Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey Noodle Soup

I did not prepare a turkey this year for Thanksgiving, but my mom gave me her turkey carcass so that I could make stock. So because I had a ton of stock in my freezer, and it's going to be raining to beat the band over the next couple of days, I thought I would turn this chicken noodle soup recipe into turkey noodle soup.

The recipe doesn't call for meat, but I'm sure it would be a wonderful addition for any of you with leftover turkey meat from Thanksgiving. And I did add some carrots for color and flavor. I also substituted some thyme for the tarragon that's called for in the original recipe since that's what I had in the garden. If you have a cold or want to take advantage of your Thanksgiving leftovers, this is a very simple and tasty option.

Turkey Noodle Soup
A variation on this recipe by Alton Brown

4 cups chicken stock, home made or store bought
3/4 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced carrots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 ounces dried egg noodles, cooked to al dente
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Bring stock to boil for 2 minutes in a large, non-reactive stockpot with lid on, over high heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic. Lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add noodles and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and add herbs and salt and pepper, to taste.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vanilla Fudge

I'm very proud to have successfully made fudge. Especially since it was a totally out of the blue thing.

Vanilla Fudge
Courtesy of Food.com

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
Walnut pieces (optional)

Butter sides of heavy 2 quart saucepan.

In saucepan, combine sugar, milks, and salt. Cook and stir over medium-high heat to boiling. Clip on candy thermometer and cook and stir over medium-low heat to 238°F, soft ball stage.

Remove from heat, add butter and vanilla, DO NOT STIR. Cool to 110°F.

Remove thermometer. Beat with wooden spoon till fudge becomes thick and starts to lose its gloss. Pour into a buttered 8-inch pan. Score into squares. If desired, top each square with with a piece of nut.

Chocolate Fudge

I'm not a huge chocolate fudge fan (which is why I also made vanilla fudge), but I know other people are, and since we're having people over a lot over the next few days due to the holidays, I gave this a shot. It was totally a spur of the moment thing though, so I didn't add the vanilla because I had run out. And I forgot to add the salt. But it still tastes good. So woohoo.

Chocolate Fudge
Courtesy of JoyofBaking.com

2 cups granulated white sugar
2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup half-and-half (or light cream)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8x8x2 inch pan with about 1 tablespoon of room temperature unsalted butter. Set aside.

In a heavy 2 1/2 - 3 quart saucepan, place the sugar, chocolate, light corn syrup, and half-and-half. Over medium-low heat stir the ingredients, with a wooden spoon, until it comes to a boil. Cover the pan with a lid for about 2-3 minutes to allow the sides of the pan to wash themselves down and dissolve any sugar crystals. Remove lid and clamp a candy thermometer onto the side of the saucepan and, making sure it does not touch the bottom of the pan, boil the mixture gently (adjust the heat as necessary) until the temperature reaches the soft ball stage (236°F). Do not stir or shake. (Wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water if any granules form.)

Remove from heat and drop the 2 tablespoons of butter on top of the fudge, but do not stir the butter into the fudge. Allow the fudge to cool to lukewarm (110°F). Remove the thermometer and add the vanilla extract and salt. Beat the fudge (you can do this by hand with a wooden spoon or with an electric hand mixer) until it begins to lose its shine and is nice and creamy. Pour into the prepared pan and let cool for several hours before cutting into squares.

Store and serve at room temperature.

Makes one 8x8 inch pan of fudge.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Best Ever Green Bean Casserole

Alton Brown isn't exaggerating. This is the best ever green casserole.

Best Ever Green Bean Casserole
Courtesy of Alton Brown


For the topping:
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Nonstick cooking spray

For beans and sauce:
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 475°F.

Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400°F.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions

I ate so much of this dish on Thanksgiving that I got a wicked stomachache. Yes, they were that good that I couldn't stop myself.

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions
Courtesy of All You

Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, cut into thin strips
1 onion, thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Pat dry and cut in half.

Warm oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and fry until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove pancetta to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add onion to fat in skillet, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft and browned, 15 to 18 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts to skillet and gently stir until heated through, 6 to 8 minutes. Return pancetta to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

BLT Frittata

We had this last year for Christmas breakfast with my in-laws, so I thought I'd make it this year for Thanksgiving breakfast with my mom and sister. The bottom was a smidge overdone, but it was still quite tasty.

Edited to add, 11/29/2014: Definitely don't let this set all the way before you put it in the oven. It comes out so much better if it's still jiggly on top when you put it in. Also, adding some Italian seasoning and mozzarella cheese makes it even better.

BLT Frittata
A variation on this recipe by Rachael Ray

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 3 turns of the pan
1/4 pound sliced pancetta, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bundles arugula, trimmed and chopped, about 3 cups, loosely packed
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
12 large eggs
1/3 cup half-and-half, eye ball it
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat a 12-inch nonstick ovensafe skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, pancetta, and garlic to the pan. When pancetta browns at edges and begins to crisp, add arugula. Wilt arugula, stir in tomatoes. Beat eggs together with half-and-half. Whisk in salt and pepper. Pour eggs over fillings and let eggs set. Using a spatula, raise eggs off the bottom of the skillet, allow more of the liquid egg to settle. When the frittata has set, transfer to oven and cook 10 to 12 minutes until top is deep golden brown. Remove the frittata and let it stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Overnight Cinnamon Buns

These were part of our Thanksgiving breakfast with my mom and sister. Not surprised at all that these were delicious. Alton Brown does it again...

I put the leftovers in the freezer, and I'm really hoping they defrost and reheat well. I just couldn't bring myself to throw any of them away.

Edited to add: I reheated these a couple of days after we had them the first time, and it was totally successful. 350°F for about 25 minutes. Woot!

Edited to add (again, 2/14/13): When I went to make these yesterday, I discovered I only had active dry yeast instead of instant. So before putting any of the ingredients together, I bloomed the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water (110°F-115°F) and decreased the amount of buttermilk to 1/2 cup. The only difference I noticed was that I needed only a little bit more flour during the kneading process. Otherwise, they were just as wonderful as I remembered them being.

Overnight Cinnamon Buns
Courtesy of Alton Brown


4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large whole egg, room temperature
2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil or cooking spray

8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons

2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons milk
5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I don't know where snickerdoodles have been all my life, but I'm so very happy I've found them... These are awesome. I haven't had enough snickerdoodles in my life to know how they stack up against others, but I'm very happy with them.

Courtesy of Sunset


1 cup (1/2 pound) butter, at room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, oil, 1 cup granulated sugar, and the powdered sugar until very smooth. Beat in eggs until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well blended.

In a small bowl, mix remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the cinnamon. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, then roll each in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place balls 3 to 4 inches apart on buttered or cooking parchment-lined 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

Bake in a 375°F oven until edges of cookies are lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes; if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking.

Using a spatula, transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

Truffle Pops

I have to be honest that I didn't try these... Everyone else liked them so much that I didn't get a chance to nab one. From what I could gather, they're quite rich, but that was to be expected. I enjoyed adding all of the different toppings and felt like the addition of the lollipop sticks helped make them easier to eat and more attractive for plating.

Truffle Pops
Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis


8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) bittersweet (60 percent cacao) chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups (12 ounces) bittersweet (60 percent cacao) chocolate chips

Finely chopped nuts, such as pistachios or walnuts
Mini-chocolate chips
Milk chocolate-toffee candy bars, such as Heath or Skor, finely chopped

For the ganache: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium stainless steel or glass bowl, combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, about 6 minutes. Whisk in the cinnamon. Refrigerate the ganache until very firm, about 2 hours. Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop or a round tablespoon measure, scoop the ganache into 18 (1-inch) round pieces and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Working quickly, with dry hands, roll the mixture into balls. Put a pop stick into each ball and freeze, stick side up, until firm, about 30 minutes.

Add the 2 cups of chocolate chips to a medium stainless steel or glass bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted, about 4 minutes.

Put the chopped nuts, mini-chocolate chips and chopped candy bars in 3 small bowls.

Dip the pops in the melted chocolate, allowing the excess chocolate to drip off, and then dip into the toppings until coated. Arrange the pops, stick side up, on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until the chocolate has set. Let the pops stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Store the pops, refrigerated, in an airtight container.

Cook's Note: If the scooped ganache is too sticky to roll into balls, put the pan in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to harden.

Peanut Butter Cups

This was my first attempt at peanut butter cups, and I think it was, overall, a successful experience. I used dark chocolate instead of milk, since that is what I prefer. And the filling is definitely much more goopy than the peanut butter cup filling that we're all used to. Despite the differences, they were mighty tasty. And were definitely better the longer they sat in the fridge. I will be trying another recipe when I make them again closer to Christmas, but I'm glad to know that I have this one if the other one falls flat.

Peanut Butter Cups
A variation on this recipe by Rachael Ray

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup honey

Place baking liners in a mini muffin tin. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Reserve the pot of hot water to keep the chocolate liquid, as necessary.

Place about 2 teaspoons of the melted chocolate in a baking cup, swirling to coat about halfway up the side of the cup. Repeat with the remaining cups. Refrigerate until set.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the peanut butter and honey. Transfer the mixture to a resealable plastic bag and snip off one corner.

Fill the chocolate cups about three-quarters full with the peanut butter mixture, smoothing the surface. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Top each peanut butter cup with melted chocolate to enclose, smoothing the surface. Refrigerate until hardened. To serve, remove the candies from the baking liners.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Slow-Cooking Applesauce

This tastes very similar to apple pie filling because of the cinnamon. So yeah, yum. I tripled the original recipe in order to have enough for my applesauce-loving kiddos. And I left out the brown sugar because when I made it before it tasted just a little too sweet. Using sweeter apples makes it so that you don't really need the added sugar.

Slow-Cooking Applesauce
A variation on this recipe from crockpot365.blogspot.com

4 large apples, skinned, cored, and cut in quarters
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water

Place the apple pieces in your crockpot. Add the juice from the lemon and the water. Pour in the vanilla, add the cinnamon, and toss to combine.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When the apples are super tender, mash with a potato masher or large fork.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pesto Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms

I realized that I hadn't had lasagna in far too long and decided that I needed to adapt this slow-cooker recipe. I'm sure that it wouldn't be bad in the slow-cooker, but I just can't seem to bring myself to do it in there. So here's my oven version.

It's super good. I usually don't like vegetable lasagnas as much as ones with meat (particularly ones with sausage), but the pesto makes this version really tasty.

Pesto Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light

4 cups baby spinach
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup pesto
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded provolone cheese
1 (15-ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (25.5-ounce) bottle fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
Cooking spray
1 (9-ounce) package precooked lasagna noodles (16 noodles)

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Arrange the spinach in a vegetable steamer; steam, covered, 3 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain, squeeze dry, and coarsely chop. Combine spinach, mushrooms, and pesto in a medium bowl, stirring to combine; set aside.

Combine mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and beaten egg in a medium bowl, stirring well to combine. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan, and set aside. Combine the pasta sauce and the tomato sauce in a medium bowl.

Spread 1 cup pasta sauce mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over pasta sauce mixture; top with 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup spinach mixture. Repeat the layers, ending with spinach mixture. Arrange 4 noodles over spinach mixture; top with remaining 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup pasta sauce mixture. Place remaining 4 noodles over sauce mixture; spread remaining sauce mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 50-60 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and started to brown. Let sit for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lentil-Barley Soup

Good hearty soup. And it makes the house smell fantastic. Though the amount of dill the recipe calls for gives it a bit of a "grassy" flavor, especially when it's fresh. The recipe also only makes a pretty small amount of soup, so I'm thinking next time I'll double all of the rest of the ingredients and keep the original recipe's amount of dill in order to tone down the "grassiness".

Lentil-Barley Soup
Courtesy of Cooking Light

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup sliced leek
3 cups organic vegetable broth
1 cup water
3/4 cup beer
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped parsnip
1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup dried lentils
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leek to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add broth, 1 cup water, and beer; bring to a boil. Add chopped carrot and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaves); return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in lentils; cover and cook 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Place 1 1/2 cups broth mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan, and stir in salt. Return mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

What a fun twist for a pumpkin pie! It was so tasty and definitely pleased my mom, who isn't usually a huge fan of pumpkin.

This was also my first pumpkin pie using a homemade crust... I like to use graham cracker crusts for pumpkin pies, but I wanted this to be totally homemade since I was using fresh pumpkin and homemade apple butter, so I went with the combination butter and shortening crust that I've used in the past. I was really pleased with the results. I'll still try making a homemade graham cracker crust at some point, but until then, I'll happily use the combination crust.

You will definitely want to put a crust protector or aluminum foil or something to make sure that the crust edges don't burn.

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie
Courtesy of Paula Deen

1 cup apple butter
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Combine apple butter, pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl. Stir in eggs. Gradually add milk and mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set.