Friday, November 30, 2007

Little Bites

I will admit that I have a sweet tooth. I love all sorts of sweets, especially right after dinner when you just need a little something. I am very good at only having a small amount and savoring every bite. I've been that way since I was a child. A bag of gummy bears or a candy bar can last a few weeks. And a bag of cookies? They usually go stale before I even get finished with it. Speaking of cookies- they have to be one of my favorite after dinner deserts since they are already in "little" amounts for you. I've had a craving for the cookies below for a while. I've actually never baked thumb print cookies, but I love shortbread-like ones with jam filled in the middle. The recipe I found for these cookies were not bad- not great, but not bad. They seemed to fall a bit flat and I'm not sure if it just needs a bit of citrus (lemon zest? Squirt of orange juice?), a pinch of salt, or maybe both. Also, my cookies did not look ANYTHING like the picture in the blog (Really...when does it ever?) and the dough came out really crumbly making it challenging to work with it. However, they soothed the craving and the hazelnuts did add a nice touch.

Thumbprint Cookies
*from Cafe Fernando
Makes 25 cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts (1 cup as whole)
4 oz butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup raspberry jam or 1/3 cup apricot jam (I actually used cherry and it was WONDERFUL!) (*I would add a pinch of salt and maybe some lemon or orange zest)

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy (5 minutes). Whisk together flour and ground hazelnuts and add to the creamed butter. Mix until well combined. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes (it will be easier to shape). Take a teaspoonful of dough in your hand, form a small ball, press in the center with your finger to make a hole (not all the way) and arrange on baking trays 2 inches apart. (Don’t be tempted to make them bigger than a teaspoonful). Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges are slightly colored. Let the cookies cool and fill the holes with your favorite jams.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftover Solution #2

I'm slowly starting to catch up with life and therefore have some time to put up another post. Since I'm behind posting my recipes, I'll have to back up a few weeks. This recipe was actually made two weeks prior to Thanksgiving because that is when I had Thanksgiving dinner with my family. We had so much turkey and veggies leftover! I'm not much of a "stew" person. However, to use up some leftover Thanksgiving ingredients, I threw everything into a pot to make this lovely dish. It was really more of a "stoup" (yes, a Rachel Ray term)- meaning it was thicker than a soup and a bit thinner than a stew. It is perfect for the after holiday stress!

Leftover Thanksgiving Stew

Batches of leftover turkey (I leave it up to you to figure out how much you want to eat)
1 small onion (chopped into rustic chunks)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 carrots (chopped into rustic chunks)
2 celery stalks (chopped into rustic chunks)
1 cup frozen peas
about 1-2 tbsp of poultry seasoning
2-3 cups of chicken broth (depending on how thin or thick you want it)
2 tbsp butter
3-4 tbsp flour (depending on how thin or thick you want it)
1 medium can of diced tomatoes (with garlic and basil)
**This stew isn't very precise in it's ingredients since it really is a matter of preference.

Saute on medium heat the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery with butter until browned and semi-tender. Add in the flour and brown until it absorbs some of the butter. Add chicken broth and poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low. Add in turkey and can of diced tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes until flavors have melded together. If you find that the stew needs to be thicker, you can add more flour or add some leftover gravy. Add frozen peas and cook for another 5 minutes (until peas are heated through). Serve on top leftover mashed potatoes and/or stuffing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftover Solution #1

Okay, so I'm back. Well, not in full force as I intended, but I have been cooking. I thought this week I would post several leftover solutions that are just as yummy as the original dishes. A and I are really good at reinventing leftovers and we've been doing that for the past few days. Last night, we kicked off the holidays with a Thanksgiving style BBQ. What was the highlight you ask? It was Thanksgiving Feast Turkey Burgers with mashed sweet potatoes. This is a great recipe to use up leftover Thanksgiving stuffing and cranberry sauce, and it was mighty delicious too! (No picture for this one since we "gobbled" them up!)

Thanksgiving Feast Turkey Burgers with Cranberry Sauce

1 pound ground turkey
about 2 cups of leftover Thanksgiving stuffing (mine had apples, sausage, and walnuts!)
1 egg
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tbsp steak seasoning mix (if you have it on hand...if not, just add a touch of garlic powder and onion powder)
2-3 splashes of worcestershire sauce
a few dashes of salt and pepper

Form into burgers and grill them up. Top with cranberry sauce, lettuce, onion, and me, sooooo good! For the more daring- top with mashed sweet potatoes so you have them IN your burger.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Small Break

Yes, taking a small break from cooking. I think Thanksgiving has wiped me out! I will be back in full strength next week since, although Thanksgiving, I'll have more time to cook! I'm already thinking of what to make next...

*this year's Thanksgiving feast

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Heart Pumpkin (Cheesecake)

My early Thanksgiving adventure came and left. Now we are stuck with the best part of it all...the Thanksgiving leftovers! Since Friday, I've had so much turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. I love it! Well, I was able to top last Thanksgiving (in my opinion, at least) but was not able to make the pumpkin pie I intended. Unfortunately, the grocery store I went to did not have half the ingredients I needed and I didn't feel like improvising. So instead of pumpkin pie, I made a very delectable bourbon pumpkin cheesecake. As I've stated before, pumpkin is one of the things I very rarely eat in any form. However, this pumpkin cheesecake was wonderful and since I made two (completely by accident) I have been having slice after slice. I followed the recipe below (for the most part) and ended up with two cheesecakes because the pie crusts I bought were very shallow. If you make your own crust, just be sure you make it deep enough. Also, instead of sugar, I substituted Splenda.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened (I used one package light, one package of honey nut)
1 1/4 cups sugar (or Splenda)
1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin puree, (if you use pumpkin-pie mix, don’t add dry spices below)
3/4 cup light sour cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs

I used a package of Pillsbury ready pie crust in the freezer section of the grocery store to save time. A homemade graham cracker crust would be wonderful with this!

In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese until smooth. Then slowly beat in sugar until blended, about 1 minute, scraping bowl often with rubber spatula. With mixer at low speed, beat in pumpkin, sour cream, bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Pour pumpkin mixture into pie crust and place in large roasting pan. Place pan on oven rack. Carefully pour enough boiling water into pan to come 1 inch up side of spring form pan. Bake cheesecake 1 hour 10 minutes or until center barely jiggles.

Remove cheesecake from water bath to wire rack; discard foil. With small knife, loosen cheesecake from side of pan to help prevent cracking during cooling. Cool cheesecake completely. Cover and refrigerate cheesecake at least 6 hours or overnight, until well chilled. Remove side of pan to serve. Garnish with whipped cream and roasted pecans.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

I know it is only the first weekend in November, but I am (and have been for the past two weeks now) preparing what will be our family's Thanksgiving feast. My brother J will be in town for "Thanksgiving" this weekend (actual Thanksgiving weekend was too expensive to fly), and thus I am expected to pull together turkey and all. Last year's Thanksgiving was amazing- yes, I will fully pat myself on the back for it since I think I did a rockin' turkey. All my side dishes came out perfect too! The only thing I didn't do last year- the pumpkin cheesecake. That was from the Cheesecake Factory. This year, I am determined to trump last year's feast. AND, what will help, is that this year I am making the dessert- pumpkin pie with crunchy cranberry topping. My mouth is watering, Thanksgiving recipes to come soon!

Last year's Thanksgiving