Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Artichoke w/Lemon Rosemary Butter Sauce

The holidays are hectic.  If you don't believe me, go to Youtube and search for, "black friday mayhem."  

And sometimes you have the added bonus of regular life stress piling on top of holiday life stress.  And when that happens, even though you're supposed to be baking cookies, and roasting chestnuts, all you really want to do is order pizza 7 days a week.  
Well, Austin and I are going through one of those times.  Times where if we eat dinner, it's usually a quesadilla with only cheese and salsa.  Maybe nachos.  Again only cheese and salsa.  

So to mix it up, I made an artichoke the other night.  I served it as if it was an entree.  That was the whole thing.  We shared one plate and without really any prep, dinner was done.  If you aren't quite ready to make a single vegetable into a meal, you could serve this as an appetizer.  That'd be classy.

1 artichoke
1 stick butter
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, chopped

1.  Cut off stem and tips of artichoke leaves.  Place artichoke in 3 inches of water.  Cover and gently boil for 25-40 minutes, until leaves pull off easily.

2.  Melt butter.  Stir in lemon juice and rosemary.

3.  Dip artichoke petals into butter mixture and pull the meat out between your teeth.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sweet Potatoes Au Gratin

First of all, happy late Thanksgiving!  My Thanksgiving was perfect.  I got to eat way too much with friends and family - exactly as it should be.

The day after Thanksgiving, you basically have two options.  You could either be out fighting strangers over amazing deals in big box retail stores.  Or you could be doing what I did: eating pie for breakfast, turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce for lunch, and a big helping of leftover sweet potatoes.
Thanksgiving leftovers are possibly even better than the day-of.  But, the same as every year, you will eventually get sick of leftovers.  You will be forced to make some fresh food.  But rather than stray too far from the holiday flavors, just slowly ease out of it.  Then you can ease right back into it all in time for Christmas.
One of my favorites for Thanksgiving is the sweet potato casserole.  And there's really no improvement needed there.  But this sweet potatoes au gratin dish is really creeping up there in the competition.

Recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentis
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. chicken broth
1/4 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 1/2 c. grated gruyere cheese
1/2 c. grated asiago cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese

1.  Grease a 2-qt baking dish.

2.  In a large skillet, saute onions in olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in cream, chicken broth, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.

3.  Mix together cheeses in a large bowl, set aside.

4.  Spread 1/3 of potato slices around the bottom of the baking dish.  Cover with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Continue with potatoes then cheese, ending with cheese on top.

5.  Pour cream, onion mixture over the top.

6.  Bake covered for 45 minutes at 400˚ then remove lid/foil and cook for another 25 minutes until cheese is golden brown.  Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

White Chocolate Cranberry Bars

Have you already done your Thanksgiving shopping?  Are all the cans of pumpkin puree gone yet?  It seems like every year, there is always something that we forget.  Then we have to fight through the panicky grocery store patrons.  Most of whom, I have to assume, volunteered to cook something they have no idea how to make.

They clearly don't cook often, because if they did, they would know their way around the store a little better.  Instead they are walking around with their chins tilted up as high as they'll go so they can read the signs above the aisles.  
But I commend those who go all-in for the holidays.  Sure, they might not know the difference between baking soda and baking powder, but that's not going to stop them from volunteering.  No one wants to show up empty-handed. 

So if that's your situation this year, volunteer to bring these cookie bars.  They are completely fool proof.  Not that you're a fool :)

1/2 c. + 6 Tbsp. butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. oats
1 c. dried cranberries (craisins)
1 c. white chocolate chips

1.  Beat butter and sugars until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat well.

2.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

3.  Stir in oats, craisins, and white chocolate chips.

4.  Spread into an ungreased 9x13" metal baking pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350˚.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake

I told you last week that I would bring you another recipe for the holidays.  And I am definitely going to follow through with that.  What I didn't tell you is that I would also be bringing you pictures of our brand new puppy!
Dingo is an 8 week old "mixed breed."  I don't know if people don't like the word mutt or what, but that's what she is.  We think.  We're playing a game of wait-and-see right now.
I know having a puppy isn't at all the same as having a baby, but sometimes it sure feels like it.  I feel like I finally understand why new moms always say, "I just want to be able to take a shower."
Anyway, we've also already run into our first vet bill which came sooner than we had wanted or expected, but we're staying positive and hoping for the best.  Maybe bringing baked goods would help negotiate those bills?

1 1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. whole fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 c. pecans, chopped

1.  Beat together butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla.

2.  Gradually mix in flour and baking powder.  Beat on high for 1 minute.  Pour batter into greased and floured 9" spring-form pan.

3.  Cover batter with cranberries.

4.  Mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle over cranberries.

5.  Bake at 350˚ for 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

*I recommend placing a cookie sheet under the pan in case any of the butter from the batter leaks out the bottom - trust me, it will get smoky!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dutch Apple Pie

Last week, I started a new job.  Just like every time you start a new job, it was nerve-wracking and terrifying and mostly I was worried I wouldn't be dressed appropriately.
Why is that no matter how many times you've started a new job, it's still just as scary.  It's exactly like the first day of school all over again.  You're not quite sure you're going to like your class/work-mates and what if you go to the wrong room.  And, worst of all, what if you're not wearing what the cool kids are wearing?
I just wish we could all start on the second day.  Can we all put our heads together and figure out a way to make this happen.  It will be for the benefit of all.
I just wish these necessary things were easy.  I'm not asking for the best day of my life, just an easy, peaceful day.  If every first day of work were as easy as making pie, everything would be so much less scary.  

1 pie crust
6 c. apples - peeled, cored, and sliced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. +/- sugar (depending on how sweet the apples are)
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 stick butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon

1.  Roll out pie crust in pan, set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix until apples are coated.  Pour into pie crust.

3.  For topping: melt butter.  Stir in sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Do not overmix, leave large crumbles.  Spread topping over apples.

4.  Bake at 375˚ for about 1 hour.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Milky Way & Snickers Cookies

Remember how I said we didn't get any trick-or-treaters this year?  Well, I am finally getting sick of eating bite size candy bars (well, kind-of).  If you are in the same boat, here's a great way to get rid of some of that candy.
I mean, really, what could go wrong with this recipe?  Putting a candy bar inside of a cookie?!  Seems like a no-brainer to me!
These cookies are unreal right out of the oven with the chocolately caramely center that oozes out when you bite into them.  But they are equally good the next day, dunking the crunchy cookie into a big glass of milk or a hot cup of coffee.  They're just good.  That's really all there is to it.

MILKY WAY & SNICKERS COOKIES (*Makes 2 dozen - Usually, double the recipe)
Recipe from Grandma Flinn
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
12 bite size candy bars, cut in half

1.  In a stand mixer, beat sugars and vegetable shortening.  Add peanut butter and vanilla, blend together.  Add egg and beat until combined.

2.  Combine dry ingredients then gradually add to egg/sugar mixture.

3.  Create small balls of dough then wrap around 1/2 bite size candy bars.

4.  Bake at 350˚ for 10-12 minutes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

The election is finally over.  I have no intentions of making this blog a political platform so don't worry you can keep reading.  We can stop arguing about ideals and fundamental differences of opinions and get back to arguing about sports and which Real Housewives is better.
We can also argue about which coffee cake is better: Sour Cream Coffee Cake or Cranberry Coffee Cake (recipe coming soon).  Every Christmas, my family has to decide what we should have for breakfast.  My dad doesn't like cranberries, and he really likes this cinnamon sugary coffee cake.  My mom really likes the cranberry one.  I like both so this is one argument I can just sit on the sidelines for.  I'm usually pretty pleased no mater what.
So, the point is: let's stop arguing about republicans and democrats, and let's get back to what really matters again.
Recipe from Grandma Walklet
1/4 lb. butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. pecans
2 Tbsp. cinnamon

1.  Beat together butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Add in dry ingredients.  Add sour cream.

2.  Grease tube pan.  Put 1/2 of batter into pan.  Mix together filling ingredients.  Sprinkle 1/2 filling on top of batter.  Top with the rest of the batter.  Top with the rest of the filling.

3.  Bake at 350˚ for 45 minutes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chicken Salad

Tomorrow is Election Day and I couldn't be more excited!  It's not that I have some passionate urge to exercise my civic duty, it's more that I can't wait until I don't have to hear any more political ads on TV.

There's nothing quite like living in a swing state to make you realize how much you dislike all politicians.

Tomorrow, the most important decision you are going to make is who you want to be the leader of this country for the next four years.  Seems like a pretty big deal, and it is.  Every four years, you get to go into the little booth, pick your candidate and contribute.
Every other day of the year, the biggest decision you'll make is what you're going to have for lunch and that really affects no one but yourself (but I do recommend chicken salad as often as possible).  So tomorrow, go find your polling location, get your sticker and wear it proudly.

Recipe from Mom
2 chicken breasts
1 stalk celery, diced
1 c. grapes, halved
1/4 c. sliced, raw almonds
1/4 c +/- mayonnaise
salt & pepper

1.  Boil chicken breasts until cooked through.  Cool and cut into small pieces.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine chicken, celery, grapes, and almonds.  Stir in mayonnaise a little at a time so you don't get too much.

3.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hot Apple Toddy

We bought a giant bag of candy from Costco last week anticipating a lot of trick-or-treaters.  Sure we probably ate half of it before Halloween actually rolled around, but we still had plenty.

Not only did we not get a single trick-or-treater, I didn't even see one child out in costume.  I saw three college age dudes dressed as presidents and zombies, but no kids.

So now we have no choice but to gorge ourselves on pounds of snickers and peanut butter cups.  We can't let it go bad!  Since it's fall and I'm going to need something to wash it all down with anyway, I might as well do it with this hot toddy.  You know, get in the spirit!

8 oz. apple cider (not juice - get the real stuff)
1 1/2 oz. bourbon
1 cinnamon stick

1.  Add apple cider and cinnamon stick to a small saucepan.  Bring just to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Remove from heat.

2.  Add bourbon to glass and pour cider over the top (with or without the cinnamon stick).

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