December 30, 2008

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake



Ingredients:
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
8 oz sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour one Bundt pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg, buttermilk, vanilla and sour cream, stir to combine. In separate bowl, Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl until well combined. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until a uniform batter forms. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 55 minutes or until a thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes on a wire rack, then remove from the pan. Cool completely.

My thoughts:

pie
This a simple cake in implementation and in appearance but the flavor is remarkably chocolaty. The buttermilk and sour cream keep it moist and heighten the chocolate flavor. It it is the perfect cake to just make at the spur of the moment to have for dessert or to take to a gathering-it mixes together quickly and doesn't need an icing or a glaze to be perfect.

December 26, 2008

Potato-Carrot Latkes


Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs Russet potatoes, grated
2 large carrots, grated
1 large onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup matzo meal
canola oil


Directions:
In a large pan, heat about 1/4 inch oil. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and the matzo meal. Add potatoes, carrots and onion. Toss to combine.

rawlatke2

Form into flat patties. Fry in hot oil, flipping half way through, until just golden. Drain on paper towel lined plates.

Yield: about a dozen latkes, depending on size.

My thoughts:
For this year's latkes I was excited to try out my new mandoline which made great, long, thin strips of the potato, carrot and onion much faster than traditional grating. I also thought that the latkes cooked through a little better than when I've grated potatoes with a box grater; none of the latkes had even the slightest bit of raw potato, something I've occasionally encountered in these types of potato latkes. That said, you don't need a mandoline to make great latkes, a box (or other) grater works fine. A lot of people use a food processor to shred the potato but I personally think it chops the potato up a bit too much and the latkes sometimes become a little gluey as a result.

This Hanukkah I added carrot to the potato and really enjoyed it. It wasn't much of a change texture-wise but it added a bit of sweetness to the potato. Plus it is always a good idea to sneak in a little extra vegetables on a holiday devoted to fried foods. Latkes are rather time consuming and I know we rarely bother to make another side dish when we have them.

December 24, 2008

Spiced Cranberry (Overnight) Oatmeal



Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups water
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups (fresh) cranberries
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
sprinkle salt

Directions:
Place all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low overnight (6-8 hours). Stir and serve.

Yield: about 6 servings

My thoughts:
Is there anything easier to make for breakfast than overnight oatmeal? It is super creamy and requires no effort in the morning-perfect for workday mornings, holidays, brunch etc. I added more sugar than I normally would to oatmeal because cranberries are quite tart but the cereal wasn't sugary, just pleasantly spicy and cranberry filled.

December 23, 2008

Lime & Coconut Cookies



Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 sweetened flaked coconut
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
zest of one lime

glaze:
juice of one lime
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease 2 cookie sheets. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, coconut, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Beat in the egg. Add the lime juice, zest and mix. Add the flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Drop heaping teaspoons of batter on the lined cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until just golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients, adding more confectioners sugar if needed to thicken. Brush on cooled cookies.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies



My thoughts:

pie
These are remarkably light and fresh tasting cookies. They have a slightly chewy texture and the glaze highlights their sweet-tart flavor. They also freeze well.

December 21, 2008

Cranberry Ginger Muffins


Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup cranberries
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup chopped uncrystallized candied ginger
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour one 12 well muffin tin. In a large bowl, mix together the oatmeal, egg, oil, milk, and sugar. After it is thoroughly mixed, add in the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir to combine. Fold in the cranberries and ginger chunks. Divide evenly amount 12 muffin wells.

IMG_0008

Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center muffin comes out clean.

IMG_0018

Cool on a wire rack, serve.

My thoughts:
My husband really enjoys having muffins on hand to take to work for breakfast (his workday starts at 7 AM) so I am constantly trying to think of new muffin variations to make. I had about a cup of cranberries in the fridge and some uncrystallized candied ginger leftover from an earlier baking gig and wanted to make something that used both of them up. Matt requested a muffin with oatmeal so I combined the three and this is what I came up with. They are on the tart and spicy side-no confusion over muffin vs. cupcake here-but not so tart or spicy they are unpleasant and are full of interesting chunky bits. I think they are suitably festive enough to serve at some sort of holiday brunch or even to give as a gift-it is that time of the year-but they also freeze well for everyday eating. My husband like to freeze some of the batch and then take them frozen to work and microwave them to fully defrost. The oats really make the difference, they are very satisfying to eat, one really fills you up for breakfast.


December 19, 2008

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


Ingredients:
5 oz 70% dark chocolate
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon butter
12 roasted peanuts

Directions:
Line 12 wells of a mini muffin pan. Using an electric mixer, thoroughly combine the sugar and peanut butter. Set aside. In a small pan, melt the butter and chocolate together over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Place about a teaspoon of chocolate in each lined well and use a small spatula to coat the sides and bottom of each liner. Add about 1/2 tablespoon of the peanut butter mixture to each well. Cover each with remaining chocolate. Top each with a peanut. Refrigerate or place in a cool location until firm. Store uneaten chocolate cups in a cool, dry place.

Yield: 12 cups




My thoughts:
I am a big dark chocolate fan and rue the day that Hershey stopped making their dark chocolate Reese's Cup miniatures, they had a great chocolate to peanut butter ratio and weren't nearly as sweet as the milk chocolate ones. Luckily it is pretty quick and easy to make a homemade version. I like to use super dark chocolate but you could use something a little closer to semi-sweet if you'd prefer.

December 18, 2008

Golden Acorn Squash Chili




Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups peeled, cubed golden acorn squash
30 oz canned dark red kidney beans, drained
15 oz canned diced tomatoes (with juice)
10 oz diced tomatoes with green chile (like Ro-tel)
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 chipotle chiles in adobe, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons mesquite liquid smoke
2 teaspoons hot sauce (I used Garlic Hoganero)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon ground jalapeno
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Directions:
Place all ingredients in the slow cooker and gently stir to evenly distribute the spices and squash. It might look a bit dry but the ingredients will release a fair amount liquid as it cooks. Place on low for 6-8 hours. The squash should be tender but not mushy when ready to serve so try to avoid allowing it to cook for much more than 8 hours. Stir and serve piping hot.

Yield: 4-6 servings


My thoughts:
Golden acorn squash looks just like "regular" acorn squash, except the skin is bright orange, sort of pumpkin-looking. I think the flavor is a bit is sweeter but you can substitute the green skinned variety.

I was really happy with how well this chili turned out. I wasn't sure how the acorn squash would hold its shape and flavor but it really did, even with the long cooking time. I loved the juxtaposition of the sweet squash and the spices, it made for the best vegetable chili I've ever had. The leftovers the next day were good too.


Note: If you don't have a slow cooker, I'd try sauteing the onions and garlic in some oil then adding the remaining ingredients to cook on low until the squash is fork tender.

December 16, 2008

Chocolate Dipped Animal Crackers




Ingredients:
for the cookies:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
5 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature

to decorate:
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
nonparils

animal shaped cookie cutters

Directions:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, spices, salt and baking powder in a small bowl. While the beater is going, slowly incorporate the flour into the egg/butter mixture and mix until a thick dough forms. Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until it is quite cold and stiff. Flour a clean, flat surface. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Place the chilled dough on the flour and roll it out until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick. If the dough is too cold to successfully roll out, wait a few minutes then try again. Cut out into animal shapes. I do not suggest re-rolling the dough so try to cut out the cookies as close together as possible. Place each cookie onto the lined cookie sheets about 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile, in a small pan, melt the butter and chocolate chips together. Dip the bottom of the cooled cookies into the chocolate (carefully!) or brush the chocolate on to the bottoms to form a thin layer. Sprinkle with nonpareils if desired.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

Note: if you are doubling or tripling this recipe it will probably take more than an hour to chill. Even overnight would be okay.



My thoughts:
After sampling a number of animal crackers (and reading their ingredients) I became convinced that the secret ingredient, what gives them that distinctive animal cracker taste, is a fair amount of mace. You don't see many recipes that call for mace (and it is the spice I get the most e-mails from people asking for a substitution or if they can just leave it out) but adding it really made the difference. Mace is made from the reddish outer coating of the nutmeg seed* so it has a similar flavor to nutmeg but is a bit more spicy and much stronger tasting. Mace is most commonly found ground but it is possible to purchase mace "blades" which are pieces of this outer coating. By incorporating mace into my go-to sugar cookie recipe and scaling it down quite a bit (but feel free to double or even triple the above recipe-I just made a manageable amount of cookies for us) and making a few tweaks here and there and voila! Animal crackers! I think these would make great gifts or a lovely addition to a cookie swap-who makes homemade animal crackers? People are always impressed by homemade versions of traditionally store bought treats. Dipping them in chocolate makes them a bit more festive looking but isn't completely necessary.


*Quick fact: it takes 100 lbs of nutmeg seeds to produce 1 lb of mace!

December 13, 2008

Homemade Dog Biscuits

homemade dog biscuits

Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup rolled old fashioned oats
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 eggs PLUS 1 egg, beaten



Instructions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except for the beaten egg. The dough should easily form a ball and be rather firm. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Re-roll scraps (just once, any more and the biscuits will be tough) and cut out the remaining biscuits. Brush the tops of each biscuit with the beaten egg. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in airtight container.


Yield: about 3 dozen biscuits

My thoughts:
I have thought about making dog treats many times over the years but never actually took the the time to make them. I finally thought the time was right this year (think: cheap present!) and whipped up a batch for our three dogs Elvis (pug), Violet (whippet) and Pippi (dachshund), the neighbor's dog Rocky and my mom's two mixes Caramel and Star (who was my Grandpop's dog-he got her as a puppy when he was 81-13 years ago!) all of whom I thought would appreciate a treat. I don't know why I waited so long, they were super quick to make and I made them using ingredients I always have on hand so I didn't have to buy anything special. These particular biscuits are chicken flavored and full of whole grains. The dogs just gobbled them up!



December 11, 2008

Swedish-ish Meatballs



Ingredients:
2 lb ground pork
2 slices white sandwich bread
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
salt
white pepper


for the sauce:
3 cups pork or chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup defrosted frozen spinach
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
salt
white pepper


to serve:
lingonberry preserves
1 lb egg noodles, cooked to package instructions or boiled small red potatoes


Directions:
Tear the bread into small pieces place in a small pan and top with milk. Allow to soak 2 minutes over low heat or until the milk is full absorbed by the bread. Combine the milk-soaked bread with the rest of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Then follow these directions to make mini meatballs or simply roll 1 tablespoon's worth of the meat mixture into balls and broil, turning once until they are cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and spices then the milk and broth. Bring to boil then add spinach and reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the meatballs and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve over noodles or with boiled red potatoes for a meal or with toothpicks as an appetizer.


Yield: 6-8 meal sized servings or 10-15 appetizer sized servings

Spring this recipe!


My thoughts:
Swedish meatballs are a somewhat retro party food. Great as appetizers or a snack they also make a wonderfully comforting dinner. Who doesn't, if even secretly, love meatballs? They are easy to make and can be kept warm for a long time over a slow simmer on the stove or in the slow cooker.

I call these Swedish-ish meatballs because there are a few differences between how I like to make them and what is strictly traditional. I like to use ground pork instead of beef or a pork-beef combination; they end up much less greasy and I think the flavor is better. Since I am using pork I like to use pork or chicken broth instead of beef stock. I also like to add spinach to the recipe to eliminate the need for a side dish when I am serving them as a meal and a splash of color when they are on appetizer duty. I also like to use milk instead of heavy cream in the sauce. The sauce is still quite rich and creamy but not nearly as heavy.

December 09, 2008

Pomegranate Chocolate Chunk Cookies



Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 oz semisweet chocolate chunks*

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. Use a spoon to fold in the chunks then the pomegranates and distributing both evenly. Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough on the sheet two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on wire racks (if you can wait that long) then serve with plenty of cold milk.

IMG_0014

*In the past I have a hard time finding high quality chocolate chunks but lately, I have been able to find Scharffen Berger chocolate chunks in both 62% Cacao Semisweet and 70% Cacao Bittersweet varieties at well-stocked grocery stores. I bet they will be even easier to find now that it is the holiday season so keep an eye out!

My thoughts:

pie

Sweet+tart=delightful cookies. I have never seen much less had pomegranate cookies before but I had a bunch of pomegranate seeds (arils) that I had liberated from 3 pomegranates and decided to give it a shot. I am glad I did! The pomegranate seeds keep their bubble of juiciness while the seed at the middle of each aril softens to the texture of baked nut.


December 06, 2008

Grocery Lists, Menu Planning & Holiday Meals, Oh My!



In the past several weeks I have been working with SpringPad, a new online notebook website that is currently in beta, to bring you some of the "extras" that many of you have been asking for over the years. These include a meal planner, grocery lists and holiday menus. Simply sign up at SpringPad to begin using these features. You will also start to see links like the following

Spring the Coconut & Lime Weekly Meal Planner!


showing up on the bottoms of some of my recipes so you can easily "spring" them into your online notebook to use and share with others. I hope you all take advantage of these new features!

December 04, 2008

Tortilla Soup

tortilla soup



Ingredients:
25 oz crushed tomatoes
15 oz fire roasted tomatoes
4 oz canned chopped green chile peppers
2 habanero, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups chicken or turkey stock
2 cups shredded chicken or turkey
1 1/3 cup fresh or frozen fire roasted corn
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon hot Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


to serve:

6 corn tortillas, cut in half
avocado, sliced
shredded cheese
lime wedges


Directions:

Slow cooker instructions:
Place the spices, tomatoes, broth, garlic, onion and peppers in the slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low for about 6 hours. After 6 hours, add the corn and turkey. Cover and cook for an additional 45 to 60 minutes.

Stovetop instructions:
In a large pot, saute the onions, garlic and habanero in a tablespoon of canola oil. Add the tomatoes and spices. Cook to a near boil then add the corn and turkey and reduce heat. Cook through.


To serve:

Slice the tortillas into 1/4 inch strips. Fry in a shallow skillet until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel lined plates. Ladle the soup into bowls, then sprinkle with cheese, avocado, tortilla strips and serve with lime.


Yield: 4-6 servings


My thoughts:

Tortilla soup is a Southwestern soup that comes in a few variations. This one is my favorite. The fire roasted tomatoes and corn give it a slightly smoky flavor which adds depth to the soup. The avocado and tortilla strips add texture interest. For this version I used turkey, but an equal amount of shredded (cooked) chicken could be substituted. I prefer the slow cooker method for this, it is even easier than the stove top method and the slow, low simmer really brings out the flavors but really either way yields an excellent, spicy, tomato packed soup.


Note: A few people have emailed me about where to get the fire roasted tomatoes. I like to use Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes and I have found them at both "natural" and "regular" grocery stores, just ask for them.

December 02, 2008

Sweet Potato Cupcakes





Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup cooked sweet potatoes*, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon mace
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 egg, at room temperature

toasted marshmallow frosting



Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour 12 wells in a cupcake pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg then mix thoroughly. Add flour, baking powder and salt to the butter mixture. In a small bowl, mix together the mix and potatoes. Add the mixture the rest of the batter and mix until well combined. Fill each well 2/3 of the way full. Bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted the center of a cupcake comes out clean or with just one or two dry crumbs. Cool briefly in the pan, then remove cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely before icing with toasted marshmallow frosting.

IMG_0031


*This is a great way to use up leftover mashed or baked sweet potatoes or yams. Even something like these dressed up yams would work and be tasty but you would have to adjust the spices accordingly.


My thoughts:
Sweet potato casserole has never made an appearance at any holiday table I've been to but I have read so much about it, I know it must be popular. I am against sweet side dishes or really anything sweet served at a time other than dessert or maybe breakfast but I have always been intrigued by the idea of the marshmallow topping. So I decided to make a cupcake out of it. The result: a super moist cupcake full of spice and sweet potatoes. The toasted marshmallow frosting is sweet, but the spice balances it and it just all comes together to make one really festive cupcake.


Note: I also think these would be good with vanilla cream cheese frosting.



 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg


Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

Toasted Marshmallow Frosting


Ingredients:
1/4 oz. unflavored powdered gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/8 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla paste


Directions:

In a large bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water. Allow to seep for 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/8 cup water. Bring to a vigorous boil and boil for 1 minute. Pour boiling syrup into gelatin and mix at high speed for 1 minute. Add the salt and vanilla and beat for 12 minutes. Quickly spread on one dozen cooled cupcakes. Allow to set (about 15 minutes) then brown with a small torch, or in the broiler. Be careful!

Spring this recipe!


My thoughts:
This is a really marshmallow-y icing. In fact, it basically sets up into an actual marshmallow after a day or so, which you need if you are going to toast it, although it is just as tasty untoasted. If you want a lighter more traditional marshmallow frosting, try this fluffy white icing, just don't try and toast it. However, I don't want this recipe's extreme marshmallowness to put you off, it makes a great frosting, just know that the longer it sits the more set up it becomes.

November 30, 2008

Cranberry Sauce Muffins

cranberry sauce muffins

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce*
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon zest of a lemon, lime, orange or tangerine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour one 12 well muffin tin. In a large bowl, mix together the egg, oil, buttermilk, and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, oatmeal, salt, ginger, zest, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir into the wet ingredients. Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter in 12 muffin wells. Top with 1 teaspoon cranberry sauce. Evenly divide the remaining batter among the wells, making sure the cranberry sauce is fully covered. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center muffin comes out clean or with just a hint of cranberry sauce. Cool on a wire rack, serve.


*Use your own favorite or make one of my versions: apple cider cranberry sauce, classic cranberry sauce, cranberry-tangerine sauce or ginger lime spiked cranberry sauce.


My thoughts:
After Thanksgiving the majority of searches that bring people to Coconut & Lime are "what to do with leftovers" related. While cranberry sauce is fine on a leftover turkey sandwich, some times there is just too much leftover. Two years ago I made a delicious cranberry ribbon cake with leftover sauce that remains to this day to be pretty much my favorite of all the cake recipes I've created. This year I thought I might be a little desserted out after Thanksgiving so I went a different way: breakfast. These muffins are super quick to make and very satisfying. As an added bonus? They freeze well.

November 28, 2008

Thai Noodle Salad with Turkey and Shrimp




Ingredients:

for the dressing
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 Thai green chiles, thinly sliced
juice 1 lime
2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 tablespoon tamarind juice (optional)


salad ingredients:
1/2 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
3 oz bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut up

for the meat:
2 cups shredded, cooked turkey
1/2 lb steamed, peeled shrimp
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 Thai chiles, diced
1 clove garlic, minced

Plus:
10 oz rice stick OR bean thread noodles

to serve:
3 tablespoons chopped toasted peanuts
1 lime, cut into wedges
diced green onion

Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients, set aside.

thai salad dressing
Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Set aside. In a skillet, heat the oil then saute the chiles, and garlic with shrimp and turkey for 1 minute. Toss with dressing, salad ingredients and noodles. Sprinkle with peanuts and diced onions. Serve with lime wedges.


My thoughts:
Every year I get a lot of "what to do with leftover turkey" requests. Frankly leftover turkey was never much of an issue in my family (we just ate the meal, had a sandwich and maybe made soup and that was it) but since I've had this blog, I've been making Thanksgiving-like meals way in advance so I can post new holiday recipes leading up the event and come up with creative leftover ideas.

While checking out the competition, I've found most turkey leftover recipes are either a. some sort of creamy casserole, b. Mexican food or c. chili. All of which are well and good (and I still might make a chili this year) but I was thinking of something a little lighter. The last thing I want after a day of heavy food is more stick to the ribs fare. So I came up with this Pad Thai-inspired salad. It is substantial enough to serve as a meal but much lighter and healthier tasting than what you probably had on Thanksgiving.


Note: I used bean thread noodles but I think that rice stick (normally what is used in Pad Thai) would be great as well. I actually only used the bean thread because I had a package of them and not the rice stick like I thought. Despite being rather different noodles I think both would work because they are neutral tasting and delicious even when served in cold dishes.

November 25, 2008

Cranberry Cheesecake Squares




Ingredients:
crust:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt

filling:
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 large eggs
juice of one tangerine
zest of one tangerine


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or spray with baking spray an 8x8 inch pan. In a small bowl, add the butter, sugar, flour, oats and salt, mix thoroughly with a fork. Press into bottom of the pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to flatten and press firmly.


Bake 15 minutes or until just golden. Meanwhile, cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the egg, zest, juice and flour, beat until smooth. Pour over the crust. Dot with cranberry sauce and swirl with the tip of a knife. Bake 25 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.


My thoughts:


pie
My husband loves cranberry sauce. Once cranberries make their appearance in the grocery store I start making cranberry sauce with any meal where it seems appropriate. I think I've made a different cranberry sauce just about every week since late October. This leaves me with a fair amount of leftover cranberry sauce to play with. I've made yummy muffins with cranberry sauce already this year but I wanted to make a dessert with cranberry sauce that would be holiday-worthy. These are a snap to put together and can be made ahead. Prebaking the crust is a bit of a time killer but you can make the filling while it bakes and it ensures a perfect, crisp crust. I also liked using oatmeal in the crust, it is a little nontraditional but it really adds some body to the crust and actually makes the bars a little easier to slice and lift out of the pan. The tangerine flavor is present but not too strong, it just adds a citrus note to the cheesecake. I really can't say enough about this bars, they are just really good, my whole family raved over them and my mother deemed them "swoon-worthy".



Note: any whole berry (i.e. not jellied) cranberry sauce would work, even store bought (!) but I think using this cranberry-tangerine sauce would be the best.

November 23, 2008

Wild Rice Medley



Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups broth (chicken, turkey, mushroom or vegetable would be good)
1 cup wild rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons dried porcini
1/2 teaspoon dried chervil
black pepper


Directions:
Place all ingredients in the slow cooker, stir. Cover and put on low for 4 hours then check to see if the kernels are open and tender. If not, recover and continue to cook until they are, checking about every 15 minutes to avoid overcooking. Stir and serve piping hot.

Note: If you don't have dried chervil, I think substituting parsley would be fine. Also, my rice was perfect at exactly 4 hours but I know there are some variations between slow cookers so you might need a longer cooking time.

Yield: about 6-8 servings (can be easily doubled)


My thoughts:
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and while it is always nice to share a meal with family and friends, Thanksgiving is a particularly stressful holiday when it comes to food because it really is the the focus of the entire day. Novice cooks or even experienced cooks that aren't used to cooking for a crowd have expressed to me how difficult it is to roast the turkey, make dessert and make a bunch of side dishes all at once and time everything perfectly.


With that in mind, I came up with this easy and tasty side dish that requires virtually none of your attention. Wild rice takes forever to make on the stove top so it seemed to me that it would be a perfect to adapt to the slow cooker and it worked wonderfully. The resulting side dish is classic enough to satisfy the traditionalist but is much more flavorful than the usual pilaf and as an added bonus gets a lot of its flavor from vegetables you are probably using in other dishes. The best part of course is that once you put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, you don't have to do a thing until it is ready to serve and you are not taking up a burner on the stove.

November 20, 2008

Ginger Lime Spiked Cranberry Sauce




Ingredients:
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 inch knob ginger, grated
zest of 1 lime

Directions:
Place the cranberries, water, juice, sugar, ginger and zest in a medium saucepan and, stirring occasionally, cook for 20 minutes over medium high heat to reduce and thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Serve hot or cold.


My thoughts:
Who says cranberry sauce has to be boring? This sauce boasts zippy ginger and tangy lime, both of which add a lot of flavor without overpowering the cranberry or wandering too far afield from traditional sauces.

November 18, 2008

Heirloom Apple Pie





Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds baking apples*, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
double pie crust (I used cheddar-black pepper)

Directions:
Mix all of the ingredients together.

sugaredapples

Pour into a pie plated lined with a pie crust. Top with a second pie crust and pinch shut. Pierce the top crust with a knife or cut out shapes to vent. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Cool then slice to serve.




*I like to use Stayman-Winesap apples for pies. They are firm, slightly tart, spicy and hold up well to baking.

peelingapples

My thoughts:

pie

This year I bought a bushel of Stayman-Winesaps at the farmers market and knew I'd have to make a pie. My Grandpop always requests an apple pie instead of cake for his birthday and since I loathe pumpkin pie, I always hope for one at Thanksgiving. There is just something very comforting about apple pie.

This is a pretty straightforward apple pie but pairing it with the cheddar-black pepper crust really makes it something special. I don't like super sweet desserts so a savory crust combined with a sweet, spicy apple filling is my idea of pie perfection.


IMG_0002


Cheddar & Black Pepper Pie Crust




Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cold butter, cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
5-8 tablespoons ice water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Place the pepper, butter, flour and cheddar into a food processor. Add water one tablespoon at a time and pulse just until mixture sticks together. Form the dough into two balls. Roll each into a crust.


cheddarcrust2

My thoughts:
This a great savory pie crust that goes with a variety of pies. It is just slightly spicy and the cheddar gives it a great flavor. Try it with apple filling. There is just enough cheddar to give it a distinctive cheddar taste but not so much it overpowers the filling or gets gooey.

November 16, 2008

Rosemary and Sage Stuffing Balls

rosemary sage stuffing balls

Ingredients:
25 slices torn sandwich bread
2 large onions, diced
1 bunch celery, diced
1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 oz fresh sage, torn
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
8 oz sliced crimini mushrooms
1 teaspoon white pepper


Directions:



In a large pan, saute celery, mushrooms and onions in butter and olive oil over very low heat until the onions are translucent. Do not brown. Add to bread cubes in bowl and add seasoning. Combine with egg and broth. Form medium-sized balls. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Place balls in the bottom of the roasting pan under the rack and around the turkey or chicken on the rack for the last 1/2 hour of roasting and cook until cooked through.


Yield: 8-10 servings

My thoughts:
I made this stuffing when I made my sage roasted chicken but it easily is enough to serve with turkey instead. I love making stuffing balls because you can place them in the roasting pan to absorb the juices (but not all of them, there is often enough leftover to make gravy with) without having to actually stuff the bird which can lead to bacteria growth and food poisoning. It is really my favorite part of roasting a chicken or turkey. In fact I often roast a chicken or an extra turkey during the Winter just so I have an excuse to make (and consume!) vast amounts of stuffing. This particular stuffing is a herby variation on the stuffing my family serves at the holidays. The flavors of the sage and rosemary, while present, are mellowed by the roasting.

November 13, 2008

Slow Cooked Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes



Ingredients:
2 1/2 to 3 lb red skin potatoes, quartered
4 cloves garlic, sliced
3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
pepper


Directions:
Place the potatoes in the slow cooker. Add garlic, broth and rosemary. Stir. Cook and cook on high until potatoes are tender, about 3-4 hours. Pour in milk, butter and sour cream, mash. Serve right away or adjust the setting to low to keep warm until you are ready to serve.


My thoughts:
Someone sent me a link on Twitter for some slow cooker mashed potatoes. The recipe itself didn't look too appetizing (it called for spreadable, flavored cream cheese) but I liked the idea so I came up with this recipe. Anyway, of course it is quicker to make the potatoes on the stove but making them in the slow cooker is perfect for the holidays or entertaining. Not only do they keep warm in the slow cooker for as long as you need them but they free up a burner on the stove and eliminate the need to boil water or keep an eye on them. The garlic in these takes on a mild roasted taste and just melts into the creamy (but not too rich!) mashed potatoes.

November 11, 2008

Peppermint Pattie Brownies

peppermint patty brownies
Ingredients:
9 Peppermint Pattie miniatures (.6 oz each)
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one 9 inch baking pan. In a saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa and chocolate together over low heat*. Stir occasionally, and when the chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the brown sugar, sugar, eggs and vanilla until frothy. Slowly stream the chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix to combine. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is thick and glossy. Pour half into prepared pan. Top with peppermint patties, the top with remaining batter. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

pmintbrownies

My thoughts:
I am sure I am not the only one with some leftover candy from a pre-Halloween candy buying blitz. Two years ago I tried Dorie Greenspan's Brrrr-ownies recipe which called for chopped York Peppermint Patties. They were okay but I've had in the back of my mind ever since that I could probably make a version that I would enjoy more. I had a bunch of miniature patties left so I thought I'd finally give it a shot. Since I didn't have her recipe anymore and I didn't like it anyway, I started completely from scratch. I ended up with a slightly peppermintier, very chocolately, very decadent brownie. I love how the peppermint patty adds a bit of chew to the brownie.

November 09, 2008

Calypso Pulled Pork





Ingredients:
3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast (trim off excess fat)
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons spiced ginger preserves*
2 teaspoons smokehouse black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons mesquite liquid smoke
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeds removed
juice and zest of one lime
juice and zest of 1/2 orange
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil


for the spice rub:

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions:
Mix the spice rub ingredients together. Rub them on the pork. In a large skillet heat the oil and then brown the roast well on all sides. Place roast in slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Cook on high in the slow cooker 6 hours**. When done, meat should shred easily with a fork. Remove roast from slow cooker. Shred with a fork (or use your fingers) and set aside. Mash any solid bits of the sauce with a potato masher. Return the pork to slow cooker, and toss to evenly coat with sauce. Serve on rolls.

*I used Mackay's, it is found in the jam and jelly aisle or with international foods.


My thoughts:
Is there such a thing as too many pulled pork recipes? I really hope not because I have posted a lot of them over the years. To date we have your basic pulled pork which was the first time I had ever made it then I branched out to East Meets Southeast Barbecue Pulled Pork which inspired me to create my absolute favorite pulled pork (and one of my favorite recipes ever) Smoky Mango Pulled Pork which lead to the fruity Blackberry Chipotle Pulled Pork then the Island Pineapple Pulled Pork and now this Caribbean inspired Calypso Pulled Pork. That's a lot of pork. Beside my love of pork, one of the reasons I made so much pulled pork (although now that I think of it, five or six recipes spread out over 4 1/2 years out of about 800 recipes isn't too much) is that it is one of the best things you can make in the slow cooker. Despite the slightly uninspiring picture here, it is effortless to make juicy, tender flavorful fall apart pork in the slow cooker. There is no need to add anything extra during the cooking time, it makes its own sauce and the pork can cook for hours only growing more tender. I actually like to use the slow cooker more during the hot steamy Summers Baltimore is famous for but it is great on a crisp fall day. Just plop everything in the pot, turn the knob and head out for day knowing you will be rewarded with succulent pork for dinner.