Archives for the month of: January, 2012

I only made it three weeks into January before I got back to making desserts. It doesn’t take long before I get antsy. It might have had something to do with the arrival of my Christmas present, one that has a convection fan that actually runs and a cooktop that doesn’t have burnt on stains.

This year I am trying to cook my way through Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now. She has seasonal recipes by month and so far, they have been delightful. So my foray back into desserts was her Baked Apples with Cardamom Crumble.

Have you ever cooked with cardamom? I fell in love with it due to my mother’s honey cardamom crunch that she makes every Christmas. It’s the most sophisticated Chex Mix snack ever. But it hooked me on the spicy cinnamony flavor of cardamom.

Baked Apples with Cardamom Crunch
Adapted from Cook This Now

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Fruit Mixture
3 tbsp brandy
1 cup dried fruit (cranberries or cherries)
4 large Fuji or Gala apples, cut into slices
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 375.

Toss fruit mixture ingredients into a bowl. Lightly grease a 9×9 square pan. Pour apple mixture into the pan.

Crumble Mixture
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Dash of kosher salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

Stir together crumble mixture. Using pastry blender or knife, cut butter into the crumble mixture until butter pieces are smaller than dime size. Add this to the top of the fruit mixture. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until apples are cooked through.

Serve warm, with a little bit of vanilla ice cream.

Love it!

Beth

It’s amazing how disorganized I’ve become. I used to have a planned schedule. I never forgot to do things b/c they were all written down. I did productive things after work. When I needed to make a decision, I made it and moved on.

Over the last year, I’ve found myself moving away from a regimen. I don’t keep a list, and that probably means I’m forgetting things. (Course I don’t leave the office as upset that I didn’t get done what I was supposed to get done b/c I’ve forgotten!). And I’m spending the majority of my evenings curled up with a book. But I am making supper more often. While I don’t feel like I’m being all that I can be, I’m happier with my current arrangement.

I picked up Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge over Christmas thanks to gift cards from the previous year. So far, it has been a great book to turn to for weeknight suppers. Most recipes can be made in about the time it takes you to cook rice (real rice, not the instant rice! You are cooking dinner here!). It does require use of a wok….I have an electric one that my parents gave me when I moved out on my own…but I will shortly be buying a stovetop one that heats all the way up the sides so I can do these stir-fries justice.

Here is one DH helped me makes the other evening. It was delicious and healthy, and I highly recommend it.

Stir-Fried Hoisin Pork with Peppers
adapted from Stir-frying to the Sky’s Edge

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Ingredients
1 lb lean pork tenderloin, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced scallions, plus 1/4 cup finely sliced scallions
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp rice wine
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 large bell pepper, green or red
1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots (I used more cuz I like ’em)
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, combine pork, minced scallions, hoisin, garlic, rice wine, ginger, soy sauce and 1/8 tsp each salt and pepper.

Heat your wok to high heat, swirl in 1 tbsp of peanut oil. Add the pork carefully (it will splatter) and arrange it so it is all flat in a single layer. Cook for about 1 minute to let pork sear, then turn it over and cook for another minute. Then stir-fry 1 minute and remove to another bowl. The pork will still be a little pink inside at this point.

Add remaining peanut oil, and stir-fry peppers and carrots until veggies start to get soft. Add pork with all juices, the other scallions, and rice wine vinegar and stir-fry until pork is cooked through.
Serve with basmati rice. Should make 2-3 servings.

(note, some of these ingredients may seem strange, but most of the large grocery stores have a big Asian section nowadays. Otherwise head over to an international food market for some fun staring at all the different products out there!)

Beth

DH and I were woken up this morning twice (at 3 AND 4 AM) with the goofiest thunderstorm in January, complete with thunder, lightning, hail and tornado sirens. Poor Gracie was a complete nervous wreck. And my poor Mini was sitting outside on the driveway. 😦 Both have survived the trauma, although I’m pretty sure Gracie was laying in the exact same position on the bed when I got home tonight as she was when I left for work. On my black sweater. Which is now white.

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The pill.

Despite my lack of sleep, I’ve remained committed to making sure I’m eating healthy (because let’s face it, there is always a perfectly good excuse that we can use to rationalize stuffing our faces with Nachomama’s enchiladas instead of a salad). I adapted this salad from a recipe I picked up in food photography class last fall, originally posted at Sounding My Barbaric Gulp

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Obv. Food photography class was more beneficial for the recipes than any photography skills!

Winter Panzanella Salad

Croutons
2 cups day old bread, broken into pieces (I used sourdough)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
Salt And pepper

Heat oven to 400. Spread bread out on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and garlic, then add some salt and pepper. Roast for 7-8 minutes or until toasty. Let cool.

Salad
1 head radicchio, sliced and chopped
1 lb brussel sprouts, cleaned and quartered
4 slices of thick cut bacon, cooked and broken into small pieces
2 Fuji apples, diced
Seeds from half of a pomegranate
Shaved Parmesan cheese

Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1-2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients (including croutons in a very large bowl). Toss with dressing and serve. Will keep for 2-3 days, although radicchio may get a bit bitter over time.

A winter salad that doesn’t feel like bird food! Woo-hoo! Enjoy!

Beth

That’s about all I’ve got. My least favorite part about my job is travel. Business travel stinks. I have been in four cities today. Three flights. Several hours sitting in a Panera. Waiting outside the Pittsburgh airport in the cold for 40 minutes for the airport shuttle (which was only 10 minutes away at any point…) and a TV which keeps losing signal. And how many grilled chicken salads do I have to eat (which frankly is about the only thing I think I can eat without getting fat)? Oh, and not getting dinner until 11. This is all really lame.

Update the following morning – the gym had no AC, treadmills were out of balance, and the treadmill tv wasn’t hooked up to cable. Way to stay classy Embassy.

To get in a less cranky mood, I flipped through my Christmas pictures and smiled when I saw this one.

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This is an updated take on one of my family’s traditional holiday recipes (although you could do this for lots of holidays depending on your colors). My mom’s recipe was 7 layer jello, that she would make using 7 different kinds of jello, alternating rows with a flavor mixed in with condensed milk.

So when I saw this on The Kitchn, linking to Glorious Treats beautiful creation, I decided to make it for my own Christmas.

I picked up 6 different colors of jello for the rainbows, and a large tub of reduced fat Cool Whip. (and for some odd reason no one in the StL carried grape jello, so my top layer is cranberry with some blue food coloring in it, which gave it an interesting texture. You can make this in a large casserole dish, but I thought these glasses from Target were extra fun. This recipe made 8 large glasses of jello (most of us took two meals to eat ours).

Make each jello using the quick set method on the box. Add about 2/3rds of the plain jello for the first layer. Let sit in the fridge about 15-20 minutes or until it has mostly set. Whisk to Add 1/3 cup Cool Whip to the remaining jello. (I alternated between adding the cool whip immediately, vs. right prior to putting the cool whip layer in the glasses and decided I liked the latter method as it gave the layer a stained glass appearance). Gently spoon the Cool Whip layer on the clear one, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (longer for the first layer). Repeat with other colors, making sure you spoon each layer on top in order to avoid upsetting previous layers.

Of course, this is something you do when you have a lot of advance notice, but I thought they were pretty fun on our table.

Now, time to get out of this darn hotel. 5 hours until my meeting is over and then I can start the arduous process of trying to fly home.

Beth

It won’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me that I more than maximized my holiday time off. I was grateful to not spend two days in the car, and instead I:
1. Cleaned the house, twice
2. Painted the ceiling of two rooms, and re-painted our study/laundry room
3. Did 15 loads of laundry
4. Ran more errands than I care to remember (I think I was at the mall more during December than I was during the entire 11 months previously in 2011).
5. Cleaned out three closets and re-organized my jewelry box
6. Saw 3 movies in the theatre, another on Netflix, caught up on plenty of 30 Rock and found a new BBC program on Sherlock Holmes that is delightful
7. Baked half a dozen different cookies as well as made homemade cinnamon rolls
8. Tore our kitchen apart at least 4 times, of which DH graciously helped me clean up each time

All in all I rather enjoyed myself. And now I am sitting in bed, watching The Closer, trying to convince myself that 11 is a perfectly acceptable time to go to bed when the alarm is set for 5. And to mentally prepare myself for going back to work and getting back in gear (I haven’t really been in gear since vacation, and I’m not fully sure I want to be there either).

Fair warning, I might be a little cranky as I wean myself off the sugar and alcohol that I subsisted on during the holidays. To ease the pain, I will be eating this as part of my detox, borrowed from Two Peas & Their Pod

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium red onion, roughly diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large bunch kale
1 cup quinoa
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Pine nuts

Place sweet potatoes and red onions on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, and season slight with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 for 25-30 minutes, or until soft. Add to a large bowl. Then place kale pieces on the baking sheet- roast until dark green (I put mine on the top shelf to get a little crispy)-about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place 2 cups of water and the quinoa in a saucepan. Being to a boil for about 2-3 minutes, then turn the heat down and simmer until water is go e ( about 15 minutes). Add cooked quinoa to bowl.

Toss with balsamic, then add the dried cranberries. Serve with some pine nuts for a nice crunch.

You’ll catch me chewing down over lunch. Best of luck heading back to the old grind.

Beth

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