an event where Darren McGrady, the Royal Chef was speaking and promoting his book. Chef McGrady spent many years as a chef to the royal family and then personally as the late Princess Diana's chef. He gave an insightful speech detailing his experiences with the royal family as well as what it is like to work in the royal kitchen and cook for dignitaries as well as host a party for 15,000. If you get the chance to hear Chef McGrady speak, I highly recommend it. Chef McGrady hosts cooking classes in our area, so I'm looking forward to taking one of his classes. I'm also looking forward to trying the wonderful recipes in his book, Eating Royally. I'm considering doing a traditional English meal with Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding for Christmas and I think his book will be the perfect resource.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers-Vegetable Pot Pie

I will admit I have glanced at this recipe for years in my Barefoot Contessa Parties Cookbook but somehow it never made my first choice of things to make. When Deb of Kahakai Kitchen chose it for one of this month's Barefoot Blogger picks I was ambivalent. I briefly thought of adding chicken to this dish because I wasn't sure I would want a pot pie with just vegetables. I was also not sure about some of the ingredients for the sauce. Well, I've learned my lesson that I should trust Ina. This was absolutely delicious. It was very rich and filling. The crust was buttery and flaky and the sauce inside really savory. I made a few changes to the recipe. I omitted the sauteed onion and fennel and added some onion powder to the sauce instead. I also substituted Sambuca for the Pernod. This recipes does take time to prepare and is also time intensive for cooking. I recommend some advance planning when making this one. I prepped and chopped all of the vegetables in the morning and then made the pie crust in the afternoon while cooking the vegetables and the sauce. Another note, be careful when adding the ice water to the dough. I only used 1/2 cup and my dough was very sticky. This dish is also very versatile, you can change up the vegetables to suit your tastes or add chicken, turkey, or even salmon. This would be a perfect dish for entertaining. What could be more comforting and fun to serve than individual pot pies. One of the many things I love about my casual china is that it is oven proof so I was able to make mine using that. I can't wait for the perfect occasion to make these again.

Vegetable Pot Pie
Source: Barefoot Contessa Parties!

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 2 cups sliced yellow onions (2 onions) (omitted)
  • 1 fennel bulb, top and core removed, thinly sliced crosswise (omitted)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups good chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod (I substituted Sambuca)
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups large-diced potatoes (1/2 pound)
  • 1 1/2 cups asparagus tips
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, 3/4-inch-diced carrots (4 carrots)
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, 3/4-inch-diced butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions (1/2 pound)
  • 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

For the pastry: 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup vegetable shortening 1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and saute until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, Pernod, saffron, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream and season to taste. The sauce should be highly seasoned.

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Lift out with a sieve. Add the asparagus, carrots, and squash to the pot and cook in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain well. Add the potatoes, mixed vegetables, onions, and parsley to the sauce and mix well.

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the sides, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

I made this cake shaped as a pumpkin and spread the frosting between the layers of the pumpkin. I then dusted the top with confectioner's sugar. It looked very festive on my cake stand, however, it proved a bit difficult to serve but tasty none the less. Also, since I was using a pumpkin bundt pan I had to cook it significantly longer than the recipe called for. I think I would probably use this recipe to make cupcakes next time. The frosting is particularly yummy and the cake very moist.

Pumpkin Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: Martha Stewart Everyday Food

Serves 9

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon each allspice and cloves)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • One (15-ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin puree
  • Honey Frosting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree until combined. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix gently until smooth.
  3. Turn batter into prepared pan, and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan, and cool completely, right side up, on a rack.
  4. Spread top of cooled cake with Honey Frosting. Cut cake into squares to serve.

Honey Frosting

Makes 2 cups

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) regular or reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients until smooth.

Halloween Party

I hosted a Halloween Party at our house today for our weekly play group. The party was a lot of fun and as always seeing the kids in their costumes is just too cute! I tried Paula Deen's recipe for Spicy Chili and it was a hit. I had none left. I toned down the spice a little using only 1 tablespoon of chili powder instead of two and it had enough of a kick for my taste. The pumpkin cake was really moist and the cream cheese frosting added a really nice flavor. I made mine shaped like a pumpkin and spread the frosting between the two halves. I forgot to get pictures of the food as I was too busy getting cute kid photos! Here is the menu:

Apple Cider
Chips and Guacamole
Vegetables and Dip
Spicy Chili
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread (I served it as plain cornbread)
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
Store Bought Cookie Cake

Spicy Chili
Source: Cooking with Paula Deen/Sept/Oct. 2007
  • 1 pound lean ground chuck
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans ranch-style beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15-ounce) can niblet corn, drained
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown ground chuck, until beef is crumbly. Stir in onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Stir in beans, tomato sauce, corn, diced tomatoes, and green chiles. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Lighter General Tso's Chicken

I saw this recipe on No Slivers Here. I love that she is always trying recipes from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. It gives me a chance to preview recipes I might like! I was just waiting for an excuse to break in my new Martha Stewart Green Pan. I originally went to Macy's intending to purchase a wok and came out with a stir fry pan from the Green Pan collection instead. I love that it is non-stick but environmentally friendly and the sides are deep like a wok. This recipe was fairly simple to make and really flavorful. The only change I would make next time is to add more vegetables. I think water chestnuts, broccoli, carrots or an Asian vegetable mix would be great. Now, I can't wait to use my stir fry pan to try recipes from my Martin Yan cookbook!

Lighter General Tso's Chicken
Source: Everyday Food

Serves 4

  • 1 1/4 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
  1. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).
  3. Add snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice.
Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oven Baked Caramel Corn

I think one of my favorite kitchen gadget purchases of this year is our hot air popcorn popper. Its so easy to use and makes eating popcorn much healthier. We have been working on it for a while but think we finally found the perfect butter/salt ratio when making regular popcorn. Today, I decided to branch out and make caramel popcorn using a Paula Deen recipe I had clipped awhile back. It turned out perfectly and was a great snack to eat while watching college football on a beautiful fall day. I'm definitely looking forward to making this again and have already started thinking of different additions. I also can't wait to try a chocolate popcorn recipe I saw recently. I halved this recipe without any difficulties. The recipe below is the full recipe.

Oven Baked Caramel Popcorn
Source: Christmas With Paula Deen as published in The Dallas Morning News on December 10, 2007

7-8 quarts popped popcorn
2 cups unsalted peanuts, shelled pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (I omitted)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp maple flavored pancake syrup (I used real maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 F. Coat rimmed cookie sheets or jellyroll pans generously with vegetable-oil cooking spray, or rub with shortening.

Place the popcorn and your choice of nuts or seeds into a very large bowl. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt, syrups and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and continue boiling 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Stir vigorously until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the hot syrup over the popcorn mix. Stir until the popcorn is coated. This is messy; take your time and use a long-handled spoon.

Spread the coated popcorn in the prepared pans. Bake 1 hour, stirring several times. The mixture will be very sticky.

Remove the popcorn from the oven and allow to cool 15 minutes. Break big hunks apart while mixture is cooling. Store in large, airtight plastic containers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chicken with Cranberry Sauce

I'm a huge fan of Thanksgiving dinner. Its one of my top ten favorite meals. This recipe is a good short cut for when you want the flavors of a Thanksgiving dinner without all the work. This meal requires only a few ingredients and very little prep so its especially good for a weeknight meal. Sauteing the onions in the chicken sauce adds a nice depth of flavor to the cranberry sauce and prevents it from being overly sweet. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and my chicken was a bit dry. Next time, I would use the bone-in chicken breasts called for in the recipe. I served this meal with roasted sweet potatoes and stuffing. Another bonus, cranberries are high in antioxidants thus adding an extra health benefit to this meal!

Chicken with Cranberry Sauce
Source: Everday Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts (8 ounces each)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Rub evenly under chicken skin. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; roast skin side up until skin is golden brown and meat is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt remaining tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add sage and remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme; cook 1 minute. Add broth; simmer until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Strain mixture; return to saucepan.
  3. Add cranberries and sugar; boil until berries burst, 5 to 8 minutes. Whisk in cornstarch mixture; return to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat (sauce will thicken as it stands). Season with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon sauce over chicken.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

I saw this recipe in Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours and thought it sounded like a perfect way to end my fall dinner. As usual, Dorie's recipe turned out perfectly and was a big hit at the party. The apples hidden in the cheesecake are a wonderful surprise. The gingersnap crust was not overpowering as I've had with other gingersnap crusts in the past. It had just the right balance to the spiciness of the cheesecake filling. Definitely a show stopper dessert. The only change I would make to this recipe is to add a caramel drizzle to the top.

Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake
Source: Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the Crust
30 gingersnaps
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

For the Apples
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar

For the Filling
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apple cider
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream

Caramel Sauce for Drizzling

To Make the Crust: Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.

Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you’re using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they’ll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

To Make the Apples: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

Getting Ready to Bake: Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

To Make the Filling: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center–if the center shimmies, that’s just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.

Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan’s latch and release and remove the sides.

Cheesy Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Creme Fraiche

Photo from Bon Appetit

I was instantly drawn to this recipe when I saw the beautiful picture in this month's Bon Appetit. I'll admit I was a little nervous about how the cauliflower, tomato and green onion would blend together in the dish. Turns out I shouldn't have given it a second thought. This dish was superb. It is very filling and works beautifully as a main course that needs no other accompaniment. The sauce was very flavorful and creamy and the addition of the cauliflower melded perfectly with the other components of the dish. This dish is a bit time consuming to make, requiring multiple steps and using lots of pots and pans. The result, however, is well worth the effort.

Cheesy Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Creme Fraiche
Source: Bon Appetit, October 2008
  • 1 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, cored, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups coarsely grated Comté cheese (or half Gruyère and half Fontina; about 9 ounces), divided
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 10 oz penne (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from crustless French bread ground in processor)


  • Cook cauliflower in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using large sieve, transfer cauliflower to bowl. Add tomatoes to pot; cook 1 minute. Remove from water; peel and dice tomatoes. Reserve pot of water.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower; sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and green onions. Cook 1 minute to blend flavors. Remove from heat. Season with coarse salt and pepper.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in cream. Cook until sauce thickens, whisking occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add 2 cups Comté cheese; whisk until melted and sauce is smooth. Whisk in 1/2 cup Parmesan, then crème fraîche* and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  • Return reserved pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; return pasta to same pot. Stir in cauliflower mixture and sauce.
  • Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon in half of pasta mixture; sprinkle with 1/2 cup Comté cheese. Top with remaining pasta mixture and 1/2 cup Comté cheese. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in small skillet. Add breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Remove from heat; mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Sprinkle crumbs over pasta. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake pasta uncovered until heated through and bubbling, about 35 minutes.