November 28, 2012

Pin It Brussels Sprout Salad

Taken From Shutterbean

Week 48
After a long week of non-stop sweets and baked goods, I wanted a little cleanse. And what better way to do that than to eat a bowl of raw Brussels sprouts! I swear it's better than it sounds and was super simple.

Use a food processor or knife to chop ~24 Brussels sprouts (I used a bag from Trader Joe's). Toast 1 cup of walnuts and toss nuts together with sprouts and 1/2 cups of finely grated Parmesan
To make the dressing, mix together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper, then pour over the salad.
 
This was really good and hearty, and only mildly made me feel like a rabbit. I was able to store the undressed leftovers for a few days in the fridge and it kept really well. Hardy mini cabbages are good like that.
 

November 24, 2012

Pin It Turkey Sugar Cookie

Inspired by my Pinterest Board and Two Peas and Their Pod

Week 47
Just a little turkey themed treat I thought I'd share. 

My mom and I made these to give to her grand kids/great niece at her birthday brunch for dessert (and yes, dessert after brunch is a thing).

The grown ups got this:
And this kids did too (although they weren't supposed to, hence the special treat for them), but they seemed to like the turkey cookies better.
Specifically, the candy corns.
Turkey lost some feathers to the cause.
Happy cousins Avery and Maddy.
These little guys are made of sugar cookies, with piped butter cream frosting and autumn candy corns as feathers. A fun and easy Turkey day treat...as if anyone needed more sweets :)

November 18, 2012

Pin It Pumpkin Monkey Bread


Taken From Sugar Crafter

Week 47
I did it! I finally made a recipe using yeast.  For some reason this ingredient was extra scary for me (which I just found out is hereditary), probably due to the increased possibility of messing it up.  In the past, I'd always avoided any recipe that called for anything that needed time to rise, but in the comfort of my parents' kitchen, I was feeling extra brave.  Plus, I'd been wanting to try this recipe forever. Who wouldn't want pumpkin money bread during Thanksgiving vacation?!  No one I know. And guess what? I didn't mess it up! Hooray!

I started out by mixing all my dry ingredients in one bowl and my wet in another. When it called for warm water and milk, I just did it by feel. No thermometer was used (or needed, apparently).
I made a well in the center of my dry bowl and added in the wet. I stirred it with a wooden spoon until it came together as dough.
I then plopped the dough down on a floured surface and kneaded it for ~4 minutes, until it was "smooth and elastic."  The recipe said to do this for 5-6 minutes but the more you knead it the more flour you have to add to your work surface and the more flour is getting worked into the dough.  I didn't know if this was a bad thing or not and felt I had the right consistency at 4 minutes, so I stopped.
Smooth, elastic dough.
With my dough ball ready to go, I put it in a big mixing bowl and covered it for an hour to let it rise.
And it did!
Pre-rise.
Post-rise.
I then rolled my dough out into a rectangle and cut it into "equal" squares.

I rolled all the squares into little balls, trying to make them all about the same size.
I then dipped each dough ball in melted butter and rolled it around in my cinnamon-sugar mix and started layering them into my greased bunt pan. I covered the pan with a towel and let it rise for another hour.
Pre-rise dough balls = little balls.

Post-rise dough balls = big balls!
I baked it at 350 for 30 minutes and took it out to cool for ~ 5 minutes.
Fresh out of the oven.
I turned it out onto a serving platter and it plopped out perfectly. I then drizzled the maple glaze over the top. I didn't use it all because I thought it would be overkill, but next time I would recommend using all the glaze. The monkey bread is surprisingly not super sweet like I thought it would be without the glaze.


Then the family was instructed to dig in!

Niece and nephew Chloe and Leo.
And they did. We decided that monkey bread is just like the center part (AKA best part) of a cinnamon roll.  All the soft, sweet, cinnamony gooey center, with none of the crunchy, drier edges.  And with a little pumpkin flavor added in, this was the perfect start to Thanksgiving break.

Next time you are sitting around with 3 hours on your hands, I would definitely recommend this treat.

November 13, 2012

Pin It Butternut Squash Skillet Lasagna

Taken From How Sweet It Is

Week 46
Ok, so in the end it was worth it but what a pain! I thought skillet lasagna would be easy, assuming I would make everything in one pan and would only have one dish to clean, right? Nope. Yes, everything was cooked in the skillet, but a lot of things cooked separately. For example, I cooked the squash, then set it aside in a bowl. I cooked the onions and meat, then set that aside in another bowl.  AND, in the end my 12 inch skillet wasn't big enough to fit everything so I ended up having to transfer it into a casserole dish to bake it.  I should have just made her regular butternut squash and sweet potato lasagna, but that is what I get for not reading through the whole recipe before committing to it.

I didn't even get a good picture of it in the end. Whatever.

I cut up the butternut squash, and cooked it with some seasoning until soft, then transferred it to a bowl and mashed it up.  I then cooked the onions and ground turkey until the turkey was cooked through. 
Then I made the cheese sauce (where I made my error).  I didn't let the flour, butter, milk mixture thicken enough before adding in the mascarpone and parmesan, so my sauce was a little runny in the end. It thickened up when I added the squash so it was fine, but probably not exactly how it was supposed to be and definitely not picture worthy.
Because there was not enough room in my skillet I ended up layering the noodles, meat and cheesy squash sauce into my casserole dish. I topped it with mozzarella and sage and baked it for ~25 minutes.
It was good, but I will never make this again.  It probably would have felt less cumbersome if I hadn't starting making this at 7pm, so I should take that into account.  However, given that my cast iron skillet isn't big enough to bake everything in it anyway, I'll probably just try out her butternut squash and sweet potato lasagna next time.

November 11, 2012

Pin It Red Lobster Biscuits

Taken From Dough Puncher

Week 46
I never frequented Red Lobster enough as a kid to remember their biscuits, but apparently they were delicious, because these were awesome! I made these to go along with our BBQ duck dinner #2. Bonnie made delicious kale (I'll have to get that recipe) and cauliflower to go along with our duck and baked beans.

My favorite part was getting to use my new counter mat to roll out my dough. It's Crate & Barrel's version of a silpat and worked out great.

My dough was a little dry/crumbly so I added a bit more milk to get it to stick together (probably close to 2/3 cup).
I checked them at 10 minutes but they were still a little gooey in the middle so I put them in for a couple more minutes. I was baking them in Bonnie's oven which is obviously not uber hot like mine, so I tried to account for that.
These were really good and super easy.  The tops are brushed with melted butter, garlic salt and basil which added a nice flavor to finish it off.  I would definitely make these again.

November 10, 2012

Pin It Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

Taken From Ambitious Kitchen

Week 45
Being out of cookies is something I like to remedy quickly in my house. However, in an effort to make sure I did not eat a whole batch of cookies at once, I went with a flavor that is never my first choice: peanut butter.  Although these have chocolate in them (obviously), peanut butter cookies are never something I drool over at a bakery display window, especially if there is no chocolate component.  Peanut butter cookies are more something I like to experiment with to see if I can learn to love them.  I've tried in the past (here and here) with surprising success, so I figured it was time to test the waters once again.

This recipe had a couple ingredients that I found intriguing, mainly Greek yogurt and honey. I couldn't pick out their flavors or textures once these were baked, but it was nice to know they were in there.

I baked these for about 10 minutes, which is probably a little under cooked to most people's standards, but they were just how I like them: soft and chewy and barley holding together. Ok, maybe I could have cooked them for a minute more to ensure they would not break apart upon picking them up, but they were still delicious. 

Peanut butter, your alluring powers are starting to win me over, especially when you are teamed up with tons of chocolate chips and sea salt.

November 5, 2012

Pin It Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Taken From the Food Network

Week 45
We were having people over for a small dinner party on Sunday to share the loot from a hobby Tom recently embarked upon: duck hunting.  He got his hunting license and was out shootin' things the next day.  He loved it (and apparently was pretty good) and brought home 7 ducks (with their heads still on, eek).  I told him I didn't want to see them until they looked like something I'd buy at the supermarket, not that I've ever bought duck before. He was super excited, so I didn't want to rain on his parade and harp on that fact that he killed cute fuzzy ducks for sport.  But I guess he did carry it through to completion in that he cooked them up and fed a table of hungry and adventurous friends.

I wanted to make something to accompany the wild bird so I decided on twice baked sweet potatoes (because how good does that sound?!). I'd never made them nor did I have a recipe but it turned out that I did have all the ingredients I'd need.  I just did a quick Google search on my phone and found this recipe on the Food Network.  I recipe comparison shopped a little but this was the first one I found and it seemed like the best.

To save some time I cooked my sweet potatoes in the microwave. I scrubbed them, poked several holes in each and cooked them for ~10 minutes. I was making 4 sweet potatoes and found directions online that said microwave for 4-5 minutes and add another 2-3 minutes for each additional potato, flipping them halfway through. You just want to make sure they are soft but not petrified (I've done that too).

After they were a bit cooler, I cut them in half and scooped out the insides.

I mixed the guts with room temperature butter and cream cheese, brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, and a little salt and pepper.
I spooned the filling back into the skins and baked them at 375 for 15 minutes.
This really was so simple and delicious!  They were sweet, but not too sweet, but could totally take the place of dessert (not that they did because: 1. Duh and 2. I still had some of these left).
The meal was amazing and ended up being quite a feast. I had also made some asparagus and Tom cooked up some broccoli, baked beans and of course, the pièce de résistance, the BBQ duck! The duck very good and had a great flavor. I'd never eaten a wild duck before (and definitely never a whole bird) and the experience was complete with biting down on a steel pellet, so I knew it was legit.  It was a true feast (I kind of felt like we were knights of the round table) and everyone left very full and happy.

November 2, 2012

Pin It Broccoli Pesto

Taken From Fresh Family Cooking (scroll to the very bottom of the Fresh Family link for the recipe)

Week 44

Another test for my food processor! After making the roasted red pepper pesto, I wanted to try it again, and found this yummy pesto/dip recipe. The food processor made this so easy and it turned out really well.

I had a lot of broccoli so I ended up doubling the recipe, thinking that the 12 ounce (1.5 cup) yield of the original recipe wouldn't be enough. Doubling it was a bit overkill but I think it should keep okay in the fridge, and I can always freeze it.

I started by blanching the broccoli.
After that I added all the ingredients to the food processor.
Broccoli and walnuts.
Plus, parm, lemon juice, garlic salt and capers.
I slowly added the olive oil as it was processing (something I think I read in another recipe once?) and waited until it was all an even consistency, scrapping the bowl down once.

A ton of broccoli pesto.
Giant jar of broccoli pesto (and this wasn't even all of it!)
In the end it probably made about 4 cups, but should come in handy.  That night we ate it over pasta but I've also tested it out as a dip using sweet potato chips as my medium (super good) and I bet you could even use it as a pesto for making homemade pizza!  This is just one more reason for me to love my new kitchen appliance!