Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Quick Sugar Cookies

In case you're sugar cookied out and tired of battling sticky dough on a wooden surface that you swear was floured thirty seconds ago, I present an alternative. These cookies were described as being 'crisps' because the dough was to be flattened but back to that whole battling sticky dough thing, that didn't work out.

So this is a bit of a drop sugar cookie that's lighter than your usual cookie dough. It is soft enough that a melon baller (or ice cream scoop) is sufficient in scooping the batter onto the cookie sheets. Sprinkled with a little red and green and you have a festive treat! This recipe makes a smaller quantity of cookies as well compared to other batters.

Butter and sugar are beaten together until creamy (only half a stick of butter is used!). Next comes the egg and lastly, the dry ingredients and milk (alternating). All of this sound familiar? You can top these cookies with crushed candy cane or sprinkles. Or you can leave them plain if you really want to.

Once they're baked to golden perfection, enjoy with your family or serve to Santa!

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 3-4 Tablespoons crushed candy cane or sprinkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. 
  2. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the egg and mix to combine.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg). Gradually mix into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk.
  5. Using a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop dough onto cookie sheets, about 1-1 1/2 inches apart. These will spread as they cook.
  6. Top with candy cane or sprinkles before popping in the oven.
  7. Cookies will bake in about 10 minutes. Remove when golden brown.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Egg Nog Ice Cream

I have a ridiculous love for egg nog. Apparently it's normal to mix egg nog with milk so it's not as thick but you can just give it to me straight---maybe with some bourbon in there. I had to go to two grocery stores to get egg nog this year. The first store, I stopped an employee to direct me to the egg nog and he just stared at me like I had three heads and kept asking me what 'egg nuts' were. There were a good few minutes where I thought I had tragically fallen into some alternate universe where egg nog didn't exist and I was the only one who remembered this is a thing!!

But no worries, the second store had some. Again, I had to ask where it was but mission accomplished. After the pumpkin spice ice cream issue (issue being I didn't have an ice cream maker), I followed the instructions very closely and allowed extra chill time to ensure this ice cream came out well. I'm not sure what makes it 'egg nog' besides the addition of nutmeg but if I were to make it again, I would replace the cream portion with egg nog for extra flavor.

Similar to the pumpkin spice ice cream, the milk and cream are heated together in a saucepan until steaming. I didn't have to strain it this time but if you cook it a little too long, pour through a mesh strainer to catch the cooked pieces. The hot mixture is poured into a medium bowl where the mixed sugar and egg lay in wait.

The mixture is covered and chilled thoroughly before going into the ice cream maker. I did this overnight. Once it's chilled, pour into the ice cream maker according to instructions. The chilling part is definitely key. I could see the ice cream start to thicken whereas in the past, it's stayed soupy.

I let the ice cream chill for about 4 hours before serving. The edges were all the perfect consistency while the middle hadn't quite settled yet. When I scooped it the next day, it was a little harder so you may need to let it soften on the counter for a few minutes before serving.

My family is big on Jefferson cups which are the traditional vessels for egg nog so naturally, I served the egg nog ice cream in these cups as well.

From Homemade Decadence

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (divided) 
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 Tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk and 1/4 cup of sugar over medium heat. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is steaming but not quite boiling (around 5 minutes).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining brown sugar and nutmeg. I saved the egg whites for omelettes later. 
  3. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the medium bowl with the eggs and sugar. Whisk constantly until combined.
  4. Return the mix to the saucepan and continue cooking over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens and can easily coat the back of a spoon without immediately running off. This will take about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the bowl but through a fine mesh strainer in case any of the milk has cooked. Stir in the rum and vanilla before covering with plastic wrap (pressed gently against the mixture) and refrigerating for 4 hours or until completely chilled.
  6. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  7. Freeze the ice cream overnight or at least for 2 hours before serving. 
  8. Ice cream is best eaten within 3 days. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mint Chocolate Brownies

You say 'baking competition' and I say 'where?!'. My company hosted a little friendly bake-off last week and lemme tell you, there are a lot of closet bakers out there! Although these brownies didn't win a prize, that did get all gobbled up. So that's a win in my book.

This recipe comes from a friend's family cookbook. She gave me this book for Christmas a couple years ago and I can practically feel the family history and joyful time spent in the kitchen eminating off the pages.

Technically, this is called "Mint Chocolate Sticks" but I'm going to call a duck a duck--or a brownie a brownie. A couple of hiccups in this plan: the recipe calls for a 9x9 pan but I only had an 8x8. No biggie, the brownies just came out a little thicker. Second hiccup: I assumed I had peppermint extract but upon searching my cabinets for it, remembered it was a casualty in the war against pantry moths 2014 (RIP). So no peppermint for the 'mint' chocolate brownies. Back up plan: candy canes! Festive AND minty.

Butter and chocolate are melted together. It's possibly my favorite thing about making brownies from scratch, watching these two melt together. And it really doesn't taste that great yet because it's unsweetened chocolate so you don't even need to worry about temptation.

The chocolate-butter mixture is added to the eggs and sugar after it's cooled a bit (the chocolate-butter, that is). The last addition is the flour.

Now, this recipe is best made in stages. Once the brownies are cooked, you need to let them cool completely before adding the icing and glaze. For me, this worked out great because I made the brownies a day ahead of time. The icing is a simple buttercream with butter, sugar and peppermint (if it's available). I added food coloring to make the icing green and seasonally appropriate.

The icing will cover the pan of brownies but doesn't make a super thick layer. Chill the iced brownies for five minutes in the fridge before glazing. The glaze is super easy to make and just involves melting more chocolate and butter. Pour the glaze over the icing. As the recipe expressly states, the glaze will cover the icing very thinly but if you can see icing poking through, "it will be okay". Good to know.

For me, the last step was sprinkling candy cane on top. I lined the baking sheet with parchment paper so it was very easy to remove the brownies from the pan. After I had already baked the brownies, I was advised to make five dozen brownies for the competition. That's a lotta brownies!! So I had about three dozen very small pieces. It looked like a tetris competition.

These will make great treats for your holiday gatherings or as gifts!


  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a square pan (8x8 or 9x9) will work and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a double boiler (or a heat proof bowl set over a pot of water), melt the chocolate and butter over medium heat until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the eggs until they are foamy. Beat in the salt, vanilla and sugar.
  4. Slowly pour the butter-chocolate mixture into the egg-sugar mixture and continue mixing until combined.
  5. Lastly, add the flour and mix on low speed. 
  6. Pour the chocolate batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the center is cooked through.
  7. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Chocolate Glaze
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Crushed candy cane or sprinkles for decorating
  1. In a small bowl, place all of the frosting ingredients. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. I added some green food coloring for extra festivity.
  2. Spread the icing over the cooled brownies. It will not be a thick layer but it will be enough!
  3. Chill the cake for 5 minutes in the refrigerator.
  4. Meanwhile, microwave the chocolate and butter for the glaze in a glass dish for 1 minute at half power or until melted.
  5. Once the iced brownies have chilled for 5 minutes, pour the chocolate glaze on top and turn the pan to completely cover.
  6. Sprinkle with candy canes, sprinkles or leave plain.
  7. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set the glaze. 
  8. Remove the brownies from the pan by pulling the edges of the parchment paper. This will get them out in one block so you can cut them to the desired serving size.
  9. Allow the brownies to come to room temperature before eating.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Stocking Stuffers

Every year, I plan to expand on the number of homemade gifts I give. Thoughtful things like homemade spice mixes, sauces and jams. But I also like to give cookies, truffles, granola and the traditional family 'trash'.

I almost didn't get a tree this year, just wasn't feeling the magic. But it turns out the tree is very integral in adding the magic. So yes, I carried my little tree on public transit. It's cool. And then I busted out the flour and butter and got to work. If you're feeling like you want to spend some extra time on some homemade treats, I recommend some of the following:
  1. Trash- A tradition in my family, you can add whatever snackies you'd like! I use Chex cereal, pretzels, peanuts, pecans, and almonds coated in soy sauce and sriracha. Nooooms. 
  2. Truffles- A little messy but a lot delicious. There are so many options too in case your gift recipient has picky taste.
  3. Granola- I've made some granola in my time but this article from Food52 made me confident that I can wing it in the granola department. 
  4. Sugar Cookies- Classic. Can't go wrong. My sister was afraid of the hassle of sugar cookies but alas, she was triumphant! 
  5. Ginger Cookies- Because it turns out I have more cookie cutters than I realized, let's get some variety in those goody bags!
  6. Buck-Eyes- Peanut butter and chocolate: you can't go wrong! I haven't actually made these yet but they caught my eye (see what happened there?).
  7. Popcorn- I made this popcorn a couple years ago and it was tasty. Shutterbean is really on top of her popcorn game.
  8. Candy Cane Vodka- Also from Shutterbean, I made this for my sister a couple years ago. I'm thinking martinis would be good here. 
  9. Scones in a Jar- Successfully made these and sent to my grandfather. He opened his gift early, it's cool. But all you need to do is add the dry ingredients in a jar and then instructions on what else is added (butter, egg, etc.). Super easy. 
  10. Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies- There are more delicious things in this cookie but the name is already a tongue twister. It's basically a classy upgrade to the traditional oatmeal raisin plus chocolate. 
It seems like a lot but what's better than turning on some holiday tunes and hanging out in the kitchen with family? If your tree is providing mood lighting, even better. 


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Crafts- Potato Stamps

There are less than 20 days until Christmas!!! There are less than 20 days until Christmas??? The days are already flying by and I'm holding on as tightly as I can to all the holiday lights, Christmas trees, menorahs and gift wrap that I can. Like every kid, December seemed to drag on growing up but now, it flies by way too fast. Maybe it has something to do with having a check list of things to do: get gifts, wrap gifts, mail gifts, put up decorations, bake cookies, drink egg nog--so many things. When the season becomes more of a to-do list, it loses its magic.

So take back the magic! Slow down and enjoy this time with family and friends. This past weekend, I went to several holiday markets (does 3 count as several? constant debate). If you're in the Boston area, definitely check these places out. They all support local artists and businesses plus have a unique selection of gifts. I stocked up on some cheeky cards and cooking materials.

  1. SoWa Holiday Market: It's not summer anymore! The vintage shop was open as part of their Chrismukkah celebration. The official holiday market is next weekend so you can still check out local artisans and goodies. 
  2. Eat Boutique: I went here for a book signing and workshop with Joy the Baker but they had other local businesses set up as well. They'll be hosting more authors in the coming weeks and have a great space for meet and greets. 
  3. The Umbrella: A friend of mine works at this community art center in Concord. Similar to SoWa, they host artist studios which were open to the public so it was like walking through a gallery or museum but you could talk to the artists at the same time. 
The workshop at Eat Boutique was going through how to make your own wrapping paper (or gift tags, as someone more clever than I pointed out). Maybe I quit the whole Girl Scouts game too early but during the workshop with Joy the Baker, we made ink stamps out of potatoes and cookie cutters. Boy Scouts ain't got nothin' on us! Some of the women had clearly done this before but I was a novice.

This is perfect for small cookie cutters or you could just get larger potatoes (or cut them long-ways). First, you cut the potato in half and press the cookie cutter in about half way. Carefully using a paring knife, cut around the potato like you would if you were making slices. You want to cut it so you're hitting the cookie cutter edge as you go around. You will be left with a potato slice minus the cookie cutter shape.

I think it would be fun to then roast these potato slices because they have festive shapes built in! At any rate, remove the cookie cutter and voila! Ink stamp. If you use a really dark ink, you can carefully slice off a bit of the shape to switch colors. Or make multiple stamps.

Who knew it was so simple to be so crafty! I want to try this with my niece and nephew. I think that would make me cool, right? In the past, we've made paper snowflakes but I got cool points for finding Star Wars snowflake patterns. Clearly it is my life goal to be the cool aunt. 

  • Medium potatoes (variety doesn't matter but something that's easy to hold)
  • Miniature cookie cutters
  • Paring knife
  • Ink pads (variety of colors)
  • Paper (variety of colors)
  1. Using the paring knife, cut the potatoes in half (we did 'hamburger' style but if you have larger cookie cutters, you can do 'hot dog').
  2. Press the cookie cutter into the cut face of the potato about half way.
  3. Using the paring knife, cut around the edge of the potato where the cookie cutter has been pushed. It's okay if the knife is hitting the cookie cutter edge.
  4. Pull the sliced potato ring and cookie cutter off the potato stamp.
  5. After dabbing the cut side with a paper towel, you're ready to use ink! Dab the potato shape-down on the ink pad a couple times to get an even coat.
  6. Press to paper in whatever pattern you desire! And repeat...
  7. Add decorations with marker or leave plain. The ink may bleed through so make sure to protect your table!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Homemade Apple Pie with a Buttermilk Crust

It's game time. You've got your food assignments, your materials, now it's time to plan out the execution of the highlight of the Thanksgiving table: pie. Perhaps it's pumpkin or pecan or the classic all-American apple.

Both the crust and the apple filling are from Joy the Baker's Homemade Decadence (side note: going to see her again in 2 weeks, aaaaah!). Unlike last year, I planned ahead. I set aside a fair amount of time to make the crust, let it chill, work on the crust again and let it chill some more. Okay, I still didn't let it chill as much as prescribed but it worked out.

The best that I can tell, when you're making a fruit pie, you don't have to pre-bake the crust like with a pumpkin pie. But you still need a lot of time to chill. Flour, sugar and salt are cut with butter--lots of butter-- to make a crumbly dough. Buttermilk is then added to make a shaggy dough. Shaggy is a very technical term for pie crust, it's not smooth like cookie batter but has a pull-apart quality to it.

This recipe makes two pie crusts so the dough is divided in half. It's okay if the dough is a little crumbly because you're going to knead it a bit so it will stick together more. Round one of the chilling begins with the two disks of dough wrapped in plastic and chilled for 30-60 minutes.

While the crust chills, you can prepare the apples. I used 5 medium sized apples but you could pile that pie higher if you want. There will be a top crust to contain the filling. The apples are sliced and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Also, a little bit of lemon juice. The apples are then left to set for 30 minutes (conveniently while the crust is chilling). This allows the flavors to meld together and the juices to net out.

Those juices are going to be key. After the half hour, strain the apples in a colander over a large bowl. You want to capture about a half cup of juices. Those juices are then heated with butter to create a syrup.

The syrup will take a few minutes to cook so you can roll out your crusts in the meantime. If you're worried about multi-tasking, you can also roll the crust out before making the syrup. The dough can become sticky so make sure you flour your surface and rolling pin. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness but still large enough to fill the pie pan. Carefully center the crust over the pie dish and push in on all sides. You can trim large pieces of dough that overhangs and patch up thinner areas or save to make a seal with the top crust.

Mix the apples with the cornstarch. I didn't have any so used a 1:3 ratio of flour instead. Once the syrup is done, mix in with the apples and add the apples to the pie pan. In an ideal world, you would have time to let the filled pie chill before baking. However, I didn't do that so no stress. Roll out the second disk of dough and cover the pie. Make sure to seal the top and bottom crusts using a little bit of water or pinching together with a fork. If you're fancy, you can make designs.

Make sure you make some vents in the top crust. I just made a classic flower design but get creative! The last step is brushing the top with an egg wash. This will give it a nice golden shine.

The pie should bake for 45-60 minutes or until the apples are softened. I used a chopstick to test this, through the top crust vents. Make sure you place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any juices that bubble out. No fires on Thanksgiving!

Serve warm, with ice cream or cold for breakfast. Whatever makes you happy. Have a great Thanksgiving!


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cold buttermilk
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the cubed, cold butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter. The dough should become crumbly with butter chunks about the size of peas.
  2. Create a well in the flour and pour in the buttermilk. Using a large fork, stir in the buttermilk until combined and the dough becomes shaggy.
  3. Divide the dough into two pieces. On a floured surface, knead the dough into a disk. The dough should be held together now. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Repeat with the second section of dough. 
  4. Once the dough chills, roll out on a well-floured surface until the dough is 1/8 inch thick. Try to roll out evenly to create a circle about a foot across. 
  5. Using one shell, line the pie pan. You will use the second to cover the filled pie (see below). 

  • 5-6 apples (I recommend Granny Smith for their tartness), peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (for syrup)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cover the bowl and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Set a colander over a bowl and strain the apples to capture 1/2 cup of juice. In a small saucepan, bring the juices to a boil. Add the 2 Tablespoons of butter and allow to cook until syrupy. You won't need to stir much, a syrup should form in about 5 minutes.
  4. Toss the apples with cornstarch while the syrup is cooking. Pour the syrup over the apples and stir to combine.
  5. Fill the prepared pie pan with the apples. Cover with the second pie crust.
  6. Pinch the edges of the pie crusts together. You can seal this with the tines of a fork or use a little bit of water to seal the shells together.
  7. Create vents in the top shell in whatever design you like. Brush with the egg wash. 
  8. Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any juices during baking.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and continue baking for another 40 minutes.
  10. The pie is done when the apples are tender but not squishy. 
  11. Allow the pie to cool before serving.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kale & Butternut Squash Stuffing

I read an article recently that discussed what people eat at Thanksgiving. The most common answer is "the usual" which makes sense to me, I mean, we're saying stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green beans, cranberry sauce, turkey, mashed potatoes and all the pie. But maybe that also includes butternut squash soup or pumpkin risotto or Jello, no?

Here's a proposal: in all the Friendsgivings, Thanksgivings, and potlucks, there's some room for experimentation on "the usual". This recipe comes from the Oh She Glows cookbook and aligns well with my transition from pumpkin things to Christmas things. This recipe is also super simple.

You could get a whole butternut squash to roast but I bought those convenient pre-cut packaged squash. Not the freshest but certainly convenient! Right up there with pre-peeled chestnuts. The butternut squash is roasted in a casserole dish with garlic, parsley, salt, and olive oil. The lid for my dish was not oven safe so I just covered it with aluminum foil.

While the squash is cooking, almonds and pecans are placed in a food processor with olive oil to create a crunchy topping. When the squash is cooked through, fork-friendly, stir in some chopped kale and the nut mixture. Return to the oven for five more minutes until the nuts are slightly toasted.

I found this was best served warm and if you have guests that have a nut allergy, it still tastes delicious without the almond-pecan topping.

Don't worry, there will be pie!


  • 2-3 lbs. butternut squash, diced (peeled and seeded if using a whole squash)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350. 
  2. Chop butternut squash and add cubes to a casserole dish (oven-proof). 
  3. Add the minced garlic, parsley, salt and olive oil to the casserole dish and carefully stir.
  4. Using the dish's lid or aluminum foil, cover the dish and roast for 30-45 minutes until the squash is tender.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the almonds, pecans and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until chopped into a crumbly consistency. Set aside.
  6. Chop approximately one cup of kale. You can use more if you'd prefer.
  7. Remove the squash from the oven and add the nut topping and kale. Carefully stir together.
  8. Leaving the dish uncovered, continue baking for 5 minutes to toast the almonds and pecans. 
  9. Serve warm! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Peanut Zoodles with Chicken

I grew up in a small town. The extent to which we had take-out was pizza or Chinese food. It was a really big deal when the grocery store started carrying sushi--mind you, only California roll and spicy tuna but still, big deal. Chinese food will always hold a special place in my heart for being my first introduction into non-American food.

Cold sesame noodles were a staple along with beef and broccoli. So much sauce. The sesame noodles were the inspiration for picking up this recipe. Armed with new-found love of zoodles, this has become a quick and easy meal to make during the week.

Using a spiralizer, we make some long ribbons of zoodles. I try to cut them every once in a while so we don't have a Lady and the Tramp issue later. The zoodles are then cooked in a sauce pan to warm and soften. I also added chopped scallions for flavor.

While the zoodles cook, the peanut sauce is made by mixing together peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce and a little bit of sesame oil. This can get a little difficult to stir but once the sauce is added to the zoodles, the heat will help smooth it out. I also usually bake some chicken during this time to add to the zoodle bowl.

I find tongs are the easiest tool to use to stir up the zoodles and sauce, just because it gets very thick and goopy. Once everything is warmed and the sauce is distributed throughout the zoodles and not just one blob, I add the chicken.

I try to pretend that this will last me a couple nights but if you're only using one zucchini, it probably only makes 2 portions. More zoodles!

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 scallion stalks, chopped
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Cooked Chicken, diced (optional)
  1. Using a spiralizer or mandolin, create ribbons of zucchini to serve as noodles.
  2. Chop two scallion stalks, green parts only, into small pieces. Add the scallion and zucchini to a skillet over medium heat.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the peanut sauce all at once to the pan with the zoodles. Stir together to spread the sauce throughout. The heat from the pan should help to thin the sauce.
  5. Once the zoodles are cooked, they should still have a little crunch, remove from heat and stir in the chicken (if using).
  6. Serve warm or reheat as leftovers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash

Even though Halloween is over and all the stores are decorated for the holidays, I'm in the weird limbo of holidays. I only found my Halloween decorations about a week before the 31st so I'm not ready to put them away but it's far too early to hang up Christmas lights. And it would be so sad to go back to my plain apartment so I bought some squash to fill the gap.

But then I ate the squash so I guess I should get more. The season of pumpkin is still relevant but I feel a shift in my cooking towards other gourds. Last year, I replicated my mom's sweet squash recipe with an oatmeal and brown sugar filling. This year, I decided to mix it up with some ground turkey instead.

After the spicy stew last week, the squash was a sweet switch. I only used a tiny bit of brown sugar, relying on cinnamon and cumin for most of the flavor. As with the sweet stuffed squash, the acorn squash is cut at the top and gutted. I'm sure you could roast these seeds but I'm not a big fan of seed eating. I also cut a small piece off the bottom so the squash would sit flat while eating.

The squash is brushed with vegetable oil and roasted in the oven. Meanwhile, I browned the turkey with some onion and garlic. The cumin and cinnamon are added next to really get the flavors going. I added the brown sugar last but only a tablespoon. Lastly, walnuts are added for extra crunch. Once everything is cooked and fragrant, the squash should be good to go!

I had leftover turkey once I had stuffed the squash so just ate it plain. You could probably use 4 acorn squashes (that's a weird word) or just have some chili-type meal as leftovers!

  • 2 acorn squashes, gutted
  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Cut a small portion off the bottom of each acorn squash so they can sit flat. Next, cut off the tops so you can see the seeds. 
  3. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and guts of the acorn squash, much like you would for a jack-o-lantern.
  4. Lightly oil the acorn squash edges and insides with olive oil. Place face down on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minute.
  5. In a medium skillet, brown the ground turkey. You may need to add some vegetable oil to the pan to keep the meat from sticking if you have a very lean beef.
  6. Once the meat is browned, add the diced onions and garlic. Cook together until fragrant.
  7. Stir in the brown sugar, cumin and cinnamon so the spices are spread throughout the pan.
  8. Lastly, add the chopped walnuts. Once the meat is cooked, reduce to a simmer to keep warm.
  9. When the acorn squash is cooked, invert them into a bowl and fill with the turkey stuffing. 
  10. You could also top this with cheese! Enjoy warm or reheated. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Vegan Peanut Stew

You know it's fall when...you finally succumb to the first cough of the season. Colds are no fun and chest colds are rough. But if it means an excuse to drink all my meals as soup and tea, then I guess there's a silver lining.

This stew comes from the Oh She Glows cookbook. I've dabbled in these vegan recipes from time to time and this stew sounded like it was the right amount of hearty and spicy for the darker days of fall. Plus, it has all kinds of veggies in it and after all the Halloween sweets I ate, it's time for a reset.

The vegetables are chopped and cooked first. I thought about adding carrots, you totally could, but in the end, stuck to the recipe. Onions, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper and sweet potato--that's a lot of chopping.

While those start to cook and soften, add the diced tomatoes. Hopefully, your can opener won't break at the beginning of this process like mine did. Fortunately, you can still use the sharp part of the can opener to punch tiny cuts into the lid, it will just take ten times as long to open the stupid can. Struggles.

The diced tomatoes and juices will help to cook the vegetables while you mix up some broth. Peanut butter and 1 cup of broth are whisked together until no clumps survive. This mixture and another 3 cups of broth (conveniently making one carton) are added to the vegetables. Now we're in business!

Allow the stew to cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the chickpeas and spinach last so they will warm and soften. Clearly you should serve this hot but if you're feeling extra hungry, you can also add some rice.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go make some tea and curl up in a ball of warmth and sniffles.

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes (with juices)
  • Paprika (optional for additional heat)
  • 1/3 cup of peanut butter
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth (divided into 1 and 3)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of spinach, roughly chopped
  1. Mince the garlic and chop up your onion before adding to a large pot with the olive oil. Cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent. 
  2. While the onion cooks, peel the sweet potato and chop up with the red bell pepper and jalapeno. Add to the pot with the onion and garlic.
  3. Pour the canned tomatoes with juices into the pot. If you like a spicier soup, add paprika to your liking. Stir everything together and allow to cook over medium heat while you prepare the broth.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Once all of the peanut butter clumps are gone, add to the pot of vegetables. 
  5. Next, add the remaining 3 cups of vegetable broth.
  6. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the sweet potato is soft and easily skewered with a fork.
  7. Last, add the torn spinach and drained chickpeas. Stir to combine and allow to simmer until the spinach is wilted.
  8. Serve hot and potentially with rice.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sugar Drop Cookies

I'm one of those people who cleans and organizes in times of stress. When I moved last year, I cleaned out  my spice rack, which was a Christmas gift complete with things like Pizza Seasoning and Italian Seasonings. I prefer to make my own seasonings so knew I would never actually use these. But I would use an abundance of sprinkles in my time in the kitchen.

And so, I replaced a row of my spice rack with shakers of sprinkles. Christmas sprinkles, Valentine's Day sprinkles, generic birthday colorful sprinkles and of course, Halloween sprinkles. I used them last year for truffles and cupcakes but this year decided to make some easy sugar cookies.

I feel as though I've found a solid recipe for cut-out sugar cookies with still a modest amount of patience and work required. But for simple drop cookies, I hit the books--no, really, I read through cookbooks instead of Googling. Crazytown.

This recipe is from the sage guide Joy of Cooking. There are a lot of recipes in this book but they're very concise and to the point. These drop cookies take about 4 inches of a page and you get a bunch of treats in return. Fair trade. They also have no butter in them so are perfect in a pinch when you decide at 9pm to make cookies for the next day and haven't softened any butter.

Instead, we whisk together sugar and vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl. Eggs and vanilla then added before stirring in a mixture of flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. I started with a whisk but graduated to a spoon as I added the flour because the dough got thick. The dough will also get a little shaggy but since we're rolling this stuff with our hands, you can pack it back together.

Similar to how we made the ginger snap drop-cookies, pieces of dough are rolled between your hands. You can roll these in sugar or in sprinkles. Dropping the dough into a pile of sprinkles was like a mini-ball pit. The more I tried to get the dough back out, the further it sank into the sea of sprinkles.

The last step is flattening the cookies. A glass is used to flatten the dough balls. You could leave them alone and they'll spread out but since I used sprinkles, I wanted to make sure they really stayed put.

Baked at 375 for 10-15 minutes, a golden brown and festive cookie emerges. I thought I was going to run out of sprinkles towards the end and considered adding food dye to make orange cookies instead. But in the end, had just enough for these spooky treats.

Yields 36-40 cookies
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Sugar or sprinkles for rolling
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray (since we aren't using butter, I would recommend this just in case).
  2. In a small-medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and vegetable oil until smooth.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time to the sugar-oil mix. Then add the vanilla.
  5. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. You may need to switch to using a spoon instead of a whisk.
  6. Once the flour is completely combined, take a ping-pong ball amount of dough and roll between your palms. Dip in sprinkles (or sugar if using) and place on the cookie sheet.
  7. Continue to fill the cookie sheet, leaving enough space between the dough to allow them to spread.
  8. Before putting in the oven, use the bottom of a glass to flatten the cookies. You don't want to make them too thing but press down enough to make discs.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Serve warm or the next day!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chewy Ginger Cookies

I'm never sure if ginger cookies remind me more of fall or the holidays. On the one hand, the spiciness makes me think of the changing leaves. But the concept of gingerbread makes me think of Christmas cookies and decorating gingerbread houses. I think it comes down to the form the ginger cookies take.

I made ginger cut-out cookies a few months ago which I would think are more holiday appropriate. These chewy ginger cookies, however, are perfect year-round. But especially right now because they were super tasty.

There are a lot of ginger cookie recipes out there and they'll vary depending on what kind of cookies you like. I can eat a lot of ginger snaps, in fact, I would feign feeling sick to my stomach to claim I needed ginger snaps to settle it. Whatever floats your boat!

These cookies are nice and soft and chewy. I didn't make them very large but you can adjust the size as you like. As always, we're sifting together the dry ingredients and setting them aside. Room temperature butter, or butter that has been softened with a rolling pin, is creamed before adding brown sugar and molasses. The dry ingredients are mixed in and once everything is combined and a nice amber color, you get your hands dirty.

Using a spoon to grab a chunk of dough, gently roll the dough into a ball about the size of a ping pong ball. Roll the dough ball around in granulated sugar to coat and then place on the prepared baking sheet. The cookies will flatten out so leave an inch to an inch and half between dough balls.

Bake for around 20 minutes until they have crackled on top and are firm. It's hard to tell based on color when they're done but should be cooked through. I ate several of these warm and straight out of the oven but I also sandwiched some of that pumpkin ice cream in there. Delicious.

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • Granulated sugar for rolling
  1. Preheat the oven 375 and line cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter using an electric mixer. Add the brown sugar and mix until smooth. 
  4. Add the egg and molasses and continue mixing until combined.
  5. Gradually add in the flour mixture and mix together until you can't see anymore flour.
  6. Using your hands, roll the dough into ping-pong sized balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on the cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart.
  7. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes until they are thinned out and firm.
  8. Consume immediately. Or wait, either way they're delicious.