Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010


Sometimes I think Thanksgiving is the greatest holiday ever.  A day dedicated to eating - all day long.  First an outrageously huge dinner with stuffing, rolls, and yams; and then another meal of pies.  I say pies plural because in my family, something is wrong if there isn't at least one pie per person present at the Thanksgiving meal.  (In fact, I did not eat with my family yesterday, though my husband and I dropped by later that night.  They had 4 people for the Thanksgiving meal and the following pies: razzleberry, pumpkin, pecan, cherry, and chocolate.)  No wonder I like pie so much.

We ate at my husbands grandparents.  I had volunteered to make rolls before I knew there would be over 20 people at the meal so I made two different recipes of rolls.  I can't decide which was best.  They were pretty similar.  The 1st one I'll post was sweeter and easier to make (in my opinion).

Crescent Rolls:

1 C boiling water
1/2 C margarine, melted
3 eggs
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 C sugar
1+ Tbsp yeast
5 C flour

Beat water, margarine, and eggs.  Add salt, sugar, yeast, and 4 C flour.  Add the fifth cup as needed while mixing for 8-10 min.  Be careful not to add to much flour.  You want the dough to be smooth and elastic (it should stretch if you pull on it. Ex: you should be able to make a window - called a gluten window - with a small piece of dough)  Allow to rise to double in size.  Punch down dough and cut in half.  Roll out 1/2 of the dough at a time in a thin circle on a greased or buttered surface (a floured surface will dry out the dough).  Cut into 16 pie shaped pieces.  Roll starting from the wide end and allow to rise for another 20ish minutes on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 for 12-15min.

I have made the next roll recipe several times and it is harder to get the exact amount of flour and avoid stiff rolls than the above recipe.   


2 Tbsp yeast, dissolved in 1/4 C very warm water
2 C warm milk
1/2 C margarine, melted
1/2 C sugar
2 tsp salt
2 eggs
6 1/2-7 1/2 C flour

Dissolve yeast in water and let sit.  Heat milk in microwave.  Combine milk, melted butter, sugar and salt.  Add the eggs and the yeast.  Add about 5 C flour and mix.  Begin adding flour 1/4 C at a time until the dough is not too sticky.  Again, you want the dough to be smooth and elastic.  With this dough, I found that if I waited when it was sticky and just needed it gently outside of the bowl, it would get smooth without me adding more flour.  Allow to rise.  Punch the dough down and divide into 3 dough balls.  Roll out, cut, and roll from the wide end (as described above).  Allow to rise another 20 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 min.

 These were once part of a full circle with 16 pieces, but I was almost done rolling them by the time my husband came back with the camera.

 Rolling the dough.

Piles and piles of rolls.  We made 80 rolls.  I can't decide which I liked better, so now you have both recipes an can choose for yourself.  

And finally, it can't be a Thanksgiving post without pie.  My husbands favorite pie is key lime.  So we made 2 key lime pies to take to his grandparents.

Key Lime Pie
See nicer picture of this same key lime pie recipe here, when I made it for pi day.

Put 8 oz cream cheese, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 1/2 C key lime juice (either from fresh key limes or you can find bottled key lime juice at Kroger chains) in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into graham cracker pie crust.  So easy your husband can make it (and mine did)!  Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Here's the Cucumber-Tomato Salad mentioned in the Chicken Spinach Salad post.  Geoff used to say he didn't like cucumbers or tomatos but he likes this salad well enough.  Moral of the story: feta cheese makes everything better.

Toss chopped cucumbers and tomatoes with salt, pepper, and rice vinegar.  Garnish with feta.  This turned out best when I used sun-dried tomato and basil feta (which was amazing feta, btw).  When using plain feta (like I did this time) you can mix in fresh basil or a nice Italian seasoning mix.

Chicken Spinach Salad

Spinach, chicken, and feta cheese served with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette.  Delish!

Geoff cooked the chicken - he has to or else it is inedible.  (In my fear of dying by evil raw chicken, I always overcook it.  I'm fine with baking chicken, but when there is a skillet involved I become paranoid that we'll all get sick.)  He poured some Italian breadcrumbs, parmigiana cheese, and garlic into a bowl; dipped the chicken into beaten eggs, and then into the crumbs.  Tips: Make sure the skillet (and olive oil inside the skillet) are nice and hot before putting in the chicken so that it browns nicely.  Also, don't crowd the pan!  Cook in small batches rather than crowd the pan.

We had croissants and a cucumber-tomato salad with this.  Very tasty meal!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pumpkin Bars

 These were super yummy, though didn't taste as strongly of pumpkin as I had hoped.

2 C flour
1 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves (I didn't have any and didn't want to run to the store so I used ground nutmeg)
4 eggs
15 oz can pumpkin
1 C oil

Stir together all dry ingredients.  Add eggs, pumpkin, and oil until combined.  I added a handful (or 4) of chocolate chips, because why not?  Spread in an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan.  (I didn't have a jelly roll pan - something I keep meaning to buy, so I used a 9x13.  It would be better in the jelly roll, I think, because it would be thinner).  Bake at 350 for 25-30 min.  Cool and top with Cream Cheese Frosting:

Beat 4 oz cream cheese with 1/4 C soft butter and 1 tsp vanilla.  Gradually beat in 2 1/2 -3 C powdered sugar.


Original Recipe from The Ultimate Cookie Book

Tex-Mex Confetti Pizza

This pizza is too pretty to not post about, but was sadly missing something.  I haven't determined exactly what yet, but I want to put the picture up anyways.

We tossed corn, black beans, and tomatoes with olive oil, smoked paprika, and salt.  And then crumbled queso fresco on top of that.  After it baked I garnished it with fresh cilantro.  It needed more salt and the cilantro helped, but it was still missing something.  Avocado (garnish after cooking)?  Less smoked paprika and some fajita seasonings instead?  Those might have helped.

A note about Smoked Paprika:  I have never used smoked paprika.  In fact, I went out and bought some just for this recipe because I had read in a cooking magazine that smoked paprika can give any food the flavor of bacon.  I couldn't resist a spice that tastes like bacon.  Who could?  So I bought some and tried this recipe.  And I am forced to disagree.  Smoked paprika does not taste like bacon.  Very unfortunate because if it did, it would have become my new favorite spice.  (Imagine: tasting bacon without the fat!  But alas, it was just a dream.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Veggie Sloppy Joes

We had some extra buns in the freezer from burgers a few weeks ago that needed to be eaten.  Hence, sloppy joes.  Not the most exciting meal, but these are a little different than your everyday joe, so I'll post it anyways.  Plus, if you start readers with low expectations, they get excited when you pull out something really great a few posts later . . . right?

1 lb can tomatoes
2-3 carrots
2-3 celery sticks
1/2 lb ground meat (I used ground turkey because it's what I had on hand)
1 onion
14 oz can beans (I used kidney, but I've used red before)
Cooking staples

Place tomatoes, carrots (grated), and celery (roughly chopped) in a blender.  Blend.

Brown meat with onion (minced) and 2 cloves garlic (minced) in a large skillet.  Cook and drain (if needed).  Add mushrooms (chopped real small) and some salt and pepper.  Cook mushrooms for a few minutes.

Pour tomato mixture into skillet.  Add 2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp oregano, a little red pepper, and a spoonful of sugar.  Simmer for 10 min or so.  Drain and rinse beans.  The beans I used this time were huge so I quickly mushed them all with a fork (not a thorough job at all).  This serves 2 purposes:  1)  My husband doesn't really likes beans.  Mashing them hides the taste and texture of the beans (once added to the tomatoes) but you still get the protein (since there's barely any meat in this), and 2) Mashing beans helps thicken the tomatoes, which were pretty runny until I added the beans.  When I made this with small red beans I only mashed half of the can and left the other half whole to be chunky like the meat.  That worked, too.  Heat through.  Simmer without a lid until it reaches your desired consistency.  Enjoy!

When Anna made this, I think she said she toasted the buns with some red onion slices and cheddar cheese, or something.  I didn't want cheese, didn't have red onion, and didn't feel like toasting the buns (call me lazy).  Also, when Anna did this, she used one of those cans of sloppy joe base that you can open and just add meat.  So she added the veggies to the can of sloppy joe base instead of the tomatoes and left out the spices.

Note:  If veggie sloppy joes creeps you out, you wont really taste the celery, carrots, mushrooms, or beans, I promise.  But since there isn't much meat in this, they help to thicken everything so that it's still sloppy joe consistency.

Recipe idea by Mark Bittman in the May 2010 Cooking Light Magazine, with several changes by Anna and myself.  Thanks Anna for trying this first!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Despite all good intentions to cook something delicious and post about it during the last two days, for one reason or another (namely a lack of groceries for a few days and then one really crazy, long, and stressful night where we grabbed food while out because we were starving) my kitchen has encountered a shocking lack of cooking.  While I'll be cooking veggie sloppy joes tonight, I can't very well have sloppy joes as my first food post.  (No matter how many veggies I throw in, it's still sloppy joes).

So, while I haven't baked snickerdoodles today, I need to post something so that sloppy joes can be number two, rather than number one.

1/2 C margarine or butter
1/2 C sugar
1/3 C brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Cream butter and sugars well.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Add dry ingredients (as with all cookie recipes, do not over-beat once you've added the dry ingredients.  Beat the butter/sugar and the eggs all you want, but be careful once the dry ingredients are in - lessons learned while working at a bakery during college)

Dough will be sticky.  Let it sit in the refrigerator for 30-60 min and it will get less sticky.  Roll in cinnamon sugar mixture (there's no real science to cinnamon sugar, just whatever your preference is), slightly flatten on to ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 300 for 12-14 min.  Cookies should be soft.  They will continue to cook after you remove them from the oven.  Soft and Delicious!

Original recipe from Mom.  Thanks!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hello World!

Every so often people have told me that I should start a blog. My prompt reply was always "Why? What do I do that is worth writing about and who would want to read it?" Recently, though, I have been eating some really delicious food and after each delightful meal, I think, "I should email this recipe to my mom, to Anna, to Po, to . . ." and on and on the list goes. But that's kind of presumptuous, to just email someone a recipe. It's assuming they also like food, like mushrooms, and immediately will hop in the car to buy the missing ingredient so they can also eat what I am eating.
Then last week, while digesting some pumpkin soup, I thought about the inherent self-focused qualities of a blog and realized that it could be the avenue for my recipe sharing. I can selfishly take web space to share what's so great about me (or I should say my kitchen). And then, if people don't want to read it or cook it, they can. I won't fill up email boxes after every meal but can still send recipes into the void for all (or none) to enjoy.