Monday, November 28, 2011

Meal Plan Monday: Post Thanksgiving

It almost seems painful to plan out another week of eating.  Between our Thanksgiving feast and having mom and dad here for the past week we have absolutely stuffed ourselves with all sorts of delicious things.  Don't get me wrong here, I'm not complaining.  I enjoyed every second of it.  However, I should probably get some fruits and vegetables back in there somewhere.

So this week is all about a post Thanksgiving "cleanse"...but not a cleanse at all.  I couldn't do that.  Ick.  I like food too much....Oh and I get hungry horns, meaning that without food I would probably go on a rampage.  And no one likes that girl.

But please don't be alarmed by all the healthy meals.  I will definitely find a place for some leftover pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and/or german chocolate cake.  And I highly suggest that you do the same.

 -Okay so this isn't exactly part of the healthy meal thing...we will probably go to Trattoria di Monica tonight.  I mean it is mom's last night here...
if you live in Boston or anywhere close, you MUST go to Trattoria di Monica, Vinoteca di Monica, or Monica's Mercato.  All are located in the North End and have my vote for the greatest places in the North End.

Super Spinach Salad with a Basic Vinaigrette from Simply Scratch
 -Time to settle down with the absurdly rich foods.  A nice spinach salad sounds delightful.

Stuffed Acorn Squash from Prevention RD
-I made this squash a couple of weeks ago and it was wonderful.  Even Kaston liked it!  This week I'll be adapting the recipe to use up all of my leftover Thanksgiving stuffing!

Turkey Chili original recipe from Evonne Meranus
 -Not as light as the spinach salad or squash...but using turkey instead of beef is a delicious and much lighter option.


Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp from A Chow Life

-Another healthy option for the week.  As well as a good way to eat up the shrimp that have been screaming at me from the freezer for quite a while.

Sunday breakfast:
Cinnamon Rolls from The Pioneer Woman
   -Is there a better way to end a week of healthy eating than with some big fat cinnamon rolls?  I think not.  And I think that I will have some very happy men in my apartment.

 Coming Up: I think I will be sharing the Turkey Chili recipe with you...But I can't promise...I like to change my mind quite a bit...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

German Chocolate Birthday Cake

Happy post-thanksgiving everyone!

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday.  It was a lovely one up here in Boston.  So much food, so much cooking, and of course the family and friends.  All of the fixings for a good day.

So now Thanksgiving is over and we are on the fast track to Christmas.  Whew.  It's flying by isn't it?

Before we get to Christmas however, there is something else important happening...

Today is my dear friend Joseph Esch's 21st birthday!  Mr. Esch and I met way back when in the 5th grade (when I was a cute little tub of lard) and the friendship lasted through the wild junior high and high school years.  It seems like forever ago.

Since I couldn't be with him today to celebrate the big day...I decided to make him a cake.  A German Chocolate Cake to be exact.  A little birdie told me he had been craving one lately.  Or...he told me when I blatantly asked him a week or so ago.  And while it might not have been the nicest thing for me to make him a cake that he couldn't eat...I still wanted to do something to celebrate.

So, *Joseph-This is a promise that I will make you a German Chocolate Cake the next time we happen to be in the same city, or the same state for that matter.*

 German Chocolate Birthday Cake
from David Lebovitz
Ingredients: for one 3 layer 9 inch cake

for the cake:
  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the filling:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted
for the syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum 
for the icing:
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
 1. Butter three 9-inch pans and line the bottom with rounds of parchment.  Preheat oven to 350°.
2. For the cake: melt both chocolates and 6 tablespoons of water using a double-boiler or microwave.  3. Stir until smooth and set aside.

4. With a mixer beat butter and 1 1/4 cup of sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in melted chocolate and then egg yolks, one at a time.

 5. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

 6. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.

 7. Then the buttermilk.

 8. And the vanilla.  Follow the vanilla with the rest of the dry ingredients.  Mix until well combined.

9. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they hold soft droopy peaks.  Beat in the 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff.
10. Fold egg whites into the batter.
11. Divide batter into the 3 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops and bake for about 45 minutes.  Or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool layers completely when done baking.

12. While the cake is baking prepare the filling, syrup, and icing.
13. For the filling: Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan.  
14. Put 3 ounces of butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.
15. Heat cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon.
15. Pour the cream mixture immediately over the pecan mixture and stir until butter is melted.  Set aside to cool.

16. For the syrup: heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted.  Remove from heat and stir in dark rum.  Set aside.

17. For the icing: Combine 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with corn syrup and 1 1/2 ounces of butter.
18. Heat cream until it just begins to boil.  Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate.  Let stand for a minute and then stir until smooth.  Let cool to room temperature.

 19. To assemble: place one layer top side down.  Generously brush the top with syrup.  Top with filling.  Continue with the next layers.
20. Frost the sides with the chocolate frosting.
21. Top with the filling and add any decorative touches that make your heart sing.

22. Finally ready to eat!
23. Time to dig in and go tell Joseph Esch Happy Birthday!

*Just so you're not confused...the pictures show a smaller cake but the recipe is for a much larger one!*

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Meal Plan Monday: Thanksgiving

Today's "Meal Plan Monday" is going to go a little differently's Thanksgiving!  Or almost anyways...

My precious parents are arriving in Boston tonight so that means we will either be a) eating out or b) munching on a Thanksgiving feast.  So that being said, there is no need to plan out the meals except for one of course...

Because my parents will be here for Thanksgiving, I have decided that I will not be blogging or giving recipes over the holiday.  Not because I'm not incredibly thankful and don't adore each and everyone of you but because I think it's important to step away from the camera and computer for just a little bit and enjoy those moments with family and friends.

Since I'm not allowing myself anything to do with a computer or camera on Thanksgiving, I'm also mandating that my mother turn off her phone and store it away.  If you know her, you know that this will rip her heart to pieces.  So mom, if you're reading this...surprise!  You have to detach that phone from your hand/ear for one day.  You can do it I promise.

So, let's talk about the feast.  Kind of like I'm notorious for spending hours finding a recipe, I'm also notorious for making WAY too much food.  This Thanksgiving probably won't be any sort of exception.  I can't help it.  What if there wasn't enough!  That would be a much bigger disaster.

Below is a very rough idea of what we might be having this Thursday.  But I'll probably change it a million times before then.  And just so you know...we like it simple.  There won't be anything crazy so if that's what you're hoping's not going to happen.  Simple and delicious.  That's how we do things.

The Turkey:
-Rosemary Roasted Turkey
from All Recipes

The Stuffing:
-Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples 
from the Pioneer Woman

The Cranberry Sauce:
  -Simple Cranberry Sauce

The Sides:
 -Creamy Mashed Potatoes 
from the Pioneer Woman

-Roasted Garlic Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds

-Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Pecans

The Rolls:
-Classic Dinner Rolls

-Sweet Potato Rolls with Honey

The Pies:
-Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Whipped Cream
from Me!
-Deep Dish Apple Bourbon Pie

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, and of course delicious food!  I would love to hear about your Thanksgiving plans and the things that you are thankful for so leave them in the comments box!  (All you have to do is click "comments" under this post!)

Coming Up: I'll be back with you by the weekend with a sweet surprise!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Maple Compote

Three weeks later and I'm still going strong with the yummy Sunday morning breakfasts.  The first week was Biscuits and Gravy, which you can find (here), and last week we had some hearty breakfast burritos but it was just too darn early for me to be taking pictures.  Lame excuse, I know. 

And for this week...

Do you remember when I said I'm really loving pumpkin in everything?  Well, I wasn't kidding.  I made another pumpkiny treat this morning.  Pumpkin pancakes with apple maple compote.  Goodness were they good.  The pancakes were perfectly pumpkin flavored but not sweet, and the compote balanced it out wonderfully with the sweetness of the apples and maple syrup.

These pancakes would be a perfect start to Thanksgiving day or the perfect start to Black Friday, giving you enough nourishment to make it through a family get together or enough *umph* to knock some lady out of the way that is about to grab that last digital camera.  (I should stop condoning these things)

You can even throw them together the day before so that you can just pop them in the oven and head on out to an excruciating (but invigorating) day of shopping.

Pumpkin Pancakes...
with Apple Maple Compote
adapted from honey & jam

Makes about 12 large pancakes
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (you can use all-purpose if you want)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 an apple per person cored and cut into slices
  • maple syrup
  • butter for pan
  • cinnamon
 1. Start by combining flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.  Mix with a fork to combine.

 2. Add buttermilk, pumpkin puree, melted butter, and eggs.  I couldn't decide if that last picture looked like a monster...or a dog?
 3. Mix but don't over mix.  A little bit lumpy is just fine.

 4. Heat pan with just a little bit of butter.  When it's hot enough, drop 1/4 cup of batter into the pan.  When the bottom side is golden brown, flip and cook until the other side is golden brown and heated through.  While you are making the pancakes, melt a tablespoon of butter or so in another pan and drop the sliced apples in.  Sprinkle apples with cinnamon and let the apples get soft.  When you are almost done making the pancakes pour enough maple syrup over the apples to cover them and let it bubble for a minute or so.

  5. Grab a glass of milk.

 6. Layer up the pancakes making sure to slather each layer with butter.

7. Top with compote.

 8. Eat!

Coming Up: Tomorrow I'll be sharing some of my Thanksgiving favorites for Meal Plan Monday: Thanksgiving Edition! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Homemade Hummus

First things first.  I have made almost all of the recipes that I posted on Monday and they were DELICIOUS.  If you haven't looked at those recipes, go, go now.  I will most definitely be making all of them again.  And one of these days I'll get around to featuring all of them on here.

But for now, one will do.  And that one is the Pioneer Woman's Classic Hummus.  And let me tell you something.  It's two simple words.  HOMEMADE HUMMUS.  Where have I been all of this time?  What have I been doing?  Why haven't I been making my own hummus? Don't get me wrong, Trader Joe's has some delicious hummus but homemade has stolen my heart.  It's just so fresh and lovely and fluffy and yummy.

Other than it just being downright scrumptious, do you know what else I love about Hummus?

It's so stinking simple and you can eat it on anything and everything!

For example on, in, or with the following:
  • PB & hummus sandwich
  • Mummus Melts (that I made for Halloween)
  • veggies
  • pita bread
  • bagels/English muffins
  • pizza
  • salads
  • artichoke dip
  • wraps
I could go on forever, but you get the point.  So you should make this now.  You'll love yourself for it.  Also, it will make you feel better about the indulgences of next week. 

Classic Hummus...
from the Pioneer Woman
  • 3 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 whole lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh basil, parsley, or chives
  • 3-5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Throw chickpeas in the food processor.

 2. Add Tahini.

 3. And then everything else except for the water and olive oil.  Pulse a few times until it's smooth being careful not to over mix.  Add water to help blend.  Add olive oil and pulse several times to incorporate.
4. Eat!  Or refrigerate up to 3 days.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

I am sadly notorious for spending far too much time trying to find the perfect recipe.  I'll spend hours (how do I have that much time to spend??) searching websites, blogs, pinterest, and cookbooks to find exactly what I want to make.  I also pester Kaston and Nick about what I should make or what they want which, they absolutely hate.

I'm sure you have already come to the conclusion that this time consuming process is ABSURD.  And you're right.  Why in the world do I do this?  It usually produces something wonderful but spending hours on that??  Not okay.

To combat this little problem, I have started making a rough "meal plan" for the week.  Using the weekend to gather up the best looking recipes that I could use for the following week.  This also allows me to make one run to the grocery store and have all the necessary ingredients at hand.  The organizer inside of me loves this little aspect.

I will say that I still fly by the seat of my pants on some nights and that not all recipes get made BUT my hours of searching have been cut down tremendously.

So a regular "Meal Plan Monday" post.  What do you think?  Would you enjoy seeing the recipes from around the web (and other places) that I plan/hope to make throughout the week?  Since this is a new thing I would love to hear some feedback from you!

Please note: The below pictures are not mine!  I had nothing to do with these lovely things!  They all belong to the wonderful blogs featured in the links.  Please go to their site to check out more!


Stuffed Acorn Squash from Prevention RD
-This would be perfect for leftover stuffing from Thanksgiving!

Steak and Arugula Salad from A Chow Life 
-Kaston and Nick eating salad? No way.  Kaston and Nick eating salad when it has been hidden by a big slab of steak? Yes way.

 Red Beans and Rice from All Recipes
-I made this last week and it was an absolute hit.  The guys are already begging for more.

Skillet Cornbread from The Pioneer Woman
-Let's be honest.  The guys will be eating leftover Red Beans and Rice.  I also made this cornbread last week with a few alterations (add a can of creamed corn and a can of green chilies!) 

   Turkey Black Bean Burger from Babble
-Have I ever told you how much of a sucker I am for Turkey Burgers?
-I usually don't plan for Saturdays and Sundays since they are so up in the air and there aren't any set schedules.  However, there are a few more things that I've been wanting to make.....

  Classic Hummus from The Pioneer Woman
-I've been wanting some homemade hummus for quite some time now...Mmmm nothing like it.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Maple Compote from Honey and Jam
-Please see my last post about putting pumpkin into everything.  This would be delightful for our Sunday morning breakfast.

Now obviously this list is quite ambitious.  And I'm not holding myself to making all of these things.  It's just an idea...and a way of organizing.  Mmm organizing.  Hopefully I'll get around to posting the recipes (and my alterations) to the favorites of the week.  Keep an eye out!
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