Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leftover Eggnog Muffins

The whirlwind that is Christmas has passed by and has left in its wake an abundance of leftovers. Most notoriously is that thick gooey beverage eggnog that is consumed for only one month of the year and then when the month passes is left in the fridge until it spoils. After December 25th it is nearly impossible to get any one to consume eggnog. I am an exception because the stuff is like crack for me... especially the soy nog which I picked up this year. So tasty. But I accept the rest of the worlds seasonal approach to this drink. So to alleviate the pain of food spoilage once everyone has moved on to the post-Christmas world, I present you with eggnog muffins. The dough uses up a cup of eggnog so the muffins have a slight hint of the flavor within them and then are topped with a yummy nutmeg streusel. If you're feeling like an adventurous cook, throw a little rum or rum extract into the dough. I made these for my family and my dad said that the idea didn't sound very good but he was surprised by how much he liked them (I always like to hear this).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

I will leave you with one last holiday recipe to hopefully be included in your own Christmas festivities and the conclusion of the epic saga: me vs. the pumpkin. I destroyed a pumpkin many months ago and told the 4 people or so who read my blog (2 of them are my parents) that I was making a pie completely from scratch. I made some pumpkin puree and froze it until I would need it. The whole thing ended up being very satisfying and a great accomplishment. Maybe it was just the pride I was tasting but I preferred this pie to all of the other pumpkin pies in my past.

I don't know about the rest of the world but my Christmas family feast is uncannily similar to my Thanksgiving feast. There is still cranberry sauce and my weird tofurky log thing and of course mashed potatoes (which I wish would be less of a feast-y food and more of an everyday food). We always seem to have pumpkin pie still too. I don't know if this is normal but if it is than here is a lovely

I found the recipe here. Of course it is only one of thousands of pumpkin pie recipes on the Martha Stewart website. How I came across this one and inevitably chose it is a mystery but I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed it.

Ingredients
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3 large eggs plus 1 egg for glaze
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 tbsp heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin puree, and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk, and combine. Set aside.
2. Roll out the pie dough to a twelve inch circle and transfer to a 9 inch pie pan. Pinch the edges to form a border if there is any overhang. In a small bowl, beat together the heavy cream and then brush this glaze on the pie crust.
3. Fill the pie crust with the pumpkin mixture and then bake 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cranberry Sauce

I hope that I don't really need to tell anyone that most every time you make something yourself it tastes way better than when you pull it out of a can. There is also the added bonus in the case of cranberry sauce that your creation doesn't have those can lines on it. I bet some people like those attractive lines though. With Christmas coming up I will leave you with one simple recommendation. Make this from scratch. I will even help and hand out a quick recipe.
 If you don't like the taste of orange juice, use water or maybe use half water and half juice.

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice + orange zest
1 12 ounce package of fresh cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and orange juice. Heat on medium high heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Add the cranberries, zest and cinnamon and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow to cool, it will thicken up during this time.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Spritz!

Just one more cookie to add to the baking extravaganza... the bake-stravaganza if you will. I decided to add these to my list personally because I just got myself a cookie press and there are really no other occasions throughout the year to use one. It was a garage sale find of my mom and it only cost two dollars. My mom has a cookie press too and they make gorgeous cookies in fun patterns, my favorite this year was the wreath shape. The downside is that these things are frequently a pain to use. It took me a few batches to fully figure out my press but once I did it wasn't so bad. Unfortunately, as I said before, these things only come out once a year so it is likely I will have to go through this same song and dance next Christmas. The thing even came with instructions but they are just generally pretty unreliable. It is also supposed to function as an icing press. If anyone has one of these I would be curious to know about that. Leave me a comment and tell me your ways.


O. I bet you want to know about the cookies. These things are delicious and have so few ingredients, it's great. Of course the majority of the recipe is butter but everyone will give up butter come January right? They are really just simply delicious shortbread cookies. On top of that great buttery flavor, they just look like Christmas. I add food coloring to mine to make them red and green. They were my only colorful treat this year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies!

I would like to welcome the world to Christmas Bake-stravaganza 2010 where I am determined to give out cookies to everyone I see. I had my last final on Wednesday morning and then spent the rest of the day making various treats. Most notably these gingerbread cookies which gave me an opportunity to whip out my eclectic collection of cookie cutters. I'm generally accustomed to making sugar cookies with my mom and getting to decorate those but this year it is time to get real and make my own intense cookies with some pretty decorations. I was drawn to this recipe by Martha Stewart because it uses real ginger although if you go to the recipe you might see as I did that she includes a lot of crazy steps that seem a bit extravagant. Well. If you want to freeze cookies after every fifteen minutes then go for it but I do think that freezing the dough on the tray before cooking helps the dough to retain its awesome octopus shape.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An apology and a Present

Let me start with the apology... I just finished up all of my finals and the last week has been incredibly busy so that is why I have neither been cooking nor sharing tasty tasty recipes based on my cooking adventures. For that I apologize but I will attempt to make amends with this great granola recipe. I made it quite a while ago for the first time as a present to give to my dad for his birthday. I have made myself a batch since then because I enjoyed it so much (and it only uses half a can of pumpkin. What am I going to do with half a can of pumpkin?). I used it as a gift to my dad but it would be really easy to make and then use for a CHRISTMAS gift. I know I'm giving homemade food gifts to a lot of people. Some people may not like incredibly sugary, buttery, unhealthy (delicious) treats and may prefer something like granola which is generally viewed as pretty healthy.

You could ask my Dad I suppose if you want an opinion on this but I think that this granola is really great and surprisingly easy. It's difficult to imagine a world where we make our own cereal. It's just one of those things that if you want it, you have to buy it. Well not anymore! I'm in love! This granola is flavored with pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice with just a bit of brown sugar. It has some nuts and dried fruit added to this which just makes for a great hearty breakfast or maybe even dessert if you're weird like me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spinach Pesto Pasta

I'm not complaining but I have been eating so much spinach lately in any form available to me. I should be glad that it's spinach I'm addicted to and not twizzlers though so there is a silver lining. Another silver lining is this great pesto that I found on the world wide web. I would very much so like to make my own traditional pesto and I'm certain that it would be delicious but there are a lot of overhead costs involved. Pine nuts aren't cheap, good Parmesan isn't too cheap and basil at that quantity is pretty hard to come by. This pesto uses much more accessible ingredients that won't break the bank and is still delicious. I was pretty upset that I used this all in pasta because I was really tempted to try it in other settings. A grilled cheese perhaps? Instead of pizza sauce perhaps? The possibilities for any sort of pesto are astounding. I love the stuff.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Maple Pecan Pie + Pie Crust

I love pecan pie. All throughout the holiday season I am bombarded with magazines telling me that it is literally the worst dessert I can eat but every time I see these warnings, I only crave it more. I think it is the little bit of Georgia in me... Georgia also comes out in me occasionally calling the featured nut pe-CANS. In this decade spanning love affair, there is a little hitch for me. I can look past the calories and the vast unhealthiness of it all but I simply can't get over the corn syrup. I was really determined to find a recipe for pecan pie without any corn syrup and I finally found one that sounded like something I would love. Not only does it not have corn syrup, but it does have one of my favorite flavors in the world: maple syrup. Boy o boy does that maple syrup make a difference.

This would be perfect for a Christmas pie!

The homemade pie crust was another big advantage that this pecan pie had over its corn syrup laden counterparts. Really I had always believed that it was so much easier to use store bought pie crusts so it was worth it to put up with their sup par tastes but for this homemade recipe, the exertion amounts to pulsing some ingredients in the food processor. Also, look at the cool pattern the food processor made, I think it looks lovely.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Banana Spring Rolls

I may have teased about this one earlier as an option for what to do with those pesky but delicious egg roll wrappers. I made nearly a dozen spring rolls but I swear one package has about 30 wrappers in them. They were less than two dollars at the store though so I'm definitely not complaining. I will note a teeny gripe that I have in that these wrappers have essentially one use-- filling them with cabbage and potentially some sort of protein then frying them up. As a person who enjoys both using everything in my refrigerator AND variety, this simply won't do. It was then that genius struck in the form of remembering something I had eaten before with no real creativity involved.

Banana spring rolls. Have you ever had something healthy, then decided it would be a good idea to fry it but the logistics posed a problem to you? There is nothing quite like a warm sliced banana filling inside of a crispy shell. Every once in a blue moon of course because having this decadent treat every night might just kill you. One option though would be to bake these just like my Asian Rolls recipe and then it could be possible to label these healthy.