11.02.2014

Apple Pecan Stuffing


Stuffing is one of the Thanksgiving sides that took me the longest to come around to, the idea of literally "stuffing" a turkey with bread was a little off-putting. However, as with all of my least favorite foods, I was determined to find a way to make it delicious. 


Last year I made stuffing with sausage, thyme and mushrooms which was pretty incredible, but I wanted more of a sweet and savory combination this time around. The key to great stuffing is using a good loaf of bread that's been toasted in the oven, rather than dried bread cubes. Also adding a bunch of fresh ingredients like sweet apples, crunchy pecans, and fresh herbs.


The outcome was amazing, it was so incredibly fragrant the whole house smelled like Thanksgiving! Alex thoroughly enjoyed eating this along with my Citrus Cranberry Sauce (coming soon) on turkey and brie sandwiches for lunch. I guess this proves that stuffing is good for more than just an accompaniment during the holidays!


Apple Pecan Stuffing

Ingredients:
1 loaf bread
3 tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, diced
2 Gala apples, peeled & chopped
1/2 tbsp rosemary, minced
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
salt & pepper

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the loaf of bread into one inch cubes. Place the bread cubes onto a baking sheet and put it into the oven for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium pan combine the butter, onions, apples, and rosemary. Saute them over medium heat for ten minutes, add a teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

In a large baking dish, combine the toasted bread, the sauteed apples and onions, the pecans, and the chicken stock. Place the dish into the oven for 45 minutes.

Photobucket
PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

10.21.2014

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Maple Meringue





Since the weather is finally starting to feel like Fall, I've decided to start testing recipes for the holidays. Sweet potatoes are quintessential for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year I made sweet potato gratin with pecan streusel, it was pretty delicious but I think sweet potatoes really shine when they're whipped and creamy. 


I have always been a fan of baked meringue, it requires minimal ingredients and can be topped with just about anything. I thought why not add this marshmallow-esque topping to some whipped sweet potatoes. 

Alex gave me a brûlée torch as a gift on Christmas five years ago, which was the perfect tool for torching this treat, however you could always use your broiler for browning the top.



Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:
2 lb sweet potatoes
1/2 cup half & half
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
Fill a large pot 2/3 with water, bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into 1" pieces. Place the sweet potatoes into the boiling water. Allow them to boil for 20-25 minutes, or until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes.

Next, place the potatoes into a large mixing bowl along with the half & half, butter and salt. Using a hand mixer on medium, whip the potatoes for a few minutes until they're smooth. Place them into a baking dish, and top them with the meringue (recipe below). Finish it off by torching the top of the meringue with a brûlée torch, or under the broiler for a minute or two.

Maple Meringue

Ingredients:
2 egg whites
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch ground ginger

Directions:
In a medium size mixing bowl, place the egg whites. Using a hand mixer, mix them on high until they're frothy. Then proceed by adding about a tablespoon of confectioner's sugar at a time, while beating the mixture on medium-high speed. After you've added all of the sugar, add in the maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger. Continue to whip the mixture for 5-10 minutes, or until it forms stiff peaks (similar to whipped cream).

Photobucket
PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

9.06.2014

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes


Commence the drooling. I discovered these treats last fall when I was perusing through one of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, so I decided to make them on a whim. They were a HUGE hit, I must have made them four times before the year's end.


Per usual, I made a couple of changes to the recipe to make it my own. I'm not a huge fan of nutmeg so I removed it from the recipe, I also decided to add caramel and chopped pecans.


These cupcakes are the perfect start to fall, not to mention the fact that they make the whole house smell like pumpkin deliciousness. 


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Yield: 12 Servings

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil

8 oz cream cheese
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioner's sugar

1/4 cup caramel (optional)
1/8 cup pecans (optional)


Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Mix them with a whisk until they're well combined. In another bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine the wet ingredients (eggs, pumpkin puree, white sugar, brown sugar, and canola oil). Mix them together until they're well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix them together.

Place 12 cupcake liners into a muffin pan. Evenly spoon the batter into each liner, or until each one is 3/4 filled. Place the pan into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until you poke one with a fork and it comes out clean.

Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl soften the cream cheese and butter in the microwave for 20 seconds. Using a hand mixer, whip the cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla together. Then slowly add the confectioner's sugar until the frosting is smooth. Finally, place the frosting into a ziplock bag and cut off the corner before frosting the cupcakes (it functions as a pastry bag).

When the cupcakes are completely cooled (no one wants melted frosting!), squeeze the frosting out onto each cupcake. Finally, drizzle the cupcakes with a bit of caramel and a few pecan pieces. Enjoy!

Photobucket
PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

7.20.2014

Shaved Asparagus Salad



Well hello again! Sorry for the lack of posts lately, moving was an awfully long process for me (not a far one though, I've only moved ten blocks away). 


Admittedly asparagus is one of my all time favorite veggies. It's perfectly delicious when cooked with just a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. However, I thought I would try something new by shaving the spears with a vegetable peeler. The result was amazing. Rather than having a mouth full of one flavor, shaving it allowed me to combine it with a citrus vinaigrette, crispy pancetta, and creamy goat cheese. The combination of flavors is out of this world. 


I think I've made this salad four times since its conception... it's on our list of staples for the summer. 



Shaved Asparagus Salad
Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:
5 slices pancetta
1 lb asparagus
1/2 lemon, juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz goat cheese
kosher salt
black pepper
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lay the slices of pancetta onto a baking sheet, sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Place the baking sheet into the oven for 10 minutes.

To prep the asparagus, start by breaking the tough ends off of each stalk. Then use a vegetable peeler to shave the stalks of asparagus, you'll get about 5 pieces out of each stalk. 

Place a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and shaved asparagus. Allow it to cook for 6-8 minutes, tossing it once every couple of minutes. 

Once the asparagus is cooked, add it to a serving dish, crumble the goat cheese onto it and set the crispy pancetta on the side along with a few lemon slices.

Photobucket
PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

6.08.2014

Maple Turkey Bacon


Turkey bacon has always been one of my favorite breakfast sides, but it's always so difficult to cook in a pan without burning it! So naturally I thought it was a good idea to cook it in a fashion similar to my Cinnamon Brown Sugar Bacon. With a drizzle of maple syrup and my oven at 400 degrees, turkey bacon was taken to a whole new level of greatness. It became crispy, sweet and salty. It's especially wonderful when paired with my Strawberry Challah French Toast!


Maple Turkey Bacon

Ingredients:
1 lb turkey bacon
1 tbsp real maple syrup

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lay out the turkey bacon onto a large sheet pan, being careful not to overlap each piece. Drizzle each piece with maple syrup, then place the pan into the oven for 15 minutes. Finally, remove the bacon and allow it to cool a bit before serving. Enjoy!

Photobucket
PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

5.19.2014

Strawberry Challah French Toast


There's nothing more satisfying after a long week than a really indulgent brunch on Sunday morning. This brunch in particular is one of epic proportions, Challah French Toast with Warm Strawberry Syrup and Maple Turkey Bacon. 


Challah is the perfect bread for french toast, once you have it you can't go back to regular bread. It's sweet and fluffy and really soaks up all of the delicious cinnamon vanilla custard, it's amazing.


I thought that I was going out on a limb with the idea of strawberry syrup, but it was incredibly delicious. Just a little bit of butter and brown sugar turned juicy strawberries into a sticky sweet syrup. I also made Maple Turkey Bacon (recipe to come later this week), it was the perfect salty complement to the sweet french toast. Yum!


Strawberry Challah French Toast
Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients:
1 loaf challah, sliced into (12) 1" slices
8 eggs
1 cup 2% milk
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp butter

1 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract), cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix them together with a fork until they're well combined. 

Place a large saute pan over medium-low heat, add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and allow it to melt. Submerge two slices of challah into the custard and place them onto the hot saute pan. Allow them to cook for 5 minutes on the first side, or until they're golden. Then flip them, and allow them to cook for an additional minute or two. Place the cooked french toast onto a platter. Then add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and continue to cook the other 5 batches of french toast in the same fashion as the first.

Meanwhile, place a small saute pan over medium-low heat, and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Then place the strawberries into the pan along with the brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Allow the strawberry syrup to cook for 8 minutes, stirring it once every minute or so. Finally, remove it from the heat and spoon it over the cooked french toast. Enjoy!

Photobucket
PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket