Thursday, December 29, 2011

Alabama Eggnog

I will admit that I am not the biggest eggnog .  I have been warming up to it over the past couple years, especially when it contains alcohol.  When I came across a post on Four Pounds Flour for Alabama Eggnog, I immediately thought of the progressive dinner and Melissa's cocktail portion, but she didn't seem too excited about it.  

I then thought of my dad who is always drinking eggnog at this time of year.  I emailed them the recipe and was correct.  He was ready to try it and was very concerned about which whiskey to use.  They called me from the store asking what kind to get, he has normally had it with rum in it, not whiskey and it had to be right.  We ended up Woodford Reserve Bourbon.  In the Four Pounds Flour post they doubled the amount of whiskey.  We has some family stop by for the event, and almost everyone thought they were sipping a shot of bourbon, not eggnog, so I don't know how they could have doubled the amount.  I actually thought it was pretty good.  I think my dad and I drank most of it.  Everyone else got at least one glass down.  Next time I might mix a few more spices into it and halving it for a much smaller batch. 
The Guinea pigs
Alabama Eggnog
makes 12 to 14 servings

  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whiskey
  • 1 pint cream
  1. Separate egg whites and yolks into two separate bowls; add half the sugar to each bowl. 
  2. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; add to a large punch bowl. 
  3.  Next, beat egg yolks until very light in color. 
  4.  Fold together egg whites and yolks. Add whiskey. 
  5.  Whip cream until soft peaks form, fold into egg mixture. 
  6.  Serve with a sprinkle of fresh grated nutmeg.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cookie Dough covered in Chocolate

That's right I said it. Cookie dough covered in chocolate! Got Chocolate every so kindly posted this recipe from Paula Deen and I wasted no time sending it to my mom for our annual candy making fest. I thought the dough by itself was delicious and could have just keep eating them.  My brother loves cookie dough. LOVES it. Most of the time when we made cookies, we had to make sure he was out of the house, otherwise we would lose half our dough before it was  over.  We were able to make the dough while he was out of the house, but he came in while were dipping.  He didn't like them much. Everyone else did.  I think he's just a purist, he would probably ate all the dough predipping .  There's no eggs and they're no bake so I could just mix up some dough over the summer for snacking right? 

These are no bake, no egg amazingness.  They are super easy to make, just need time to set in the fridge.  I didn't make any changes other than using almond bark for the coating.  I recommend flouring your hands to make the balls.  While ours were in the fridge, they kind of flatted out, so we had to reshape them a bit before we dipped them.

Chocolate Covered Cookie Dough 
makes about 80 truffles  

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels (chopped into smaller pieces or use mini ones) 
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 package of chocolate almond bark
  1. In a large bowl cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. 
  2. Add vanilla. Gradually beat in flour and add milk. 
  3. Add chocolate morsels and pecans, mixing well. 
  4. Shape into 1-inch balls.  Place on waxed paper; chill 2 hours.
  5. Melt chocolate bark following package directions. 
  6. Using a  fork, dip cookie balls into candy coating to cover. 
  7. Place on waxed paper and chill to set.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Progressive Dinner: Dessert

Melissa  had the great idea to organize a Progressive Dinner this year as a little holiday party before we all disappeared  home for Christmas.  For those of you who are like me and had no clue what she was talking about when she asked if I would participate, a Progressive Dinner is when each course of the meal is served at someone else's home and you move from apartment to apartment (at least in our case).  She asked me if I would be willing to take care of the dessert for this event and I couldn't say no to that.  

Compliments of Melissa's boyfriend Kurt
The difficult part was figuring out what to make to serve 10 to 12 people that was gluten free.  I had just made these pumpkin trifles and had thought about making something similar with rum, but decided it was too soon.  I also didn't feel like making a flour-less cake or a pudding or mousse like thing, I don't know why.  We were all keeping our courses secret, so I had no idea what I should be trying to compliment.  I found this recipe in Great Food Fast, and decided it would be easy to prep and throw in the oven while we enjoyed our entree next door.  I figured it would be kind of light and not too sweet after the previous three courses, which were amazing!  
Before roasting...

The grocery store ended up being the actual problem, which I kind of suspected might be the case and I was prepared to make some substitutions before I even arrived.  I couldn't find any plums and the peaches were tiny so I replaced the plums with pears.  Of course after I bought my supplies, I found out two more decided they would join us for the event and went out in search of plums at a different grocery store.   Of course there were none so I went with apples.  My other change was to use the lemons I had at home instead of buying limes and I didn't really measure so much, just kind of scooped some sugar in.  All in all it was really tasty and the rosemary adds a wonderful touch.   I need to learn how to cut peaches and nectarines though, that didn't go so well...

Roasted Fruit with Ice Cream
serves 12 to 16
After Roasting!
  • 6 small peaches
  • 5 nectarines
  • 2 apples
  • 3 pears
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter- cut into chunks
  • juice from 3 fresh lemons
  • vanilla ice cream

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick skins of fruit with a fork, then quarter and pit the peaches and nectarines, slice the apples and pears. 
  2. In a 9-by-13-inch roasting pan, toss fruit with the sprigs fresh rosemary, tablespoons sugar, butter, and lemon juice.
  3. Roast fruit until fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard rosemary the sprigs but leave some of the leaves.
  4. Serve warm over ice cream. 

mmm mmm mmm
Enjoy and have a great Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash & Sage

I had some leftover squash I need to use up before it went bad so I decided to try this quick side recipe from my Great Food Fast cookbook.  I had been wanting to try a simple roasted squash recipe besides my usual butter and brown sugar, but I don't think this is the one for me.  I shared with my neighbors, who liked it, but there was something I didn't quite like.  

It was okay, but maybe I just added too much sage, I didn't measure it.  Maybe I just don't like fresh sage, even though I have never noticed a dislike of sage in general before now.  I was not sure how much squash I had to use, it seamed to be about 2 pounds, like the recipe called for, but maybe it was less.  Another good reason to hope for the food scale I ask for from Santa this year.  Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Sage

4 to 6 side servings

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage 
  1. Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add butternut squash. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until squash is lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add 1/4 cup water, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook until squash is fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and toss with sage.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chicken with Coconut Rice & Black Beans

This recipe is easily one of my favorites that I do not make enough.   I found this recipe in the August 2007 issue of Real Simple. It is really easy to make and the leftovers still taste great.  I end up just mixing the black beans and rice together, it all goes together so well.  I normally use a red pepper as the recipe lists, but this round I had a green one that needed to be used.    
Since I love warm rice and milk with cinnamon and sugar, I like to double the amount of rice I make.  This way I use all the coconut milk, since you only use one cup for the recipe.  The coconut flavor is really subtle  (in both dishes) and just tasty.  

Chicken with Coconut Rice & Black Beans
4 servings 

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk (1 14 oz can)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large green bell pepper, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 19-ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  1. Cook the rice according to the package directions, replacing 1 cup of water with the coconut milk.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the chicken and move it to the sides of the skillet.
  3. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the bell pepper is slightly soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plates.
  5. Add the beans, cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the remaining oil to skillet. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. 
  6. Serve with chicken and rice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chocolate Chip Scones

I have been continuing on my scone breakfast journey and it has been going really well.  Could I Have That supplied my current scone recipe for Chocolate Chip Scones.  I followed the recipe correctly (for once), and even used a glass to cut the dough in to circles for freezing.  The last bit looked like too little to do two and just a bit more than one, so I figured I would just bake it as is.  One fateful Monday morning I  put it in the oven with a regular size one for the normal time.  When the buzzer dinged I checked them and put them if for a few more minutes.  When that time was up they had a nice little golden brown color on the top and had pretty much doubled in height.  I decided to take the large one with me to work.  I sat down at my desk and pulled a piece off ready to enjoy and realized the inside was still completely doughy. Like had-not-cooked-at-all dough.  I was so sad! What had I done? How did I not realize that it was not ready at all?   Needless to say, I ran to the deli for breakfast that morning.  
I don't know why so far they have all baked like this, in little V's but they are great.
I took the poor thing home and put it back in the oven where it finished baking just fine without burning or anything.  The regular sized scones were perfectly baked at the normal time and they have all been delicious.  They have a biscuit like quality to me and I really enjoy them with honey.  I hope you give them a try and please don't make the same mistake as me.

Chocolate Chip Scones
(makes 10 scones)

  • 3 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 handful wholewheat
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Sift the plain flour, add in the wholewheat. Mix in the baking powder, sugar and salt. 
  2. Then with your fingers mix in the butter until the mixtures resembles fresh breadcrumbs. 
  3. Make a well in the middle, pour in exactly 1 1/4 milk and use a fork to work in the dry ingredients around it. Finish mixing by hand but don't overwork. 
  4. Mix in chocolate chips.
  5. Form a soft but firm dough—add milk if too dry, add flour if too wet. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a solid shape (1 1/4 inches thick). 
  6. Cut or separate into rounds and place on the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to freeze. 
  7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Bake 15 - 20 minutes until lightly golden.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fifth Annual Holiday Baking Party

This year was my Fifth Baking/Candy Party in Brooklyn!  My Fifth! How crazy is that?  I really cannot believe I have been here that many years or that I have convinced people it's a good idea that many years in a row.  Some of my friends have been able to make it or have known me for all five.  It's so great to know you have people who are still willing to hang out with you year after year.

Yeah friends! 
It's even more exciting to see what they will make year after year.  We had peppermint fudge, heath bars, chocolate bark, (in 4 flavors!), little turtles, mini apple pies, peppermint fudge balls, and brownies with Andes Chocolate topping.  I have to say that I am so proud of my old roommate for making her brownies.  It's one of the first things she has baked completely from scratch with no problems and no burning and they were delicious.  I like to think I rubbed off on her a bit.

Snacks & a kiss tree!
I stuck to my usual  and favorite peanut butter balls and added a new creation I found on Spoon Fork Bacon recently called Cracked Out Rice Krispie Treats.  I like to think of them as Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Rice Krispie Bars.   For my hosting portion of the event, I found a recipe for Spice White Wine Sangria also on the Spoon Fork Bacon site.  I was thinking smart this year and set out a few not sweet snacks for us to munch on so that we might not going on sugar binges and be "hungover" later.  This worked brilliantly and I have saved more of the tasty treats to eat in the weeks to come.  Will keep this in mind for future parties.
Winter Sangria

As for the two recipes I am sharing today, the Rice Krispies and Sangria, they turned out excellent.  I don't really like white chocolate, but mixing it with peanut butter made me not even notice.  The one thing I would change in the future is to make the chocolate/peanut butter mixture larger.  The bars were really crumbly and needed more of the mixture to bind them together.  I would say don't double it but 1 1/2 times it.   The sangria was a huge hit and much sweeter than I expected.  I "doubled" the recipe, but somethings were not quite double.  The pomegranate seeds at the bottom are so yummy and the simple syrup makes gives it the perfect spice.

Picture from K
Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Rice Krispie Bars
(approximately 35  1 1/2" x 1 1/2" bars)
  • 3½ cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1 cup small pretzel sticks, broken up
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter (addition 1 tbsp for topping)
  • 6 ounces white chocolate chips, melted (addition 1-2 oz for topping)
  • sprinkles
  1. Place cereal, peanuts and pretzels into a large mixing bowl and gently toss together.
  2. In another bowl stir together the peanut butter and melted chocolate until smooth.
  3. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture and fold together until well coated.
  4. Pat into a parchment paper lined 13 x 9 inch pan.  mounds of the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Mix the addition melted chocolate chips and peanut butter together in a small bowl.  Splash over bars like Jackson Pollock. Add sprinkles.
  6. Place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours to allow the treats to set quicker. 
  7. Once the chocolate/peanut butter has set carefully peel the treats from the sheet of parchment cut into bars for sharing.

Winter Sangria
(about 16 servings)
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/1/3 cup water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 star anise
  • 6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 (1.5l, magnum) bottle pinot grigio
  • 4 clementines, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 10 oz cup pomegranate seeds
  1. Place sugar, water, cinnamon sticks, star anise and cardamom pods into a small saucepan, stir and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. 
  2. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  3. While the spice simple syrup cools, spread tangerine slices onto a baking sheet and sprinkle the tops with a small amount of brown sugar.
  4. Place the baking sheet under a broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to caramelize slices.
  5. Place the orange slices and pomegranate seeds into a large pitcher.
  6. Pour the wine over the fruit and strain the simple syrup into the pitcher- save the cinnamon sticks and star anise. Stir until well combined.
  7.   Add back cinnamon and star anise as garnish. 
  8. Isn't it pretty?
  9. Place the sangria in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least an hour.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pumpkin Trifle

For my latest breakfast adventure I made these pumpkin scones.  I had it in my little blond head that the recipe used most of, if not all, of a can of pumpkin.  Instead it only used 1/4 of a cup.  The funny thing is, in reading the first paragraph of the the scone post, I say that I was using up some leftover pumpkin.  Oops. 
So, that can sat in my fridge for a week before I finally got around to figuring out what I was going to do with it.  After contemplating several much more time consuming and difficult recipes, I decided to try My Baking Addition's recent post for Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifles.  I had a little bit more than a cup of pumpkin left over, but figured it would be fine if I mixed it all in.  I also made my own pumpkin spice.  I had all the ingredients for it and do not need one more spice in my tiny space.  The last change I made was the cookie used for the crust.  I wanted to make it gluten free so my neighbor could enjoy them as well, I knew I had to be able to share.   Rereading the recipe now, I see I forgot to fold half the whip cream in the pumpkin mixture.  They turned out fine for all my changes and mistake. Everyone still enjoyed them.  They were also super easy so I will have to remember to make them (correctly) more often and make a few scones after.     

makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 12 Gluten Free Vanilla Cookies, crushed into crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (again I had maybe a 1/4 cup more, but I am not sure)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12 oz. whipped topping (Cool Whip), thawed
  1. In a medium bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter. Divide the crumbs into the bottoms of your trifle glasses (I used short Ikea ones and the one above). Gently press crumbs to form an even layer of crust.
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and spices. Beat until well combined and creamy.
  3. Spoon a layer of pumpkin mixture onto the cookie crust followed by a layer of whipped topping. Repeat layers until your trifle reaches the top of your glass. 
  4. Store trifles in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto

Have I mentioned how much I love Butternut Squash?  I don't know if mom ever did anything other than roasting it with a stick of butter and several spoons of brown sugar in the middle or not, (and why would she with four picky brats that would have probably turned up their noses), but it started my love affair with squash. I really, really,really like it and it keeps getting better with every new recipe I try.  I can't stop making things with it.  I already have another recipe to post next week! 

Back to our subject dish: butternut squash risotto.  I had a recipe saved to make, but when I looked at the recipe, I decided I wanted something simpler to make and went searching my favorite blogs to find a new one.  I landed on Simply Recipes site and found exactly what I was looking for. A few key ingredients and an hour later, I was in heaven.  I only made some minor changes/ substitutions to the recipe like using shallots instead of onion.  It was really good and was my lunch for the rest of the week and good every single time.  I gave some to my coworker and she also went into fits over its amazingness.  If you have an hour to an hour an a half some evening or are hosting a dinner party, go with this recipe.  You will not regret it!   

Butternut Squash Risotto
(4 to 6 servings)

  • 6 cups chicken broth (I used the cubes to make the broth)
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided into 4 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled, and finely diced
  • 2 cups arborio rice (can substitute medium grained white rice if needed)
  • 1 cup dry cooking white wine
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp chopped chives 
  • Salt
  1. Heat broth in medium sized saucepan and keep warm over low heat. 
  2. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a large saucepan; add shallots and butternut squash. Cook over medium heat until shallot is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add rice to shallots and squash. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine. Cook, stirring constantly until wine has been absorbed by the rice or evaporated. 
  4. Add a few ladles of broth, just enough to barely cover rice. Cook over medium heat until broth has been absorbed. Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding a little bit of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until it is absorbed, until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. During the last minutes of cooking, add remaining tablespoon of butter, 1/3 cup Parmesan, and chives. At this point the rice should have a creamy consistency. Add salt to taste. 
  6. Serve with remaining grated Parmesan.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Roasted Roots

This was my fourth Thanksgiving at my friend K's parents house with her whole family in Connecticut.  I cannot thank them enough for letting me join them year after year.  I was waiting for my invitation to join in this year, and apparently it is now understood that I am invited.  I just need to confirm.  It is very kind of them to put up with me for a long weekend, feed me, give me alcohol of all varieties and Anginetti cookies, all in exchange for a bottle of wine and being able to reach the top shelf when K's brother isn't around.  I was thinking this year I should make a pie or something else too, but time just ran out.  November has not been any less busy than October like I thought it would be.  Because of that, I had some carrots and parsnips I bought at the farmers market with great ideas of soups and glazes that never happened.  I brought them up to Connecticut figuring we could use them over the weekend.  
So tasty there were no leftovers. 
We were granted permission to roast them for the big feast and the conversation between K and I went something like this: 
Me:  I was thinking we would just chop them and make some sort of maple syrup or honey glaze.
K: Sounds good, I wish we had some ginger. 
Me: Oh, I had one and threw it in too. I was thinking maybe some coriander? 
K: Cinnamon? 
Me: Naw. But something like that. 
K: Yeah, something brown.  
Around this point K stuck her head in the spice cupboard and kept rattling off items until we ended up with orange peal, apple cider vinegar, and rosemary to mix with our ginger and maple syrup.   They turned out really well.   Most people had not tried parsnip before or had not had it in a long time, so it was an adventure for all in the end.  I think this is an excellent way to introduce parsnip to anyone who maybe apprehensive about it.  It is so tasty! 

Roasted Carrots & Parsnips
Makes about 8 sides, we didn't actually measure anything besides the veggies, so the measurement are about what we used. 
  • 1 lb of carrots
  • 1 lb of parsnip
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 inch long piece fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon orange peal
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Peal the carrots and parsnip. Cut into one inch pieces and toss with olive oil.  Place in a 9 x 13 baking dish. 
  3. Peal and zest the ginger and mix in a small bowl with the syrup and vinegar.  Pour over the carrots and parsnip.  Toss lightly to coat. 
  4. Sprinkle the orange peal and rosemary evenly over the vegetables.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Daily Breakfast

I go into cycles with breakfast. For the majority of the summer, it was a banana before I hopped on my bike and a yogurt smoothie thing. Before that, it was oatmeal of some sort or Coco Wheats shipped in from South Dakota to brave the cold winter. The cycles tend to coincide with the changes of the season. When I start to get sick of my "usual" breakfast, I notice my coffee shop expense go up. I get lazy and don't know what I want and nothing looks good so I end up buying a scone or muffin, and a latte of course.

In an attempt to save some money and try something new, I decided I would try making something on the weekend that I could take with me to work daily. Enter Smitten Kitchen and her Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones. The best part of this recipe is that she give you the directions for mixing them up ahead of time and baking them when you are ready for them and I am going try this brilliant idea with other scone recipes as we continue heading for the cold of winter. I can warm the oven while I take a shower, pop one in the oven, and still have a bit of time for it to cool before I run for the subway. Who doesn't love a fresh baked breakfast? That's what I thought. I am going to try this with other.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Scones
Makes 9 scones

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together. 
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces with a knife and work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. 
  4. Roughly chop the raspberries on  a cutting board and stir them into the butter-flour mixture.  Add the ricotta and heavy cream together and stir them in to form a dough with a flexible spatula.
  5. Using your hands, gently knead dough into an even mass, right in the bottom of the bowl.  With as few movements as possible, transfer the dough to a well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a 7-inch square about 1-inch tall. 
  6. With a large knife, divide the dough into 9 even squares.  Transfer the scones to prepared baking sheet with a spatula.  Arrange them on your parchment-lined sheet and freeze them.  
  7. Once they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. 
  8. When you are ready to bake them, bring them back to a parchment-lined sheet. Bake 16 to18 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges.  Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool them about halfway before eating.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

  • I avoided this recipe and ones like it for awhile because of time.   Sure it came from Great Food Fast so one should think it's quick but the time says 45 minutes, if its more than 30 minutes, the recipe is probably on the shelf for some weekend task.  Silly? Probably, but when I get home from work and it's already 7 PM I really don't feel like spending much time on dinner, so I can get to all the other random stuff I need to do.  I actually made this last Monday night. Given that I didn't need to stand over it the entire time, it really wasn't much of a pain in the butt to make.  I need to stop thinking that just because the recipe says 45 minutes, means I am chained to the stove or something. 
  • The soup was great even though I forgot the orange juice and didn't make the pumpkin seeds.  The juice was an accident and the seeds were on purpose.  Instead we added our own spices.  My newish roommate is from Louisiana and had some Tony Chachere's Seasoning, (mom used to have this stuff. It shocks him that some one from South Dakota knows what it is.), which we sprinkled on top for a little spice.  I would have like it to be more cream based, but the sour cream helped take care of that.  It was also nice that my gluten free friend/neighbor could join in on the meal and after feeding 4 people there was enough left over for a few lunches. 
  • Next time I will try it with the orange juice, but I still recommend it the way I made it. 
  • Butternut Squash Soup (Serves 4 to 6)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 3/4 pounds small butternut squash, prepared and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Sour cream

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and squash; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. 
  2. Stir in 4 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until squash is tender, 20 minutes.
  3. Puree soup in batches. When blending hot foods, allow the heat to escape to prevent splattering. Remove the cap from the hole of the blender's lid, and cover with a dish towel or paper towel.
  4. Serve hot, with sour cream, pepper, and any other seasonings.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Beet Off: The Results

Last weekend was the Beet Off and it was probably the most creative off we have had to date. Most of us never really cooked with beets or even really liked them. After the event, many minds were changed. " I feel that beets and I really made our peace this weekend .... no longer will you scare me to cook you, beets, no longer will I be scared," said our savory winner Stephanie.  I agree.

There were so many delicious dishes that it was really hard to choose my favorite. The best sweet was a tie at the end of the first round of voting, and we had to do another count between the two to determine the winner. Christine's Beet Mousse took the trophy home in the end and Stephanie's Beet Hummus was the winner of the savory trophy.  This is the second time in a row she's taking home a trophy.   She was our Sweet winner at the Lemon Off.  Needless to say, she better watch it during the next off, we are coming after her.  

photo by Kurt Martig

I was also lucky enough to take a trophy home too: Best Overall.  My Beet Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce pulled through even after I thought I had a total disaster on my hands and there was not enough flour to save it.  I found the recipe on Cake Walk, when I was searching for a recipe that I thought I has seen before.  The recipe I was thinking of was actually a risotto that I will have to eventually try.  Anyway, one of my go to Italian places in Brooklyn makes awesome beet gnocchi and was my inspiration.  It is really simple, although very sticky to make and I will explain more in the steps below.  All in all, it everyone did such an awesome job, I can't wait to see what we come up with next and what the challenge is.  In the mean time, give our winning dishes a go and let us know what you think.  For more pictures, hop over to Melissa's blog: On Board the Gravytrain

Best Over All: Beet Gnocchi With Gorgonzola Sauce

makes 4 main courses or 8 side portions
  • 1 lb. beets
  • 2 lbs. russet potato
  • 2 cups, All Purpose Flour (plus  a lot more for rolling)
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
Gorgonzola Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white w ine
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rub beets & potatoes, unpeeled, with olive oil.  The beets will take longer to roast so give them a 20 minute head start.  They should be roasted through and tender to a fork in about 40 minutes. 
  2. Let the potatoes and beets cool slightly so you can handle them and gently rub off their peels with a paper towel.  Then using a fine grater to grate both onto a clean sheet pan and let them cool slightly.
  3. Sprinkle the mass of potato and beet liberally with about a cup of the flour and a pinch of salt, then make a well in the center.  Crack in the egg, and beat well, adding more of the flour to the egg and then mixing it in well with the egg. 
  4. When you have a dough forming, knead it by hand gently into a ball, continuing to add flour as needed, until you have a relatively smooth ball that isn't too sticky.  (This took a lot of flour. In fact I gave up adding flour and made a ball rolled in flour all after adding probably 2 or 3 more cups of flour and it still being sticky as it was to start.) 
  5. Start a large pot of water boiling with a bit of salt now to save time if you are cooking them now. 
  6. Have two sheet pans lined with wax paper or parchment paper ready.  Take small portions of the ball, (recover in flour), and roll into a log, (covered in flour), a little larger than the diameter of your thumb.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut them into 1 inch portions. Once you have cut and entire log into dumplings, roll them across the tines of a for (or if you have it, a  gnocchi paddle). Place them on the sheet pan and dust with flour if they are sticky.  Keep them in a single layer.  (If you are making them for later, freeze in a single layer, then transfer them to a jar or zip top bag and store in the freezer.)
  8. When the gnocchi is all cut an the water is at a rolling boil, add gnocchi.  Have a  bowl of cold or ice water standing nearby to stop them from cooking as you remove them.  When gnocchi floats to the top, remove them from the boiling water using a slotted spoon and plunge them into the cold water  Let them sit there for a minute, and then drain. 
  9. While the gnocchi is cooking make the sauce in a medium saucepan. 
  10. Cook white w ine over high heat until reduced by half. Add cream, reduce heat, and cook until reduced by one-third.  Add parmesan, gorgonzola and nutmeg.  Stir until cheeses melt and sauce is creamy.
  11. Once the gnocchi is drained toss with the sauce and enjoy! 
Best Savory: Beet Hummus
  • 4 beets 
  • 4 Tbsp tahini sesame seed paste 
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice 
  • 2 chopped cloves garlic 
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin 
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika 
  • Sea salt to taste 
  1. Scrub beets and cut off greens (but leave 1-2 inches of the top so color doesn't bleed out). 
  2. Cover in water in a saucepan and simmer, cooking for about 30 minutes. Let cool, then peel and cut into cubes. 
  3. Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth and chill in refrigerator. 
  4. Serve on sweet potato chips or crackers/bagel chips.

Best Sweet: Beet Mousse with Cardamom 

serves 6
  • 1 pound of peeled beets, boiled and cooking water reserved
  • 1 tsp of agar agar or gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons of juice from a blood orange
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 6 dark chocolate cups
For the garnish:
  • 1/2 cup of whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon of agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon of blood orange juice (optional)
  • Shaved dark chocolate
  1. Transfer cooked beets to a blender. 
  2. Take 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and put in a small saucepan with the agar agar. Bring to a boil and whisk until well combined. This will take about 5 minutes. 
  3. Transfer with the beets and blend together until creamy and smooth. Add the cardamom, blood orange juice and agave nectar. Blend a little more. 
  4. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until mixture has cooled completely (about 1-2 hours).
  5. In a mixer, whip the heavy cream until strong peaks form. With a spatula, incorporate the beet mixture gently into the cream and refrigerate for 8 hours or more.
  6. To make dark chocolate cups, use 1 bag of any brand of semisweet chocolate chips.  Melt chocolate in a saucepan over low heat and transfer to muffin pan lined with cupcake papers.  Cover the bottom and sides of the cupcake liners with chocolate using a pastry brush or spoon; make sure the chocolate layer is thick enough to avoid breakage. Refrigerate until solid (about 1 hour.) 
  7. Fill each cup with the mousse.
  8. Prepare some more whipped cream in a mixer.  When peaks form add agave nectar and blood orange juice (if using). Garnish each mousse cup with whipped cream and some shaved dark chocolate.
    Our winners: Stephanie, Jennifer, Christine

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Korean Meatballs

Serve everything over white rice

I continue my experiments with ground turkey with this post. I am really starting to like it and it is really easy to use in lieu of ground beef or chicken. The only concern I have is making sure it is cooked through without over cooking and drying it out. It doesn't help that my oven thermometer must clearly be incorrect. Things tend to always take much longer to cook then the recipe says. Maybe its time to ask for a new one... such a renters dream.

On to the recipe itself, which was ripped out of an issue of Cooking Light. The recipe is suppose to be made with chicken breast that you grind up in a food processor. Since my attempts to use my blender as a food processor have mostly failed in the past (another kitchen wish list item) and I had some ground turkey in the fridge, I figured a substitution should be no problem. It really was no problem. Instead of processing anything I just finely chopped the garlic and mixed everything with a fork, it worked great. Interestingly, this recipe did not call for any cracker or bread crumbs to help soak up excess moisture, so they were a little sticky and didn't want to form nice, neat balls. Either way they were really tasty.

The recipe suggests serving them with kimchi and quick pickled cucumbers. The only way I have found to enjoy kimchi is in a fried dumpling and I had no cucumber to quickly pickle. I did have some zucchini, red pepper and onion waiting for use, so once the meatballs were transfered to the oven, i sauteed them in the leftover oils with some salt and pepper. It all worked together well, I was a bit concerned it wouldn't.

Korean Meatballs (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili oil 
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 pound ground turkey 
  • Cooking spray 
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. 
  2. 2. Combine brown sugar, sunflower and chili oil, and garlic in a medium mixing bowl.  Add soy sauce, salt, and turkey; mix with fork until will mixed.  
  3. With moist hands, shape mixture into 20 to 25 meatballs.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 10 meatballs to pan; sauté 4 minutes, turning to brown meatballs on all sides.  Arrange browned meatballs on a pan with sides coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining meatballs. 
  5. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until done.