Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TWD: All in One Holiday Bundt Cake

This will be quick, as I'm pretty sure I'll be working a full 40 hours in 3 days this week. Can I tell you how much I'm looking forward to a 4 day weekend??

Since I don't have a bundt pan and I had a few purposes for this cake, I made a mini cake, and 2 batches of cup cakes. I'll drizzle all with the maple glaze tomorrow.

This was pretty easy to put together, and I must say that after a long and stressful day, I rather enjoyed the prep. Not so much the clean up - the dishes will wait until morning.

I snuck a taste of one of the cupcakes and it was very "autumnal" and tasty. I hope my peeps at work like the cupcakes. The mini cake is going to a very good friend who's birthday is tomorrow.

Sorry this is so short - that's just how I roll this time of year. But I do want to thank you who keep stopping by and leaving comments although I haven't returned the favor. I'm hoping to get caught up this weekend. And finally, a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING to everyone!

Gobble!! Gobble!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TWD: Sugar Topped Molasses Spiced Cookies

Today was a very long day. It started by baking these cookies, picked by my pal Pamela over at Cookies with Boys. I don't usually bake in the AM, but I wanted to get some decent pictures. Then I went to work where I dealt with a crises before I even made it to my desk. It was the first of many. Finally got a lunch today (no lunch the last 2 days - I don't even want to admit what I consumed yesterday - no bueno!) but not until 4pm (ditto regarding what I ate today). Left work on time to go to class, after class stopped at Whole Foods so I would have something to eat tomorrow (break or no break, a girl's got to eat). And then, after bringing myself and food into the house, I look over and see these. Lovely, edible cookies. So good, and just what I needed after a big day.

I'm training some folks at work, and they were having a hard time with the material, so I'm going to bring these cookies and some milk to work tomorrow. Just a little something to feed their soul.

This is quick since I'm tired, but I did enjoy these a lot. I have the other half of the dough in the fridge waiting to be baked. I loved how easy these were (much appreciated this week!), and it was kind of fun (therapeutic) to roll them up, roll them in sugar, and then mush them.

Yes, they did spread a bit, but were the perfect combination of chewy and soft, sweet and spicy. These will be made again before the holidays are over.

To see the recipe head over to Pamela's blog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday Soup: Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Cider Cream

I'm a day late, I know, but I was very busy yesterday being lazy. This week for me at work is insane and is usually the busiest for each holiday peak we have. So I tossed away my "to do" list and cocooned myself in my tiny house, trying to brace myself for the marathon week this will be.

And what better way to fortify yourself than with soup. There are so many things I really like about this soup. First, it is fast to make and tasty to eat. I'm assuming there is some healthiness going on as well. One way it is fast is to use pre-cut items like this butternut squash. Couldn't be handier, and is good to have leftovers for a quick and healthy side dish. I also took advantage of Trader Joe's prepackaged leeks. I appreciate buying just the part that I want to use. It doesn't seem as wasteful as buying a whole leek only to throw half of it away.

The other thing I'm loving about this soup and the last one is the use of an immersion blender. These little babies are among my top 5 tools in the kitchen. They are fun to use, easy to clean up. And I simply love blended soups.

I cut the recipe in half and each serving was very generous. You won't go hungry with this. And another plus - this recipe wasn't very expensive. I used many of the ingredients from the last soup, plus others I already had on hand.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Cider Cream
from the book Sunday Soup: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering, Easy-to-Make Recipes
by Betty Rosbottom
Serves 6

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash (from 2- to 2 1/2- pound squash; cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (about 3 medium leeks)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped, plus an extra apple for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage
5 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups apple cider, divided
Kosher salt
2/3 cup sour cream
5 bacon slices,sauteed until crisp, drained and crumbled

Melt the butter in a large, heavy pan set over medium-high heat. When hot, add squash, leeks, carrots, and celery and saute', stirring frequently, until vegetables have softened slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Add apples, thyme, and sage. Add stock and 1 cup of the cider. Bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently until vegetables and apples are tender, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, make the cider cream. Boil remaining 1/2 cup cider in a small, heavy saucepan until it reduces to 1/4 cup, for about 5 minutes. Cool, then place sour cream in a small bowl and whisk in reduced cider. (Cider cream can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate until needed.)

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and return soup to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot.) Taste soup and season with salt, as needed. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)

For the garnish, halve and core the reserved apple, then cut one half into 12 paper-thin slices. (Eat or save remaining half for another use.)

To serve, ladle soup into 6 shallow bowls and drizzle with cider cream. Garnish each serving with crumbled bacon and a couple of apple slices.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Soup: French Lentil Soup with Garlic Sausage

Last weekend I went to my favorite cooking store in San Diego, Great-News, to use my coupon that was about to expire. I looked at lots of cool gadgets and supplies, but the item that spoke to me most was this cookbook - Sunday Soup: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering, Easy-to-Make Recipes by Betty Rosbottom. I love soup, I really do, but my repertoire is very limited, and I tend to stick with the standards. This book is a godsend, as it offers up lots of recipes, but best of all it breaks them down by season. So all the Fall Recipes are grouped together, followed by Winter and so on. That way you can make a soup using seasonal ingredients. And best of all, there is a Summer section full of cool (literally, as in "cold" and "chilled") soups to make.

The first soup I made is "French Lentil Soup with Garlic Sausage." I tried this one because I had the lentils on hand. The recipe calls for Puy lentils from France and I had some leftover from a Jamie Oliver recipe ("Pan-seared Scallops with Crispy Bacon and Sage, Puy Lentils and Green Salad" from The Naked Chef cookbook. It was a lot of work, but very tasty). I searched far and wide and eventually found a substitute for them at Whole Foods. I thought about getting the "real" version from an online store, but these worked out great.

I only made half of the recipe, but that was enough for 3 good-sized servings. The house smelt so good when the soup was simmering (it was a particularly cold night, so that probably made the whole experience that much more delicious). I used pork kielbasa along with the puy lentils (oh the fun of running around saying "pwee" and KIL-basa, like Mufasa from the Lion King) and the result was a hearty bean and sausage soup. It's not the prettiest soup around, but very tasty. Held up nicely the next day for lunch too.

I'll let you know how I progress with the rest of the recipes. Next up - Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Cider Cream. Yum!

French Lentil Soup with Garlic Sausage
Recipe from Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom
6 servings

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced carrots (1/4-inch dice)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced celery (1/4 inch dice)
3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
6 ounces garlic sausage, such as kielbasa, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 teaspoons dried thyme
9 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves, broken in half
1 pound (2 cups) Puy lentils (French green lentils)
Kosher Salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot (with a lid) over medium heat. When hot, add the carrots, onion and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are just softened, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sausage, and thyme, and cook 1 minute more.

Add the stock and bay leaves, and bring mixture to a simmer over high heat. Stir in the lentils, then reduce heat, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer until tender, for about 50 minutes.

Remove and discard the bay leaves. Remove the garlic pieces and transfer to food processor. Using a slotted spoon, strain 1/2 cup solids (vegetables and sausage) from the soup and puree them with garlic pieces in a food processor, or combine them with garlic pieces in a small bowl and smash with the back of a fork. Stir the pureed mixture into the pot; this will thicken the soup slightly. Taste soup and season with salt, as needed. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)

To serve, ladle the soup into 6 soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley over each serving.

Friday, November 6, 2009

CEiMB: Linguini with Shrimp and Vegetables

I really enjoyed this recipe, chosen by Farah over at Confessions of a Novice Baker. So much so that last night after making it, eatting it, and tidying up the kitchen and watching a little TV, I went to bed and forgot about this last step in the CEiMB process. oh well -- better late than never.

I used my precious Argentinian shrimp for this (those babies are so good), and I love all the other ingredients, so I knew going in this would be a winner. Work is beginning to get a little intense, and will only get more so as we get closer to the holidays, so I was probably most enthusiastic about the wine (just kidding -- well kinda).

I only made half of the recipe and it was a ton of food. I'm happily bringing the second serving to work today -- I love having good eats as leftovers.

This will be going into the rotation with the other Ellie recipes I love.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TWD: Cran-Apple Crisps

Hey kids -- did you miss me???

It sure is nice to be back and baking with you all. I'll post a little something about my vacation later this week. I started working on it when I was getting my car serviced this weekend. Apparently "free wifi" does not equal "speedy wifi" or "convenient wifi" or "non-maddening wifi" so that entry will post later.

I'm also back to my old ways of starting projects on Tuesday night. Since I'm taking a class and don't get home until 10pm, that's a little later than normal. As a result I've got the crisps in the oven as we speak, so I'll have to give you a full report a bit after midnight.

It sure is great to take November's recipes in whatever order works. This one is great because it is so easy. Well, easy as long as you're not trying to divide by 3. If I were smart, I would have just divided by two and had large crisps. On the other hand, if I were smart, I wouldn't have just 3 ramekins, but 4 (thus making the division thing easier). Happily I have a handy dandy dial that helps with this type of complicated math. Not perfect, but it helps.

At the moment all I can smell is something burning in my oven (I must have spilled something - maybe a nut or something when I made granola this weekend) but otherwise I'm very excited about this recipe. I love anything with apple in it, and cranberry is another favorite flavor. Fall is by far my favorite season. Some people lament a lack of seasons in San Diego. We do have seasons - people who don't notice them don't appreciate subtly.

I'm going to post this now to beat the midnight deadline, but will let you know how this all turns out. If I were a good girl I'd let them cool and try them in the morning. But why do that when I only have to let them cool for 10 minutes before I try them!

I'm looking forward to catching up with all of you out there in blog-land and see what you've been up to while I was gone. Happy fall, everyone!

Edited to add this picture of the finished product. Boy was it YUMMY! And, I found my 4th ramekin. I had it stashed separately from the others. No idea why. Oh well, next time I'm making four of these!