Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Well, I'm attracted to pie, doesn't mean I feel the need to date pie

Personally, I'm not a big fan of pumpkin pie. I'm not really sure if it's the texture or the flavor, but I just can't get into it.

I can, however, get into pumpkin pie + cheesecake. I don't know how the cheesecake does it, but some how, it makes pumpkin pie filling totally fantastic. Add a crunchy pecan topping and this is the best pumpkin pie recipe out there. At least in my non-pumpkin pie loving opinion.

Also posted at Madtasty!

Pie Crust (from my fabulous sister)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 15 Tbsp (1 stick + 7 Tbsps) of chilled butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  1. Mix flour and salt.
  2. Add butter and use a pastry blender or fork to combine
  3. Add ice water slowly, forming dough into a ball
  4. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for 1 hour
  5. Remove and place dough on a flat, floured surface
  6. Flatten with your hands and roll out until 1/8 thick
  7. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry. Trim and crimp edge as desired; set aside
Cheesecake Filling (from Cassie at How to Eat a Cupcake)
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  1. Blend all ingredients together
  2. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
Pumpkin Pie Filling (from Cassie at How to Eat a Cupcake)
  • 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. Blend all ingredients together
Pecan Topping (from Cassie at How to Eat a Cupcake)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  1. Combine the pecans, flour, the 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and butter.
Now get ready to put it together
  1. Spoon cream cheese filling into pastry-lined pie plate
  2. Carefully pour pumpkin filling over cream-cheese mixture
  3. Cover edge of the pie with foil to prevent overbrowning
  4. Bake in a 350F oven for 25 minutes
  5. Remove foil and bake for 25 minutes more
  6. Sprinkle pecans over the pie
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean
  8. Cool for 1 to 2 hours on a wire rack
  9. Refrigerate for storage

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Sweet nuts

    Last weekend, Alex and I had a potluck to go to at our friends Emily and Christopher's house. Alex decided to make fried chicken which is always a crowdpleaser. I knew I'd never give him a run for his money, so I decided to try a different route and make something healthy that people might not like as much, but might appreciate in a different way!

    So I decided to make a salad with spring mix, dried cranberries, dried golden raisins, apples, goat cheese, and candied pecans. Everything went fine except Wholefoods was out of any sort of candied nuts. I bought some regular pecans and went searching for a recipe to jazz them up. I used this recipe for sugar coated pecans and it came out delicious.

    The best part is, they can be used on multiple recipes or alone as a snack. Just be careful, they are addictive!

    Candied Pecan Halves (by Carolyn at All Recipes)
    • 1 egg white
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 1 pound pecan halves
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Grease one baking sheet.
    2. In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white and water until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
    3. Add pecans to egg whites, stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet.
    4. Bake at 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Do the mashed potato

    This Thanksgiving will be the very first Thanksgiving that Alex and I ever spend together. For the last 5 years we've been splitting them up. Me in NH. Alex in MD. Since we got engaged though, we decided it was time to strike a compromise.

    Thanksgiving is a big deal in Alex's house. His mom starts planning her menu months in advance. Since we go to NH for Easter because it's my favorite dinner at my house, it only made sense for him to get Thanksgiving. So sadly, I'll be missing dinner in NH with my family this year. To make up for it, I asked my mom to share with me all of her Thanksgiving recipes, so I could make some of them before heading to MD.

    I started with mashed potatoes because they are my favorite food in the whole world. They are super easy and I don't know why I haven't tried to make them before. My mom's vocal hatred of potato peeling has always deterred me. These came out dangerously delicious! I might have to make them every night like my Nana used to!!

    Mashed Potatoes (by my Mom)
    Makes 3-4 Servings
    • 4 Idaho Potatoes
    • 3 Tbsps of Butter
    • 1 Cup of Milk
    • 2 tsp of Salt
    1. Fill a large sauce pan with water and a 1/4 tsp of salt; bring to a boil
    2. Peel and cube potatoes
    3. Drop into salted boiled water and boil for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender
    4. While potatoes are boiling, heat 1 cup of milk in a small sauce pan on the stove
    5. Drain water from potatoes and place in a large mixing bowl
    6. With a potato masher begin mashing potatoes
    7. In three additions, mashing well after each, add butter, hot milk, and remaining salt

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Serving Somerville since Just the Other Day

    Alex and I had heard so many good things about Highland Kitchen before going there that this review is almost not even fair.

    The food was delicious, the cocktails creative, and the scene was comfortable and relaxed. I would say that just about the only downside to this restaurant is that it is a bit of a hike to get to. Definitely had to take a cab, which we try to avoid at all costs. Also, there was a little bit of a wait once we got there, but the bar was so cozy and the drinks were so good that no one seemed to mind hanging out for a bit. Plus the dinner was definitely worth the wait!

    Also exciting, the owner of Highland Kitchen and the owner of my favorite restaurant, Silvertone, just got together and created Trina's Starlite Lounge. I'm just dying to try it out!

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    New England is awesome

    So Alex's mom makes this great tomato soup and rice soup whenever we go to Maryland. The last time we were there I went rummaging through her cookbooks and found the recipe.

    Now it's not the easiest soup in the world to make. Trying to get it perfect was almost a kitchen catastrophe. It has to be blended in the blender. It says in the instructions that a hand mixer will do the trick, but I'm sorry, it doesn't cut it. My blender is pretty crappy (I should say my blender was pretty crappy now) and this soup put it over the edge. So in a pinch I whipped out the Magic Bullet and worked it out in 4-5 batches.

    It worked out and the soup turned out delicious despite the few moments of panicked frustration!

    Roasted Tomato and Rice Soup
    (by Marjorie Druker and Clara Silverstein from the New England Soup Factory)
    Makes 10 servings

    Roasted Tomatoes

    • 12 medium plum tomatoes
    • 3 Tbsps olive oil
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 cups of water
    • 1 1/2 cups of white rice, uncooked
    • 1 Tbsp of butter
    • 3 Tbsps butter
    • 3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
    • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced
    • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 2 ribs celery, sliced
    • Roasted plum tomatoes
    • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
    • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
    • 3 cups tomato juice
    • 2 Tbsps chopped fresh basil
    • 2 ½ cups cooked white rice
    • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
    Directions for Roasted Tomatoes
    1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees
    2. Hull tomatoes and slice in half
    3. Place the tomatoes in a large mixing bowl
    4. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper
    5. Place the tomatoes in a small roasting pan and roast in the oven for 50 minutes
    Directions for rice
    1. Bring water to a boil
    2. Reduce heat and add rice
    3. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes
    4. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes
    Directions for soup
    1. In a stockpot melt butter over medium-high heat
    2. Add the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery
    3. Sauté for 10 minutes stirring frequently
    4. Add the roasted tomatoes and continue to sauté for 5 minutes
    5. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, stock, and tomato juice
    6. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium.
    7. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes
    8. Add basil
    9. Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or working in batches with a regular blender until smooth
    10. Place the soup back into the pot if using a regular blender
    11. Add the rice and season with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper
    12. Stir so that the rice is evenly distributed throughout the soup
    13. Sprinkle each serving with cheese

    Friday, November 13, 2009

    Be My Sweet Potato Pie

    So here they are: Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chips

    These are super delicious. Though they aren't exactly chips, these sweet and savory potatoes make a great side dish. Especially with the Sweet and Spicy Chicken.

    Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chips (by Emily at Joyful Abode)
    • 2 sweet potatoes
    • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
    • 1 tsp of kosher salt
    • 1 tsp of cinnamon
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
    2. Peel sweet potatoes
    3. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices
    4. Place in a medium mixing bowl
    5. Add olive oil, salt, and cinnamon and stir to coat (I find it is easiest to sprinkle a bit of each, stir a bit, sprinkle again, stir again and so forth until all are coated)
    6. Cover a large cookie sheet with tinfoil and spray with cooking spray
    7. Spread sweet potatoes in one layer on the cookie sheet
    8. Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes
    9. Turn potatoes with a spatula and bake for an additional 15 minutes

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    There's the rub

    I'm always looking for great ways to make chicken. It makes such an easy and healthy dinner protein, but it can get a little boring if you don't do something to spice it up.

    A couple of months ago, I found this great Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken Rub on the Joyful Abode and have been meaning to try it. I don't like things super spicy so I used half the chili powder called for in the recipe and it worked out great. Sweet with a little bit of heat.

    It went great with sweet potatoes (also from the Joyful Abode!) and grilled green beans. You'll get the sweet potato recipe tomorrow!

    Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken Rub (from Emily at Joyful Abode)
    Serves 2
    • 2 chicken breasts
    • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
    • 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1/2 Tbsp oregano
    • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
    1. Mix together chili powder, brown sugar, and oregano
    2. Add olive oil and mix thoroughly
    3. Rub on chicken until coated
    4. Grill on grill or stove top until cooked all the way through (about 15 minutes on each side)

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Cinnamon's Wake

    Even when the fridge is empty and the cabinets are bare, the one thing I always have on hand are baking supplies. Being able to whip up something sweet when I need a fix is necessary.

    A couple of weeks ago, when I was browsing through the baking section at the grocery store looking for ideas, I spotted something I'd never seen before, Cinnamon Chips. I figured, these could either be super gross or unbelievable. So I bought them.

    They turned out the be an amazing ingredient. They made the best oatmeal raisin cookies I've ever had and can't say enough about how delicious these turned out to be!

    So delicious...that they are being brought to you here and at Madtasty! It's my first week posting and I just had to start with these.

    Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Chips Cookies (by Hershey's)
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
    • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
    • 1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) Hershey's Cinnamon Chips
    • 3/4 cup raisins
    1. Heat oven to 350°F
    2. Combine flour and baking soda in a medium sized mixing bowl
    3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy
    4. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well
    5. Add flour and baking soda to butter mixture, beating well
    6. Stir in oats, cinnamon chips and raisins
    7. Drop by heaping teaspoons unto ungreased cookie sheet
    8. Bake 10 to 12 minutes on until lightly browned
    9. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    Knit, People, Knit!

    Though you'd never know it with today's balmy 67 degree weather, winter is on its way. With Alex hoping for a super frosty season, it's officially time for me to break out the knitting needles and cozy in for a few new knitting projects!

    This is a great one because it looks super cute, is one size fits all, and can be finished in just a few hours.

    Last spring, Kristina and I went to Shecky's Girls Night Out and fell in love with Volang Headbands. They are beautiful, but unfortunately sell for around $40. Since I can't afford to spend that on a headband, I decided to see if I could make something similar on my own. After searching the internet far and wide, I found a site called Knitty and a pattern called Calorimetry. It turned out great and will keep my ears warm all winter long.

    • Patons Classic Wool [100% Merino Wool; 233yd/204m per 100g ball]; color: Regency; 1 skein (or less!)
    • 1 pair US #8/5mm straight needles
    • 2 stitch markers
    • Tapestry needle
    • 1 button (buy the button after the project is completed, to determine the size needed.)
    Pattern Notes
    • Gauge: 20 sts / 22 rows = 4 inches in 2x2 Rib, lightly stretched
    • The project is worked using short rows. To work short rows, work to the point indicated in the pattern, then turn your work around and begin working back in the other direction. Holes will form in your work at the turning points of the short rows; don't worry! This is to be expected. One of these holes will be used as a buttonhole when the project is completed.
    • The pattern uses 2 stitch markers to help you keep track of your short rows. The first half of the piece is worked in short rows which progressively decrease in length, the second half in short rows which progressively increase in length.
    • It is very important to obtain the correct gauge for this piece. If worked to the gauge stated above, your Calorimetry will be 24 inches long. If you want a shorter piece, you can either cast on fewer stitches, or work at a smaller gauge.
    • It is also very important to consider the characteristics of the yarn you are choosing. Best results will be obtained from a yarn that is springy and resilient, which will retain the elasticity of the ribbing. Do not use a yarn which will lose its shape, becoming drapey with wear.
    • Cast on 120 sts.
    • Row 1: Work all stitches in 2x2 Rib (Knit 2, Pearl 2).
    • Row 2: Work in 2x2 Rib as set to last 2 stitches, stop, turn work.
    • Row 3: Slip 1, work 3 stitches, place marker, work to last 2 stitches, turn work.
    • Row 4: Slip 1, work 3 stitches, place second marker, work to next marker, turn work.
    • Row 5: Remove marker, slip 1, work 3 stitches, replace marker, work to next marker, turn work.
    • Repeat Row 5 fifteen times more.
    • Row 6: Do not remove marker. Slip 1, work to next marker, turn work. 44 stitches between markers; 38 stitches at each side of piece, outside of markers.
    • Row 7: Slip 1, work to marker, remove marker, work 4 stitches, replace marker, turn work.
    • Repeat Row 7 seventeen times more. 2 stitches remain outside markers at each end of the piece.
    • Row 8: Slip 1, work to marker, remove marker, work last 2 stitches.
    • Work 1 more row, removing final marker.
    • Finishing: Loosely bind off all stitches. Weave in ends, using one yarn end to sew a button to one end of the piece. No buttonhole is necessary; one of the holes which formed at a short-row turning point can serve as a buttonhole.

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    I scream with disappointment

    Yesterday was a very sad day in Cambridge. After 27 years of in Harvard Square, Herrell's Ice Cream closed their doors to make way for a mid-priced, casual restaurant. They had the best ice cream in the city by far and it's going to be very difficult to find a replacement.

    Case and point, a trip to Christina's Ice Cream in Inman Square.

    Christina's is a cute little ice cream shop on the corner of Cambridge Street and Prospect Street a few doors down from Bukowski's. Like Herrell's, they too make their ice cream on site and have lots of flavors and treats like milk shakes and sundaes. Unfortunately, these are where the similarities end.

    Neither Alex nor I were impressed with our desserts: chocolate ice cream in a sugar cone for him, Oreo frozen yogurt in a cup for me. Neither tasted like much and my Oreo looked kinda like his chocolate. It was very strange. Not even one chunk of Oreo goodness. Just the essence of Oreo blended completely together with the ice cream. It was very disappointing.

    With bad experiences at JP Licks and Christina's, we may have to start driving out to Richardson's whenever we need a fix!