Archive for November, 2013

Thanksgiving Ideas

November 26, 2013

This has become as much of a tradition as Thanksgiving itself!  Recipes from this past year that are Thanksgivukkah worthy!  Or maybe sneak in some from previous years.  Either way, happy cooking!

For the Meal:

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Latkes

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Cheese Bread

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Chili Jam

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Macaroni and Cheese

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Sally Lunn Bread (with Cinnamon Vanilla Butter)

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Zucchini Butter

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Kale Salad with Toasted Sunflower Seeds and Golden Raisins 

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Parker House Rolls

For After the Meal:

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Honey Almond Butter Mousse Tart

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Coconut Macaroons

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Roasted Apple Spice Cupcakes

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Pecan Pie Rugelach

For the Next Day:

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Granola Nut Muffins

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Lemon Blueberry Scones

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Boston Cream Doughnuts

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Apple Pie Yogurt Parfaits

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Baked Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts

Or maybe you will just want this:

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Green Juice

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Parker House Rolls

November 24, 2013

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It is time.  The best holiday of the year is just around the corner.  I am going through the menu, making oven time schedules, finalizing the dessert, and I just realized something.  My family has never been one to have bread at the Thanksgiving table.  We don’t usually do biscuits, never rolls, sometimes cornbread, but not often, and we don’t even really do stuffing.   I have no idea where we get our bready carbs from on Thanksgiving Day!

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Well, my friends, this is about to change.  Did you know about these rolls?!  These sweet, buttery, pillowy soft rolls?  They actually really reminded me of mallorcas that I discovered in Puerto Rico several years ago, but these rolls seem more acceptable to eat at dinner.  (Even though I prefer them with butter and jam for breakfast.  Just sayin.)

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And I don’t even think that these rolls rose like they were supposed to.  (Yes, I’m complaining about yeast again.  Go with it.) In fact, I’m pretty confident that they didn’t.  And they’re still the best rolls I have ever had.  Doesn’t that make you want to run into the kitchen to make some?!  Carb-heavy Thanksgivings begin now!

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Stay tuned this week for this year’s Thanksgiving Roundup!  Look back for ideas from past years!

Parker House Rolls (slightly adapted from Joy the Baker)

3 tablespoons warm water

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 (1/4-ounce) package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided

1 cup milk

2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 – 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Stir together warm water, 1 tablespoons sugar and yeast in a small bowl until yeast in dissolved.  Let stand until foamy, about five minutes.

Melt 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) butter in a small pot.  Add the milk and heat until lukewarm – about 3 minutes.  Pour into a large bowl and add yeast mixture, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, bread flour, and salt.  Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Stir in 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, dump out onto a clean work surface, sprinkled with flour, and begin to bring the dough together into a ball.  If your dough is too sticky to handle, add up to an additional 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough is just slightly sticky.  It will be soft, but will no longer stick to the surface (but may still stick to your hands while kneading).

Knead dough until a smooth and elastic dough begins to form, adding more all-purpose flour as needed.  The dough will be smooth, satiny and just slightly sticky after 10 minutes.  Go sit.  You will be tired.  My triceps still hurt.  Form dough into a ball and place in a large, buttered bowl, turning the dough so that the entire ball is covered.  Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rest n a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan.  Divide dough into 20 equal pieces.  Roll each one into a ball and arrange evenly in 4 rows of 5 in a baking pan.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free place until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and cool slightly.  Brush the tops of the rolls with butter. Let rolls rise, loosely covered for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven.

Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool rolls in the pan for 5 minutes then remove and serve warm.  Reheat rolls wrapped in foil in a 375 degree oven if you’d like to eat them the next day.

Pecan Pie Rugelach

November 20, 2013

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I made these delicious pumpkin cheesecake bars last week.  They were creamy and sweet, and a little nutty (as in, filled with nuts), and just hit that pumpkin spot we all have just about this time every year.  I was going to write about my first encounter with a pumpkin flavored dessert.  And how it evolved into this deep love for this wonderful squash.  It was going to be lovely, that post.  I was quite pleased with it.

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And then I made this rugelach.    This pecan pie rugelach.  And, just like that, all bets were off.

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I had to change course with my posting this week.  Because these are just too good to keep from you.  The rugelach  pastry is flaky and buttery with just a hint of sweetness, resembling none other than a pie crust.  Except it’s the best pie crust ever.  Yep.  And the filling is the best part of pecan pie – sweet and caramelized and sticky nuts, but not overly sweet.  This was incredible and outdid many other holiday sweets I’ve made before.

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And the bonus is that this rugelach is appropriate for two of the most delicious holidays coincidentally happening together next week: Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, affectionately known as Hanugiving!  Or Thanksgivukkah!  Just make these.

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Pecan Pie Rugelach (adapted from BuzzFeed)

1 cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
1.5 tbsp. sugar
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into cubes
½ cup cream cheese (4 oz.), cut into cubes

2 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into cubes
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
½ cup corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

turbinado sugar, optional, for sprinkling

For the dough: Let butter and cream cheese sit out at room temperature for 10 minutes, so that they are still cool but slightly soft.  Beat together the cream cheese and butter until well combined and smooth.  Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Pour into the cream cheese and butter mixture and beat until the dough is just combined.  Be careful not to over mix.  Use your hands to divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, shape into a smooth disk. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day.

For the filling: Finely chop pecans and set aside.  In a non-stick pan, melt butter over medium heat.  The butter will melt and get all foamy.  Keep heating until the butter has turned brown and smells nutty.  Add brown sugar and salt and stir together until the brown sugar has melted.  Turn the heat to low, and pour in the pecans.  Stir the mixture until the pecans are toasted, about 7 minutes.  Take off the heat and add corn syrup and vanilla.  Let the mixture come to room temperature.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Unwrap one of chilled doughs.  On a lightly floured surface, with a rolling pin, roll into a square, about 1/8 inch thick.  The square will be about the size of a standard sheet of paper.  Take half of the cooled pecan mixture and spread it evenly on the dough.  Working from the long side of the square, carefully roll the dough into a spiral, like a cinnamon roll.  With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the roll into 1 inch pieces.  Place on baking sheet, about 1 inch apart from each other.  Repeat with other disk of dough.  Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat egg yolk with the tablespoon of water and set aside.  Take cooled rugelach out of the refrigerator.  Brush each rugelach with egg wash.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if using.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  The filling will have spilled out, but don’t worry!  Let the rugelach cool on baking sheet for 15 minutes.  Break off excess spill (that has turned into brittle, which you can enjoy!).  Let cool completely on wire rack.

Roasted Apple Spice Cupcakes

November 14, 2013

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As you know, I have a tendency of being slightly overeager when I go apple picking every fall.  Every year, while I am so satisfyingly picking the apples off the trees, I dream about everything I can make, how different kinds of apples will lend to distinct textures and flavors, and how I, quite frankly, will not be able to leave until I am holding two giant bags over flowing with apples.

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Then, without fail, every year, I get home and notice how the apples seem to have multiplied in my tiny kitchen than on the orchards in wide open spaces.  And I panic.  And then I have toast with peanut butter, honey and sliced apple to calm down and help make a dent in my collection.  It’s a ritual.

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This year, though, I was prepared.  As soon as I got back home from my apple picking outing, before I could let the number of apples overwhelm me, I started peeling and coring and dicing and made apple sauce out of eight pounds of apples.  It was tart and sweet and just so delicious.  I don’t have to tell you what happened next, do I?  Yes, it’s true.  I panicked when I saw the amount of apple sauce I had.

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But this cake solved everything!  It uses apple sauce!  And then it uses even more apples!  They’re roasted to intensify their apple-y flavor.  And then paired with warm spices to make this cake perfect for the season – homey and rustic and so filled with apple love.  Overzealous apple picking is rewarded!

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Roasted Apple Cupcakes (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Cake
3 medium apples, any variety you like to bake with, peeled, halved and cored
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cups honey
2 1/4 applesauce
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs

Frosting

1.5 8 oz. blocks cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1.5 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 cups packed brown sugar

Roast apples: Heat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Arrange apple halves face down on paper and roast in a single layer until they feel dry to the touch and look a little browned underneath, about 20 minutes. Slide parchment paper with apples onto a cooling rack and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Make cupcakes: Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, whisk together applesauce and honey.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until very fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between every other addition.  Add one third of the flour-spice mixture and mix it until just combined.  Add half the applesauce-honey mixture, again mixing it until combined.

Chop roasted apples into smallish 1/2 inch chunks and fold into batter. Divide batter into muffin tins and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Transfer baking pans to cooling racks and let rest for 10 minutes, before taking the cupcakes out to cool completely on wire rack.  Frost when cooled.

Make the frosting: Beat together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and cinnamon. Add sugars and beat again until smooth and light.  The brown sugar will be a little grainy, but it will add a delightful crunch on your cupcake.

Kale Salad (with Golden Raisins and Toasted Sunflower Seeds!)

November 7, 2013

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You guys thought I was kidding about the healthy challenge, didn’t you?  Nope!  Before I realized that November was quite literally the worst month anyone can try to be healthy ever (I already told you about Diwali, but hello, have you heard about Thankgivukah?!), I was planning on my healthy menu.

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This salad was kind of a cheat, actually.  I was going down for lunch one day when I remembered someone telling me about this great pie place right around the corner.  They even had more than one vegetarian choice, apparently!  Traditional veggie pot pie, and lentil pie, and spinach, ricotta and butternut squash pie.  All in a buttery, flaky crust.  Yum.  I don’t think I can think of a more delicious lunch.

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But there I was, at the end of October, staring at the delicious pies, and just feeling guilty.  Before I take on the healthy challenge, was I really going to have a pot pie for lunch?!  Yes, was the answer.  Until I spotted their kale salad.  I love kale, it’s true.  The salad looked so inviting and delicious and good for you, let’s be honest, that I decided to forgo the pie and start the healthy challenge on, well, a healthy note.  And then Diwali came.

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But that doesn’t matter!  Healthy challenge or not, this salad is filling, and nutritious, and packed with tasty things, both sweet and salty, and it is so, so green.  I mean, can you imagine this on your Thanksgiving dinner menu?!  With some pie immediately following!   That’s one good meal.

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Kale Salad (with Golden Raisins and Toasted Sunflower Seeds!)

1 bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped and washed thoroughly

2-3 tbsp. toasted sunflower seeds

2-3 tbsp. golden raisins

3 tbsp. tahini

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp. agave nectar

salt and pepper, to taste

Toss together kale, sunflower seeds and golden raisins.  In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, agave, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Pour over kale mixture and toss to make sure that the dressing is distributed evenly.

Gajar Halwa

November 2, 2013

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On November 1, I decided that it was time to challenge myself.  Time to put away the sweets, time to cut the carbs, and time to be generally healthy.  November 2nd was the start of Diwali.  And you may have heard of a little eating holiday at the end of the month.  I don’t know what I was thinking, really.  My challenged has ended.

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But even though my mom brought me many sweets, and my aunt sent me a box of sweets, and my other aunt made other sweets (this is the best time of year, isn’t it?!), I decided that I can go a wee bit healthier this year with my Diwali dessert.

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The truth is that I didn’t love whenever my mom made gajar halwa for special occasions.  I did not believe that anything with heaping cups of shredded carrots could be delicious.  I thought it was a sneaky way for my parents to get me to eat my vegetables.

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I was stupid, I later found out.  Now, of course, I’m so sad about the number of times I passed on gajar halwa  because of my youthful stupidity.   The beauty of this dessert is that it is on the healthier side (healthy challenge lives!), but the carrots cook into this sweet, caramelized, creamy pudding.  Satisfying for the holidays, and, hey, it’s good for your eyes!  Consider that to be a Diwali gift.  Happy Diwali!

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Gajar Halwa

4 cups whole milk

4 cups grated carrots (from about 4-5 carrots)

1.5 tbsp. ghee or butter

1/2 cup almond meal, toasted

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cardamom (optional)

2 tbsp. toasted sliced almonds (optional)

Heat milk in a pot over medium high heat, until it comes to a boil.  As soon as it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and keep the milk warm and simmering.

Meanwhile, grate carrots.  Heat the ghee in a deep pan, or pot until melted.  Add carrots and saute until the carrots become a shade paler.  This will take about 5-7 minutes.

Ladle about 2 spoonfuls of milk into the carrots.  Stir continuously until the carrots have absorbed most of the milk.  Keep adding and let it absorb, much like a risotto.  When 3/4 of the milk has been added, add the ground almonds and sugar to the carrot mixture, continuously stirring.

Add the last of the milk and continue to cook until all of the liquid has evaporated and the carrot mixture is thick and creamy.  The whole process should take about 30-40 minutes.

Add cardamom powder, if using.  Adjust sugar to taste.  Decorate with toasted sliced almonds.  Serve warm.