Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shepherd's Pie with Thanksgiving Leftovers

Another easy-to-make dish composed of Thanksgiving leftovers is a modified Shepherd's pie. Pretty good!
Loosely based on this Rachel Ray recipe, I heated up leftover gravy, threw in shredded turkey, sauteed carrots and baby spinach in a little olive oil and garlic, and zapped the mashed potatoes in the microwave briefly with a splash of chicken stock to loosen it up. Then I layered it all (in that order) in individual casseroles. I sprinkled some grated Parmesan cheese on top of the potatoes and baked them at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes (until it was bubbly).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hot Cheesy Broccoli Dip

This hot, cheesy broccoli dip recipe was super easy- thrown together with randoms odds and ends from my fridge. I microwaved the dip, as instructed, but then threw it under the broiler for a few minutes at the end to get a crusty top. Pretty good! Basically a cheddar broccoli soup in dip form. Fine by me!

Turkey, Cranberry and Fontina Panini

I made this great turkey, fontina and cranberry sauce panini/grilled cheese using Thanksgiving leftovers, inspired by (but not exactly following) this recipe. I also saw some other turkey panini recipes on the internets that were really appealing!
In retrospect, I am thinking I would have liked to throw thinly sliced apple into the sandwich itself for some crunch, but it was pretty tasty nonetheless. Prior to composing the sandwich, I zapped the shredded turkey in the microwave with a splash of chicken stock to reconstitute it, as it got a little dry in the fridge overnight. Worked perfectly.

I would definitely recommend this sandwich for leftover turkey! Also, this avgolemono soup recipe that I made in the past works great with some shredded turkey thrown in at the end!

Braised Baby Artichokes with Garlic Lemon Mayo

For Thanksgiving, Madison brought a bunch of baby artichokes over, in case we needed another veggie, or got hungry while prepping the remainder of the meal. We didn't end up using them that day, so I cooked them the day after as an appetizer prior to digging into the turkey leftovers!

I halved them and braised them in chicken stock and white wine, a la this recipe from the other Martha. Then we ate them with a dipping sauce we threw together with some mayo, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Delicious!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

White Pizza with Kale and Pepperoni

I had some leftover pizza dough after making some broccoli and mozzarella stromboli the other night (which were good, but messy and difficult to roll up!), so we decided to make a white pizza with crispy kale. Tim insisted that we also put pepperoni on it, because he's a man and men apparently need meat. The pepperoni was good, so I shouldn't complain. We also added some red pepper flakes in with the garlic oil that was spread on the dough. The goat cheese was a tasty and unexpected addition... the tang complemented the earthy flavor of the kale and the salty pepperoni.

I broke my baking stone a while back, so I decided to try a different method for getting a crispy pizza crust: I placed the rolled out dough on an upside-down baking sheet covered in a layer of cornmeal. I think using the baking sheet upside down let the air circulate around the crust a little more- I'd definitely use this method again!

Recycled T-shirt Necklace

There's been a whole lotta crafting going on here over the past few weeks... unfortunately, because a lot of the crafting is for birthday and/or Christmas gift purposes, most of it can't be discussed or shown here for at least another month or so!

This necklace is purely selfish, though. I made it for myself on a whim, and I am really digging it. I envision wearing it with jeans and a t-shirt, or even a black dress to work.
Inspired by some tutorials and blog posts I saw on Ye Olde Internets, I cut an old t-shirt (R.I.P. Chuck Norris Experiment soccer t-shirt! You have served me well!) into strips, pulled them so they curled up, strung some silver beads on them, arranged them in graduated strands, then knotted them together in the back. For being made out of an old soccer jersey, I think it's pretty classy and dramatic!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Butternut Squash, Kale and Cheddar Bread Pudding

The flavor of this bread pudding was really great... very appropriate for fall! I liked this, as did Tim, although Chuck was not enamored. I've taken note of her dislikes over the past couple years and, by my calculations, it appears she doesn't like custards... oh well!I switched out the baguette for the heels of a couple loaves of whole grain sandwich bread, which I think gave the bread pudding some heft, and definitely some healthy. Also, for extra flavor, I threw a couple cloves of garlic in when I sauteed the kale.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Over the past few weeks, my office has had a series of baking contest/fundraisers to benefit the Combined Federal Campaign. A few weeks ago we practiced our Thanksgiving pie-making skillz... I made a banoffee pie that got some raves, but Tony won the big prize (read: bragging rights) for his simple, but delicious key lime pie. I forgot to take photos...

This week was a cupcake contest for which I submitted two entries in a naked grab for the baking title. After consulting with Madison, I decided incorporate booze into one of my cupcakes, figuring that was a good hook with which to catch the judges. Deb from Smitten Kitchen provided the recipe I went with, and even though I skipped her whiskey ganache filling, the Guinness chocolate cupcake and Bailey's Irish Cream frosting was enough to secure the win for me!!
Underestimating the amount of time it takes to make 50 cupcakes (it was midnight by the time I turned the oven off!), I also made these lemon cupcakes with a lemon cream cheese frosting. Pretty delicious! I added more lemon juice and zest to the frosting as well as a little less sugar so I could keep it tart rather than sweet.

Cumin-Coriander Sirloin and Sweet Potato Fries

Mmmm... this super simple steak rub was really good: a little spicy, earthy. Served with similarly spiced sweet potato fries that I was hoping would be a little crispier. I made a tasty chipotle lime sour cream for fry dippin'.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Linguine with Brussel Sprouts and Bacon: Meh

I love brussel sprouts. However, I have discovered that I think I only really love them one way: roasted.

This pasta recipe calls for the brussel sprouts to be sauteed/steamed in a pan prior to throwing them on pasta with crunchy bacon. Sounds good in theory, but in practice, meh. Steaming/sauteeing brussel sprouts just doesn't give them the caramelization and crispiness that oven-roasting does. It just makes them limp and kinda stinky.

Lesson learned.

Chocolate Pudding Cake

For some reason, I was craving chocolate pudding last week. I did a search in Foodgawker, and spotted this recipe for chocolate pudding cake... pudding AND cake? Sign me up.

This recipe has the craziest and most intriguing instructions I've ever seen, and it was so easy I couldn't resist. Mix cake batter in the pan in which it's baked, then sprinkle brown sugar, cocoa and a cup of water on top prior to baking? Eh? Come again?
Crazy as the directions were, following them produced a great weeknight dessert. Chocolatey, crusty on top, smooth and pudding-y on the bottom, no extra mixing bowl to clean...

Cauliflower and Feta Baked Pasta

I had a bunch of cauliflower from the CSA, as well as a block of feta, so I decided to make this baked pasta recipe, which incorporated both. However, I amped it up by adding several of my own ingredients for more flavor: crushed red pepper and garlic were roasted with the cauliflower along with a couple small heads of fennel (cut into eighths), plus I threw in a can of artichokes which I'd sliced. Over all, it was really tasty (although not picturesque). Salty, full of veggies, and infinitely reheatable for work lunches.

Dried Apples!

I had a coupon for a big bag of apples from the new grocery section at the neighborhood Target, so I bought the bag and used the opportunity to try out the dehydrator that Mike and Jamie gave me for my birthday. I decided to start my dehydrating adventures with something simple and straightforward: dried apple slices. I figure I can snack on the dried apples at work or use them in granola or granola bars.
The dehydrator worked great! The apples were consistently dried, chewy and sweet.

My next dehydrating escapade may be beef jerky, or perhaps fruit roll-ups. I've been eyeing these jerky recipes from a recent Food & Wine article: black pepper jerky, or maybe Mexican lime jerky.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

I have had this huuuuuge can of pumpkin puree sitting in my cabinet for over a year... I had a panic moment in the midst of last year's canned pumpkin shortage, because I was worried I wouldn't be able to find any to make Chuck's beloved pumpkin pie around Thanksgiving. Lindsay came to the rescue and donated the big can to my cause, but I was also able to procure a couple cans in the meantime. Thus, we had a plethora of canned pumpkin, and after Thanksgiving was over, I temporarily forgot about pumpkin, and the big can sat, and sat, and sat, and sat.

I was feeling the fall vibe this week, and thought I'd put that big can to use in some pumpkin bread. Turns out a 29 oz can of pumpkin puree makes 3 full sized loaves of bread! I had one for home, one for work, and one to send to Chuck's work. Excellent.I followed this recipe to a T, with one exception: I used half brown sugar and half white. Brown sugar is the best. Anywho, this was a pretty typical pumpkin bread recipe... soft, sweet, spicy, rich. Yum.

Mushroom and Gorgonzola Sauce Over Linguine

Using gorgonzola left over from my galette adventure, I made this simple creamy pasta sauce with gorgonzola and regular button mushrooms. Flavor-wise, it was a hit. However, texture-wise, it was a kind of a miss for me... a little gluey for my taste.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, Gorgonzola and Sage Galette

I had a couple butternut squashes from the CSA, part of the fall bounty of hearty greens and myriad winter squashes... Having recently remade all of my favorite butternut squash options, so I was looking for something new.Foodgawker pointed me to several blog posts that combined roasted butternut with caramelized onions, crispy pastry, sage, and some stinky cheese. I made a combination of several of these recipes, and came out with this masterpiece... it was perfect with a glass of wine and a green salad! Sweet squash, stinky cheese, flaky pastry, ain't nothin' wrong with that!

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Chuck is addicted to Panera's broccoli cheddar soup, which is a super cheesy, thick, delicious soup that is only nominally broccoli. It's usually served in a bread bowl. There aren't currently any Paneras that are easy for us to access from Columbia Heights on any sort of regular basis, so we decided to use one of the internet's copy cat recipes to recreate it.
I've made cheesy broccoli soups before, but I've tried to err on the side more broccoli than cheese, to keep it healthy. The Panera recipe doesn't even attempt that. It was cheese-a-licious.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stovetop Mac & Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Rabe

Over a year ago I attempted to make some stovetop mac & cheese... it was a colossal FAIL. I decided to try another recipe to see if I could conquer the beast, and it fared much better. Probably because I used cheddar rather than American cheese. American is the devil.This time, I tried a new recipe and threw in some cauliflower and broccoli rabe that I'd roasted with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Creamy, rich, and delicious!

Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Syrup and Chicken and Apples with Honey Mustard Sauce

Two recipes from Simply Recipes last week... I tackled this simple roasted acorn squash last week, while Chuck cooked this chicken with apples with honey mustard sauce, while Madison and Tim worked on their Halloween costumes.The roasted squash was tasty, although I think I came to the conclusion that I like butternut squash better than acorn squash... it seems sweeter and not as stringy.

The chicken had a good flavor, but the directions seemed a little weird... why would you bread the chicken, and then have the breaded chicken simmer in sauce? The breading soaked up the sauce and got super soggy. But the sauce tasted good!

Served with roasted broccoli...