Archive for November, 2012

2012 Thanksgiving Roundup

November 21, 2012

My favorite holiday is coming up!  And if you’re like me, you’re still finalizing your menu.  Just to add to the list of last minute Thanksgiving ideas from last year, here are a couple new favorites from 2012 that you may have time to add to the Thanksgiving table this year!

Appetizers and Side Dishes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butternut Squash Soup 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asparagus Tarts with Roasted Grape Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ratatouille Tart

Desserts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date Butter Tart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honey Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banoffee Pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Blondies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pecan Pie Pops

Breakfast for the next day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Cider Doughnuts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Chocolate Popovers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticky Buns

Happy cooking!  And, happy Thanksgiving!

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Pecan Pie Pops

November 20, 2012

Can we all agree that making things small just make them more desirable to eat?  And propping them on a skewer just puts them over the top.  I don’t know what it is about either of these two qualities that make food more appealing.  Is it the hands-free bonus?  Is it the one-bite wonder?  Are they just more festive?!  I’m not going to lie – whatever it is, I’ve bought into it too.

What I also know is that these pie pops are great for a party!  Or a big dinner…say, Thanksgiving!  They’re so easy – just like making any ol’ pie, but people will just love you so much more for making these so darn cute!  And it’s so nice to be loved, isn’t it?

Oh and they feed a crowd.  Did I mention that little gem?  And they don’t even have to be sweet.  Remove the sugar from the crust recipe, and fill with a savory filling: mushrooms and cheese?!  Tomato and basil?!  The list can go on.  I think I just figured out the appeal!  Make these and then come back tomorrow for more last minute Thanksgiving ideas!

Pecan Pie Pops

I used my go-to pie crust recipe, but you can obviously also use store-bought dough.

Make your pie crust as directed, divide it into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.  While chilling, make the pie filling.

Filling (adapted from here)

1/4 cup maple syrup + 1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, vigorously whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar, milk, salt, and cornstarch, so that there are no lumps of starch remaining. Cook until the mixture comes up to a lively bubble, whisking constantly.  Once fully boiling and significantly thickened, turn off the heat and fold in the pecan pieces and vanilla. Cool completely and set aside.

For Pie Pops

1 recipe pie dough

1 recipe pecan pie filling

1 egg

2 tbsp. milk

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375.  To make pie pops, roll out one disc of pie dough until it’s about 1/8 inch thick.  With a two inch biscuit cutter, cut out circles, gathering and rerolling scraps as needed.  Spoon about 1 tsp. of filling on half of the circles.  Top with the another circle, pinching the ends to seal.  Using a fork, press the ends shut, making crimp marks.

Place all of the pies onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush each one with an egg wash of 1 egg + 2 tbsp. milk.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  With a knife, make slits on top of each pie to allow the steam to escape.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  To make into pie pops, insert a skewer in the middle, while cooling.

Thor – Happy Diwali!

November 12, 2012

So with the late realization of fall almost being over, Thanksgiving being a week away, and Diwali being a month later than usual this year, there are a lot of sweets in my house.  Not that I’m complaining.

I have been talking about making thor (pronounced with a hard t, like in “take” rather than, say, the movie “Thor” with Brad Pitt…you see?), for a very very long time.  It used to be a Diwali staple, but it’s a sweet so simple that it has been overtaken by fancier, trendier desserts that are just as delicious, but not what I was looking for this year.  And because I’m nostalgic and have an aversion to change, this is all I wanted.

But old recipes tend to not be on the internet as much.  And whenever I asked anyone in my family, my mom, my aunts, my grandmother, they would give me the exact recipe by saying “you know you have enough flour when it just feels right in your hands,” which was…helpful.  So after deciphering what my family was saying, going through many recipes that seemed similar, and watching a video of a slightly awkward online Indian cooking show, I finally reached my lovely Diwali nostalgic feeling.  That’s all I was looking for.

Thor

Like in most Indian sweets, cardamom is quite common in thor as well.  But as I’ve said before, I’m not the biggest fan of cardamom, especially in my Indian desserts.  I like my thor extremely simple (remember – nostalgia), but if you want to jazz it up a bit, feel free to add a pinch of cardamom, and maybe even a splash of rose water, and a few threads of saffron to the glaze.

1.5 cups white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup ghee, or clarified butter

1/2 cup milk, divided

1/2 cup ghee, for frying

For glaze:

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon milk

In a large bowl, rub in the ghee into the whole wheat flour so you can clump it together, but a dough has not yet formed.  Using a tablespoon at a time, incorporate the milk into the dough, as needed, until a stiff but workable dough has been made.  Cover and let it rest for about an hour.

Divide dough into golfball size rounds.  Roll each out until they are about 2 inches in diameter, and about 1/8 inch thick.  Prick each side of each round with a fork several times, to make sure that they do not puff up when frying.

Heat ghee over medium heat in a a vessel you’re comfortable frying in.  Test to see if the ghee is hot enough by throwing in a sprinkle of flour.  If it sizzles, the ghee is ready.  Gently place in several rounds, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.  Fry on one side for about 2 minutes, and then flip and do the same, until the thor have turned a golden brown temperature.

Drain on a paper towel, and continue until all of the thor have been fried.  Place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

To make the glaze, place sugar and water into a pot, and heat over high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved.  You don’t want to caramelize the sugar, so stir continuously.  When you can feel no more grains, add milk, stir and take off the heat.

Drop the thor into the glaze, turning over to make sure that they are completely coated, and return back to wire rack.  Continue until all of the thor have been coated.  Let the glaze set for about an hour.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Blondies

November 10, 2012

 

Is it me or did 2012 go by faster than a normal year?  How are we already less than 2 weeks away from Thanksgiving?!  Usually at this time, I have my Thanksgiving menus in place, have tried out the pies I’m planning on making, and am planning my holiday cookie schedule.  Instead, I haven’t even cracked open a can of pumpkin yet!

When I did finally realize that my favorite season was just passing me by, I decided to make these pumpkin bars.  In fact, I was so excited to get my fall baking started more than a month late that when I reached for the spices, instead of the ginger, I used some garlic.  Let’s just say that the situation wasn’t good.  I clearly have lost my fall baking mojo.

This is what happens when the whole year just passes you by, when you realize that it’s already the middle of November and you have so much to catch up on!  I hope you haven’t made the same mistake as me.  In more ways than one.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Blondies

Most pumpkin bars or blondies are cakey, which is delicious, but shouldn’t have a “bar” name.  These, though, are not.  They’re dense and chewy and a bar.  There we go.  And, fine, you’re right.  I have made almost the same thing before.  With almost the same name.  But pumpkin with cheesecake!  Can you blame me?

Blondies (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)

Cheesecake Topping (from Cookie Madness)

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt; set aside.

3. In another bowl, make cheesecake topping by mixing all of the ingredients together thoroughly.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and both sugars until completely smooth and no lumps remain. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk to incorporate, making sure the egg has been completely mixed in. Add the pumpkin and again whisk to fully incorporate. Add the flour mixture to the batter and fold the mixtur until combined and no pockets of flour remain. Dollop with cheesecake topping and using a butter knife, swirl the cheesecake topping into the pumpkin blondie mixture.

5. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

Pizza Dough

November 1, 2012

You know when you just keep putting things off for no reason whatsoever?  They usually are the simplest tasks too, like writing an email, or making a phone call.  But for some reason, you just can’t do it.  That’s what happened to me.  I had made homemade Twix candy bars to post on Halloween!  How perfect!  How fitting!  How tasty!  But I just didn’t upload the photos onto my computer.

Which normally wouldn’t matter, because I could just upload them on the day I wanted to post about them.  That was yesterday.  I really should have thought ahead because sometimes little storms named Sandy turn into superstorms, and leave you having to evacuate your home for days at a time, allowing for no time to do the things you put off for so long.  My place of evacuation happened to lose power as well, because remember, this storm was super, and all I could think of was why I didn’t  just upload my pictures of homemade candy when I had the chance.

But there’s a silver lining in everything.  Power was restored in my place of evacuation!  And you get a back-logged recipe of a delicious and extremely easy pizza dough that I made several weeks ago.  The only bad news is that I made a double recipe of this dough – the other part is sitting in the freezer of my lonely, non-powered, evacuated home.  I will probably have to make this again.

Simple Pizza Dough (recipe from Kelsey’s Essentials)

The pizza I made with this delicious dough was a tad makeshift.  Which is the way to go for hurricane season, but I’ll give you the gist of it anyway.  I took a quarter of the dough, rolled it out as thin as possible, and laid it on a cornmeal dusted baking pan.  I spread some herby goat cheese on the dough, and then layered with blanched kale and sliced crookneck squash (quickly mixed with a little brown sugar and salt).  I then layered a bit of cheese on top (I really don’t remember the name of it.  It was fancy and too expensive, and therefore must have been delicious) and baked in a 375 degree oven (usually pizzas are baked at a higher temperature, around 450, but remember my fiasco from last week?!), for about 25 minutes for a perfectly thin and crunchy crust.  Yum.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups warm water

1 envelope active dry yeast (or rapid rise yeast)

2 tsp. sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading and dusting

2 tsp. salt

non-stick spray

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Allow the yeast to dissolve bubble up, about 5 minutes, then add olive oil.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour and salt. Stream in the water/yeast mixture.  As the dough begins to come together, switch to a dough hook attachment. Allow the dough to knead, on medium speed, adding a bit more flour if needed, so that the dough releases from the sides of the bowl, 1 to 3 minutes. You should be able to touch the dough and not have the dough stick to your fingers. Once the dough has kneaded and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl, remove the dough from bowl to a floured work surface and, with floured hands, continue to knead it by hand for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth. Then form the dough into a round ball and place it into a large bowl sprayed with nonstick spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and let the dough rise in a warm area until it doubles in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. After the dough has risen it is ready to be used or frozen!