Friday, December 25, 2009

December 25th

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hot Chocolate Cake

I've been busy...

...making this

I call it Hot Chocolate Cake

I promise I will post the recipe but for now I need to head to the gym and prepare to indulge in this decadence later today.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Cookie

These are my absolute favorite Christmas Cookie. I love the combination of cranberry and orange and the sugar on the outside gives them a little sparkle. Perfect for Christmas!

Cranberry Orange Cookies
makes about 3 dozen

Sugar Mixture:
1/3 cup sugar
1 t freshly grated orange peel
(Instead of the orange peel, this time I used the left over sugar from rolling the candied orange peels I made. It was infused with the orange flavor and worked really well.)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 T freshly grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar mixture ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside. Combine sugar, butter and egg in a large bowl and beat, at medium speed, until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture. Beat until well mixed. Add cranberries and orange peel and continue to beat until just mixed.

Shape dough into 1" balls and roll in the balls in the sugar mixture. Place 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the balls with the bottom of a glass to 1 1/2" circles.

Bake for 7-11 minutes, until edges are very lightly browned, Do not over bake, the best part about these cookies is the soft, chewy texture. Cool for about 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet (they will be soft when they first come out of the oven).

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, December 21, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

Paired with a Clementine fruit salad this would make a great Christmas morning breakfast; hearty and flavorful and super easy to make for a crowd.

Biscuits and Gravy
makes 4 servings (but can easily be doubled or even tripled)

8 biscuits*
1 lb breakfast sausage roll (such as Jimmy Dean)
2 cups milk (I use 1 or 2%)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
(if you want to add a little kick sprinkle in a little cayenne pepper too.)

Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking apart as it cooks, until browned.

Mix in the the flour, 1 T at a time, until completely mixed. Slowly stir in the milk and cook until thick and starting to bubble. Stir in salt and pepper to taste (and cayenne, if desired).

*For the biscuits I usually make drop biscuits because they are so darn easy. This time I made the buttermilk biscuits from Pioneer Woman Cooks but I have to say I didn't love them and I think I will go back to drop biscuits in the future. It didn't help that I overcooked them a tad. There's something about a kitchen full of people that makes it impossible for me to remember what I have put in the oven. Good thing I don't work in a professional kitchen.

Here is a recipe for drop biscuits that I like (this makes about 12-15 biscuits):

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t baking soda
5 T cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup regular or low-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper of aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, two knives or your fingers (I go with the finger method) add the butter to the flour mixture and mix until crumbly. Add the buttermilk and stir until combined. The dough will be very sticky.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheet and bake until lightly golden and cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A PW Cooks Giveaway! Winner

Good Morning.

I was so excited about choosing the winner of the PW Cooks giveaway this morning that I was up at 7 AM and I am supposed to be on vacation!

Anyway, I'll get to it. I went the boring route and used to generate the number and the winner is:

Heather from Squirrelbread!

(Heather I sent you an email, please respond with your shipping information and I will try to get it to you by the end of the week!)

Thanks to everyone for entering. I wish I could have given a book away to all of you!

(Twila, do not despair, there is a consolation prize on its way to you!)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Candied Orange Peels

These candied orange peels make me smile because two years ago, at Christmas time, I went online searching for a recipe for them and landed on Use Real Butter. I had no idea at the time of the vast world of food blogs and URB quickly became my favorite. She really opened my eyes to the world of food blogging and was a big inspiration for me to start TWM.

It is important to blanch the peels at least three times (I usually do four) in order to take away the bitterness. Any small amount of leftover bitter flavor is zapped by the chocolate dip.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Candied Orange Peel

4 oranges
3 cups sugar
1 cup water

1 cup sugar for rolling
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate for dipping

The method I use to get the peel off the oranges is: Cut each orange in quarters and then cut each quarter into quarters. Using a sharp paring knife, cut the flesh out of each piece. Cut about half of the pith off of the peel and slice the piece of peel in half lengthwise. Repeat, repeat, repeat. This is messy work, be prepared.

Place the peels in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat on high until the water comes to a boil. Pour off the water. Repeat two or three more times. Combine sugar and water in the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the peel and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until peels are translucent (at least 30 minutes, probably longer). Remove the peels from the syrup with tongs and roll in sugar. Shake off excess and set on wax paper to dry. Once the peels are dry dip half in melted chocolate.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snowflake Sugar Cookies

It has been a baking extravaganza around here the last couple of days. So much so yesterday that I didn't get a chance to post anything. I gave away gift bags of a variety of goodies to all of my coworkers today.

I find a lot of sugar cookie recipes can be pretty bland and have a poor texture. This one is easy to work with, has a great texture and is delicious! The trick is not over baking them. My first batch usually comes out well but if I get anxious and try to bake the second batch when the sheets are still hot I will often get them a little on the brown side. In my opinion if these are brown at all they are overdone.

Sugar Cookies
makes 3 dozen medium sized cookies

2 sticks (16 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 t pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for work surface)
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t kosher salt

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of and electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. The dough will be stiff.

Shape the dough into a flat 1" thick disk. Refrigerate, wrapped, for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4" thick. Cut into shapes and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheets.

Royal Icing:
makes 1 cup (enough for 2-4 dozen cookies)

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 large egg white (or equivalent amount of dried egg whites if you don't want to eat uncooked egg whites)
1/2 t lemon juice

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, egg white and lemon juice. Add water 1/2 t at a time (stirring well between additions) until it reaches the desired consistency. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

If you want to decorate your cookies like the ones I made start with a thicker icing that you can pipe around all of the edges of the cookies. When that hardens dilute the remainder of the icing and flood the cookies. When that hardens you can pipe a contrasting color over the top, again with a thicker icing. There are really great step by step photos and beautiful cookies here.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookie Mix in a Jar

So, remember how I said I tied for best outfit at the Ugly Holiday Sweater Party? Well, this was my awesome prize!

It is a cookie mix in a jar. The other winner got the baked cookies but the party hostess knew that I would enjoy baking the cookies as much I would enjoy eating them!

The recipe is from Domino Sugar's website and they have several varieties. They also have the recipes on little cards that you can print out and attach to the jar. My friend recycled holiday cards from last year to make the tags. So clever!

I think this is a fantastic gift idea for friends or co-workers.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Deliciously Simple and Healthy Appetizer

There is still time to enter the PW Cooks signed cookbook givaway! Do it here.

Do you still have a holiday party to attend this season? Do you have to bring something to share? This is a deliciously simple and healthy appetizer that will impress your fellow party goers.

I have already attended all of the parties this year that I needed to bring something to but I really wanted to share this here so I whipped these up the other day and then ate them for lunch! It was sort of fun and out of the ordinary.

It may be hard to find cherry tomatoes at this time of year but grape tomatoes are usually available all year long. Also, if your market has an olive/antipasti bar that is a great place to look for the small fresh mozzarella balls.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Balls
from Fine Cooking
makes 16

8 thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise (get this at the deli counter)
8 large basil leaves, halved lengthwise (or 16 small leaves)
8 small fresh mozzarella balls (about 1" in diameter), halved
8 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

Lay 1 piece of prosciutto flat on a work surface and put a piece of basil on top at one end. Top the basil with a piece of mozzarella and tomato, matching the cut ends to form a ball. Season lightly with salt and generously with pepper and rolls the balls up in the prosciutto. Secure the end with a toothpick and place on a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil and serve. (These will keep at room temperature for up to 1 hour before serving.)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Coolest Wreath on the Block

First off, if you haven't entered to win the PW Cooks signed cookbook give away you can do it here.

Now, I'm excited to share this wreath that I made with the help of a friend a couple of weeks ago. She has recently been getting into paper crafts and has made some really beautiful things. She made a wreath like this in the fall and I asked her to show me how. It is so simple and the end product is really impressive.

All you do is apply glue (with a glue stick) to one diagonal corner of a sheet of regular printer paper and roll it tightly with a wooden dowel (starting with the not glued corner and ending with the glued corner. Once you have made about 100 of them apply them to a doughnut shaped circle cut out of cardboard. At this point you can spray paint the whole thing whatever color you want. The center circle are additional doughnut shaped cardboard cutouts wrapped tightly with yarn and glued onto the first circle.

At first I was just going to go with the teal yarn but I thought it was a little more festive with the red added.
I guarantee it will be the coolest wreath on the block.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A PW Cooks Giveaway!

The Ugly Holiday Sweater party was a blast and I actually tied for best outfit and won a sweet prize! I am going to share it here sometime this week. When you win at something like that it shouldn't really be an honor because it basically means that you looked the ugliest. But I was proud to accept and I think I really owe it all to my leg warmers, which, by the way, were totally functional since it was so freakin' cold last night!

How could I not have had a great time with these four lookers as my escorts for the evening!

The other excitement of the day was that we took a trip down to the city (it still surprises me every time we go how easy it is to get there!) and we met the Pioneer Woman! The book signing was at 11:00 and I was pretty sure it was going to be packed so we got there about an hour early and were glad we did. Even so we had about 50 people in line in front of us. The wait wasn't too bad though because we met a couple of really nice people and chatted it up all the while. The two women in front of us were a mother (The Everyday Woman) and daughter (The Farmer's Daughter)and both bloggers from CT! The girl behind us was from Brooklyn and she gave us a great tip that if we went out the back door of the building we were in (The Chelsea Market, such a cool place!) that we would be directly under the High Line, which is a new park in Manhattan built on an old rail line. We had been wanting to see it but didn't think we would be able to on this trip.

PW looked beautiful and is so gracious. I can't imagine the energy it would take to sit there all day signing book after book after book, and still manage to connect with each individual person.

I got my copy of her cookbook a couple of weeks ago and so far have made her Chicken Pot Pie and her Buttermilk Biscuits. The book is definitely heavy on the comfort/cowboy food but those are the recipes that we return to time and time again throughout our lives. It is the type food that can warm up a bitter cold day and join friends around the table.

I am not going to post this recipe today but I am going to do one better for one lucky reader. I am giving away a signed copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook!

Just a leave a comment below and let me know, What is your favorite comfort food? and you will be entered to win. I am going to choose the winner next Sunday the 20th and will announce it here.

Please, one entry per person and good luck!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ugly Holiday Sweaters

Every year our friends throw an "Ugly Holiday Sweater" party. That is where we are headed tonight. I have approximately 2 minutes to do this post so I thought I would share a few pics from last year.

Hilarious! And so much fun.

My outfit hasn't changed much this year (I searched for a new sweater but couldn't find one nearly as ugly!) but I did add some turquoise leg warmers that I picked up in NYC today!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Christmas Miracle!

Tonight I am celebrating because today I became an Architect!

For the past 16 months I have been studying for and taking the seven most grueling exams of my life and today I received my final pass letter! It is the best Christmas present I have ever gotten!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cookie Truffles

I was disappointed in myself that I didn't get a post done yesterday but then I remembered that this is my blog and I can to whatever I want with it. So I stopped giving myself a hard time and instead was happy that I had a jamb packed day which concluded with a lovely dinner with great friends.

I am starting to get in to the sweets that I plan on making for holiday gifts. The first is a deceitfully decadent treat. It looks and tastes totally gourmet but it's actually made with only three ingredients (four if you count the sea salt on this version) and can be changed up very easily. All it is is a package of cookies, a package of cream cheese and semi-sweet chocolate. I'm telling you, deceitfully delicious!

The original "recipe" uses Oreos but I changed it up a little here and used Nutter Butters and, to make the peanut flavor really pop I sprinkled a little sea salt on top. I'm not going to lie, they are not too good for the waistline but they are great for the spirit. My friend ate one last night and said it was like crying in public. Um, is that a good thing?

Cookie Truffles
makes 3 dozen

1 package Oreos, Mint Oreos or Nutter Butters (do not use double stuff Oreos)
1 8oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
16 oz semi-sweet chocolate (it is better to use a bar than chocolate chips as they do not melt very well)

Crumble the cookies into fine crumbs (or process in a food processor until very finely chopped). Mix with the cream cheese until well combined. Refrigerate mixture for at least 1 hour. Roll into 1" balls and refrigerate again until well chilled.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave and dip the balls until completely covered. Set aside until chocolate is hardened. (I think these just get better with time so if you can wait a day or so they are really amazing!)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The 8th Day

It's day 8 of the advent and I don't have it in me tonight. I had a killer spinning class and then came home and made 72 cookie truffles. I will post that soon and you will not want to miss it. They are amaizing!

Also, don't forget to stop by on the 13th when I will be doing my first give away! I will give you one hint now, I will be getting the item at an event I am attending on Saturday.

Hmmm, what could it be?

I hope to be back in the saddle tomorrow.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, December 7, 2009

I am not proud.

I have two confessions to make.

The first is, I am really pushing to publish this post today, I would much rather be curled up on the couch right now. Which leads me to my second confession...

I am addicted to the terrible Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and Falalala Lifetime. I don't know what it is about them. I would never put up with the terribly predictable story lines and bad acting at any other time of the year but it is something about the Christmas theme that just gets me. Jer laughs at me and mocks the movies by making sure at the end that they all lived happily ever after. I am happy to report that they did.

But, I will push through and finish this post tonight. Tonight I will resist the Santas who are dreaming of a life down south and the single mothers looking for love by Christmas. But tomorrow all bets are off.


I made this cake for Thanksgiving but wanted to save it to post now. I guess it is technically dessert but I think it would make a great addition to a breakfast or brunch spread. It really has the texture of a coffee cake.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake
modified from Dorie Greenspan via Playing House

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
14 T (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 6 T sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (it frozen do not thaw)
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
red current jelly, for glazing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place a rack in the center of the oven.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Melt 6 T of the butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle in 6 T of the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour the mixture into the cake pan and scatter the nuts and then the cranberries evenly of the sugar mixture.

Beat the remaining butter (8 T) in a stand mixture with a paddle attachment until smooth. Add the remaining1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Mix in the milk and then the remaining dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the cranberries and smooth the top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes in a 8" pan or 35-40 minutes in a 9" pan, until the cake is golden and a knife inserted in the center come out clean. Turn the cake out onto a serving platter. If any berries stick to the pan, scrape them off and return to the cake.

Warm the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat, or in the microwave. Gently brush over the hot cake.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Tree

It's day six of the advent and today I want to share some pictures of our Christmas Tree. We just put it up today. I love this part of the holidays!

When we brought it home it had some ice on it from our first snow of the season! It was so pretty we were wishing it would stay.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, December 5, 2009


To me the holidays go hand in hand with citrus fruits. When I cut into one it just smells like Christmas. And, during this season, when it is so easy to reach for a cookie or a piece of chocolate is it especially important to keep a lot of fruit around the house. One of my favorites is grapefruit and, beside being delicious, it is packed with health benefits not the least of which is its ability to raise your metabolism! It has been found that this fruit, which is packed with vitamin C reduces insulin levels and promotes weight loss! Or in the case of the holiday season, can help level things out. So go pick a few up and enjoy!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Decadent Holiday Side

It's day four of the advent and I thought I would share a recipe that would make a decadent side dish for any holiday party or menu. You really don't need to worry about all of the heavy cream and butter and cheese because it is so rich that a little bit is all you need. The sauce came out just perfect, thick and creamy and gooey. Mmmmm.

Caramelized Shallot and Crispy Sage Macaroni and Cheese
makes 6-8 servings

1 lb orecchiette pasta
2 T olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 T butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups Gruyere cheese
1 t kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook 15-17 minutes, stirring frequently until deep golden brown. Add the garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt 4 T of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth and until mixture starts to brown, about 1 minute. Whisk in the buttermilk and cream, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and mix in cheeses and salt. Cook 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.

Melt remaining 1 T butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sage, saute 1 minute and turn off heat.

Mix pasta, shallots, cheese sauce and sage in a large bowl and enjoy!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I took these beauties...

...and turned them into this.

And it was gooood.

And that is all I am going to say about that.

Cranberry Apple Streusel with Crystallized Ginger
modified from Fine Cooking
makes 8 servings

For the streusel:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1/4 t salt
6 T unsalted butter, melted

Combine the flour, sugar, walnuts and salt. Using your fingers blend the butter into the flour mixture, set aside.

For the filling:
4 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, quartered and cut into 1/4" pieces
1 3/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup + 6 T. granulated sugar
3 1/2 T all-purpose flour
1 T very finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 t ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse the cranberries and 3/4 cup of the sugar until coarsely chopped. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 6 T sugar with the flour, ginger and cinnamon, breaking up the ginger clumps with your fingers. Toss in the cranberry mixture and apples.

Divide the filling evenly between 8 small baking dished or place in one 8"x8" baking pan. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apple mixture, pressing into small lumps as you sprinkle.

Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake until the streusel is deeply browned and and the filling the bubbling at the edges, about 30-40 minutes if you are using individual dishes or 65-75 minutes for one large dish.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Dinner Dressed Up in Red and Green

I didn't realize when I was making this meal how Christmasy it was going to look. It really wasn't until I opened the photos on my computer and the red and green leapt off the screen. Beside the delicious colors of the meal the flavors were fantastic. I had the pomegranate juice leftover from the side dish I made for Thanksgiving and it played so well with the shallots. It was super quick and easy too. A nice to meal to have in your back pocket during the craziness of the holidays.

Pork Chops with Pomegranate Pan Sauce and Garlicky Green Beans
from Cooking Light
makes 4 servings

For the pork:
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t ground cumin (I love cumin with pork chops!)
1/4 t black pepper
4 4oz boneless pork loin chops
2 t olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
3/4 cup pomegranate juice
1 T sugar
1 T balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Combine the first four ingredients and sprinkle on both side of the pork chops. Place the pork chops in the skillet and cook until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Set aside and cover with aluminum foil.

Add the shallots to the pan and cook 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the juice, sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve with the pork.

For the green beans:
3/4 lb green beans, trimmed
1 T butter
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper

Cook green beans in boiling water until crisp-tender. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet melt the butter, add the garlic and saute until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Toss with the green beans, salt and pepper.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

25 Days and Counting

Okay everyone,
I am going to change things up here on TWM for the month of December. I am going to be posting once a day with holiday crafts and food and events, sort of like a blogger advent calender.

To start things off I am posting an actual advent calendar that I made. I started this project over a year ago and didn't get it done in time for last Christmas so I made sure to have it done this year. When I was growing up my Grandma gave us an advent calender that had a pocket for each day and there was a little mouse that you moved from pocket to pocket. I loved that thing and remember racing down stairs in the morning to move the mouse. I wanted to make something in that spirit, something I knew I would have for a long time.

This is, obviously, a Christmas tree and there is an ornament for each day. I had so much fun making it and, thankfully, got a lot of advise from my Mother-in-Law who has been quilting for a couple of years now.

I think this would make a fabulous gift if I had it in me to tackle another one. Maybe next year.

So here we go, I hope you come back often this month to see what is in store; and definitely mark your calenders for the 13th when I will be doing my first give away! I am not going to say what it is just yet but I am very excited about it!

Yippee and God help me on this marathon!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Ton of Leftovers

I have been wanting to make French Onion Soup at home ever since I picked up these cute little crocks and when the November issue of Fine Cooking arrived with a recipe in it I knew it was time. I think I was partially holding off because I didn't think Jer was interested in it but when he saw the cheesy, gooey, overflowing bowl of the soup in the issue he said "Mmm, what is that?" I knew he would at least give it a try.

French Onion Soup
makes 4 servings

2 T unsalted butter, more for baking sheet
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t granulated sugar
1/2 small baguette, cut into 1/2" thick slices
1 quart low sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup grated Gruyere

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Stir in the onions and season with 1/2 t salt and a few grinds of pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover the onions with a piece of foil, pressed to cover them completely, cover the pot with a lid, and cook stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft (but not falling apart), 40-50- minutes. Remove the lid and the foil, raise the heat to medium-high and stir in the sugar. Cook, stirring often, until deep brown, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the baguette toasts, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a rimmed baking sheet (I lined it with a silicone mat, you could also use aluminum foil) and arrange the baguette slices on the sheet in a single layer. Bake until the bread is crisp and lightly browned, turning once, 12-15 minutes. Set aside.

Add the broth and bay leaf to the caramelized onions and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce he heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper (I found it needed a lot of pepper and not much salt at all).

To serve, position a rack 6" from the broiler and heat the broiler. Put 4 broiler proof bowls on a baking sheet and ladle the soup into each bowl. Top with 2-3 toasts and sprinkle with cheese. Broil until the top is browned and bubbly, 2-5 minutes. Serve immediately.


Last weekend, Jer thought a Pot Roast sounded good and, since I had never made one, I knew just where to turn for a recipe. The Pioneer Woman! Who better to turn to than a food blogger who lives on a cattle ranch!? Sure enough, she had a delicious sounding recipe and great step by step photos. I loved her idea of leaving the potatoes out of the pot and instead serving the meat and veggies over a bed of mashed potatoes. I knew we would have a ton of leftovers too, so the rest of the week was spent reinventing the meal into new dishes.

Pot Roast
makes 8-10 servings (or 4 with lots of leftovers)

2 T Olive Oil
1 4-5 lb Chuck Roast (nicely marbled)
2 yellow onions, cut in half
6-8 carrots, scrubbed well and cut into 2" pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup red wine (or beef broth)
2-3 cups beef stock
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat over to 275 degrees F. Generously salt and pepper the chuck roast. Heat the olive oil in a large (oven proof) pot or Dutch over over medium high heat. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, add the onions and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate. Add the carrots to the same pot and toss until slightly browned, remove to a plate.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the pot and add the meat, searing for about a minute on all sides (including the ends) until nicely browned. Remove to a plate. With the burner still on high, add the red wine (or broth) and deglaze the pot by scraping the bottom with a a whisk. Place the roast back in the pot and add enough beef stock to reach halfway up the sides of the meat. Add the onions and carrots back to the pot and submerge the thyme and rosemary on either side of the meat.

Cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven for about 4 hrs. Serve over mashed potatoes with some of the juice from the pot poured over the top.


Leftover Pot Roast Green Chili Enchiladas

For leftovers the first night I shredded up some of the leftover meat and cooked it in a skillet with a little taco seasoning until heated through. Then I wrapped a little of the meat and some shredded cheddar and jack cheese inside corn tortillas, topped with green chili and more cheddar and jack and placed under the broiler until the cheese was melted.


Leftover Pot Roast Pasta

On the second night I cubed up the leftover meat and the carrots and onions and threw them all in with some marinara sauce. I served it over pasta on a bed of spinach.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Pie Time

I just had to share this pie recipe before Thanksgiving. It is so delicious and unique. The pears I used were slightly under ripe and I think that helped them maintain there shape during baking. Also, I unintentionally made it a little healthier by accidentally omitting half of the butter in the streusel topping. I suppose that could be a good thing but on Thanksgiving who wants to think about all of that? I say butter it up, baby!

Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel
makes 8 servings

For the Streusel:
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 t table salt
8 T unsalted butter, melted

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, blend the butter into the flour mixture. The mixture will be moist. Set aside

For the Filling:
5 medium Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled and cored, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges and then crosswise into 1/2" slices
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 t table salt
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t grated nutmeg
3/4 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
1 9" pie crust of your choice (Fine Cooking has a good recipe and some really great ideas for crimping the edges.)

In a large bowl, toss the pears with the lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the sugar mixture to the pears and toss well to combine. Stir in the cherries.

Mound the filing into the piecrust. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the pear mixture, pressing the streusel between your fingers into small lumps as you sprinkle.

Bake the pie until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly and thickened at the edges, 55-65 minutes. Rotate the pie halfway through baking and if the pastry or streusel browns before the filling has thickened, loosely cover the top or edges of the pie as needed with a aluminum foil.

Cool the pie, on a rack, completely before servings. The pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Two Weeks

Last week totally got away from me and I never got a chance to post the previous week's menu so today you get a twofer. I was feeling like our veggie consumption was a little lower than it should be, especially with us both fighting colds recently, so I stepped it up in the meals below. Red, green and orange seem to be representatives from the vegetable kingdom.


Although I have eaten it on a few occasions this was my first time cooking kale. A past coworker was always singing it's praises and now I totally see why. I found it to be really satisfying to work with. I loved the heft of the bunch and the hearty texture. This meal left me feeling completely satisfied and the leftovers made two delicious lunches.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Bacon and Braised Kale
makes 4 servings

1/2 lb whole heat spaghetti (I like to use a pretty thin one what I go for the whole wheat variety)
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/2 lemon
grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt and black pepper

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon or tongs to a paper towel lined plate. Wipe out the skillet leaving a thin layer of the bacon grease. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add the kale to the onion mixture and about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook about 10 minutes, until the kale is tender.

Remove from heat, stir in the spaghetti, a handful of Parmesan, juice from the lemon and the bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste.


I printed this recipe out a long time ago and in the shuffle of things I never got around to making it. Somehow it found it's way to the top of the pile and caught my eye again. It was a nice combination of flavors and the glaze you make at the end was really flavorful.

Caramelized Pork with Sweet Potatoes
from Real Simple
makes 2 servings

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced.
1 T olive oil
1 T fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
1/4 t kosher salt
black pepper
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T sugar
Juice from 1/2 orange

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly coat two baking panes with vegetable oil. In a bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil. Arrange in a single layer on one of the baking pans and sprinkle with half of the rosemary. Place in the oven and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, season each side of the pork with salt and pepper, spread with the mustard and sprinkle with the sugar and remaining rosemary. Roast 25 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.

Remove the pork from the pan and cover with aluminum foil until ready to slice. Place the pan on the stove, over medium heat, add the orange juice and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour over the pork and sweet potatoes.


Jeremy was the first to spot this recipe several years ago and suggested we give it a try. Sometimes he surprises me. The cinnamon really has the ability to transport the food. And can I just say, why don't I make couscous more often? It is so tasty!

Moroccan Shrimp
from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

box of couscous
1 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 t ground cumin
1 t ground cinnamon
1 lemon

Prepare the couscous according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, salt and 1/8 t of the pepper. Cover and cook until the onion is softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the bell pepper and raisins and cook another 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, place the shrimp in a bowl and sprinkle with the cumin, cinnamon and the remaining black pepper. Squeeze the lemon over the top and stir to combine. Add the shrimp (but not the liquid) to the vegetable mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Fluff the couscous with a fork and serve with the shrimp mixture on top.

You know what would go perfect on top of this Cheeseburger Chowder? Home made garlic croutons. That is if you don't forget them under the broiler until you exclaim, to your kitchen full of people, "Oh my God, what is all of that smoke pouring out of the oven!!!"

Don't ask me how I know that.

Cheeseburger Chowder
makes 4 servings

1 lb very lean ground beef
2 red skinned potatoes, scrubbed well and cubed
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup corn
1 beef bullion cube
1 1/2 cups water
1 t kosher salt
2 1/2 cups milk
3 T all-purpose flour
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a soup pot brown the ground beef, drain off any fat. Stir in the potatoes, celery, onion, bell pepper, corn, bullion cube, water and salt. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Whisk together the flour and milk. Slowly add to the meat mixture and cook until thickened and bubbly. Add the cheese and heat, stirring, until it melts.


These come together super quickly if you buy a pre-made dough from the grocery store. Ours has a pizza counter that sells it fresh every day. You can put whatever fillings in you want. this time mine had caramelized onions, black olives, red peppers, mozzarella cheese and a little spicy Italian sausage.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out a single serving of dough into an oval shape and layer your choice of fillings on one half of the dough. Fold the second half of the dough and crimp tightly to seal. Brush the top with olive oil and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve with pizza sauce for dipping.

I had peanut sauce left over from the Thai Chicken Pizza I made a couple of weeks ago so I just took a cue from the recipe on the bottle and made this pasta salad. I bought a rotisserie chicken from the store and used half of the meat for this and half for the next meal on the menu.

Thai Pasta Salad
makes 4 servings

10 oz. thin egg noodles
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1 carrot, shredded or cut into matchstick size pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into matchstick size pieces
4 scallions, slices into 2 inch lengths
1/2 cup peanut sauce

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Stir in the chicken, vegetables and peanut sauce. Serve hot or cold.


An old standby around here. Anything wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and something spicy.

Shredded Chicken Burritos

Place the cooked, shredded chicken into a skillet over medium heat, add taco seasoning and water. Cook until a sauce forms and the chicken is heated through. Layer on a tortilla with your choice of toppings. I overstuffed mine as always with black beans, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado and salsa.


This meal was born out of nothing working out the night I made it. Each component was originally meant to be used in some other way but Murphy's law was definitely in effect and as it was I still had to have Jer stop by the market on his way home to get me some mayo. For all of my careful planning sometimes I still have to fly by the seat of my pants. It is good to know that I can.

Pork Chops and Potato Salad
makes 4 servings

For the pork:
2 T all-purpose flour
1 t ground cumin
1 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
4 medium size boneless pork chops OR one 1 1/2 - 2 lb. pork tenderloin cut into 1/2" thick slices
1 T vegetable oil
1 T butter
1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 T white wine vinegar
2 T grainy mustard (optional, but delicious)

Mix together the flour, cumin, salt and pepper on a large plate. Lightly coat each piece of pork with the flour mixture and set aside. Heat the vegetable oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the pork in the skillet, sprinkle with the parsley, and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, mix together the broth and vinegar. When the pork is done remove it from the skillet and set aside. Pour the broth mixture into the skillet, stirring and scraping up any bits from the bottom. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened.

Serve each piece of pork with a drizzle of pan sauce.

For the Potato Salad:
6 Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup Tarragon Vinaigrette Dressing (recipe to follow)
4 hard boiled eggs, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 red or white onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped green olives
1 cup mayonnaise
kosher salt and black pepper

Scrub the potatoes well but do not peel. Dice into bite-size cubes and cook in water to cover until just tender, about 10 minutes after water boils. Drain and toss with the dressing. Set aside and allow to cool thoroughly.
In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, eggs, celery, onion and olives. Add enough mayo to make the salad moist but not mushy. Chill thoroughly. Sprinkle with Paprika before serving.

For the dressing:
3 oz. olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 t red wine vinegar
1 1/2 t French mustard
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 t dried tarragon
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Mix together all of the ingredients.


I have made this oven roasted broccoli once before and I think I made the same mistake of cooking it a little too long. I like the flavor the broccoli takes on from being roasted rather than steamed but the texture suffered a little from being almost burnt. Maybe recording it here will help me remember next time.

Spaghetti with Oven Roasted Broccoli
makes 2 servings

1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
2 1/2 t olive oil
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss broccoli with 1 1/2 t of the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.

Stir together the remain 1 t oil, garlic and the red pepper flakes. Drizzle over the broccoli and roast another 5-8 minutes, until the broccoli is beginning to brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat!

There is a house in the next town over, the town where my husband grew up, that every Halloween displays dozens of the most beautiful jack-o-lanterns I have ever seen. I always thought is was a group of people, maybe a club, that got together to pump out the masterpieces, because there was no way it could be done by one person. Well last night I met the woman responsible and it turns out she does do it all. Wow! Every year I look forward to seeing them and am never let down by her amazing creations.

Last week I told you to stay tuned for the next instalment of the roasted butternut squash and here it is. I have seen several recipes popping up for apple and butternut squash soups and the combo sounded really delicious. They all started with uncooked squash but what I had was leftover from last week's risotto and was already roasted and smashed so I had to improvise. The result was a smooth, earthy soup with a hint of tartness to lighten the flavor.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
makes 4-6 servings
1 T butter
1 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 granny smith (or other tart apple), peeled, cored and cut into 8 pieces
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 butternut squash, peeled, roasted and smashed
pinch nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper

If you are not starting with leftover butternut squash, cut a whole butternut squash into 8 pieces, wrap in foil and roast in 375 degree oven for about 1 hr, until very soft. Scoop the flesh out of the skins and mash.

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are slightly golden. Add the stock, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, about 20 minutes, until apples are very soft.

Puree soup and squash, in batches, in a blender and return to the pot. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally 5-10 minutes. Serve with a hearty bread or croutons.

Note: I made my own garlic croutons with cubes of stale bread that I coated with melter butter and minced garlic and toasted under the broiler, tuning once, until golden. The crunchy croutons nicely contrasted the silky soup.


Jer did the shopping last week and picked up ham and turkey for sandwiches and then it sat, untouched all week. I was worried it would go bad before we even opened the packages so I put Monte Cristos on the menu again. They ended up being the perfect meal in the middle of the week when we both got home pretty late and didn't feel up to cooking much.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches
makes 2 servings

4 slices sandwich bread
thinly sliced ham
thinly sliced turkey
sliced American cheese
sliced Swiss cheese
2 eggs beaten
1/8 cup milk
maple extract (optional)
maple syrup

Between two slices of bread, layer American cheese, ham, Swiss cheese and turkey (that is the order we like). Heat the sandwich in the microwave for about 25 seconds.

Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Beat the eggs, milk and extract (if using) in a shallow bowl. Coat the sandwich on both side with the egg mixture and place in the skillet. Cover with a lid. Cook the sandwich until golden brown on both sides. Serve with warm maple syrup.


I can't recall ever having eaten a chili dog before in my entire life so I was surprised with myself a couple of weeks ago when I had an intense craving for one. I put off making them but once I get an idea in my head I can't let it go until I have tried it. I'm not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing that I really enjoyed it. Not only while I was eating but even an hour later I felt totally satisfied. This may be trouble.

Chili Dogs and French Fries

No recipe here. I opted for a store bought chili this time.


I thought this sounded like such and interesting combination of flavors that, although I had already completed my menu for the week when I came across it, I added to the list. The meat of the chicken was perfectly cooked but the skin never got very brown or crispy, the way I like it. I think it was because it didn't have any kind of fat on it to help it along. Next time I think I'll use a little butter.

Roasted Chicken with Apple and Leeks
modified from Real Simple
makes 2 servings

4 small, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 T butter, softened
2 small, crisp apples, quartered (I used Braeburn)
2 leeks, halved crosswise and lengthwise
3 small sprigs rosemary
1 T olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan ( I used a cast iron skillet lined with parchment because I didn't want anything to get welded to the bottom) toss the apples, leeks, rosemary, olive oil, 1/4 t salt and 1/8 t pepper.

Rub the butter over the skin of the chicken and season with 1/8 t each of salt and pepper. Nestle the chicken, skin side up, into the apples and leeks.

Roast 40-45 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and apples and leeks are tender.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween! And don't forget to set your clocks back tonight (only if you are in a part of the world that does that of course)!

Stumble Upon Toolbar