Friday, November 30, 2012

Chewy Gingersnap Cookies

It's been a while hasn't it?

I'm closing in on my last couple of days of class...and's getting a little crazy.

So crazy in fact that I probably shouldn't even be writing this blog post.  But who is going to stop me?

Probably no one.  But I'll keep it short and sweet just in case.

First I must ask...have you signed up for the giveaway yet?  No??  Well that's silly.  Because you should.  Tonight at midnight I will choose a winner for my Plenty Cookbook giveaway.  Don't know what that is?  Click {here} to see the book.  All you have to do is click {here} and leave a comment telling me something about your Thanksgiving.  For extra chances to win you can share the giveaway on facebook or twitter.  So go go go!  You don't have much time!

Next...these cookies.

My kitchen has successfully transitioned into a full steam ahead holiday baking kitchen.  Has yours?  I've been cranking out cookies left and right and have plans for quite a few more festive holiday treats before we head back to Missouri.  Tis the season right?

If any of you have met probably know how much I love ginger.  Like...really love it.  I want it in and on everything.  Cooking.  Baking.  Doesn't matter.   I like when it's involved.  And these cookies are no exception.  I played with the thought of adding crystallized ginger but didn't for fear that it would completely throw off the texture.  I also desperately wanted to add white chocolate chunks just to give them a little boost.  But of course not one of the four grocery stores in my neighborhood carries white chocolate.  Nor do they carry yeast...but that's a story for a different time.  These cookies are perfectly soft.  But perfectly chewy.  A balance that is 100% necessary for gingersnap cookies in my opinion.

Throw these babies into your baking arsenal.  Everyone involved will thank you.

gingersnap cookies

adapted from two peas & their pod

Makes: About 3 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes (for the first batch!)

{Printable Recipe}

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar for coating cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and smooth.  Beat in the molasses, canola oil, and vanilla.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth.
  5. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.  Stir in white chocolate chunks (if using).
  6. Scoop the dough into balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Place on the lined baking sheets about two inches apart and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pear Crostini + a thankful giveaway!

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

Is your belly still as full as my belly?

I sort of feel like a big roly-poly.

But a really happy one.  A full day in the kitchen with my mom, some unbelievable food, and a wonderful night with friends and family.  Everything that Thanksgiving is all about in my book.  How could I not be a big, fat, happy roly-poly?

Was your holiday just as wonderful?  I sure hope so.  And I definitely hope you ate as well as we did.  What all did you have?  What was your favorite?  Are you so excited for leftovers?  Because I am.

Alright let's get to the real point of this post.

I'm not one to get all mushy gushy.  Ask anyone.  It's just not my thing.  So this is going to be short and sweet.  Just the way it should be.

I'm super duper thankful for YOU.  I basically started this blog to log the recipes I was making and keep some Missouri friends and family updated on our Boston escapades.  But it's grown into something so much more.  This blog is so much a bigger part of my life than I ever expected it to be.  And there is a reason for that.  That reason is you.  It's almost mind blowing how supportive all of you have been.  Every time you visit, leave comments, or send me emails my heart sings.  Seriously.

So THANK YOU.  You don't know how much you mean to me.  And like I said...I'm not good with the cheesy stuff and don't usually whip it out so, I actually mean that one.

In spirit of the holiday, I decided there was no better way to truly say thank you than by doing a giveaway.  Well...the better way would probably be to give each and everyone of you a cookbook...but that seems a bit far fetched right?  Right.

Today I'm giving away a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty.  Have you seen this beautiful thing?  Yes?  Then you know how fabulous it is.  No?  Click {here} now.  Swoon.  Drool.  Swoon.  Drool.  You need this cookbook.  I promise.  I've been ogling over it at Shake The Tree (my super fabulous somewhat new workplace) and knew I had to share it.

To make this baby yours do the following:
  1. Follow this blog by email or Google Friend Connect
  2. Leave me a comment to tell me something about your Thanksgiving.  Anything.
  3. Receive extra entries by sharing the giveaway on Facebook or Twitter and then leave another comment telling me you've done so.
  4. Cross your fingers and check back on November 30th to see if you've won yourself a cookbook!
  5. And until then...please make these crostinis.  I whipped them up a few nights ago while no one was "that hungry" to find that they disappeared in minutes.  Scrumptious I tell you.  And they are only a small glimpse of what this fabulous cookbook has to offer!
pear crostini with goat cheese

from- Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi

Makes: 4 generous servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

{Printable Recipe}

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to finish
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 large slices sourdough bread, cut 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 3 semi-ripe pears (unpeeled)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 4-5 ounces good-quality goat cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Place the pine nuts, 4 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and mix to a wet paste.  Use a brush to apply to one side of every sourdough slice.  Lay bread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly colored.  Remove and allow to cool slightly.
  2. While the bread is in the oven, prepare the pears.  Stand each pear on a cutting board and trim off a very thin layer of skin from each side.  Then cut each pear lengthways into four thick slices.  Remove the core with the tip of a knife.  Place the slices in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the sugar, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.  Toss gently.
  3. Take a ridged griddle pan and place on a high heat until very hot.  Lay the pear slices gently in the pan and leave for about a minute on each side, just to make char marks.  Turn carefully and then remove with tongs, trying not to break the pears.
  4. To assemble the crostini, slice the cheese thinly and arrange over the toasts, alongside the pears.  You want to see both clearly, so allow them to overlap and rest on each other to create height.  Place the crostini in the oven for 3-4 minutes, just to warm up and for the cheese to partly melt.  Remove from oven and garnish each slice with a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Meal Plan Monday

Who's excited for the second annual Thanksgiving themed Meal Plan Monday?

You are!  Right?  Better be.

Did you miss last year's Thanksgiving Meal Plan?  Are you upset about it?  Don't be!  You can read about it {here}.

Finally this year's big feast is upon us.

And I actually feel so well prepared for it.

I've already made the initial grocery store run.  The turkey is ready for it's brine bath.  The stuffing bread is ready to dry out.  The next grocery list is made.  This whole organization thing is blissfully disgusting sometimes.

Now all I'm missing is my parents.  But it won't be long.  Their plane arrives tonight and I couldn't be more excited.  For some reason the gap between seeing them in August this year to now seems far bigger than it did last year.  It's going to be a week full of feasting, shopping, sightseeing, card playing, and just a whole lot of fun.  Do any of you Bostonians have any hidden gem sightseeing spots up your sleeve?  You can only walk the freedom trail so many times you know.

So, now you know what I have going on for the week...but what are YOU doing for Thanksgiving?  Traveling to different family Thanksgivings?  Making your own feast?  Going out to dinner?  And for everyone not in the U.S., I still want to know what you are up to this week!  What's going on in your kitchen?

Just a heads up.  You might want to check back later in the week.  I might be....I don't know...doing a...giveaway...or uh...something like that.  Maybe to show you how thankful I am for you as a reader.  I mean...maybe. 

Have a great holiday!

The "J. Crew Cocktail" from Bookcooker
Thanksgiving Food and Wine Pairings from YumSugar
Vanilla Pear and Vodka Cocktail from Two Tarts

Slow Cooker Apple Butter Yeast Rolls from A Spicy Perspective
Sweet Potato and Honey Dinner Rolls from How Sweet It Is
Cheesy Winter Squash Muffins from Scarborough Food Fair
World's Best Dinner Rolls from Our Best Bites

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad from 101 Cookbooks
Sweet Potato Soup with Buttered Cashews from Scarborough Food Fair
Momofuku Brussels Sprouts from House to Haus
Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale from Ezra Pound Cake
Roasted Broccoli with Raisin Vinaigrette from Scarborough Food Fair

Garlic and Mushroom Mashed Potatoes from Give Me Flour via A Clove of Garlic, A Pinch of Salt
Hasselback Sweet Potatoes from Babble
Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes from 101 Cookbooks
Wild Mushroom Gravy from Oh My Veggies
Rosemary Parmesan Sweet Potato from Cookie + Kate

Persimmon & Squaw Bread Stuffing from Spoon Fork Bacon
Dried Prunes and Chestnut Bulgur Stuffing from The Healthy Foodie
Sausage and Artichoke Stuffing from The Meaning of Pie
Skillet Stuffing from Georgia Pellegrini
Sourdough and Mushroom Stuffing from A Sweet Pea Chef

Glazed Ham with Guinness, Mustard, Marmalade and Pineapple Juice from Almost Bourdain
Sweet Potato Ravioli with Kale Pesto from The First Mess
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast from Heather's Dish
Vegetarian Pot Pie from The Curvy Carrot
Turkey Brine from Baked Bree
Vegetable Lasagna from Babble

Maple-Walnut Cranberry Tart from Hungry Rabbit
Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake from Scarborough Food Fair
Pumpkin Filled Cream Puffs with Maple Caramel Sauce from Full Fork Ahead
Pear Cardamom Upside Down Cake from Eat, Live, Run
Single Crust Plum and Apple Pie from Smitten Kitchen
Pumpkin Pie from Scarborough Food Fair

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Soup

Can anyone explain to me why in the world soup tastes so much better when eaten out of a large coffee cup?

You know what I'm talking about right?  And you've definitely done this...right?

I sure hope so.

I'm not sure if it's the mere fact that you aren't "supposed" to eat soup out of a coffee cup...because well...a coffee cup is for coffee.  Or maybe there is some scientific reasoning behind the shape of the coffee cup that allows the soup to "breathe" creating flavors unthinkable in a regular soup bowl.

I would love to say it's the latter.  But that's probably bogus.

Or maybe...this soup is just really delicious.  Roasted vegetables.  Lentils.  Kale.  Smoky.  Spicy.  How could you go wrong?

You couldn't with that combination.

This is actually the first time I've ever thrown kale into a soup.  Uhhh why didn't anyone tell me about this?  It takes the soup to an entirely different level.  And the roasted vegetables.  I wouldn't have it any other way but if you're in a time crunch just saute the vegetables and skip the first step.  You won't get the same flavors but have no fear, it will still be tasty.

smoky lentil and roasted vegetable soup

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

{Printable Recipe}

  • 1 small onion 
  • 4 ounces mixed mushrooms
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cubed
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • dash of cayenne
  • 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • cheese for topping (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 400° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread onion, mushrooms, and squash out on the baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.
  2. In large pot heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat and scrape vegetables into pot.  Add garlic and saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients (bay leaf, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, diced tomatoes with juice, broth, and lentils) except for the kale.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover.  Let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are soft and puffy.
  4. Remove from heat and add two handfuls of kale.  Stir well and do a taste test.  Salt and pepper to your liking.
  5. Serve with a bit of cheese (if you want) and a nice piece of bread.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Bars with Vanilla Bourbon Whipped Cream

I'm going to go ahead and admit that this dessert is absolutely, positively over the top.

But let me explain.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner...10 days away to be exact.  And that means that my feast planning is in full swing.  Every single one of you (except for my mother) would question my sanity if you were to see the lists I've made.  There are different sections, arrows everywhere, things crossed out, random get the picture.  It looks like a little crazy bomb went off in my planner.  Crazy or not...I love that list.  It gets me all excited for the holidays and for the days of cooking that are about to begin.

But there's a problem. When I get to the "dessert" portion of the list I always run into a dilemma.  There are so many options.  So many staples.  So many things I think just have to be on the Thanksgiving dinner table.  But...our Thanksgiving dinner table is quite small these days.  Meaning that the number of desserts I deem necessary isn't exactly proportionate to the number of mouths there are to feed.  And never mind the full bellies that aren't willing to consume anymore food.

So...this year I decided to do a little consolidating.

In my opinion...Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie are two absolute must haves.  But two pies is a lot of dessert for 6 people.  And having two whole pies really stifles the making of any other dessert.  And I don't like being limited.  So, I thought why not combine the two necessities into delectable little bars, that can be cut into smaller than a slice of pie portions, creating more room in the belly and on the table for other desserts?  It's genius really.  Why didn't I think of this before?

Like I said before...this dessert is a little over the top.  But hey, it's Thanksgiving!  You're supposed to feast, right?  I'll be honest, I wasn't entirely sure that this layering thing would work out.  I was worried that the pecans would sink to the bottom and create some sort of weird texture thing.  But that didn't happen.  And these bars are everything you would hope for when combining two already scrumptious pies.  Top it off with a little bit of homemade bourbon vanilla whipped cream?  Oh my.  Prepare yourself.

P.S. Don't be concerned with the ingredient looks long and scary...but it's not.  You probably have most things sitting on your shelf already!

Makes: one 9x13 inch pan
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

{Printable Recipe}

-for the crust
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
-for the pumpkin layer
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
-for the pecan layer
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
-for the bourbon vanilla whipped cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with foil leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.  Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. In a small bowl combine flour, oats, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt until well combined.  Press firmly into the bottom of the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
  3. While the crust is baking, prepare the pumpkin filling.  Combine all ingredients for the pumpkin filling in a small bowl (preferably the one you used for the crust to create less dishes!) and mix until everything is smooth and well combined.
  4. Remove crust from oven and pour pumpkin filling evenly over golden crust.  Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. While the pumpkin layer is baking, prepare the pecan layer by combining 1 stick melted butter, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 1/3 cup honey, 2 tablespoons heavy cream, and 2 cups chopped pecans.  Once the pumpkin layer is somewhat set (but still a bit jiggly) remove pan from oven and top pumpkin layer with pecan layer.  Return to the oven and bake another 20-25 minutes until completely set.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  7. In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat heavy cream until soft peaks begin to form.  Add sugar and beat until hard peaks form.  Fold in bourbon and the insides of one vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon extract.
  8. Cut into squares and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Brendan and Kaston are trying to show you all how delicious this dessert is...unfortunately they just look like they are drooling all over it.  I think they need to work on their "deliciously satisfied" faces.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Roasted Eggplant Dip

I need someone to try and convince me that they don't swoon over a good dip.

Because I would love to hear that argument.  If there even is one.  I mean really, who doesn't love dips?  They provide so many options and can please all categories of eaters.  The picky ones.  The healthy ones.  The meat lovers.  The list could go on and on.

If you haven't caught on by now...I like dips.  And I seem to get pretty defensive about them.  I think they remind me of my childhood or something like that.  Mom, did you feed me heavenly dips on a daily basis or what?  Either way...I'm a fan.  However, I'll go ahead and tell you I'm not a fan of the ones filled with mayonnaise.  It may be hidden in there but I definitely know it's there.  My body starts cringing (with possible twitching) at the thought, sight, smell, or feel of mayonnaise.  If you've ever worked in a restaurant you know how mortifying it is to have to scoop the mayo out of the bottom of that massive bucket.  It made me want to burst into tears every time.

Defensive about dips.  Offensive about mayo.

So here's what I love about this's creamy without the mayo.  And way healthier.  Mayo and sour cream move over, yogurt is here to save the day.  The dip also has this unbelievable smokiness to it from roasting the eggplant and adding a generous amount of smoked paprika (<-- this stuff is gold) that makes my taste buds go wild.  Also, the garnishes are essential.  So don't skip out on them.  As usual, feel free to switch them up a bit but they add texture and pops of flavor that shouldn't be missed.

roasted eggplant dip...  
topped with fresh mint, feta cheese, and toasted pine nuts

A big thank you goes out to Marian from Shake the Tree for sharing this recipe with me.  I can't wait for more delicious recipe exchanges!

Adapted from Nigella Lawson

Makes: 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

{Printable Recipe}

3 small eggplants (1 - 1 1/2 pounds) to make about 1 1/4 cups when roasted, pulped and sieved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons warm water
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
for the garnish-
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
small handful feta cheese
drizzle of olive oil
*note-I think adding a (4 ounce) package of mixed mushrooms to the onion/garlic mixture would be phenomenal.  Someone please do this and let me know how it goes?*

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.  Prick the eggplants several times with a fork and put on a baking sheet.  Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until soft to the touch.  Let cool several minutes and when you are able to handle the eggplants peel off and discard the skin and place the insides in a bowl and mash.  Transfer pulp to a sieve to drain while you prepare everything else.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic (and possibly the mushrooms).  Cook until golden, about 5-7 minutes, and then add the drained eggplant pulp, cooking for another 5 minutes over medium-low heat.  Stir frequently.  Take off heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.  Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the yogurt to the cooled eggplant mixture along with the saffron in the now golden water and the smoked paprika.  Stir well.  Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with mint, feta, toasted pine nuts, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Serve with veggies, pita bread, or anything else your heart desires.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Meal Plan Monday


It's November already.  And 5 days into it at that.

How did this happen?

Last time I checked I was laying down by the pool, reading a book and enjoying the warm ocean breeze.  Maybe not the last time...since that would indicate a major gap in my sense of reality...but it just doesn't seem like that long ago.

However, I don't want you thinking that I'm complaining.  I love the fall/now winter.  There are holidays sprinkled about every couple of weeks which means months of traveling, cooking, being home, decorating, and no school...just a few of my favorite things.

*Please ignore how "Domestic Martha Stewart" those favorite things are.  I can't help it.*

Now if you are remotely like me in your obsessive list making've already started jotting down ideas for your Thanksgiving meal. don't do that?  Weird.  Anyway, it's highly possible that I've started this process.  I like to plan ahead okay?  Plus, I'm in a bit of a predicament this year.  My parents are coming to Boston to spend Thanksgiving with us.  My parents also eat meat...and we don't.  So do we take a little break and chow down on some ham and turkey to put a smile on my dads face?  Or do we introduce them to a few non-traditional turkey replacements?  Suggestions?  How do you deal with this delicious mess?

For those of you who haven't started your obsessive list making yet...I'm here to help.  At the bottom of the post I've linked to a few Thanksgiving recipe round-ups that look fabulous.  Ones that I have/probably will be drawing inspiration from when the feast rolls around.

Enjoy and Happy Monday!


Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash


Grilled Citrus Tuna Steak with Avocado and Spinach
-from Bev Cooks

Grilled Eggplant Subs with Fontina and Tomato Jam


Toast with Classic Pesto, Shrimp, and Garlic


Rainbow Chard, Kale and Quinoa Salad

Thanskgiving round-ups

Swooning over the Poppyseed Crusted Butternut Squash with Kale and Pomegranates and the Vanilla Pear and Vodka Cocktail
-from Mint

Hello...Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberry Pistachio Pesto

I need the Sweet Potato Pie AND the Rum Raisin Apple Pie

Garlic and Mushroom Mashed Potatoes.  Yes please.

An entire round-up of Vegetarian deliciousness.  My favorite = Millet Pilaf with Herb Roasted Squash and Sweet Potatoes
-from Bliss Tree
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