Archive for November 2008

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

November 26th, 2008 — 8:11am

Last night I made a great recipe for Chewy Gingerbread Cookies that I found on Martha Stewart’s Web site. The cookies look and taste great, and I’m hopeful they’ll be the perfect offering for my Thanksgiving hostesses.

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
2 tablespoons baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and spices into a medium bowl. Put butter, brown sugar, and grated ginger into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in molasses.

Beat in flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the baking soda mixture. Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours (up to overnight).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Shape dough into 1/2-inch balls, and space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

Roll balls in granulated sugar. Bake until surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets, 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Banana Espresso Muffins

November 25th, 2008 — 11:20am

In anticipation of the work week and my continual need for a a sweet accompaniment to my morning coffee, on Sunday night I made a recipe for Banana Espresso Muffins that I found on a cooking blog (via Tastespotting). I love banana bread, and this recipe seemed to offer a new and exciting alternative to the classic staple.

The muffins turned out quite tasty and have paired nicely with my morning java this week.

1 very ripe banana, lightly mashed

1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor mix banana and sour cream until smooth. Add the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla and process until blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat on low speed of a stand mixer for about 1 minute. Add the butter and half the banana mixture and beat until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining banana mixture in two parts, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition. Add pecans and beat on low speed just until incorporated. Remove half of the batter and place in separate bowl and add the espresso powder until incorporated.

Place muffin liners in tins and alternate spooning banana mixture and espresso mixture into each liner until full to the top. Take a knife and gently swirl each muffin liner to mix the espresso batter and banana batter. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and cool on wire rack.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

African Peanut Butter Stew

November 25th, 2008 — 5:49am

I tried a recipe for African Peanut Butter Stew this past Saturday night. I found the recipe online at Lunds and Byerly’s, the Minneapolis gourmet grocery store that I am mildly obsessed with. For over a year, I’ve been wanting to recreate an African stew that I enjoyed at an on-campus lecture event I attended last year (at which my former Professor, Harold Scheub, of the famed African Storyteller 210, relayed his favorite tales and explained commonly used story devices). I’ve been waiting for the perfect stew weather. And this past weekend, I knew that it was finally time.

While the stew did require some prep work, the end result was well worth the elbow grease. My friend Karen gushed that it was one of the best dinners I’ve ever made. The pictures above just don’t do the dish justice. It was a great combination of hearty vegetables, chicken, and subtle flavors of curry, peanut butter, and pepper, over a fluffy bed of couscous. The recipe also made enough to feed approximately 10 people, and since there were only three of us, I have lots of great leftover lunches for the week.

2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil
1 large onion, chopped (1 3/4 cups)
2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 bell peppers, green, red and yellow, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
1 (10 ounce) package couscous


Heat oil in heavy saucepan. Stir in onion, cook over medium heat until translucent. Stir in chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until outside is browned. Stir in chicken broth, tomato paste, peanut butter, carrots, bell peppers, curry powder, red pepper flakes, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat; simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Stir in sweet potatoes and continue to cook until potatoes are tender and chicken is no longer pink (about 30 minutes). Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to package directions using 1 teaspoon salt. Serve stew over hot couscous.

2 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

The Modern Camper

November 24th, 2008 — 2:16pm

Growing up, my family did a lot of camping, traversing the best Wisconsin state parks with our trusty popup camper in tow. Many of my favorite memories from growing up are those in which I was camping and spending time with my family in the great outdoors. That’s why I was so excited to learn about a new “camper-esque” product on the market for today’s adventure lovers…

Recently awarded the coveted designation of “Men’s Journal Gear of the Year 2008,” Sylvan Sport’s GO is the most unique, intuitive, versatile, and lightweight mobile adventure camping and travel trailer ever created.

The all-aluminum, low profile design weighs in at just 800 pounds and can be pulled behind even the smallest cars. You can stow up to 800 pounds of equipment in one configuration, and strap gear and bikes to the Thule-compatible roof rack system in another.

The tent fits cleanly into the roof’s storage box, and when you’re ready to set up camp, the tent stands up in just two minutes. The camper-esque dome tent offers a dining table and space for up to four adults. The GO also comes with a locking, weather-proof gear box where you can keep all of your camping essentials. The GO will set you back $8,000.

4 comments » | Vacation and Travel

The Glady-Ator

November 24th, 2008 — 1:52pm

Gladys “GladyatorBurrill, age 90, plans to race walk her 5th marathon at the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 14. Her goal is to do an 8:30 marathon and break the women’s 90-94 age group world record. Wow.

Comment » | Racing and Training

Ugg-Free and Proud

November 21st, 2008 — 9:42am

Meet my new winter boots. While I haven’t purchased them yet, I intend to as soon as possible. They’re the perfect blend of style and function—sort of a hybrid of rugged Sorels and trendy Uggs. I’ve been searching for the perfect pair of boots for some time now. Specifically, something that I can tromp around and shovel snow in, but just as easily wear to work and pair with my long, wool black coat for a more sophisticated look. I’d say these Merrels succeed in meeting both requirements equally. I found the boots in the latest Title Nine catalog.

As a side note, I will never wear Uggs. I will always remember my brother telling me a few years ago, “Don’t be one of those girls.” That’s stuck with me, and I just can’t do it. To this day, I remain Ugg-free and proud.

3 comments » | Uncategorized

Most Delicious Apple Cake

November 21st, 2008 — 6:29am

Last weekend, I also made this great apple cake that I found at the excellent food blog 101 Cookbooks. It was really easy, and I think it turned out quite delicious. I also think it looks hot, too (see photo, above). Would you agree, Katy?

I made/would make a few substitutions. I couldn’t find large grain sugar, so I just used regular sugar to sprinkle on top. And although I used natural cane sugar as the recipe suggested, I think I would use brown sugar next time for a little more flavor and sweetness. The cake definitely got better throughout the week as the flavors intensified and the cake moistened.

Unfussy Apple Cake Recipe
from 101 Cookbooks

2 cups sweet, crisp red apples, cut into 1/4 cubes (peel on)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup dark Muscavado sugar (or other fine-grain natural cane or brown sugar), lump-free
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 eggs1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled a bit
3 tablespoons large grain sugar

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees, racks in the middle. Butter and flour (or line bottom with parchment paper) one 9-inch square baking dish or tart pan, you can also bake it in a 9×13 pan but really keep a close eye on it after 20 minutes – it will be quite thin.

Place the chopped apples in a bowl of water along with the juice of one lemon. Set aside. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and salt in a large bowl. And in a separate smaller bowl whisk together the eggs and the buttermilk. Whisk in the melted butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the flour mixture and stir until barely combined – try not to over mix. Now drain the apple, shake off any excess water, and fold the apples into the cake batter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, pushing it out toward the edges. Sprinkle with most of the large grain sugar. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until cake is just set and a touch golden on top. I like this cake every-so-slightly under-baked, just barely, remember it will cook for a little while after you remove it from the oven

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Favorite Chili

November 21st, 2008 — 6:14am
I made a double batch to ensure plenty of leftovers!
Here’s my Tupperware, reheat special!

The last time I was home to visit my parents, my mom whipped up an amazing batch of chili from a recipe that she had found in the March 2008 Rachel Ray magazine. Apparently it was the winning chili recipe for some sort of chili cook off Rachel had hosted for readers. I think this chili is awesome, especially served with cilantro, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips. It’s quickly become my favorite, and it’s the perfect Tupperware, reheat lunch for me at the office.


2 T. olive oil
1 pound of lean ground beef or Boca meatless ground burger
1/2 cup chopped onion1 garlic clove finely chopped
1 T. chili powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 15oz can black beans1
15 oz can pinto beans
1 10oz can tomatoes and green chiles
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
12 oz Monterrey jack pepper cheese, shredded
1 (10 oz) bag corn chips such as Fritos


1. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook for 7 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Add the beans, with their liquid, and the tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Stir in the cilantro, then top with the cheese, cover and let stand until the cheese melts, 5 to 10 minutes. Place a handful of corn chips in each of 4 bowls. Top with the chili and serve.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

He’s At It Again!

November 20th, 2008 — 4:02pm

My brother recently found out that he secured a lottery spot for the 2010 Western States Endurance Run, which is a race that he’s been trying to get in to for a few years now. Western States 100 is one of the oldest ultra trail events in the world, and definitely one of the most challenging. The 100-mile rugged trail run winds through California’s Sierra Nevada, beginning in Squaw Valley, and ending in Auburn. The run includes a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles, and a cumulative total of 18,000 feet of climbing and 23,000 feet of descents.

The race begins at 5am on the Saturday of the last weekend in June and runners must finish by 11am the following day in order to be eligible for an award (the coveted bronze belt buckle). The field typically consists of approximately 450 seasoned ultra running veterans.

So Kelly will add yet another ultra endurance race to his impressive and continually growing resume. His next ultra is on February 7—the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile trail run in Huntsville, Texas, which is the race that started his ultra career in 2005. Since the race will be much flatter and faster than many of the other ultras Kelly has competed in, his goal is to run a PR. Can you even imagine trying to run a personal best in a 100-mile trail run? It’s really just hard to grasp the concept of running that far, let alone trying to run it as fast as you can. But that’s my brother. Always making my athletic accomplishments look like small potatoes :)

1 comment » | Family Fun, Racing and Training

Pain Un Chocolat, S’il Vous Plait

November 19th, 2008 — 1:17pm

Over the weekend, I joined my friends Jill and Ryan for a nice breakfast of patisseries at La Baguette, which recently relocated to Madison from the north woods of Minocqua, and prior to that, France. The bakery is now located in a strip mall near West Town mall on Mineral Point Road. While the owners make a solid effort to create the atmosphere of a French café, the location and strip mall vibe thwart all attempts. But here’s a case in which food trumps atmosphere, and the declisous pastries and breads more than made up for what La Baguette lacks in atmosphere.

I met Jill and Ryan for breakfast on Saturday at 9am. By then, the place was bustling, and there was already a sizable line at the counter, which only continued to grow during our time there. Luckily, Ryan was able to save us one of the 10 or so tables for dining in, and Jill and I stood in line and salivated over the beautiful baguettes, croissants, brioches, ciabatta, and quiches. I decided on an apple turnover for breakfast and a chocolate-chip scone to go. Why is it that I can never decide on just one of something? Jill and Ryan each enjoyed a chocolate croissant and shared a goat cheese quiche.

As I’ve mentioned before, Jill was my roommate my freshman year in college in the dorms, and has been a close friend ever since. Jill studied abroad in Paris her junior year in college (with our mutual friend Emily) and is pretty much obsessed with anything French. She is quite the connosuier of chocolate croissants (I love how she confidently marches up to the counter and orders a “Pain un Chocolat” in a beautiful French accent. I also have to add that when Ryan proposed to Jill a few years ago, he learned a bit of French so he could ask her to marry him in the “language of love”. Now that deserves a drawn-out awwww…

Back to the patisseries. They are wonderful, and from what I’ve been told, very genuine. They’re light and flaky, and very fresh. I was most impressed with the sheer number of options. Prices are also very reasonable. We all agreed, however, that service is still a work in progress. While the staff is attentive and friendly (and very French), they need to come up with a better strategy to get the line moving a bit quicker. It seems like a second cash register would speed things up significantly.

Other than that, I was very impressed, and it’s already clear that La Baguette will be very successful in Madison. Jill and Ryan claim the’ve been there every weekend since it’s openend.

Comment » | Restaurant Reviews

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