November 29, 2010

Spaghetti with Toasted Hazelnuts and Brussels Sprouts

Thanksgiving may be over, but my love for brussels sprouts hasn't ended. These tasty little cabbages get a bad rap year after year, but it's mostly because they are cooked as an afterthought, and thus taste like an afterthought.

"B Sprouts," as M calls them, steal the show in this warm and nutritious bowl of pasta. These wonderfully tender sprouts will never be the same again after they're simmered with caramelized onions, topped with toasty, crunchy hazelnuts, and tossed with hot Barilla Plus Spaghetti. With just a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper, this dinner is done in minutes.

Ingredients: serves 2
2 cups brussels sprouts, cooked as directed here, omitting final step with breadcrumb topping. Cut each half into a quarter
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped
2 T. butter
1/4 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. Barilla Plus Pasta (made with Lentils, it's packed with protein)
salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive Oil, for drizzling

Salt the pasta water and set it to boil over high heat. Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts over medium heat in a dry pan, then set aside. Add the butter to the pan and allow to melt, then add the onion and allow to cook until tender and deep golden in color. Add the pasta to the boiling water when it is ready and cook until just slightly more firm than al-dente. A few minutes before the pasta is done add the quartered brussels sprouts to the pan with the onion and cook through. Drain pasta and reserve the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the pan with the sprouts and onion and toss to combine, then add back in cooking water to moisten a tablespoon at a time. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then top with the hazelnuts and serve.

*for vegetarian option omit bacon from the preparation of the brussels sprouts

November 22, 2010

Sage-Butter Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy

It simply does not get any better than this moist and succulent roast turkey. Brining is the key to a wonderfully juicy bird, but the cider gravy is an amazing accompaniment to this perfectly cooked main.

Brining and Prep Method: Place the thawed turkey in a large bucket (that can fit in the fridge). Add 1/2 cup of salt to each gallon of water, and add enough of this mixture to cover the turkey completely. Usually 2 gallons is enough. Allow the bird to sit in the brine for 12-14 hours. Remove the bird from the brine, discard, and pat down completely, then follow the method below (which involves allowing the bird to sit uncovered overnight in the fridge for an extra crispy skin). 

Sage-Butter Roasted Turkey: adapted from Epicurious
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
1 16-to 18-pound turkey, rinsed, patted dry; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved for turkey stock
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 T. dried rubbed sage
3/4 cup fresh refrigerated apple cider or apple juice

2 cups (or more) turkey stock or low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup fresh refrigerated apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 t. dried sage

Turkey: The night before the turkey will be cooked, rub salt and dried sage together in small bowl. Place turkey in roasting pan; sprinkle all over with sage salt. Chill turkey overnight, uncovered. Remove turkey from refrigerator. Set the oven rack at the lowest position and preheat to 375°F. Pat turkey dry. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely. Melt the butter in the microwave, then stir together with the sage. Brush all over the turkey, taking care to get into all the crevices, then sprinkle with pepper.
Roast turkey 1 hour; baste with any pan juices. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast turkey 45 minutes. Pour 3/4 cup apple cider over the bird and turn the pan around. Continue to roast the turkey until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F or the breast reads 180°F basting and turning pan occasionally for even cooking, about 11/4 hours longer. Transfer turkey to platter; tent with foil and let rest 30 to 45 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Slice the turkey, baste with hot chicken broth to re-warm and moisten, and serve with gravy, below.

When the turkey comes out of the oven, pour the pan juices through a strainer into a bowl. Spoon off fat that rises to surface. Transfer 2 tablespoons fat to heavy large saucepan and discard remaining fat. Place turkey roasting pan over 2 burners. Add 2 cups stock or broth and 3/4 cup cider. Bring to boil over high heat, scraping up browned bits. Boil liquid until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 6 minutes. Add mixture from roasting pan to degreased pan juices. If necessary, add enough stock to measure 3 1/2 cups stock mixture.
Place saucepan with turkey fat over medium-high heat. Add flour; whisk 2 minutes. Whisk in stock mixture. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon thinly, about 6 minutes. Whisk the sage. Season with salt and pepper. Serve turkey with gravy.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel Topping

This sweet potato casserole is a favorite! Guests can't stop digging in to the sweet, smooth mash hidden beneath a crisp streusel and pecan topping.

2.5 lbs sweet potatoes
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened
3 t. salt
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces

Directions: Prick the tops of each potato with a fork, then lay on a baking sheet. In a 350 degree oven, roast the sweet potatoes whole until tender (varies on size, but approx. 40 minutes). Allow them to cool enough to handle, then peel away the skins or scoop the insides out with a spoon, and put into a big bowl. Add the butter, brown sugars, vanilla, and salt and mash with a masher until smooth and all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Next, prepare the topping by processing the flour, brown sugar, and butter together until it resembles a coarse meal. Or, use hands and work them together until the mixture is crumbly and the butter incorporated. Stir in the pecans. Transfer the sweet potato filling to a baking dish, then sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until topping is crispy. 
This can be made ahead. Simply prepare the filling but not the topping, and keep the filling in the baking dish in the fridge covered with plastic wrap. When ready to eat, poke holes in the plastic wrap and microwave the baking dish on high for 4-5 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap, cover with streusel topping, and bake as directed.

November 21, 2010

Arancini (Fried Risotto Balls)

Crispy on the outside, but steaming hot and creamy on the inside, these risotto balls are a uniquely delicious treat.

Approx. 3 cups cold leftover prepared risotto
1 package goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs (I used a 1:1:1 ratio of cornmeal, panko breadcrumbs, and regular breadcrumbs for extra crispy texture)
vegetable oil for frying

Directions: In a large bowl, stir together the risotto and goat cheese until well incorporated. Place the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs into separate bowls. Using wet hands, roll a generous spoonful of risotto into a ball, then roll first in the flour, shaking off excess, then the egg, letting excess drip off, then finally in the breadcrumbs. Transfer to a plate as you do this with all of the risotto. Heat about 1-2 inches of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and drop in 4-5 of the rice balls at a time. Cook, rotating, until the balls are crispy on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel and allow to drain, then serve immediately or keep warm in a 300 degree oven as you finish frying the entire batch. Serve with red sauce or pesto.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Breadcrumbs

Brussels sprouts will be come a holiday favorite with this recipe. The sprouts are tender, fragrant, and wonderfully flavorful.

3 slices thick Applewood smoked bacon slices, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/4 large white onion, thinly sliced
4 lbs. brussels sprouts,halved with bottoms trimmed 
3 cups water
1 t. sea salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
2 T. Earth Balance butter or regular butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (unseasoned)

In a large dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pan. Add the onion to the pan drippings and cook for a few minutes until golden and tender, then add the Brussels sprouts and the water and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan and cook until sprouts are just tender (about 6 minutes), stirring once to distribute the sprouts. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the sprouts and onions into a baking dish, then top with the bacon, breadcrumbs, small pieces of butter, and salt, and pepper. Place in the oven and allow to sit with the rest of your Thanksgiving dishes at 350 degrees until ready to serve, or broil for 3 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

These mashed potatoes are fluffy, buttery, and ready to be smothered in gravy!

Ingredients: serves 8
4 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
3 t. salt
1.5 cups whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 t. pepper

Directions: Peel potatoes and dice into 1" pieces. Bring to a boil in a large saucepan, covered with cold water and 1 t. salt. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender (10-15 minutes). Drain potatoes in a colander, then return to the pan and let dry out for 1-2 minutes over the heat. Add the milk, butter, pepper, and salt and gently stir, then smashing using a masher until they are just smooth (there will be some lumps). Do not overwork, or potatoes will become gummy. Serve immediately.

Caramelized Pearl Onions

Using frozen pearl onions is a huge time saver, but sacrifices nothing in flavor.  If you'd rather use fresh, simply cover the onions in very hot water and let sit for 5 minutes, then peel, leaving the small end of the root attached.

2 16-oz. bags frozen pearl onions
2 T. sugar
1 T. brown sugar
2 T. butter
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. coarsely ground black pepper

Directions: In a large non-stick skillet, stir together the onions, sugars, butter, salt, and pepper with 1/2 cup water. Vent the lid and cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes until onions are very tender. Remove the cover and cook for 5-10 minutes longer, until the onions are golden to dark brown, stirring frequently. Serve immediately, or transfer to a microwave safe bowl for up to 1 day. To reheat, simply microwave on high 4 minutes, stirring halfway.

November 20, 2010

Nonna's Sausage Stuffing

My Nonna's stuffing recipe is wonderfully simple, but ridiculously delicious.

2 T. olive oil
1 lb. sausage (I used sage-Turkey sausage)
1 Spanish or white onion, diced
1.5 loaves of Tuscan pane or other Italian bread
1/2 gallon of milk
6-8 T. Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Directions: In a large pot or pan, preheat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the sausage and begin to brown. Add the onions, some salt and pepper, and brown them together until the onion is tender and golden and the sausage is evenly browned. Meanwhile, cube the bread and put into a large bowl. Pour the milk over the bread until evenly soaked, tossing and pressing with a fork to ensure each piece is coated in milk.

Add the bread to the pot with the onions and sausage and stir quickly, as it will stick. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir again. Beat the eggs, the pour over the stuffing as you stir (quickly to avoid scrambled eggs). Turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or if desired, spoon into a baking dish and store up to 1 day, baking covered for 20 minutes then uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees before eating.


Pumpkin Snowballs

While this dessert would be particularly kid-friendly to both make and eat, its whimsical and festive play on a petit-four is equally fun for adults.

1 recipe pumpkin squares, without glaze
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, room temp
1 stick butter, room temp
1 cup powdered sugar
zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 t. pure vanilla extract
1.5 cups sweetened coconut flakes

Directions: Cut pumpkin squares into equal sized cubes (about 1.5 inches). Make sure they are completely cooled. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter, then add the powdered sugar, lemon, and vanilla and beat again. Pour the coconut into a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, mixing each time and watching carefully. When the coconut is just toasted, remove and let cool while you frost the squares.
To frost each square, place a generous dollop of frosting on top of each, then run a knife across the top and spread the frosting down and around each side. Be careful not to break your squares, but crumbs in the frosting won't matter since they get covered up with coconut. Frost the squares on all sides but the bottom.
When the coconut is completely cool, drop each square into the coconut using a spatula, then gently toss and press coconut on all sides. You'll be able to pick them up with your hands, place in a container and refrigerate to firm up the cream cheese, then serve.

November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Pie with Shortbread Crust

It isn't Thanksgiving without a rich and creamy pumpkin pie. 

1 recipe press-in shortbread crust 
16 oz. (2 cups) solid pack pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 12-oz. can of evaporated milk
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1.5 T. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice (or ginger)
1/2 t. salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together all of the ingredients on medium speed with an electric mixer, until well incorporated. Place the prepared pie crust in its dish on the oven rack and pour the filling into the crust. Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted 1" from the edge comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 1.5-3 hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Chocolate Nut Pie

A hidden chocolate layer adds a decadent touch to a classic Thanksgiving dessert. 

1 1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 t. kosher salt
2/3 cup walnut halves
2/3 cup pecan halves
2/3 cup hazelnuts, halved
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 recipe press-in shortbread crust 

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the corn syrup, brown and granulated sugars, eggs, butter, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in all of the nuts. Place your pie plate (with crust already in it) on a rimmed baking sheet, then pour the chocolate chips evenly over the bottom of the pie pan. Pour the filling over the chips and into the crust. Bake until the center is set and firm, about 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 4 hours before serving. adapted from Real Simple magazine.

Press-In Shortbread Crust

Thanks, Martha Stewart, for this wonderfully simple pie crust! It can be used for a variety of pies, and its cookie-like texture is a sweet surprise.

5 T. butter, softened (Martha calls for 4, but I found it too dry)
3 T. sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 cup all purpose flour
1 t. coarse salt

Whip together the butter and sugar in a medium bowl, then whip in the yolk. Add the flour and salt and mix again until somewhat dry and crumbly. Press into and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes (meanwhile, preheat the oven and prepare your pie filling). Pre-bake until golden brown, then allow to cool before adding the filling.

November 17, 2010

Cranberry Apple Chutney

This chutney is easy to make and ready in minutes -- without any need to use the stove. Its flavors are more complex than traditional cranberry sauce. It yields an interesting citrusy, sweet, and slightly spiced flavor that will keep guests reaching for more.

12 oz. bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 apple, peeled and cored (sweet, firm varieties best, such as Fuji, Braeburn, or Jonagold)
1 orange, cut into wedges, skin and peel left on
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. apple pie spice (can also use ginger)

Directions: Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until all the ingredients are incorporated, scraping down the sides occasionally. It will resemble a coarse meal. Allow to sit for a day in the fridge so that the flavors combine.

Can be made up to four days in advance.

Traditional Cranberry Sauce

Traditional, sweet, and slightly tart. It's not Thanksgiving without this seasonal accompaniment.

12oz. bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
zest of 1/2 small orange

Directions: Bring the water and sugar to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer for five minutes, then add in the cranberries and stir. Simmer for ten minutes, or until the cranberries pop, then remove from the stove and cool. The sauce will thicken as it sits.

Can be made up to four days ahead.

Tiny Turkey Day 2010

Tiny Turkey Day is holiday that M and I began as a way to celebrate Thanksgiving twice. It started four Thanksgivings ago, when M lived in Philly and I in Manhattan, and we decided to have our own Thanksgiving dinner for two before parting ways to spend the holiday with our families. It had been a tumultuous Fall and we had a lot that to give thanks for... especially that somehow we were still together.

On the first Tiny Turkey Day, M and I roasted a tiny turkey for two (this is how the day got it's name). We spent the entire day cooking in his big, barely equipped brownstone kitchen. While the turkey was in the oven, we made every dish from scratch: stuffing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce.

That night, after the dinner feast, we bundled up and took a walk. It began to snow. When we got to Fitler Square Park, we found a bench and sat in the darkness talking for two hours as snow fell on us. I still wonder how neither of us felt the cold, but we both could have sat there all night. Fitler Square is where I found M's proposal two years later, written in sidewalk chalk.

I said:

Back to 2007. It got late, so we returned home and finished off three small pies. We were stuffed and happy. Our first Tiny Turkey Day left us with memories that M and I still look back on with much love. It's definitely a day that solidified our love, despite all the difficult changes that surrounded us.

When I moved to Philadelphia, M and I decided that our Tiny Turkey Day would be even more wonderful if we spread the love around and shared it with friends. After all, it began as a day to give thanks for and share the holiday with people in life who make it all worthwhile.

Tiny Turkey Day is in its fourth year, and as M and I say, "the turkey isn't so tiny anymore!" We have a 17 lb. bird and friends coming in from far and wide. We couldn't be any happier to share the day with them, and all of the recipes with you!

Tiny Turkey Day 2010 Recipes: recipes will be posted as they are made.

November 16, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Is it dessert? Is it breakfast? Does it really matter? Even though it tastes rich and sweet, this smoothie is completely healthy and nutritious. Using frozen banana is the secret to creating a shake-like consistency that is so thick it's best eaten with a spoon. It only tastes like it was made with ice cream, but there's no pint container in sight. Better yet, it also has no added sugars and tons of protein and calcium. 

Why not start out the day, or have a power snack, that only tastes like dessert? If only this could happen more often, life would certainly be sweeter! 

1 frozen, ripe or overripe banana
1 cup vanilla soymilk (or regular milk with 1 t. vanilla extract)
1-2 T. smooth peanut butter
1 T. chocolate flavored whey protein powder
dash of cinnamon to taste
+ dark chocolate for shaving on top

Combine all of the above in a blender until smooth. Top with chocolate shavings, and enjoy immediately.

November 14, 2010

Lentils with Green Beans and Feta

Cumin spiced lentils are warming and hearty. When paired with crisp green beans and creamy feta cheese, it's a heavenly and simple dinner that's ready in about twenty minutes (just how long it takes the lentils to cook). The best part is that since it's such a healthy dinner, there's no reason to have anything less than a big portion!

1 T. olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup brown lentils
1.5 cups water, with more on hand
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. salt
1 cup frozen green beans, thawed
1/4 cup fresh crumbled feta cheese

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir, cook 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for about 20-25 minutes or until soft and tender (some like lentils more firm, some more mushy). Stir in the green beans, cumin, and salt and allow to heat through for a minute or so. Top with the feta cheese and serve.

November 12, 2010

Spicy Pumpkin, Yam & White Bean Dip

On Wednesday I shared the recipe for the sweet variation of this spicy pumpkin, yam, and white bean dip. The sweet dip's mischievous twin brother, spicy dip, packs a punch of heat and savory spices for a really addicting appetizer. Serve with homemade crunchy Parmesan toasts.

Spicy Pumpkin, Yam & White Bean Dip:
Follow directions for Sweet Pumpkin, Yam & Bean Dip through the Basic Dip recipe. Then:

1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. hot sauce
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Process together until combined, and serve with toasts:

Crunchy Parmesan Toasts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 5 large slices of Tuscan pane or sourdough loaf into 1" triangles. Place in a large bowl. Melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat in the microwave, then slowly pour the butter over the bread as you toss the bread to ensure that each triangle gets some butter. Next, toss with 2 T. grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 t. salt. Gently spread the triangles out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes in the oven, or until turning golden brown, then turn each piece over and bake on the other side until golden brown. Cool completely either in the oven or on the sheet.

November 10, 2010

Sweet Pumpkin, Yam & White Bean Dip

It's book club night and we're all bringing our favorite fall dishes. This pumpkin, yam, and white bean dip is not one of my favorite fall dishes, in fact, I just made it up. But I absolutely adore pumpkin and yams during these holiday months and wondered how I could create an appetizer out of these two flavors. Thus, two dips were born: sweet pumpkin and yam dip, and spicy pumpkin and yam dip. The flavors in them are different but the base is the same: I simply divided the dip once the base ingredients had been combined, then altered them separately to create two variations. I'll post the spicy dip later, which is scooped up with homemade Parmesan toasts.

This sweet version has undertones of maple and pumpkin pie spice, and is served with homemade cinnamon raisin bagel chips. I can't wait to sample all of the wonderful dishes that the rest of the club is making, but with heaping bowls of both of these flavorful and interesting dips as appetizers, I'm sure that we'll be well on our way to fulfilling our Fall cravings right from the start.

Sweet Pumpkin, Yam & White Bean Dip:
For the white beans:
Overnight, soak 2 cups white beans in 6 cups of water. Rinse and drain, then bring to a boil with 6 cups of water, 2 T. olive oil, 1 t. dried sage, and 3 cloves of garlic. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1.5 hours. Then, add freshly ground pepper and a dash of salt, stir, and simmer for another 30 minutes until tender. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid in case you need it later.

For the basic dip:
2 pieces white or sourdough bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup heavy cream (or whole milk, if desired)
2 cups white beans as prepared above, or 2 cans white beans (rinsed and drained)
2 cloves garlic
2 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1/2 cup or more canned yams in light syrup, drained
dash of salt

In a food processor, add the bread and heavy cream, process together until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth, then reserve half in a separate container if desired, for the Spicy Dip.

Add to processor and process 1 minute:
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Enjoy with your favorite pita chips, crackers, veggies, or homemade bagel chips.

November 7, 2010

Double Chocolate Pudding Pie

I seriously need to invest in a pie plate. Out of all the baking items I own, I've never gotten around to buying one, and so this pretty chocolate pudding pie had to live in a cake pan. Good thing that shape doesn't affect flavor, because this pie was wonderfully tasty and simple to make. I had mixed feelings about pudding pie -- I've never made or eaten one before, but I had all of the ingredients for it so I figured I'd give it a try. The pie and I went to a friend's house for dinner.

When it was dessert time I felt a small pang of fear that my pie would be a dud (after all, you can't cut a slice before you bring it somewhere and have a taste!). We all dug into heaping platefuls of this creamy, chocolatey pudding with its chocolate crust and fresh whipped cream on top and loved every minute of it. YUM. This fun and whimsical dessert feels like a throwback to childhood. And after a day and night of acting very much like grown ups, it was exactly what we all needed.

Double Chocolate Pudding Pie: serves 6 generously
1 store bought refrigerated pie crust, brought to room temp 20 minutes
Approx. 4 oz. dark chocolate
1/4 cup crushed peanuts, divided into two portions
1 4-serving package of chocolate pudding pie mix
*this requires 1 3/4 cup milk for mixing
1 cup whipping cream
2 t. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Lay the pie crust in a pie dish and crimp the dough around the edges of the plate. Prick all over with a fork and bake as directed (usually 9-11 minutes in a 350 degree oven). Allow it to cool completely.

In the meantime, melt the chocolate in the microwave, carefully so that it doesn't burn, in a microwave safe bowl over medium heat setting. When the pie crust is ready, use a pastry brush to coat the pie crust completely with melted chocolate, up to the top edges around the crust. The entire pie crust should be coated in dark chocolate. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle half of the peanuts into the bottom of the pie crust. Allow to cool.

Mix the chocolate pudding pie filling as directed, and pour into the pie crust. Put into the fridge until you're ready to top with whipped cream. In a refrigerated bowl, beat together the whipped cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Starting from the center of the pie and working outward, spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie until it is about 1" away from the crust. This allows some of the pie filling to show underneath. Now drizzle with any remaining melted chocolate and sprinkle the rest of the peanuts on top. Chill for at least 3 hours, then serve.

November 6, 2010

Saturday Morning with Blueberry Vanilla Oatmeal

Tart blueberries, toasty walnuts, and sweet vanilla make this sunny Saturday morning even more delicious.

It's no secret that I'm obsessed with oatmeal, but I particularly love this breakfast combination because it's crunchy, sweet, creamy, hearty, healthy all in one bowl.

Simply add 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup water, and 1/2 cup whole rolled oats to a big microwave safe bowl and cook on high for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, take 1/4 cup of walnut halves and toast them over medium heat in a pan, taking care not to burn them. When the oatmeal is ready, stir in 1 t. of cinnamon, 1 t. vanilla extract, 1 t. maple syrup, and stir. Then top the oatmeal with the toasted walnuts and a couple generous handfuls of blueberries. Return the bowl to the microwave and heat everything through for 1 minute. 

Enjoy immediately, and get ready to have a really great day! 

November 3, 2010

Mad for Mexican: Enchiladas with Mole Sauce

I could eat Mexican every day of the week. I simply love it, and the more smothery, cheesy, saucy Mexican goodness I can have, the better. On Sunday night I rolled corn tortillas by hand for soft tacos. I don't know what I did wrong, but I don't think I'll ever make homemade corn tortillas ever again. They were incredibly fresh and delicious, but when I can purchase them fresh from the store, it's not exactly worth an evening's adventure with masa to my elbows and a sticky rolling pin.

Fast forward to Tuesday night, when I had the chance to check out Stephen Starr's semi-recently opened Mexican dive, El Rey. I could have devoured the entire menu, but considering my stomach has limits, my friend R and I settled on trying a few (amazing) choices: a huge plate of chilaquiles nachos topped with heaping fried eggs, succulent short rib enchiladas, fresh Halibut tacos, a big bowl of guacamole with thick, crunchy tortilla chips, and a juicy, buttery corn on the cob that was layered with enough spice to bring out a choke or two. Oh, and I topped it off with a big glass of pineapple and blueberry white sangria. It was a night in heaven. 

As if I couldn't have enough, I made enchiladas the very next night (tonight). I've been craving chocolate, too (thanks, Halloween), so a mole sauce seemed like the perfect way to hit both cravings at once. I had never made homemade mole before, but I promise you that the recipe I include here is so simple you'll want to make it again and again. It's sweet from the cocoa and raisins, but savory from the tomatoes and chiles. It's perfect. Kind of like the big dish of bubbling mole and cheese atop generously filled corn tortillas, that I later removed from the oven... and I know I'll be craving those leftovers tomorrow, too!

Fast and Easy Enchiladas: serves 2
4-6 store-bought corn tortillas
cooking spray
Filling of choice, such as shredded chicken, sauteed beef, or sauteed veggies. (I used soy chorizo)
3/4 cup thick, mild salsa
1/8 cup hot sauce
1/8 cup tomato sauce
black bean spread (optional)

Topping of:
1/4 recipe of Mole Sauce
1/8 cup Mexican cheese such as pepper jack or Queso

Cover the corn tortillas on a plate with a dishtowel and microwave 30 seconds or until just soft and warm. In a separate bowl, mix the filling of choice with the salsa, hot sauce, and tomato sauce (should be fairly saucy). Put 3-4 T. of filling into each tortilla then roll tightly and place in a row in a small baking dish with the crease side down. Top with mole sauce until fully covered, then top with the cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees until bubbling and the cheese has melted.

Serve with a salad of chopped spinach, avocado, and pumpkin seeds in a simple red wine and olive oil dressing.

Mole Sauce

This simple, easy, and delicious recipe for mole sauce is absolutely a keeper. Thankfully, you'll have leftovers enough for at least two (or maybe three) more uses of the remaining sauce. It's wonderful served atop enchiladas, but would be equally as delicious baked over chicken and served with rice.

Sweet and Spicy Mole Sauce: adapted from Ingrid Hoffman's Food Network recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Serrano chiles
1 cup raisins
2 cups canned stewed tomatoes with chiles
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (or 1.5 oz. unsweetened chocolate)
2 T hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Place a large pot over medium heat and heat the oil. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, then the garlic and stir. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the chiles, raisins, and canned tomatoes, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the peanut butter, broth, chili powder, and cinnamon. Using a hand-held immersion blender (or carefully transfer into a blender), puree the mixture until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook the sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the chocolate and hot sauce and stir until fully incorporated.
Leftovers can be frozen in separate portions in tightly sealed bags.


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