Tuesday, December 30, 2008
To break up the decadence that is christmas cookies, I made a pavlova one night, using this recipe with the addition of ~1/3c unsweetened coconut at the end. Thinned a little apricot jam by warming it in the microwave, then piled it high with blueberries, blackberries and pomegranate arils. I was on cloud 9 ;-) hehe!
More on how I get my arils in the next post...
Monday, December 29, 2008
These are present at many family gatherings, not just christmas! My great grandmother used to make them all, but she never let anyone watch... so we've had to adapt it from several sources to get ones that closely match the ones she used to make! While you can put many different fillings inside these, the two most commonly at our table were potato and cabbage. Since I didn't like cabbage as a kid, these quickly became my favorite and the ones I enjoy making now. I tried to take some photos along the way to illustrate the process...
3c mashed potatoes (cook ~2lb yukon gold potatoes in well-salted water, drain **SAVE WATER** & mash)
10oz cottage cheese, drained
3 slices american cheese
1 onion, sauteed in butter
Mix all ingredients together. Can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until needed.
6c AP flour
1-2c potato water (saved from boiling the potatoes, see above)
2 eggs, beaten
Make a well in flour, add salt, eggs, and 1c water. Mix well to make soft dough, adding more water if needed. Knead until smooth and does not stick (you may need to add more flour). *Today I made another batch (made too many potatoes last time!) and did most of the dough mixing in the mixer with the dough hook. It worked well and contained the mess, so that was nice! I added some of the flour, salt, eggs, water, then added the rest of the flour a cup at a time. It came together and started pulling off the walls of the bowl. Then I took it out onto a floured surface and added some more flour until the dough was no longer sticky.* Cover with a dish towel and let sit a few minutes.
Clean the counter, line 2-3 baking sheets with wax or parchment paper, get a glass or cookie cutter (I think the glass I used was ~3" in diameter). Dust your working surface with flour, and get ready to roll :)
Cut dough ball in half, working with 1 half at a time. Keep dough that's not being used covered. Same goes for pierogies as you make them. Roll out dough on floured surface (i'd guess it was about 1/8-1/4" thick) and cut rounds with glass. Stretch out rounds a bit in your hands, and fill with ~1T filling (this will depend on the size you use). Seal edges and pinch with fingers for the scalloped edge, or press with the tines of a fork. (If you do different fillings, this is a good way to differentiate them) Place pierogies in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.
You can do one of two things at this point, cook them immediately (7min in boiling salted water) or freeze them on the baking sheets. Since I was doing these by myself, I stuck them in the freezer, and a few hours later, repackaged them into freezer bags for safe keeping. When ready to eat, cook the frozen pierogies in boiling salted water for ~7min, or until they float. Drain and then toss with onions cooked in butter. Once you have these, you just can't have them any other way!!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
First up for the family meals is a polish soup that's present at most holidays. This is the mushroom-based Christmas version, likely the Easter one will follow around then :) Alot of this is "to taste," as you see in the recipe that mom had from my grandmother (click to enlarge)...
Umm, yeah :) Do you see any amounts or measurements?? I wondered if it was invisible ink, but no such luck. Mom guided me a bit, and I guesstimated the amounts I put in... and after some tasting and adjusting, it came out JUST like my great grandmother and grandmother used to make it, I was thrilled!!!
Reczek family recipe
~1/2c dried mushrooms
4c boiling water
scant 1T oil (I think i used smart balance oil, for a mild-flavored fat)
1/2c minced celery
1/4c minced onion
4c "kielbasa water" (water used to cook kielbasa, with the fat skimmed off- can be kept in the freezer)
3/4c evaporated milk
1 bay leaf
3 mushroom bouillon cubes
~1/4t dried dill
barley (?? we forgot about this until afterwards... but i think it's supposed to go in ;) )
Pour boiling water over dried mushrooms (or drop them in), cover with lid or saran wrap, and let sit for ~30min. Once they are reconstituted, roughly chop mushrooms (I ran my knife through 3 or 4 times). Reserve some of this liquid (I probably kept 1/4c or so out, but the exact volume isn't important) and mix well with 3T flour.
Add oil to large pot over medium-low heat. Saute onions and celery until softened, but don't brown them! Add remaining ingredients (the water-flour mix last) and adjust to taste. Be careful adding the mushroom liquid, as there may be some sediment at the bottom from the mushrooms that doesn't need to go into the soup. We also added one bouillon at a time, as the amount needed may vary depending on the mushrooms and broth (or water) that are used. I prepared this ahead of time and just kept it on low heat until the rest of dinner was ready! The flavor will deepen as everything comes together. Enjoy!
Friday, December 26, 2008
Christmas Eve Dinner
everything was SOOOO good, i did a happy dance at the table :)
As requested by mom, I made:
Don't be surprised if i don't do too much baking for awhile... :) Hope everyone had a wonderful couple days with loved ones as 2008 comes to a close!!!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I shoveled the porch the other night and couldn't help snap that picture of our front yard! Loving the beautiful-ness that is the snow :) If only the roads clear up a bit so I can get out for a run...
Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday (whichever one you celebrate)!! Lots and lots of food coming soon, but for now I'm off to enjoy the family. Best wishes to you and yours!!
Until then, go comment on this post, to help Katie say ENOUGH to genocide.
Nick is also celebrating the big 100 by giving away peanut butter, so click on over!! As contradictory as that seems, it's nice of him to think of others at the time of this great accomplishment :)
Monday, December 22, 2008
I made some Rosemary Peanuts, based on this recipe, just using different nuts.
The bulk of what I had left went into some Rosemary Rolls, which were fantastic (yes, i had one fresh out of the oven! At least it was only 11pm this time :)) but I wish I had more rosemary in them! Nice crispy crust, fabulous texture (crumb?) inside, I was pretty excited at the way these turned out.
adapted from Two Fat Als
1/2 packet dry active yeast
1/2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter, softened (I used Smart Balance 50/50, as that's all i have at the moment)
chopped fresh rosemary (I probably had ~1/4-1/3 cup, and could've easily added double that)
2 1/4c AP flour, plus more if needed (I needed more)
1c whole wheat pastry flour
1T vital wheat gluten
olive oil, for brushing (might also be good with some kosher salt dusted after the olive oil too!)
In a large bowl, add yeast to warm water and sugar and let sit ~5min, until foamy.
Add milk, egg, salt, butter, rosemary, 1c AP flour, 1c WW pastry flour, and gluten to the yeast mixture and stir. Add remaining AP flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough has come together and starts pulling from wall of the bowl. If it's sticky, add more flour as necessary. Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (8 min? i don't time it). Place dough in lightly oiled large bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled in volume, ~1hr.
Grease a baking sheet. Once risen, deflate the dough and divide it into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a round ball, and place onto the baking sheet. Cover the rolls with a warm, damp cloth, and let rise until doubled in volume again, about 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 350, brush rolls with a bit of olive oil, and make cross-hatches on the dough with a knife (i wasn't very enthusiastic here...). Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
And that about does it with the uni-colored food photos for the day!!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
It was my first time trying millet, and it was good, reminded me alot of quinoa. Which, apparently can be substituted in the recipe if you have that on hand! Anyone else tried millet? This is also another great dish that can be made ahead of time. The tartness of the cranberries and the sweetness of the squash made for a nice pairing. So go check out the recipe! I'll have to do a more formal review of the book once I can pick out some more recipes... too many that sound fabulous!
In the mean time, this image came as part of an email advertising winter cycling wear and I thought it was hillarious!!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Before I forget, two very important things. Another easy way to give, go comment on MizFit's site here. She'll be donating to a domestic violence shelter. Second, a shoutout to Erin, who sent me some of that infamous trail mix (it's as dangerous as it seems...) and some Super Charge Me Cookies!! How she knew I've been meaning to try those, I don't know, maybe she's psychic! Both of the delicious goodies refused to be photographed, they didn't want to make everyone jealous :)
Oooh, you came here for the food? Right. Well I feel like I haven't been feeling the creative bug in awhile, but when I came across these I had to pick them up!
Then it was what to do with them... I was immediately thinking cookies (witches hats), but didn't really think the peanut butter was the right pairing. I thought almond would be the best flavor base to go with these, and while I toyed with the idea of using almond butter, here's how they ended up...
Chocolate Raspberry Almond Shortbread
adapted from my aunt's Almond Glazed Sugar Cookies
1c butter, softened (I used Smart Balance 50/50 sticks)
1t almond extract
2c AP flour
1/2t baking powder
Dark Choc Raspberry Kisses, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 400deg. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt together. Combine the first three ingredients (butter, sugar, extract) into the bowl of a mixer and beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed and add flour mixture. Beat until well mixed.
I used a cookie scoop (probably ~1t) to scoop out cookies onto a cookie sheet, 1" apart or so. Bake 7-9min, until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1minute while you top the cookies with kisses, then remove from cookie sheet.
A note on the Smart Balance Sticks... they seem to have different melting properties than butter. In recipes like this, where you cream the butter and sugar, it seems to work just fine. Be careful, however, when melting it for other recipes, it happens quickly and splatters!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Here's my lazy version:
Roasted Acorn Squash & Gorgonzola Pizza
adapted from Giada
Serves 1 (as a side or part of a meal... if you have my kind of appetite;-))
1/2 acorn squash (sliced thin, mixed with 1/2T maple syrup, 1/4T olive oil, dash red pepper flakes, roasted at 375 until tender... this was done the day or two ahead of time)
handful of spinach, tossed with a little bit of balsamic vinaigrette (I didn't measure, but you don't want it too heavy, just for a little flavor)
Top pita with gorgonzola (as much or as little as you like, I think I had ~2T or more on a medium-size pita) and toast until warm and melty. Meanwhile, warm acorn squash (if prepared ahead of time) slightly. Top pita with acorn squash then the balsamic-dressed spinach. Dig in!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Apricot-Glazed Pork Loin w/Sweet Potatoes
From Cooking Light Slow Cooker Cookbook, 2004
3 c cubed sweet potatoes
1/2 c apricot preserves, divided (mine was apricot-peach, I bet cherry would also be fantastic)
1/4 tsp salt, divided
1 bay leaves
1/2 lb boneless pork tenderloin or pork loin, trimmed
Place sweet potatoes, 1/2 c preserves, and 1/4 tsp salt into a slow cooker. Toss well. Add bay leaves. Arrange tenderloins over sweet potatoes; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Spread 1/2 c preserves over tenderloins. Cover with lid; cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce to low and 7 hours or until pork and sweet potatoes are tender. Remove pork from slow cooker and slice. Discard bay leaves. Serve pork with sweet potatoes and sauce.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I followed a recipe from Baking Bites, via the Peanut Butter Boy, cutting it it back to 1/3 as to account for the amount of yeast I had left (why i didn't just open another package i don't know...). Also threw in about 1T rosemary as that's in abundance right now :)
There's something about homemade bread that smells freakin fantastic, and is so irresistable when it comes out of the oven that there's no denying it, even if it is midnight!! (yeah, i started them a bit too late!). SOOO good warm, I'd recommend eating them this way :)
And if you're not a reader of Jaden's Steamy Kitchen yet, you should be! Here's a reason to start, she's hosting a HUGE Holiday Giveaway with a bunch of really fantastic products that would be such a treat to recieve.
Another fabulous blogger Zesty is also having a giveaway to celebrate 100 posts!! Go visit his site for the details, and check out his yummy recipes while you're there :)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
In the spirit of the cranberry season, I made mini loaves of Orange Cranberry Bread. The orange juice and zest really contribute to the flavor, and I really enjoyed it (don't worry, I made an extra ;) )! I didn't realize until the batter was almost done that I didn't have dried cranberries, so dried cherries got thrown in, in case you notice that they look larger than your average cranberry.
From a post on holiday gift giving ideas over at 28 Cooks, I decided to include some Dukkah. I'd never had it before, but it seemed like the perfect thing to ship. What is it? A mix of ground nuts and middle eastern spices, the possibilities with this one are endless. Just in case I wasn't the only ignorant one, I included a list of potential uses that I compiled from various places on the web. I actually ended up following the recipe found here, adding some pine nuts (since I scaled up alot, that would've been a LOT of sesame seeds!). I think I ground mine up a bit too fine, but still really enjoyed the flavors on this one! I guess it doesn't help when you start picking out the large chunks, either--oops!
So far I've tried it on fresh baked bread
And on a grilled cheese toast of sorts
It's quite yummy and I'm thinking this won't be the last time I make it!! Ooh, I should probably note, in case you don't already know, that cumin seeds don't grind in a food processor, you'll need a coffee/spice grinder for them! I was worried for a bit :) This is definately amenable to individual tastes, too, so have fun with it!
Last, but very not least, to accompany the two other cookies, I had to include my Seven Layer Bars. These are ALWAYS a crowd pleaser, and often requested, so I couldn't let my people down :) I remember them as my mom's, but I think it was my grandmother who started making these. They're a permanent fixture at our family holidays, although there are various versions out there (Magic Cookie Bars?).
Seven Layer Bars
Mom/Grandma's tried and true
1 stick butter (sometimes i go a little less)
1c graham cracker crumbs
1c chocolate chips
1c butterscotch chips
1c flaked coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk (I use fat-free)
1c chopped walnuts
Place butter in 9x13 pan and put it in the oven, preheat to 350deg. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly (or somewhat) over butter. Then add both of the chips, coconut, drizzle the condensed milk, then top with walnuts. Bake for 30 minutes (might want to check at 25 min, but you're nose will tell you when it's done!), until golden and bubbly. Let cool before cutting. (this is by far the hardest part for me, I love the ooey-gooey-ness!) Enjoy!!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Mom's recovering from back surgery, so I figured I would send her some Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti to help keep her strength up ;-) I didn't have any of the finished product, but the batter sure was tasty! Hopefully they will arrive in bigger, rather than smaller pieces...
Here's a look inside my mug :) Given to me by my college doubles partner, I love it!!
On another note... I was flipping through the January 2009 issue of Bon Appetit and was excited to see the Best of the Year treands. First was dessert: peanut butter desserts!! umm, me thinks bon appetit is a little slow on the uptake here, but that's ok, as long as you don't take away the peanut butter! Next was breakfast being the new restaurant trend! As someone who would happily eat breakfast 3x a day, I'm loving this one, too. Pegged 'the value issue' I also noticed an article on bargain bottles (reds and whites), if you're into that sort of thing. Ricotta and Eggs also made appearances in the issue, so it was a pretty good one :)
Phew, one last dish, a slightly tweaked version of Maggie's Pear and Crab Salad. I used more cabbage, and threw in some apple slices and arils. I love adding arils to salads, provided a little crunch in there and diversified the textures :) Yum!
And if you haven't heard of some amazing things happening in blogworld... The amazing Heather and Mark over at Hangry Pants are sponsoring a food drive!! Hit up the comments on this post and help support the RI Community Food Bank :) And since I don't have a blender, I was extremely excited to see a VitaMix giveaway over at Eating Bender. And importantly, don't forget that I referred you;-) hehe. Baking Bites is also hosting a holiday cupcake contest, so there's room for creativity if you're so inclined :)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
... which didn't suffice :) Definately went back for more! Look for more rosemary in the weeks to come!