Archive for December 2014


Homemade Harvest Crackers

December 30th, 2014 — 5:10am

DSC05348I always like to incorporate some kind of homemade touch into gifts for the holidays. This year I made homemade crackers using a recipe based on Raincoast Crisps—those amazing, crunchy rosemary raisin pecan crackers that sell for more than $10 for a 6 ounce package at specialty stores. Paired with a soft cheese like brie, or my personal favorite, Saint-André triple cream cheese, these crackers are the ultimate indulgence. I was really excited when I discovered I could make them at home. I used a recipe I found at the kitchn and tripled the batch, which made enough for 8 gifts and extra for snacking. The recipe involves two major steps—making mini loaves of bread, and then slicing the frozen loaves into very thin crackers and baking them again until crisp (a similar process to making biscotti). It was especially challenging to cut the loaves into very thin slices. A serrated knife helped, and over time I did improve my technique, but I certainly didn’t come close to the recipe’s yield (12 dozen crisps). These crackers make a great gift, snack, appetizer, or potluck offering. They keep in an airtight container for several weeks. You could also keep the loaves frozen and bake crackers whenever you need them.

Get the recipe for Harvest Crackers with Cranberries, Pecans & Rosemary at the kitchen (adapted from Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps from Dinner with Julie; makes about 12 dozen crisps)

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Iron Chef Ginger Dinner

December 19th, 2014 — 9:20am

Left to right, top to bottom: apple walnut ginger galette; ginger garlic hummus; gingered carrot latkes; apple, green onion and jalapeno salsa (topping for latkes); Venison in honey-ginger marinade with ginger honey glazed carrots; chickpeas in ginger sauce; ginger meatloaf; apple cider gingersnap cookies; grapefruit with ginger sugar.

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Vegetarian Bulgur Chili

December 5th, 2014 — 11:08am

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I’m on a never-ending search for the perfect chili recipe. I’ve had some great bowls of chili, but it’s hard to stick with just one recipe when there are so many great recipes out there to try. This is one of my favorite vegetarian chili recipes. I received the recipe from my husband’s cousin, who got it from an old boyfriend. She calls it “Luke’s Chili.” I think that’s how all the best chili recipes are passed down—from boyfriend, to cousin, to wife. Sometimes I like a hearty meat chili, but other times I prefer a lighter vegetarian chili. The great thing about this recipe is that the bulgur provides heft and “meatiness” that is sometimes missing from vegetarian chili recipes. I like the amount of heat, too—noticeable, but not overpowering. Of course, you can adjust the chili powder to your liking. Last time I made this recipe, I doubled it and froze half of the leftovers in single-serving containers. It’s been great to reach into the freezer and pull out a hearty, healthy lunch to take on the go.

Vegetarian Bulgur Chili (makes 8 servings)

1 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes
3 15 ounce cans of beans (I used 2 black and one kidney)
1 15.25 ounce can of corn
2 carrots
1 zucchini
1-2 red bell peppers
4 cloves garlic
1/2 large onion
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
a little pepper
2.5 tablespoons chili powder
3/4 cup bulgur
2 cups tomato juice

In a large pot over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Add carrots, zucchini and red bell pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add bulgur and tomato juice to a medium sauce pan and bring to boil. When it starts to boil, turn off heat and let stand for 20 minutes. Then add the tomato mixture to all other ingredients in the large pot.

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Pumpkin French Toast

December 2nd, 2014 — 5:47am

DSC05240In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, my cravings for all things pumpkin intensified. One day I imagined eating pumpkin French toast. I had a feeling I wasn’t the first person who had dreamed up the combination. I found a recipe online and made it for Sunday brunch the week before Thanksgiving. I used thick slices of Texas toast bread that were ideal for soaking up the pumpkin and spice spiked egg mixture. I’ve found that for most recipes, including this one, canned pumpkin puree does the trick. The one exception I’ve run into so far is for pumpkin smoothies, or really anything you’re eating raw, in which case homemade pumpkin puree offers far better flavor. But back to the pumpkin french toast. It was incredibly tasty served with butter and maple syrup. And a side of bacon, of course.

Pumpkin French Toast (from Averie Cooks; makes 8 thick slices)

3 large eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
butter, for griddle or pan and for serving
8 slices Texas toast bread
butter and maple syrup for serving

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, pumpkin, sugars, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and whisk until combined.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add butter.

Dip each slice of bread into the liquid mixture for five seconds, and then turn onto the other side for an additional five seconds.  Make sure the bread is well-covered before placing it in the skillet.

Cook each slice of bread for about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add more butter to the skillet as needed. Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup.

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